January 28, 2022

102: What camera should I use for weddings? Nikon Z6II Review

Choosing the right camera, whether it’s your fifth or your very first, can be a pretty daunting thing (especially when there’s such a big price tag attached)! I hope this review will help you to decide what kind of camera is in your future, or maybe give you some additional ideas about beneficial features to look for when shopping for your next purchase!

Recently, I switched from shooting weddings with my trusty Nikon D3S to shooting with a Nikon Z6II. I used my Nikon D3S for years and years because it was sturdy, reliable, and gave me great quality photos. You may be asking, so then why switch? Why fix something that’s not broken? So let’s start by identifying why I decided to start looking for something new in the first place:

Nikon D3S – Con #1: Gigantic

This camera may be nice to hold with it’s big comfy grip, but MAN is it heavy! With the D3S weighing in at nearly THREE POUNDS (not including a lens), I often found my hands and body to be sore for days after a shoot; especially considering wedding shoots can be between 4 and 10+ hours long! It’s also pretty large volume-wise, at around 6″ x 6″ x 3.” That’s bigger and heavier than most DSLRs out there. I really wanted to find something more portable and lightweight to carry around with me without sacrificing the quality of my images or the reliability of my tools.

Nikon D3S – Con #2: Poor Quality in Lowlight

Well, I shouldn’t say poor quality – mediocre would probably be a better word. The D3S WILL get you some pretty bright photos in lowlight, but not without very noticeably increasing levels of pixelation and noise to match. This meant I often had to attach a flash to get quality photos in darker settings.

Nikon D3S – Con #3: Low Image Size

I realized that this was a problem after one of my family shoots. Everything went great, I got some wonderful family photos, and then I received an email from the client asking for a larger size of a photo to hang up in her home. At around 12mb per photo, the resolution of images from the D3S is more than sufficient for most applications; however, there is no way to increase the size of an image later if needed. There was no way for me to deliver to this client what she really wanted, which is my job! I needed to look for a camera that could give me an upgrade in the resolution department.

Enter the Nikon Z6II!

Nikon Z6II – Pro #1: Compact

Simply put, if you cut a D3S in half, you’d have two Z6II’s (volume and weight-wise)- The Z6II literally weighs half of and takes up half of the space that the D3S does. That being said, the Z6II is so much easier to carry around with me and doesn’t leave my body hurting the next day! When photographing for 8, 10, or even 12 hours, the size of your camera really matters. Here’s a comparison of my Z6II (left) to my D3S (right), both with NIKKOR 24-70 f/2.8 lenses attached:

Z6II: 5.3 x 4.0 x 2.8 in, 1.3 lbs (excluding battery, memory card, and lens)
D3S: 6.3 x 6.2 x 3.4 in, 2.75 lbs (Excluding batter, memory card, and lens)

Nikon Z6II – Pro #2: High Quality in Lowlight

The Z6II shoots bright images in lowlight with incredible quality. I get very minimal pixelation in these conditions and oftentimes don’t even need to attach a flash to get the kind of properties I’m looking for! That’s huge in the wedding photography area, as many ceremonies take place in churches (especially here in New Orleans) where lighting conditions aren’t usually the best. Good quality in lowlight also means one less piece of equipment to have to worry about on an already busy day. Not to mention, flashes can sometimes be distracting and take away from the precious moments you’re photographing in the first place!

Nikon Z6II – Pro #3: Larger Image Size

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a commercial photographer – I don’t need giant file sizes bogging down my computer. However, like I said before, the 12mb/file the D3S was offering me just wasn’t cutting it. The 20-24mb file size that the Z6II delivers is very much a range that I like to be in. It’s a great happy medium! I get higher resolution photos without overkill file sizes – some may argue with me on this, but I don’t want 50mb photos (as delivered by the Z7 or the GFX) taking up double the space on my computer when I don’t necessarily even need my photos to have resolution that high. It’s up to you and your specific needs of course, but my hard drive and I are both extremely happy with the range the Z6II offers us!

