More compact and faster, here is the new all-terrain hybrid Nikon Z9

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After several months of waiting, Nikon has lifted the veil on the Z9. New flagship camera of the brand, this sporty hybrid is positioned against the D6 reflex, with the desire to push the limits in both photos and video.

Nikon finally formalizes the new flagship of its hybrid range, the Z9. Its development had been confirmed at the beginning of the year, but the brand refined its copy before offering the one that stands out as the most successful reference in its catalog. Professional hybrid, the Nikon Z9 is positioned against the Sony Alpha 1 and its 50.1 Mpx sensor and Canon EOS R3.

For its Z9, Nikon puts the small dishes in the big ones by opting for a stacked full-frame 45.7 Mpx CMOS sensor – like the Nikon Z7 II – and an Expeed 7 processor. The latter succeeds the Expeed 6 and promises to be 10 times faster than its predecessor, a clear evolution. Usually, we see an evolution multiplying by 2 the performance of the previous model. The sensitivity range extends from 64 to 25,600 ISO, with the possibility of extending it from 32 to 102,400 ISO.

The Z9, Nikon’s new full-frame hybrid. © Nikon

A case without mechanical shutter

Highlighting the responsiveness of its new model, Nikon targets wildlife and sports photography professionals and photojournalists. The case also wants to stand out in terms of its autofocus (AF) and 3D tracking system by integrating what the manufacturer knows how to do best. Its Z9 claims 493-point AF including 405 auto-zone AF points, five times more than Nikon Z7 II, depending on the brand.

There are also 10 AF zone modes and algorithms developed in deep learning, offering the Z9 simultaneous detection with nine different types of subjects (humans, animals, vehicles, etc.). These functions are combined with 3D tracking which is making its first appearance in Nikon’s hybrid camera line-up.

This Z9 is the world’s first camera without a mechanical shutter. Nikon opts for 100% electronic and prides itself on having given birth to the brightest viewfinder in the world (3000 nits).

The Nikon Z9, seen from the front. © Nikon

The flagship of the yellow brand is also rapid burst with frame rates of up to 20 fps in RAW or 30 fps in JPG. It is even possible to go up to 20 fps in “normal image” JPEG at 11 Mpx with AF / AE, Nikon specifies. In addition, these modes are compatible with almost all the optical equipment of the firm.

With such speeds, you need a powerful buffer. The Z9’s can handle over 1000 high definition images with ProGrade Digital Cobalt CF Express cards. The housing also features the world’s fastest electronic scanning to eliminate “Practically any deformation due to the rolling shutter effect”. The latter is 12 times faster than that of the Z7 II.

The Nikon Z9, seen from behind. © Nikon

Over 8K and 4K for video

Video is not to be outdone, even if Nikon has somewhat dampened expectations. Contrary to expectations, the brand tells us that there will ultimately not be 8K or 4K DCI, but Over 8K and 4K which will arrive with N-RAW via an update. The box will also be able to film in 4K from 24p to 120p by offering a 4K UHD file from 8K oversampling. 10-bit 4: 2: 2 sampling is available for in-house recording, while 12-bit Prores Raw HQ and 12-bit N-RAW will arrive via an update in 2022.

The most imposing of the Z series cameras does not deny its origins and its design is inspired by that of the Nikon D6. Built as a single piece, it is nevertheless 20% more compact than the D6 (149 × 149.5 × 90.5 mm, against 160 x 163 x 92 mm) and lighter by a hundred grams (from 1160 g to 1340 g with accumulator and memory card, against 1270 g and 1450 g for the reflex). The case opts for a structure made of a magnesium alloy and claims a secure grip horizontally and vertically. Nikon assures that it “Is more robust than the D6” to evolve even in difficult conditions.

It can also count on backlit buttons and a new generation 3.2 inch screen. The manufacturer abandons the ball joint system for hinges, with the possibility of tilting the screen on 4 axes and enjoying a portrait mode. The interface has been redesigned to adapt to this new view, offering in passing a display in red for the night photo or the astronomical photo.

The Nikon Z9 is particularly robust. © Nikon

Finally, connectivity includes Wi-Fi and image transfer without WT-6 with choice of frequency (2.4 or 5 GHz). We also note the support for the 1000BASE-T standard and Nikon ensures that the communication speed of the Z9 is faster than that of the D6 thanks to the Expeed 7. Note that the new battery is physically identical to that of the Nikon D6, but it can be recharged using USB-C. The MH-33 charger is also smaller and offered in USB-C. The box comes with two new apps called NX Mobile Air and NX Mobile Tether.

The Nikon Z9 will be available for 5,999 euros from December.

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