This camera is interesting to me.
First, let me list the recent powerhouse cameras that have been released in the last year and the reasons why I would choose the Z9 over them. I will be taking only the camera bodies into consideration.
- While awesome in isolation sat next to the Z9 the A1 seems downright cautious.
- Despite having identical prices I would rather the stellar practical video and stills specs of the Z9 over the GFX 100S’ 100MP medium format sensor. Plus 45MP is nothing to sneeze at.
- The R3 is impressive, but with its greater MP count and comparably impressive specs the Z9 managed to marry top notch imaging specs with few if any performance compromises. Was so unmoved by the R3… and R5 and R6 now that I think about it… that I never bothered to write “So” posts about them. As much as I liked the EOS RP (Bought twice for Pete’s sake. But eventually sold twice also.) higher end EOS R models have just not done it for me. Fine cameras and I could get on with them just fine I am sure. Just not my cup of tea.
But there is another reason.
The other cameras listed took incremental steps towards the future but the Z9 lunged.
- No mechanical shutter.
- “But what about the SIGMA fp?”, you may be saying. But come on. The fp is a rolling shutter disaster and asks so many compromises of the user that I am not going to clog up this post by listing them here. Nikon put enough processing grunt into the Z9 to make the mechanical shutter obsolete. (That being said if they ever put a full frame Foveon sensor in an fp I would buy it. Such is my Foveon fascination that I would be defenseless if they ever did.)
- Built and weighs like a pro DSLR.
- There is a reason I enjoy using my K-1. Tank like build is a plus in this category of camera in my opinion. The R3 is considerably lighter even with the two grip body and the A1 requires an add on grip. The Z9 is proper melee weapon in a pinch heavy like any respectable DSLR. It makes the whole (and very tired) mirrorless vs. DSLR debate completely irrelevant by offering the best of both worlds in one body in my opinion.
Sidebar: Someone get Pentax on the phone. Since they seem intent not to create a new mirrorless mount maybe they can get away with just ripping the mirror box out of their K-1 for their next full-frame upgrade, add in an EVF and on sensor phase detect AF, and throw in performance upgrades from the awkwardly named K-3 III. They already tried removing the mirror box on the confusingly named K-01 (Seriously Pentax. What is up with your naming conventions?) years ago. They just did not go far enough. Commit like Nikon did.
Nikon just went for it. If I was in need of a professional-grade workhorse camera body with no price limit this would be it for me.
I cannot think of a single downside to this camera body alone if you want the best of all things. I honestly believe Nikon has officially moved the needle of what a modern pro-grade camera can be. It is the best of all things.
- Killer build.
- Killer stills specs.
- Killer video specs.
- Access to great AF glass via native Nikon Z glass and legacy F glass adapted.
- Priced competitively.
- A great selection of affordable cameras that could serve as second bodies from the Z5 on up.
Will I be ordering one?
If you have been reading my other “So” posts you likely know the answer already. No.
But this does not reflect negatively on the camera at all. It is as close to a masterpiece as one could reasonably expect. Would love to own one. Would definitely love to review one, though that might prove detrimental to my bank account. The reasons have to do with me more than the camera.
- I am more of a bang for buck guy (see Z5) than a one camera to beat them all type.
- Obtaining a Z9 would require me to sacrifice my current diverse menagerie of gear and commit to one camera system and I have no desire to do so.
- Took me a long time to sort out a complete Sony FE lens and two body kit and I have absolutely no desire to start that process again.
- Lastly while the camera body is fantastic Nikon still suffers from a lens system that has yet to be fully fleshed out. It lacks compact high performing affordable prime options, has little third party support, and has not been out long enough to offer a solid used lens market.
But make no mistake I am very impressed by this camera. So much so that if I were to move to any other camera system it would be Nikon. I could definitely see myself getting on with a Z9/Z5 two body kit down the road once the lens options are fully fleshed out.
My first DSLR and larger than MFT sensor camera was a Nikon D3300 and I really liked that camera. A major reason I left Nikon was because of their propensity to split desirable features across various top full-frame models rather than creating one great camera. Back then I was faced with:
- Want built in wireless and an articulating screen? D750.
- Want 1/8000s shutter speed and high MP count? D810.
Had they made one camera with the best of all features I would have bought it. This is what eventually led me to pivot to Pentax, specifically the K-1. Built in wireless, articulating screen, higher MP count, and 1/8000s shutter all included while throwing in GPS and IBIS at a competitive price. One could argue that Canon is still at it with its mirrorless cameras. Key features seem split between their R5, R3, and R6 cameras for instance. Sony has their kitchen sink camera with the A1. With the Z9 the Nikon seems to have moved from splitting up features across multiple bodies and has released one no-compromise body.
After some very lightly upgraded Z6II and Z7II bodies they raised their stock immensely with one release. It is at the same time familiar and completely new. If a money tree fell into my lap this is the first camera that would be on my shopping list. Well done Nikon. And welcome back.