Nikon is the first to “release” a gripped mirrorless flagship, but cameras will fall into the hands of the lucky few with the earliest pre-orders at the end of the year, about a month after Canon’s R3 is pushed into the retail channel in late November. The Nikon will cost $5,500 and be the largest and heaviest flagship, about a third heavier than the R3.
The greatest limitation to the Z9 – aside from short supply – will likely be the lack of pro lenses for the Z system, the single biggest factor slowing adoption from the ancient Nikon F mount among pros. Nikon did announce a couple consumer-grade lenses today, and indicated that a 400mm f/4 will be coming in the future. More quietly, it also added an 800mm of unknown aperture to its lens roadmap this morning, as well as a 12-28mm zoom.
The camera does not have a mechanical shutter, but it doesn’t seem to matter much. Real world use in many reviews put up this morning show very little shutter roll even in fast action. The read-out rate of the camera is 1/270th of a second, beating both the Canon R3 and Sony A1. Some old-school pros will not appreciate this, but this is likely everyone’s future.
The buffer ranges depending on what type of RAW file is shot, ranging from about 40 shots in the largest format to essentially limitless with the “high efficiency” compressed RAW. The camera sports dual CFexpress Type B cards. If you’re looking for the best models of those, you can see the only fully comprehensive tests and reviews here.
Nikon’s “3D Tracking” is back, coupled now with deep learning subject tracking. Reviewers think it’s working pretty well, but we haven’t yet seen A1/R3 direct comparisons. Nikon added more deep learning subject categories. Eye detect was impressive. The AF might have been less sticky than competitors when set to bias toward not moving the focus point to a new subject.
High ISO, low-light worked well, roughly on par with the Z7. Battery life appears to be better than the A1 and R3, perhaps less than an old-school flagship mirror slapper.
On video, it will record 8K without data rate or heat issues in normal use. 4K video is oversampled from the full sensor. All of this can be recorded internally. Even 4K ProRes 4:2:2.
The camera has a full-sized HDMI port, with all the other video-oriented jacks and ports. The display isn’t a flippy-tilty display, but it does have a 4-axis system of movement, with more limited range.
Future firmware upgrades will provide N-RAW, and a 60p 8K mode.