Well, I've gone and done it again.  

Sight unseen, and going solely on the leaked specifications, I've just ordered the recently announced Nikon Z 9 from Grays of Westminster. There - I've admitted it...

Yes I know that it's going to be stupidly expensive. Yes I know that I might not really NEED it. Yes I know that the money might be better spent elsewhere, but what's a photographer to do when presented with a new item from Nikon that will literally blow everything else on the market into the weeds?

I've had a pair of Nikon Z 6 bodies, their associated FTZ Adapters and some NIKKOR Z lenses from the very first day or so that they appeared in the UK and been bowled over by them, as you can read elsewhere on this site.

Admittedly there have been one or two hiccups along the way, all speedily and efficently resolved by Nikon UK, but the advantages of mirrorless - well Nikon mirrorless at least - over my Nikon DSLRs has been overwhelming.

Two of the main gripes about Z 6 and Z 7 bodies that I've heard from the bleating internet community were that they only had one XQD card slot and that the battery life was pathetic. Coming from a traditional film-based background the former concern never worried me at all - all film photographers using 35mm were limited to a maximum of 36 exposures with no backup, save for a second or third camera body, yet never complained! The new Z 6II and Z 7II bodies overcame that when they received two card slots each. Battery life concerns every photographer, but only last weekend I was a guest at a friend's wedding and just took along my Z 6 for some 'behind the scenes' shots, obtaining 1590 RAW files and around 5-8 minutes of video with some 43% battery life remaining. That's astonishing but certainly not at all unusual in my experience. It's really not something that should concern any professional photographer, or give them a justifiable excuse NOT to buy a Z series camera. I always take half a dozen spare batteries with me on a shoot in any case, but seldom have I had to resort to replacing them except when I am shooting video.

I have used the Z 6 bodies extensively in many challenging situations, particularly in low light where the combination of a lightweight easy-to-hold camera, allied to superb IBIS stabilisation and RAW files capable of being really pushed to high ISOs really sorts the men from the boys and in torrential rain, where the only factor limiting my use of them was rain on the viewfinder and condensation on the lens - something that could happen to any camera system, old or new. The Z 6 rejuvenated my working life and I fully expect the new Nikon Z 9 to do that again.

According to the notices from Nikon and other leaked rumours the Nikon Z 9 will have a 8256 x 5504px resolution 45MP stacked sensor with a standard frame rate of up to 30 fps. It will be able to shoot 8K video, which although that’s of little interest to me at present it will soon be a useful asset to have in ones armoury for the discerning/know-it-all client! It will also be capable of up to 120 fps in a lower resolution file size, while some reports even indicate 160 fps, which will be ideal for sports, military and subject analysis although an editor's nightmare. It will have a built-in GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) that will work pretty much anywhere in the world and add vital Lat/Long metadata to the image files (although perhaps not essential for all photographers).

The Nikon Z 9 will use the same or a similar battery as D6. There will be also a new battery (EN-EL18x) that can be charged by the camera’s USB-C, making tethered work so much easier. The sensor has multi-leaf protective shutter that automatically covers the sensor when switched off or when changing a lens to stop dust and dirt settling on the exposed sensor. It will have car autofocus in addition to animal and people AF, as well as improved low light tracking down to -7 EV and improved 3D tracking. It will have a new articulated screen that also works in portrait mode which will be a huge bonus.

There will be a new style locking flap for the two CFExpress memory cards (the flap on the Z 6 is easily opened by mistake I have discovered). Incidentally I have discovered a new source for CFExpress cards that are highly recommended and relatively cheap, compared to XQD. There will be a third joystick/selector added to use whilst the camera is close to your face as well as many new menu features to tweak and match ones shooting style. And for those rare times when it is essential to impress bystanders, the shutter release sound level can be adjusted from silent to loud… so you can still get that D6 machine gun sound!

The official announcement is expected before the end of November 2021, but it is not expected that many cameras will ship before the end of the year. Because of a worldwide parts shortage in the semi-conductor industry, the waiting time for the Nikon Z 9 is expected to be lengthy.

Oh and the price hasn’t been officially announced yet, but it is rumoured to be around that of the Nikon D6, give or take a bit!


Nikon Z 9 - It's Going To Be A Cracker!