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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.

Headline Specifications
Nikon Z6   Sony A9
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 stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
310 shots per battery charge650 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.

Body comparison: Nikon Z6 vs Sony A9

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.

Size Nikon Z6 vs Sony A9
Compare Z6 versus A9 top
Comparison Z6 or A9 rear

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.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon Z6» 5.3 in 4.0 in 2.6 in 23.8 oz 310 Y Aug 2018 1,999 i i Nikon Z6
 
Sony A9« 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 23.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499 i i Sony A9
 
Canon 6D Mark II« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i 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 i i Fujifilm X-H1
 
Nikon Z7« » 5.3 in 4.0 in 2.6 in 23.8 oz 330 Y Aug 2018 3,399 i i Nikon Z7
 
Nikon D750« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299 i i Nikon D750
 
Panasonic S1R« » 5.9 in 4.3 in 3.8 in 35.8 oz 380 Y Feb 2019 3,699 i i Panasonic S1R
 
Panasonic G9« » 5.4 in 3.8 in 3.6 in 23.2 oz 400 Y Nov 2017 1,699 i i Panasonic G9
 
Panasonic GH5« » 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 25.6 oz 410 Y Jan 2017 1,999 i i Panasonic GH5
 
Sony A7 III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i i Sony A7 III
 
Sony A7R III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 650 Y Oct 2017 3,199 i i Sony A7R III
 
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Nikon Z6 vs Sony A9

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.

Nikon Z6 and Sony A9 sensor measures

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.

Z6 versus A9 MP

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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Nikon Z6» Full Frame 24.3 6048 40244K/30p25.314.3329995Nikon Z6
 
Sony A9« Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792Sony A9
 
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285Canon 6D Mark II
 
Fujifilm X-H1« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p----Fujifilm X-H1
 
Nikon Z7« » Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.314.6266899Nikon Z7
 
Nikon D750« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693Nikon D750
 
Panasonic S1R« » Full Frame 46.7 8368 55844K/60p26.414.13525100Panasonic S1R
 
Panasonic G9« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p----Panasonic G9
 
Panasonic GH5« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777Panasonic GH5
 
Sony A7 III« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7373096Sony A7 III
 
Sony A7R III« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.014.73523100Sony A7R III
 
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990Sony 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).

 

Feature comparison: Nikon Z6 vs Sony A9

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.

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
Camera
Model
 
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 S1R« »5760 Y 3.2 2100 full-flex Y 1/8000s 9.0 n Y Panasonic S1R
 
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 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.

 

Connectivity comparison: Nikon Z6 vs Sony A9

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.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Nikon Z6»YstereomonoYYmicro3.1Y-YNikon Z6
 
Sony A9«YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYYSony A9
 
Canon 6D Mark II« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon 6D Mark II
 
Fujifilm X-H1« »YstereomonoY-micro3.0Y--Fujifilm X-H1
 
Nikon Z7« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.1Y-YNikon Z7
 
Nikon D750« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--Nikon D750
 
Panasonic S1R« »YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-YPanasonic S1R
 
Panasonic G9« »YstereomonoYYfull3.0Y-YPanasonic G9
 
Panasonic GH5« »YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-YPanasonic GH5
 
Sony A7 III« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYYSony A7 III
 
Sony A7R III« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYYSony A7R III
 
Sony A7 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7 II

Both the Z6 and the A9 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. Neither of the two has a direct predecessor, so perhaps they will constitute the origins of new camera lines for Nikon and Sony. 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.


Review summary: Nikon Z6 vs Sony A9

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.

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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).

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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.
  • 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 : 6 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.

Z6 09:06 A9

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.

Expert reviews: Nikon Z6 vs Sony A9

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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon Z6»--4.5/5-5/5 Aug 2018 1,999 i i Nikon Z6
 
Sony A9«+ +89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499 i i Sony A9
 
Canon 6D Mark II« »+80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
 
Fujifilm X-H1« »+86/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Feb 2018 1,899 i i Fujifilm X-H1
 
Nikon Z7« »+89/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2018 3,399 i i Nikon Z7
 
Nikon D750« »+ +90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299 i i Nikon D750
 
Panasonic S1R« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Feb 2019 3,699 i i Panasonic S1R
 
Panasonic G9« »+ +85/1005/55/55/5 Nov 2017 1,699 i i Panasonic G9
 
Panasonic GH5« »+ +85/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2017 1,999 i i Panasonic GH5
 
Sony A7 III« »+ +89/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i i Sony A7 III
 
Sony A7R III« »+ +90/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2017 3,199 i i Sony A7R III
 
Sony A7 II« »+82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
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.

Nikon Z6:
Check Amazon price
Sony A9:
Check Amazon price

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.

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    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 Specifications
    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 Technology BSI-CMOS BSI-CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    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 Magnification 0.80x 0.78x
    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
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Nikon Z6 Sony A9
    Autofocus System On-Sensor Phase-detect On-Sensor Phase-detect
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000/s 1/8000/s
    Continuous Shooting 12 shutter flaps/s 20 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy200 000 actuations500 000 actuations
    Electronic Shutterno E-Shutterup to 1/32000s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inno Intervalometer
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-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
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    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 SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-EL15b power pack NP-FZ100 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)310 shots per charge650 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)
    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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