Nikon Z9
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Nikon Z9 Review

Few cameras had been as hotly expected because the Nikon Z9. After all, that’s partially because of Nikon’s personal hype; their promotional marketing campaign for the Nikon Z9 used to be the corporate’s most powerful in years. However there’s additionally the truth that the Nikon Z lineup has lengthy wanted a pro-level, flagship camera. This complete evaluate of the Nikon Z9 displays that – with few exceptions – it meets that mark.

Nikon Z9

“Nikon is death.” “Nikon is forsaking professionals.” “Nikon misplaced my automotive keys.” All of those cries grew louder and louder as time handed within the mirrorless technology. The ones people who’ve shot with Nikon for years knew that it wasn’t all that strange: For higher or worse, Nikon virtually at all times waits some time between liberating flagship cameras.

Even so, there’s no denying that the Z9 used to be at the overdue aspect of the high-speed, high-resolution mirrorless recreation. Canon’s EOS R5 (45 megapixels, 20 FPS) used to be introduced in July 2020. Sony’s flagship A1 (50 megapixels, 30 FPS) used to be introduced in January 2021. Nikon took the trace and printed the Z9’s construction in March 2021, however it wasn’t till October 2021 that they formally introduced the Nikon Z9 and we discovered the entire specifications.

Nikon Z9 Review Sample Photo Wildlife Bison
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S @ 320mm, ISO 800, 1/1250, f/5.3 © Spencer Cox

The Nikon Z9 is a flagship-level camera with an built-in grip and sufficient knowledge switch ports for any instance. It has a 45-megapixel sensor, 20 FPS RAW taking pictures, and a 1000+ RAW symbol buffer. The Z9 sports activities Nikon’s supreme mirrorless autofocus but, together with RAW video taking pictures as much as 8K 60p. Briefly, although the Z9 is aimed at sports activities and match pictures professionals, it has one thing for everybody.

Right through this evaluate, I’ll do a deep dive into the Nikon Z9’s characteristic set, specs, symbol high quality, and function. I compiled this evaluate with the assistance of Nasim Mansurov, Libor Vaicenbacher, and Ross Martin – 3 different individuals of the Photography Lifestyles crew who’ve additionally examined the Z9 widely. Between the 4 people, I imagine we’ve examined the Nikon Z9 in essentially the most complete method you’ll to find anyplace on-line, each within the box and within the lab. Part a dozen copies of the Nikon Z9 have handed thru our fingers and knowledgeable the whole thing on this evaluate.

Be aware:

This Nikon Z9 evaluate is in response to firmware Model 2.11, which used to be launched on August 30, 2022 and is essentially the most present firmware on the time of the evaluate’s newsletter.

Nikon Z9 Review Timeline:
  • August 23, 2022: Review printed
  • August 23, 2022: Corrected inaccuracies and typos; up to date checklist of lacking options on Review web page
  • August 24, 2022: Up to date superstar scores to distinguish between AF efficiency with and with out field reputation
  • August 30, 2022: Up to date article for Model 2.11, which fixes a subject with Model 2.10 the place the Z9 on occasion doesn’t reply to inputs
  • September 16, 2022: Added real-world autofocus video display screen seize from the Nikon Z9 for fowl pictures, with head-to-head towards the Sony A1
NIKON Z 9 + VR 400mm f/2.8G @ 400mm, ISO 500, 1/4000, f/4.5 © Libor Vaicenbacher

Nikon Z9 Specs

Characteristic Nikon Z9
Sensor Sort Stacked CMOS
Sensor Answer 45.7 megapixels
Sensor Dimension 35.9 × 23.9 mm full-frame sensor
In-Frame Symbol Stabilization Sure
Symbol Processor EXPEED 7
Garage Media Two CF Specific B card slots with XQD backwards compatibility
Local ISO Sensitivity ISO 64-25,600
Expanded ISO Sensitivity ISO 32-102,400
Max Steady Capturing Velocity 20 FPS at full-resolution RAW;
30 FPS at full-resolution JPEG;
120 FPS at 11-megapixel JPEG
Blackout-Loose Capturing Sure, in any respect FPS speeds
Buffer Capability: JPEG Over 1000 frames (irrespective of FPS)
Buffer: 20 FPS, Prime Potency Megastar RAW Over 1000 frames
Buffer: 20 FPS, Prime Potency RAW 685 frames
Buffer: 20 FPS, Lossless Compressed RAW 79 frames
Buffer: 15 FPS, Lossless Compressed RAW Over 1000 frames
Digital Shutter Sure
Mechanical Shutter No
Shutter Lifestyles Successfully countless
Shutter Readout Velocity About 3.7 milliseconds (1/270 moment)
Shutter Velocity Vary 1/32,000 to 900 seconds
Center of attention Machine 93 issues; 9-subject classification and deep studying algorithms; eye AF
Focusing Vary (f/2, ISO 100)1 -5 to 21.5 EV; -7 to 21.5 EV when Starlight View AF is enabled
Video Most Answer 8.3K (8256 x 4644 pixels)
Gradual Movement Video 8.3K at 60p N-RAW;
4K at 120p, no crop;
1080p at 120p
Video High quality 12-bit N-RAW (NEV);
ProRes RAW 12-bit (MOV);
ProRes 4:2:2 10-bit (MOV);
H.265 10-bit (MOV);
H.265 8-bit (MOV);
H.264 8-bit (MP4)
Rear LCD 3.2″ touchscreen, twin axis tilt, 2.1 million dots
Viewfinder EVF, 100% protection, 0.80× magnification, 3.69 million dots
Battery Lifestyles 700 pictures
Weight (with Battery and Card) 1340 g (2.95 lbs)
Dimensions (Comprises Viewfinder Protrusion) 149 × 149.5 × 90.5 mm (5.87 × 5.89 × 3.56 inches)
MSRP, Frame Handiest $5500 (check current price and availability)

1 Nikon studies that the Z9 can focal point all the way down to -8.5 EV stipulations with an f/1.2 lens with Starlight View enabled. Photography Lifestyles standardizes to f/2 lenses, giving a price of -7 EV as an alternative. We do that in an effort to equalize the reported values from other camera producers.

