Reader Questions About the Nikon Z9

Final Update: 1/23/21 

When I first created this page, all we had (mostly) were questions. As I've learned answers, I've filled them in and now consider this page complete. 

  • FOMO
    • Should I trade in my [D500, D5, D6, D850, etc.] for a Z9? The D6 and D850, in particular, are arguably the two best DSLRs ever made. I'm never upset with the results I get from those cameras. If a photo is messed up from one of those two bodies, it's my fault, not the camera's. The D500 is still, five years after introduction, the best APS-C (DX) camera you can buy, DSLR or mirrorless. So I guess I have to be careful what I wish for. I wished for Nikon's marketing to actually get into gear and promote a new product loudly and well. They did that with the Z9 and that now has all Nikon users wondering if they'll miss out on something if they don't immediately buy a Z9. The Z9 is an all-around camera, but it still isn't necessarily for everyone. My upcoming review should be consulted if you have any doubts.
  • Availability
    • When will I get my Z9? Well, I warned you about getting your order in early ;~). Even at the point when I posted my original articles—which was literally within a couple of minutes of the start of Nikon's announcement presentation—two of the dealers I talked to felt (probably correctly) that they weren't going to be able to fill their five-minute-old wait list in the first shipment they'd get from NikonUSA. They were right.
      I won't go into specific numbers, but every way I can monitor initial orders says that the Z9 racked up the most pre-order unit volume for a Nikon camera announcement to date. That said, Nikon has dropped three shipments of cameras here in the US, and cleared all NPS Priority Purchase orders, so things are moving relatively smoothly.
      My advice: stay calm and let the situation settle out if you don't already have an order in. It's unclear just how much ability Nikon has to shift manufacturing, but I'm pretty sure they want to clear the backlog as quickly as they can—it's a high margin product that's also a competitive milestone—and will do as much as they can to deliver to demand.
      The D800 launch was probably the worst one previously for getting a camera if you weren't quickly in line after the announcement. It took almost six months before all the back orders were cleared. It's looking like we'll have a near repeat of that, with months-long waits for many who didn't order the first day. 
    • Will there be enough Z-mount lenses available? Good question. The answer today is mostly yes. Lens supply is relatively short for the higher end lenses. That said, lens back-orders have been clearing with regularity. I'd doubt you'd have to wait more than a month for almost any back-ordered lens here in the US with the exception of the 400mm f/2.8 and 800mm f/6.3.
  • Focus
    • Is the autofocus sensitive to vertical detail in addition to horizontal? No. Nikon is still using rows of only blue/green photosites for focus.
    • What's the exact autofocus coverage area? Does it extend to the frame edge or is it backed off some? 90% vertical, 90% horizontal coverage.
    • Do any of the AF-area modes provide closest subject priority? None guarantee this, though with the automatic subject detection turned off, the Wide-area AF modes tend to.
    • Does 30 fps and 120 fps also autofocus? Yes. There are no focus, metering, or other limitations that have been mentioned other than you're creating 45mp (30 fps) or 11mp (120 fps) JPEGs. Both these modes can also pre-collect data prior to the shutter release with the 2.00 and later firmware.
    • Are there any lens limitations for 30 fps and 120 fps? Nikon's response is no, there aren't (this was told to me for Nikkor Z-mount lenses; I believe it also applies to most lenses on the FTZ). Nikon's brochure says there are 94 compatible F-mount lenses that work with these modes, and all Z-mount autofocus lenses are.
    • What happened to Group settings? They're gone, however a firmware update provided the ability to create new focus sensor sizing for Wide Area, ala what the D6 did with Group-AF. 
    • Is it just eye detect? No. For humans, the Z9 detects upper body, head, face, and eye, and opts for the smallest of those that it can find (e.g. eye has priority over face, face over head, etc. For Animals, the Z9 detects whole body, head, eye. For planes, the Z9 detect whole plane, front of plane, and cockpit. Nikon doesn't list similar discretion for cars, bikes and trains, but we saw in some of the videos that it appears to go whole car, front of car, headlights. So I'd say that Nikon's object recognition system is built on a hierarchy of sub-classes, and it picks the smallest class it can find for the recognized object. Why's this important? Because when a human turns away from you, there's no eye or face to detect, so the head becomes the target, but when they turn back, face, then eye become the focus point.
