Join the speed revolution with the flagship Nikon Z9
A Groundbreaking Flagship Mirrorless Camera
Photographers have been blessed with impressive pro-level mirrorless cameras this year, in the form of Sony’s A1 and Canon’s R3. Now, Nikon has released their own flagship camera, the Z9, and it is truly incredible. It combines a cutting-edge 45.7MP Stacked CMOS sensor with speedy processing for up to 120fps JPEG and 20fps RAW shooting, 12-bit 8K/60fps in-camera capture, 10-bit 4K ProRes RAW, and internal 10-bit N-Log and HLG capture. And that’s just the beginning!
- 45.7MP Stacked CMOS sensor
- 30 fps JPEG shooting
- 20 fps Raw shooting (for over 1000 compressed RAW files)
- 120 fps JPEG shooting at 11MP resolution
- 8K/30fps capture and 4K-from-8K, with ProRes 422 HQ option
- 8K/60fps, 12-bit 8K N-Raw and 4K ProRes RAW to be added with an upcoming firmware update
- Internal 10-bit N-Log and HLG capture
- 3.69M dot OLED EVF with reduced lag and greater brightness
- XM dot rear LCD with multi-directional tilt
- Twin CFexpress Type B card slots
- Full-time electronic shutter camera
- Sensor shield to protect sensor
45.7MP Stacked CMOS Sensor
The Z9 is all about speed and image quality, so let’s unpack the most important part: the sensor. The camera has a sensor similar to those used in the Z7II and D850, importing the top-notch resolution, noise control, and dynamic range that made those cameras so successful. The point of difference in the Z9 is the ‘stacked’ construction: loosely, the sensor’s memory (or RAM) is built directly into the back of the sensor. The proximity of data storage allows for ultra-fast readouts, such as the 120fps JPEG and 20fps RAW seen in this camera. With these figures, the Nikon Z9 offers the fastest readout speeds in any camera, ever.
The stacked CMOS sensor brings other advantages too. Autofocus is extremely quick at 120 AF calculations per second, perfect for high-speed sport and wildlife photography. Nikon has added 3D tracking and smart detection too, so the Z9 is capable of prioritising people, animals, and even vehicles. It can also pinpoint eyes, faces, and torsos, allowing it to maintain focus on your subject at all times.
Nikon has further improved the sensor by completely removing the mechanical shutter. It relies purely on an electronic shutter, which has “the world’s most minimal rolling-shutter distortion”, according to Nikon. As a result, the Z9 can reach shutter speeds of 1/32,000 second, meaning you can shoot with wide-open apertures in any scenario, even in harsh light. Shutter vibrations and wear are also removed. This is a camera that will truly last.
Powerful Video Capabilities
The sensor’s speed allows for impressive video specs too. As mentioned above, this camera can shoot up to 8K 30fps, which can be downsampled to 4K. At 4K resolution, it can shoot at speeds of up to 120fps, perfect for those slow and smooth B-roll shots. In terms of recording time, this camera is able to shoot continuously for up to 2 hours at the oversampled 4K 30fps mode, without overheating. Nikon is planning to release a firmware update in the new year that will further expand the video capacity of the Z9: 8K 60fps recording, 12-bit 8K 60fps in a new N-raw format, and internal ProRes Raw capture at 4K 60fps.
With these large numbers in mind, Nikon has halved the latency over HDMI compared to the Z6II and previous cameras, making external monitoring much more practical.
These are of course just numbers, and we’re keen to see how the camera performs in real-world scenarios, but it seems like a very promising camera that offers strong competition to the high-end Sony A1 and A7R IV models, and Canon R6 and R3 cameras.
Rear LCD Screen
Nikon has preferred to use a multi-directional screen over the swivel LCDs that Sony and Canon like to use. It looks like a complicated contraption but cleverly keeps the screen centred over the optical axis, making it easier to frame your shots properly.
On paper, the 3.69M-dot viewfinder compares poorly to similar cameras in this upper echelon. However, it is extremely bright and offers full resolution both in live-view and playback, which should create a more consistent experience for the user. Whether this will have a tangible effect when using this camera remains to be seen.
When pro-level mirrorless systems first entered the market, they were praised for being smaller, lighter, and more portable than their clunky DSLR counterparts. With the Z9, the general impression is that it is a mirrorless camera that feels like a traditional DSLR. It’s heavier than expected, and having a built-in vertical grip certainly adds to the bulk of the unit. As a result, it should feel relatively familiar in the hand.
With so many highly capable cameras on the market, you might be wondering, who is this camera for? With such fast and reliable autofocus, the Z9 is a clear winner for sports photography or catching wildlife in action. Its completely silent shutter is perfect for events photography, and where other silent cameras might struggle with a rolling shutter effect, the Z9 should do away with this. Perfect for situations where the click of a camera could disturb a performance, for example. It is also obviously a camera for filmmakers: being able to record 8K 30fps for 2 hours is truly an achievement that should be praised.
Nikon’s Z9 is a pro camera with pro features and is thus priced at that level. However, the fact that it sits about $1000 lower than Sony’s A1 and Canon R3 will definitely interest quite a few photographers and videographers. The Nikon team has truly outdone themselves, and we are very excited to see the Z9 in-person soon!
You can actually pre-order your Nikon Z9 now, so you can be one of the first owners in NZ for this amazing camera.