Those specs obviously point out that the Nikon Z9 is a high-end camera – however that may in reality hit house within the checklist I’ll display you subsequent.

Yellowstone River and Trees Abstract Landscape Photo Nikon Z9 Sample
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S @ 210mm, ISO 64, 1/500, f/6.3 © Spencer Cox

What’s New at the Nikon Z9?

Excellent query! I’ve compiled a listing under of options which can be logo new to the Nikon Z9. A few of them are discovered on previous Nikon DSLRs, however none are found in any earlier Nikon Z mirrorless camera. Heads up, it’s an extended checklist:

  • EXPEED 7 processor
  • Stacked, backside-illuminated CMOS sensor
  • Integrated grip with vertical controls
  • Flash mode button
  • Bracketing button
  • AF mode button
  • Devoted launch mode dial for unmarried, bulb, steady low, steady excessive, and so forth.
  • 5 programmable serve as buttons as an alternative of 2
  • Two-button manufacturing facility reset (BKT + publicity repayment buttons)
  • Two-button reminiscence card formatting (ISO + trash buttons)
  • Ethernet port
  • Flash sync terminal
  • 10-pin faraway terminal
  • Anti-theft cable locking slot
  • Integrated GPS
  • Menu banks as an alternative of U1/U2/U3
  • “Recall taking pictures purposes (cling)” for fast switching to a pre-defined camera setup
  • Litter-free reside view DISP choice
  • Purple-light dim LCD mode to maintain your imaginative and prescient in low gentle
  • Twin-axis tilting LCD
  • Glove-sensitive touchscreen mode
  • 120 Hz viewfinder refresh price
  • Illuminated buttons
  • Loss of mechanical shutter
  • Devoted sensor mud duvet when converting lenses
  • Prime frequency and finely-selectable flicker aid for synthetic gentle
  • 20 FPS RAW; 30 FPS JPEG; 120 FPS 11-megapixel JPEG
  • Again-in-time buffer (Nikon calls it “Pre-Liberate Burst”) in 30 and 120 FPS JPEG modes
  • Blackout-free and slideshow-free taking pictures at most FPS
  • 1000+ symbol buffer of RAW information
  • New “excessive potency” and “excessive potency superstar” RAW compression algorithms
  • 1/32,000 quickest shutter pace
  • 8K video
  • 4K 120p video
  • RAW video choices and in-camera N-Log
  • Lowest-light autofocus but with “starlight view”
  • Hen field detection autofocus
  • 9-subject autofocus reputation (other folks, canine, cats, birds, automobiles, bikes, trains, planes, bicycles)
  • Two customizable AF field sizes/side ratios
  • True Three-D monitoring AF implementation
  • EN-EL18 battery compatibility

That’s a merely large collection of new options for one camera, and I’m certain there are nonetheless extra options that I ignored. Both method, I’ve by no means felt the wish to make a listing like this in a evaluate earlier than! A lot of this evaluate is devoted to explaining those new options, how they paintings, and their professionals and cons.

I’ll get started with an outline of which options at the Nikon Z9 topic essentially the most to sports activities/flora and fauna photographers, match/broadcast photographers, panorama photographers, and portrait photographers.

1663900854 742 Nikon Z9 Review
NIKON Z9 + NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S @ 400mm, ISO 64, 60 seconds, f/11.0 © Ross Martin

Options Review

The Nikon Z9 has one thing for nearly everybody, however crucial new options rely on what form of pictures you do. Right here, I’ll undergo one of the most hottest genres and give an explanation for what the Z9 brings to the desk.

1. Sports activities and Flora and fauna Photography

One phrase: autofocus. Mirrorless cameras can by no means totally exchange DSLRs for sports activities/flora and fauna professionals till the cameras can retain autofocus on fast-moving topics and not using a downside.

Prior Nikon Z cameras, together with the Z6 II and Z7 II, have higher AF-C efficiency than is normally believed. On the other hand, their autofocus monitoring has some problems, specifically with small birds in flight and erratically-moving topics towards high-contrast backgrounds. In comparison to a DSLR just like the Nikon D6 – a confirmed workhorse for pro sports activities and flora and fauna photographers – the Nikon Z Sequence obviously lagged.

With the Nikon Z9, Nikon has progressed its mirrorless focal point monitoring features significantly. There’s now a real Three-D-tracking autofocus mode, a lot broader field reputation, and a quicker EXPEED 7 processor to maintain the knowledge feed. Birds had been added to the checklist of topics which can be identified (together with motorcycles, automobiles, and different cars). And the autofocus machine now has a lot better configurability, a devoted AF mode button, and extra customizable serve as buttons.

We’ll cross into a lot of element concerning the Z9’s new focusing machine on a later web page of this evaluate, together with the way it compares head-to-head towards the Nikon Z7 II, Nikon D6, and Sony A1. However suffice to mention that Nikon has created what’s, in maximum respects, their supreme autofocus machine ever.

Nikon Z9 + 400 mm f/2.8, ISO 1600, 1/2500 moment, f/5.6 © Libor Vaicenbacher

The opposite massive growth for sports activities and flora and fauna photographers is the Z9’s aggregate of a excessive body price with an enormous buffer. With the proper CFExpress card, the Nikon Z9 can shoot over 1000 RAW pictures in collection at 20 FPS – in different phrases, greater than 50 seconds of constant footage at a time.

