Nikon Z6 For Real Estate Photography

By | 22/08/2022

Nikon Z Title

I put the new Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera through its paces for astrophotography.

Post-obit Sony’south atomic number 82, in late 2018 both Nikon and Canon released their entries to the total-frame mirrorless camera market place.

Here I review 1 of Nikon’southward new mirrorless models, the Z6, tested solely with astrophotography in mind. I did not test any of the auto-exposure, automobile-focus, image stabilization, nor rapid-fire continuous style features.

For full specs and details on the Z-series cameras meet Nikon USA’s website.

Sony a7III vs Nikon Z6 copy

In my testing I compared the Nikon Z6 (at right above) to two competitive cameras, the relatively new Sony a7III mirrorless (at left higher up) and 2015-vintage Nikon D750 DSLR.

All 3 are “entry-level” total-frame cameras, with 24 megapixels and in a like $2,000 price league, though the older D750 now often sells at a considerable disbelieve.


I should country at the outset that my conclusions are based on tests conducted over simply three weeks in mid-wintertime 2019 while I had the photographic camera on loan from Nikon Canada’south marketing company.

I don’t own the camera and didn’t accept many moonless nights during the loan period to capture a lot of “beauty” shots under the stars with the Z6.

An arc of the auroral oval across the northern horizon on the nighttime of January ten-11, 2019. With the Sigma 14mm lens and Nikon Z6 for testing.

However, I think my testing was sufficient to reveal the photographic camera’s main traits of interest — every bit well every bit deficiencies it might have — for astrophotography.

I should also point out that I do not participate in “affiliate links,” so I have no financial motivation to prompt y’all to buy gear from merchants.

Merely if you purchase my ebook (at correct), which features reams of sections on photographic camera and time-lapse gear, I would be very pleased!

TL;DR Conclusions

In short — I found the Nikon Z6 superb for astrophotography.

Nikon Z6 Screens copy


• It offers as low a noise level equally y’all’ll observe in a 24-megapixel full-frame camera, though its dissonance was not significantly lower than the competitive Sony a7III, nor even the older Nikon D750.

• The Z6’s ISO-invariant sensor proved splendid when dealing with the dark underexposed shadows typical of Milky way nightscapes.

• The Alive View was bright and easy to heighten to even brighter levels using the Film mode to assist in framing nightscapes.

• When shooting deep-sky images through telescopes using long exposures, the Z6 did not showroom whatsoever odd image artifacts such as edge vignetting or amplifier glows, unlike the Sony a7III. See my review of that camera in my blog from 2018.


• Current owners of Nikon cropped-frame cameras wanting to upgrade to full-frame would do well to consider a Z6 over any current Nikon DSLR.

• Anyone wanting a full-frame camera for astrophotography and happy to “go Nikon” will find the Z6 about perfect for their needs.

Nikon Z6
vs. Z7

Nikon Front View copy

I opted to exam the Z6 over the more than expensive Z7, as the 24-megapixel Z6 has 6-micron pixels resulting in lower noise (according to independent tests) than the 46 megapixel Z7 with its 4.4 micron pixels.

In astrophotography, I feel depression noise is critical, with 24-megapixel cameras striking a sweet spot of noise
vs. resolution.

Even so, if the higher resolution of the Z7 is of import for your daytime photography needs, then I’m sure it will work well at night. The Nikon D850 DSLR, with a sensor like to the Z7, has been proven by others to be a good astrophotography camera, albeit with higher noise than the lesser megapixel Nikons such every bit the D750 and Z6.

Annotation: Tap or click on images to download and display them full screen for closer inspection.

High ISO Noise

The iii 24-megapixel cameras compared at 3 loftier ISO levels in a close-up of a dark-sky nightscape.

To exam noise in a existent-world situation, I shot a dark nightscape scene with the iii cameras, using a 24mm Sigma Art lens on the two Nikons, and a 24mm Catechism lens on the Sony via a MetaBones adapter. I shot at ISOs from 800 to 12,800, typical of what we use in nightscapes and deep-sky images.

The comparison fix above shows operation at the higher ISOs of 3200 to 12,800. I saw very little difference among the trio, with the Nikon Z6 very similar to the Sony a7III, and with the four-year-old Nikon D750 property up very well against the two new cameras.

The comparison below shows the iii cameras on another nighttime and at ISO 3200.

The three cameras compared for noise at properly exposed moonlit scenes at ISO 3200, a typical nightscape setting.

