Nikon Z6 vs Sony A9
The Nikon Z6 and the Sony Alpha A9 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2018 and April 2017. Both the Z6 and the A9 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.
|Nikon Z6||Sony A9|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Nikon Z mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|24.3 MP, Full Frame Sensor||24 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-51200 (50-204800)||ISO 100-51200 (50-204800)|
|Electronic viewfinder (3690k dots)||Electronic viewfinder (3686k dots)|
|3.2" LCD, 2100k dots||3.0" LCD, 1440k dots|
|Tilting touchscreen||Tilting touchscreen|
|12 shutter flaps per second||20 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|310 shots per battery charge||650 shots per battery charge|
|134 x 101 x 67 mm, 675 g||127 x 96 x 63 mm, 673 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon Z6 and the Sony Alpha A9? 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 A9 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 A9 is notably smaller (10 percent) than the Nikon Z6. Moreover, the A9 is slightly lighter (0 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 A9 can take 650 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Nikon Z6»||5.3 in||4.0 in||2.6 in||23.8 oz||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999||Nikon Z6|
|Sony A9«||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||23.7 oz||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499||Sony A9|
|Canon 6D Mark II« »||5.7 in||4.4 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999||Canon 6D Mark II|
|Fujifilm X-H1« »||5.5 in||3.8 in||3.4 in||23.7 oz||310||Y||Feb 2018||1,899||Fujifilm X-H1|
|Nikon Z7« »||5.3 in||4.0 in||2.6 in||23.8 oz||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399||Nikon Z7|
|Nikon D750« »||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||26.5 oz||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299||Nikon D750|
|Panasonic G9« »||5.4 in||3.8 in||3.6 in||23.2 oz||400||Y||Nov 2017||1,699||Panasonic G9|
|Panasonic GH5« »||5.5 in||3.9 in||3.4 in||25.6 oz||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999||Panasonic GH5|
|Sony A9 II« »||5.1 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||23.9 oz||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499||Sony A9 II|
|Sony A7 III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A7 II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999||Sony A7 II|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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 Z6 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 56 percent) than the A9, which puts it into a different 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. The sensor area in the A9 is 1 percent smaller. 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.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around BSI-CMOS sensors.
With 24.3MP, the Z6 offers a slightly higher resolution than the A9 (24MP), but the Z6 nevertheless has the same individual pixel size (pixel pitch of 5.94μm) as the A9 due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the Z6 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 4 months) than the A9, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further 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 Sony Alpha A9 offers exactly the same ISO settings.
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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95||Nikon Z6|
|Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92||Sony A9|
|Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85||Canon 6D Mark II|
|Fujifilm X-H1||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Fujifilm X-H1|
|Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99||Nikon Z7|
|Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93||Nikon D750|
|Panasonic G9||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||..||..||..||..||Panasonic G9|
|Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77||Panasonic GH5|
|Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93||Sony A9 II|
|Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90||Sony A7 II|
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, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
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 slightly higher resolution than the one in the A9 (3690k vs 3686k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon Z6 and Sony A9 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Nikon Z6||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y||Nikon Z6|
|Sony A9||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||20.0||n||Y||Sony A9|
|Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n||Canon 6D Mark II|
|Fujifilm X-H1||3690||Y||3.0||1040||full-flex||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||Y||Fujifilm X-H1|
|Nikon Z7||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0||n||Y||Nikon Z7|
|Nikon D750||optical||Y||3.2||1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D750|
|Panasonic G9||3680||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||20.0||n||Y||Panasonic G9|
|Panasonic GH5||3680||n||3.2||1620||swivel||Y||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y||Panasonic GH5|
|Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Sony A9 II|
|Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A7 II|
One feature that is present on the Z6, but is missing on the A9 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 A9 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 A9 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A9 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the Z6 only has one slot.
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 A9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Nikon Z6||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y||Nikon Z6|
|Sony A9||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A9|
|Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Canon 6D Mark II|
|Fujifilm X-H1||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||3.0||Y||-||-||Fujifilm X-H1|
|Nikon Z7||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y||Nikon Z7|
|Nikon D750||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Nikon D750|
|Panasonic G9||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.0||Y||-||Y||Panasonic G9|
|Panasonic GH5||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.1||Y||-||Y||Panasonic GH5|
|Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Sony A9 II|
|Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7 II|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A9 (unlike the Z6) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The Z6 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the A9 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A9 was succeeded by the Sony A9 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Sony websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon Z6 and the Sony A9? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon Z6:
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.80x vs 0.78x).
- 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 1440k dots).
- 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).
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (56 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 4 months after the A9).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A9:
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 12 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (650 versus 310) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2017).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Z6 emerges as the winner of the contest (9 : 7 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 A9 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 A9 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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
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 A9
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 A9|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon Z mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2018||April 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 1999||USD 4499|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon Z6||Sony A9|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 23.9 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||858.01 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.1 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.3 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6048 x 4024 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.94 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.84 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-51200 ISO||100-51200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50-204800 ISO||50-204800 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 6||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||95||92|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.3||24.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.3||13.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3299||3517|
|Screen Specs||Nikon Z6||Sony A9|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3690k dots||3686k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||2100k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon Z6||Sony A9|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000/s||1/8000/s|
|Continuous Shooting||12 shutter flaps/s||20 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations||500 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/32000s|
|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|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon Z6||Sony A9|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|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||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon Z6||Sony A9|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||310 shots per charge||650 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 63 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||675 g (23.8 oz)||673 g (23.7 oz)|
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