As the Nikon Z9 gradually makes its way into the hands of more and more photographers, I’m sure that some of you are weighing whether to buy it or Nikon’s previous flagship mirrorless camera, the Z7 II. These two cameras are different in a lot of ways, but they do share some key specifications behind the scenes. Which one is right for you? Let’s look at their features side-by-side to help answer that question.
Nikon Z7 II vs Nikon Z9 size, to scale
Specifications of Nikon Z7 II and Z9Camera FeatureNikon Z7 IINikon Z9AnnouncedOctober 14, 2020October 28, 2021Sensor Resolution45.7 MP45.7 MPSensor TypeBSI CMOSStacked BSI CMOSSensor Size35.9 × 23.9mm35.9 × 23.9mmMountNikon ZNikon ZLow-Pass FilterNoNoSensor Pixel Size4.35µ4.35µImage Size8256 × 55048256 × 5504In-Body Image StabilizationYesYesImage ProcessorDual EXPEED 6EXPEED 7Continuous Shooting Speed9 FPS (14-Bit raw); 10 FPS (12-Bit raw)20 FPS (No limitations); 30 FPS (Full resolution JPEG); 120 FPS (11 Megapixel JPEG)Buffer49 (14-Bit lossless compressed raw); 77 (12-Bit lossless compressed raw); 200 (JPEG fine, large)79 (14-Bit lossless compressed raw); 685 (High efficiency star raw); 1000+ (High efficiency raw); 1000+ (JPEG fine, large)Native ISO SensitivityISO 64-25,60064-25,600Boosted Low ISO SensitivityISO 32ISO 32Boosted High ISO SensitivityISO 102,400ISO 102,400Dust Reduction / Sensor CleaningYesYesSensor Dust Cover at ShutdownNot built inYesShutter TypesMechanical, Electronic, EFCSElectronic OnlyViewfinder TypeElectronic Viewfinder / EVFElectronic Viewfinder / EVFViewfinder Coverage and Magnification100%, 0.8×100%, 0.8×Viewfinder Resolution3,690,000 dot3,690,000 dotBuilt-in FlashNoNoStorage Media1× CFe (Type B) with XQD compatibility; 1× SD UHS II2× CFe (Type B) with XQD CompatibilityFastest Shutter Speed1/8000 sec1/32,000 secLongest Shutter Speed900 sec900 secFlash Sync Speed (Non-High-Speed)1/2001/200Exposure Metering SensorTTL exposure metering using main image sensorTTL exposure metering using main image sensorAutofocus SystemHybrid PDAF; 493 AF pointsHybrid PDAF; 493 AF pointsAF Detection Range (f/2 Standardized)-3 to +17 EV (Down to -4 EV with low-light AF)-5 to +20.5 EV (Down to -7 EV with starlight view)Eye-Tracking AFYesYesSubject Detection AFYes, three subjects (people, dogs, cats)Yes, nine subjects (people, dogs, cats, birds, cars, motorcycles, trains, planes, bicycles)3D Tracking AF ModeNoYesFocus PeakingYesYesVideo Maximum Resolution4K up to 60 FPS, 1080p up to 120 FPS8K up to 30p (up to 60p with future firmware update)Video Compression4:2:2 (10-bit if over HDMI); MPEG-4/H.264Apple ProRes 4:2:2 HQ (10 bit internal), H.265/HEVC (8 bit /10 bit internal), H.264/AVC (8 bit)Log RecordingN-logN-logAudio Recording OptionsBuilt-in stereo microphone; External stereo microphone (optional)Built-in stereo microphone; External stereo microphone (optional)Headphone JackYesYesLCD Size and Type3.2″ Tilting Touchscreen3.2″ Dual-Axis Tilting TouchscreenLCD Resolution2,100,000 dots2,100,000 dotsBuilt-in GPSNoYesWi-FiYesYesBluetoothYesYesBattery Life, Stills360 shots (CIPA); 420 shots (rear LCD only); 440 shots (rear LCD only, energy saver on)700 shots (CIPA); 740 shots (rear LCD only); 770 shots (rear LCD only, energy saver on)Battery Life, Movies105 minutes (rear LCD); 100 minutes (EVF)170 minutes (rear LCD); 170 minutes (EVF)Button IlluminationNoYesWeather Sealed BodyYesYesUSB Version3.1 (Type C)3.1 (Type C)Weight (with Battery and Card)705 g (1.55 lbs)1340 g (2.95 lbs)Dimensions134 × 101 × 70 mm (5.3 × 4.0 × 2.8 inches)149 × 149.5 × 90.5 mm (5.9 × 5.9 × 3.6 inches)Price Upon Introduction$3000$5500Price Today$3000 (check price)$5500 (check price)
Which Camera Should You Get?