Both the Nikon Z6 and Sony a7III use a behind illuminated or “BSI” sensor, which in theory is promises to provide lower racket than a conventional CMOS sensor used in an older photographic camera such as the D750.

In practice I didn’t see a marked difference, certainly not as much every bit the one- or even 1/two-stop comeback in noise I might accept expected or hoped for.

Nevertheless, the Nikon Z6 provides as low a noise level every bit you lot’ll find in a camera offering 24 megapixels, and volition perform very well for all forms of astrophotography.

ISO Invariance

The three cameras compared for ISO invariance at 0EV (well exposed) and -5EV (5 stops underexposed then brightened in processing).

Nikon and Sony both employ an “ISO-invariant” signal period in their sensor blueprint. You can purposely underexpose by shooting at a lower ISO, then boost the exposure later “in post” and cease up with a effect similar to an paradigm shot at a high ISO to begin with in the camera.

I find this characteristic proves its worth when shooting Milky way nightscapes that often accept well-exposed skies but nighttime foregrounds lit only by starlight. Boosting the effulgence of the mural when developing the raw files reveals details in the scene
unduly introducing noise, banding, or other artifacts such equally magenta tints.

truthful of “ISO variant” sensors, such as in virtually Canon cameras. Such sensors are far less tolerant of underexposure and are prone to noise, banding, and discolouration in the brightened shadows.

Encounter my test of the Canon 6D MkII for its performance under the differing demands of nightscape photography and deep-sky imaging.

To test the Z6’due south ISO invariance (every bit shown in a higher place) I shot a night nightscape at ISO 3200 for a properly exposed scene, and also at ISO 100 for an paradigm underexposed past a massive 5 stops. I then additional that image by 5 stops in exposure in Adobe Camera Raw. That’s an extreme instance to be sure.

I found the Z6 provided very good ISO invariant performance, though with more than chrominance specking than the Sony a7III and Nikon D750 at -v EV.

Below is a less severe examination, showing the Z6 properly exposed on a moonlit night and at 1 to 4 EV steps underexposed, then brightened in processing. Even the -iv EV image looks very good.

This series taken under moonlight shows that fifty-fifty images underexposed past -iv EV in ISO and boosted later by +four EV in processing look similar for noise and paradigm quality as an image properly exposed in the camera (at ISO 800 here).

In my testing, even with frames underexposed past -5 EV, I did not run across whatsoever of the banding effects (due to the phase-detect auto-focus pixels) reported by others.

As such, I judge the Z6 to be an excellent camera for nightscape shooting when we often want to extract item in the shadows or dark foregrounds.

vs. Uncompressed / Raw Big
vs. Small

Comparing Z6 images shot at full resolution and at Medium Raw size. to show resolution and racket differences.

The Z6, every bit do many Nikons, offers a choice of shooting 12-flake or fourteen-flake raws, and either compressed or uncompressed.

I shot all my exam images every bit 14-flake uncompressed raws, yielding 46 megabyte files with a resolution of 6048 x 4024 pixels. And then I cannot annotate on how practiced 12-bit compressed files are compared to what I shot. Astrophotography demands the best original data.

Z6 Menu - Raw Formats

However, as the menu in a higher place shows, Nikon now also offers the selection of shooting smaller raw sizes. The Medium Raw setting produces an image 4528 x 3016 pixels and a 18 megabyte file (in the files I shot), but with all the benefits of raw files in processing.

The Z cameras utilise the XQD style retention cards and in a single card slot. The fast XQDs are ideal for recording 4K movies at high data rates but are more plush than the more than mutual SD cards.

The Medium Raw pick might be bonny when shooting fourth dimension-lapses, where you lot might demand to fit as many frames onto the single XQD card as possible, yet still have images large enough for final 4K movies.

However, comparing a Large Raw to a Medium Raw did show a loss of resolution, as expected, with piddling gain in racket reduction.

This is not similar “binning pixels” in CCD cameras to increase indicate-to-noise ratio. I prefer to never throw away information in the camera, to allow the option of creating the best quality still images from time-lapse frames later.

Even so, information technology’s nice to see Nikon at present offer this option on new models, a feature which has long been on Canon cameras.

Star Prototype Quality

The Orion Nebula with the Nikon Z6
The Orion Nebula with the Nikon D750

Above is the Orion Nebula with the D750 and with the Z6, both shot in moonlight with the same 105mmrefractor telescope.

