The Nikon Z9 offers just nearly everything professional and enthusiast photographers might want from a camera. It’s big and heavy for a mirrorless camera, but information technology’s also twin-gripped, weather-sealed and a bit lighter than the Nikon D6.
Its 45.7Mp sensor is excellent and able to capture a high level of detail without over-stretching the camera’s racket control.
There’southward besides 20fps full-resolution shooting for raw files, 30fps for Jpegs and 120fps shooting at 11Mp, paired with what looks like an excellent AF arrangement with super-gluey Center-detection.
The Nikon Z9 goes beyond what’s offered by the Nikon D6 while at £v,299/€6,299 information technology costs around £1,000 less and offers stiff contest to the Sony A1 and Catechism EOS R3.
- New 45.7Mp total-frame sensor sensor
- Avant-garde AF system
- Durable, weatherproof build
- No mechanical shutter
- Firmware updates to come in 2022 to get the total video feature set
What is the Nikon Z9?
Aimed at professional wild fauna, sport and journalist photographers, the Nikon Z9 is a full-frame mirrorless camera that will sit down alongside the Nikon D6, the company’due south flagship DSLR, and above the Nikon Z7II and Z6 II.
I’ll go into more detail further downward this Nikon Z9 review, but the headlines are that the camera features a new stacked 45.7Mp CMOS sensor, an Expeed 7 processing engine and Nikon’s nigh avant-garde autofocus (AF) organisation to appointment – consummate with human being, beast and vehicle detection and tracking. Information technology’southward as well capable of shooting over one,000 full-frame raw images at 20fps.
You can pre-social club the Nikon Z9 from Adorama in the USA.
Full-frame mirrorless camera
28th Oct 2021
Full-frame (FX 35.nine ten 23.9mm) 45.7MP stacked backside illuminated (BSI) sensor
5-centrality sensor shift giving 6EV shutter speed bounty
ISO 64-25,600, expandable to ISO 32-102,400
Maximum continuous shooting rate:
20fps for upwards to thou+ raw (high efficiency) files or 685 raw (high efficiency *) files, 30fps for upward to thou+ normal-quality Jpegs, or 120fps normal-quality 11Mp Jpegs
Hybrid with phase and contrast detection
Phase detection points:
Pinpoint (available in photo mode only), single-bespeak, dynamic-expanse (Due south, Thousand, and L; available in photo manner only), wide-area (S and L), and machine-area AF, 3D-tracking (bachelor in photograph way just), subject-tracking AF (available in video style just)
8K (7680 x 4320): 30p (progressive)/25p/24p, 4K (3840 x 2160): 120p/100p/60p/50p/30p/25p/24p, Full Hard disk (1920 10 1080): 120p/100p/60p/50p/30p/25p/24p
Video file format:
Apple ProRes 422 HQ (10 bit), H.265/HEVC (8 bit/10 flake), H.264/AVC (8 bit)
0.5-inch 3.69-million-dot, 3,000-nit OLED viewfinder
3.2-inch 2,100,000-dot 4-manner-tilting bear upon-screen
Dimensions (W x H ten D):
149 10 149.5 x 90.five mm / v.nine x v.ix 10 3.six inches
1340 g / ii lb. 15.3 oz.with battery and retentivity card but without torso cap and accessory shoe comprehend, Body only: 1160g / 2 lb. 9 oz.
Nikon Z9 price and availability
Nikon officially announced the Z9, its flagship full-frame mirrorless camera on 28th October 2021 with a price tag £5,299 / €half dozen,299 / $5,496.95. Information technology was set to keep sale in Dec 2021, but very few bodies were actually available at that time. More cameras went on sale in early 2022, but even now, the Nikon Z9 is on back-order in many areas.
Although it has the aforementioned resolution every bit the Nikon Z7 Ii, the total-frame stacked CMOS sensor inside the Nikon Z9, which was designed by Nikon’s engineers, is new. It’south also paired with a new processing engine, the Expeed 7.
Every bit withal, nosotros don’t accept whatever information virtually how this engine compares with its predecessor, the Expeed 6, but judging by what the Z9 is capable of, and the fact that the Z7 II has ii Expeed half dozen processors, it must have more than twice the processing power.
Together the new sensor and processor enable the Z9 to accept a native sensitivity range of ISO 64-25,600 with expansion settings pushing the range to ISO 32-102,400. It also uses new advanced noise-reduction algorithms that are claimed to enable it to produce ameliorate results than the 45.7Mp Nikon Z7 Two and Nikon D850.
