Nikon has announced its new flagship camera, the Nikon Z9, which can record 8K 60p RAW and 8K up to 30p in ProRes 422HQ. This sounds impressive on paper, but some of the features are limited and some will be available with a firmware update. The Z9 is the first camera in the mirrorless class to completely eliminate the mechanical shutter.
Nikon becomes the third brand to create a professional mirrorless camera based on a multi-layer, fast-reading CMOS sensor. The Nikon Z9 is a full-frame sports mirrorless camera with a 45.7MP sensor. In this Nikon Z 9 review, we will detail the key features of the new product.
Nikon Z9 review
While the Nikon Z9 looks powerful and has two comfortable deep grips, it is 20% smaller than the Nikon D6 , the company’s current flagship DSLR. The body is made of magnesium alloy and has reliable weather protection. The Z 9 is built to serve professional photographers who need to shoot in all conditions, including freezing cold.
The design change that a Nikon user is likely to notice is the move of the play button from the top left corner to the bottom right corner of the Nikon Z9’s camera body. The Z9 has one thing in common with Nikon’s current high-end DSLRs – most of its buttons are backlit.
The presence of two handles means that the lock is equally secure whether you are shooting in portrait or landscape orientation. The front and rear command dials, shutter button, power switch, AF-On, i-menu, and joystick controls are duplicated, so there is a set dedicated to using with each grip.
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On the front of the camera, between the horizontal mode handle and the lens mount, there are three function buttons (Fn) that can be configured to access the three most commonly used functions. On the other side of the Nikon Z9, there is a button with a dotted texture that looks a bit like a joystick. This is the AF mode button, and it allows you to change focus without taking the camera out of your eye.
Unlike the Z7 II and Z6 II, which have an exposure mode dial, the Z9 has a mode button that must be pressed while rotating the command dial to set the exposure mode. This button is grouped with buttons for accessing continuous shooting, bracketing, and flash mode options. There is a switch under it for setting the driving mode.
With the same resolution as the Nikon Z7 II, the Nikon Z9’s full-frame multilayer CMOS sensor inside the Nikon is new. It is also paired with the new Expeed 7 processor. There is no information yet on how this engine compares to its predecessor Expeed 6. But judging by what the Z9 is capable of and the fact that the Z7 II has two Expeed 6 processors, a new processor can have double the processing power.
Together, the new sensor and processor allow the Nikon Z9 to have its own ISO range of 64-25600, with advanced settings increasing it to ISO 32-102400. New advanced noise reduction algorithms are also used, which are said to deliver better results than the 45.7-megapixel Nikon Z7 II and Nikon D850.
The 5-axis image stabilization system (IBIS) with sensor offset offers exposure compensation up to 6EV. Nikon Z 9 also has the company’s most advanced autofocus system to date, according to the statement. Like the Z7 II, it has 493 AF points. Auto Zone uses 405 points, five times more than the Z7 II.
There are also 10 AF-area modes, including popular options such as dynamic-area AF and Nikon 3D tracking AF. In addition, the Nikon Z9 uses deep learning artificial intelligence (AI) to simultaneously detect up to nine different types of objects, including vehicles.
Tracking can be optimized according to your subject. For example, it can be configured to detect and track a distant motorcycle, then switch to the rider’s helmet when close enough to be detected, and then switch to eye detection if the rider takes off the helmet.
This impressive autofocus performance is matched by the Z9’s ability to shoot uncompressed RAW files in full resolution at up to 20 frames per second with a buffer depth of over 1,000 shots using the appropriate memory card. If you like shooting high quality JPEG files at full resolution, the frame rate can be increased up to 30 fps.
This high speed can be combined with shutter speeds of up to 1/3200 of a second. Unusually, the Nikon Z9 does not have a mechanical shutter, it relies solely on an electronic shutter. However, Nikon claims the sensor has the world’s fastest scan speed for chips over 30MP. This means the rolling shutter distortion (also known as the jelly effect) is virtually eliminated.
A flagship camera should be able to record great videos and take great photos. The Nikon Z9 is capable of capturing 8K video at 24p to 60p or 4K video at 24p to 120p. Thanks to the heat dissipation design, the Z9 can record 8K 30p video for about 125 minutes at a time. The Z9 can also create time-lapse movies right in the camera.
Another good news is that the Z9 supports full autofocus and the ability to meter the exposure when shooting 8K video with eye detection AF. In addition, at resolutions up to 4K / 60p (excluding Full HD / 24p, 25p and 30p), it is compatible with 10-bit ProRes 424 HQ. A firmware update is planned for 2022 to enable RAW video 8K at 60p.
Screen and viewfinder
On the back of the Z9 is a 3.2-inch screen that can be tilted in four directions. Most importantly, the mechanism looks sturdy and the screen delivers crisp and detailed images. It is also touch-sensitive, and you can select basic options and i-menu options with one touch or using physical controls.
Naturally, the Z9 also has an electronic viewfinder. With a brightness of 3000 nits, this is one of the brightest full-frame mirrorless cameras around. In addition, because the Z9 has dual-stream technology that feeds sensor data to the viewfinder and for recording at the same time, the viewfinder does not darken and provides continuous live viewing.
Connections and battery
Nikon provides the Z9 with two Type B CFexpress card slots, which are also compatible with XQD cards. The Z9 comes with a Nikon EN-EL18b rechargeable battery that can be charged via USB, but it is also compatible with the batteries used in the Nikon D4, D5 and D6. Connectivity options include:
Full-size HDMI port for outputting video to an external recorder or monitor.
USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port supports data transfer and battery charging in the camera.
Ethernet port supports 1000BASE-T wired LAN connection for FTP file transfer.
The 10-pin port offers a wide range of accessories and remote connectivity.
PC port for flash sync.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5 GHz) provide wireless file transfer, remote camera control from a smartphone, and work in conjunction with the NX Mobile Air app. Read more