Nikon has been a little late to the mirrorless party. There have been a few cameras in the category in their stables, but a flagship was missing. That changed with the Nikon Z9 — and how.
The Nikon Z9 is probably the best camera ever made by Nikon. It is packed to the brim with technology and as far as the professional photographer is concerned, it truly ticks all the boxes. They took their time, but what they have delivered is a technological marvel.
The Z9 is a full-frame 45 megapixel pro camera. Drawing heavily from its predecessors, the Z9 is similar in design to the D6, which is also quite the beast. This is the first mirrorless with a mono-block vertical grip built in to the body itself. While it does make the camera a little bulky and heavy, most pros would have added the grip to it in any case. The fact that it comes built-in is an added bonus.
Many firsts to its credit
Nikon has many firsts with this camera. The vertical grip is a good starting point, as is the new stacked CMOS sensor. The new sensor basically allows for a super burst of images. The Z9 can shoot RAW at full resolution at 20 frames per second and if you need to shoot faster, you can switch to JPG at 30 frames per second or to an incredible 120 frames per second at 11 megapixels. This is, of course, assisted by a new image processor, the Expeed 7. The new processor helps a great deal in both writing images to the sensor, as well as the no blackout electronic view finder.
Another first for the Z9 is the absence of a mechanical shutter. They have completely done away with it and interestingly, as feedback to the shooters, it actually just fakes the sound of a shutter as needed. You can, of course, shoot in total silence, which is useful in many situations. With the absence of a shutter, the sensor is protected with a mechanical cover and is a setting that can be turned on via the menu.
Amongst other firsts, the camera now features a voice note recorder. This is extremely useful for documenting your work. It also boasts of shutter speeds at 1/32,000 of a second and 8K video recording for up to 2 hours, and that too without heating up.
Built like a tank
The Z9 is built like a tank, and it’s the build quality that one has come to expect from Nikon. It looks solid and feels solid.
It’s complete with weather seals, much like the D6. The Z9 can apparently work in -10°C, but that was not a feature we wanted to test. Much of the body will be familiar to mirrorless shooters and to older Nikon users; the only exception is the playback button, which has been moved. It took a few days to get used to that, and while some hate the new position, it might actually be more logical.
The LCD panel at the back is articulating, but Nikon still seems to be resisting a fully articulating screen. This one has a hinge that makes it pop out to the side for the horizontal movement, and the usual vertical movement is like the older Nikons. In-camera stabilisation is now very much part of the mirrorless series from Nikon. The Z9 will soon also support Synchro-VR. This will allow older lenses with VR to make use of both the lens vibration reduction as well as the in-camera vibration reduction. Nikon has promised this via a firmware upgrade.
When it comes to image quality, little or no discussion is usually needed in the case of Nikon. They have always had superb image quality and the Z9 is no exception.
It comes with two slots for memory cards, the preference is for the CFExpress cards, but older XQD cards work just as well. Though to benefit from the speeds that are being claimed, your best bet is to get a CFExpress card.
In terms of connectivity, the camera offers the usual ports. USB-C, which can be used to both charge the camera as well as transfer images, HDMI to connect to a display, and even a gigabit Ethernet port.
New autofocus, a gamechanger
The real game changer on the Z9 is the new auto-focus system, along with subject detection.
In the last few models from Nikon, while subject detection has improved, what has been done with the Z9 is just magical. Select the type of subject you want to shoot — People, Animals or Vehicles — and this thing just locks on to the subject and holds. Only when something comes in between the subject and the camera does it tend to lose focus, but then it acquires it back instantly. For wildlife and sports and other action shooters, this is a boon. You will be amazed at the number of sharp shots you will get using this camera.
Overall, the Nikon Z9 is a great camera and it will be picked up by a lot of professionals. Some serious wildlife and action enthusiasts may also end up buying the camera. While it is expensive, it is cheaper than its closest competitors from both Sony and Canon.
Pros: Great performance, well built, great image quality, highly customisable
Cons: Bulky and heavy, pricey
Price: MRP - ₹4,75,995 (body only) | Street prices and deals available