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Nikon Z5 vs Z6

The Nikon Z5 and the Nikon Z6 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in July 2020 and August 2018. Both the Z5 and the Z6 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Z5 has a resolution of 24.2 megapixels, whereas the Z6 provides 24.3 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Nikon Z5 versus Nikon Z6
Nikon Z5 Nikon Z6
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Nikon Z mount lenses Nikon Z mount lenses
24.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor 24.3 MP, Full Frame Sensor
4K/30p Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 100-51,200 (50 - 102,400) ISO 100-51,200 (50 - 204,800)
Electronic viewfinder (3690k dots) Electronic viewfinder (3690k dots)
3.2 LCD, 1040k dots 3.2 LCD, 2100k dots
Tilting touchscreen Tilting touchscreen
4.5 shutter flaps per second 12 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
470 shots per battery charge310 shots per battery charge
134 x 101 x 67 mm, 675 g 134 x 101 x 67 mm, 675 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon Z5 and the Nikon Z6? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Nikon Z5 and the Nikon Z6 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon Z5 vs Nikon Z6
Compare Z5 versus Z6 top
Comparison Z5 or Z6 rear

In this particular case, the Nikon Z5 and the Nikon Z6 have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. Moreover, the two cameras also share the same weight. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

Concerning battery life, the Z5 gets 470 shots out of its EN-EL15c battery, while the Z6 can take 310 images on a single charge of its EN-EL15b power pack. The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient when travelling.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon Z5 134 mm 101 mm 67 mm 675 g 470 Y Jul 2020 1,399 i
2.
 
Nikon Z6 134 mm 101 mm 67 mm 675 g 310 Y Aug 2018 1,999i
3.
 
Canon R6 138 mm 98 mm 88 mm 680 g 360 Y Jul 2020 2,499 i
4.
 
Fujifilm X-T4 135 mm 93 mm 64 mm 607 g 500 Y Feb 2020 1,699 i
5.
 
Nikon Z7 II 134 mm 101 mm 70 mm 705 g 420 Y Oct 2020 2,999 i
6.
 
Nikon Z6 II 134 mm 101 mm 70 mm 705 g 410 Y Oct 2020 1,999 i
7.
 
Nikon Z7 134 mm 101 mm 67 mm 675 g 330 Y Aug 2018 3,399i
8.
 
Panasonic S5 133 mm 98 mm 82 mm 714 g 440 Y Sep 2020 1,999 i
9.
 
Panasonic S1 149 mm 110 mm 97 mm 1017 g 400 Y Feb 2019 2,499 i
10.
 
Sony A9 II 129 mm 96 mm 76 mm 678 g 690 Y Oct 2019 4,499 i
11.
 
Sony A7R IV 129 mm 96 mm 78 mm 665 g 670 Y Jul 2019 3,499 i
12.
 
Sony A7 III 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Z5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 30 percent) than the Z6, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

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Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon Z5 and Nikon Z6 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the Z6 offers a slightly higher resolution of 24.3 megapixels, compared with 24.2 MP of the Z5. This megapixels advantage translates into a 0.5 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the Z6 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 5.95μm for the Z5). Moreover, it should be noted, that the Z5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 10 months) than the Z6, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels.

The Nikon Z5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon Z6 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.

Z5 versus Z6 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Nikon Z5 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40164K/30p........
2.
 
Nikon Z6 Full Frame 24.3 6048 40244K/30p25.314.3329995
3.
 
Canon R6 Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484k/60p24.214.3339490
4.
 
Fujifilm X-T4 APS-C 26.0 6240 41604K/60p........
5.
 
Nikon Z7 II Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/60p........
6.
 
Nikon Z6 II Full Frame 24.3 6048 40244K/60p........
7.
 
Nikon Z7 Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.314.6266899
8.
 
Panasonic S5 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/60p........
9.
 
Panasonic S1 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/60p25.214.5333395
10.
 
Sony A9 II Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.0343493
11.
 
Sony A7R IV Full Frame 60.2 9504 63364K/30p26.014.8334499
12.
 
Sony A7 III Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7373096

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The Z5 and the Z6 are similar in the sense that both feature an electronic viewfinder, which is helpful when framing images in bright sunlight. Moreover, their viewfinders offer an identical resolution of 3690k dots. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon Z5, the Nikon Z6, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Nikon Z53690 n 3.2 1040 tilting Y 1/8000s 4.5 n Y
2.
 
Nikon Z63690 Y 3.2 2100 tilting Y 1/8000s 12.0 n Y
3.
 
Canon R65760 n 3.0 1620 swivel Y 1/8000s 12.0 n Y
4.
 
Fujifilm X-T43690 n 3.0 1620 swivel Y 1/8000s 15.0 n Y
5.
 
Nikon Z7 II3690 Y 3.2 2100 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
6.
 
Nikon Z6 II3690 Y 3.2 2100 tilting Y 1/8000s 14.0 n Y
7.
 
Nikon Z73690 Y 3.2 2100 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0 n Y
8.
 