    • Is animal detection still limited to cats and dogs? No. Plenty of samples have already been shown that tell us that many different kinds of animals will be recognized, including fish. Unlike some competitors, Nikon is not requiring you to change to "bird" mode for birds. Indeed, the "animal" mode actually works quite well with birds. I did notice that some small ears are sometimes mistaken briefly for eyes on some animals, but frankly, that's still far better than we've seen on any previous Nikon camera in terms of object detection, and it may turn out that it's better than competitor products, too.
    • Do I have to keep changing modes between human and animal? No. You pick All, Human, Animal, or Vehicle, which sets a priority. Note that you can turn all this automatic subject detection completely off. It appears that the automatic recognition works in Wide-area AF (L), Auto-area AF, and 3D-tracking AF.
    • Can Nikon bring the same focus performance to the Z6 II and Z7 II? It seems unlikely that they could duplicate the Z9 experience exactly. The Z9 has 12x the sensor readout and 5x the overall processing horsepower, so it seems unlikely that these models could be brought up to the same level. However, what Nikon learned in making the Z9 very well may have implications on what they can do with the older models when they're updated with an EXPEED7 chip. I believe the real issue, however, will be in the viewfinder update. It's pretty clear that the synchronized data channels in the Z9 are what allow for the focus indicator to be updated so efficiently. The architecture of the II models is different, and without stacked image sensors, the III versions will also probably be behind where the Z9 is. So, while focus performance itself might be able to be improved on the original II's and the upcoming III's, I'm doubtful that focus sensor indicator performance in the viewfinder can or will be.
    • Is AF-Area mode with AF-ON back? Yes, it is. The combo can be assigned to several buttons/controls. The Focus Mode button just to the side of the lens mount is back, too.
    • Is the 3D Tracking the same as the DSLR version? The Z9 certainly attempts to do the same thing the same way, but one critical change is in the Z9's ability to track across the entire frame (only the D500 comes close to that, with some caveats). 3D Tracking can also incorporate subject detection (human, animal, vehicles), as well as tracking, color, and other information.
    • Does AF-C confirm focus acquisition? Yes. Moreover, you can turn that on and off.
    • Does the Z9 have Focus Shift Shooting? Yes, the Z9 has Focus Shift Shooting.
    • Why can't I lock the Direction pad? Yes, the L lock lever is gone, but you can assign a button to lock and unlock camera controls now, including the Direction pad. You can also use Custom Setting #F4 to specifically lock aperture, shutter speed, or focus-point. This, of course, will result in questions to Nikon support about "why does my Direction pad not work?" ;~)
    • I'm seeing some focus near-misses in some of the sample images that are appearing. Is the focus really as good as Nikon says it is? This is always a tough one to evaluate from just published samples. In my actual photography with the Z9 I'm not seeing any real issues. It appears that many of the photographers with pre-launch cameras were using Auto for Subject Recognition for all subjects rather than using a specific category, too, which in certain circumstances can cause the camera to pick the wrong thing (e.g. basketball instead of player). I will note one thing, though. With fast aperture F-mount lenses on the FTZ, some of us have noticed that you get slightly better (early burst) results if you start a sequence with focus already (nearly) established. I'd go further and say that having established focus prior to pressing the shutter release benefits almost every camera I've used, including the Z9, if for no other reason than you're not asking the focus motor to make a long pull near instantly with perfect accuracy. 
  • Sensor/SoC (Expeed)
    • Who made the sensor? Sony Semiconductor (IMX609AQJ). The specifics we do know about the sensor, but its appearance and specs mean it is not the same image sensor as in the Sony A1. Nor is it the same chip as the D850/Z7 models use with bandwidth improvements, as it has a different total pixel count, and from what I can see, a different fab source.
    • What stacking technology was used? Wafer to wafer or chip to chip? Unknown. This will take someone X-raying the image sensor to get the necessary clues, and while that's been done, it's proprietary information available only for a price I can't afford.