The body price can also be bumped to 30 FPS in the event you don’t thoughts taking pictures JPEG, and 120 FPS in the event you’re prepared to seize 11-megapixel JPEGs. I be expecting that almost all flora and fauna photographers will keep on with the RAW environment, however sports activities photographers who wish to ship fast footage for internet or broadcast newsletter is also completely content material with the 30 FPS or 120 FPS modes.

After all, in a primary for Nikon, the Z9 has a back-in-time buffer when taking pictures 30 FPS or 120 FPS JPEGs. “Again-in-time buffer” is simply what I love to name it; Nikon calls it “pre-release burst.” With this selection enabled, any time you cling the shutter button down midway, the Z9 saves as much as one moment of JPEGs previous to the instant you totally press the shutter. It’s a characteristic additionally discovered on some Olympus cameras just like the E-M5 Mark III and E-M1 sequence, and as you’ll be able to consider, it makes an enormous distinction in shooting moments that occur quicker than the human response time.

Dragonfly taken with Nikon Z9 pre-releast burst 1
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S @ 400mm, ISO 800, 1/8000, f/5.6; Curious about pre-release burst in an effort to get the dragonfly in flight. © Spencer Cox

2. Match/Broadcast Photography

The Z9 has all method of options for match photographers, from an ethernet port to the impressively small report sizes when taking pictures excessive potency RAW. It’s a camera designed to churn out excessive volumes of properly-labeled pictures and transmit them briefly for your workstation or broadcast community.

One take a look at the Nikon Z9’s community menu (under the setup menu) offers you a way of the Z9’s features on this regard. “Stressed out LAN”; “hook up with sensible software”; “hook up with pc”; “hook up with FTP server”; “hook up with different cameras” – it’s only one after any other. I say this handiest part in jest: You’ll be able to pair the Z9 with almost the rest that has web get right of entry to or an information switch port. I wouldn’t be shocked if I may just pair it with my calculator.

Even though you don’t shoot for a published community, you’ll nonetheless admire most of the Z9’s options for match pictures. The lengthy battery existence, for example, makes this most likely the primary Nikon Z camera that can be utilized for a complete wedding ceremony or live performance competition with no need to switch batteries. There’s additionally reside USB energy (no longer the primary Nikon Z camera with this selection, however nonetheless welcome) if you want to shoot for lengthy hours from the similar spot.

Ancillary options for match and broadcast pictures come with a voice memo strategy to label your edited pictures (a .wav report is created along the picture). There’s additionally an anti-flicker mode that permits you to fine-tune your shutter pace through tiny fractions of a quit in an effort to do away with banding brought about through synthetic gentle.

3. Panorama Photography

Cameras designed just like the Nikon Z9 – the stacked CMOS sensor, the huge dimension and weight, the built-in vertical grip – most often aren’t nice panorama cameras. However the Nikon Z9 is an exception to the guideline.

There’s no unmarried, large growth that makes the Z9 a succesful performer for panorama pictures, however it provides a large number of little issues that cross in combination neatly. For starters, the camera makes use of a 45-megapixel sensor with base ISO 64 – which used to be infrequently a ensure in a Nikon flagship camera, for the reason that Nikon D4/D5/D6 sequence by no means surpassed 20.8 megapixels.

Past the sensor, one of the most Z9’s maximum notable options for panorama pictures is the dual-axis tilting LCD. This can be a characteristic that tripod-based panorama photographers had been asking of Nikon for ages; it even is going towards what a regular sports activities/flora and fauna/match photographer might desire. (The extra a camera is crushed up in skilled utilization, the extra of an issue it may be to have further shifting portions just like the rear LCD.) This selection makes a large distinction to vertical pictures from a tripod.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River Nikon Z9 Sample Photo
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S @ 175mm, ISO 64, 1/125, f/7.1 © Spencer Cox

The Z9 may be the primary Nikon camera with a mud curtain that engages when the camera is grew to become off. This is going far towards combating small debris of mud and particles from touchdown at the sensor when converting lenses. Since mud is extra visual at slender apertures like f/11 or f/16, this selection will probably be particularly favored through panorama photographers and others who often use such slender apertures (like macro photographers).

Past that, the Nikon Z9 has Nikon’s supreme astrophotography options of any camera but. There’s the ultra-low-light focusing mode referred to as “Starlight View” that permits the camera to autofocus on stars at night time (extra on that within the Focusing bankruptcy of this evaluate later). It additionally has a dim pink gentle mode to decrease the brightness of the LCD and maintain your imaginative and prescient at night time. Likewise, photographers in chilly stipulations, together with midnight astrophotography, will to find the glove-sensitive touchscreen choice a welcome sight.

Of the opposite landscape-related options, I believe essentially the most helpful is the integrated GPS. Handiest the Nikon D6 and – of all issues – the Nikon D5300 have had this selection in earlier Nikon DSLRs. Different cameras needed to hotel to GPS dongles or piggybacking onto your smartphone’s GPS. Whilst no longer all panorama photographers will want the GPS, I in my opinion to find it very helpful to bear in mind one of the most off-the-beaten-path landscapes that I seek advice from. I stored the Z9’s GPS engaged always when the use of this camera, and I realized that battery existence remained extraordinarily excessive once I did.

1663900854 768 Nikon Z9 Review
Sparkling aspens, Dixie Nationwide Wooded area, Utah
NIKON Z9 + NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S @ 120mm, ISO 64, 1/15, f/22.0 © Ross Martin

4. Portrait Photography

Many of the Nikon Z9’s new options aren’t centered at portrait photographers, however they are able to nonetheless make a distinction. For instance, the longer battery existence at the Nikon Z9 is welcome for all-day portrait shoots. The tether locking cable slot makes it more uncomplicated to depart the Z9 in a studio surroundings in a single day or whilst taking a lunch spoil. And, in fact, the enhanced autofocus machine – thank you partially to the quicker EXPEED 7 processor – is welcome for nearly each and every style of pictures. (Despite the fact that prior Nikon Z cameras already had superb autofocus for portraiture.)