At that place’s also a sensor-shifting five-axis in-trunk image stabilisation (IBIS) system that offers upwards to 6EV shutter speed bounty.
According to Nikon, the Z9 likewise has the company’southward most avant-garde autofocus (AF) system to date. Like the Z7 II, there are 493 AF points but at that place are 405 Auto-surface area AF points, which is five times more than the Z7 Ii has. There are also 10 AF area modes, incorporating popular options such every bit Dynamic-expanse AF and 3D-tracking AF from Nikon’s DSLRs. These allow the photographer to tailor the AF system to conform the subject and shooting situation.
In addition, the Z9 draws on deep-learning artificial intelligence (AI) to enable simultaneous detection of up to ix different types of field of study including people (eyes, faces, caput and upper body), animals (whole bodies and heads and eyes for cats, dogs, birds and ‘other animals’) and vehicles (cars, motorbikes, ‘planes and trains).
The subject tracking can be customised to suit your subject field and so, for instance, it could exist set to detect and rail a afar motorcycle, then switch to the helmet of the rider when it’south close plenty to be detected and and then switch to eye-detection if the rider removes their helmet. Alternatively, information technology could be set to stick with the bike, depending on what’s required.
These impressive autofocusing specifications are accompanied by the ability to shoot full-resolution raw (loftier efficiency) files at upward to 20fps with a burst depth quoted as over 1000 images when an appropriate retentivity menu is used (Nikon states the ProGrade Digital Cobalt CFexpress).
If yous’re happy to shoot full-resolution normal-quality Jpegs, the shooting charge per unit tin be pushed to 30fps in the new C+ mode. Alternatively, the Z9 can shoot 11Mp normal-quality Jpeg images with full AF and exposure metering adequacy at 120fps.
These fast shooting rates can be paired with shutter speeds upwardly to ane/3200second. Unusually, the Nikon Z9 doesn’t accept a mechanical shutter, it relies solely on an electronic shutter. Withal, Nikon claims that the sensor has the world’s fastest scan charge per unit for fries with over 30Mp, which means that rolling-shutter baloney (AKA the jello effect) is near eliminated.
Information technology’southward worth mentioning at this point that the Nikon Z9 doesn’t accept the option to shoot uncompressed raw files. Instead at that place’due south xiv-bit lossless compression, high efficiency* and loftier efficiency, with high efficiency* delivering the best possible results.
A flagship camera needs to be capable of recording swell video likewise as superb stills and the Nikon Z9 was capable of recording 8K video at 24p, 25 or 30p at launch but the V2.0 firmware released on 20th Apr 2022 will add 60p. Alternatively, 4K video can be shot at 24p to 120p. The V.ii.0 firmware volition also enable in-camera recording of 4K/60p Ultra HD footage oversampled from 8K 12-bit with ProRes RAW HQ (upwards to 4K/60p).
Thanks to its heat-dissipating design, the Z9 can record 8K 30p video for around 125 minutes at a time.
Further good news is that the Z9 maintains its full autofocus and exposure metering capability while shooting 8K video, complete with Eye-detection AF.
Also, at upwards to 4K/60p (except for Full HD/24p, 25p and 30p), it’s compatible with ten-scrap ProRes 422 HQ format. If y’all want to shoot 8K video, you accept to opt for H.265 10-bit MOV or H.265 8-fleck MOV files. H.264 8-bit MP4 recording is also possible for Full HD video up to 60p.
The April 20th 2022 firmware update (V.2.0) will besides add North-Raw format recording to reduce files sizes to approximately half that of ProRes Raw files. In improver, it will also requite the Z nine a waveform monitor, a cherry-red REC frame indicator and a custom i-menu that displays video settings while shooting will be introduced.
The Z9 can also create fourth dimension-lapse movies in-camera.
Storage and battery
Nikon has given the Z9 two CFexpress type-B bill of fare slots which are also compatible with XQD cards. In improver, there’southward a full-size HDMI port for connecting an external device.
The Z9 comes with a Nikon EN-EL18b battery, which can be charged via USB, but information technology’s also uniform with the batteries used in the Nikon D4, D5 and D6.
Build and treatment
While it feels robust and has ii comfortable, deep grips, the Nikon Z9 is 20% smaller than the Nikon D6, the company’s current flagship DSLR. It’due south fabricated from magnesium blend and has all-encompassing weather-sealing.
