Nikon Z9 Review: The Ultimate Pro Camera?

Written by Antonio Cala.

Last updated on March 16, 2024

Table of Contents

Are you looking for a top-of-the-line camera that can handle both stills and videos with ease? Look no further than the Nikon Z9.

This flagship professional full-frame mirrorless camera boasts a powerful 45.7-megapixel stacked CMOS sensor and EXPEED 7 image processing, ensuring that your photos and videos are of the highest quality. Plus, with fast and powerful autofocus that uses deep learning technology to detect and track subjects, you’ll never miss a shot.

The Nikon Z 9 also offers impressive still frame rates of up to 120 fps and 8K and 4K video capabilities, making it a versatile choice for any photographer or videographer. And with a durable and comfortable design, you can use it for hours without any discomfort.

Let’s dive into the details of this amazing camera.

For a complete analysis of wildlife cameras, make sure to check out the ultimate guide to wildlife photography cameras. 

Nikon Z9 Overview

Nikon Z9 Review

The Nikon Z9 is a new flagship professional full-frame stills/video mirrorless camera. It features a fast and powerful AF system with subject detection developed using deep learning technology. The camera can capture 45.7-megapixel stills at 20 or 30 fps, 120 fps stills at 11MP, all with full AF and AE, and no viewfinder blackout. It can also shoot 8K/30p video capture in-camera for over 2 hours recording time and 4K 120p slow motion video capture.

One of the most impressive features of the Nikon Z9 is its world’s first truly blackout-free viewfinder, and Nikon’s first 4-axis tilting touchscreen. The camera also comes with a new high-efficiency RAW file format that is 1/3 the size of uncompressed RAW while retaining the same high image quality and dynamic range as conventional RAW files.

Overall, the Nikon Z9 is an intelligent, durable, comfortable, and connected camera that is perfect for professional photographers and videographers who demand the best in performance and quality.

Key Features

When it comes to a flagship professional camera, the Nikon Z9 has some impressive features that are worth mentioning. Let’s take a closer look at what sets this camera apart from the rest.

45.7MP Stacked CMOS Sensor

The Nikon Z9 boasts a 45.7MP stacked CMOS sensor and EXPEED 7 image processing, which translates to fast and powerful autofocus that can keep up with even the fastest-moving subjects and frame rates. This means you can capture stunning images with ease, whether you’re shooting stills or video.

Advanced Subject Detection

One of the most impressive features of the Nikon Z9 is its advanced subject detection capabilities. Using deep learning technology, the camera can automatically detect and track a wide range of subjects, including people, cats, dogs, birds, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, trains, and planes, all without any menu changes. This makes it incredibly easy to capture stunning images and videos of your favorite subjects, no matter what they are.

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High-Speed Continuous Shooting

With the ability to capture 45.7MP stills at 20 or 30 fps, and 120 fps stills at 11MP, all with full autofocus and autoexposure, the Nikon Z 9 is a high-speed shooting machine. You’ll never miss a moment with this camera, and the lack of viewfinder blackout means you can keep your eye on the action at all times.

Exceptional Video Quality

The Nikon Z9 is no slouch when it comes to video quality, either. With 8K/30p video capture in-camera, you can record for over 2 hours and 4K 120p slow-motion video capture. The 10-bit 4K/30p from oversampled 8K, recorded in-camera as ProRes 422 HQ or H.265 video, ensures exceptional video quality that will impress even the most discerning videographer.

Efficient RAW File Format

The Nikon Z9 also features a new high-efficiency RAW file format that is 1/3 the size of uncompressed RAW, while retaining the same high image quality and dynamic range as conventional RAW files. This means you can store more images on your memory card without sacrificing image quality, making this camera a great choice for professional photographers who need to shoot a lot of images.

Pros and Cons

There are plenty of things to love and a few things to consider before making a purchase. Here are the pros and cons of this camera that we discovered:

Pros

  • Fast and Powerful AF: With a 45.7MP Stacked CMOS sensor and EXPEED 7 image processing, the AF system is able to keep up with even the fastest subjects and frame rates. Plus, subject detection uses deep learning to automatically detect and track a variety of subjects in both stills and video.
  • High-Speed Shooting: The Nikon Z9 is capable of capturing 45.7MP stills at 20 or 30 fps, and 120 fps stills at 11MP, all with full AF and AE, and no viewfinder blackout. Plus, it can capture 8K/30p video in-camera for over 2 hours recording time, and 4K 120p slow motion video.
  • Advanced Video Capabilities: The camera can record 10-bit 4K/30p from oversampled 8K, recorded in-camera as ProRes 422 HQ or H.265 video.
  • Efficient RAW File Format: The 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.
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Cons

  • Expensive: The Nikon Z9 is a high-end camera with a price tag to match, making it a significant investment for most photographers.
  • Limited Lens Selection: As a relatively new mirrorless camera, the selection of lenses available for the Nikon Z mount is still somewhat limited compared to other systems.
  • Learning Curve: With so many advanced features and capabilities, the Nikon Z9 has a bit of a learning curve for those who are new to the camera or mirrorless systems in general.

User Reviews and Testimonials

Cameras often receive negative online reviews due to technical issues, poor customer service or defective models.

The Nikon Z9 is no exception and, although it does receive some bad reviews online, the majority of them are from very happy customers.

Nikon Z9 Online Reviews
Nikon Z9 Online Reviews
Nikon Z9 Online Reviews

Nikon Z9 vs Competitors

The main competitors of the Nikon Z9 are other professional cameras like the Canon R3 and the Sony Alpha 1. Here’s how it compares to other models. 