With regards to flash capacity, the Nikon Z9 maxes out at a pedestrian 1/200 sync pace, in comparison to maximum flagship cameras that game no less than a 1/250 moment sync as an alternative. That stated, the camera does have excessive pace sync as much as 1/8000 moment in the event you’re the use of the proper flash. In a primary for a Nikon mirrorless camera, the Z9 has a PC flash sync terminal for studio-based portrait photographers who use stressed out sync cables.

Like other mirrorless cameras, the Nikon Z9 can not cause the AF help lamp of maximum flash devices. Nor would it not do a lot excellent if it would, as a result of the ones flash devices emit infrared and pink gentle this is simple for a DSLR’s segment discover machine to select up, however no longer very helpful for many mirrorless AF techniques. If the issue is to be solved, flash corporations will wish to launch a flash with inexperienced or blue gentle AF help lamps one day. (Or flash photographers will wish to learn how to reside with different, much less extensive focusing strategies in low gentle.)

As for autofocus, the face detection features are very similar to prior Nikon Z cameras. When the Nikon Z9 is utilized in a face-detecting autofocus house mode, it prioritizes your field’s nearest eye. Not like some Sony cameras, the Z9 does no longer mean you can manually make a choice from closest as opposed to furthest eye prioritization. On the other hand, I don’t see this as a significant downside, because you’ll virtually at all times wish to focal point at the nearest eye anyway. (Even though you don’t, you’ll be able to simply make a selection a special AF monitoring mode, like Three-D monitoring, and position the AF field over the topic’s additional eye.)

Our Takes

Spencer: Speedy motion photographers are almost certainly the truest target market that Nikon had in thoughts when designing the Z9, together with sports activities and broadcast professionals. However Nikon has achieved a excellent process including one thing for a lot of various niches.

Nasim: Everybody knew that the “mirrorless D6” would enchantment to sports activities photographers firstly. Even so, that is the primary time for the reason that D3X that Nikon has additionally prioritized non-action photographers with considered one of their flagships.

Spencer: “I’m really not the objective target market for the Z9.” I believe it’s true in my case, as a slow-paced panorama photographer. It’s additionally one thing I wish to repeat to myself in moments of weak spot! The Z9 is overkill for me, however I will’t deny that it has Nikon’s supreme panorama and astro options but.

RAW Choices

The choices for RAW information at the Nikon Z9 are unexpected and in no way just like the choices on Nikon’s different 45-megapixel cameras. There are handiest 3 alternatives within the “RAW recording” menu. So as from biggest to smallest information, we’ve: lossless compression, excessive potency superstar, and excessive potency. In case you’re looking to alternate the Z9’s RAW symbol high quality and report dimension, that’s it.

There’s no sRAW or mRAW at the Nikon Z9. Neither is there the selection between 12-bit as opposed to 14-bit recording. Whether or not you find it irresistible or no longer, each and every RAW picture you’re taking with the Nikon Z9 goes to be 14-bit and 45 megapixels (until you crop to DX, 1:1, or 16:9 below the “Symbol house” menu choice).

On the other hand, in the event you’re frightened about report dimension, chances are you’ll in truth be happier with the Z9 than a special 45-megapixel Nikon frame. That’s as a result of excessive potency superstar and excessive potency RAW each cut back the Z9’s report dimension considerably. If truth be told, the Z9’s reasonable report sizes seem like this:

  • Lossless compression: 55.1 MB
  • Prime potency superstar: 33.0 MB
  • Prime potency: 22.0 MB

The report dimension of “lossless compressed” is as anticipated, however the two excessive potency RAW choices are strangely small due to the TicoRAW excessive potency compression set of rules. (Nikon is heading off a lawsuit from RED for this, so be grateful for it.)

For comparability, mRAW at the Nikon D850 is 26 megapixels and about 30 MB on reasonable. sRAW at the D850 is an insignificant 11 megapixels, and the ones information reasonable about 22 MB.

So, the Nikon Z9 has controlled to method mRAW report dimension territory with excessive potency superstar, and sRAW territory with excessive potency RAW! That’s very spectacular for 45-megapixel, 14-bit information.

And report dimension isn’t the one attention amongst those 3 RAW report varieties. Of the bunch, excessive potency superstar (the center choice) has the most important buffer – 1000 pictures at 20 FPS. In the meantime, Nikon claims 685 pictures at 20 FPS for top potency, and an insignificant 79 pictures for lossless compression (despite the fact that you’ll be able to spice up that dramatically through taking pictures 15 FPS as an alternative of 20 FPS).

On the other hand, the excessive potency RAW choices are handiest price the use of if they maintain excellent symbol high quality. Nikon says that prime potency superstar and lossless compressed RAW are “just about similar” in symbol high quality – however that prime potency superstar “produces higher-quality footage than Prime Potency.”

That’s great in concept, however I sought after to look how the 3 choices in point of fact when put next aspect through aspect. Traditionally, one of the best ways to look minor variations between Nikon’s RAW compression choices has been to have a look at critically underexposed pictures at base ISO. So, let’s do this right here. Those pictures are 100% plants (an excerpt 640 through 960 pixels in dimension) and not using a resizing on my phase, underexposed 5 stops and recovered in Lightroom. Whether or not you click on those pictures or no longer, you’re viewing them at complete dimension:

Z9 Lossless RAW 5 Under
45.6 MB Lossless Compressed RAW report from the Nikon Z9; 5 stops underexposed and recovered, 100% crop
Z9 High Efficiency Star RAW 5 Under
30.0 MB Prime Potency Megastar RAW report from the Nikon Z9; 5 stops underexposed and recovered, 100% crop
Z9 High Efficiency RAW 5 Under
18.6 MB Prime Potency RAW report from the Nikon Z9; 5 stops underexposed and recovered, 100% crop

(For technical main points, all 3 pictures have been shot at base ISO 64, f/8, and 1/20 moment with the Nikon Z 24-120mm f/4 lens at 50mm. Each and every symbol used to be intentionally underexposed through 5 stops and recovered with Lightroom’s Publicity slider. No noise aid or polishing have been carried out on those pictures. The 960-pixel plants have been achieved in Lightroom and exported as JPEG pictures with “Restrict Record Dimension” set to 1000 KB within the sRGB colour house.)