    • Is the new sensor BSI, or only stacked? You cannot make a stacked sensor without the top portion being BSI. Once we flipped the image sensor, that put the electronics conveniently where they could be accessed by an adjacent chip. So the new sensor is both BSI (back side illuminated) and stacked (multiple chips bonded together). Yes, some of Nikon's short descriptions just say "stacked," but that's probably because all the engineering nerds at Nikon think that you probably should already know that stacked can't currently be done without BSI, and that stacked is the new technology they want to promote, not BSI, which they've had for awhile.
    • What's the exact readout speed? Nikon is generally saying "equivalent to a mechanical shutter." dpreview said ~3.7ms in their early testing, or equivalent to 1/270 second. That seems close to what I'm seeing on my camera.
    • Does the 52mp actual versus 45mp effective numbering mean that there's a crop? No. Nikon's "effective" specifications have always been for the light gathering area, which has ranged from 23.6 to 23.9 and 35.6 to 35.9mm. The Z9 is 23.9x35.9mm in the area where the 45mp count is made. Image sensors have long had "masked" pixels off the image area, and in some cases, active ones used for something else, such as extending focus to the edges. What's a little unusual here is that Nikon usually doesn't have a 6mp+ difference between the two numbers. So I am curious as to why that is. 
    • Is the new image sensor dual-gain? Yes. The gain bump occurs at ISO 500.
    • How intense is the AA filtering? The Z9 does not have a low-pass filter. Somehow the wording in some of the descriptions of the "over sensor layer" got called low-pass filter by a number of early articles.
    • How does the fluorine coating on the filter over the sensor impact cleaning methods? Early indications are that it makes it slightly easier to clean the image sensor.
    • What's the dynamic range profile of the new sensor? It's interesting. At ISO 64 the Z9 lags the Z7 II by a third of a stop or so, and the lag widens as you stop down until you hit ISO 500, at which point the Z9 suddenly is suddenly the same as the Z7 II and stays so up into the higher ISO values. The Z9 also doesn't tend to start going magenta at really high ISO values like the Z7 II does. You can see one reliable chart of what I just wrote at photonstophotos.net. The difference between the Z7 II and Z9 seems to be two things: (1) higher read-noise at the lower ISO values; and (2) a different choice in where and how much to adjust the on-chip gain values, both the low gain and the dual gain jump. Personally, things are close enough that I don't do anything different on my Z9 than I do on my Z7 II.
    • Is a Z9 as good as a D6 at high ISO? This is related to the last question. Many of the "answers" I see being posted on the Internet aren't accurate. Unfortunately, people use the term "high ISO" as a substitute for "noise" and then they don't understand noise itself properly. At the same output size—let's stick with the maximum a D6 can output at 300 dpi, which would be something like a 19" print—a Z9 and D6 would have the same captured exposure (light filtered by aperture filtered by shutter speed) because they capture the same physical area (full frame, or FX). One (Z9) just does it with more discrete sampling than the other (D6). As it currently stands in CMOS image sensors, we've pretty much hit a ceiling: they all record the randomness of photons pretty darned accurately, and that is the primary source of image noise. So at that same output size, a Z9 and D6 image are going to look very similar, no matter what slight changes have been made to each sensor to optimize for their purpose. It's only in the per-pixel noise that people would see a difference, but we don't view images at per-pixel sizes, nor do you view 20mp per pixel at the same magnification as 45mp per pixel. Up through about ISO 2400 the Z9 usable dynamic range exceeds the D6's, while above that ISO setting the D6's usable dynamic range will be slightly better (a half stop would be a tentative guess). That, however, isn't likely to dictate the use of the camera, as the difference at high ISO with same sized images is not enough to be relevant for most people. Many of those photographing sports and using high ISO values, for instance, aren't seeing their work output at 19" and 300 dpi. More like JPEGs that are 2mp to 4mp in use size on the Internet, actually. Unfortunately, we're going to see a continuation of this question basically forever, as people get deep down in the trenches and try to evaluate per pixel noise in ways that aren't always relevant to the way we output images. 