-
Sony Alpha 1
Canon R3
Nikon Z9

CAMERA

Sony Alpha 1

Canon EOS R3

Nikon Z9

SENSOR

Full Frame

Full Frame

Full Frame

PRICE

$$$

$$$

$$$

WEIGHT

1.61 lbs

1.81 lbs

2.95 lbs

MEGAPIXELS

50.1 MP

24.1 MP

45.7 MP

BURST RATE

Up to 30fps

Up to 30fps

Up to 120fps

AUTOFOCUS POINTS

759

1053

493

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

Conclusion

After thoroughly reviewing the Nikon Z9, we can confidently say that it is a top-of-the-line professional camera that delivers exceptional performance. Its solid build and weather-resistant design make it a reliable choice for wildlife shooting, while its video capabilities are second to none.

We were particularly impressed with the camera’s autofocus system, which is fast and accurate, even when using an adapter with DSLR lenses. Additionally, the pin-point focus feature is a game-changer for bird and wildlife photography.

While the camera may take some time to fully explore and understand all of its features, it is well worth the investment for any professional photographer or videographer. 

Overall, we highly recommend the Nikon Z9 for anyone looking for the ultimate professional camera for bird and wildlife photography.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the image quality like on the Nikon Z9 compared to other models?

The Nikon Z9 boasts a 45.7-megapixel stacked CMOS sensor and EXPEED 7 image processing, making it one of the best cameras on the market in terms of image quality. With fast and powerful autofocus that can keep up with the fastest subjects and frame rates, the Z9 is a great choice for photographers and videographers alike. In comparison to other models, the Z9’s image quality is superior, especially when it comes to low-light photography.

How does the Nikon Z9 stack up against its predecessor, the Z8?

The Nikon Z9 is a clear upgrade from its predecessor, the Z8. While the Z8 was a great camera in its own right, the Z9 takes things to the next level with its deep learning technology and subject detection capabilities. With the Z9, you can capture stunning 45.7-megapixel stills at 20 or 30 fps, with no viewfinder blackout, and 8K/30p video capture in-camera for over 2 hours recording time. In comparison, the Z8 is limited to 4K video capture and has a lower frame rate for stills.

Can you share some sample images taken with the Nikon Z9?

Unfortunately, we do not have any sample images to share at this time. However, based on our experience with the camera, we can confidently say that the image quality is exceptional, and you won’t be disappointed with the results.

Is the Nikon Z9 considered a flagship camera?

Yes, the Nikon Z9 is considered a flagship camera and is the most intelligent, durable, comfortable, and connected Nikon camera the world has ever seen. With its advanced features and capabilities, the Z9 is a top-of-the-line camera that is perfect for professionals and serious enthusiasts.

What are the standout specs of the Nikon Z9?

The Nikon Z9 has several standout specs that make it a top-of-the-line camera. These include its 45.7-megapixel stacked CMOS sensor, EXPEED 7 image processing, fast and powerful autofocus, subject detection using deep learning technology, and high-speed still frame rates up to 120 fps. Additionally, the Z9 has 8K and 4K video capabilities, a truly blackout-free viewfinder, and Nikon’s first 4-axis tilting touchscreen.

Does the weight of the Nikon Z9 make it difficult to handle?

The Nikon Z9 is a relatively heavy camera, weighing in at 1.46 pounds (body only). However, we found that the weight was well-balanced and didn’t make it difficult to handle. In fact, the camera felt very sturdy and comfortable to hold, even for extended periods of time. Additionally, the Z9 has a deep grip and a variety of customizable buttons and controls, making it easy to operate and adjust settings on the fly.

Other Models Reviewed

Other Camera Reviews

If you would like to read more about camera options for wildlife photography, make sure you check out our Master Guide to Wildlife Photography Cameras.

For even more specific options, you can check out our other reviews below:

 

Camera Type 

DSLR Cameras 

Mirrorless Cameras 

Compact Cameras 

Drones

 

Skill Level

Cameras for Beginners 

Intermediate-Level Cameras 

Pro Cameras

 

Budget

Cameras Under $1,000 

Cameras Under $2,000

 

Brand 

Sony Cameras 

Canon Cameras 

Nikon Cameras

 
 

Planned activitiy 

Cameras for Bird Photography

Cameras for Shooting Wildlife at Night

Travel-friendly Cameras

Cameras for Safaris

Nikon Z9 Reviews Online

When doing your research, you might want to read what other publications have to say about the Nikon Z9 camera. 

Here are some of the most popular reviews from the web. 

Nikon Z9 – The ideal camera for wildlife photography?by nicolas-stettler.ch

Nikon Z9 for Wildlife Photography – Initial Field Review – by oxbowphoto.com

About the Author

Born and raised in Southern Spain, Antonio quit his job in 2013 to travel the world full-time with his wife Amanda for 10 years straight.

They visited 150+ countries, cycled 25,000km + from California to Patagonia, sailed over 10,000NM around the Caribbean & Sea of Cortez, rode their motorbikes 30,000 kms+ across West Africa (Spain to South Africa) and visited Antarctica, among many other adventure expeditions. 

Today Antonio runs Adventure Fix with Amanda, where they share their knowledge about the places they’ve visited and the ones still remaining on their list.

Antonio Cala

Co-Founder of Adventure Fix

Nikon Z9 Review
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