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Nikon Z9


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Hi Brian! I’ve appreciated your advice in the past, thank you for sharing your wisdom.

I didn’t find anything here in a search. So here’s my question: I’ve been wondering about the Z9 since it came out. What’s your take on it? I’ve been saving up for a full frame for quite a while, and that one’s been hyped up since before it’s been available. And it’s still backordered, but I’m patient. Anyway, I’m wanting to ditch the crop sensor, so I’d need a lens to start out with too. I’m not a pro.

I know if there are some drawbacks or issues, you’ll be sure to tell😉 Thanks!

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A camera question, in the Photo Gear & Equipment section!!!

I'm so happy right now. :D

Yeah, Z9 questions are non-existent here, as this is a pro-body, and people who buy those cameras are typically Pros. BUT! I will answer your question as to save you a bit of a headache.


"Erika "GASPS!" I thought the Z9 was good!! EVERYTHING that I've read on the internet says..."

 Of course, I'm having a little fun. But I have helped a lot of people over the years, both here and on FB that have been in your situation. They want to ditch the "Crop-Sensor Training Wheels" and switch to Full Frame (FX.) Unfortunately, there is more that they need to look at than just the fancy marketing that's out there trying to get you to buy. So here's the thing: It's not just the camera body and lens. Nope. It's things like CFExpress Type B Cards and a Reader. An Extra Battery. Plus all the other accessories. Then "S" lenses, and then the camera body. Can you feel the $$$ signs adding up? Which leads me to the next paragraph.

But wait! We aren't done. That fancy Nikon Z9 Camera Body. It's won all sorts of awards. "It's amazing!!" Everyone says so. It also has 45.7 MP, which is the same amount as my Nikon D850...and the camera body that I regret buying. Why? It's because of that D850 and it's 45.7MP. My Raw files are huge because I don't use any fancy compression for my photos. They are close to 100MB...each. So I had to not only buy a new fancy iMac to handle the files, which was around $3200 on top of the money that I spent on the D850, I also had to upgrade my computer to 64GB of RAM, so it wouldn't cry during post. Then, I soon found out that the existing lenses that I had, the 24-70, 70-200 VRII and 14-24, all but one of them sucked on my D850 and that stupid 45.7MP camera sensor. It needs the absolute best glass to produce the best results. So that was another $4000 or so in lenses on top of the D850 camera purchase.

See where I'm going with this?

It's not just the camera and lens, it's the whole eco-system behind the camera. That's what will cost you. The $4500 camera body, that's easy. It's all the other stuff. Especially your computer and storage that you have currently. I will warn you, if you have a computer that's a few years old with full HDs, you are going to be spending A LOT more than you think you will. Just like my stupid D850. That single purchase ended up costing me around $8000 (or more) when it was all-said-and-done. Honestly? I should have stayed with my Nikon D4s, but camera bodies in that class tend to be large, which attracts all sorts of attention. "Wow!!! That's a NICE camera, that must take awesome photos!!!" "I've never seen a camera that big, wow!!" I've heard it each and every-time that I've gone on a bus trip. Everyone thinks they have "A Nice Camera," then they see mine. 

Which reminds me. Professional Gear and Lenses ARE QUITE HEAVY. Yes, Mirrorless Bodies are a bit lighter, but going from 5lbs to 4lbs still is kinda heavy after walking around all day. Remember, you are shooting with Professional Gear, not a Nikon D3500 with plastic lenses. The Lenses are physically larger, and are made of metal/high quality plastics. During a Wedding, I will have my D4s, Flash-Rig, SB-5000 and 70-200 lens mounted, all the fancy stuff, which ends up me holding 7lbs+ of gear. (That works out to be around 3.18 Kilograms). Here is a quick photo that I just took of my Nikon 24-70 f/2.8E and a Large Yeti 30 oz Tumbler:


Hopefully this will give you an idea of just how large is large.

The 70-200 f/2.8 lens is even bigger:


(70-200 f/2.8E - Yeti 30 oz - 24-70 f/2.8E. Lens Hoods for each lens are on L/R)

That sucker is 3lbs all by itself and the reason I named my 70-200 "Bertha." Because she's large and powerful and gets shit done.

