The Nikon Z7 II is a full-frame mirrorless camera designed to perform well across a range of photographic genres and is the successor to the Nikon Z7. Still image resolution is a whopping 45.7MP, matching that of the Nikon D850 DSLR equivalent. It also captures 4K60p video to produce smooth looking, highly detailed movies.
Equipped with a Z-mount lens port, it works with all Z lenses, but is also compatible with F-mount lenses when using the FTZ adapter. The Nikon Z7 II has an incredibly wide ISO range of 64-25,600, which jumps to 32-102,400 when expanded. The 0.5-inch, 3.69k-dot electronic viewfinder can be color-balanced and has 11 different brightness levels that can be manually controlled for a variety of shooting situations.
In view of its quite extensive equipment, it is still quite slim and light. The camera body itself weighs just 615g and has dimensions of 5.3 x 4 x 2.8 inches, meaning it will fit in even the smallest camera bag or bag.
The camera has two memory card slots, one accepting up to UHS-II SD cards and the other XQD or CFexpress cards. This is especially in demand among professionals, for whom missing the shot of their life because a card is damaged is not an option. The Nikon Z7 II (opens in new tab) gives users the option to share the cards for image overflow (switching from one card to another) or for backup (by copying the images and videos to both cards at the same time). Conveniently, the two card slots can be used to sort RAW images from JPEGs or stills from videos to speed up workflow for hybrid shooters and photo editors.
Nikon Z7 II review: Design
- The tilting screen is useful for keeping your hands on the buttons
- Weather sealing protects it from the elements
- Key layout unmistakably Nikon
Overall, the design of the Nikon Z7 II is very similar to the original Z7 and feels very much like a miniature Nikon DSLR with similar button layouts, switch controls and dials that feel like they’re a nod to the SLR and DSLR heritage. lean design.
For this reason, anyone who has ever photographed with a Nikon should feel at home as soon as they pick up this camera. Its design should appeal to many types of shooters, from wildlife photographers to photojournalists, from online amateur short filmmakers to professional video recorders.
A key part of what makes the Nikon Z7 II’s design so great for astrophotography is the tilting touchscreen on the back. At first we thought that omitting a vari-angle screen would detract from the astro shooting experience, but in fact a tilting screen is far more ideal. Because it doesn’t fold out and rotate, hands stay close to the camera body, with buttons at fingertip distance.
This attention to detail is paramount when shooting in the dark and eliminates the need for bright flashlights to control body camera settings when attempting to obtain the night vision that is so valuable for low light and astrophotography.
Great for night or day use, it’s also fully weatherproof. This means photographers or videographers don’t have to worry about taking the camera out in rain, snow or dusty conditions as the internal components are protected from material intrusion.
Nikon Z7 II review: functionality
- Fn keys on the front of body assist adjustment
- When focusing manually, the distance indicator flashes on the rear screen
- A compatible lens’s screen helps gain focus
The Nikon Z7 II is as pragmatic as it is functional, with a number of key settings and controls improved over the previous model. Without feeling crowded, there are controls all over the camera body, with two notable Fn buttons on the front of the camera useful for customizable shortcuts.
Sitting right where your fingers fall when gripping the camera body with your right hand, they’re ideal for programming features specific to each type of photography. We’ve experimented with this by allowing a button to open the screen brightness control, as this makes it easier to manipulate the camera when trying to save night vision.
When focusing manually (as is often done in astro work), rotation of the focus ring brings up a readout on the rear screen showing the focus distance selected. While there’s a slight lag between rotating and changing the meter, it’s still extremely useful for tracking focus and ensuring subjects are crisp, even when it’s difficult to see them on screen. We assume that the small delay is either characteristic of the model we tested or is due to the slower shutter speed required when shooting at night.
Some Z-mount lenses have a screen built right into the lens barrel itself. So when the Z7 II is paired with an appropriate lens, we can determine focus and camera settings from that display without having to ruin night vision by staring at the rear screen or EVF.
Nikon Z7 II review: performance
- Image noise at high ISO is fantastic
- The exposure preview is one of the best
- The automatic white balance is excellent
One thing that sets the Nikon Z7 II apart compared to the competition is its excellent handling of image noise at high ISO values. In our experience, image noise is hardly noticeable up to around ISO2500. Even if it does creep in as the ISO ramps up, the noise introduced is slow and manageable, and very easy to remove with noise reduction software in post-production.
Composing scenes on any camera in low light is difficult, as less light means darker vision, making it harder to align horizons and ensure focus is where it needs to be. However, the Z7 II’s exposure preview is really fantastic, probably the best of any camera we’ve used. When looking at the rear window or the EVF, there is hardly any image noise, horizons are clearly visible, as are stars. This makes it very easy to compose scenes and zoom in on stars or small points of light to manually focus on them.
Kit lens: NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S
Best wide-angle lens: NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S
Best zoom lens: NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S
Replacement battery type: EN-EL15c
Memory card: SD, SDHC, SDXC and XQD/CFexpress
In general, it’s overwhelmingly difficult for cameras to know what to do with automatic white balance (AWB) when shooting in low light or astrophotography, since they’re primarily geared towards shooting in daylight or in continuous indoor lighting. However, we are pleasantly surprised at how natural the AWB on the Z7 II feels when capturing astro photos. Colors appear natural, as if we were gazing at the sky with the naked eye, but it’s as if the camera could also limit the amount of orange glow from light pollution.
The camera has a built-in exposure delay mode of up to three seconds to avoid camera shake when the shutter button is pressed, but with a long exposure time. However, we were amazed at how many usable, sharp shots we got when we weren’t using them. This is highly unusual and something we haven’t really experienced with other camera systems. We’re not exactly sure what’s going on here, and more testing is needed to determine the exact reasons, but we suspect it has something to do with the 5-axis image stabilization in the Z7 II’s body.
Should you buy the Nikon Z7 II?
The Nikon Z7 II is a brilliant choice when it comes to all-round performance and superb full-frame image quality. It offers better value for money than many of its competitors and covers a wide range of features, capabilities and image resolutions that make it well-suited for any type of photography.
Whether you need a camera for commercial close-ups, long lens wildlife, perfect portraits or stunning astrophotography, the Nikon Z7 II will handle anything you throw at it. Pair it with one of the many Z-mount lenses, or an older F-mount lens with the FTZ adapter, and it should serve you well in any type of shooting environment, whether for photos or movies.
If this product is not for you
Image quality is best in full-frame mode, as a larger sensor can offer better detail, improved dynamic range, and minimal image noise. However, those who don’t need the dizzying heights of 45.7 MP can opt for the cheaper but otherwise visually identical Nikon Z6 II (opens in new tab).
Beginners who don’t want to spend that much money on a camera but still want a foot in the full-frame door might want to go with the Nikon Z5 (opens in new tab). In our Nikon Z5 review, we found that while it’s geared more towards stills than video, it’s one of the cheapest full-frame mirrorless cameras you can buy right now.
Pros who think the Z7 II is great but want to go further should check out the newer mirrorless flagship, the Nikon Z9 (opens in new tab). It has the same still resolution but shoots at a staggering 120 FPS, has deep learning autofocus, a “real live” viewfinder and 8K video capabilities.