To my eye, all 3 pictures have the similar symbol high quality, each on the subject of noise and point of element. I see no higher or worse efficiency from any of the 3 pictures above.

I additionally sought after to check the diversities with a real-world scene. I intentionally underexposed every of the next pictures through one quit, then recovered it in Lightroom in an effort to display the result of extra standard shadow restoration with every RAW layout. Right here’s the entire, unedited symbol:

Unedited Nikon Z9 High Efficiency Star RAW file Test
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S @ 120mm, ISO 64, 1/400, f/5.6 © Spencer Cox

And those are the corresponding plants after one quit of brightening:

Nikon Z9 Lossless Compressed RAW 100% Crop
51.0 MB Lossless Compressed RAW report from the Nikon Z9; 100% crop
Nikon Z9 High Efficiency Star RAW 100% Crop
32.3 MB Prime Potency Megastar RAW report from the Nikon Z9; 100% crop
Nikon Z9 High Efficiency RAW 100% Crop
20.8 MB Prime Potency RAW report from the Nikon Z9; 100% crop

As soon as once more, I see no symbol high quality variations in anyway. For real-world scenes that require atypical ranges of post-processing like this, you’re not likely to ever see even the slightest symbol high quality advantages to taking pictures Uncompressed RAW.

After all, I sought after to check at ISO 6400, with none publicity restoration:

Nikon Z9 ISO 6400
59.3 MB Lossless Compressed RAW report from the Nikon Z9; ISO 6400, 100% crop
Z9 High Efficiency Star 6400
33.6 MB Prime Potency Megastar RAW report from the Nikon Z9; ISO 6400, 100% crop
Z9 High Efficiency ISO 6400
22.2 MB Prime Potency RAW report from the Nikon Z9; ISO 6400, 100% crop

On this case, too, I don’t realize any symbol high quality variations between the photographs even upon such shut exam.

In the long run, all the Nikon Z9’s RAW compression choices supply superb pictures. The one time I’ve been ready to look variations between them is when taking pictures a hyper-exaggerated symbol that’s one thing like 10 stops underexposed, and recuperating with essentially the most competitive gear in Photoshop. Below the ones cases, Uncompressed and Prime Potency Megastar nonetheless glance the similar to me, whilst Prime Potency has a bit of extra colour noise and a more potent tint shift. It’s not anything significant for real-world pictures, and you’ll be able to use any of the 3 codecs with out fear.

That stated, these days, the most important distinction between those 3 RAW choices isn’t symbol high quality in any respect – it’s post-processing strengthen. Only a few device choices presently (at the same time as of August 2022) strengthen Nikon’s excessive potency / excessive potency superstar information. Handiest device from Adobe and Nikon can strengthen those information these days. In case you use different RAW processing device, you want to make use of Adobe’s DNG converter or export the picture as a TIFF in an effort to edit it in other places, which will negate the report dimension benefit of Prime Potency RAW.

Thankfully, IntoPix (which has the patent for the Nikon Z9’s TicoRAW excessive potency compression set of rules) simply launched a TicoRAW device construction equipment for Apple’s M-series processors. It’s no longer simply Apple customers who will have the benefit of this launch. Device builders like Seize One, Topaz, DxO, and others have been ready at the construction equipment earlier than they put the assets into supporting the Z9’s excessive potency information for all customers, irrespective of their running machine.

So, the strengthen will exist very quickly – almost certainly earlier than the top of the 12 months with maximum picture modifying device – although it’s no longer but there for everybody.

Our Takes

Nasim: That seems like so much, however earlier than lengthy, the solution for many photographers goes to be shoot Prime Potency Megastar and don’t fear about anything. The information are indistinguishable from Lossless Compressed RAW, and so they’re 2/3 the dimensions and mean you can shoot 20 FPS with an enormous buffer.

Spencer: Certain, however the problem for now’s strengthen. Someone who makes use of Prime Potency is particular to Adobe and Nikon device for RAW processing, no less than for the following couple of months.

Nasim: It’ll be right here earlier than you understand it. Quickly, it is going to handiest be an issue in the event you use area of interest device for RAW modifying. You simply wish to read about your personal state of affairs, however it’s lovely easy: Shoot Prime Potency Megastar, in case your post-processing setup helps it. Another way shoot Lossless Compressed.

Spencer: Or select JPEG and feature the entire strengthen on the planet. Make Ken Rockwell proud!

Nasim: Who’re you, and what have you ever achieved with Spencer?

Metering and Publicity

The Nikon Z9 makes use of the similar metering machine as prior Nikon Z cameras – the TTL publicity metering machine that makes use of the primary symbol sensor for metering choices. It’s no longer a machine that we’ve in reality complained about previously, however it’s beginning to glance a bit of old-fashioned on a camera that does virtually the whole thing else appropriate. It’s time for Nikon so as to add some new customizability to matrix metering, or, higher but, put into effect a extra constant metering machine that incorporates ETTR publicity for optimum knowledge seize.

As an example, take the next panorama symbol. What publicity does Nikon’s matrix metering machine counsel?