Now that's out of the way, I don't want to completely discourage you; the local camera stores don't exist as they once did and the local Best Buy (or equivalent) store usually doesn't have the "Pro-Grade" stuff on display. So you are forced to buy online, sight un-seen and I want you to make an informed purchase. Combine that with DX gear and lenses. The plastic stuff. I'd hate for you to blow $8393.88 and be surprised. (That's the price of a Nikon Z9, Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 S Lens, and Two 128GB Sandisk Express 128GB Type B Memory Cards as the Z9 has dual slots.) Remember, we haven't even purchased more cards, a card reader and at least one extra battery. That adds another $825-ish on top of the $8383.88. Let's round off prices, $8395 + $825 = $9220. Plus Tax and any shipping. Here in PA, our sales tax is 6%. Yours might be higher where you are. If I multiply $9220 by 6%, that comes out to $9773.20. So call it $9775. That is approximately $225 LESS THAN TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS, for a stupid camera!

One Lens, One Camera Body, One Extra Battery, Two Sets of Memory Cards & Card Reader. Just under $10,000 after tax. Let that sink in. :) 

So before I go rattling on-and-on, you say "I'm not a pro..." Which is fine. I also have no problem recommending on what you need if price is no object as I'm very good at spending other people's money. :D  So before I start linking things, I need to know what gear you have and what you typically shoot. Landscapes? People? Are you in Dark environments a lot? Do you shoot Sports and Action? List all your lenses and let me know of your computer specs. It's real easy to blow $12,000 - $15,000+ on this crap. Especially with the "Pro-Grade Stuff" that a Z9 will require.

Trust me.

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My next question is,

"Why a Nikon Z9?"

I get it...it's the Marketing and YouTube Videos and all the awards. All those articles and Blog posts. I'm sure there is "Last Camera Syndrome" at play as well. The, "I'm tired of buying cheap cameras. I want one that will last!!" or "This is going to be the last camera that I buy, so I'm going for a good one!!" If this sounds anyway remotely familiar, I'm glad you are talking to me first, before taking the plunge.

I also want to take the time and give you a major head's up: Your photos will suck when you switch over to FX.


"'Huh?!?!!' I thought FX was better..."

It is, but it takes getting used to. Takes about a month or so for you to adjust, and when you do, your DX body will feel / act like a toy.

Because a DX Sensor is physically smaller, it only uses the center-most portion of a lens, which is the "best" part of the lens. It's almost like always eating Filet Mignon and then eating the other parts of the steak, which have a little more gristle and fat. Same difference. You will be surprised on how quickly you will see the flaws in your lenses, especially in the corners when you switch to FX. Because the FX sensor is physically larger, it picks up this stuff that the DX body couldn't see. Combine that with the "Angle of View" change, also takes getting used to. You can't simply "f/2.8 all the things" like you could on a DX body, it doesn't work that way. f/2.8 on a DX body is closer to f/4 on a FX body.

Why? Because the FX Sensor is physically larger the DoF Changes. You no longer have to multiply the focal length by 1.5 to get the "Equivalent" Focal Length. This is why a 50mm 1.8 lens is used for portraits a lot on a DX body. For a FX Body, you need an 85mm f/1.8 lens to produce the same "Look." Since the Angle of View is different, it forces you to change your shooting position on where you stand, thereby changing the Depth of Field. Understand? Of course, if you don't have f/2.8 glass, you have no idea on what I'm talking about. Which could be a good thing, since there won't be any existing habits and ways of thinking.

Here is a comparison between a Nikon D700 (FX) and a Nikon D7000 (DX) from an old friend. A tripod was used and it was the same lens between each of the body. The camera did not move and it's a quick-and-dirty way of seeing what the "Angle of View" change between a FX/DX body that I'm talking about. 

OK...get me your list of gear and computer / storage specs. I need to see your "Whole Eco-System" so you "Buy it Right - Buy it Once." I hate wasting money on this shit...and trust me, I've wasted plenty. ;)

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I'm sure your eyes widened when you saw that $10,000 number. Welcome to FX. Welcome to shooting with the Nikon Z9.


But what about that F to Z Adapter? Can I use my existing lenses to cut down on the cost?

Short Answer: NO.

Long Answer: In order to take full advantage of the power of a Nikon Z9, it requires either high-quality professional grade lenses, like a AF-S 105mm f/1.4 with the Adapter, or better yet, Nikon "S" Lenses, which is the Mirrorless Body line of Lenses meant for those bodies. Speaking of which, I have a friend who shoots newborns, and she switched from her Nikon D4 to a Nikon Z6 as she was having hand issues with the weight of the D4. She kept using her existing 24-70 f/2.8 and used the FTZ adapter. Her photos were "fine," but seemed off. She pixel-peeped and pixel-peeped and was driving herself nuts because the photos just seemed "Off." (It was hard to describe.) Well, after talking her down from the proverbial ledge, I convinced her to give the Nikon 24-70 "S" lens a try and see what happens. I told her you could always return it, but I have a feeling your issues will go away once you switch, because that lens is meant for Mirrorless bodies and you will get the 5 Axis Vibration Reduction."