I did not find any evidence for “star-eating” that Sony mirrorless cameras have been accused of. (However, I did non detect the Sony a7III guilty of eating stars either.) Star images looked as expert in the Z6 every bit in the D750.

A single Orion Nebula image with the Z6 in a 600% blow-upward in Adobe Camera Raw, showing make clean artifact-costless star images with good, natural colours.

Raw developers (Adobe, DxO, ON1, and others) decoded the Z6’s Bayer-array NEF files fine, with no artifacts such equally oddly-coloured or misshapen stars, which can arise in cameras defective an anti-alias filter.

LENR Dark frames

A blank long exposure with
LENR applied – click or tap to open the image total screen
A blank long exposure
LENR – tap or click to open the paradigm total screen

Above, 8-minute exposures of nothing, taken with the lens cap on at room temperature:

LENR, and


LENR, both boosted a lot in effulgence and contrast to exaggerate the visibility of any thermal noise. These show the reduction in noise speckling with LENR activated, and the clean result with the Z6. At small-scale size yous’ll probable run across naught but blackness!

For deep-heaven imaging a common exercise is to shoot “dark frames,” images recording just the thermal racket that can and then be subtracted from the image.

The Long Exposure Noise Reduction feature offered by all cameras performs this dark frame subtraction internally and automatically by the camera for any exposures over one second long.

I tested the Z6’s LENR and found information technology worked well, doing the job to effectively reduce thermal racket (hot pixels) without adding any other artifacts.

The rear screen “i” menu equally I had it customized for my testing, with functions for astrophotography such every bit LENR assigned to the 12 boxes.


Some astrophotographers dismiss LENR and never use it. Past dissimilarity, I prefer to use LENR to practise night frame subtraction. Why? Through many comparing tests over the years I have found that separate nighttime frames taken later at nighttime rarely do as good a job equally LENR darks, because those separate darks are taken when the sensor temperature, and therefore the noise levels, are different than they were for the “light” frames.

I’ve found that dark frames taken subsequently, then subtracted “in post” inevitably show less or little event compared to images taken with LENR darks. Or worse, they add a myriad of pock-mark black specks to the image, adding noise and making the paradigm look worse.

The benefit of LENR is lower noise. The penalty of LENR is that each image takes twice equally long to shoot — the length of the exposure + the length of the nighttime frame. Because …

As Expected on the Z6 … There’s no LENR Nighttime Frame Buffer

Only Canon full-frame cameras offering this little known but wonderful feature for astrophotography. Turn on LENR and information technology is possible to shoot three (with the Canon 6D MkII) or 4 (with the Canon 6D) raw images in quick succession even with LENR turned on. The Canon 5D serial also has this feature.

The single night frame kicks in and locks upwardly the camera only
the series of “calorie-free frames” are taken. This is excellent for taking a set of dissonance-reduced deep-sky images for later on stacking without need for further “image calibration.”

No Nikon has this nighttime frame buffer, not even the “astronomical” D810a. And non the Z6.


I have to mention this every fourth dimension I describe Canon’s night frame buffer: It works


on total-frame Canons, and

no card function to activate it. Simply plow on LENR, burn down the shutter, and when the first exposure is complete fire the shutter over again. Then again for a third, and perchance a quaternary exposure. Merely and so does the LENR dark frame lock upward the camera as “Busy” and forestall more exposures. That single dark frame gets applied to each of the previous “low-cal” frames, greatly reducing the time it takes to shoot a fix of night-frame subtracted images.

But do note that Canon’s night frame buffer will
work if…:

a) You leave Live View on. Don’t do that for any long exposure shooting.

b) You control the camera through the USB port via external software. It works
when controlling the camera via its internal intervalometer
via the shutter port using a hardware intervalometer.

Sensor Illumination

A single iv-minute exposure of Messier 35 in moonlight at ISO 400 with the Z6 and 105mm apo refractor, with no flat fielding or lens correction applied, showing the clean edges and lack of amp glows. The darkening of the corners is inherent in the telescope optical arrangement and is not from the photographic camera.

With DSLRs deep-heaven images shot through telescopes, so additional for contrast in processing, usually exhibit a darkening along the lesser of the frame. This is caused by the upraised mirror shadowing the sensor slightly, an event never noticed in normal photography.