    • Do we have a sense of how frequency-based lighting will interact with the camera? The Z9 still has a Photo Flicker Reduction feature to try to get continuous frames exposed at the peak of the frequency lights. It works slightly better than the same feature on previous Nikon cameras, however, the Z9 does not have the "dial in the shutter speed" tweaks that the Canon R3 and Sony A1 do. So it is possible to get some frequency-based exposure differences that are visible, even with Photo Flicker Reduction set.
    • How do the blades of a helicopter look? Basically the same as with a DSLR. Again, the Z9's electronic shutter is as fast as the DSLR's mechanical shutter slits above their flash sync speed, for sure. 
    • How many cores in the new Expeed 7 chip? I don't know for sure, but I suspect at least four. Nikon is still using Socionext, and that means Arm cores, and they can made at down to 6nm process size these days. Socionext offers so many potential configurations you can add to now that it would be impossible to tell for sure what EXPEED has in it without doing some level of teardown or have source docs. Nikon says that they don't reveal details of EXPEED. I'll take a wild guess and 12nm process, 4 Cortex cores, with the full set of Socionext high speed interfaces, coupled with some additional IP (see answer about High Efficiency raw). 
    • Are the extra pixels (actual versus effective number) used to generate the EVF image? People keep hypothesizing that the "missing" ~5mp are being used for the EVF. But if that were the case, then there would be ~5mp missing photosites in the actual image data that would cause potential artifacts due to interpolation around them. My close observation of image data says that that's not happening, so the answer is no. Nikon's own illustration shows that the dual stream—EVF and image—starts in the second layer of the sensor, not the first, which would also argue against this unsupported theory that keeps spreading. Unfortunately, Nikon seems to not want to reveal any technical information about any of the technologies in the Z9, instead just trying to describe everything in simple, it's-like-magic ways until you drool. 
  • Storage
    • It appears that sustained throughput is more important on the CFe cards than burst speed for buffer performance. And how do we judge that? What exactly is the buffer performance for every card?  If you want the fastest possible buffer clearing, use one of the high sustained burst CFe cards (e.g. Angelbird Pro AV, Delkin Black, or ProGrade Cobalt). The important thing to note: the number stated on the card is generally maximum short burst performance, not sustained throughput performance. You want cards with higher throughput performance if you're a buffer abuser. That said, at 10, 12, and sometimes even 15 fps pretty much all of the CFe cards available have really large buffers, and nearly infinite ones with High Efficiency Raw.
    • Can I use XQD cards? Yes, however you'll find that the buffer performance is considerably compromised for burst photography. XQD is fine for landscape, and maybe event photography of some types, but for sports and wildlife work you'll want CFe cards, and cards with good sustained write performance.
    • What were Nikon's buffer statements made with? According to Nikon, ProGrade Cobalt 325GB cards.
    • And what were those statements? 1000 frames for High Efficiency Raw and any JPEG. 685 frames for High Efficiency Star raw. 79 frames for Lossless raw (all from the manual). It's clear from my tests that there's a wide range of possible answers to the buffer depth, so it's going to take a lot of testing to come up with a meaningful table of what to expect. Obviously, there are setting dependencies. Ricci's tests: Sony XQD 30, 54, 82; Lexar CFe 61, 180, no limit; Delkin Black 81, 1137, no limit. That's for Lossless, High Efficiency*, and High Efficiency Raw respectively. A Chinese site reports that Nikon may improve buffer capability with a firmware update.
    • What are the file sizes? 55MB Lossless raw, 33MB High Efficiency Raw Star, 22MB High Efficiency Raw, 24MB JPEG Large Fine.
    • What is sustained write speed, and how do I find it? All cards are labeled with the maximum speed at which they can operate in a single, brief burst. That's not how fast they can operate when a camera such as the Z9 starts throwing a steady stream of data at them for a long time (e.g. continuous photography at high frame rates). Unfortunately, not all card makers publish the speed at which they fall back to on sustained writes. I've examined as many CFe card makers for this data as I can, and the results are interesting. I found four makers who publish this data in a way you can easily find it: Angelbird, Delkin, ProGrade, and Wise. To give you an example of how important this specification is, ProGrade Gold cards have a sustained write speed of 400MBs, while ProGrade Cobalt cards increase that to 1400MBs. That's over a 3x difference, and it will come into play when the buffer fills. As I write this, three cards I can recommend for maximizing buffer performance: Angelbird AV Pro, Delkin Black, and ProGrade Cobalt. As you might expect, you'll pay more for faster cards. The slowest card I found for sustained writes was specifically the Wise 64GB card, at 140MBs (Wise's larger cards are faster). 
