Nikon Z9 review | House

We’re fairly positive you need to purchase the Nikon Z9. That is the corporate’s flagship, mirrorless camera physique, and comes with an intensive checklist of options that places 99% of the competitors to disgrace.

Nikon Z9: Key specs

System: Z-series mirrorless

Sensor: 45.7MP stacked full-frame

ISO vary: 64-256,000 (expandable as much as 32-102,400)

Burst taking pictures: 120FPS (low-res JPEG) as much as 20FPS (RAW)

AF: 493-points (405-points auto-AF)

Video: 8K 60FPS, 4K 120FPS

Storage: 2x CFexpress slots

Display screen: 3.2-inch, 2100-dot

Dimensions: 149 x 150 x 91mm (5.9-inch x 5.9-inch x 3.6-inch)

Weight: 1340g (2lb 15oz) — physique solely

It is a highly effective, sleekly designed physique that mixes the stuff you like about fancier mirrorless tech, with the extra dependable, strong DSLR sensibilities. The query actually is: do you have to purchase the Nikon Z9? In any case, it is a $5500 camera ideally suited to sports activities, wildlife, and weddings. You may undoubtedly save your self $2000 and choose up the great Nikon Z7 II to get very comparable panorama and astro outcomes.

  • Nikon Z9 (Black) at Finest Purchase for $5,499.99 (opens in new tab)

For pure house shooters on any sort of finances, we are saying this is not the camera for you. Avoid wasting cash, however preserve studying to get your fill of gear-envy. For those who’re a professional photographer seeking to combine astro and panorama pictures together with your portrait, reportage, and wildlife shoots (and you’ve got cash to speculate) then, sure, that is the camera you want in your life. It is actually one of the best Nikon camera on the market, and one of the vital highly effective models you should purchase proper now.

Nikon Z9: Design

Nikon Z9 product image

(Picture credit score: Andy Hartup)

  • Heavy, solidly constructed physique
  • Coated in buttons and dials
  • Twin CFexpress and a number of connectivity ports

As with many pro-grade camera our bodies, the Nikon Z9 is a chunky unit. As soon as you have added a CFexpress card or two, within the dual-card slot, you have acquired near 3lbs (1.34kg with battery) of camera earlier than including a lens. Whereas that is not fairly as heavy because the outdated Nikon D6 DSLR, it’s weightier than the Sony A1 mirrorless, for instance. For those who’re an evening sky and panorama shooter that is much less of a priority as wider lenses are typically shorter and lighter on the entire. However if you happen to’re a wildlife or wedding ceremony shooter trying so as to add telephoto zooms just like the 70-200mm f/2.8, the 400mm f/2.8, or the monster 800mm f/6.3, then that heft goes to extend dramatically. 

We examined the camera with a choice of lenses, starting from the 20mm f/1.8 by the 105mm f/2.8 macro and the 24-70mm f/2.8, as much as the 70-200mm f/2.8 and the distinction in weight is important. For those who’re planning to shoot with the Z9 on a tripod, you actually have to be trying on the sturdier models with the extra strong ballheads, even if you happen to’re utilizing a supporting arm on the lens itself. Once we examined with the Manfrotto Mk190xpro tripod, we did must account for important settling earlier than taking our astro photographs.

Nikon Z9 product image

(Picture credit score: Andy Hartup)

We point out the load as a result of we really feel it is vital for astro shooters to know what they’re coping with. Subsequent to the Z7 II or Z6 II it is a important dimension and weight acquire, which can have an effect on the way in which you deal with and shoot together with your camera. This improve in bulk additionally evokes the sturdy, robust nature of Nikon’s older DSLRs, and we’re completely happy to report that the unit itself is each totally weather-sealed and intensely robust. Whereas we did not check it, Nikon claims it may be utilized in -10 levels Celsius temperatures, which can be a boon for anybody heading to Iceland for an aurora shot or two. As with comparable fashions, the Z9’s important battery lives within the backside of the physique, which not solely gives further grip but additionally permits Nikon to stay just a few further perform buttons on. Extra on battery life slightly additional down, but it surely’s a lot, significantly better than different Nikon mirrorless fashions.

