Answering the Z9 Questions

Last Update: 12/1/21 10 am — latest labeled New Also, Nikon has provided me a pre-production test unit on loan, which arrived this morning. So some questions and nuances I'll be able to elaborate on more fully soon. No, I'm not going to speak to image quality until the Z9 actually ships and I can run a thorough set of tests on a production model.

I'm using color/text to indicate new Q's and A's. In order to make it more obvious what the latest answers are, I've reset the items prior to 11/9 to appear normally, while newer items can be found using the following color order (last color is latest): New New New

While I praised the announcement campaign that Nikon ran for the Z9, the launch did not address a ton of smaller pieces of information that are both needed and useful to potential customers. In particular, technical details have been skimpy, but other needed data is missing, too.

So, in the interest of capturing and answering those question, I've created this page. When I created it, all we had (mostly) were questions. As I've learned answers, I've fill them in. Likewise, I've added new questions over time. So bookmark this page and return to it from time to time until my dedicated Z9 coverage based on actual use begins. (Disclosure: I've had to change one or two answers, and refine others as I've learned more. I've marked those changes with colors, too.)

Help add to this list by sending me any specific questions you have via email.

Without further ado:

  • 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've done that with the Z9—though they are almost certainly glossing over some minor things that will generate some negative commentary when cameras get into users' hands—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 for everyone. For me to say authoritatively who it is and isn't for will have to wait until I've used a Z9 for real photographic work. That's going to be awhile. So calm down and stop sending me "should I trade everything in and get a Z9" emails! If you haven't already ordered one, you wouldn't get yours very quickly, anyway, so you have some time to contemplate what you really need (and want) and wait for some thorough testing to reveal the pros and cons of the Z9 accurately. 
  • Availability
    • When can I see the camera? Nikon has a Touch & Try set of events going on around the US where you can learn about and see/handle a Z9. Each event has a Nikon ambassador involved, as well.
    • When will the camera ship? I've heard multiple dates. It's possible the ship date might be different for different regions, too. The date most often mentioned since the announcement is December 15th. Nikon tends to just say "before the end of the year." Obviously, supply and shipment chain issues could possibly impact the actual date. That said, Nikon is eager to ship the camera, so I'm pretty sure their goal at this point is "soonest possible."
    • When will I get my Z9? Well, I warned you about getting your order in early ;~). Even at the point when I posted my articles—which was literally within a couple of minutes of the start of Nikon's announcement presentation—two of the dealers I talk 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. I won't go into specific numbers, but every way I can monitor pre-orders says that the Z9 has racked up the most pre-order unit volume for a Nikon camera announcement so far. It's going to take at least two months before we can begin to judge when the pre-order lists might start to significantly clear. My advice: stay calm and let the situation settle out if you don't already have an order in. If you didn't immediately pre-order or aren't an NPS member, it's quite likely you'll have plenty of time to hear how the camera actually performs and how it gets reviewed before you can obtain your own Z9. It's unclear just how much ability Nikon has to shift manufacturing, but I'm pretty sure they'll 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. It's just that there's incredible 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 repeat of that. 
    • Will there be enough Z-mount lenses available? Good question. The answer today is yes. The answer tomorrow may be different. As I write this, NikonUSA just put most of the Z-mount lenses on sale. That coupled with the number of folk that are ordering the Z9 who are coming from DSLRs might suggest there will be a run on some lenses. But lens shortages should clear reasonably fast. Certainly faster than the Z9 shortage ;~).
  • Focus
    • Is the autofocus sensitive to vertical detail in addition to horizontal? (I had someone with hands on the camera try a test: it appears the Z9 is far better at locking on "red" information than the current Z's, which suggests that it isn't only the blue/green rows that are sensitive to detail, but that's not a complete answer.)
    • 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?
    • 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. 
    • Are there any lens limitations for 30 fps and 120 fps? Initial Nikon response is no, there aren't (this was told to me for Nikkor Z-mount lenses, but I believe it also applies to lenses on the FTZ). However, there's the issue of what happens with the aperture activation arm on lenses that use one, e.g. D/G lenses on the FTZ. Nikon's brochure says there are 94 compatible F-mount lenses that work with these modes.
    • What happened to Group settings? They're gone, however a firmware update will provide the ability to create new focus sensor sizing, ala what the D6 did with Group-AF. At least that's what I heard from one Nikon staff member.
