Nikon Z 9 Revealed: A Pro Flagship For The Z System

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After its development announcement in March and several teaser videos of late, Nikon today has officially introduced the Z 9, a new full-frame flagship camera for its mirrorless Z system. The Nikon Z 9 doesn’t disappoint in terms of specs, and offers clear advantages for pros and serious photographers over the Z 7II, the company’s previous top performance full-frame model.

Image of the front of the Nikon Z 9

The Nikon Z 9 is the first Z system camera to have an integrated vertical grip.

Built upon a new Nikon designed and developed 45.7-megapixel stacked CMOS sensor and a new EXPEED 7 processor, the Nikon Z 9 can capture RAW format images at the full resolution of the camera at up to 20 fps with a buffer of 1,000 frames in a burst. For even faster shooting rates, you can opt for full-resolution JPEGs at up to 30 fps, or 11-megapixel JPEGs at a blistering 120 fps with continuous AF/AE. The camera completely omits a mechanical shutter, but Nikon states that the camera’s image scan rate is so speedy, it virtually eliminates rolling shutter effect—and therefore the need for a mechanical shutter.

Image of the back of the Nikon Z 9

The design of the Z 9 will feel familiar to Nikon shooters, especially those who have used Nikon’s pro DSLRs like the D6, with similar ergonomics and controls. The LCD is a “four-axis” 3.2-inch touchscreen that can tilt horizontally and vertically.

The camera also features the most advanced autofocus system in a Nikon camera, incorporating new subject detection algorithms and 3-D tracking, enabling the camera to automatically recognize nine subject types, including humans, animals and birds, without requiring the user to switch AF modes. The Z 9 is capable of up to 120 AF calculations per second.

For video recording, you have options of 8K at 24p/30p or 4K up to 120p, with a recording time of up to about 125 minutes in 8K. You can also pull still frames from video footage at 33-megapixel resolution from 8K and 8-megapixel from 4K.

Image of the top of the Nikon Z 9

Top view of the Nikon Z 9.

The Z 9’s native ISO range is 64-25,600, expandable to 32 on the low end with a maximum of 102,400. The camera’s AF system can operate in low-light conditions down to an impressive -8.5 EV, especially helpful for wildlife photographers working in twilight conditions while using a teleconverter and smaller apertures.

As for build-quality, the Z 9 is designed to be put to rugged use, with a magnesium alloy chassis and weather sealing “equivalent to the D6.” The Z 9 is similar in outward design to the D6 but approximately 20 percent smaller.

Though an exact release date isn’t provided, the Nikon Z 9 is expected to be available before the end of 2021, with a list price of $5,499. You can preorder now at B&H, which you’ll probably want to consider if you’d like to get this camera relatively soon after its release. 

For additional details, see the press release below.

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THE NIKON Z 9: UNSTOPPABLE PERFORMANCE, REVOLUTIONARY INNOVATION

Nikon’s First Mirrorless Flagship Defies Conventional, Debuts with a Series of Industry-Firsts for Still & Video Creators

MELVILLE, NY (October 28, 2021) – Today, Nikon announced the Z 9, the most advanced Z series mirrorless camera to date. Powered by a completely new, Nikon-developed 45.7 megapixel stacked CMOS sensor and next generation EXPEED 7 image processing engine, the full-frame Z 9 renders ultra-high resolution images and offers unparalleled AF performance using a revolutionary new scene detection system built on deep learning technology. Additionally, the camera is capable of sustained fast continuous shooting bursts, in-camera 8K video recordings for extended periods, truly blackout-free Real-Live visibility in the viewfinder and a sensor scan rate so fast that it completely eliminates the need for a traditional mechanical shutter.

“The Z 9 is the complete package, offering an unprecedented balance of speed, resolution, reliability and performance that will exceed expectations for any type of shoot, including fast action sports, commercial fashion, low light, landscapes and more,” said Jay Vannatter, Executive Vice President, Nikon Inc. “The Z 9 looks to the future, with innovations and features that give all types of imaging professionals and content creators the advantage when it matters most and the confidence to create in nearly any conditions.”