Mirrorless cameras should be gratuitous of this mirror box shadowing. The Sony a7III, nevertheless, still exhibits some edge shadows due to an odd metal mask in front of the sensor. It shouldn’t exist there and its edge darkening is a pain to eliminate in the final processing.

As I show in my review of the a7III, the Sony also exhibits a regal edge glow in long-exposure deep-sky images, from an internal light source. That’due south a serious detriment to its employ in deep-heaven imaging.

Happily, the Z6 proved to be free of any such artifacts. Images are clean and evenly illuminated to the edges, as they should be. I saw no amp glows or other oddities that can show up under astrophotography apply. The Z6 tin can produce superb deep-sky images.

Red Sensitivity

Messer 97 planetary nebula and Messier 108 galaxy in a lightly processed single four-infinitesimal exposure at ISO 1600 with the 105mm refractor, over again showing a clean field. The glow at top correct is from a Big Dipper star just off the edge of the field.

During my short examination menstruum, I was not able to shoot red nebulas under moonless conditions. So I tin can’t say how well the Z6 performs for recording H-blastoff regions compared to other “stock” cameras.

However, I would not expect it to exist whatever ameliorate, nor worse, than the competitors. Indeed, the stock Nikon D750 I take does a decent job at picking upward red nebulas, though nowhere near as well every bit Nikon’s sadly discontinued D180a. See my blog mail from 2015 for an case shot with that photographic camera.

With the D810a gone, if it is deep red nebulosity y’all are afterwards with a Nikon, then consider buying a filter-modified Z6 or having yours modified.

Both LifePixel and Spencer’s Camera offer to alter the Z6 and Z7 models. However, I take non used either of their services, so cannot vouch for them first paw.

Live View Focusing and Framing

An epitome of the dorsum of the camera with a scene under moonlight, with the Z6 ready to the highest ISO speed in the movie style, to aid framing the scene at night.

For all astrophotography manually focusing with Live View is essential. And with mirrorless cameras in that location is no optical viewfinder to look through to frame scenes. You are dependent on the liveelectronic image (on the rear LCD screen or in the eye-level electronic viewfinder, or EVF) for seeing anything.

Thankfully, the Z6 presents a bright Live View image making it easy to frame, find, and focus on stars. Maximum zoom for precise focusing is 15x, good but not equally skilful as the D750’southward 20x zoom level, but better than Canon’southward 10x maximum zoom in Live View.

The Z6 lacks the a7III’s wonderful Bright Monitoring part that temporarily ups the ISO to an extreme level, making it much easier to frame a dark night scene. Nevertheless, something similar can be achieved with the Z6 by switching it temporarily to Film mode, and having the ISO set to an extreme level.

As with well-nigh Nikons (and dissimilar Sonys), the Z6 remembers split settings for the still and moving picture modes, making it easy to switch dorsum and forth, in this case for a temporarily brightened Live View image to aid framing.

That’s very handy, and the Z6 works better than the D750 in this regard, providing a brighter Live View epitome, even with the D750’due south well-subconscious Exposure Preview choice turned on.

Video Capability

Comparison the three cameras using 1/25-second still frames grabbed from moonlit night movies (Hard disk drive with the D750 and 4K with the Z6 and a7III) shot at ISO 51200, plus a similarly exposed frame from the a7III shot with a shutter speed of only 1/4 second assuasive the slower ISO of 8000.

Where the Z6 pulls far ahead of the otherwise similar D750 is in its movie features.

The Z6 can shoot 4K video (3840 10 2160 pixels) at either thirty, 25, or 24 frames per second. Using 24 frames per second and increasing the ISO to between 12,800 to 51,200 (the Z6 tin go every bit high as ISO 204,800!) information technology is possible to shoot real-fourth dimension video at nighttime, such equally of auroras.

Just the auroras will take to be bright, as at 24 fps, the maximum shutter speed is 1/25-second, as you lot might expect.

The a7III, by comparing, tin can shoot 4K movies at “dragged” shutter speeds as slow as 1/4 2nd, even at 24 fps, making it possible to shoot auroras at lower and less noisy ISO speeds, albeit with some image jerkiness due to the longer exposures per frame.

The D750 shoots merely 1080 HD and, as shown above, produces very noisy movies at ISO 25,600 to 51,200. Information technology’s barely usable for aurora videos.

The Z6 is much cleaner than the D750 at those high ISOs, no doubt due to far better internal processing of the motion-picture show frames. Yet, if night-heaven 4K videos are an important goal, a camera from the Sony a7 series will be a better choice, if simply considering of the option for slower dragged shutter speeds.