    • 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, a number of the demonstration videos so far have shown that the "animal" mode actually works 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? New. 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. I believe the real disconnect, 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. So, while focus performance itself might be able to be improved on the II's, I'm doubtful that focus sensor indicator performance can 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 also incorporates subject detection (human, animal, vehicles), as well as tracking, color, and other information.
    • Does AF-C confirm focus acquisition? From the demonstrations I've seen, I believe it does. But I don't know if there are limitations on this.
    • 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. A lot of the early use of a camera is to set defaults and automatic settings and see what happens. And there's little doubt that what happens is really good, though perhaps not perfect. It appears that many of the photographers with pre-launch cameras were using Auto for Subject Recognition rather than using a specific category. I've also heard that Subject Recognition performs a bit differently in Auto-area AF versus 3D-Tracking AF. This is one of the reasons why I don't judge things like focus systems until I've used a camera for quite some time, in a lot of different situations, and trying the different options. It's why I spend plenty of pages in my books going through specifics of the autofocus system and how to optimize your use of it. There hasn't been a camera yet—including the Sony A1 so many think highly of—that I can't finesse more focus performance out of by paying very close attention to settings, and maximizing those settings for the situation. I'm expecting the Z9 to be the same. I will note one thing, though, and something I want to test more carefully when my Z9 arrives. With fast aperture F-mount lenses on the FTZ, some of us have noticed on previous Z cameras 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, 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? (Just to be clear, the specifics we do know about the sensor, and its appearance, 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?
    • 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 says ~3.7ms in provisional testing, or equivalent to 1/270 second.)
    • Does the 52mp actual versus 45mp effective numbering mean that there's a crop? I don't believe so. 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. 
    • 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. 
    • How does the fluorine coating on the filter over the sensor impact cleaning methods?
    • What's the dynamic range profile of the new sensor? Mark Cruz of NikonUSA avoided answering the question directly in the B&H presentation, saying only that the Z9 will have better image quality than a Z7 II. Finished cameras in tester hands will be needed to determine the reality of the DR situation. The first publication I know of that claims to have evaluated raw files (in China; not specified which type, but probably Lossless Compressed), reports that the dynamic range is similar to the Z7, perhaps with a little loss of highlight capability. (To those that think this seems strange, remember that the D850 and Z7 models have a non-linear highlight range at the extreme.) We've now seen other evaluations from Lossless Compressed, including some side-by-side Z7 II and Z9 ones. I think most people are going to have a very difficult time telling the two apart. And no, visual examination is not the same as a numerical DR value. 
    • 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. Given the above answer—that the Z7 II and Z9 are likely to be hard to tell apart in image quality, even while pixel peeping, I think it safe to predict the following: up through about ISO 2400 the Z9 usable dynamic range is going to exceed 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. 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. (Still waiting for verification of LED lights in frame, which can cause interactions. Nikon Japan says that if a DSLR doesn't band, the Z9 won't, but again, I'm not sure that's exactly true of in-frame LEDs.)
    • How do the blades of a helicopter look? Basically the same as with a DSLR. Again, the Z9's electronic shutter is said to be as fast as the DSLR's mechanical shutter slits above 1/250. 
    • How many cores in the new Expeed 7 chip? I don't know for sure, but I suspect at least four. If Nikon is still using Socionext, that means Arm cores, and they can made at down to 6nm process these days. Socionext offers so many potential configurations you can add to now that it would be impossible to tell for sure 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? It's impossible to say for sure why there's such a large discrepancy on the Z9 than there is on other Nikon camera's (mostly close comparison would be the Z7). 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. 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. Until someone either does a complete tear down and X-ray into the chips or Nikon tells us more, we're not likely to know the answer to this question.
  • 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? (Early evidence from several that have tried testing shows that the Sony Tough cards produce smaller buffers than the ProGrade Cobalt cards, for example, and I've had that verified by someone with a camera. I also hear from others that Anglebird and Delkin Black cards are up to the job. 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.)
    • Can I use XQD cards? Yes, however you'll find that the buffer is 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 ones with good sustained performance.
