On 26th Feb 2022 courtesy of Going Digital I visited Willows Bird of Prey Centre, near Sevenoaks in Kent, to shoot images of a range of Hawks and Owls with my Z9 and a relatively short Nikon Z 70-200mm/2.8 lens (sometimes with a 1.4TC). I also carried a 400mm/2.8E, but this is not easy to handhold so was only used for the morning portrait session.
As can be seen from the photos below - the set up at Willows is arranged in 2 arenas - one deep in the woods the over much more open. Being February we were blessed with cold weather and clear skies and very few leaves on the trees.
The point of this shoot was to test and learn further Auto-Focus settings and as a result I was shooting wider open than would have been ideal for this type of subject.
Almost the whole day the camera was set on the Z9's fastest Constant High-speed frame rate of 20 frames per second and each image is a 45.7MP lossless raw 14-bit file (typically 50-60mb); a shutter speed designed to freeze in-focus subjects and I shoot manual with auto ISO - adjusting exposure compensation for each set up to reflect the relative brightness of the bird. Exposure metering was set to the Highlight Protection setting, which was a huge help when the Barn Owl was brought out.
On 29-March-2022 I attended an Owl Photography day at the British Wildlife Centre near Crawley - 5 species of owl were brought out for us to shoot -- Tawny, Long Eared, Little, and the very large Eagle Owl -- on this dark and largely overcast day.
My conclusion on the day is that YES the Z9 has some weak points (primarily when shooting near trees), but my hit rate was 5-10 times higher than I would have achieved with any of my previous cameras.