Nikon Z9 product image

(Picture credit score: Andy Hartup)

The position of perform buttons on the Z9 is logical and, in case you have medium/giant palms, they’re principally straightforward to achieve. It is the sheer quantity of them, and the capability to customise them, that feels a bit overwhelming once you first choose up the physique. As there are such a lot of, we’ll provide the highlights.

Along with the command dials and taking pictures button on the highest proper, there are extra taking pictures and command dials on the backside left, which offer you slightly extra management if you happen to’re taking pictures in portrait mode. There is a double-function command dial on the highest left which covers customized modes, flash, and bracketing on the highest, with a decrease wheel that units the taking pictures mode from a single publicity to slower and faster bursts. Phew.

Nikon Z9 product image

(Picture credit score: Andy Hartup)

The touchscreen is nice, however we have seen sharper extra cell screens in rivals. It is one of many brighter and most detailed screens available on the market at 2100 dots and the picture you see on there may be easy and sharp however the display is not fairly as versatile as you would possibly like for decrease angles or taking pictures in portrait mode. One neat little contact that night-time photographers will respect is the flexibility to regulate display brightness and colour stability to extraordinarily wonderful ranges.

General, the Z9 is a well-designed, hefty camera physique, with a great deal of buttons to play with to fine-tune photographs exterior of the menu display. However how does it carry out?

Nikon Z9: Efficiency

Stars in the night sky over a stone in the landscape

The standing stones at Stanton Drew, UK, in opposition to the night time sky. We did not light-paint the foreground right here, neither is the picture stacked — it is a single shot. 20mm, f/1.8, 15 sec, ISO 1000. (Picture credit score: Andy Hartup)

  • Finely tuned for wildlife and sports activities
  • Wonderful astro efficiency
  • Burst taking pictures is spectacular

At $5,500 you’d count on premium high quality taking pictures from the Nikon Z9, and this camera would not disappoint. No matter circumstances or time of day you are taking pictures in, you will get a few of the absolute best outcomes, offered you are utilizing it in the fitting means. 

Firstly, as that is House.com, we took the Z9 for a night-time stroll to get some astro photographs, and some pictures of the moon. When it comes to astro, the Z9 carried out exceptionally properly and captured primary star pics with excessive ease. The numerous ISO vary, mixed with the 45.7MP sensor and new high-efficiency RAW capabilities, means you will haven’t any drawback capturing pin-sharp element at medium/shorter publicity occasions, no matter how shortly you need to snap away. One essential function for star trails is that the battery within the Z9 is a monster, so you possibly can repeatedly shoot hours of lengthy exposures with no worry of the battery operating out of juice. We examined the Z9 for about 3-4 hours of astro, and misplaced lower than 20% of a full battery.

A close-up view of the waning gibbous moon

Even at 200mm, we managed to get a transparent, sharp shot of the zoom. This picture is clearly cropped in, however loses not one of the element. Shot at: 200mm, f/4, 1/8000 sec, ISO 5000. (Picture credit score: Andy Hartup)

Whereas most astrophotographers will select to shoot with a handbook focus, we did experiment with the usual AF throughout our session and, whereas the Z9 didn’t auto-focus on most stars, it did handle it on just a few of the brighter ones. When it got here to moon photographs, the Z9 did in addition to you’d count on. It handles the distinction between the intense moon and the night time sky properly (nice dynamic vary), and the bigger sensor means you possibly can seize extra element at shorter focal lengths if you do not have an enormous telephoto zoom. 

This is not a specialist astro camera, although, so whereas it is sensible to have the premium options and efficiency you’d count on from a pro-grade camera there’s little right here to suggest over, say, the $2000 cheaper Nikon Z7 II. It will create wonderful night time sky photographs, however the Z9 is mostly a sports activities, wedding ceremony and wildlife camera at coronary heart.

