The Nikon Z9 Might Be Nikon’s Last Chance at Success

The Nikon Z9 is indeed real, but will it be enough for them to come back?

In 12 years of journalism, I really thought Nikon was going to be next. When I first started, Pentax was bought by Hoya. Then they were passed off to Ricoh. And who can forget the Irish goodbye that Samsung gave us! I never expected that from Nikon. But considering the last few years, I think the Nikon Z9 has to be the camera. You know, the one that they’re relying on to open the gates of heaven for them again. And indeed, Nikon is giving the world a bit of hope with a pre-announcement. But let’s dive into this. Believe it or not, we don’t think Nikon makes bad products: they’re just not innovative, and that makes me concerned for their future.

What We Know About the Nikon Z9

  • It’ll record 8K video the same way Canon and Sony do.
  • It’s the first full-frame mirrorless camera we see with an integrated vertical grip.
  • It will have a full-frame stacked CMOS sensor. Probably similar or exactly what Sony is doing with the Sony a1 or the Sony a9 II. 
  • Considering that it’s a Nikon, it’s going to be built like a tank. 

Nikon Has Fantastic Lenses

Back in 2019 BC (Before Covid), we published our Nikon Z mount lens guide. We’ve been working on updating it since. And we’ve currently got lots of their lenses on hand. We’ve arguably reviewed the most Z mount lenses of any publication out there. And trust me, they’re good. They’re all excellent. Their 24-70mm f2.8 is one of the best on the market. A constant comment in our reviews is that the lenses deserve better. And by that, we mean better cameras. In some ways, the Nikon Z5 was the first to give me a bit more hope. The autofocus improved on that one. But, after reading Reviews Editor Hillary Grigonis’ review of the Nikon Z6 II, I was still disappointed. The Nikon Z9 really has to be a winner. The lenses deserve it.

But at the same time, these lenses are mostly just what everyone else is doing. And that’s a huge problem.

Say It with Me: Nikon Needs to Innovate with the Nikon Z9

The Nikon Z9 needs to be an innovative camera that blows everything else out of the water. It can’t just shoot 30 frames a second at 50 megapixels. It can’t just have up to 10 stops of image stabilization with some of its lenses. The Z9 needs to be more. It needs to be incredibly unique and has to make people want it. And the game is even more dangerous for Nikon. The staff here have been wondering something important: why would anyone want to buy a camera that has the same sensor as a Sony? Sony does so many things very well. And in terms of image quality, you’ll get something similar. Instead, you need to really differentiate yourself. But can you really tell me that Nikon is going to outdo Sony? I want to see it! I want to see them do something different from Sony. I want to see them creating their own sensors again. I think the industry needs more variety in order for it to survive. If a whole bunch of cameras have the same sensor, then there’s little reason to buy one over the other. 

These are words I feel Nikon really needs to hear and acknowledge. For years, we haven’t seen anything different. I all but lost hope when the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II were almost the same cameras as their predecessors.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.