When you are looking through the viewfinder of a DSLR, you see through the lens with the help of a mirror and prism that flips the image to look correct.
How bright or dark it looks through the viewfinder depends on how fast an aperture you have with that lens. For example, if you have a 50mm ƒ/4 versus a 50mm ƒ/1.2, the ƒ/4 will look much darker than the ƒ/1.2.
Now when you are looking through the viewfinder of a mirrorless camera, you are looking through the Electronic View Finder. It is a small TV screen. In low-light situations, the viewfinder is brighter than the scene in person. This is the most significant benefit of the Nikon Z9 over my previous Nikon D5.
In the past, having a ƒ/2.8 lens made a visible difference in seeing through the camera compared to a slower ƒ/5.6 lens. However, with the EVF, you don’t see a difference as much anymore.
I have set the Z9 to a 120 Hz refresh rate in the EVF. This affects the apparent smoothness of the Z9’s viewfinder as you move around the camera, and 120 Hz does perform a bit better in this regard than 60 Hz. The lag and flickering on the Z9 are also highly minimal, making for a headache-free experience (at least for me, and I’m pretty prone to headaches from bad displays).
For me, the ISO quality of today’s latest sensors, like the one in the Z9, helps you shoot at ISO’s that you wouldn’t attempt in the past. So while there are still benefits to having a ƒ/2.8 over a ƒ/4 lens, the question is, can I get the job done with the ƒ/4?
When covering corporate events where the stages are often lighted for video, I have no problem shooting at ƒ/5.6. For example, I photographed Garth Brooks for an event in Nashville, and the settings on the camera were 1/200, ƒ/5.6 ISO 8000. The quality of the images was very acceptable.
Due to this, I now have what I am calling my Trinity set of lenses for event work. I have the 14-30mm ƒ/4, 24-120mm ƒ/4, and the 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 to use for my event work. Easy to carry and let me shoot whatever happens without the fear of not getting the photo.
The best thing about all these lenses is that they are sharper than my previous F-mount lenses. With the EVF’s Nikon Z9 120 Hz refresh rate, I am seeing better than I ever saw while shooting on my Nikon D5.