The moon lighting up cirrus clouds above a silhouetted landscape

Cloud is really the curse of the astrophotographer. Right here we shot the moon, and the night time sky, in opposition to the silhouette of a neighborhood wooden. Shot at: 43mm, f/2.8, 5 sec, ISO 1600. (Picture credit score: Andy Hartup)

Subsequent, we examined the Z9 with some animal photographs, to get a way of how the specialist ‘Animal AF’ focusing performs, and to check out what Nikon claims is market-leading burst taking pictures. You may shoot as much as 120FPS if you happen to’re completely happy to drop high quality to low-res JPEG, all the way in which to 20FPS with RAW pictures. We knocked the Z9 right down to medium-quality JPEGs and shot at each the decrease and better burst modes. The outcomes have been spectacular, particularly when it got here to monitoring and capturing pictures of birds.

A cityscape at dusk

Regardless of taking pictures in low mild, in opposition to a sharply outlined object with a large aperture, the Z9 manages to scale back noise considerably. Shot at: 70mm, f/2.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 1250. (Picture credit score: Andy Hartup)

We sat and took a number of photographs of teams of pigeons, to see how properly the AF setting dealt with teams of birds, particularly once they out of the blue flew away. Even in decrease mild, the AF managed to select topics properly, with a bent to favor objects within the mid-plain somewhat than the foreground or background, until there was a big object proper on the entrance. Once we examined with single topics, like a robin on a department, the Z9 centered quick and good, permitting snappier photographs of fast-moving creatures. Our solely slight bugbear is that the AF generally slipped when monitoring animals shifting shortly forwards or backward by a picture (somewhat than facet to facet).

Group of pigeons in the park

We examined the camera’s animal AF particular mode with these pigeons to see the way it tracked a number of birds throughout totally different depths. Shot at: 200mm, f/2.8, 1/1600 sec, ISO 12800 (Picture credit score: Andy Hartup)

Subsequent, we examined with folks in crowds, to see how properly the ‘Folks AF’ mode performs. The Z9 is eerily good at selecting out eyes and faces, which makes it an ideal camera for weddings and sports activities. We struggled to search out fault with it and, mixed with the satisfying burst modes, it made capturing human movement extremely straightforward and correct. Whereas not good, it did handle to trace a number of topics by busy scenes, rendering faces with stunning readability. Whereas that might not be the explanation the common House reader buys a camera, it speaks properly to the flexibility of the Z9 and does current alternatives for extra simply creating posed photographs with human topics in astro scenes.

Pigeon perched on a wooden bridge with shallow depth of field

The pigeon gives the topic whereas testing the Z9 with Nikon’s 24-70mm f/2.8 S lens. Shot at: 200mm, f/2.8, 1/25 sec, ISO 160. (Picture credit score: Andy Hartup)

General, the standard of photographs you get from the Z9 is excessive, particularly if you happen to’re capturing shifting topics at no matter pace they’re touring (in no matter mild circumstances). That actually does really feel just like the distinctive promoting level of this camera because it’s designed for readability of picture at pace. Whereas that is one of the vital frequent makes use of amongst pro-grade cameras, the advantages of ordinary astrophotography are minimal.

Nikon Z9: Performance

Nikon Z9 product image

(Picture credit score: Andy Hartup)

  • As succesful at video as it’s at stills
  • Simple to make use of the Z9 in vertical or horizontal orientation
  • Performs properly in low mild settings

There’s a humiliation of riches in the case of the Z9’s capabilities. As a nonetheless picture shooter, you possibly can customise nearly each facet of the method, though the stand-out choices are clearly the huge array of choices on the camera physique itself, and the flexibility to make use of this physique simply as simply in panorama or portrait mode.

There are the identical deep customization choices you’d anticipate finding on all full-frame Z cameras, permitting you to remap buttons and create your personal taking pictures modes from scratch. There’s even an choice to create your personal menu tab’, which can mean you can regulate all of your most-used settings from a single display.