For examples of real-time auroras shot with the Sony a7III come across my music videos shot in Yellowknife and in Kingdom of norway.

Battery Life

Nikon Z6 Battery copy

The Z6 uses the EN-EL15b battery compatible with the battery and charger used for the D750. But the “b” variant allows for in-photographic camera charging via the USB port.

In room temperature tests the Z6 lasted for 1500 exposures, as many as the D750 was able to take in a side-by-side exam. That was with the screens off.

At nighttime, in winter temperatures of -10 degrees C (14° F), the Z6 lasted for three hours worth of continuous shooting, both for long deep-sky exposure sets and for a test fourth dimension-lapse I shot, shown below.

A time-lapse motion-picture show, downsized hither to Hd from the full-size originals, shot with the Z6 and its internal intervalometer, from twilight through to moonrise on a winter nighttime. Processed with Camera Raw and LRTimelapse.

However, with any mirrorless camera, yous tin extend battery life by minimizing use of the LCD screen and eye-level EVF. The Z6 has a handy and dedicated push for shutting off those screens when they aren’t needed during a shoot.

The days of mirrorless cameras needing a scattering of batteries just to get through a few hours of shooting are gone.

Lens and Telescope Compatibility

A 14mm Sigma Art lens with the Nikon FTZ lens adapter needed to adhere whatsoever “legacy” F-mount lens to the Z6.

Equally with all mirrorless cameras, the Nikon Z cameras utilise a new lens mount, ane that is incompatible with the decades-old Nikon F mount.

The Z mountain is wider and can conform wider-angle and faster lenses than the one-time F mount e’er could, and in a smaller package. While we accept yet to come across those lenses announced, in theory that’s the good news.

The bad news is that you’ll demand Nikon’s FTZ lens adapter to employ any of your existing Nikon F-mount lenses on either the Z6 or Z7. As of this writing, Nikon is supplying an FTZ free with every Z body purchase.

I got an FTZ with my loaner Z6 and it worked very well, allowing even third-party lenses like my Sigma Art lenses to focus at the same betoken as they commonly exercise (not true of some third-party adapters), preserving the lens’s optical operation. Autofocus functions all worked fine and fast.

The FTZ adapter needed to attach the Z6 to a telescope camera adapter (equipped with a standard Nikon T-ring) and field flattener lens for a refractor.

You’ll also need the FTZ adapter for use on a telescope, equally shown above, to go from your telescope’due south camera adapter, with its existing Nikon T-ring, to the Z6 body.

T-rings are becoming available for the Z-mount, simply even these third-party adapters are actually extension tubes, not just rings.

The reason is that the field flattener or blackout corrector lenses often required with telescopes are designed to work best with the longer lens-to-sensor altitude of a DSLR body. The FTZ adapter provides the necessary spacing, as do third-party adapters.

The FTZ lens adapter has its own tripod human foot, useful for balancing front-heavy lenses similar the big Sigma hither.

The but drawback to the FTZ is that any tripod plate fastened to the photographic camera body itself probable has to come off, and the tripod foot incorporated into the FTZ used instead. I found myself oft having to swap locations for the tripod plate, an inconvenience.

Photographic camera Controller Compatibility

The port side of the Z6, with the DC2 shutter remote jack at lesser, and HDMI and USB-C ports above. There’s also a mic and headphone jack for video use.

Since information technology uses the aforementioned Nikon-type DC2 shutter port equally the D750, the Z6 it should exist compatible with most remote hardware releases and time-lapse motion controllers that operate a Nikon through the shutter port. An example are the controllers from SYRP.

On the other mitt, time-lapse devices and external intervalometers that run Nikons through the USB port might need to have their firmware or apps updated to work with the Z6.

For example, as of early May 2019, CamRanger lists the Z6 equally a supported camera; the Arsenal “smart controller” does not. Nor does Alpine Labs for their Radian and Pulse controllers, nor TimeLapse+ for its splendid View bramping intervalometer. Cheque with your supplier.

For those who like to apply laptops to run their camera at the telescope, I found the Windows plan Astro Photography Tool (v3.63) worked fine with the Z6, in this instance connecting to the camera’due south USB-C port using the USB-C to USB-A cable that comes with the camera. This allows APT to shift not only shutter speed, only also ISO and aperture nether scripted sequences.

