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Testing the Nikon Z9 at High ISO Against the Z6 II and D850

I just did a ISO comparison with the Nikon Z9 compared to the Nikon Z6 II and Nikon D850. I’ve been using my old D850 a lot for astrophotography and have been very pleased with its ISO performance.

When I got my Nikon Z6 II about a year ago I found it to outperform my Nikon D850 regarding ISO. That was expected since it has a lower resolution (24.5MP vs 45.7MP). So now that I’ve got my 45.7MP Nikon Z9 I thought it would be interesting to see how it performs against both the Nikon D850 and the Nikon Z6 II.

I did 4 exposures with each camera, each exposure was 60 seconds long and was taken using ISO 1600, 3200, 6400, and 12800. All the exposures were done at room temperature with lossless RAW 14-bit format. All photos were exported through the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw with all noise reduction turned off. I increased the exposure compensation with a value of +3 on each photo to make the noise more visible.

Note: You can click each of the test photos below to see them in a larger size.

ISO 1600

Nikon D850 ISO 1600
Nikon Z6 II ISO 1600
Nikon Z9 ISO 1600

ISO 3200

Nikon D850 ISO 3200
Nikon Z6 II ISO 3200
Nikon Z9 ISO 3200

ISO 6400

Nikon D850 ISO 6400
Nikon Z6 II ISO 6400
Nikon Z9 ISO 6400

ISO 12800

Nikon D850 ISO 12800
Nikon Z6 II ISO 12800
Nikon Z9 ISO 12800

As a takeaway, we can see that the Nikon Z9 seems to perform really well, almost on par with the Nikon Z6 II and much better than the Nikon D850. I need to do further tests to see the performance out in the field, but this first quick test looks really promising.

About the author: Göran Strand is a professional photographer from Östersund, Sweden, with a passion for astronomy. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Strand’s work on his website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. This article was also published here.

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