One factor we have not touched on but is video. Clearly, the Z9 was designed to be as a lot a video camera as an everyday stills machine. It might shoot at 8K 60FPS, which makes it immensely helpful as a instrument for capturing wedding ceremony movies, vlogging, or taking sports activities footage. There are clear and straightforward choices to scale back decision and up body price, and the actual fact you have got two CF card slots means you will probably have sufficient house for actually hours of footage.

Low light in the middle of a city

Right here you see how the Z9 copes simply with high-contrast photographs, and clearly defines the strains of those shadows. Shot at: 24mm, f/2.8, 1/20 sec, ISO 500. (Picture credit score: Andy Hartup)

We did not push the Z9 too exhausting in video exams however famous it carried out properly in low-light settings (so, it is efficient if you happen to’re, say, creating video tutorials for astro shoots) and managed to focus properly whereas taking video in lower-light conditions. The battery held up properly too, and we solely misplaced about 25% of the whole cost after an hour or two of video seize.

When you’re able to take footage off the Z9, you will discover a entire host of connectivity capabilities. Snapbridge (Nikon’s proprietary file switch software) and is appropriate with the Z9, enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth switch in addition to on-the-go picture searching. There may be built-in ethernet, for file switch immediately from the camera, and connection on to a smartphone by way of USB-C. Helpful if you happen to’d somewhat not be swapping out reminiscence playing cards on a regular basis. Throughout our exams, we truly struggled to get the Wi-Fi connection working, however did troubleshoot it, and located on-line that almost all customers did not expertise the identical difficulty as us.

Ought to I purchase the Nikon Z9?

Is the Z9 a vital camera for astrophotography, and value that $5,500 outlay? Sure and no. What you get to your cash is a flexible camera that may flip its hand to any state of affairs and generate sensible outcomes. It is happiest taking pictures sports activities, folks, and creatures however, hey, it takes sensible astro photographs too. You probably have the cash, and completely should have one of the best camera Nikon makes, then purchase the Z9.

Nevertheless, if you happen to’re on any sort of finances, and also you desire a sensible astro set-up, we might take that $5,500 and purchase a Z7 II (nonetheless a 45MP sensor, similar ISO vary, comparable options) and a extra specialised lens, just like the 14-24mm f/2.8 (opens in new tab) or the 20mm f/1.8. When it comes to taking pictures of the night time sky, you will get near-identical outcomes. Certain, you will sacrifice some battery life and a little bit of toughness within the physique, however you will have a lighter camera and more cash in your pocket.

If the Nikon Z9 is not for you

Perhaps cash isn’t any object for you, however you do not just like the reduce of Nikon’s jib. That is wonderful as a result of Sony and Canon have professional cameras that roughly match the efficiency of the Z9 and value about the identical. The Sony A1 (opens in new tab) is Sony’s premium shooter and has an outstanding sensor that’s good for astrophotography. For those who’re searching for market-leading autofocusing then the Canon EOS R3 is the one for you. Each cameras will depart a black hole-sized, er, gap in your checking account.

For those who’re searching for one thing cheaper and lighter to your taking pictures wants, the Nikon Z7 II might be the physique for you. Whereas the sensor is not fairly as fancy because the one within the Z9 (it is the identical dimension simply totally different tech), or the battery as huge, the Z7 II clocks in round $2000 cheaper. The whole lot else you want for astro could be very, very corresponding to its costlier cousin.

For those who’d want to shoot with a DSLR, (although more and more who would as of late?) once more, you have acquired choices. The Nikon D6 (opens in new tab) is Nikon’s equal pro-level DSLR camera, and it will match the Z9 in various departments (though lags behind in the case of taking pictures pace and AF). It is heavier too, and Nikon is not actually supporting its outdated lens system anymore. If you wish to go DSLR, however on a tighter finances, our favourite is the Nikon D850, and it is simply one of many prime astro cameras on the market which is why it options in our greatest cameras for astrophotography shopping for information.

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