    • What are the Nikon supported cards? Nikon has posted a support article on supported Z9 cards. Short answer: Sony G, Lexar, ProGrade Cobalt, SanDisk Extreme Pro for CFexpress Type B; Sony G and M, Nikon for XQD. 
    • What does RAW (High Efficiency) mean? Is this another name for Compressed NEF, or is there a new compression scheme in play? The High Efficiency NEF compression has been confirmed as TICO-raw from intoPIX. intoPIX describes the processing as "mathematically lossless/near-lossless/visually lossless/lossy down to 1 bit per pixel." intoPIX sell files to manufacturers to create hardware encoders (IP-cores), which means that's probably a hardware function built into EXPEED7. In terms of performance in the Z9, I'd rate High Efficiency NEF files as better than the old 12-bit Compressed NEF files Nikon used to let you create, thus, we've taken a step forward, not backward. However, we do not have raw converters that are fully optimized for TICO-raw yet.
    • Is there 16-bit raw? No, nor is there 12-bit! All raw files are full resolution 14-bit files. 
    • Why 11mp at 120 fps? Where does the 11mp come from? This has to be a special read-from-sensor mode that is faster because it is skipping rows/pixels. We know that the focus system is getting information at 120 fps, so I'm guessing that Nikon is simply using the focus information stream to make the image. 
  • Video
    • Why no DCI? Why only UHD? Unknown. Nikon also hasn't indicated that they might support this in the future.
    • What's the Mbps info on the size/compression choices? ProRes 422HQ 4K/60P 1768Mbps. 8K H.265 10-bit 400Mbps, 8-bit 370Mbps. 4K 60P 10-bit H.265 340Mbps, 8-bit 300Mbps. 4K 30P 10-bit 190Mbps, 8-bit 150Mbps. 1080P ranges from 30Mpbs to 190Mbps based upon setting. (I heard one NikonUSA employee say that Nikon doesn't supply that information, but that's incorrect. It's been supplied with earlier cameras, though mostly hidden and not explicitly called out in the marketing materials.)
    • Is an exact 24P available? No. Nikon uses the 23.98 frequency standard common in the US for 24P. 
    • RAW recording? 12-bit internal 8K/60 raw came as a free firmware update in early 2022. 
    • What else came in the firmware update? Besides 12-bit RAW, 8K/60P, slow shutter speeds in Manual exposure mode, ISO sensitivity settings in sixth stop intervals (again in Manual exposure mode), consolidated video info display, waveform monitor display, red video record frame on displays during recording (display tally light), and switching of magnification rate during video recording. 
    • What about XLR microphones? Nikon lists Tascam as a collaborating accessory maker for this. The Z9 provides power to an external XLR microphone via the microphone jack. There is a new VIDEO RECORDING menu option called Mic Jack Plug-in Power, which can be turned on or off.
    • Can I pull still frames from the video captured? Yes. 8K video yields 33mp stills, 4K video yields 8mp stills.
    • Is the video HDMI 2.0 or HDMI 2.1 (which makes a difference to 8K streaming)? The HDMI standards are a mess right now. Even though I've talked with Nikon about the exact specs, they're unable to confirm all of the aspects of the Z9's port. It apparently is some form of HDMI 2.1, though. Again, the standards group itself is causing a mess at the moment, and is actually keeping vendors from specifying 2.0 or 2.1 or 2.1a (!).
  • Viewfinder/Display
    • What is the latency of the EVF? Nikon suggests it is zero ("live"), but there's a processing chain in there that has to sync up with the actual LCD's display speed (60Hz). Note also that the focus system is getting 120 fps info, so exactly where is the link between the focus and viewfinder placed? I'm still testing this, but most people aren't going to see a latency lag, I'll bet.
