The core of the Z 9 is the newly developed FX-format 45.7MP BSI stacked CMOS sensor. Its stacked design offers fast readout speeds and helps to reduce rolling shutter, and the BSI design contributes to impressive clarity and minimal noise when working at higher sensitivities. At 45.7MP, it's also a high-resolution chip that benefits landscape, portraiture, and other detail-oriented genres, as well as enables recording video at resolutions up to 8K. The full-frame BSI design is known for exquisite color and detail rendering, too, and this sensor offers a native ISO 64-25600 range, that can be expanded to ISO 32-102400.
Complementing the sensor is an advanced processing engine, the EXPEED 7, which offers speeds approximately 10x faster than a Z 7II. This engine works in conjunction with the stacked sensor design to realize impressively fast AF speeds, burst shooting rates, a high buffer capacity, fluid video performance, and quick all-around handling.
Relying on the speed and stacked design of the sensor, the Z 9 completely forgoes a mechanical shutter and uses just an electronic shutter for all capture modes. The speed of the sensor enables recording at up to 1/32,000 sec and the stacked structure reduces motion distortion for an accurate depiction of fast-moving subjects, like golf clubs, baseball bats, and automobiles. Also, despite the absence of a mechanical shutter, flash sync up to 1/200 sec. is still supported as well as high-speed sync functions.
By removing the mechanical shutter, the Z 9 can also operate completely silently and there is no worry over mechanical shutter wear or breakdown. A shutter release sound can be added for awareness when a photo is being taken, and the volume can be adjusted to suit different working scenarios.
Covering the full sensor area, the Z 9 uses a 493-point phase-detection AF system to realize fast and accurate focusing performance. This system benifits from the high-speed communication of the Z interface along with the speed of the sensor that enables AF readings to occur at up to 120 fps. This focusing system also supports working in low-light conditions with a Starlight mode that permits focusing down to -8.5 EV to greatly benefit astrophotography, concert, and other nighttime shooting applications.
Utilizing a new algorithm and deep learning technology, automatic Subject Detection can now recognize nine distinct subject types, ranging from humans to animals to airplanes to bicycles. When working in Auto-Area AF, these subjects will automatically be detected, focused on, and tracked to ensure sharp focus when the subject is moving across the frame. Eye-Detection AF, specifically, has been tuned for improved accuracy and refined recognition of eyes in the scene regardless of how small or large they are within the image frame.
The Z 9 also sees the debut of the 3D Tracking mode in a Nikon mirrorless camera. This popular focusing mode from Nikon's DSLRs pairs with subject detection capabilities to lock onto fast and erratically moving subjects that move parallel and perpendicular to the camera axis. Additionally, there are also three Dynamic-Area AF modes, with a range of focus area sizes, to suit capturing a broader variety of moving subject types.
Matching the high-end photo attributes, the Z 9 is Nikon's most capable video camera as well, with a variety of resolutions and frame rates available up to 8K. Using full pixel readout, UHD 8K 30p video can be recorded with continuous shooting possible for approximately 2 hours 5 minutes. Full-frame 4K recording is available, too, up to 120p for slow-motion playback. Using an 8K area, oversampled UHD 4K recording is possible at up to 30p for increased sharpness and detail. Also, high-resolution frame grabs can be recorded in-camera from 8K and 4K videos, for producing 33MP or 11MP stills, respectively.
Internal recording with 10-bit color and 4:2:2 sampling is possible in the ProRes 422 HQ and H.265 codecs, and H.264 and 4:2:0 color can be used depending on workflow needs. For more latitude when color grading in post, there is also a 10-bit N-Log setting as well as a flat color profile. Additionally, HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) can be used for creating HDR-ready content straight from the camera.
Matching the professional build quality, the Z 9 is fitted with a variety of connectivity options to suit various workflow needs: