Over the last few months I have written blog posts about the Nikon Z9, the release of the Nikon Z9 and my finally taking the plunge to order the Nikon Z9 to replace the more than capable Nikon D6. This was not a decision that I arrived at lightly as you can read in the previous post, but the writing on the wall was apparent that mirrorless is the way the camera manufacturers are going and you would have to follow suit or risk being left behind. Moose Peterson calls this the Darwin Theory of Photography – Evolve or Parish!
After months of waiting, my Nikon Z9 has arrived. Thus far, making the switch from DSLR to mirrorless has been a very easy transition as the body, controls and overall menu is just like the Nikon D6 and all seems very familiar. While contemplating the switch from DSLR to mirrorless exclusively, Nikon’s promise of a more expanded feature set in a lightweight package and a more competitive price point were the selling points for me. I can honestly say now having the Nikon Z9 in hand that they delivered on their promise.
I now have a smaller footprint in my camera bag, double the megapixels, 8K video and arguably the best auto focus system that some say is even better than Sony’s which has long been touted as the best in the industry. In addition to that, all my favorite F-mount lenses work with the FTZ I or II adapters. I keep all this is perspective as even the best camera is only as good as the photographer operating it.
The design of Nikon Z9 looks and feels like the well-trusted predecessors, the Nikon D5 and the Nikon D6 and it mostly handles in the same manner also. Even without its recognizable pentaprism and mirror, it weighs 1,340 grams, which for a mirrorless camera, is quite hefty. Thanks to the built-in vertical grip with controls, shooting in both orientations is very comfortable. Bit of trivia here, the Nikon Z9 is smaller compared to the Nikon Z 6 II with a battery grip.
The controls and menu structure are nearly identical compared to the Nikon D6, except for a few details. The Nikon Z9 has a dedicated AF button on the side and the playback button has changed position. The menu differs slightly than that of the Nikon D6 with extra control settings for mirrorless cameras and the new AF system, of course. The biggest difference compared to its predecessors is the 3.2-inch LCD screen. It can be titled over four axes, making it possible to rotate the screen for easy access when holding the camera in odd positions.
Power to spare
As with all Nikons newly released camera bodies, there is a new 3,300 mAh battery to power the Nikon Z9. It it the same size as the ones for the Nikon D5 and D6. It’s downwards compatible, so if you upgraded to the Z9 from its predecessor, you can continue to use the older batteries. It’s possible to charge the battery over the USB-C connection also.
The images made with the Nikon Z9 are stored on two XQD cards or CF-Express type B cards. These cards will offer enough speed to accept the enormous amount of data that is produced when shooting at maximum speed or if you use the camera for 8K video.
The new autofocus system of the Nikon Z9 is much improved compared to the other Nikon Z models. It works quickly and accurately. Of course, the camera has the eye and body detection commonly found on mirrorless cameras. It works for both humans and different kinds of animals. An eye can be detected even from far away, and it sticks to it like a magnet. The camera can recognize up to nine different subjects, and you can switch between all of them by using the joystick.
Nikon made a good decision to add the 3D AF tracking also. The camera uses 90% of the frame for tracking. But you have to be aware that eye-AF is not a priority in 3D AF tracking. If it finds an eye, it will lock onto it, but when it’s locked on another part, it will keep tracking that part. If eye detection is important, wide-field AF with Eye-AF can be a better choice. With the aforementioned AF button on the side of the camera, it’s easy to switch between the different AF possibilities.
The Nikon Z9 seems to be the first camera that successfully removed the mechanical shutter altogether. It’s thanks to the stacked 45.7-megapixel CMOS sensor with an incredible readout speed. The benefit of an electronic shutter is genuine silent shooting. This can also be a downside since you don’t have any audible feedback. Fortunately, Nikon decided to add a nice shutter sound, which sounds pleasant. If you prefer silent shooting, the Nikon Z9 offers a couple of ways to take pictures, as indicated in the electronic viewfinder or LCD screen.
As I continue to learn more about expanded capabilities of the new Nikon Z9 flagship, I am excited to share my findings in the hope that something may help you in your photography.
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