At 1160g body-only, information technology’due south also 70g lighter than the D6 (110g lighter if the bombardment and retentivity card are in place), but there’s no getting away from it, information technology’south a big heavy photographic camera. Interestingly, ‘is it heavy’ is the question I’ve been asked most about the Z9.
Having used the Nikon Z6 Two, Z7 2, Z6 and Z7 in heavy rain, I’d have no qualms most shooting with the Z9 in bad atmospheric condition. Information technology’s built to final in the hands of professional photographers who need to shoot in all manner of conditions, including at temperatures down to -10°C.
Having used the Nikon Z6 II, Z7 Ii, Z6 and Z7 in heavy rain, I’d have no qualms about shooting with the Z9 in bad conditions, it’s built to last in the hands of professional photographers who need to shoot in all manner of conditions, including at temperatures down to -10°C.
Nikon has given the Z9 a sensor shield, which looks like a shutter, only that is designed to protect the sensor when lens lens or trunk cap is removed. At that place’southward also a conductive coating that creates a magnetic field to repel dust from the imaging sensor.
Screen and viewfinder
On the back of the Z9 in that location’south a 3.two-inch two,100,000-dot screen that tin can be tilted in 4 directions to enable it to be helpful when composing portrait or landscape orientation images from to a higher place or below caput meridian.
When vari-angle screens seemed like the only alternative to tilting screens, I preferred them, but a dual-tilting mechanism gets my vote. It means that the screen can be moved to give a clear view whatever orientation you’re shooting in without swinging to the side and getting in the way of any of the ports or connected cables. Crucially, in the case of the Nikon Z9, the mechanism also feels durable and the screen gives a clear, detailed view.
As usual now, the screen is touch on-sensitive. It’s too possible to select the main and i-menus options with a tap or using the physical controls, making the photographic camera that bit quicker and more intuitive to utilise.
Helpfully, the information screen tin rotate when the photographic camera is in portrait orientation. Occasionally, this happens when yous move the camera and you’re not planning to shoot in upright orientation, so there may exist times when you want to turn off this functionality.
Indoors, the screen provide a very crips, clear view with enough of detail visible. Outdoors, the screen too works well, but as usual, the viewfinder is preferable in brilliant sunlight.
Naturally, the Z9 also has an electronic viewfinder and co-ordinate to Nikon, at 3000-nits, it’southward the brightest of any electric current full-frame mirrorless camera, which should prove helpful in very bright ambient light. Also, because the Z9 has dual-stream technology which transfers data from the sensor to the viewfinder and for storage simultaneously, the viewfinder is blackness-out gratuitous and there’due south a continuous existent-time view so even fleeting moments aren’t missed.
As I raised the camera to my eye when shooting a rugby match, I sometimes noticed that the viewfinder image was a little jerky, just every bit presently as I half-pressed the shutter button, it came to life properly, delivering a wonderfully smooth, natural viewing experience.
Unlike Nikon’s earlier Z-series mirrorless cameras, the Z9 is a dual grip photographic camera which means you get the same solid concord whether you lot’re shooting in portrait or landscape orientation. The front and rear control dials, shutter button, ability switch, AF-On, i-carte and joystick controls are also replicated so that there’due south a set defended for use with each grip. This makes switching between the two shooting orientations almost seamless.
Unsurprisingly, the record button that’south near the landscape-orientation shutter release isn’t replicated on the top of the vertical grip.
All iii of the buttons effectually the shutter release on the horizontal/landscape grip have a slightly different contour but I’d like the difference between the experience of ISO and exposure compensation buttons to be a petty more than marked. You get used to their location later on a while, but a bobble on one of them would make them slightly easier to tell apart.
There are three office (Fn) buttons on the front of the camera betwixt the horizontal mode grip and the lens mount that can be customised to requite access to iii of the features you utilise most often. I establish these within easy reach of my fingers when they’re around the grip and they’re spaced far enough apart to make information technology easy to distinguish between them.
On the other side of the camera, aslope the HDMI and USB ports, there’southward a push button with a stippled texture that makes it expect a bit like a joystick. This is the AF-Mode push button and it works in combination with the command dials to enable the focus mode to be inverse without having to remove the camera from your eye. We’ve seen a similar button before on some of Nikon’s DSLRs and its a great addition to the Z9.
Unlike the Z7 II and Z6 II, which have an exposure mode dial, the Z9 has a mode button that must be pressed while a command punch is rotated to set the exposure mode. This push button is grouped with buttons to access the continuous shooting, bracketing and flash mode options. Underneath it, in that location’due south a switch for setting the drive mode.
