In May 2018, I upgraded from my old Nikon D3200 to a Nikon Z6. When I was trying to decide with the camera, I made a unique decision to go with the Z6 on top of the Z7. Based on technical features related to low light sensitivity. From then on, I always thought though that I really noticed and I preferred higher resolution.
In April 2022, thanks in part Lensrentals.comI finally had a chance to try Nikon Z7 II For astrophotography and nightscape while visiting Big Bend National Park. Since coming back, I’ve collected my likes and dislikes about the camera, analyzed a few photos to highlight the technical aspects of the camera, and finally reflected on what I think this camera would like to associate with them.
Key Specifications and Settings
- Price: $ 2996
- Lens mount: Nikon Z.
- Functional pixels: 45.7 megapixels
- Sensor configuration: FX
- Sensor type: Stacked CMOS sensor
- File format: NEF (RAW): 14 bit raw
- Storage: 2 slots, CFexpress type B, XQD type memory, and SD
- EVF: .5 inches
- Shutter type: Electronic front screen shutter
- Shutter speed: Enhanced shutter mode from 1/8000 to 900s
- Continuous shooting speed: 10 fps for 50 frames
- Metering range: -3 to +17 EV
- ISO sensitivity: 64-25600 (extended: 32-102,400)
- The balance of light: Choose Color Temperature (2500-10000K)
- Monitor size: Ear 3.2
- Monitor type: TFT Touch LCD Tilt Horizontally
- Significant interface
- USB-C which can be used to get the camera
- Nikon DC2 input for a remote
- Battery: EN-EL15c rechargeable Li-ion battery
- Tripod socket: 1/4 inch
- Dimensions: 5.3in x 4in x 2.7in
- Weight: 1.4lb body only
- Operating environment: Temperature 32F-104F
- Focus shift shooting
- Increased exposure: 30 to 900
- Interval timer shooting
- Low light autofocus
- AF-Assist Illuminator
The first thing I like about the Nikon Z7 II is the resolution. When I glanced at one of the pictures after importing it into the lightroom, it blew me away. The detail that stood out between the sand and the rock grains during 100% zooming was nothing short of incredible. Adding 45.7 megapixels to the full-frame sensor and my shot nightscapes have become spectacular.
The next item to shoot with the Nikon Z7 II for astrophotography and nightscape was the Z-Mount. I’ve been a big fan of glass quality so far and I love the options that have been rolled out to get bigger apertures. On this trip to the Big Bend, I initially shot with a Nikon Z 14-24mm f / 2.8 which was a Nikon lens carried in the F-Mount series, but due to the Z-mount, Nikon was able to greatly reduce the size and weight of the lens. So while the Z-Mount camera doesn’t change much with the body, I really see the benefits in the options it opens up for the lenses.
In terms of size and weight, for someone like me who is accustomed to using the Z6, it’s great that the Z7 II fits the same size body. The Z7 II measures 5.3x4x2.7in (134 × 100.5 × 69.5mm) and weighs 1.4lbs (615g). I think small cameras and low weights are really helpful when traveling. I personally tend to travel with only a 40L backpack which means the less space I have for camera gear, the more I can wear.
I also found that some non-US airlines may look at the weight of a carry-on bag as well as the time it takes to have much lower requirements. For example, Southwest Airlines has no weight limit for carry-on, while All Nippon Airways has a maximum weight of 22lb (10kg). Even if you can’t fly, if you try to combine photography with other activities like backcountry camping, you will gain weight in the end. Not to mention whether you want to start doubling down to other areas of night photography, such as Star Tracker and Deep Space Objects that have weight limitations that they can support.
Two more features of my choice about the Z7 II that go handy are the extended battery life of the EN-EL15c that comes with the Z7 II and the ability to plug an external battery bank into the USB-C input. This is really convenient in places like Big Bend where electricity is not always readily available. It also helps when shooting for extended periods or when the weather is cold and drains the battery quickly. The EN-EL15c has a capacity of 2280 mAh while the EN-EL15b which originally came with my Z6 has a capacity of 1900 mAh. Although not a big difference, it extends the ability to shoot.
With some perspectives on the power of the EN-EL15c with the Z7 II, the first night of shooting at Big Bend begins at 1:30 a.m. and continues uninterrupted until about 4 p.m. Most of the time, the camera was on and shooting was going on, but there was some short downtime when going between a few locations. That being said, I’ve used only three-quarters of the battery in the Z7 II. Even if I ran out, my battery bank in my backpack was ready to go.
In terms of settings, there are three that are really different for shooting the Milky Way. The first setting is the built-in interval timer and the second is the increased exposure. These two settings work together because they largely eliminate the need for an external intervalometer.
