This year has been the announcements of all major brands, it seems, producing and upgrading their “flagship” cameras. Sony started early, then Canon, then Panasonic, then Fuji Film, and now Nikon. Those die-hard Nikon owners will look at this as the dream camera to get. It’s strong, shoots in 8K video, and, Nikon develops it’s own processing chip for this camera. Too many back-orders on chips, if the Covid thing is going to effect the chip industry, now you will see the manufactures, make their own amazing chips. Looks like photographers around the world, are rejoicing.

Nikon has finally started releasing “teasers” to get people excited about their new camera. Here is one new video. Click the arrow in the middle, and enjoy:

With the fact that the Nikon Z9 showed up at the Tokyo Olympics, we now know a lot about the camera:

1- 8K video

One of the few details that the Big N did announce is that the Nikon Z9 will boast 8K video capability, putting it in the same league as the Canon EOS R5 and Sony A1

2) Full-frame stacked sensor

Also among the scant announcement info was the fact that the Z9 will, unsurprisingly, have a full-frame FX CMOS image sensor. What is surprising, however, is that this will be a newly developed stacked sensor. 

So, what is a stacked image sensor? It is a fabrication process whereby layers of both sensor and circuitry are be ‘stacked’ on top of one another, enabling manufacturers to make things like RAM an integrated part of the sensor itself. 

Accordingly, stacked sensors can perform blisteringly fast readout speeds – resulting in the unfathomably fast 30fps continuous burst shooting of the Sony A1 and Canon EOS R3

3) >39MP resolution

So, knowing that the Nikon Z9 is capable of 8K, and that it has a full-frame sensor, we know broadly what resolution it will have – because to output 8K, a requisite number of pixels are required. Indeed, in crude terms, we can look to the 45MP R5 and 50.1MP A1 and say that it’s going to be in the same ball park – and a previous report suggested that the Z9 may have around the same resolution as the 45.7MP Nikon Z7 II

We don’t just have to guesstimate, though! For full readout 8K on a standard 3:2 sensor, a 16:9 video would require 7,680 x 5,120 pixels – which would require at least a 39MP sensor. However, if the video is DCi then it would require 8,192 pixels – which means at least a 44MP sensor. 

So we can safely say that the Z9 will have at least a 39MP image sensor, and likely a lot higher.

Photo by Nikon

4) New Expeed 7 image processor

Nikon develops their own chip. No Covid slowdown.

Nikon has confirmed that the Z9 will possess a brand new image processing engine – which, seeing as the current engine is the Expeed 6 (featured in cameras like the Nikon Z6 II, Nikon Z7 II and D6), will almost certainly be called Expeed 7. 

What do processors in cameras actually do? Well, they’re effectively the ‘brain’ of the camera body. They handle all the complex computations: performing autofocus and subject detection, parsing stills and video data from the image sensor, providing calculations for image stabilization, corrections for lens aberrations, cleaning up noise from high ISO imaging… 

In short, while it’s not a very sexy part of a spec sheet, the image processor is one of the most fundamental parts of a camera’s DNA. 

5) D6-beating flagship

The Nikon Z9 will be the manufacturer’s new flagship camera, replacing the Nikon D6 as the current king of the hill. And as confirmed by Nikon’s Keiji Oishi – department manager of Nikon’s Imaging Business Unit, UX Planning Department – it “is being developed with the goal of surpassing the D6.” 

Clearly, with at least a 39MP sensor that’s capable of 8K video, it’s going to beat the D6 (with its 20.8MP and 4K) in terms of sheer resolution. However, what about speed? This is, after all, the most important aspect for a flagship camera that’s aimed at professional sports photographers. 

The D6 boasts a top speed of 14fps burst shooting, which is barely worth a second glance when the Sony A1 hits 30fps and the Canon EOS R5, Canon EOS R6 and Canon EOS-1D X Mark III all hit 20fps. 

Given that the Nikon Z9 features a stacked sensor, it’s reasonable to assume that it will hit at least the 20fps benchmark set by Canon – if not the lofty 30fps of the A1.

6) ‘Pro DSLR’ body

Traditionally, flagship cameras have featured an integrated vertical grip with mirrored controls for seamless switching between portrait and landscape shooting. 

Currently, the only other full-frame flagship mirrorless camera is the Sony A9 II, which eschews this ‘professional DSLR’ form factor in favor of a standard-sized body (with the option to add a vertical grip). However, the Z9 will follow in the footsteps of the D6 and 1D X Mark III with a larger body featuring the integrated grip and dual-control inputs. 

7) Larger battery

One of the most important aspects of a flagship, professional camera isn’t the resolution or even the speed – it’s the battery life. Wildlife photographers can sit out in the field for days on end, and sports photographers gobble up power in a hurry when shooting at maximum burst modes, so battery life is important – and this is even more true when it comes to mirrorless cameras, which are much greedier than their DSLR counterparts.

8) Physical observations

The fact that the Nikon Z9 possesses the pro DSLR form factor means that it will also accommodate a huge, professional camera battery – something that mirrorless cameras until now have been sorely lacking. 

Nikon has only released official images of the front of the body (though it does disclaim that “the appearance of the camera may differ from the photo shown”), but in July the Z9 was spotted being used at the Olympic Games in Tokyo – giving us a good look at the back of the body as well. And now we have seen a better view of the back in the two teaser videos that Nikon has recently released.

The Mode dial is replaced by a bank of buttons – the bracketing button is visible, there will likely be a Mode button to cycle between PASM, metering and WB functions. There’s seems to be a locking knob next to it, suggesting that the bottom portion rotates – which could be for quick selection between single / continuous / self-timer / M-Up shooting modes. And the rubber hatches on the top will be for flash, and possibly Nikon’s 10-pin interface.

Nikon clearly knew that the photo industry paparazzi would spot the Z9 at the Olympics, because all the leaked photos of it have what looks like a strip of duct tape on the hinge of the rear LCD – disguising whether or not it’s a tilting or fully articulating screen (though the two finger tabs at the bottom-left and right suggest that it may only tilt). However, that aside, there’s plenty of other takeaways from these glimpses.

The Z9 differs from the pro DSLR equivalent D6 in numerous ways, not least the omission of the smaller, secondary rear LCD screen. The button placement has also been significantly rearranged, and has more in common with the layout of the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7.

9) 2021 release

Nikon announced that the Nikon Z9 is scheduled for release this year. Previous rumors have suggested that it will be in the hands of professionals shooting at the Tokyo Olympic Games in July, so that seems like an obvious time for a full announcement if not immediate availability. Either way, the Z9 is coming in 2021… and now the teaser videos have started we feel certain that the full announcement must be coming soon.

This article is courtesy of Digital Camera World. Where they keep track of it all.

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