Matrix Metering Nikon, focus point on background
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S @ 24mm, ISO 64, 1/8, f/11.0

Actually that it is dependent. The publicity above (1/8 moment in aperture precedence mode) is what Nikon’s matrix meter advised once I located the focusing field over the mountain. In the meantime, the picture under is what the matrix metering machine produced once I merely repositioned the field over the foreground:

Matrix Metering Nikon, focus point on foreground
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S @ 24mm, ISO 64, 1/3, f/11.0

The picture above (at 1/3 moment) is in truth so much nearer to the right kind ETTR publicity, despite the fact that one of the most patches of snow at the mountain are a bit of too some distance long past. Extra importantly, that is over a complete quit brighter than the prior symbol, in spite of being the very same scene and the similar time of day.

As standard, Nikon is putting a heavy emphasis at the focusing field when opting for an publicity in matrix metering. I take into account that Nikon desires the primary field (which most often aligns with the point of interest field) to be wisely uncovered. On the other hand, in scenes just like the panorama above, there’s no obtrusive field (equivalent to an individual’s face) that merits publicity precedence over the remainder of the scene.

That’s why there will have to both be a brand new matrix metering mode this is impartial of focal point level, or a menu strategy to can help you alternate the load given to the point of interest level on matrix metering suggestions. However, Nikon may just use its newfound subject-recognition talents to mechanically alter the significance of the point of interest level when metering – putting extra significance on the point of interest level when it’s a portrait and not more when it’s a panorama, for instance.

Thankfully, you’ll be able to beef up the consistency of the Z9’s meter through the use of highlight-weighted metering blended with a good publicity repayment – about +1.7 or +2.0 does the trick) – which is what I like to recommend for panorama photographers. On the other hand, even with this trick, you’ll almost certainly transfer again to matrix metering for topics like flora and fauna or portraits, so it’s no longer very best. (It additionally makes the loss of a devoted metering mode button at the Nikon Z9 extra noticeable.)

Once more, maximum of that is not anything distinctive to the Nikon Z9, and it’s no longer a significant factor on the finish of the day. Nevertheless it is going to turn that there’s nonetheless room for growth even within the age-old characteristic of metering.

Our Takes

Nasim: I’ve most commonly given up on any camera corporate enforcing a real ETTR publicity metering mode, however a photographer can hope.

Spencer: It’s been on my checklist for some time too, however Nikon’s highlight-weighted metering blended with publicity repayment is lovely shut. I will’t fault the Z9’s metering more often than not.

Nasim: Nikon’s metering machine has many years of construction in the back of it and is unquestionably delicate. Nevertheless it’s precisely the kind of factor that’s open to disruption from different corporations if Nikon tries to leisure on its laurels.

Lengthy Exposures with the Z9

The Nikon Z9 is most likely the most efficient camera Nikon has ever made for taking pictures lengthy exposures, together with topics like ocean waves with a powerful ND clear out or superstar trails at night time.

A part of the Z9’s suitability for those topics is because of the integrated prolonged shutter speeds in handbook mode. If you permit “Prolonged Shutter Speeds (M)” within the taking pictures/show menu, the Nikon Z9 can take lengthy exposures on the following shutter speeds:

  • 60”
  • 90”
  • 120”
  • 180”
  • 240”
  • 300”
  • 480”
  • 600”
  • 720”
  • 900”

This is equal to the choices on different Nikon cameras just like the Z7 II. It’s an overly helpful capacity, albeit a unusual department of to be had shutter speeds that excludes some helpful exposures like 45 seconds. (There’s a 1-stop distinction between 30 seconds and 60 seconds, for instance, while some shutter speeds right here have a 1/3-stop distinction, and others have a 1/2-stop distinction.)

The Z9 additionally has “Bulb” and “Time” shutter pace settings if you want an extended or extra exact publicity. New to the Z9, Nikon now units a stopwatch going at the height LCD whilst you use “Time” exposures. Sadly, there’s no strategy to remove darkness from the highest LCD all the way through those exposures, so it’s unimaginable to look the timer at the hours of darkness until you shine a gentle on it. Since maximum “Time” exposures are going to happen at the hours of darkness, the another way fascinating stopwatch characteristic is far much less helpful.

Past that, as you’ll see later on this evaluate, the Nikon Z9 autofocuses in lower-light stipulations than any earlier Nikon Z camera, due to a brand new “Starlight View” mode within the Capturing/Show menu. The camera additionally has a dim, pink mode that gained’t destroy your imaginative and prescient at night time, plus illuminated buttons to look what you’re doing extra simply (despite the fact that no longer the entire helpful buttons remove darkness from, together with DISP, publicity repayment, and ISO). Altogether, the Nikon Z9 is a superb camera for astrophotography and different lengthy exposures at night time.

Our Takes

Nasim: It’s great to look Nikon including some options to the Z9 that aren’t only for sports activities and flora and fauna photographers. The Z sequence already has some nice lenses for Milky Means pictures just like the Z 14-24mm f/2.8 and Z 20mm f/1.8, and the Z9 could make excellent use of them.

Spencer: I agree, with handiest minor proceedings. The Z9’s astrophotography revel in feels a bit of disjointed between the good options and the strange implementation in some instances.

Nasim: On occasion the little issues that aren’t 100% very best stand out extra, when a camera does virtually the whole thing else appropriate.

Nikon Z9 Starlight View Star Trails Landscape Photography
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S @ 24mm, ISO 500, 900 seconds, f/4.0 © Spencer Cox

Voice Memos

An invaluable characteristic at the Nikon Z9 for sports activities and different match pictures is the strategy to file voice memos when reviewing a picture. The Z9 isn’t the primary Nikon camera to have the voice memo capability; each the Nikon Z6 and Z6 II have it as neatly (despite the fact that, interestingly, the Z7 and Z7 II don’t).

Voice memos handiest paintings on pictures that you just’re actively reviewing. You’ll be able to’t file a memo for a photograph on the identical second that you just’re taking it. If you’ve recorded the memo, it’s stored in your card within the layout “DSC_1234.WAV.” The string of numbers corresponds to the report title of the related picture (on this case, for instance, DSC_1234.NEF).

