D850 user testing the Z6II + 24-70/2.8Z hands on

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stratman1976
stratman1976 Contributing Member • Posts: 973
D850 user testing the Z6II + 24-70/2.8Z hands on
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Hi everyone,

I have been using my D850's for a couple of years now. Love those camera's. But I wanted to get a decent hands on experience with on of the Nikon Z-series to see if they would fit my needs.

My use caseis portraiture and weddings for clients. For weddings the added weight reduction got me curious as well. For personal use it's travel, landscaping and my kids of course So no sports, wildlife or BIF, although my kids sometimes move more erratically than any animal I've ever seen

Things about the Z-series that draw me compared to my D850 are two things really: the better live view and the eye AF modes

So I'd like to share some hands on experience shooting with the Z6II the same way as I would do with my D850. Feel free to add, question or comment on my findings.

My rental service had the Z6II, so I rented that together with the 24-70Z and FTZ adapter.

Disclaimer: I used the Z6II for three days, so I can only partially comment on certain features as I believe one needs to use a new camera longer to fully understand and learn how to use it, my muscle memory also still has a lot of D850 in it. It usually takes me about a week to get fully intuitive.

What I liked about the Z6II (compared to D850)

  • EVF - looks great and no problem coming from a OVF. (It smokes my EVF from the X-T1 btw). Screen looks great as well, also for viewing outside.
  • Size and weight - I use Peak design slide straps and it was very comfortable carrying the Z6II + 24-70/2.8Z. It was much lighter than I expected. Can easily do weddings with this combo.
  • Build quality - also superb
  • Fast shutter release - I do not feel a noticeable lag when pressing the shutter
  • The shutter sound, or lack thereof. Much quieter, no mirror to slap around
  • Autofocus - Single point - very fast and accurate, almost instantly, AF-C and AF-S
  • Autofocus - Eye detect. What a relief, it seems to works good. Love the fact that you can use "wide" to restrict the eye detect point to a box preventing the AF point to go to other subjects. I see a higher keeper rate than my D850. In a sequence of 10 perhaps 1 max. 2 missed shots. Need to get more experience here, but it looks promising. A big plus for portraits and events.
  • Switch to general tracking - If no face or eye is available for eye AF you can easily switch to general tracking. 
  • Live view - what a relief compared to my sluggish D850 live view.
  • FTZ - seems to work well with 1.4 primes. Only did a brief test, but keeper rate was higher than my D850 for 85/1.4 portraits @f/1.4
  • 24-70/2.8Z - What a fine lens. It's light, feels very solid. OLED screen is nice and the IQ is simply stunning. one of the reasons I've been curious to perhaps switch or add a Z.
  • Fn buttons on the front - like the fact they press slightly outward. Great tactile feedback
  • IQ of the Z6II is what I'd expect. Hopefully I haven't grown too attached to the 46MP files. These look great as well.

What I did not like or what I had issues with or annoyances (compared to D850)

  • Eye detect - A face has to be really close to start being detected. At first I thought it was set to "off". Could be just me, but I expected better
  • PASM dial - Why give up all those nice dedicated buttons for a PASM dial? For me it's wasted space. Now I have to dive into the "i" menu more often
  • position of Fn buttons + front dial: my hands do not like pressing either one of the Fn buttons on the front of the camera and turning the front dial simultaneously. I have to strain them. Very uncomfortable. That is perhaps the downside of a smaller body.
  • The grip - deep enough, but my pinky doesn't fit and I have small hands. Like the d850 grip (much) better
  • "i" menu - really do not like that you need to close the menu pressing the "I" or the shutter. Why not hide the menu once you've adjusted an item after you've pressed ok? Now you return to the "I" menu after pressing ok and need to exit again after a press. Am I missing something?
  • The position of the four buttons under the multi/OK button. Too much cramped together for my taste. With gloves it's useless.
  • FTZ adapter - It's cumbersome, but it works. Although I can't put on the FTZ adapter when my Slide Lite base plate is attached. No fault of the adapter, but it's an annoyance. Can't do that in the field, don't want to change straps. If I go all Z, then I think I'll use the Z glass anyway, so no real big for me.

IBIS - This one is a bit undecided. It has it's value, but for portraits and weddings my shutter speed is always high enough to avoid motion blur or to match flash sync. It might help in other use cases. Haven't really gotten into this.

When I try out a new camera, the first thing I look at are the ergonomics and handling. The Z6II is pretty good, despite the above described annoyances. I do still prefer the feel and layout of the D850, but the weight of the Z6II is a BIG plus and it does feel very sturdy.

The smaller amount of dedicated buttons is something that perhaps will come in a Z8 or Z9 or I will just have to get used to. Maybe after a month or so, I would not know any better. I can understand why lots of folks like these bodies. There are no deal breakers here for me. Adding a grip might be good idea to extend battery life and to the length of the grip.

I can't see myself switching right now, but perhaps adding a ZX + 24-70/4.0 or 2.8 to my kit to get to know it inside out and then decide what I prefer. Also I came to realise how much I've gotten used to those gorgeous 46MP files.

Thanks for reading! Any comments or other experiences are welcome of course!

 stratman1976's gear list:stratman1976's gear list
Nikon D700 Fujifilm X-T1 Nikon D850 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm F2.8G IF-ED VR +8 more
Casio Exilim EX-Z9 Fujifilm X-T1 Nikon D850
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