Note that the Z7 II is the latest version of the Z7 line, so – as you might expect – it is better than its predecessor, the Z7, at least in most respects. The real question is not whether the Z7 II is the superior camera, but whether it’s worth the extra cost (and for those who already own the Z7, whether it’s worth the upgrade).
So if you’re struggling to decide between these two cameras, or if you’re on the fence about upgrading, then keep reading!
Nikon Z7: Overview
The Z7 was designed to bridge the long tradition of the company and the promising future of new mirrorless technology. While the Z7 was a well-received camera, it does include some flaws – as is characteristic of first-generation devices.
The original MSRP was $3400, though at the time of writing, you can purchase the Z7 for around $2500.
Nikon Z7 II: Overview
The Nikon Z7 II launched in October 2020, over two years after the release of the Z7. As the Z7’s successor, it inherited most of the Z7’s qualities, including an outstanding 45 MP sensor.
The Z7 II features a notable improvement, though: The addition of a Dual EXPEED 6 processor. I’ll discuss this later on in the article, but for now, recognize that the new processor greatly improved the Z7 II’s continuous shooting performance, as well as its AF performance – especially its eye detection and tracking.
The Z7 II also includes dual memory card slots, unlike the Z7. The original MSRP was $3000 (less than the Z7’s MSRP), but it currently sells for around $2900.
1. Nikon Z7 vs Z7 II: Ergonomics
The Nikon Z7 and Z7 II both look and feel very similar; the two cameras sport weather-sealed bodies and lack a built-in flash. But the dimensions do differ, and there are a few additional changes made to the Z7 II worth discussing.
The Z7 weighs 1.49 lb (675 g) with the battery and card, and it’s 5.3 x 4.0 x 2.7 in (134 x 101 x 68 mm). The Z7 II weighs slightly more than its predecessor, coming in at 1.55 lb (705 g), and it’s (imperceptibly) larger, at 5.3 x 4.0 x 2.8 in (134 x 101 x 70 mm).
Neither camera is lightweight and compact, at least not compared to smaller full-frame mirrorless cameras and especially APS-C mirrorless cameras. But former DSLR owners will appreciate the drop in bulk, and the Z7 and Z7 II do both offer a nice compromise between robustness and portability.
Both cameras boast an electronic viewfinder with 3.6M-dots of resolution and 0.8x magnification, so you can expect an excellent shooting experience thanks to a true-to-life display. The Nikon Z7 II, however, has shorter blackout times when in burst mode, which can be useful for tracking fast-moving subjects.
One of the biggest criticisms leveled at the Nikon Z7 is the lack of a second memory card slot (it only supports a single CFexpress or XQD card). But the Z7 II adds a second slot, an SD UHS-II option to complement the CFexpress option. While most beginners have no real need for two slots, professionals will appreciate the option to create an automatic file backup when shooting.
The Z7 and the Z7 II have respectable 3.2” articulating touchscreens with 2.1 million dots of resolution. However, the Z7 II has a clutter-free option when using Live View, which can be assigned to a custom button. And the Z7 II is programmed to keep the EVF dark when the screen is tilted up, which will help conserve battery while shooting via the LCD.
2. Nikon Z7 vs Z7 II: Image quality
Both the Z7 and Z7 II use identical sensors, a full-frame, back-illuminated, 45.7-megapixel model that’s capable of outstanding detail, color rendition, and dynamic range.
You can use either camera for professional commercial photography, macro photography, and especially landscape photography, where the Z7 and Z7 II’s impressive high-megapixel capabilities allow for huge, detailed prints, and both cameras’ high-ISO performances come in handy during low-light shoots.
Note that neither the Nikon Z7 nor the Nikon Z7 II uses a low-pass filter – so you can expect extra detail but more prevalent moire – and they both include 5-axis in-body image stabilization, which will help you capture sharp images when handholding in low light.
Bottom line: You’ll get the same amazing image quality with both cameras. Whether you want to do portrait, landscape, still life, or product photography, you’ll notice no real difference between the models.
3. Nikon Z7 vs Z7 II: Autofocus
Both the Z7 and Z7 II feature the same hybrid AF system with 493 AF points, yet the Z7 II greatly exceeds the performance of its predecessor.
The most significant improvement is in the eye/face detection feature. In the original Z7, human and animal eye/face detection wasn’t available when using the Wide-area AF modes; the Z7 II not only has this feature with Wide-area AF, but also allows you to target a specific portion of the frame.