    • Is it 760 nits or 3000 nits? Why the discrepancy? Nikon's published spec is 3000cd/m2 (candela per meter squared), which is the same as nits. Nikon has said that the "normal" display brightness is not at maximum, so it's possible that we heard the default versus the maximum value. Note that Viewfinder Brightness now has HI 1 and HI 2 settings. Those are incredibly bright.
    • Does Starlight mode impact focus? Yes. Like the former Low-Light AF Custom Setting, contrast detect confirmation is added to the focus system when Starlight mode is set, so focus performance may be slower. However, focus can be obtained in lower light (Nikon's spec: -8.5EV with f/1.2 lens).
    • If the camera is collecting focus information at 120 fps, the image sensor sending 20 fps to the EXPEED 7 for raw, and the viewfinder is 60 fps, how does that all work? Wouldn't the 20 fps not line up with the viewfinder? This is why Nikon is emphasizing the word "live" in conjunction with the viewfinder. With 120 fps going to the EXPEED 7 for focus, 60 fps going to the viewfinder, and 20 fps going to the EXPEED for image processing, those all line up just fine and I can fully understand how that works (one frame of raw is created for every three frames you see, for example).
    • What's the tilting ability of the Rear LCD? 90° up and 43°down horizontally, plus 90° up and 23° down vertically. Combinations are possible (part horizontal tilt, part vertical tilt).
    • Is there a Rule of Thirds grid? Yes. The grid choices are 3x3 and 4x4, plus you can show 5:4, 1:1, and 16:9 frame lines.
    • Are channel highlights available? No.
    • Will there be a RAW histogram? No.
    • Nikon said there will be menu changes. What are they? The tabs, for one thing, have changed. The PLAYBACK menu has been demoted down the left side tabs from being first to now in the fourth position, leaving the three things you tend to set as the first (top) three tabs (PHOTO SHOOTING, VIDEO RECORDING, CUSTOM SETTINGS). (Most) connectivity settings have been split out from the SETUP menu to a new NETWORK menu. Toggle items don't require you to drop down to a sub-menu choice to toggle them (though there are still some two-choice items that require you to go to a sub-menu to select). I do note some non-standard abbreviations (including the one for standard ;~). Unfortunately, we also have the return of non-informative names (Mode1, Mode2, Type A, Type B, etc.). I hope that's just a remnant of trying to get the camera to market faster. While there's on-screen information to help you understand what each of these generic names really do, it would just be far better to have them all translated into meaningful names that can be remembered.
  • General
    • Where is the Z9 made? Thailand. Parts come from a lot of different countries. Nikon has consolidated their camera manufacturing in Thailand now, and frankly, the quality control there has been better than in Japan, in my opinion
    • Why no new flash units? We may still see some, but Nikon also announced alliances with Nissin and Profoto in the flash arena, so it may be that we see third-party flashes start to blossom. I wouldn't be surprised to see a new Nikon Speedlight and several Nissin models appear as the coordination gets fully underway.
    • Flash can only be used to 1/200? No. 1/200 is the flash sync speed (full power flash). The camera also supports Auto FP up to 1/8000. A number of people have wondered about the 1/200 number, which suggests 1ms, when the readout speed is 4ms. As a few have pointed out, it's likely that Nikon has simply opted to stick with their standard for the slowest CLS Speedlight they've produced, which outputs its full output in about 1ms (1/1050 second). 
    • What color is the AF Assist Lamp?  Green. 
    • What are our options for customizing the camera and saving/restoring those? Customization uses the Nikon pro camera Banks options, including Extended banks (which remember Exposure mode). You have the ability to recall certain exposure settings via a button, recall focus position via a button, and Nikon has added quite a few new customization options that can be chosen for the programmable functions. Unfortunately, you can only save one file with these settings, as before.
    • Which buttons are backlit? Answer: (1) the button cluster on the top left of the camera; (2) the protect (Fn4) and delete buttons; (3) the below-LCD voice, QUAL, WB, and vertical i button; (4) the horizontal i button, magnification buttons, MENU button, and playback button. The Top LCD also gets backlighting. Button illumination can be set to be always on.
