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Fast-Shooting New 45.7MP Nikon Z9 Eliminates Mechanical Shutter

Nikon's new flagship camera will be available later this year for $5499
Photo of Nikon Z9

Nikon finally fully introduced its latest flagship camera this morning, the much-teased Nikon Z9. The Nikon Z9 is a full frame mirrorless camera featuring a new, Nikon-developed 45.7-megapixel BSI-stacked CMOS sensor and the company’s latest Expeed 7 image processor. The Z9 will also be unique, Nikon said, because the camera completely eliminates the need for a mechanical shutter, using a full electronic shutter instead for capturing images.

According to Nikon, the Z 9 will feature an autofocus (AF) system that uses a new scene detection algorithm based on “deep learning technology” as well as 3D tracking. The Nikon Z 9 is also capable of shooting bursts of 30 frames per second (fps) for JPEG images, 20 fps for RAW files (with a 1000+ image buffer), and up to 120 fps at 11MP, all with full AF/AE. The Z 9 will be approximately 10x faster overall than the Z 7 II, which was Nikon’s previous top mirrorless camera.

(Update: You can check out 20 impressive images captured with the Nikon Z9 here. Nikon also introduced two new premium zoom lenses today.)

Photo of Nikon Z9

Additionally, the Z 9 can shoot 8K video and features “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.” To achieve this, Nikon said, the Z 9 has “the world’s fastest image scan rate,” which gives the camera “the world’s smallest rolling shutter distortion,” putting the Z 9’s electronic shutter on par with 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,” Nikon said. “It also allows users to shoot massive quantities of silent frames without worrying about shutter wear or breakdown.”

Photo of Nikon Z9 tilt screen

Another unique feature on the Z 9 is a new four-axis 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD on back of the camera that allows the monitor to tilt both horizontally and vertically for shooting at multiple angles in different camera orientations, such as when switching from standard shooting to portrait mode. The interface on the screen is also designed to adjust automatically to the appropriate orientation while shooting stills.

Nikon did not give a specific date for when the Z 9 will go on sale, only saying it will “be available within this year” for $5499. (Update: You can pre-order the Nikon Z 9 at B&H here.) That price puts the Z 9 noticeably lower than its two main camera rivals, the Canon EOS R3 ($5999) and the Sony Alpha a1 ($6500).

Photo of Nikon Z9

Here’s a rundown of the key specifications of the new Nikon Z 9.

  • 45.7MP BSI stacked, full frame (FX-format) CMOS sensor newly developed by Nikon
  • New Expeed 7 processor makes the Z 9 approximately 10x faster than the Z 7 II
  • Native ISO range from 65-25,600 (expandable from 32 to 102,400)
  • The Z 9 achieves AF calculations at up to 120 cycles per second, even between frames during continuous shooting
  • New AF system featuring new subject detection algorithm developed with deep learning technology as well a 3D-tracking
  • Camera’s subject detection capability detects “the world’s largest range 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, according to Nikon, even when eyes are smaller or further away. Additionally, a custom function will let users change the color of the focus point to green to confirm focus
  • 3D-tracking mode from Nikon DSLRs debuts for the first time in a mirrorless camera. Nikon says it’s 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 fast-moving athlete
  • The Z 9 offers 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
  • Can shoot 20-fps RAW images with a 1000+ image buffer
  • Captures JPEGs at up to 30fps
  • Shoots 11MP images at up to 120fps
  • “Truly blackout-free shooting” is achieved through 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 viewfinder”
  • 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 smaller file size, making RAW files easier to handle
  • 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

Photo Nikon Z9 rear

Camera Build & Features

  • Nikon Z 9 camera body features an integrated vertical grip and controls, while the durable magnesium alloy chassis has drip and dust-resistance equivalent to the D6
  • Z 9 camera body is 20% smaller in size than the D6
  • New four-axis 3.2-inch 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), 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.
  • For dust prevention, the Z 9 includes the world’s first 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.

Photo of Nikon Z9 top

Video Features

  • For video, the Z 9 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)
  • “World’s longest record time” at 8K UHD 30p for more than 2 hours consecutively (up to approximately 125 minutes)
  • 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-Gamma), as well as the Flat color profile.
  • Supports multiple codecs including H.265 (HEVC), ProRes 422 HQ1, 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

Photo of Nikon Z9 sensor

Pricing and Availability

The new Nikon Z 9 will go on sale within 2021 in the United States for a suggested retail price of $5499.95.

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