The Nikon Z6 III Aims to Set a New Standard for Mid-Range Cameras

A Nikon Z series mirrorless camera body is shown against a white background. The camera, featuring a textured grip and numerous buttons, is pictured without a lens attached, revealing the sensor inside the mount. The Nikon logo is visible at the top.

After much anticipation and rumors, the long-awaited Nikon Z6 III has finally arrived. Based on its features and performance, it appears that people’s patience has been rewarded in a big way.

Z6 III Targets the Enthusiast and Pros With High-End Features and Versatility

Versatility is a significant part of the Nikon Z6 III’s sales pitch. Nikon says the “mid-range” market — think Canon EOS R6 Mark II, Sony a7 IV, and the Fujifilm X-T5 — is booming and comprises nearly 60% of all revenue in the interchangeable lens camera space and an even greater percentage of cameras on a per-unit basis. While Nikon has invested significant resources into its successful flagship Z9 and Z8 cameras, the company believes strongly in the importance of cameras that don’t eclipse the $3,000 price.

A Nikon Z series mirrorless camera with a zoom lens attached. The camera features various control buttons, dials, and an electronic viewfinder. The lens has markings indicating it is a NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S lens. The camera is black in color.
Nikon Z6 III with the Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 lens

The original Nikon Z6 and Z6 II have been considered a success by Nikon, but the Z6 II is coming up on its fourth birthday, and a lot has changed in the field since then, especially concerning hybrid users and their demands for video features. While the Z6 III offers much by way of improvements for still photography — much more on that in a moment — it features a more significant focus on video than perhaps any Nikon camera to date.

“Offering a camera with this level of performance, reliability and an appealing price is a winning formula for all kinds of users who need a camera that will help them excel in every job or creative endeavor,” says Naoki Onozato, President and CEO, Nikon Inc. “The Z6 III represents much more than simply a generational update — it’s a major leap forward that’s going to establish a whole new concept of what a mid-range camera should be capable of.”

A person with dark, wavy hair and a trimmed beard, wearing a beige shirt, is holding a Nikon camera close to their face, peering through the viewfinder, preparing to take a photograph. The background is blurred, putting the focus on the person and the camera.

New 24.5-Megapixel Sensor

A new “partially stacked CMOS sensor” packing 24.5 megapixels of resolution drives much of the innovation across the board. The partially stacked sensor features multiple high-speed processing circuits stacked in layers above and below the photosensitive layer of the sensor.

This sensor design is not just new for Nikon, it is the world’s first interchangeable lens camera to use a partially stacked sensor.

A close-up image of a digital camera sensor with a vibrant, multicolored surface, encased in a rectangular frame with a gray metallic border. The sensor features two cylindrical components, one on the top and one on the bottom.
The Z6 III features a new partially-stacked 24.5-megapixel CMOS sensor. It is the first time Nikon, or any other mirrorless camera maker, has employed this sensor design.

While highly performant, a fully stacked image sensor is also costly. Nikon says a partially stacked design offers some of the benefits of a stacked sensor without all the expense. These benefits include faster autofocus performance, reduced rolling shutter, a smoother electronic viewfinder experience, swifter shooting speeds, and expanded video modes with higher frame rates.

Of course, while better versus the Z6 II, these improvements don’t mean that the Z6 III can match the Z8 and Z9 in all areas, as those cameras have a higher resolution, entirely stacked image sensor. That said, given that the Z6 II has fewer megapixels — 24.5 versus 45.7 — it does have some unique tricks, including FHD/240p video recording, something no Nikon camera has ever offered.

A vibrant green bird with yellow underwings is captured in mid-flight, perched on a wooden branch extending from the left. The background is a dense, dark green foliage, providing a natural habitat for the bird.

The Z6 III’s new sensor’s faster readout has resulted in a 3.5 times faster electronic shutter than its predecessor. However, Nikon says that rolling shutter performance is still not as good as the Z8/Z9. Nikon claims the Z6 III has the fastest scan rate of any camera under $3,999. The idea is not to match those more expensive cameras across the board but to provide many of their benefits to a new user segment at a lower price point.

A man with a beard and short curly hair is standing next to a green wall. He is wearing a red suit jacket over a patterned shirt and has a small white flower pinned to his lapel. He smiles while looking off to the side, illuminated by soft lighting.

For those who require more than 24.5 megapixels of resolution, the Z6 III includes a pixel-shift shooting mode. Using the camera’s in-body image stabilization system — rated for up to eight stops — the Z6 III moves the sensor slightly across up to 32 frames, resulting in a 96-megapixel image. This mode requires using Nikon’s NX Studio software on a computer. Nikon also says that people can use the mode to create higher-quality 24-megapixel frames with reduced noise and better color accuracy.

A woman with long black hair is sitting in a retro diner, wearing dark sunglasses, a white t-shirt, and blue jeans. Behind her, a colorful neon sign reads "SHAK FOUNTA SERVICE" against a tiled wall. The scene is dimly lit with a warm, nostalgic ambiance.

Speaking of “noise,” the Z6 III’s native ISO range is 100 to 64,000, tied for the highest native ISO in the Nikon Z system. The ISO can be expanded to 50-204,800.

An Inherited Autofocus System and Fast Shooting Speeds

The Nikon Z6 III inherits much from its more expensive siblings, including its autofocus system. While some AF performance relies upon a fully stacked sensor, the Z6 III’s partially stacked chip promises blazing-fast autofocus.

The Z6 III includes AI-powered subject detection across nine subjects, 3D Tracking, wide-area autofocus, and the ability to focus in meager light (down to -10 EV, a best for Nikon Z cameras). Nikon says the Z6 III’s autofocus system is approximately 20% faster than the Z6 II’s, and it has some new features.

