Nikon’s staunch devotion to DSLRs meant the company is now trying to play catch up to Sony, Canon, and even Fujifilm when it comes to the ever-growing mirrorless camera market. The Nikon Z9, revealed last year, wasn’t quite the runaway hit the company needed, but a potential new feature could change the market share tides: customizable shutter button sound effects.
Although most mirrorless cameras still include mechanical shutters for a variety of reasons (including that satisfying click sound when you press the shutter button) electronic shutters are proving more and more useful as they allow photographers to capture a series of images at impressive frame rates (up to 20 fps when shooting RAW with the Z9) ensuring the perfect moment isn’t missed. So with the $5,500 full-frame Z9, Nikon didn’t include a mechanical shutter at all, reducing the number and complexity of moving parts. But no mechanical shutter means there’s never the sound of a mechanical shutter snapping into action when a photo is snapped: something Nikon could be spinning into a pro instead of a con.
As spotted by Nikon Rumors, during a streamed presentation Nikon made at the CP+ 2022 Camera & Photo Imaging Show (which was held as an online-only event) the company demonstrated a novel feature included in beta firmware running on a Z9, which you can hear in action at around the 1 hour and 35-second mark of the presentation which is now on YouTube.
Instead of a traditional shutter sound, the camera meowed when the shutter was pressed, and when the shutter button was held down, the camera played a rapid succession of meow sounds as it captured image after image. A Nikon Rumors reader translated part of the presentation which revealed other optional sound effects included in the beta firmware such as the sound of a Nikon D750 DSLR, a Nikon F4 film SLR, and even sounds recorded by the presenter themselves.
Furthermore, for photographers looking for a bit of whimsy while they shoot, the beta firmware allowed the shutter sound to be randomly chosen from all the available options on the camera. What Nikon didn’t reveal was whether or not the shutter sound effects feature would be eventually included on the Z9's official firmware in a future update, or just limited to internal use within the company, but it’s definitely considering it. And while it’s a fun feature (who doesn’t love Easter Eggs in their gadgets?) there don’t seem to be any practical uses for the feature just yet. A cat’s meow might help a portrait photographer to get a toddler to smile, but at that point, the photo’s already been taken.