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Nikon unveils D6 and new lenses

Posted on Feb 12, 2020

We heard the announcement about its development late last year. Now, the Nikon D6 has officially been unveiled as the brand’s new flagship.

Closely allied with major sporting events, the Nikon D6’s launch timing is no coincidence. Its features set is targeted fairly and squarely at professional action, wildlife and press photographers, and it is clearly built to deliver images in the most arduous conditions.

The D6 is a full-frame 20.8 megapixel DSLR, with speed of shooting very much its key feature. The autofocus system has 105 all-selectable cross-point focus sensors that work down as low as -4.5EV. You can configure these sensors in 17 different custom group patterns, so you can have a single row of seven sensors active.

With the sensor working with Nikon’s Expeed 6 processing engine, the camera’s ISO range stretches from 100 to 102,400. However, it is expandable to Hi5.0, equivalent to an ISO of 3,280,000. That means there is the potential of shooting at action-stopping shutter speeds even in the poorest light.

We’re told top shooting speed with full resolution files is 14 frames per-second with AE/AF tracking.

Robert Harmon, Interim Head of Commercial Planning, Nikon UK, says: “The D6 is a phenomenal successor to the Nikon D5. Nikon’s new flagship improves on its forebear with industry-defining AF and versatile connectivity. You can’t control the action, the lighting or the environment. But you can control the D6, and this DSLR will deliver incredible shots of defining moments – without fail.”

The Nikon D6 is due on sale this spring at £6299 body only.

Nikon D6 specs at a glance

  • 105 cross-type sensors with AF sensitivity down to EV-4.5
  • Auto-area AF or 3D tracking
  • 14 fps with full AF/AE
  • 10.5fps in AE tracking in silent mode
  • ISO 100–102,400 range, extendable to ISO 50 and 3.280,000
  • 20.8 megapixels full-frame CMOS sensor Expeed 6 image
  • 2x CFexpress/XQD slots
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, wired Lan and built-in GPS

Hands on

I got a brief hands-on with a pre-production sample of the new D6, though I did not get the chance to put in a card and take any shots.

The Nikon D6 is certainly built in the rugged tradition of Nikon flagship pro cameras, so is very solid and a good handful (if you like a camera to get hold of, this is it). It’s fundamentally the same shape and size as the D5, but the D6 has a marginally bigger pentaprism to accommodate the GPS sensor.

The AF system is a significant improvement, with a lower working sensitivity of -4.5EV compared with the -4EV for the D5. Certainly in the low light where I got to handle the D6 it was very effective, autofocusing nicely on a candlelit scene.

The AF pattern can customise from its 105 sensors with Group Area AF, so you can have a 1×7 AF zone patter – or 5×7 or 15×3 – and there is a total of 17 custom groups. This helps you configure the AF system to cope with subjects of various shapes.

Nikon D6 hands on

The layout of the controls seems logical and the buttons are a good size (as you would expect from a pro camera), and typically the horizontal controls are repeated for upright shooting. The optical viewfinder is first-rate and the information is clearly laid out across the bottom and out of the picture area.

I didn’t get the chance to look at the D6 in daylight, but continuous AF in low light seemed quick and responsive, also shooting people walking into a hotel room, and tracking seemed good.

Obviously it is very early days, and I didn’t handle a production camera, but it seems to me that those lucky enough to use the D6 in reality will have a dependable camera of the finest quality, and built to perform in the most challenging conditions.

Nikon’s new lenses

The Nikon D6 isn’t the brand’s only announcement. Two new lenses will be released later this spring alongside the camera. The Z 20mm f/1.8 S is due to hit shelves in March 2020, with the Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR to follow one month later. The 20mm is priced at £1049, and the 24-200mm at £849.

For more information, please visit the Nikon website.

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