Nikon is already showing teasers of its upcoming Z6 and Z7 Mark II cameras, but so far we do not know their technical characteristics and how fundamental the differences from past models will be. Below you’ll find a wish list prepared by colleagues at dpreview.com, as well as a few of our own thoughts on what’s missing from the Japanese manufacturer’s full-frame mirrorless cameras. We note in advance that this is not an attempt to predict what exactly Nikon will add, but rather what we would like to see in new models.
Solving old problems
On the hardware side, there are a couple of obvious changes that would immediately justify the upcoming update: fixing the most criticized omissions in the original models.
The most obvious will be the presence of two slots for memory cards. Many professional photographers rely on this feature, which means that the Z7 could miss out on a number of buyers from this target audience. The Z6 had the same problem, although it’s not as critical for the younger model (on the other hand, Nikon has previously added two slots even to its initial full-frame models).
Either way, adding two slots could be an easy win for Nikon. Using smaller CFexpress Type A cards might have made things easier without increasing the size of the camera body, but in doing so, the company risks incurring the wrath of current users who have already started using Nikon’s XQD and CFexpress Type B cards.
The XQD and CFexpress B cards are undeniably very fast, but having a single slot on the Mark II models can be a real disappointment. Especially given the dual slot in the Z5. Source: Nikon/techradar.com
Another feature missing from the first generation cameras is a connection port that allows you to use a battery pack with duplicate controls to shoot in portrait orientation. This would be another relatively simple way to expand the capabilities of new cameras.
As for the number of shots on a single charge, a bigger battery would definitely help if Nikon is going to be redesigning camera bodies. Of course, many will say that in this regard they have not had any problems with current models. However, both professional photographers shooting with the Z7 II and videographers using the Z6 II may have one less thing to worry about as battery capacity increases.
Finally, many users complained about the relatively small buffer, which did not always cope with continuous shooting at maximum quality.
At maximum settings (12-bit RAW and Fine JPEG), Nikon Z7 maintains a maximum speed of 8 fps only for 10–12 frames. Nikon Z6 looks a little better in this regard with 35 RAW files at 12 fps, however, this performance is seriously losing to competitors.
Most likely, the new generation of both cameras will receive an increased buffer size, as rumors circulating on the network speak in favor of. It would also be useful to increase the maximum burst speed (now it is 12 fps for the Nikon Z6 and 9 fps for the Nikon Z7), which could make the models more interesting for those who shoot a lot of action scenes with fast movement (although Nikon is unlikely to focus on sports photographers in these models).
Beyond that, it will be interesting to see if Nikon has been able to get their hands on new sensors for their cameras. We haven’t yet seen anything that clearly outperforms the Z6’s 24MP sensor (also used by other manufacturers, including the latest models such as the Sony a7C and Lumix S5), so even if the Z6 II retains the old sensor, no problem, in general- then it won’t. However, the upgraded sensor with faster readout can help with both autofocus and video, so it could be a nice upgrade.
The 24-megapixel sensor in the Z6 is still competitive, but a new sensor with a faster readout could help with both autofocus and video. Source: amateurphotographer.co.uk
As for the Z7 II, upgrading from a 46-megapixel sensor to something close to the 60-megapixel Sony a7 IV wouldn’t hurt at all: both in terms of being competitive with Sony, and in terms of an additional reason for current users to upgrade Z7.
It looks like the Z7 II, or even both new models, will get higher resolution viewfinders. The 3.68M dot viewfinders in the first generation were a great option at the time of release, but 5.76M and 9.44M dot units are now available, so it’s highly likely we’ll see this upgrade.
As for the rear display, many users really liked the two-way tilt mechanism, like in the Fujifilm X‑T3 and Panasonic S1/S1R. Of course, the appearance of such a design in new products is unlikely. However, a similar mechanism could be suitable for the Z7 II. And in the Z6 II, it might even be worth using a fully rotatable display, assuming Nikon continues to work towards a camera that’s equally suited to stills and video.
Yes, we know that some photographers will not be happy with such an offer, and we suspect that Nikon will not want to upset them.
We can assume that the cameras will have some new video shooting features — it is strange if the company relaxes after the progress made in the Z6. The addition of 10-bit internal footage will certainly increase the appeal of the camera, making the Log material more flexible for editing and enabling HDRTV compatible high dynamic range content to be captured.
Along with this, it would be nice to see the addition of an oscilloscope (waveforms) to the screen to make it easier to assess exposure. This would be a big step for Nikon. And given that the company seems to be listening to the needs of videographers, this is a very realistic upgrade.
The addition of 10-bit internal recording will certainly increase the Z6’s appeal among videographers. Source: Chris Hershman
Similarly, the Z6 II would be nice to add a shutter angle display: this upgrade will be especially useful if the camera is shooting at 60p, as it will allow you to maintain a shutter angle of 180 degrees (meaning a shutter speed of twice the frame rate) when you switch between shooting modes at different frame rates.
Beyond that, it’s hard to imagine what else Nikon could add to a camera that doesn’t try to focus solely on filming. The 6K RAW output would have avoided some of the artifacts we saw in the Z6’s RAW video feed, but it would have resulted in a serious increase in file sizes. At the very least, it would be nice if the camera transmitted more metadata. Then Atomos recorders could create ProRes Raw files that allow for a wider range of settings in Final Cut Pro than is currently possible.
Software and interface
Finally, there are a few things about the interface and software that could also be improved.
Updating a camera from generation to generation is usually accompanied by an improvement in autofocus tracking (object tracking) algorithms. It should be noted that Nikon has been constantly improving the autofocus quality and interface in the Z6 and Z7 through software updates, so we expect a relatively small update, but in both cases there is still room for such improvements.
The tracking system in Nikon’s mirrorless cameras is constantly improving, but it’s still not as grippy as the latest models from Sony and Canon. The difference is not too big, but it would be nice to see further improvement, especially in video mode.
In addition to performance, Nikon also improved the user interface: you could choose in advance where you want to start tracking the subject, as well as start and stop tracking by pressing or releasing the shutter button. However, the Tracking mode and the Face/Eye detection mode remained two separate modes on top of the Auto AF area selection. I would like to see one separate mode, something like “3D subject tracking”, which tracks the subject under the focus point and uses face and eye detection for people and animals. The simplicity and efficiency of such an integrated system can be seen in the latest Canon and Sony cameras.
Finally, it would be nice to see the return of the ability to format the card or reboot the camera by holding down a couple of buttons: this was a feature unique to Nikon DSLRs that many fans of the brand are used to.
High definition mode
Users of cameras such as the Sony A7R IV and Olympus OM‑D E‑M1X have been able to appreciate the high resolution modes (Pixel Shift in Sony and High Res Shot Mode in Olympus) that use sensor-shift shooting. In this mode, the camera takes a series of shots, shifting the matrix by 1 pixel between each frame, then four shots are combined to get one picture with four times the normal resolution. This mode is great for landscape photography.
So in the A7R IV, you get 240-megapixel images with amazing detail. This would be a very nice upgrade for the Z7 as well, which would increase the model’s popularity among landscape photographers. In the Z6 II, this mode is not too necessary, although it could make the camera even more versatile.
How to improve already good cameras?
In general, if you go over this list of proposals (and notice that there really aren’t very many of them), you can appreciate how good the Z6 and Z7 actually become. Already at the start of sales, both models were quite combat-ready, but Nikon did not stop there and continued to gradually improve them. Therefore, it will be especially interesting to know what the company is going to do to make the new generation even more attractive to users.
* the article was prepared using materials from dpreview.com (Richard Butler), techradar.com and onfoto.ru.