Canon R3 Versus Nikon Z9: Hands-on First Impressions

Canon and Nikon, after a slow start, have both been consistently releasing excellent mirrorless bodies. Their respective newest cameras are more or less direct rivals, so how do they compare?

I have never been one for poring over spec sheets, hunting for every difference between cameras I'm interested in. For me, there are features I need, features that would be nice to have, and then everything else is a bonus. The new Canon EOS R3 and the Nikon Z9 are close in price ($5,999 for the former and $5,496 for the latter) and arguably close in intended use as a hybrid, full frame mirrorless body pitched at professionals. However, their spec sheets are different in almost every regard.

I spent some time going through both spec sheets line by line to compare, just to get a better understanding as I'm unlikely to buy either, and to my eye, Canon wins most battles. Nevertheless, it is far from a cut-and-dry decision on which you ought to buy, even if you're completely brand agnostic. In these situations, I would choose to shoot with both to get a feel for it, which is exactly what Manny Ortiz and Dan Watson do in this video.

If you have no lenses or affiliation to neither Canon nor Nikon, which would you go for out of the R3 and Z9?

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4 Comments
David Hutson's picture

I went with A1-> top level performance and customization.

charles hoffman's picture

nothing exceeds like excess

Robert McCaslan's picture

I considered both and went with the Z9. The Canon wins on weight and ergonomics (admittedly a subjective opinion), but Nikon wins on resolution, video, and telephoto lenses in its pipeline. And, yes, lenses need to be taken into consideration. Canon pioneered DO technology, but all they're offering is the ultra economy f/11 600 and 800 lenses, and the aging EF 400mm. Meanwhile, Nikon has a 400mm f/4.5 and 800 f/6.3 in their mirrorless hopper to go along with their F-mount 500mm pf. Nikon is also releasing a 400mm 2.8 with built-in TC. It's hard to quantify how valuable is having a built-in TC for sports and wildlife shooters. Thus, to be totally objective, I'd probably find the Canon slightly more enjoyable in use, but looking at the full package, Nikon was the winner for me as a sports and wildlife shooter. Lol, if I just shot portraits like Ortiz, I wouldn't consider this class of camera. Just buy a cheap add-on battery grip for your R5 or Z7II or A7IV and call it a day.

Mike Robinson's picture

The guy who didn't know how to set up the Z6 and was complaining about a setting he didn't know he could change? I don't think so,