Nikon Drops First Z 9 Preview Video

As Nikon shooters worldwide await with bated breath the announcement of the brand’s flagship mirrorless camera, Nikon has dropped a first look preview that gives us a clue as to their priorities.

It’s been months, perhaps a year, since Nikon announced they were developing a flagship mirrorless camera that would exceed the capabilities of any other product on the market. They promised lightning-quick shooting speeds, class-leading autofocus, and stunning 8K video. As I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who got to test the preproduction Z 9 at the Olympics a few months ago, I can’t tell you for sure yet whether they’ve delivered on the promise. But slowly but surely, rumors have trickled out about the upcoming camera and potential specs. And this morning, Nikon released their first teaser video showing off some of the camera's key features.

Though a career-long Nikonian, I’ve never owned one of the “flagship” DSLRs like the D6 or D5. I don’t generally need that kind of speed for the work that I do. Rather the D850 and the rest of the high-resolution cameras have been more my speed as they offer the resolution necessary for my advertising work. But that’s not to say that I haven’t shot with the D5 and D6 series. Dependable workhorses are capable of handling everything you throw at them. Built to last. And with a shutter that rattles of frames with the speed, precision, and audio feedback of a machine gun. And while it might sound as though that last crack about the audible volume of the camera is negative, it’s meant as the opposite. I realize there are times when silent shutters are better. But I get a real kick out of hearing the ratta-tat-tat of the D6 shutter.  As someone who often uses the rhythm of my shutter clicks to set the tempo for my models, there is also a practical benefit to my workflow.  

I bring up the audio as rumors have suggested that the Z 9 will allow you to control the sound of your shutter from silent to loud. And, in the video, it seems as though there is a relatively pronounced sound as the photographer is taking shots. This could just be a matter of the audio mix for the preview. But, I’m hoping this is a viable option in the real world. And silent or shouting, the pace at which the flagship cameras perform is essential for sports and action shooters, documentarians, and others who want to be ready for every situation. I do not doubt that the Z 9 will live up to that legacy.

Of course, what most Nikon shooters want to know is how the autofocus will perform on the Z 9. For the market the Z 9 is aimed at, autofocus is even more critical than most. While unfairly maligned in my opinion, the autofocus systems of the early Z cameras have drawn the majority of the heat from skeptics. Yet, Nikon promises class-leading autofocus with the Z 9. The promo video cleverly drops in a shot at the end of the model in nearly full body with the camera picking up the eye at a relatively extended distance, taking direct aim at one of the gripes about the earlier Z camera focusing systems. I’m excited to see how this implementation works once the camera is out in the world.

Then, there is the multi-angle flip screen which accounts for both vertical and horizontal orientations while shooting, the prominence of the 8K video capabilities, and several other features which should hopefully allow the Z 9 to live up to the company’s promise and deliver top image quality for professional shooters worldwide.

What else do you see in the video? What features are you most looking forward to? I’m excited to see what this camera can do.

Christopher Malcolm's picture

Christopher Malcolm is a Los Angeles-based lifestyle, fitness, and advertising photographer, director, and cinematographer shooting for clients such as Nike, lululemon, ASICS, and Verizon.

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Hmmm, a promo video of a portrait shoot. I doubt that's the target audience for this camera. Even if the camera performs the lack of lenses needs to be addressed ASAP. Currently the longest lens is a 70-200 zoom. Is the 400mm f/2.8 already confirmed for this year? At minimum that needs to come out at the same time as the Z9.

Please stop it once and for all: There is NO lack of lenses as all available AFS lenses for F-mount do work very well. And with the size of such lenses, the extra size and weight of an FTZ-adapter is one of the lesser problems.

The 400mm f2.8 is indeed rumored to come out this year and is likely to feature a built-in TC which will be a game changer for some sports like soccer.

Nikon is also rumored to released an updated version of the FTZ adapter which should further enhance the already excellent performance of the current FTZ. With this it is not unreasonnable to think that existing AF-S lenses may focus faster on the Z9 than they did on the D6.

Looking good to me!

This is most probably the best mirrorless camera money can buy.

Lots of money.

This video doesn't really tell us anything. C'mon Nikon, whatever you have up your sleeves, it better be good.