You’ll be able to’t file voice memos for video information. Apparently, you can also’t file voice memos for nonetheless pictures if the picture/video transfer at the again of the camera is simply set to video mode. So in the event you to find that the voice memo button isn’t operating, that’s almost certainly why.

Our Takes

Nasim: Once I would {photograph} weddings, I at all times needed to pay cautious consideration to who’s who in my pictures. It might had been more uncomplicated if my camera on the time had the voice memo choice.

Spencer: That’s going to be probably the most well-liked makes use of, however I’d say it’s an invaluable characteristic even for one thing like panorama pictures. I take advantage of my Z6 to {photograph} the Milky Means, and I periodically file memos about darkish frames and the collection of pictures in an upcoming symbol stack. I want Nikon would upload the memo characteristic to the Z7 lineup, even though.

1663900866 739 Nikon Z9 Review
The Watchman at sundown, Zion Nationwide Park, Utah
NIKON Z9 + NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S @ 38mm, ISO 64, 0.6 seconds, f/10.0 © Ross Martin

Battery Lifestyles

The Nikon Z9 has higher battery existence than some other Nikon Z camera but. To me, all of it however removes the criticism that mirrorless falls wanting DSLR battery existence.

The legit CIPA numbers don’t inform the similar tale, even though. They display the Nikon Z9 as getting 740 photographs consistent with rate by the use of the rear LCD, or 700 photographs consistent with rate by the use of the digital viewfinder. This falls wanting maximum DSLRs. As an example, the Nikon D850 will get 1840 photographs consistent with rate in keeping with CIPA, and the Nikon D6 will get a whopping 3580!

What explains the variation? It’s in large part because of CIPA’s checking out requirements, which specify a 30-second period between pictures, with the camera last energetic the entire time. It’s most commonly this energetic time – no longer the pictures themselves – that depletes the Z9’s battery to CIPA’s said figures. Necessarily, they’re announcing the Z9 can also be left on and energetic for approximately six hours directly, taking a photograph each and every so frequently, earlier than the battery dies.

NIKON Z 9 + VR 200-500mm f/5.6E @ 500mm, ISO 560, 1/640, f/5.6 © Libor Vaicenbacher

In our crew’s utilization at Photography Lifestyles, it took about 2500 real-world pictures or two complete days of flora and fauna pictures to empty the Nikon Z9’s battery on reasonable. I in my opinion by no means were given just about that as a panorama photographer, the place a complete day of pictures tended to empty about one bar of my Z9’s battery. Then again, in the event you shoot a lot of 20+ FPS bursts with the Z9, you might want to almost certainly recuperate over 2500 pictures earlier than the battery dies. (Nikon specifies greater than 5000 consistent with rate if you’re taking one lengthy collection of pictures, however that’s a best-case situation.)

The Z9 has an power saving mode if you want it in a pinch, which bumps up the CIPA figures ever so somewhat to 770 photographs consistent with rate (rear LCD). You’ll be able to additionally alter more than a few menu settings to beef up your battery existence additional, equivalent to turning off the GPS and decreasing the brightness in your LCD.

In apply, I didn’t to find any of those battery-saving adjustments to be important at the Nikon Z9. Even with options like GPS enabled, the Z9 simply lasted an afternoon of pictures in our checking out, each for flora and fauna and panorama pictures. Provided that you repeatedly switch all of your pictures wirelessly, or shoot hours of video on finish, may you run right into a pinch. However that’s true of any Nikon camera, together with DSLRs. General, due to the EN-EL18d’s large capability (about 1.7x the EN-EL15b, for comparability), the Z9 gained’t provide you with battery anxiousness – as long as you take note to rate it in a single day.

Our Takes

Libor: So far as battery existence is going, right here’s how I see it. Not like the Nikon Z6 and Z7 sequence, the Z9 after all has a battery that I will shoot on just about all day. I’ll almost certainly purchase a moment battery sooner or later, however I’m hardly ever going to want it.

Nasim: That’s the important thing hurdle that camera corporations had to move with mirrorless. If one battery takes you during the day, then you’ll be able to recharge it at night time, and battery existence is not a significant worry.

Spencer: Additionally, one thing that will get overpassed is that DSLRs have at all times had awful battery existence in the event you use them in reside view. The Z9 simply beats virtually each and every DSLR in the event you keep on with the rear LCD on each. Capturing mirrorless has in truth progressed my battery existence on reasonable, even earlier than the Z9.

Libor: Within the reverse state of affairs, as an OVF and EVF consumer, I nonetheless assume the Z9’s battery existence is improbable and outperforms maximum DSLRs in apply, which till not too long ago used to be a dream.

Nasim: I’m no longer in reality complaining, however remember, the Z9 handiest manages this feat for the reason that EN-EL18d is like two EN-EL15 batteries put in combination!

NIKON Z 9 + AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR @ 500mm, ISO 2500, 1/2000, f/5.6 © Libor Vaicenbacher


With the Z9, Nikon has selected so as to add local GPS features to considered one of their Z-series cameras for the primary time. (Prior to now the D5300 and D6 DSLR had local GPS features.) This can be because of the Z9’s high-capacity battery, or possibly simply because they’re looking to throw the whole thing they are able to at this camera. Both method, it’s a welcome sight.

To regulate the Nikon Z9’s GPS settings, cross to the “Location knowledge” choice within the setup menu. There you’ll be able to flip the GPS off and on, mechanically set the camera’s interior clock, create a timed location log, and notice your present place. In case you don’t care about making location logs, simply turning the GPS extensively to “on” is all you want to do to embed latitude and longitude knowledge into your Nikon Z9 information.

With regards to battery existence, even with the GPS on all day, I had no factor the use of the Z9 for a complete day of taking pictures and not using a spare battery. It kind of feels to attract little or no energy, despite the fact that be aware that the GPS can stay energetic and create logs even if the camera is grew to become off, if the battery stays charged. So, it may be a relentless (albeit very low-level) drain through the years. For what it’s price, I by no means to show mine off.