    • VR seems to have changed and is confusing. Can you explain? We now have four things to think about: (1) VR Lock, which happens when the camera is turned off and being transported; (2) Sensor-VR, which is the same as before; (3) Synchro VR, which is a new combo of Sensor-VR coupled with Lens-VR simultaneously that works with the 70-200mm f/2.8 S, 105mm f/2.8 S, 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 S, 400mm f/2.8, and 800mm f/6.3; and (4) Electronic VR, which can be added for video but creates a 1.25x crop. Note also that there's a new "quieter" ability for the VR system, set via the Silent Mode menu item (SETUP menu).
    • Do I get VR with F-mount lenses on the FTZ adapter? Yes. If the lens has VR built-in, it retains the pitch/yaw capabilities and adds roll from the sensor-VR.
    • Is Nikon working with third party companies? Yes. It appears they've opened the kimono a bit. Listed as collaborating accessory makers in the System Chart are: DJI, Zhyun, Smallrig, Atomos, Blackmagic Design, Tascam, Deity, Rode, Sennheiser, Nissin, and Profoto! We're slowly learning what that means, but it appears that Nikon is using the approach they did with Atomos: allowing third-party accessory makers to directly communicate with the camera, in carefully controlled Nikon options. For example, the Atomos control protocol has now risen to a menu option (External Rec Cntrl (HDMI) in the VIDEO RECORDING menu, and XLR-mic power is available through the microphone jack (Microphone Jack Plug-in Power). Thus, it appears that Nikon is now cooperating with accessory makers for things Nikon themselves won't make. 
    • What is Starlight mode?  This expands AF detection to -8.5EV, and adds a contrast detect step. There's also a new Custom Setting (#D10 Warm Color Displays) that allows you to set parameters for the viewfinder and Rear LCD that are optimal for night vision. You can set the menus and overlays to red on black instead of white on black, and set the overall display to a warm red look to help preserve night vision.
    • What frame rates can be set? Single frame, Self Timer, 1-6, 8, and 10 in Continuous Low, 10, 12, 15, 20 in Continuous High, 30 and 120 in High Speed Frame Capture (these last two are JPEG only).
    • What's with the GPS? It's built in, and can detect US GPS, Russian Glosnass, and Japanese QZSS. The Z9 does not record compass data. But the camera can create GPS tracking logs with intervals from 15 seconds to 5 minutes. The camera's date and time can be synchronized with GPS satellite time. 
    • What comes with the camera? (it may vary some by region): camera body and body cap, EN-EL18d battery, MH-33 charger, EN-7P USB charging adapter, DK-33 rubber eyecup, HSMI/USB cable clip, AN-DC24 strap, UC-E24 USB cable, and BS-1 hot shoe cover.
    • Is there a camera/lens kit? Not that I've seen so far.
    • Does the Z9 have banks, user settings? If so, how does that work? Yes, Banks are back, as are Extended menu banks, plus the VIDEO RECORDING menu also now gets banks. PHOTO SHOOTING banks can be assigned to some buttons. You can also restore some more specific exposure-related settings via customized button, as well (Recall Shooting Functions). You can copy banks. Note that PHOTO SHOOTING and VIDEO RECORDING banks are the same: if you set to use A for one, you are also using A for the other.
    • Can you save settings to a card?  Yes. It's the same as current cameras: one settings file with a dorky Nikon-supplied name that won't make sense to you.
    • How does the camera show you that you're taking continuous frames when it's silent? The options are four: (1) add a slight faux blackout between images; (2) add a full border indicator as each frame is taken; (3) add a partial border indicator as each frame is taken; and (4) wait for it...sound in the headphones!
    • Did Nikon remove all the mechanical parts in a camera? Heavens no. The most sensitive and complex one left is the sensor-VR unit, and there's also a mechanical curtain to protect the image sensor when the lens is off. Then we have the complex Rear LCD tilting mechanism and the locking card slot door. The card slots themselves have a minor bit of mechanical mechanism to them. Certainly there are fewer mechanical aspects to the Z9 than there are in a D850 or D6, or even Z7 II, with only the sensor-VR mechanism being a high precision one. 