A New Kind of Pro Mirrorless
At the core of the Z 9 is the Nikon-developed 45.7MP BSI stacked CMOS sensor, coupled with the new EXPEED 7, Nikon’s most powerful engine yet, which is approximately 10x faster than the Z 7II. This combination brings significant increases in AF speed, burst rate, buffer capacity, video resolution and so much more. The Z 9 is the camera that can be trusted on the sidelines, in the field or in the studio, with the high-speed capture capability needed for the fastest action and the immense resolution to reveal the most subtle details.
• With the world’s fastest1 image scan rate, the Z 9 achieves the world’s smallest2 rolling shutter distortion, equaling that of a mechanical shutter. This means actions like a fast-moving golf swing that would typically distort the club can be captured confidently with the electronic shutter, even at 1/32,000 second. It also allows users to shoot massive quantities of silent frames without worrying about shutter wear or breakdown.
• The Z 9 achieves fast and accurate AF calculations at up to 120 cycles per second, even between frames during continuous shooting.
• Beyond the benefits of high-speed performance, the high resolution 45.7-megapixel sensor delivers immense resolution with exquisite colors, broad dynamic range and stellar low light performance, with a native ISO Range from 64-25,600 (Expandable from 32 to 102,400 ISO).

Rely on the Fastest, Most Intelligent AF System Yet
The Z 9 features Nikon’s fastest, most sophisticated and reliable AF tracking performance ever, utilizing a new Subject Detection algorithm developed with deep learning technology, as well as 3D-tracking.
• The camera’s Subject Detection capability detects the world’s largest range1 of nine subject types including humans, pets, birds, airplanes, trains, cars, motorbikes and bicycles. When in Auto-Area AF, any of these subjects will automatically be detected and focused on, without the need to change settings.
• With Eye-Detection AF, the camera can detect and focus on a subject’s eye more effectively than ever, even when eyes are smaller or further away. Additionally, a custom function will now also let users change the color of the focus point to green to confirm focus.
• The highly praised 3D-tracking mode from Nikon DSLRs debuts for the first time in a mirrorless camera. It is now coupled with subject detection to track fast and erratically moving subjects such as a racing car that approaches close and then moves away quickly, or a swiftly moving athlete.
• The Z 9 also brings more flexibility by offering three Dynamic-area AF modes with a new range of focus-area sizes (S/M/L) for capturing a wider variety of moving subjects throughout the frame.
• The AF system is faster than ever, taking advantage of the Z mount’s high-speed communication capabilities with frame-by-frame sharing of distance information.

Unstoppable Performance and Speed
This is the fastest, most powerful Nikon flagship ever. Users can capture amazing images at unbelievably fast burst speeds, all with full AF/AE performance. Whether shooting full-resolution fashion or delivering a sports sequence when a split-second matters, the Z 9 is the versatile solution.
• For the ultimate combination of speed and intense image quality, photographers can shoot 20-fps RAW images with an unprecedented 1000+ image buffer.3
• When a balance of quality and burst rate is needed, never miss a vital moment with 30 fps full resolution JPEG capture.
• For extreme speed, High Speed Frame Capture+4 enables up to 120 fps with full AF/AE at a very manageable file size of 11 megapixels, freezing a moment that cannot even be seen with the naked eye (higher resolution than 4K video).
• Truly blackout-free shooting is possible thanks to Dual-Stream technology which simultaneously feeds information to the Real-Live viewfinder/LCD and memory card, resulting in reliable confirmation of a subject’s movement without skipping or repeating frames in the viewfinder5.
• The Z 9 introduces High Efficiency RAW, which retains the same level of high image quality as the conventional uncompressed RAW in an approximately 1/3 smaller6 file size, making RAW files easier to handle than ever.
• Speeds of up to 1/32,000 are possible with the electronic shutter, expanding the opportunities to use fast lenses, letting photographers shoot wide open in brighter light, even at f/0.95.