1663900866 142 Nikon Z9 Review
Lone yucca amidst dunes, White Sands Nationwide Park, New Mexico
NIKON Z9 + NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S @ 400mm © Ross Martin

Menu Banks

The Nikon Z9 is the primary Z-series camera to have menu banks, a divisive characteristic carried over from Nikon’s top-end DSLRs. Menu banks are an alternative choice to the U1/U2/U3 modes that most of the Nikon Z cameras another way have.

I’ve written an in depth article to the Nikon Z9’s menu banks (which can be cut up into “Photograph Capturing Menu” and “Customized Settings Menu” banks), discovered right here. That article additionally covers my common beneficial settings for the Nikon Z9’s menu and button format.

One thing fascinating concerning the Nikon Z9 as of firmware model 2.0 is an choice within the the customized controls menu referred to as “Recall Capturing Purposes (Cling).” Necessarily, it allows you to revert the Z9 to a pre-chosen state, equivalent to settings to briefly transfer the Z9 to a state for motion pictures. This environment behaves because it did at the Nikon D6, however it’s no longer completely intuitive to arrange, so I like to recommend Nikon’s article in this subject.

The Nikon Z9, as with different Nikon cameras previously, doesn’t do an excellent process enforcing the menu financial institution choices. There’s no technique to lock a menu financial institution, for instance, and a few settings nonetheless can’t save to the financial institution even whilst you’ve decided on the “prolonged menu banks” choice within the menu (just like the camera’s power mode, or the rest within the Setup menu).

Our Takes

Nasim: I want Nikon had long past with the extra intuitive U1/U2/U3 choices that each and every photographer turns out to love higher anyway.

Spencer: Menu banks have at all times been a bit of awkward, however they’re no longer horrible once you have used to them. I believe the toughest phase is remembering the way you’ve set issues another way for every financial institution.

Nasim: For me, the toughest phase is remembering to reset the darn issues as a result of they don’t have a technique to lock for your personal tastes!

Spencer: I love to make use of slots C and D as backups for my settings in A and B. I don’t want greater than two menu banks for my pictures, and this fashion I’ve a very easy technique to reset A and B again to my personal tastes.

NIKON Z 9 + VR 400mm f/2.8G @ 400mm, ISO 64, 1/500, f/4.0 © Libor Vaicenbacher

Different Options

For one of the most Nikon Z9’s maximum necessary options, I’ve devoted a complete web page later on this evaluate. That incorporates:

  • Viewfinder and LCD
  • Prime FPS taking pictures and buffer
  • The totally digital shutter
  • Focusing and monitoring
  • Video options

Later on this evaluate, you’ll additionally to find detailed ISO checks, dynamic vary checks, and specs comparisons towards the Z9’s competition. And, in fact, I’m satisfied to reply to any questions you will have within the Reader Feedback phase on the finish of this evaluate.

Yellowstone abstract detail taken with Nikon Z9
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S @ 62mm, ISO 64, 1/30, f/8.0 © Spencer Cox

What’s Lacking?

The Z9 obviously has a very good characteristic set, however this web page wouldn’t be whole with out having a look at what’s lacking. Listed here are one of the most noteworthy omissions and problems at the Z9:

  • No sensor-shift mode for greater decision pictures
  • No publicity prolong mode (self-timer handiest, which is proscribed to two, 5, 10, and 20 seconds of prolong and can’t be assigned to a customized button)
  • No back-in-time buffer for RAW pictures (just for 30 and 120 FPS JPEG)
  • No devoted metering mode button
  • No in-camera, multiple-exposure RAW choice
  • No U1/U2/U3 modes or lockable menu banks
  • Menu banks don’t recall some settings, like your Customized Liberate Mode selection (AKA the furthest-right choice at the launch mode dial)
  • No 4:5 side ratio crop
  • No touchscreen AF regulate when having a look during the viewfinder
  • No strategy to mechanically amplify the point of interest level when manually focusing
  • No RGB histogram in reside view
  • No obtrusive spotlight clipping indicators in reside view (like overexposure zebras – which can be handiest present in video mode – or the histogram edge converting colour when clipped)
  • No local histogram in response to RAW knowledge (handiest imaginable to manually upload by the use of unwieldy UniWB way)
  • Can’t cause the AF help lamp on maximum exterior flash heads, nor use their infrared beam despite the fact that it would
  • Can’t upload “minimal shutter pace” to My Menu to be accessed briefly by the use of a serve as button (even though “ISO sensitivity settings” can also be added, which accommodates the “minimal shutter pace” choice)
  • Inconsistent labeling and minor typos within the menu and in other places, compiled in a listing through Thom Hogan at the bottom of his review
  • Handiest English, Spanish, and French to be had for US model of the Z9

These types of problems don’t seem to be new for the Nikon Z9 and are discovered on different cameras within the Z-series lineup, too (and a number of non-Nikon cameras). However, relying in your necessities, they’re all issues chances are you’ll realize and want the Z9 did another way.

Past that, there’s room at the Z9 (or the eventual Z9 II) for some extra complex options that would take it to the following point. In my article on options that extra cameras want, I described options already discovered on some cameras nowadays – in different phrases, the generation already exists – however nonetheless lacking on many cameras, together with the Nikon Z9 in some instances.

NIKON Z 9 + VR 400mm f/2.8G @ 400mm, ISO 2500, 1/800, f/4.5 © Libor Vaicenbacher

Now that I’ve coated the Nikon Z9’s options intimately, the following web page of this evaluate will duvet the camera’s construct high quality and dealing with issues. So, click on the dropdown menu under to leap to the second one web page of this evaluate, “Construct High quality + Dealing with.”

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