While a continuous shooting rate of 20fps is more enough for many shooting situations, the Nikon Z9 tin can shoot at 30fps or 120fps, but information technology’s non immediately obvious how to select these options. Perhaps in recognition that the file format switches automatically to Normal-quality Jpeg when the photographic camera is fix to shoot at 30fps or 120fps, Nikon has put these options in a dissimilar expanse. Instead of selecting H on the drive manner punch, you need to select C – the customisable option. And so, while pressing the drive push on the far left end of the peak-plate of the camera, rotating the rear command dial takes you through the available options, including C30 and C120.
As I held the Nikon Z9 to my center and shot outdoors with it for the offset time, I was struck by how natural the colours look with the Standard Motion picture Control. The colours aren’t in your face up but somehow they still look vibrant. I’ve never been completely happy with the way that Nikon cameras handle some greens, a lush lawn, for example, tin can look to vivid. The Z9 however, nails it and there’s a squeamish level of micro contrast.
There are effectively five auto white residuum settings available on the Z9. In add-on the regular Auto, at that place’south as well A0 [Keep white (reduce warm colors)], A1 [Go along overall atmosphere] and A2 [Go on warm lighting colors], plus A [Natural Light Auto]. They’re all handy but I noticed that the colour of my images sometimes changed as I changed the composition with 1 selected, in which example, it’s advisable to prepare a fixed white balance value using either a preset or setting a manual value.
I shot with the Z9 exclusively in its default Matrix metering metering mode and it performed well throughout, never requiring an excessive level exposure compensation to become the event I wanted. The viewfinder provides an excellent preview of the image so you tin can rely on information technology to guide your exposure settings.
Nikon Z9 image quality
As it has a 45.7Mp sensor, the Z9 makes a considerable step up in resolution from the 20.8Mp Nikon D6. Canon and Nikon take previously favoured small-scale pixel counts in their flagship cameras to help continue noise under command while still capturing images big enough to brand the forepart cover of newspapers and magazines. All the same, the market and technology move on, and many photographers now want to be able to capture larger images.
While it might non match the resolution of the 61Mp Sony A7R 4 or even the 50Mp Sony A1, the Nikon Z9 can even so resolve an impressive level of detail. Noise is likewise controlled very well with but a hint of luminance noise appearing in the lighter shadows of ISO 800 images and some chroma dissonance being visible in ISO 1600 raw files when they’re examined at 100% on a estimator screen.
As usual, the corporeality of noise climbs with the sensitivity (ISO setting), but the image quality remains very adept up to around ISO 6400. Even ISO 12,800 images await expert simply you’re likely to spot chroma noise, especially if you pixel peep. I’d aim to make ISO 12,800 the maximum value I use, but I wouldn’t be too worried if I had to employ ISO 25,600 to get a particular shot. I’g looking forward to seeing what DxO PureRAW makes of the Z9’s high-ISO images once its profile is bachelor.
The extended values of ISO 51,200 and ISO 102,400 could be useful on occasion but the images are pretty noisy and lack both saturation and shadow detail.
Nikon Z9 dynamic range
Nikon’south Z-serial cameras have impressive dynamic range and in its recent test of the Z9’southward sensor, DXO Mark institute that at its lowest native sensitivity setting (ISO 64), the Z9 has a dynamic range of 14.4EV. That’south a fantastic value, but it’s really a niggling lower than the maximum ranges of the Canon EOS R3 and the Sony A1. Nevertheless, the Z9 captures an impressive range of tones so that highlights don’t burnout too quickly and shadows don’t become deep blackness too readily.
A wide dynamic range also translates into ‘elastic’ raw files that can withstand substantial post-capture adjustment. This is most useful when you’re shooting high contrast scenes because you can reduce the exposure a little to preserve the highlight detail and exist confident of being able to brighten the shadows. The degree to which you can burnish the shadows depends to a certain extent on the scene, just I’d certainly wait to be able to brighten an ISO 200 image from the Z9 by 3EV or more. Pushing very dark areas any further starts to make coloured speckling visible.
Nikon Z9 autofocus performance
AI subject detection is big news in photography at the moment and it has the potential to be incredibly useful. One of the overnice features of the Nikon Z9’south version of subject area detection is that y’all have the selection to specify whether yous want information technology to look for humans, animals or vehicles, or yous can set it to look for any of those subjects at the aforementioned fourth dimension. If the camera sees a subject, it puts a box effectually information technology. If it sees more than 1 subject, it highlights them all and you tin can select the one you lot want to follow using the joystick on the back of the photographic camera.