Sure enough, she got the lens and her problems went away. She had way more keepers and her photography even improved because she started to see issues in her technique. So after having this real-world experience, I've come to the conclusion that if you are going to switch to the Nikon Mirrorless Line, you are going to need the Mirrorless "S" Lenses to go with it. Period. (Especially if you have the DX only lenses.)

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Hi Brian!

Thanks for your lengthy replies! This is exactly the information I was hoping for. Glad to see you are happy about my question!

Anyway, you’ll be happy to hear, I followed your advice about 2 years ago and have a 27” iMac with 2TB HDD, 8GB Radeon pro graphics and currently 40GB of RAM (have only upgraded 2 slots) and some of your external HDD recommendations. So, yes, you’ve already unknowingly spent my money in the past 😆

Camera gear is from before I had found “ask Brian”. Nikon D5000, 18-55 kit lens, 55-300mm 4.5-5.6G and (don’t kill me) the 50mm 1.4G 😅

I find myself typically photographing landscapes, wildlife, macro (love mushrooms!) my kids primarily now, they are starting to get into sports, and I do love low light captures. 

I’ve got about 12k saved up, so I think I’m ready for a body plus one magnificent lens for starters. And hello! 👋 I didn’t realize you were in PA! I just moved here last month! 

I absolutely want to buy once, and buy right. I don’t plan to upgrade any gear in the future.

And I also read that lens comparison you linked to above before posting my question! So I’m aware of the differences I’ll need to get used to by switching from DX to FX.

Excited for your reply! 😁

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Well, the good news is, you don't have a lot of gear. The bad news is, none of your existing gear will be worth it to use on the Z9. Out of what you have, the 50mm 1.4G with a FTZ Adapter will technically work, but to be honest, I hate that stupid lens. LOL!! (Don't get me started. It was one of Nikon's worst lenses and has caused so many threads when I had Ask Brian on FB.)


So you are starting from scratch. Since you are also switching lens mounts, this also works in your favor; though your wallet won't tend to agree. :)

It seems that you are a "Zoom Person," which is what I am. Some folks are "Prime Lens People," which also works, though you change lenses more often. Each has their pluses and minuses.

Start with:

This is the basic kit I would purchase. You could swap out the 24-70 f/2.8 S for the Nikon 24-120 f/4 S Lens, which has a bit more reach at the cost of one stop. (It only goes as wide as f/4) The lens hood on the 24-70 is reversible which makes things easier to carry around and store in your bag. Between the two, while the 24-120mm covers a bit more focal range, you can't go wrong with a 24-70, as the optics are better on the 24-70. My 24-70 is my most used lens, even though my 70-200 is my favorite lens. I couldn't imagine shooting without one these days. 

You could hold off on the battery for now, as the Nikon Z9 Battery lasts all day. Of course, if you shoot a lot of video, it will drain faster. I still recommend getting an extra battery and the Little BL-7 Battery Door Cover. What that BL-7 does is it attaches to the extra battery and stays on. Then it's just a matter of turning the little key flap and swapping the batteries. Otherwise you will have to transfer the BL-7 door from your other battery. This slows things down and opens you to bad things happening. I'd rather spend the $40 for the extra door to go with the extra battery. ;) I can swap a battery on my D4s in under two seconds, or less, if I'm really in a hurry. You will see what I mean when you get your Z9, as you will have one battery and one battery door cover.   I hope you read this tonight, because Sandisk is running a Sale on the CF Express Type B, so even though you don't have the body, it's always a good thing to save some cash!! (Sale ends Aug 27th.)


My Recommendations

For Kid's Sports (Wildlife)

This is another staple in a Photographer's arsenal. It's my go-to zoom when I need more reach or want to be creative. Nothing beats a 70-200 f/2.8 lens. Nothing. It's the "Les Paul Guitar" of Lenses and the 24-70 f/2.8 is like a "Fender Stratocaster." You could get the f/4 version to save a little money and weight, but you can't go wrong with a 70-200 f/2.8 lens. Yes, these lenses are expensive but the Z Mount is Nikon's new mount and the old F-Mount is going away...well eventually. A good high-quality lens will last you 20 years and I've gone through multiple body upgrades but kept / used the same lens. This is where you spend your money, on the glass.