So far, this camera has checked all the boxes for upgrades I’d been specifically looking for when shopping around. BUT, this camera has a few additional features that have proved to be extremely beneficial:

Nikon Z6II – Pro #4: New Lens Lineup + Backward Compatibility

A new lens lineup wasn’t exactly something I’d initially been looking for when searching for a new camera, but now it’s one of my favorite aspects of the Z6II! This Z mount system really is amazing. With the Z mount’s inner diameter being 8mm larger than Nikon’s traditional F mount system, this new line of lenses is larger, faster, and sharper. The flange distance in the Z mount system is also much smaller than in the F mount system, which contributes to the Z6II’s smaller size! However, if you’re ready to buy a new body but maybe not yet in the place to make the plunge and buy a whole new lens, there’s an adapter available as well! With this adapter, you can use all of your native lenses with your new camera. That way, you don’t have to rebuy anything if you’re really only interested in the body.

My Z6II using my native 24-70 with the new mount adapter

Nikon Z6II – Pro #5: Bluetooth Function

When branding ourselves as photographers, it’s important to be consistent on social media and continuously show our work and our progress. Sometimes it takes a lot of time to import those images from our SD cards to our computers, and then on to our phones physically. It’s just another thing on the to-do list. With the bluetooth function on the Z6II, I can share photos directly from my camera to my phone, and have them uploaded within a minute! They may not be the high quality RAW images you get when you import your photos directly from your camera to your computer, but this function really streamlines the process and makes it so much faster to share my images!

Nikon Z6II – Pro #6: Nearly Silent Shutter

I will say, I absolutely love that juicy “CLICK” sound of the shutter when I shoot with my D3S, but not everybody else does… especially when they’re the ones in-frame! Loud shutter sounds can be disruptive, distracting, and even negatively impact your clients, making them hyper-aware of their photo being taken. Having a quiet shutter sound means I can get great images without disrupting any special moments, which is hugely important during a wedding day (especially when trying to capture the ceremony or getting candid shots)!

Nikon Z6II – Pro #7: High Video Quality

This definitely wasn’t something I was specifically looking to find in a new camera, but it’s definitely proved to be an asset to myself and to my business! The Z6II has wonderful image stabilization and the video function is very intuitive and user-friendly. Check it out in action on my Youtube video about the Z6II here (the video is filmed by it)!

Nikon Z6II – Pro #8: Competitive Price Point

The price point of this camera was really attractive to me, as the Z6II and 24-70 lens kit had been about equal to the cost of the D3S body alone (back when I first purchased it). I think it’s really awesome that the photography world has come this far and opened up the market a little bit more to those who want to get into it or progress further down the line. The barrier to entry is much lower now than when I first started! Check out current prices for any of this equipment below:

Nikon Z6II

Nikon D3S

NIKKOR S24-70 f/2.8

NIKKOR 24-70 f/2.8 (native lens)

Nikon Adapter (for Z Series Camera to use with Native Lenses)

Though the pros of this camera definitely outweigh its cons, I still think it’s important for me mention them. Maybe these aren’t dealbreakers for me, but if they are for you then I definitely want you to know about them before investing any of your hard-earned cash!

Nikon Z6II – Con #1: Smaller Grip

The D3S is much bulkier and heavier, but there’s just something about that big chunky grip that is SO comfortable. Unfortunately, the Z6II (while smaller), has a much shorter grip that my hand can’t quite latch onto as well. My hands do sometimes feel strained from this smaller point of leverage.

Nikon Z6II – Con #2: Short Battery Life

Probably the biggest con of the Z6II is its battery life. When shooting a wedding, you should expect to go through about 4 batteries. That being said, bring extra batteries and extra chargers, especially if you’ve got more than one event happening in a singular weekend. This is definitely inconvenient, especially after being used to only going through 1 or 1.5 batteries per wedding with the D3S. Just something to keep in mind!

Nikon Z6II – Con #3: Electronic Viewfinder

The electronic viewfinder definitely took some getting used to. Personally, I don’t like it as much as looking through the viewfinder on my D3S because there’s somewhat of a disconnect when you’re not actually seeing what you’re seeing. It just feels different, and maybe you’ll like it! It’s just not particularly for me, especially since I have to press the shutter to activate it before bringing the camera up to my face to capture a shot – otherwise there WILL be a delay and I might miss something important. Something beneficial about this electronic viewfinder though, is that it displays changes in your settings real-time. So what you see is what the image will look like. That could definitely be a pro to some! Something to note with this is to pay close attention to your shutter speed while looking through the electronic viewfinder, as things may look right but if your shutter speed is off the image will be blurry anyways!

I hope you found some of these points helpful if you’re trying to make a decision about what kind of camera to invest in. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at catherine@catherineguidry.com!

If you like what you’ve read, check out my Youtube Channel here and my podcast, Mistakes Make Magic, here!