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What We Know So Far About the Upcoming Nikon Z9

Jourdan Aldredge

Another mirrorless camera with a full-frame sensor, new image processing engine, and 8K video support to rival Canon? Yes, please!

Do you hear that? It’s the low rumbling of hundreds of thousands of indie filmmakers, amateur videographers, and eager industry professionals chomping at the bit to try out another new digital camera. If only they knew about the dozens of other highly-capable and just-as-exciting options currently also on the market.

Yet, there’s something undeniably appealing about the newest one. The long-rumored Nikon Z9 (one of the highlights from our annual camera rumors roundup) has certainly built up quite a buzz, as it promises to become Nikon’s new “flagship model” for their Z mount line.

Still, now nearly five months from first being officially announced, we still don’t know much about this Z9. What we do know is indeed quite exciting—a full-frame (FX-format) sensor, new image processing engine, and 8K video support to rival the Canon R5.

So, as we all eagerly await the final official specs and release of this new digital titan, let’s explore everything we do know about the upcoming Nikon Z9 and look at how it might stack up against the competition for filmmakers and video professionals alike.


What We Know About the Z9

First, let’s talk about what we know for sure about the upcoming Nikon Z9. From Nikon’s own website, it’s not too much yet besides the aforementioned full-frame (FX-format) stacked CMOS sensor, a “new image processing engine” (which doesn’t tell us much), and the appealing allure of 8K video. To recap:

The highlights from Nikon so far:

  • New FX-format stacked CMOS sensor
  • New image processing engine
  • 8K video recording support

Yet, without exact specs—or a price, for that matter—we don’t really have a full idea of just how powerful this digital mirrorless camera might be (or which filmmakers and industry professionals it might be for).

That is, until these specs were recently leaked on NikonRumors last week:

  • 45MP stacked sensor
  • 8256 x 5504px resolution
  • Capable of up to 120 fps
  • Built-in GPS
  • Same battery as D6
  • Car autofocus in addition to animal and people
  • Improved 3D tracking
  • Many new menu features

If true, these specs paint a more elaborate picture of the Z9’s capabilities, revealing a powerful 45MP sensor that should equal the Canon R5’s 45MP and overpower the Canon R3’s 24MP. The Z9 will also reportedly be capable of up to 120fps recording (or possibly even 160fps), although without exact specs on file sizes and types yet.

These Z9 specs also appear to fall in line with Nikon’s new “flagship” label, as much of the camera seems to have been reimagined in terms of functions and controls. 

The final piece of critical information leaked so far is that the official release date might still be several months out, as Nikon is possibly dealing with a parts shortage which has been holding up manufacturing for the past year.


8K Video for Better or Worse

Let’s look closer at the Z9’s 8K video, likely the camera’s biggest selling point (as was the case with the Canon R5, which hit the market with much fanfare due to its 8K 30fps).

This 8K is reported to come in at a 8256 x 5504px resolution. Simply put—that’s a lot of pixels! Still, it still doesn’t yet quite tell us the whole picture of just how useful this recording format might be. Will it max out at 30fps like the R5? Is there a crop sensor involved like what we saw with early 4K cameras like the Canon 5D Mk IV?

8K probably sounds enticing to film and video professionals looking for the highest resolution possible for crisper images, more editing control, and greater effects compositing. Nonetheless, until we know exactly what this 8K entails, we’ll hold off on making any judgements.


Other Comparable Camera Options

We don’t yet have a price point for the Nikon Z9, but we assume it will be comparable to the Canon R5 since they have their “8K flagship” monikers in common. The Canon R5 currently remains at its initial $3,899 price tag, slotting it in nicely with the rest of the ~$3,000 competition (a subject we’ve covered as the ideal current camera price).

Indeed, if you’re looking for 8K video in the sub-$5,000 range, you really only have the Canon R5 and (now) the Nikon Z9 to choose from. However, video professionals who don’t mind spending a little more for higher-end, cinema-quality 8K video might want to look into cameras like these:


Want more camera news, reviews, and insights? Here you go:

Cover image via Nikon.