The Z9 is Nikon’s flagship camera, engineered to delight pro sports and wildlife photographers, high-end videographers and pretty much everyone inbetween.
Officially announced in October 2021, it not only out-performs and undercuts the previous D6 DSLR, but becomes the first in its peer group brave enough to dispense with a mechanical shutter altogether, proving mirrorless with an electronic shutter is very much the future for Nikon. In the video below I’ll show you how it performed during an afternoon of track cycling photography at the Olympic Velodrome in London, but if you prefer to read the written highlights, keep scrolling!
The Z9 is built around a 45.7 Megapixel stacked full-frame sensor, capable of bursts up to 20fps in RAW at the full resolution, or up to 120fps when reduced to 11 Megapixel JPEGs, all with full continuous autofocus.
There’s a new 493-point AF system backed-up by deep learning and sophisticated object recognition with 3D tracking. And Nikon’s exploited the potential of a fully electronic system to deliver a lag-free viewfinder experience with no blackout.
Meanwhile video shooters can enjoy 8k up to 30p or in 12-bit RAW up to 60p with a future firmware update, along with 4k 120p and the choice of codecs including 10 bit HEVC or Apple ProRes 4:2:2 HQ.
This is all packed into a tough, weatherproof body with a large battery, built-in portrait grip, and the control ergonomics we’ve come to love from Nikon.
There’s also a cunning four-axis monitor that allows you to reposition the display for comfortable shooting at a variety of angles, albeit not forward to face you when in front of the camera.
Regular viewers will know I’ve not had the chance to review a Nikon camera since the Z7, although over at the cameralabs.com website, Thomas has dutifully tested every single Z-mount lens if you’re interested. So when Nikon UK reached out with an invite to try the Z9 for track cycling photography at the Olympic Velodrome in London, I hopped on the train and headed straight to the capital.
Now this is not a full review of the Z9. It’s just a brief chance to see how the camera performed during an afternoon of track shooting, share a bunch of photos from the day, plus a chance to reconnect with a system and company that I’ve not had much experience with in recent years. If you’d like to see more Nikon videos, let me know!
At the velodrome I mostly shot with the Z9 fitted with the Z 100-400mm zoom, a native lens launched alongside the flagship body, and if you’re interested in finding out more, head over to our Nikon Z 100-400mm review! Meanwhile the Z9 was set to its best quality JPEG mode, shooting at 20fps, and to really test the AF system, using the full area with human face and eye detection enabled. All the shots were taken in manual mode at 4000th of a second, the maximum lens aperture and with Auto ISO limited to 25600 ISO, which was where most of the exposures ended-up. You can see some examples on the next page, along with in the video above.
As you’d expect the Z9 effortlessly dealt with the cyclists with minimal effort on my part. It did what any pro body should do which is pretty much get out of the way and allow you to easily capture fast action with great results. Virtually every frame was in focus and the images out of camera looked great in terms of tone and saturated colours, even with the inevitable sprinkle of fine noise at the high ISOs.
I also filmed some video to demonstrate the potential resolution of the Z9, which you can see compared in the main video at the top of the page. When magnified, you can really see the difference between my 1080, 4k and 8k clips.
And that’s all the Z9 material I have for you right now. I realise it was brief, but hoped you enjoyed this quick look at their latest flagship body in action. Do let me know if you’d like to see more about the Z9 and Nikon’s mirrorless system here, and don’t forget I’ve got in-depth reviews of all the Z-mount lenses right here!Check prices on the Nikon Z9 at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!