Nikon’s Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras vs Sony: What Should You Buy?

Senior Editor, Tom's Guide
Updated

At long last, Nikon today announced its first two full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Z6 and the Z7. Due out in November and September for $1,995 and $3,399, respectively, these two cameras look to compete directly with Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras, the A7 III and the A7R III. Let’s see how they compare.

Nikon Z6 vs Sony A7 III


Nikon Z6
Sony A7 III
Price (body only)$1,995$1,998
MP/Sensor24.5MP BSI CMOS
24.2 MP Exmor BSI CMOS
ISO Range100-51200 (expandable to 50-204800)
100 - 51200 (expandable to 50 – 204800)
Max Photo Size6048 x 4024
6000 x 4000
Max Video Resolution4K/25p
4K/25p
Shooting SpeedUp to 12 fps
Up to 10 fps
Autofocus90 percent coverage/273 hybrid phase/contrast detection93 percent coverage/693 phase detection points, 425 contrast detection
Image Stabilization5-axis in-body
5-axis in-body
Memory Card SlotsOne XQD
Two SD/SDHC/SDXC slots
Viewfinder3.69 million (Quad VGA) OLED
2.36 million dots (XGA OLED)
Display3.2-inch LCD touchscreen (2100k dots)
3-inch LCD touchscreen/ 922K dots
Size (body only)5.3 x 4 x 2.7 inches
5 x 3.9 x 2.9 inches
Weight (body only)1.3 pounds
1.4 pounds
Battery Life (CIPA)Approx. 310 shots (EVF only)
710 shots

MORE: Best Mirrorless Cameras

The Nikon Z 7 will be available September 27 for $3,399 (body only), or for $3,999 with the new Nikkor Z 24-70 f/4 S lens. The Nikon Z 6 will be available in late November for $1995 (body only) and $2,599 with the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens.

Compared to the Z6, the higher-end Nikon Z7 has a higher-resolution CMOS sensor (45.7MP to 24.5MP), and about double the focus points of the Z6 (493 versus 273 phase detection).

Both the Nikon Z6 and the Z7 share many of the same features, including a body with the same durability and dust- and water resistance as the D850, a 3.2-inch, 2100k-dot tilting touchscreen LCD, and a 3690k-dot OLED electronic viewfinder. Both cameras will also have a display panel on the top right--similar to Nikon’s DSLRs—that let shooters easily view camera settings. Other shared features include 5-axis image stabilization and video recording up to 4K/25 fps.

While Nikon is introducing a new Z-mount lens system with the Z6 and Z7, it is also releasing the Mount Adapter FTZ ($249) that will let current Nikon owners to use AI-type F-mount Nikkor lenses with the cameras.

On paper, the A7 III and the Nikon Z6 look to be pretty evenly matched. Both are priced the same, have similar pixel counts, ISO ranges, and can shoot video at the same resolution and frame rate, and the camera body sizes and weights are also comparable, with the Nikon being slightly smaller and lighter.

Where Sony appears to have an advantage is with its autofocus system, which covers 93 percent of the frame, and has 693 phase detection points and 425 contrast detection points. By comparison, the Nikon Z6 has just 273 points that cover a slightly smaller 90 percent.

Also, the A7’s rated battery life of 710 shots is more than twice that of the Z6; however, according to Nikon, photographers using both the Z6 and the Z7 in the field are reporting much higher numbers than the CIPA ratings.


However, the Nikon Z6 can shoot at a slightly faster 12 frames per second, and it has a sharper viewfinder and rear panel.


Nikon Z7 vs Sony A7R III


Nikon Z7
Sony A7R III
Price (body only)$3,399$2,998
MP/Sensor45.7 MP CMOS
42.4 MP Exmor BSI CMOS
ISO Range64-25600 (expandable to 32-102400)
100 - 32000 (expandable to ISO 50 – 102400
Max Photo Size6048 x 4024
6000 x 4000
Max Video Resolution4K/25p
4K/25p
Shooting SpeedUp to 9 fps
Up to 10 fps
Autofocus493 hybrid phase detection/contrast points (90 percent coverage)
399 focal-plane phase-detection points (68 percent coverage), 425 contrast points (47 percent coverage)
Image Stabilization5-axis in-body
5-axis in-body
Memory Card SlotsOne XQD
Two SD/SDHC/SDXC slots
Viewfinder3690k (Quad VGA) OLED
2.36 million dots EVF (XGA OLED)
Display3.2-inch LCD touchscreen (2100k dots)
3-inch LCD touchscreen (1440k dots)
Size (body only)5.3 x 4 x 2.7 inches
5 x 3.9 x 2.9 inches
Weight (body only)1.3 pounds
1.4 pounds
Battery Life (CIPA)Approx. 330 shots (EVF only)
650 shots

Compared to the Sony A7R III, the Nikon Z7 appears a bit more robust in terms of ISO range and focus points, and, like the Z6, has a sharper EVF and touchscreen. However, the Z7 is about $400 more expensive than the A7R III.

While Sony has a large head start when it comes to full-frame mirrorless cameras, Nikon has a potential competitive advantage in its lens selection. While only three Z-mount lenses will be available at launch (six more will be launched in 2019), the F-to-Z mount adapter means that more than 90 of Nikon’s F-mount lenses can also be used with the Z6 and Z7. Currently, Sony only has 26 A-mount lenses.

From a consumer’s standpoint, it’s nice to see one of the largest camera companies challenge Sony in the fastest-growing segment of the camera market, and we’re interested to see how the Nikon Z6 and Z7 perform.