    • Did Nikon stock boom with the Z9 introduction? No, it did not. Mostly because Nikon is about to report mixed results for their last quarter. The Precision group pushed back some of their big stepper orders, apparently, which would have a substantial impact on earnings. However, once word gets out about the Z9 backorder situation and the analysts figure out that Precision really was just delaying sales, not losing them, I suspect we'll see Nikon's stock begin to rise a bit. Indeed, I'm curious to see what Nikon will say in the Q&A after their earnings presentation, because I'm pretty sure they'll get asked about the Z9 reception, and their answer will be highly positive.
    • Can you set FX image area with a DX lens mounted? No. Mounting a DX lens forces the DX crop.
    • Is it true that you can only set a Shutter Type of Auto or Electronic with the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 S lens? Yes. This is also true of at least two other lenses, the 18-50mm f/3.5-6.3 DX, and 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 DX. Of course, on a Z9 this isn't important, as it's always electronic shutter. 
  • FTZ II
    • Are there any other changes to the FTZ II from the original FTZ other than the physical (e.g. dropping the tripod mount because it interferes with the vertical grip hand position)? No. Well, okay, the new one is 4.5 ounces (125g) and the older one is 4.8 ounces (135g). Electronics are the same.
    • Can you use the original FTZ on the Z9? Yes. However the tripod foot interferes with your hand position when using the vertical grip.
    • Can you use the new FTZ II on the other Z-mount cameras? Yes. The NikonUSA specifications that were originally pointed to and which only listed the Z9 were incomplete.
  • Software
    • What exactly is the difference between the "free" NX MobileAir and the US$5/month version? The number of albums and images are are unlimited in the paid version, but the free version can only have one album and up to 999 images. Where exactly is this storage? It's on our mobile device, so you're paying for something you already have. 
    • What exactly does NX MobileAir do? You connect your mobile device to your camera via a USB 3 cable (needs to be an appropriate data cable, which may require a dongle on the iPhone). The NX MobileAir app on your mobile device can then let you automatically move images from camera to device. Once there, you can browse, select, add voice annotation, add IPTC information (with voice-to-text input), crop, straighten your images before moving them to a remote FTP server via the mobile device's cellular capabilities.
    • Why is only the Z9 supported for NXMobileAir on iOS, but the D5, D6, Z50, Z6 II, and Z7 II are also supported on Android? This has already changed as Nikon updates the software.
    • What is NX Tether? Did Camera Capture Pro go away? I'll start with the latter question: CCP is still around and was just updated; it performs some different and additional duties. NX Tether is a simpler, capture-focused software solution; it does not provide a live view from the camera, only the captured image taken by the camera. NX Tether is a free program that supports wired or wireless camera-to-computer transfer directly with the Z9, to go wireless with the other Z System cameras you need the WT-6 or WT-7 wireless transmitter.
    • Why no NX Tether for mobile devices? Unknown.
    • Does Adobe support the Z9 yet? ACR 14.0 added preliminary support for the Z9 raw files. As I write this, we still don't have what I'd call final and complete support, though. 
  • Battery/Power
    • Can the MH-33 charge all EN-EL18 type batteries? The MH-33 can charge the EN-EL18B, EN-EL18C, and EN-18D batteries only. It will not charge an EN-EL18 or EN-EL18A battery. Nor will it charge a third party battery.
    • How long does it take to charge an EN-EL18D? About four hours on the MH-33.
    • Can you charge the EN-EL18D in the older MH-26A charger? No. This would likely have to do with the additional power storage capacity, which the older charger might not recognize. 
    • What's the drop-off in shots/charge performance for EN-EL18, 18a, 18b, and 18c batteries? About what you'd expect from the difference in mAhs, about 15% less for the A, B, and C, about 30% less for the original EN-EL18.
    • What can be USB-C charged in camera? According to Nikon, the EN-18B, EN-EL18C, and EN-EL18D can all be charged in camera, but not the EN-EL18 or EN-EL18A. 
    • Can the camera be powered from USB? Yes. It doesn't matter which EN-EL18 type of battery is in the camera. Nikon supplies a USB Power Delivery capable wall wart (EH-7P) for this.
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