The extended shutter allows exposure to push up to 900 seconds. I used it more than once to shoot my foregrounds which was usually at 120 or 240. Although I never needed to shoot more than 120 or 240 exposures, I was able to use the interval timer shooting function when shooting my exposure for the Milky Way, which was usually about 10 or 15 seconds long.
Note the third setting, which I’m not sure is a setting at the moment, is to disable the save autofocus setting, I found a Nikon Z series camera when paired with a Z series lens When turned on, Infinity is almost always in focus.
After all, the pictures I took with this camera were nothing short of incredible. Not only was the camera great when shooting astrophotography and nightscape with the galaxy, but it performed great when I let it work in landscape shots.
My first dislike with this camera is that the horizontal display is only tilted. Other camera makers have figured out how to rotate it left and right and for me, I’m tired at the moment when I have to record myself in video camera
I always get annoyed if I have one of these cameras in Star Tracker or I try to shoot in portrait mode by pointing the camera upwards and I have to go to a strange position to squat to see the LCD. I’m hoping that the new updates with the Z9 screen work in the case of a horizontal and vertical tilt screen.
In terms of imaging, I have a really low light performance technical nitpick. When looking at my Z7 II photos from Big Bend, they look great I will honestly say that I don’t notice a huge difference between the shots with the Z7 II and the Z6. However, when you take two photos and compare them side by side there is definitely a difference where there is a bit more noise due to the increase in ISO standard of Z7 II. This is due to the fact that the sensor size is the same between the cameras, but the actual size of the “pixels” in the Z7 II is smaller. This reduces the number of photons captured by each pixel and gives the Z6 a slight edge in low light performance.
Speaking of pixel size, it also reduces the exposure time that can be used before star trailing is clear. Using the NPF rule from the Photopiles app, 14mm focal length and f / 2.8 can shoot for 18.48 seconds with a Z6 whereas Z7 II can only shoot for 15.47 seconds. Three seconds may not sound like much, but it does add multiple exposures and help reveal more details in the night sky.
Nikon Z6 Noise image
Nikon Z7 II Noise image
The next dislike I want to highlight is the file size which seems to range anywhere from 50-65Mb. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it’s a side effect of higher resolution, but it’s something to think about when it comes to things like photo editing and storage. I’ve noticed in some focus stacked shots as well as milkway stacks that it takes significantly longer to process photos. Even at one point, Photoshop crashed using all my RAM. I’ve never had this problem with small Z6 files.
In terms of storage, you’ll be eating almost twice as fast through your hard drive. So just be prepared that you can have a hard time with large files on your computer.
After all, I can’t express my dislike without mentioning the price. I am a Penny Pincher so when it comes to dropping $ 3,000 on a camera, it’s a tough thing for me. I have to make sure that one piece of equipment will do the job for me. That’s why I enjoy renting equipment LensRentals.com, Which (full disclosure) sponsored me for this review, before I bought. But aside from that, I’ve always struggled with how expensive this hobby can be!
Who is it for?
I think this camera is a great option for a professional or an experienced hobbyist as you start relying on your equipment for income the need for two cards becomes extremely important. So, in this case, there will be redundancy with a professional memory card system. I think this camera works well for those who want higher resolution, but it comes with a caveat that it does not automatically mean that your images will be better.
With improved speeds compared to the Z6, the Z7 II could be a good camera for those shooting wildlife, action sports, etc. as it can hold a high frame rate (fps) per second, as well as handle it great. In low light conditions such as nightscape and astrophotography. However, if you have a tight budget and can live without higher resolution, the Z6 II would be a great option to purchase.
Overall, I really enjoyed this camera and the pictures I was able to capture with the Z7 II. I especially liked the enhanced resolution and can’t wait to see how some prints I’ve recently ordered. In addition, I noticed that I did not notice a decrease in low-light performance when reviewing pictures of my Milky Way. I also found peace of mind in having two memory card slots, which I never got before and I liked that the camera was not different in size compared to my Z6. At the moment, I’m really tempted to sell my Z6 and upgrade to a Z7 II, but I’d like to give the Z9 a try before I decide.
If you want to rent this lens, you can Use my affiliate code to get 25% discount Your first rent. In addition, if you decide to buy a Z7 II, I would appreciate it if you bought it using My affiliate link from Amazon. That simple action helps me to create this review.
About the author: After a few trips with his wife, Will Channy realized that he was just taking photos of everything he did as a tourist. In 2018, he began to study more about image composition and various photography techniques to get to where he is today. Will is still learning and doesn’t see that part of the photography ending for him. This review was originally posted Here.