This writeup is a comparison of the Nikon Z9 at high ISO as compared to other Nikon bodies only. I do not own any Canon or Sony equipment nor do I plan on it so you won’t find that comparison here however there will be a set of images from a Canon R5 that will be inserted as soon as covid protocols allow me to sync up with the owner of the camera and lens.
If you are looking for an analytical, pixel peeping, review type article, this isn’t really the article you’re looking for however I will provide all images in this article for download and your own comparative analysis.
My original plan for this article was to do it in actual “real world” conditions at a live music performance/venue with three bodies. Due to Covid and it’s variants, and pretty much a complete lack of enforcement of mask mandates at local venues, I decided risking my health wasn’t worth comparing cameras in that setting right now. The Z9 will get its workout at a live performance one day – this was not that day.
The bodies I am comparing high ISO across are the following:
Z9 45.7MP Stacked CMOS Sensor, FX, Released 12/24/2021 (Full Specs)
Z6 24.5MP Stacked CMOS Sensor, FX, Released 12/23/2018 (Full Specs)
D850 45.7MP CMOS Sensor, FX, Released 8/24/2017 (Full Specs)
D500 20.9MP CMOS Sensor, DX, Released 1/6/2016 (Full Specs)
All photos were taken using the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED lens, utilizing the FTZII adapter on the Z bodies.
The subject for this testing was a hand puppet of Blitz, the Seattle Seahawks mascot, against a black background with a mid grey base.
Camera settings are uniform across bodies, some settings to note:
ISO Settings: 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, 25600
Shutter Speed: Varied dependent on ISO settings on each body.
Color Space: Adobe RGB
Picture Control: Neutral
Focal length was mostly consistent across all bodies with the exception of the D500 as I wanted to pull it back some so the subject filled the frame approximately the same as the full frame cameras in play.
So let’s start with the initial images. These are uncropped, 300dpi jpeg exports of the original RAW files with no post processing applied from Adobe Lightroom Classic. I used the ProPhoto RGB color space, and exported at 100% quality.
For all comparisons, each set starts with the D500, then progresses from there. To view larger images, click on the gallery to expand the gallery.
The next set are cropped images of the above images, also cropped in Lightroom Classic, so we can do a closer comparison of the noise in each image from each body:
The next set of images has been processed through Topaz Denoise AI using the RAW profile with no slider adjustments in app. No other corrections were made and all exports were handled directly from Topaz.
The final set of images were processed in Topaz Denoise AI using the Severe noise profile with no slider adjustments in app. No other corrections were made and all exports were handled directly from Topaz.
Overall I think the Z9 will serve well, although any of the bodies used in comparison here would serve equally well, especially in the 1600-6400 range. Can we pull usable images from the higher ISO ranges? Absolutely, and there will plenty of opportunity to test this out once covid starts to die out.
That said, in the end the camera is a tool to do a job, and photography is art, and art is subjective.
As a note I will be updating this write up in the not to distant future with a set of images from a Canon R5 as noted at the beginning of the text.
For the pixel peepers among the twelve or thirteen people that may end up reading this, here is a download link for all of the images included in this write up. Feel free to download and peep at your leisure, however I do ask that if you download these files and post them online *anywhere* you do not modify them in any way *and* you acknowledge the source.
All images ©2022 TL Robinson Photography. All rights reserved.