Withal, BackyardNikon v2.0, current equally of April 2019, does not listing the Z6 every bit a supported photographic camera.

Raw File Compatibility

A Z6 Raw NEF file open in Raw Therapee 5.6, showing good star images and de-Bayering.

Inevitably, raw files from make new cameras cannot be read by whatsoever raw developer programs other than the ane supplied by the manufacturer, Nikon Capture NX in this case. However, even by the time I did my testing in wintertime 2019 all the major software suppliers had updated their programs to open Z6 files.

Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, Affinity Photo, DxO PhotoLab, Luminar 3, ON1 PhotoRAW, and the open-source Raw Therapee all open the Z6’s NEF raw files just fine.

PixInsight ane.8.6 failing to open a Z6 raw NEF file.

Specialized programs for processing astronomy images might be some other story. For example, as of v1.08.06, PixInsight, a favourite program amidst astrophotographers, does not open Z6 raw files. Nor does Nebulosity v4. But check with the developers for updates.

Other Features for Astrophotography

Here are other Nikon Z6 features I found of value for astrophotography, and for operating the camera at night.

Nikon with Looking Right copy

Tilting LCD Screen

Similar the Nikon D750 and Sony A7III, the Z6 offers a tilting LCD screen great for utilise on a telescope or tripod when aimed upwards at the sky. However, the screen does not flip out and reverse, a characteristic useful for vloggers, just seldom needed for astrophotography.

Showing the tiptop OLED screen and dedicated ISO push button that is piece of cake to admission in the night. Information technology works in conjunction with the height punch.

OLED Top Screen (To a higher place)

The Sony doesn’t have i, and Catechism’s depression-price mirrorless Rp also lacks one. But the top-mounted OLED screen of the Z6 is a great convenience for astrophotography. It makes it possible to monitor camera status and bombardment life during a shoot, even with the rear LCD screen turned off to prolong battery life.

Z6 Menu - Quick Menu

Affect Screen

Sony’s implementation of impact-screen functions is limited to just choosing autofocus points. By dissimilarity, the Nikon Z6 offers a full range of touchscreen functions, making it easy to navigate menus and cull settings.

I do wish at that place was an option, as there is with Pentax, to tint the menus red for preserving night vision.

Z6 Menu - Intervalometer

Congenital-in Intervalometer

As with other Nikons, the Z6 offers an internal intervalometer capable of shooting time-lapses, just as long as individual exposures don’t demand to be longer than thirty seconds.

In addition, there’due south the Exposure Smoothing option which, as I have establish with the D750, is dandy for smoothing flickering in time-lapses shot using machine exposure.

Sony has only just added an intervalometer to the a7III with their v3 firmware update, only with no exposure smoothing.

Z6 Menu - Silent Shooting


Menu / Custom Function Buttons

The Sony a7III has iv custom function buttons users can assign to commonly used commands, for quick access. For example, I assign i Custom button to the Bright Monitoring function which is otherwise utterly hidden in the menus, merely superb for framing nightscapes, if only you lot know information technology’due south in that location!

The Nikon Z6 has 2 custom buttons beside the lens mount. Nonetheless, I found it easier to use the “
” card (shown above) past populating it with those functions I employ at night for astrophotography. It’s then easy to telephone call them upwardly and adjust them on the affect screen.

Thankfully, the Z6’s defended ISO push button is now on top of the camera, making it much easier to find at night than the awkwardly placed ISO push on the back of the D750, which I am always mistaking for the Prototype Quality button, which you do
desire to arrange by mistake.

Nikon Z6-My Menu

My Menu

As nearly cameras do, the Z6 also has a “My Menu” folio which you can besides populate with favourite carte commands.

The D750 (left) compared to the smaller and lighter Z6 (correct). This shows the wider Z lens mount compared to Nikon’s old F-mount standard.

Lighter Weight / Smaller Size

The Z6 provides like imaging performance, if not improve (for movies) than the D750, and in a smaller and lighter camera, weighing 200 grams (0.44 pounds) less than the D750. Being able to downsize my equipment mass is a welcome plus to going mirrorless.

Extreme 800% blow-ups of the Moon show a slightly sharper prototype with the Z6 set to Silent Shutter.

Electronic Forepart Mantle Shutter / Silent Shooting

Past design, mirrorless cameras lack whatsoever vibration from a bouncing mirror. But even the mechanical shutter tin impart vibration and blurring to high-magnification images taken through telescopes.