A duck with outstretched wings stands in shallow water at sunset, creating a serene and majestic scene. The golden sunlight reflects off the water, producing a bokeh effect with soft, glowing circles in the background.

Concerning subject detection, the Z6 III promises improved performance in changing light, better tracking across a broader range of subjects, and more accurate focus when detecting small subjects within the frame. The camera can detect humans, animals, and a range of vehicles.

Between the autofocus performance and continuous shooting speeds, the Z6 III is a solid choice within Nikon’s lineup for sports, action, and wildlife photography. Unlike the Z8 and Z9, the Z6 III still includes a mechanical shutter, which can be used to shoot at up to 14 frames per second (full-resolution RAW+JPEG with AF/AE).

A roseate spoonbill with vibrant pink and white feathers stands on a branch with its wings spread. The bird's large, distinctive spoon-shaped bill is visible. The background features lush green foliage blurred to highlight the bird.

By switching to the electronic shutter and its reduced rolling shutter compared to the Z6 II, photographers can shoot at up to 20 frames per second with RAW recording.

For even more speed, there are C30, C60, and C120 modes to shoot full-resolution JPEG images with AF/AE tracking at 30, 60, and 120 fps. It is worth noting that the 120 fps mode includes a crop, although it is not quite a DX (APS-C) crop. The C120 drive mode captures 11-megapixel JPEGs.

Another JPEG-only feature is a new pre-release capture mode, which has up to one second of buffer depth before pressing the shutter and will help photographers not miss any critical moments. This mode is available at up to 120 fps shooting speeds.

A man lies on the grass, wearing a backward cap and glasses, focusing on taking a photo with a Nikon camera. His elbows are propped on the ground, and he wears a grey shirt and a yellow bracelet. The background is blurred, highlighting his activity.

The Nikon Z6 III has dual card slots: one CFexpress Type B, and a UHS-II SD card. A CFexpress Type B card is vital to achieve the best possible performance when using the Z6 III, especially for high-speed shooting.

The Nikon Z6 III’s vibration reduction (VR) system also offers improvements. While the Z6 II’s in-body image stabilization is rated for up to five stops of shake correction, the Z6 III ups the ante to eight stops. The camera also includes Focus Point VR, which prioritizes stabilization on the active focus point.

Body Design: New Super-Bright, High-Res Electronic Viewfinder

The Z6 III’s overall look and feel are familiar, but the camera’s user experience has undergone some important changes.

A detailed transparent illustration of a camera's viewfinder and internal components. The image highlights the intricate layers and glass elements within the viewfinder, showing their arrangement and connection to the camera body, against a dark background.

The most significant change is a brand-new electronic viewfinder. The EVF is Nikon’s brightest yet, reaching up to 4,000 nits of peak brightness. Not only is it the brightest EVF of any mirrorless camera but it is also approximately 33% brighter than the Z9’s EVF. The 5.76-million-dot EVF also has an HDR-ready color gamut (DCI-P3), which Nikon says is its widest. By the way, the Z6 II’s EVF has 3.69 million dots, so there is a resolution improvement on offer as well.

A digital camera with a detachable lens. The camera's LCD screen is shown in various positions, highlighting its pivot and tilt capabilities. The camera body features multiple control buttons, dials, and an electronic viewfinder.

The Z6 III also includes a vari-angle 3.2-inch rear LCD, which can be used as a front-facing display for selfies and during video recording. The display has approximately 2.1 million dots, the same size and resolution as the Z6 II’s non-vari-angle panel.

Video Improvements Headlined by 6K Internal RAW Recording

The partially stacked sensor pays dividends in video, too. With this faster sensor and the same EXPEED 7 processor as the Z8 and Z9, the Z6 III can internally record 12-bit 6K/60p N-RAW footage and 6K/30p ProRes RAW. For those wondering why RED RAW wasn’t included, Nikon already said it intends to keep the two formats separate, at least for now. The internal 6K recording is pixel-for-pixel, using a full-sensor readout. The Z6 III also records 10-bit 5.4K ProRes 422, which also uses the full width of the image sensor.

A hand holds a professional camera with a large lens by a top handle. The camera features a flip-out screen displaying text and buttons. The background is neutral and unobtrusive, emphasizing the camera.

While most of its video output options are capped at 4K, 5.4K and 6K resolutions offer additional freedom to crop during post-processing, something the Z9 also offers through its 8K recording.

The Z6 III also promises speed. The camera can shoot 4K/120p footage (N-RAW) with a DX (1.5x) crop factor. The FHD/240p video recording option is H.265 codec and uses about 95% of the sensor’s width, so it does come with a slight crop factor.

A man wearing a cap and jacket is closely examining a professional camera rig outdoors. He appears focused on the camera’s settings. The background is slightly blurred but shows some tall buildings, suggesting an urban setting. The lighting is natural, from the sun.

As for recording limits, Nikon says the Z6 III sports a thermally efficient design, allowing continuous 4K/60p recording for up to 125 minutes (an external power supply is required for this duration). The maximum movie recording time at the tested 23 degrees Celcius (73.4 degrees Fahrenheit) is two hours and five minutes.

Pricing and Availability

The Nikon Z6 III will be available in late June for $2,499.95 (body only). The camera will also come in a kit with the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens for $3,099.95.

A person with long dark hair, wearing a beige jacket, is holding a large DSLR camera with a long telephoto lens outdoors. They appear to be focusing on capturing a photo, and the background is blurred with natural light filtering through.

Alongside the Z6 III, Nikon unveiled a new MN-N14 power battery pack. This will arrive sometime this summer for $359.95 and is backward-compatible with the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II cameras.

Image credits: Nikon