Nikon announced this week that marketing data showed the Nikon Z9 was the “top-selling professional flagship full-frame mirrorless camera in the First Quarter of 2022.” It’s a pretty big deal for a much-storied brand that has, so far, shown some signs of struggling with its transition from DSLRs to mirrorless cameras.

Owning a niche

Related: Nikon plans to expand its Z-mount lens lineup to 50+ lenses by 2025

Nikon’s announcement comes with a few caveats. The data is from market research consultants, The NPD Group, and is based on US sales over the first three months of this year. It reports that the Z9 represented 57 percent of the units sold with an average selling price of over $5,000. That’s what Nikon is calling the “professional flagship” market segment, though we suspect some brands might argue with that.

The Z9 only started shipping at the end of December 2021, while the closest Canon equivalent, the significantly more sports-oriented EOS R3, was released a month earlier, and the closest Sony equivalent, the Alpha 1, was released in March 2021. So the data is likely a little skewed in Nikon’s favor. 

Similarly, we are still in the midst of a global chip shortage and supply chain crisis. It’s projected that it may take until November this year for Nikon to fulfill its 400,000 preorders. Canon has also struggled to meet demand for the EOS R3, so Nikon’s dominance is likely in part due to just being able to churn out more cameras. 

Still, it’s hard to deny that this is the kind of mirrorless camera release that Nikon needs.

A reprieve for professionals

The Z9’s success feels to us like a lot of diehard high-end Nikon shooters are finally making the jump to mirrorless—or ditching their Z7- or Z6-series cameras for the camera they really wanted in the first place. 400,000 preorders puts it on track to be one of the bestselling Nikon digital cameras.

Everyone at Nikon is obviously delighted with this success. “This flagship category is vital; this is where the top-of-the-line technology, performance, and reliability matter most, for the most demanding customers,” says Jay Vannatter, Executive Vice President of Nikon. “We are constantly receiving shipments of the Z9 from the factory, which are immediately out the door to customers. We are working as hard as we can to fulfill the demand, and it’s truly invigorating to hear the overwhelmingly enthusiastic and positive response from more and more customers every day who are receiving their cameras.”

And the reception to the Z9 has warranted this excitement. It’s won award after award. And it seems that it really has been the mirrorless camera that Nikon fans were calling for. 

How to get a Nikon Z9

If you haven’t already preordered a Nikon Z9, picking one up at retail is going to be a challenge. Adorama currently has it on backorder with new stock expected by July 10th. B&H Photo is taking orders, but just says it’s “Coming Soon”. 

Alternatively, talk to your local camera shop and see if they are getting a body or two in.