The Z9’southward subject detection works very well and it’s quick to spot eyes in the frame. However, having used the Z9 and the Canon EOS R3 to photo rugby matches, I think the R3’south arrangement is a piffling better as information technology tended to stay with the player I was interested in more readily.
The Z9 also offers a host of other autofocus modes, including 3D-tracking for stills and subject-tracking for AF for video. These both work extremely well and the camera does a great job of sticking with the selected discipline.
While the Z9’s AF system very works well straight from the box, the claiming for pro sports photographers is going to be working out which of the AF modes work best in specific shooting situations and tweaking the ‘Focus tracking with lock-on’ setting. That’southward a claiming I would relish spending time on.
Nikon Z9 continuous shooting
Achieving the Z9’s claimed maximum shooting rates and outburst depths requires a fast memory card, a sensitivity setting of ISO 100 and the Machine Distortion correction set up to ‘Off’. I tested the Nikon Z9 with a 512GB Lexar Professional CFexpress Blazon B Gold Series card (maximum read/write speed 1750/1000MB/s) and was able to capture over 1200 full-resolution Fine-quality Jpegs at 20fps.
Switching to shooting raw (loftier efficiency*) files, I was able to shoot at 20fps for around 6 seconds (capturing around 120 images) before etc rate dipped to about 16.5fps. And when shooting raw (high efficiency) files, I got around 300 images in 15 seconds at 20fps earlier the charge per unit dipped to between xviii and 19fps.
In almost real-world situations, shooting for more a few seconds feels pretty excessive. Fifty-fifty when photographing the fast-paced action of a rugby lucifer, I rarely shoot in bursts longer than 2 or 3 seconds.
You can find Lexar CFexpress cards at Wex Photo Video in the UK and Amazon.com
Nikon Z9 video performance
Nikon hasn’t yet unleashed the Z9’south full video potential, that is prepare to come with firmware updates. However, at launch it’s possible to shoot 8K (7680×4320) video at upward to 30p and the quality is superb. Naturally, information technology requires a suitable memory menu, and the Lexar Professional person CFexpress Type B Aureate Series card is up to the task.
The level of particular is, as you would wait, excellent and the focusing, colour and exposure are inline with what’southward seen with the stills.
Too, I was unable to encounter whatsoever issue with rolling shutter when shooting moving subjects or panning the camera.
Yous can order the Nikon Z9 from Adorama in the Usa and Wex Photo Video in the UK..
Nikon Z9 sample images
Follow the link to browse and download total-resolution images from the Nikon Z9.
Nikon Z9 image gallery
Nikon Z9 sample video
This video was shot as part of our test of the Nikon Z9. The photographic camera was gear up to tape in 4K 60p. The built-in mic was used for the audio, so there is some wind noise and the creaking/chatter sound you lot can hear is the autofocus system of the AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/iv.v-5.6G ED VR lens. Information technology did a great job of focusing when it was on the Z9, just information technology’s not the quietest!
Although Nikon took its fourth dimension about getting serious about mirrorless cameras, the Nikon Z6 and Z7 avoided that ‘kickoff-generation’ feel and put the company right in the game. The Z6 2 and Z7 2 didn’t make many changes but corrected the master complaint raised against the original cameras with the addition of a second memory card slot. Their extra processing power as well enabled Eye-detection AF for both humans and animals in video as well equally stills style and successive firmware updates have seen its performance ameliorate.
Similarly, while an excellent DSLR, the Nikon D6 doesn’t make many upgrades on the D5 and it doesn’t benefit from the improved Alive View system that the Nikon D780 got on the back of what Nikon learned from creating the Z6 and Z7. Compared with the Catechism EOS-1DX Mark III, it seems backside the curve.
Now the Nikon Z9 has arrived and information technology’due south articulate that Nikon has the vision that appeared to be missing with the D6. It reaps all the benefits of mirrorless technology and has huge processing ability to deliver a camera that’s designed to get fast-paced activity sharp as well as capturing fine-details.
Noise is controlled well, the focusing system is very sophisticated and there’due south 8K video capability, with more video options to come up soon. Nikon has also priced the Z9 very competitively in comparison with the Sony A1 and Canon EOS R3.
Nikon Z9 FAQ
- Nikon Z9