    • What's the actual buffer size? Tough to tell for sure, but back-calculating from all the tests I've seen so far, it could be as high as 2GB of RAM.
    • 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). But it's already clear from tests that have made it online that there's a wide range of possible answers to the buffer depth, so it's going to take 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. 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 shooting 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 XT, 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 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.
    • 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?
  • Video
    • Why no DCI? Why only UHD?
    • Why no Mbps info on the sizes/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 Nikon 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.)
    • 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 is coming as a free firmware update in early 2022. We're still waiting to see what options are available for external recorders.
    • What else is coming 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. When? Early 2022 is the closest to a date I've heard. I've also heard other features hinted will be added. How much? The update will be free.
    • What about XLR microphones? New Nikon lists Tascam as a collaborating accessory maker for this. It appears that Nikon provides power to an external XLR microphone via the microphone jack, as 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)? New HDMI output appears limited to 4K, if the menus are to believed, which would indicated HDMI 2.0.
  • 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?)
    • 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.
    • Does Starlight mode impact focus? Yes. Like the former Low-Light AF Custom Setting, contrast detect confirmation is added to the focus system, 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. While Nikon's graphics show two streams, technically, there's three streams that must be happening if focus information really is occurring at 120 fps. But these streams all have the same source, so the timing should line up just fine. 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?  New Yes. The grid choices are 3x3 and 4x4, plus you can show 5:4, 1:1, and 16:9 frames.
    • Are channel highlights available? 
    • Will there be a RAW histogram?
    • 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
    • New 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
    • New 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?  New White. 
    • What are our options for customizing the camera and saving/restoring those? New 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, recalling 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? (That's going to take using the camera a bit, but I believe that we now have four things to think about: (1) VR Lock, which happens when the camera is being transported; (2) Sensor-VR, which is the same as before (faster?); (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, and 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 S (does this change from 3 to 5 axis now, then?); 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.
    • 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! New 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?  New 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 displays 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.
    • 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.
    • What comes with the camera? Tentatively (it may vary 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? New 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). New You can copy banks.
    • Can you save settings to a card?  New 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 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.
    • Can you set FX image area with a DX lens mounted? No. Mounting a DX lens forces the DX crop.
    • New 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. 
  • 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)? New No. Well, okay, the new one is 4.5 ounces (125g) and the older one is 4.8 ounces (135g). 
    • 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 that only listed the Z9 were incomplete.
  • Software
    • What exactly is the difference between the "free" NX MobileAir and the US$5/month version? The footnoted answer says that the number of albums and images are are unlimited, but the free version can only have one album and up to 999 images. Where exactly is this storage? If it's on o ur mobile device, that's paying for things you already have. If it's on an external device (cloud), that isn't made clear by the current information.
    • 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). 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?
    • What is NX Tether? Did Camera Capture Pro go away? I'll start with the latter question: no 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? 
    • Does Adobe support the Z9 yet? ACR 14.0 added preliminary support for the Z9 Lossless Compressed raw files. High Efficiency raw files are not yet supported.
  • Battery/Power
    • Can the MH-33 charge all EN-EL18 type batteries? According to Nikon, no. It can charge the EN-EL18B, EN-EL18C, and EN-18D batteries only. It will not charge an EN-EL18 or EN-EL18A 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?
    • 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 for this.
  • Lenses
    • The 24-200mm has VR in the lens, the 24-120mm does not. So the question is: at what focal length is Nikon determining that lens-based VR is additionally useful, and why?
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