Call me crazy (my wife does), but I’ve decided to dance through the minefield of brand fanatics by publishing a video comparing the Nikon Z9 and the Sony a1 for wildlife photography. As someone who owns and is heavily invested in both systems, I get a LOT of questions from people asking which is “best” or at least what the differences are.
This video will compare ergonomics, controls, colors, ISO AF systems, and much more. I think you’ll find the comparisons surprising. Enjoy the video – and I’ll brace myself for the comments! 🙂
Nikon Z9 Setup Guide | Sony A1 Setup Guide
Video about cropping / ISO mentioned in the video above:
great vid …
Great video. I am a Sony user. I love my A1 and 600f4 and 200-600 combo. Nikon has done an amazing job to catch up to Sony and seem to have produced a very good camera. There is one aspect you never touched on that is innovation. Both Canon and Nikon have not really demonstrated a lot of innovation over the last few years. They took a long time to get into mirrorless and then needed to do a huge catchup. Sony keeps changing the game. They started with A9 then A1 but now with the new AI chip have… Read more »
Hi Steve, Congratulations and thank you for another extremely high quality and objective video. I have owned and extensively used the A1 for two years, exclusively with the 400GM and the 600GM for mostly bird photography. Have owned the Z9 since December 2021, initially using the Z100-400 but since acquiring the Z400f2.8 about 6 months ago, have worked just that lens. Similarly, I have the R5 and the R3 from the beginning but have just used the R3 with the EF600f4L3, the RF400f2.8L and the RF100-500L, again for bird photography. I agree with all your comments in the video and… Read more »
Thanks for the detailed comments and you experiences. It seems to mirror my own and what I have heard other sources say as well. However, I’m not sure what you mean by slight “move” with the long lenses – are you referring to the mount? Both my Z9 and a1 exhibit slight movement at the mount.
Yes, a slight movement in the mount which is a bit more with the A1.
My a1 seems to have just a tiny bit more play than the Z9, but it’s normal either way 🙂
Good to know and many thanks Steve.
Steve, great video. I have used both the Z9 and A1 extensively for wildlife photography and agree with everything you’ve mentioned, except : in my experience the A1 AF system is clearly superior to the Z9 for tracking the eyes of small, fast moving and/or erratically moving objects. For example, a swallow in flight. Or a Kestrel suddenly lurching off a perch coming towards you rapidly from a standstill. On the contrary, I have not noticed cases where the Z9’s AF outperforms the A1’s. So I would say the A1 has a clear AF advantage if small/fast/erratically moving birds, is… Read more »
Thanks for the comments and kind words 🙂 As I mentioned in the video, I haven’t had a chance to compare the a1 and Z9 under every condition and small BIFs fall into that category. I know in the past the a1 had a clear edge, it sounds like that’s still the case. I sort of neglected that recall shooting distance feature since the a1 lenses used for wildlife usually have the option built-in. You’re right though – it’s handy. One advantage the Nikon has is that you can actually program multiple buttons and set different distances instead of just… Read more »
Steve, your video is great and piqued my interest to watch until the end. I particularly enjoy the way you break each topic into a short informative segment. I shoot the Z9 and am very happy with the 3.01 firmware update. I also try to sharpen my skills watching your Z9 videos. Given either systems and unlimited funds any shooter would be happy with the current technology of either system as well as image results. Personally, I do not see any shortcomings with either the Z or the Sony. I like the ZS lenses from Nikon especially their telephoto glass.… Read more »
Thanks Dale. I hear you about the shooting! One irony about teaching wildlife photography is that you don’t always get to do as much of it as you’d like!
Interesting and informative video. Personally, I have a z9. I have tons of f-mount Nikon glass that I can use on the Z9 for things I don’t think I would buy a new Z-mount lens for like macro. Maybe I missed it in the video but one big way the Z9 beats the A1 is price. Here in Canada I got the Z9 with the 24-120 f4 S lens for the same price as an A1 body sans grip. Not a big deal for pros I am sure but I’m just a guy who likes to shoot birds along with… Read more »
Thanks for the comments 🙂 Yeah, I was so worried about getting the technical differences in there I totally forgot about the price!!
I should add that your books on the Z9 were a big help. There are so many ways to set it up it gets a bit overwhelming to someone who doesn’t do photography for a living and is using it every day.
Thanks so much!