I have to admit, I have never received so many emails about a new camera launch. Last week my email was humming with questions about the new Nikon Z9. And with good reason…Nikon shooters have been waiting for the flagship mirrorless camera, and now they have it. There are a lot of great camera systems out there, and as advanced autofocus systems have appeared in mirrorless, that was the one area Nikon needed to address. I love the Z6II/7II…stunning files, class leading dynamic range, razor sharp lenses…we use this camera for landscapes, travel and portraits. With the Z9, we now have our wildlife and action sports camera.
First reveal…I have not gotten to use the Z9 (elephant photo at top from D500). As much as I would love to say I had one, and in the past I have shot Nikon assignments for new camera releases, the Z9 was not one of them. But with the massive amount of videos and reviews on the web, you can make some pretty good assumptions. Here are the specs important to me:
-incredible new autofocus system on par with anything out there. More predictive autofocus modes than you can imagine, along with 3D tracking. Fastest sensor scan rate which means no rolling shutter. If you have ever shot fast moving subjects with an electronic shutter, you will see bending and warping of some moving objects. This relates to how mirrorless sensors scan and their speed. To eliminate rolling shutter you have to go to the mechanical shutter on many mirrorless cameras, which has much slower frame rates. The Z9 doesn’t even have a mechanical shutter! And virtually no rolling shutter.
-frame rate of 20 FPS (RAW) and a buffer of one thousand full raw images. 30 FPS in full size jpeg, and 120 FPS much smaller file size. Enough FPS for anything I shoot.
-45MP sensor….initial reviews say the dynamic range is similar to the Z7II, and that this camera has better noise performance…certainly the low light examples I’ve seen look terrific. Base ISO of 64 is very handy for using F1.2 lens, better dynamic range, and using slow shutter speeds
-a flagship camera that resembles a D5 or D6 with a vertical grip. Have you ever tried to balance a long telephoto with a small mirrorless body…or shoot with heavy gloves on with sub zero conditions? I am so glad this camera has a vertical grip with big buttons, it will really help in many shooting situations. And Nikon included backside illuminated buttons so you can see buttons at night.
-battery life that goes on and on, you never have to worry about it. Finally…
-video…the Z9 can shoot 8K video for over two hours…no overheating…I’m not a video shooter, so I won’t comment too much here.
Honestly, I see a ton of different cameras on workshops…there are a lot of great brands with amazing capabilities. It’s natural for everyone to want to break down the details to compare. But my take away is this…The Z9 is the most capable camera Nikon has ever made, and it will do everything I will need to produce images for clients, capture birds in flight, freeze action sports, shoot portraits, capture aurora….it can do it all.
Remember when the D3 came out…no one could believe the high ISO performance. And then the D850….reviewed by multiple sources as the best DSLR ever made…still a popular camera now 4 years after launch. The rumor is orders for the Z9 are higher than any other Nikon before….just watch a few of the videos and you will see why. Now when can I get my hands on a z9….