Anyone who’s heard of these two cameras probably knew what the results were going to be ahead of time: The Z9 is clearly more advanced than the Z7 II. This is especially true in how quickly the Z9 can push data through the imaging pipeline, with more than double the FPS in 14-bit raw, a much larger buffer, and 8K rather than 4K video.
The Nikon Z9 shoots 8K video compared to 4K on the Nikon Z7 II (a difference of about 33 versus 8 megapixels for each frame of the video)
Although the Nikon Z7 II is only ahead of the Z9 in size and weight (and some photographers may even disagree with that, preferring the Z9’s bigger grip and heft), that doesn’t make the Z7 II a bad camera. For one thing, it’s $2500 less expensive than the Z9 – money that can go directly to getting better lenses to maximize the quality of this 45-megapixel sensor. On top of that, even though the Z7 II doesn’t beat the Z9 in a lot of categories, it does tie it in some important areas, especially regarding the image sensor.
Specifically, the Z7 II and Z9 sensors both have a 45-megapixel resolution, a base ISO of 64, and a high ISO of 25,600. The biggest difference is that the Z9 has a stacked sensor, while the Z7 II does not. The purpose of a stacked sensor is to improve readout speed, which helps with the Z9’s fast frame rate. But in terms of image quality, it doesn’t offer an advantage, and the two cameras are comparable in that regard.
NIKON Z 7 II + NIKKOR Z 20mm f/1.8 S @ 20mm, ISO 64, 1.3 seconds, f/5.6
For this reason, I consider the Z7 II to be almost as good of a landscape photography camera as the Z9. The lighter weight and smaller size make it easier to bring into the backcountry, although it misses out on a couple nice features like the dual-axis tilting LCD (useful for vertical compositions from a tripod) and illuminated buttons. Factoring in the Z9’s better low-light autofocus system and longer battery life, I think it beats the Z7 II in landscape situations head-to-head, but only ignoring price. I’d certainly rather shoot the Z7 II with a killer landscape lens like the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S than the Z9 with cheaper glass if budget is an issue.
For faster-moving genres, the comparison isn’t as close. If you need a high frame rate, big buffer, or cutting-edge autofocus system, the Z9 is clearly ahead. It’s not as though the Z7 II is terrible in any of these areas, but the Z9 is on another level. To shoot 20 FPS bursts of 45-megapixel raw photos with a 1000+ image buffer and no other limitations is really remarkable (pending our tests that the high efficiency raw on the Z9 loses no image quality).
Nikon Z9 + 500 mm f/5.6, ISO 2500, 1/2000 second, f/5.6
Copyright Libor Vaicenbacher
Frankly, the Z9 is a clear enough upgrade over the Z7 II that unless you’re a dedicated weight-minimalizer, the decision will simply come down to price. If you’re willing to spend $5500 on a camera, get the Z9. It’s the better camera in almost every way and is priced fairly for what you get. But if $5500 is a bridge too far, get the Z7 II, which is also priced fairly for its features. (If $3000 for the Z7 II is also too far, the original Nikon Z6 and Z7 are still amazing cameras and are selling for criminally low prices on the used market.)
Keep in mind that this isn’t meant to be a full review of the Nikon Z9 but simply a roundup of its key specifications and how they compare to a known quantity like the Z7 II. Though unlikely, there could always be some issue with the Z9 like the Nikon D600 dust problem that we detected many years ago that revises down our rating of the Z9’s capabilities. Although some of our team members have received their Z9 already for testing, it will still be some time before we’ve used the Z9 long enough to give it a fair and comprehensive review. Until then, if you’re planning to buy the Z9 but haven’t gotten in the long line yet, you can join the digital queue here.
#NikonMirrorless #NikonZ #NikonZ7II #NikonZ9