Reikan FoCal: Nikon Z9 Review & Analysis


FoCal’s MultiTest takes a whole set of measurements across the aperture and focus range, letting you analyse various aspects of the camera and lens performance.

One particular aspect that has some relevant to mirrorless cameras and AF Fine-tune is focus shift across the aperture range, and picking an AF Fine-tune value that gives you the best results within a range of apertures.

AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

Taking a look first at an F-mount lens on the FTZ adapter, the chart below shows the line of best focus as you change the aperture. Along the bottom is the aperture value, and along the side is the AF Fine-tune value. The colour of the grid indicates quality, with red being poor and green being good. The diamonds show the AF Fine-tune required for the best quality at each aperture.

Notice how at no aperture does an AF Fine-tune of 0 (i.e. no calibration) give you the best quality. If you were to calibrate for the best wide-open performance, you’d use an AF Fine-tune value of around -3.

MultiTest Quality Grid: AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

MultiTest uses all the data to build an Aperture Sharpness profile which shows the difference between uncalibrated and calibrated performance (for best wide-open quality), as well as the quality if you were to manually focus. The Peak ARQS shows you the quality if you pick a calibration value that is designed to give the best average quality across the whole aperture range.

Notice how from f/2.2 through to around f/8 that there is a significant difference between the quality when calibrated (the green line), and when not calibrated (the red line).

MultiTest Aperture Sharpness: AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S

Looking at a decent quality Z-mount lens, it’s clear to see that calibration is less necessary for wide-open performance, but there is still some focus shift as the lens stops down. With a slower lens like this f/4 example, the focus shift will have less impact as the depth of field increases so much at the point the focus shift becomes larger (e.g. from f/9) that the quality loss will be negligible.

MultiTest Quality Grid: Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S

But if you mostly shoot wide open, there is a little bit of sharpness to be gained by calibrating. Again, see the difference in quality value between the red (uncalibrated) and green (calibrated) lines below – there’s a small quality improvement to be until around f/7.1.

MultiTest Aperture Sharpness: Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S

MultiTest Conclusions

Like with the Stabilisation Test, we captured a limited amount of data from the Z9, but the MultiTest results do clearly show a benefit to calibration – more so on the adapted lens in this example, but still squeezing out every little bit of performance even from native Z-mount lenses.

Thanks for reading!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this overview of the Nikon Z9, the photos and information from our play time at Durdle Door and the analysis results.

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

3 comments on “Reikan FoCal: Nikon Z9 Review & Analysis

  • Really enjoyed the hands-on review guys, VR differences between Nikon Z9 and Z7 are interesting, still using focal for calibrating my Z6 🙂

    Keep up the great work!

  • Thanks for the review — I FoCal’d 22 lenses on my first Z9 and found that there was some improvement by using AF-fine tune particularly on F-mount lenses with the FTZII adapter.
    To be honest the 7 Z-mount lenses I tested were almost spot on (within +/- 1).
    But my F-mount SuperTeles all “could” benefit from tiny adjustments of +2-+3.
    Whereas within one exception the shorter primes and zooms were help by -2 to -3. The AF-S 35mm/1.4G needed -5.
    I will test my 2nd Z9 and repeat the tests with my 2 FTZIIs and with Z-TC14, Z-TC20 and the F-mount three TC’s as well. This will identify if any of my collection are “poor” examples that need work — quite possibly the 35mm is such.
    The NPS rep I deal with said there is no need to AF-fine tune on a Z-body — well the facts are that if there are improvements available why not take them AND surely Nikon’s product development team had a reason for including AF-fine tune in the Z9.

    • Thanks Andy for your feedback and sharing your experience.

      I would tend to agree with your reasoning, why is it there is if does nothing? 🙂

      Also, that’s what we tend to see, native Z lenses typically need little or nothing in the way of adjustment (unless the lens or camera has issues) but adapted F mount on Z cameras will benefit in more cases.

      Best Regards,


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