Panasonic S52360 n 3.0 1840 full-flex Y 1/8000s 7.0 n Y
9.
 
Panasonic S15760 Y 3.2 2100 full-flex Y 1/8000s 9.0 n Y
10.
 
Sony A9 II3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
11.
 
Sony A7R IV5760 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
12.
 
Sony A7 III2359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y

One feature that is present on the Z6, but is missing on the Z5 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, both cameras under consideration feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).

The Nikon Z5 and the Nikon Z6 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

The Z5 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the Z6 uses XQD cards. The Z5 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the Z6 only has one slot.

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Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon Z5 and Nikon Z6 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Nikon Z5YstereomonoYYmicro3.2Y-Y
2.
 
Nikon Z6YstereomonoYYmicro3.1Y-Y
3.
 
Canon R6YmonomonoYYmicro3.2Y-Y
4.
 
Fujifilm X-T4YstereomonoY-micro3.1Y-Y
5.
 
Nikon Z7 IIYstereomonoYYmicro3.2Y-Y
6.
 
Nikon Z6 IIYstereomonoYYmicro3.2Y-Y
7.
 
Nikon Z7YstereomonoYYmicro3.1Y-Y
8.
 
Panasonic S5YstereomonoYYmicro3.2Y-Y
9.
 
Panasonic S1YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-Y
10.
 
Sony A9 IIYstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYY
11.
 
Sony A7R IVYstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYY
12.
 
Sony A7 IIIYstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYY

The Z5 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the Z6 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the Z6 was succeeded by the Nikon Z6 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon Z5 and the Nikon Z6? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Nikon Z5:

  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (470 versus 310) on a single battery charge.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.2 vs 3.1).
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (30 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 10 months after the Z6).


Arguments in favor of the Nikon Z6:

  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2100k vs 1040k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 4.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2018).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the Z5 comes out slightly ahead of the Z6 (5 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

Z5 05:04 Z6

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon Z5 and the Nikon Z6 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the Z5 or the Z6. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon Z54/5..89/1004.5/54/5 Jul 2020 1,399 i
2.
 
Nikon Z65/5....4.5/55/5 Aug 2018 1,999i
3.
 
Canon R65/5+ +90/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2020 2,499 i
4.
 
Fujifilm X-T45/5+ +..5/55/5 Feb 2020 1,699 i
5.
 
Nikon Z7 II4.5/5....4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2020 2,999 i
6.
 
Nikon Z6 II4.5/5..89/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2020 1,999 i
7.
 
Nikon Z75/5+89/1004.5/55/5 Aug 2018 3,399i
8.
 
Panasonic S54.5/5+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2020 1,999 i
9.
 
Panasonic S14.5/5+ +88/1004.5/54/5 Feb 2019 2,499 i
10.
 
Sony A9 II....90/1005/55/5 Oct 2019 4,499 i
11.
 
Sony A7R IV5/5+91/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2019 3,499 i
12.
 
Sony A7 III..+ +89/1005/55/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Nikon Z5:
Check Amazon price
Nikon Z6:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Nikon Z5 vs Nikon Z6

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon Z5 Nikon Z6
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Nikon Z mount lenses Nikon Z mount lenses
    Launch Date July 2020 August 2018
    Launch Price USD 1,399 USD 1,999
    Sensor Specs Nikon Z5 Nikon Z6
    Sensor Technology CMOS BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 35.9 x 23.9 mm 35.9 x 23.9 mm
    Sensor Area 858.01 mm2 858.01 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.1 mm 43.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 24.2 Megapixels 24.3 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6016 x 4016 pixels 6048 x 4024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.95 μm 5.94 μm
    Pixel Density 2.82 MP/cm2 2.84 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 4K/30p Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 51,200 ISO 100 - 51,200 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 102,400 ISO 50 - 204,800 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED 6 EXPEED 6
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 95
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 25.3
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 14.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 3299
    Screen Specs Nikon Z5 Nikon Z6
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.80x 0.80x
    Viewfinder Resolution 3690k dots 3690k dots
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.2inch 3.2inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 2100k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Tilting screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Nikon Z5 Nikon Z6
    Focus System On-Sensor Phase-detect On-Sensor Phase-detect
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000s 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 4.5 shutter flaps/s 12 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy200 000 actuations200 000 actuations
    Electronic Shutterup to 1/8000sup to 1/8000s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards XQD cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Nikon Z5 Nikon Z6
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 3.2 USB 3.1
    HDMI Port micro HDMI micro HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Bluetooth Support Bluetooth built-in Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Nikon Z5 Nikon Z6
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-EL15c EN-EL15b
    Battery Life (CIPA)470 shots per charge310 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 134 x 101 x 67 mm
    (5.3 x 4.0 x 2.6 in)
    134 x 101 x 67 mm
    (5.3 x 4.0 x 2.6 in)
    Camera Weight 675 g (23.8 oz) 675 g (23.8 oz)

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