Nikon Z6 vs Sony A7 II
The Nikon Z6 and the Sony Alpha A7 II are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2018 and November 2014. Both the Z6 and the A7 II are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24.3 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon Z6 and the Sony Alpha A7 II? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon Z6 and the Sony A7 II is provided 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7 II is notably smaller (10 percent) than the Nikon Z6. Moreover, the A7 II is markedly lighter (11 percent) than the Z6. 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 Z6 gets 310 shots out of its EN-EL15b battery, while the A7 II can take 350 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 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 want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Nikon Z6||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999||ebay.com|
|3.||Nikon Z6 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||410||Y||Oct 2020||1,999||amazon.com|
|4.||Nikon Z7||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399||ebay.com|
|5.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999||ebay.com|
|7.||Panasonic G9||137 mm||97 mm||92 mm||658 g||400||Y||Nov 2017||1,699||amazon.com|
|8.||Panasonic GH5||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999||ebay.com|
|9.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999||amazon.com|
|10.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499||ebay.com|
|11.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199||ebay.com|
|12.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999||ebay.com|
|13.||Sony A7||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24.3MP, the Z6 offers a slightly higher resolution than the A7 II (24MP), but the Z6 has marginally smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 5.97μm for the A7 II). However, the Z6 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 9 months) than the A7 II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The Nikon Z6 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A7 II are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-51200.
In terms of underlying technology, the Z6 is build around a BSI-CMOS sensor, while the A7 II uses a CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the Z6 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the A7 II (overall score 5 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.4 bits higher color depth, 0.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95|
|2.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|3.||Nikon Z6 II||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/60p||25.0||14.4||3303||94|
|4.||Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|5.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|7.||Panasonic G9||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.1||12.8||1138||74|
|8.||Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|9.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|10.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|11.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|12.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|13.||Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the Z6 provides a higher video resolution than the A7 II. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the Z6 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A7 II (3690k vs 2400k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon Z6 and Sony A7 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Nikon Z6||3690||Y||3.2 / 2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||12.0/s||n||Y|
|2.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Nikon Z6 II||3690||Y||3.2 / 2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||14.0/s||n||Y|
|4.||Nikon Z7||3690||Y||3.2 / 2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||n||Y|
|5.||Nikon D750||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0/s||n||Y|
|7.||Panasonic G9||3680||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||20.0/s||n||Y|
|8.||Panasonic GH5||3680||n||3.2 / 1620||swivel||Y||1/8000s||12.0/s||n||Y|
|9.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|10.||Sony A9||3686||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||20.0/s||n||Y|
|11.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||Y|
|12.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||Y|
|13.||Sony A7||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|14.||Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0 / 921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that is present on the Z6, but is missing on the A7 II 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, the Z6 is one of those camera that have an additional 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 Z6 has 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 Z6 writes its imaging data to XQD cards, while the A7 II uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.
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 Z6 and Sony Alpha A7 II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon Z6||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|2.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Nikon Z6 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Nikon Z7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Nikon D750||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Panasonic G9||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.0||Y||-||Y|
|8.||Panasonic GH5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|9.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|10.||Sony A9||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|11.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|13.||Sony A7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Sony A77||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the Z6 and the A7 II have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The A7 II was replaced by the Sony A7 III, while the Z6 was followed by the Nikon Z6 II. Further information on the features and operation of the Z6 and A7 II can be found, respectively, in the Nikon Z6 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony A7 II Manual.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon Z6 and the Sony A7 II? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon Z6:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3690k vs 2400k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.80x vs 0.71x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2100k vs 1230k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 9 months of technical progress since the A7 II launch.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A7 II:
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 76g or 11 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (350 versus 310) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in November 2014).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Z6 is the clear winner of the match-up (16 : 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon Z6 and the Sony A7 II 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the Z6 and the A7 II in practical situations. 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.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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.
|1.||Nikon Z6||5/5||..||5/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||1,999||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999||ebay.com|
|3.||Nikon Z6 II||4.5/5||..||4/5||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||1,999||amazon.com|
|4.||Nikon Z7||5/5||+||4.8/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399||ebay.com|
|5.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||5/5||+ +||5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999||ebay.com|
|7.||Panasonic G9||..||+ +||5/5||85/100||5/5||5/5||Nov 2017||1,699||amazon.com|
|8.||Panasonic GH5||4.5/5||+ +||..||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999||ebay.com|
|9.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||4.5/5||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999||amazon.com|
|10.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||4.8/5||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499||ebay.com|
|11.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||5/5||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199||ebay.com|
|12.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999||ebay.com|
|13.||Sony A7||5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||..||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Nikon Z6 vs Sony A7 II
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 Model||Nikon Z6||Sony A7 II|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon Z mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2018||November 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 1,999||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon Z6||Sony A7 II|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 23.9 mm||35.8 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||858.01 mm2||855.62 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.1 mm||43 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.3 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6048 x 4024 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.94 μm||5.97 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.84 MP/cm2||2.80 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 204,800 ISO||50 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 6||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||95||90|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.3||24.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.3||13.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3299||2449|
|Screen Specs||Nikon Z6||Sony A7 II|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3690k dots||2400k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2100k dots||1230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon Z6||Sony A7 II|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||12 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/8000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||XQD cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon Z6||Sony A7 II|
|USB Connector||USB 3.1||USB 2.0|
|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|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Nikon Z6||Sony A7 II|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||310 shots per charge||350 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
134 x 101 x 67 mm
(5.3 x 4.0 x 2.6 in)
127 x 96 x 60 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4 in)
|Camera Weight||675 g (23.8 oz)||599 g (21.1 oz)|
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