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GEAR TESTS: Nikon Z9 Underwater Camera Review

Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo - Video Overview

Test Footage

Nikon Z9 White Balance Test Footage at the Digital Shootout
Jim Decker

Jim Decker

CEO: Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo


I've shot the Nikon Z9 on a couple of trips now and I just did a little bit of wide angle at the DSO this year. I think the Nikon Z9 is Nikon's signal that it is seriously in the mirrorless market segment with it's highest performing camera yet. Coming from a D850, I was a bit disappointed in the Z7 series cameras which were a step back in terms of autofocus and overall performance. However the Z9 takes a massive performance leap over the Z7 series, and also the beloved D850. The Z9 will  now outperform the D850 in tracking AF and shooting speed, making it a top notch, no compromises photo camera.

One of the big differences with this trip is I had the 2.0 firmware that allows for N-RAW video recording and a claimed improved white balance. Previously in the older firmware I could not get the camera to execute a custom white balance deeper than 40ish feet. With the new firmware I could only get it to balance at a max of 42 feet, however the colors looked pretty good. Gone was the magenta water that usually creeps in on Nikon around that depth. I took the camera down close to 70 feet with that same white balance, and while it obviously was not perfect, the color was doable and would be a minor edit in post.

That being said on the video side, there still is no visible meter in video mode. That combined with the white balance issues noted above, it makes it difficult to nail in camera color and exposure for an easy non-RAW workflow. While this is a greatly spec'd video camera for topside use, with the white balance and lack of meter, I wouldn't recommend this for a serious video shooter, rather this is definitely a solid photo workhorse for underwater work.