Nikon’s Most Capable 8K UHD Video Camera
The Z 9 offers an extensive suite of advanced video features to elevate any kind of production. Combined with the astonishing resolving power of NIKKOR Z S-Line lenses, video is rendered with absolute clarity and sharpness from edge to edge.
• Supports a variety of frame rates and resolutions, including in-camera recording at 8K UHD 24p/30p and 4K UHD 24p/30p/60p/120p (FX-format).
• The world’s longest record time 7 at 8K UHD 30p for more than 2 hours consecutively (up to approximately 125 minutes)8.
• For more latitude when color grading in post, tone mode profile options are available in-camera, including 10-bit N-Log and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma9), as well as the Flat color profile.
• Supports multiple codecs including H.265 (HEVC), ProRes 422 HQ10, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC for a variety of production workflows.
• Users can create 33MP/8MP frame grabs in camera from 8K /4K videos.
• Full-size HDMI connection, with output latency significantly reduced.
• High-resolution 24-bit linear PCM audio allows for cleaner sound quality with greater range.
• A free firmware upgrade in 2022 will enable internal 8K 60p capture in the new 12-bit N-RAW high efficiency video format, 12-bit ProRes RAW and other pro level video features.

Built for the Toughest Assignments
The rugged body of the Z 9 is optimized for a professional workflow, thoughtfully engineered for a superb balance of reliability and usability. The body features an integrated vertical grip and controls, while the durable magnesium alloy chassis has drip and dust-resistance equivalent to the D6, yet is 20% smaller than its DSLR counterpart.
• The new four-axis 3.2” touchscreen LCD frees the monitor to tilt both horizontally and vertically for shooting at any angle in any orientation. The interface will also adjust automatically to the appropriate orientation while shooting stills.
• For better visibility through the viewfinder in bright sunlight, the Z 9 is equipped with the world’s brightest Quad-VGA panel adjustable to 3000cd/m2 (nits)1, revealing the most subtle details in the shadows.
• Vibration Reduction image stabilization has been enhanced with new Synchro VR to achieve up to 6 stops of compensation with compatible lenses. 11
• For powerful dust prevention, the Z 9 includes the world’s first1 dual coating on the optical filter with an electro-conductive coating and fluorine coating to repel dust in front of the sensor, in addition to a sensor shield that protects the sensor when changing lenses.
• VR safety lock protects the sensor from the risk of damage caused by unintentional movement when the camera’s power is off while in a bag or during bumpy off-road travel.
• For work in low light, the new “starlight” mode enhances the camera’s ability to focus down to a faint -8.5 EV, while illuminated buttons help astrophotographers and event or concert photographers change settings in the dark.
• Adjustable shutter release volume, which can be totally silent in sensitive situations or serve as an audible cue for a subject.
• New network options are organized under a new menu tab for fast access and include; in-camera Bluetooth and WiFi (2.4/5Ghz), 1000BASE-T wired LAN connection, direct transfer to FTP without the need for a wireless accessory, multiple camera sync and built-in GNSS GPS for precise location data.

New Nikon Software
The Ecosystem for the Nikon Z series continues to expand. Nikon has also released two new software solutions for professional image capture and workflow.

NX Mobile Air
NX Mobile Air is a smart device app for managing and transferring images when working in the field. The new app will be compatible with many of the most current Nikon cameras, and will allow users to have a wired connection to their phone or device from the camera for fast wireless image transfer to an FTP server over a 5G cellular signal. Additionally, the app will support the transmission of IPTC, voice memos and more. The app will be available either as a free version or as a subscription for $5/month with enhanced capabilities. For additional details and device compatibility please visit https://www.nikonusa.com/en/Nikon-Products/Imaging-Software/nx-mobileair.page.

NX Tether
Nikon NX Tether is free software to enable tethering of Nikon cameras to instantly display captured content on a computer monitor. This software is an easy way for commercial, food or studio photographers to visualize their output for client review in real time. The software will work via USB or wirelessly, and will collaborate seamlessly with the current suite of Nikon software including NX Studio. For more information, please visit https://www.nikonusa.com/en/Nikon-Products/Imaging-Software/nx-tether.page.

Pricing and Availability
The new Nikon Z 9 full-frame mirrorless camera will be available within this year (US) for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $5499.95*. For more information about the latest Nikon products, including the new Z 9, NIKKOR Z lenses and the entire collection of Nikon Z series cameras, please visit nikonusa.com.