Nikon Finally Unveils its New Flagship—the Nikon Z9

Finally, the wait is over for Nikon enthusiasts as the highly anticipated Nikon Z9 was announced. As Nikon's new flagship camera, this camera is packed-full of highly-desirable features. Stepping off from the foundation of their previous flagship, the Nikon D6, announced back in September 2019, the Nikon Z9 is breaking waves as Nikon's first mirrorless flagship camera. As a direct competitor to the Canon EOS R3 and the Sony A1, the Nikon Z9 has a lot to live up to. So, let's take a look at what this Nikon camera brings to the table.

man using nikon z9 camera

Camera Sensor and Processing Power

To start, unlike the D6, the Nikon Z9 comes with a high-resolution 45.7MP CMOS stacked sensor complimented by a brand-new image processing engine—the EXPEED 7. Nikon had previously incorporated the EXPEED 6 in the Nikon Z6 and Z7 while upgrading to two EXPEED 6 processors to the recent Z6 II and Z7 II. The new EXPEED 7 manages to increase processing power once again and is 10x faster than the previous generations. It also comes with Dual-stream technology to simultaneously process live-view and recording data to help achieve a Real-Live viewfinder without blackout.

image of motorcycle rider taken with nikon Z9

Nikon's previous flagship cameras have played to the strength of sports, action, and wildlife photographers due to its continuous shooting ability. The Nikon Z9 takes it a step further with the ability to capture 45.7MP stills at 20 or 30 fps high-efficiency RAW images with a 1,000-image buffer capacity. For the photojournalists in the field needing to crank up the speed even more, you can drop the resolution to 11 megapixels and shoot at a blistering 120 fps. Never miss a shot again and have your photos to your editor even faster with new built in file transfer hardware with 2.4 and 5GHz Wi-Fi and 1000BASE-T wired LAN.

In fact, Nikon has implemented a new high-efficiency RAW file format is 1/3 the size of uncompressed RAW while retaining the same high image quality and dynamic range as conventional RAW files. Photographers no longer have to choose between high resolution and industry leading speed with the Nikon Z 9. Now you can have the best of both worlds in your hand.

Interestingly enough, Nikon has decided to forego the mechanical shutter, leaving only an electronic shutter. Nikon claims the Nikon Z9 will have the world's fastest scanning speed that will minimize distortion and ultimately eliminate the need for a mechanical shutter.

Video Performance

The Nikon Z9 takes video performance to the next level with 8K UHD 30p video in-camera for up to 125 minutes recording as well as 4K 120p slow motion video which Nikon claims has no risk of over-heating. This is the first time we've seen 8K video in a full frame mirrorless camera from Nikon and closely follows after the Canon EOS R5 and Sony A1 as the new industry standard for professional and independent filmmakers. Now users can get 10-bit 4K UHD 30p from oversampled 8K, recorded in-camera as ProRes 422 HQ or H.265 video.

Nikon incorporated its first 3D tracking in a mirrorless camera to keep up with the fastest subjects and frame rates. Face and eye-detection AF is more accurate from even far distances. Nikon's subject detection uses deep learning to automatically detect and track nine different subjects including people, cats, dogs, birds, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, trains and planes in stills and video with zero menu changes.

Camera Design and Ergonomics

Nikon has upped its game in terms of camera ergonomics in the Nikon Z9. The first being that it comes with two CFexpress Type B card slots which are also compatible with any older XQD memory card. In addition, content creators will love the 4-axis vertical/horizontal tilting monitor for intuitive vertical shooting with vertical UI.

Back of the nikon z9 camera with autofocus

Mimicking the same robust features in the previous D6, while managing to shave off 20% of the weight, it can perform down to -10ºC/14ºF and has advanced weather sealing. To help prevent any unexpected damage to the sensor, Nikon has implemented a VR lock. Additionally, Nikon has added a sensor shield that automatically closes when removing a lens to help prevent dust and smudges.

For shooting in low-light situations, the Nikon Z9 can focus down to –8.5 EV and features illuminated buttons. The digital camera can work with any EL-EL18 battery series and comes with a new EN-EL18d battery for extended power capable of up to 170 minutes of video. Not to mention, it can also be charged via USB power.

The Nikon Z9 is now available for pre-order and retailing for $5,499.95. Nikon is estimating the camera should ship out before the end of the year and we all have our fingers crossed.

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