How The Nikon Z 9 Mirrorless Camera Came To Exist, By Those Who Created It

It’s safe to say that Nikon’s Z 9 is the company’s most advanced flagship camera yet. Here you can read some of the untold stories of the camera development process. Here’s the behind-the-scenes story of the Z 9 as told by those who made it.

The demand for mirrorless cameras in recent years has been undeniable and Nikon has, for the first time, revealed the process it went through, from planning to manufacturing, before release.

The team was convinced that at the time of production they should not be limited by conventional technologies. One of the experts revealed:

Building a base for the camera took a long time as we started from scratch, even building the base build from a completely new starting point. And the demands of the new image processing engines and flagship models are huge, so we had to make very difficult decisions from day one given the limited development timeframe.

Many moons ago, in the pre-pandemic era of 2018, Nikon’s Z 6 and Z 7 hit the market. Despite positive reviews, the company accepted that improvements could be made in function and performance. This was amid increased demand for the new mirrorless units by industry professionals. The feedback allowed many different departments within Nikon to come together in a common effort. The D6, often considered the “perfect” DSLR, became the model the team aimed to beat.

Citing a limited timeline as one of their biggest hurdles, the team was always keen to not lose sight of the camera’s development from the user’s perspective, with the goal of exceeding photographers’ expectations. professionals. This meant needing feedback throughout the process.

However, the production timeline of the Z 9 aligned with the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which inevitably threw a spanner in the works of the usual testing process. Once completed, the capabilities of new camera models are always tested before being released for public sale. However, all sporting events at which the Z 9 would normally have been tested have been canceled. This meant the team had to replicate something similar. A plan was then drawn up to rent sports facilities, such as gyms and ice rinks, to selected photographers to test the performance of the Z 9. University-level athletes were invited to act as live models, and feedback was provided at the early stages of development, so that necessary changes could be made.

With the arrival of the Z 9, a noticeable change had been made. Although considered by many to be one of Nikon’s greatest achievements, the mechanical shutter has been dispensed with. This marked the beginning of a new era and the priorities shifted to other features.

It was decided that the electronic viewfinder (EVF) design was imperative. The EVF is following the subject in real time and has forced several departments to come together in order to configure the best way to go about achieving this. The result was a hybrid of the two; a performance that enabled unrestricted display of OVFs, but also with everything an EVF brings to the table.

Just as we did with the D6, we placed great importance on how people see, feel and experience the camera. We recognize that there are important factors in design and function that cannot always be measured quantitatively.

The Z 9 also comes with an integrated vertical grip, as well as a four-axis tilting monitor which the developers say gives users more flexibility when framing shots.

One of the goals with the Z 9 was also to establish Nikon’s place in the serious video market. It caused a stir, with the ability to record for up to 125 minutes, offering 4K 120p that can be shot at full screen, 8K 30p, internal HLG and N-Log recording, and the world’s highest subject detection count. on video.

Simulations of high temperature environments have been created in order to evaluate the processor’s capabilities in hot weather. It was eventually decided that the Z 9 would feature an integrated vertical grip that provides sufficient heat dispersal performance for video recording over long periods of time without the use of a cooling fan. This was the result of the decision that the Z 9 should offer excellent drop resistance, ruling out the possibility of including a cooling fan that required an opening.

They also note that features that were considered during development but could not be adopted will be added via firmware updates. It looks like the evolution of the Z 9 will be continuous.

The team concludes:

In the end, this is only the beginning of the story. The huge amount of feedback we received encourages us to go even further. Our mindset is to never be satisfied with things as they are at any given time, and our vision is to continue to deliver products that consistently exceed user expectations.

What do you think of the Z9?

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