In my previous article I wrote I was waiting for the Nikon Z9: Nikon’s very first, pro-level mirrorless camera. The expression “be careful what you wish for as you may get it” is so real in this case. While only a handful of professional photographers have had a chance to play around with pre-production Z9s, the features and performance are simply stunning!
Almost everything that was on my personal wish list of improvements (and likewise on many others) has been delivered by Nikon. I will not go through all the features as there are hundreds of other (some of them very good) websites already doing this but I’ll list the ones that make me so much happier:
- 3D-tracking is back! And even exactly how Nikon was supposed to bring it back: merged with fast continuous face and eye AF tracking, so you don’t just get the one or the other, but (best of) both.
- Actual Dynamic Range at lower ISOs. As I complained a lot about, when Nikon moved from the D4 to the D5/D6 it appears as if they thought all photographers would want to shoot at 100.000+ ISO, for reasons totally unknown. Now, just like with the D850, we get great DR back with both high AND lower ISOs.
- This one is something only very few photographers have complained about so I’m incredibly pleased to see it in the Z9 (no, I don’t believe Nikon is even aware of my existence…): the flimsy/flappy/crappy memory card door has gone! Now, photographers can hold their thumb on a solid piece of rubbery material that doesn’t move or even squeak when you hold the camera (like with my D4). But that’s not all…
Nikon 600mm f/4E FL on Nikon D4S, f/5.6, 1/3200 s., ISO 1800, +1.0EV exp. comp.
IMHO, the most stunning feature Nikon put in the Z9, or better said, took out, is the shutter! This one is truly revolutionary and I’m not sure Nikon is receiving enough credit for it, but this is perhaps somewhat expected given the gazillion improvements Nikon has included in the Z9, and the buzz currently going around with the whole photography community slowly recovering from the announcement…
A mirrorless digital camera, in its ‘purest form’, should actually not even have a shutter in the first place. Your camera in your smart phone doesn’t have a shutter. But up until now, all pro-level mirrorless digital cameras had mechanical shutter curtains. In a technological breakthrough, Nikon is the first camera manufacturer to do away with this mechanical shutter completely. To put it in a different way, and a bit blunt (which Dutch people are known for, speaking in general…:), Nikon is the first camera company to release a true/pure professional mirrorless camera. Off course, Canon and Sony will follow soon… but sometimes it’s nice to be the first (especially for Nikon given they were playing much-needed catch up).
So, I’m obviously going to sell my D850 -the best DSLR available- and switch to Nikon’s Z mirrorless ecosystem, right? Eh, no. For other reasons unknown, Nikon has this nasty habit to price its products significantly higher in Europe than in the US.
In the US, the Z9 goes for USD 5500 (= app. EUR 4700). And everyone is ecstatic about it.
In the Netherlands, the Z9 goes for EUR 6000 (= app. USD 7000). And you don’t hear anything about it.
So, the Z9 is EUR 1300/USD 1500 more expensive in Europe compared to the US!
EUR 1300/USD 1500 gives me enough reasons to wait a little while for Nikon to normalise its pricing for the Z9, which is kind of a shame. On the other hand, only a handful of Z9s will most likely be available anyway in the short term, so for now I’ll just have to be patient and continue to enjoy my trusted D850/600mm combo. With a bit of luck prices will come down in 2022 but we’ll have to wait and see.
And if & when they do… shooting Snowy Owls against sunset with a Z9 will be simply amazing!