You can shoot Wildlife with this lens, though depending on what you shoot, it may not have enough reach to photograph something like a Bear. That said, you do have cropping options with those 45.7 MP. I have shot my son's baseball games with a 70-200 without any issues, and again...it's my go-to lens when I need some reach.

For Wildlife (Kid's Sports)

This is a relatively new lens, but I like the focal length. The downside is the lens is a variable aperture, meaning as you zoom out, the lens automatically stops down. Your current lenses do this, so you are used to it. That said, when you experience f/2.8 glass it's hard to go back to the variable aperture stuff. Meaning, you tell the camera what aperture you want and it doesn't argue. Want to be at f/3.2 at 70 mm? Go for it. Want to be at f/2.8 at 24mm? That's fine too. Whatever your aperture you choose, it stays there. That said, chances are you are going to be at f/8 - f/11 when shooting wildlife or even f/5.6. If you want a lens with a similar focal range and a constant aperture, you are looking at a lens that's over $13,000 all by itself. So...for us mortals we just need to deal with it. LOL!! In a nutshell, this lens is great for the typical wildlife shots and if you happen to go on an African Safari, there is always a Lens Rental Company to utilize. If I was buying a Z9 and looking for a "Wildlife Lens" to use here in the States, I'd pick this one.

Just like the 70-200, you could shoot Kid's Sports with this lens, as the 400mm will give you double the reach over the 200mm focal length. The downside? The variable aperture. You will not be photographing Football games in the Fall during the evening at f/5.6. Well, not unless you crank your ISO. You also won't be able to isolate your subject by blurring out the backgrounds at f/5.6. With Photography, there is always a trade-off. If you shoot Wildlife A LOT, chances are you will lean towards this lens. If you are shooting your Kid's Sports and have any sort of night games, having a 70-200 f/2.8 at your disposal is a God-Send.

For Macro Photography (Mushrooms and such)

Want to do Macro? This is the Lens to do it with. You learn to use this lens at f/8 and will end up using it mostly at f/11 because the closer you get to your subject, the more you will have to stop down since the DoF is so small. It's razor thin when you are 3-4 inches away from something like a Mushroom. This is why serious Macro Shooters not only have this lens, but also some sort of Lighting Rig to illuminate their subjects, since the Apertures are so small. If you look at any of Susan Stripling's famous Wedding Ring Photos, she uses f/11 A LOT.

Honorable Mention / Highly Recommend you purchase this to go with your 24-70 f/2.8 S

If you are into Landscapes or shoot Waterfalls, you NEED a Circular Polarizer. A Circular Polarizer makes your colors pop, and controls glare on thing like Windows and Water. Take a look at my Instagram Stream to see what I mean. If you'll notice, my skies in my Landscape shots are nice and blue and the Whites in the Clouds also pop. This is due to a Circular Polarizer Filter. This is the only effect that can not be duplicated in Photoshop; the reason is how a CP works, it only lets in Light Photons that are oriented in a certain way into the lens. Neither Photoshop or any other software can truly mimic this effect, because it happens before the light enters the lens. A CP Filter is a Landscape Photographer's Best Friend.

Well that's what I would recommend. Hopefully you will see this and pickup the Sandisk Cards while on sale. Since you are going to photograph sports, I really-really-really want you to read your Nikon Z9 Manual and really learn the Autofocus Modes and each of the different Autofocus systems. Especially on how they differ from one to the other and when to use a particular one. I just read an article from a Photographer who primarily does Landscapes, but also wanted to capture Birds in flight. On the first day of him borrowing a Z9, he didn't have many keepers until he watched some YouTube Videos and read some articles about the Z9 Focusing Modes and how to set the camera up for a particular shot. The second day he had A LOT more keepers and was quite happy.

Speaking of which, the Nikon Z9 is Nikon's Professional Grade Flagship Body. It is NOTHING like you are used to shooting with. Not just the raw power & build quality but things like the Menu Choices...there are so many choices. The DX bodies NEVER go near this stuff. You have no idea on what you are missing, so please-please-please RTFM (Read the F*cking Manual) when you get your Z9.




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Saw this tonight, got in on the sale! Thanks! Now I’m looking for your donate a bier button I thought I had seen somewhere. 🍺

I will definitely be reading through your recommendations a few more times. And yes on the polarizer! I have one for my D5000! 

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