The electronic front curtain shutter (lacking in the D750) helps eliminate this, while the Silent Shooting manner does just that — it makes the Z6 utterly serenity and vibration free when shooting, as all the shutter functions are now electronic. This is swell for lunar and planetary imaging.

What’southward Missing for Astrophotography (non much!)

Bulb Timer for Long Exposures

While the Z6 has a Bulb setting, there is no Seedling Timer as in that location is with Canon’s contempo cameras. A Bulb Timer would allow setting long Bulb exposures of any length in the camera, though Canon’s cannot be combined with the intervalometer.

Instead, the Nikon must exist used with an external Intervalometer for any exposures over 30 seconds long. Any number of units are compatible with the Z6, through its shutter port which is the same type DC2 jack used in the D750.

Z6 Menu - Multiple Exposures

In-Camera Epitome Stacking to Raws

The Z6 does offer the ability to stack up to x images in the camera, a characteristic also offered past Canon and Pentax. Images can be blended with a Lighten (for star trails) or Average (for dissonance smoothing) way.

However, unlike with Canon and Pentax, the result is a compressed JPG non a raw file, making this feature of niggling value for serious imaging. Plus with a maximum of only 10 exposures of up to 30-seconds each, the power to stack star trails “in camera” is limited.

Illuminated Buttons

Unlike the acme-end D850, the Z6’due south buttons are not illuminated, but then once again neither are the Z7’s.

Equally a bonus — the Nikon 35mm S-Serial Lens

The upper left frame corner of a tracked star paradigm shot with the 35mm S lens wide open at f/one.8 and stopped down at third finish increments.

With the Z6 I also received a Nikkor 35mm f/one.8 S lens fabricated for the Z-mount, as the lens possibly best suited for nightscape imaging out of the native Z-mount lenses from Nikon. See Nikon’s website for the listing.

If at that place’s a downside to the Z-series Nikons it’s the limited number of native lenses that are available now from Nikon, and probable in the future from anyone, due to Nikon not making it easy for other lens companies to design for the new Z mount.

In testing the 35mm Nikkor on tracked shots, stars showed excellent on- and off-axis image quality, even broad open up at f/1.viii. Coma, astigmatism, spherical aberration, and lateral chromatic aberration were all well controlled.

Yet, as with virtually lenses now offered for mirrorless cameras, the focus is “by-wire” using a ring that doesn’t mechanically adjust the focus. As a result, the focus band turns continuously and lacks a focus scale.

So information technology is not possible to manually preset the lens to an infinity mark, as nightscape photographers often like to do. Focusing must be done each night.

Until there is a greater selection of native lenses for the Z cameras, astrophotographers volition need to use the FTZ adapter and their existing Nikon F-mount or third-party Nikon-mountain lenses with the Zs.


I was impressed with the Z6.

The Owl Nebula, Messier 97, a planetary nebula in our galaxy, and the edge-on screw galaxy Messier 108, paired beneath the Bowl of the Big Dipper in Ursa Major. This is a stack of 5 ten iv-minute exposures at ISO 1600 with the Nikon Z6 taken as part of testing. This was through the Astro-Physics Traveler refractor at f/half-dozen with the Hotech field flattener and FTZ adapter.

For whatsoever owner of a Nikon cropped-frame DSLR (from the 3000, 5000, or 7000 series for example) wanting to upgrade to full-frame for astrophotography I would advise moving to the Z6 over choosing a electric current DSLR.

Mirrorless is the manner of the future. And the Z6 will yield lower noise than near, if not all, of Nikon’s cropped-frame cameras.

The Z6 with the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 S lens native for the Z mount.

For owners of electric current Nikon DSLRs, peculiarly a 24-megapixel photographic camera such as the D750, moving to a Z6 volition
provide a significant improvement in prototype quality for still images.

Only … information technology will provide 4K video
much better low-light video operation than older DSLRs. And so if it is aurora videos you are after, the Z6 will work well, though not quite as well every bit a Sony alpha.

In all, there’due south little downside to the Z6 for astrophotography, and some significant advantages: low noise, bright live view, clean artifact-free sensor images, touchscreen convenience, silent shooting, low-low-cal 4K video, all in a lighter weight torso than well-nigh full-frame DSLRs.

I highly recommend the Nikon Z6.

— Alan, April 30, 2019 / © 2019 Alan Dyer /