Additionally, face/eye detection is available when shooting video on the Z7 II, which wasn’t an option on the Z7 and is a big help when recording sports or wildlife footage.
The Nikon Z7 II also offers superior focusing in low light. The Nikon Z7 works from -2 to +19 EV (-4 to +19 EV with low-light AF enabled), while the Z7 II works from -3 to +19 EV (-4 to +19 EV with low-light AF enabled). In other words, the Z7 II will continue to focus in darker scenarios, even as the Z7 begins to struggle.
At the end of the day, both the Z7 and Z7 II boast solid AF systems, but if you’re serious about creating action and/or low-light photos or video, the Z7 II is the better buy.
4. Nikon Z7 vs Z7 II: Continuous shooting
Earlier in this article, I mentioned that the Z7 II adds a dual EXPEED 6 image processor; this primarily affects the camera’s continuous shooting capabilities.
While the Nikon Z7 can shoot up to 9 12-bit frames per second and 8 14-bit frames per second, the Z7 II gets an upgrade: 10 frames per second in 12 bit and 9 frames per second in 14 bit. While none of these numbers can rival a professional sports camera, an extra frame per second is an improvement worth thinking about, especially if you plan to do frequent wildlife or sports shooting.
But the biggest improvement comes in the camera’s buffering:
When shooting 12-bit lossless RAW files, the Z7 II allows for an impressive 77 shots, compared to just 23 shots on the Z7. You can capture sustained bursts without the camera locking up – which is essential for serious action photography.
5. Nikon Z7 vs Z7 II: Video quality
Videographers will appreciate a major upgrade in the Z7 II: While both cameras record 4K UHD video, the newer camera’s maximum frame rate is 60p, versus 30p on the Nikon Z7.
However, the Z7 II does level a small (1.08x) crop when filming 4K/60p video. This isn’t hugely noticeable – for example, a 50mm lens will offer a 54mm-equivalent field of view – but you may struggle to capture wide-angle footage, so if you’re a fan of the ultra-wide look, keep that in mind.
Of course, you don’t have to work at 60 frames per second; for many functions, 30 frames per second is just fine, and both the Z7 and Z7 II offer uncropped 4K/30p video.
6. Nikon Z7 vs Z7 II: Battery life
The Nikon Z7 II got a major boost in battery life when filming: You now get 105 minutes of recording time, versus 85 minutes on the Z7.
The Z7 II also boosted battery life for photographers, though it’s not as significant. The Z7 can fire off 330 frames on a full charge, while the Z7 II lasts 360 shots. (Note that these official figures are often highly pessimistic, and you can expect significantly more use out of a single battery.)
The battery grip offered by the Z7 II is different, too. The new MB-N11 offers basic controls, holds two batteries, and allows for USB charging. The MB-N10 holds two batteries, but it doesn’t have controls and doesn’t support USB power, so it won’t give you the same level of flexibility while shooting.
7. Nikon Z7 vs Z7 II: Additional features
The Z7 and the Z7 II are identical in most other respects. Both cameras offer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, both have an intervalometer and allow for timelapse movies, and both have a flash sync speed of 1/200s.
However, the Nikon Z7 II does allow you to select shutter speeds of 1/8000s to 900s, versus 1/8000s to 30s on the Z7. Note that you can still capture long exposures on the Z7, but you’ll need to use the less-convenient Bulb mode. For serious long-exposure shooters, then, the Z7 II is the better choice.
Finally, the Nikon Z7 II allows for firmware updates via Nikon’s SnapBridge app.
Nikon Z7 vs Nikon Z7 II: Which camera should you buy?
As you can see, the Nikon Z7 and the Nikon Z7 II are more alike than different – but the few enhancements on the Z7 II are significant, if only to certain types of photographers.
If you do a lot of action photography, including sports, wildlife, and bird shooting, you can definitely benefit from the Z7 II’s upgrades. The increase in the continuous shooting speeds and the extra buffering capacity, as well as the dual memory card slots, make it worth the extra investment.
Finally, if you’re mainly concerned about image quality for still life, product, or landscape photography, then the Nikon Z7 will do just fine; I’d recommend you buy the older model and save yourself some money.
Which camera do you plan to purchase, the Z7 or the Z7 II? Which do you prefer? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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