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The most surprising camera I have used in years

The most surprising camera I have used in years

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Nikon’s Z9 is a truly professional mirrorless camera that’s only gotten better since it was released.

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At nearly three pounds, or 1,340g, the $5,500 Nikon Z9 is a brick of a mirrorless camera with more buttons and features than I have been able to test in the nearly two months I have had with it. It has a new full-frame 45.7MP stacked CMOS sensor that, thanks to the new Expeed 7 image processor, can shoot RAW photos at 20fps for over 1,000 frames (assuming you are using a fast enough card). And the video specs put flagship specs from Sony’s A1 and Canon’s R5 to shame. They include 12-bit 8K 60fps or 4K 120fps both in N-RAW, Nikon’s RAW video format. You can also shoot in ProRes RAW up to 5K 30fps. 

There are lists upon lists of features that can be mapped to any one of nine customizable buttons within four custom setting banks.
There are lists upon lists of features that can be mapped to any one of nine customizable buttons within four custom setting banks.
Photo by Amelia Krales / The Verge
The ports are housed behind rubber doors that click in for a secure fit.
The ports are housed behind rubber doors that click in for a secure fit.
Photo by Amelia Krales / The Verge
Nikon has used a similar hardware layout on its top-of-the-line professional models since the 35mm Nikon F5 film body that was released in 1996.
Nikon has used a similar hardware layout on its top-of-the-line professional models since the 35mm Nikon F5 film body that was released in 1996.
Photo by Amelia Krales / The Verge

All of those specs are housed in a large, heavy, and absolutely rugged camera body. The physical design of the Z9 is unlike what we have seen in flagship mirrorless cameras from other companies. And it is a welcome change for professional photographers who are going to be using large telephoto lenses for wildlife or sports photography. Nothing about this system’s hardware is compact. 

Sony’s flagship mirrorless camera, the A1, looks miniature next to the Nikon Z9.
Sony’s flagship mirrorless camera, the A1, looks miniature next to the Nikon Z9.
Photo by Becca Farsace / The Verge

But the Nikon Z9 is about far more than its specs and hardware. Previous cameras in Nikon’s mirrorless camera Z lineup have been less than impressive when compared to the competition. Autofocus speeds were slow, camera bodies felt cheap, and the company was failing to gain support for the new lineup. I had all but given up on the brand when the Z9 was launched. Even then, I was skeptical that this camera could actually make a mark. In my latest episode of our YouTube series Full Frame, I dive deep into this camera’s abilities to see if this could be the camera that makes Nikon a competitor in the mirrorless camera market. Enjoy, bud!