Everything you need to know about the new Nikon Z 8

Everything you need to know about the new Nikon Z 8

The Nikon Z8 FX format is the mirrorless equivalent of the flagship Nikon D850 DSLR. It sits just below the Z9 in the Nikon hierarchy. But in fact, it soon becomes clear that they actually have a lot in common when it comes to basic features and functions.

In essence, the new Nikon Z 8 takes almost everything that was useful in the top Z 9 and puts it in a much smaller, lighter and, most importantly, much cheaper body. Nikon targets the Z8 at a wide range of photographers (including wedding, wildlife, landscape and portrait photographers) as well as content creators or vloggers. In the Nikon Z8 review, we will describe the main advantages of the new product and the differences from the Z9.

Nikon Z8 – Overview

Design

If inside the Nikon Z8 camera, in fact, repeats the Z9 , then on the outside it is very similar to the D850 mirrorless camera, although it is about 15% smaller in the body. It’s noticeably shorter than the Nikon Z6 /Z7 line of cameras and boasts a lot more direct access controls. This will no doubt be appreciated by those who are transitioning from DSLRs such as the D780 for example.

Like the Z9, there is no exposure mode dial, but there is a block of four buttons on the top left. They allow you to directly set the white balance, drive mode, bracketing and exposure mode. There is also a dedicated button for switching between AF-S, AF-C and manual focus modes. Previously, many of these controls required deepening into the menu system or took up a couple of customizable Fn buttons. As with the Z9, the buttons can light up when shooting at dusk.

Built on a magnesium alloy chassis, the Nikon Z8 is fully weatherproof to withstand extreme temperatures, humidity and dust. As with the Sigma fp , there is no mechanical shutter, and therefore no need to worry about the “shutter counter” as it wears out. But the camera is not completely devoid of moving parts.

Like the Z9, the built-in shutter automatically lowers to protect the sensor when changing lenses. This can be especially useful because mirrorless designs place the sensor much closer to the lens opening than DSLRs, which would otherwise increase the risk of accidental damage.

 

Image quality

The Nikon Z8 camera delivers uncompromising image quality. In most cases, you can get quite usable images at ISO 6400, especially after applying noise reduction software. The 45.7-megapixel sensor delivers ample image data and phenomenal detail so files can withstand noise reduction without losing too much fine detail.

At higher ISOs, and especially in dark conditions, pictures start to look somewhat flat and lacking in contrast. This is a fairly standard situation, easily remedied when editing 14-bit raw files. Files have a lot of possibilities for pulling shadows and restoring seemingly exploded skies.

Electronic shutters usually suffer from a “rolling shutter” effect when shooting fast moving subjects. But Nikon claims that the Z8 overcomes this problem by combining a multi-layer sensor, the latest Expeed 7 processor, which provides processing speed approximately 12 times faster than the Z7 II, and the use of CFexpress Type B memory cards.

 

Autofocus

The Nikon Z8 has inherited 493 AF points, 405 of which are automatic AF area detection points. There’s a long list of AF area modes, including 3D tracking autofocus. The system has a refresh rate of up to 120 fps and runs down to -9 EV in a dedicated Starlight mode.

The Z8’s autofocus system has more sensitive subject tracking than the Z9’s. In addition to tracking people and animals (switching between eyes, face and upper body depending on the distance to the object), it can also track a wide range of vehicles, including a brand new special flight mode not found in the Z9.

However, as smart as autofocus technology is, it still doesn’t quite keep up with Canon and Sony. Performance parity is observed when it comes to people, vehicles and inanimate objects. But autofocus lags a bit behind its competitors when it comes to detecting and tracking animals.

The Canon R5 recognizes any animal you point at, and the Sony A1 isn’t far behind. Overall, the Z8 does a great job, but it sometimes has a hard time finding the eyes or faces of animals like turtles, sea lions, and giraffes. The instructions say so directly. However, the biggest hurdle is finding the animals through the foliage. This is perhaps the most complex thing one could ask for an autofocus system.

 

Image stabilization

The Nikon Z 8’s excellent built-in 5-axis image stabilization provides up to 6 stops of compensation when combined with select Z-series lenses that also have their own built-in vibration reduction (VR). In-body stabilization is one of the key advantages of mirrorless cameras over DSLRs in general and therefore also one of the main reasons for choosing the Z8.

The Nikon Z 8 camera can also stabilize older non-VR lenses, including any F-mount lens attached to it using the Nikon FTZ Mount Adapter. The stabilization system will work with lenses from other manufacturers, you just need to enter the focal length into the camera’s menu system. In practice, the stabilization system allows you to hold the Z8 in your hands at critically slow shutter speeds and at the same time maintain crystal sharpness.

Burst shooting

The multi-level sensor inside the Nikon Z8 camera has built-in computing hardware, which provides incredible speed. It can capture 20 frames per second at full resolution in raw format until the buffer fills up. Then he slows down. If you shoot in JPEG you can get 30fps until the card is full. Turn down the resolution to 19 megapixels and you’re at 60 frames per second.

 

Ultimately, the Z8 is faster than the vast majority of people need. The 30 fps mode is perhaps the most practical, as many sports photographers still shoot in JPEG format for quick sharing and easy editing. The Nikon Z8 has one UHS-II SD card slot and one ultra-fast CFexpress Type B slot. Continuous shooting is much slower with an SD card.

Viewfinder and Monitor

Nikon equips the Z8 with the same 0.5-inch 3.69 million-dot OLED viewfinder with 3,000 nits of brightness and a 3.2-inch, 2,100,000-dot 4-way tilting touchscreen as the Z9. This is good news because while there are higher resolution viewfinders, the Z9’s viewfinder is very good. Its advantage lies in the absence of blackout, which makes it easy to follow a fast moving object.

As usual, you can set the viewfinder so that it does not show the effect of exposure settings, etc., and looks more like an optical viewfinder. However, the standard depth-of-field preview only works up to f/5.6, so if you want to see the impact of smaller apertures, it’s worth programming the button to close the aperture.

The screen tilt mechanism of the Z9 and Z8 is also excellent, as it allows you to view the image from different angles, whether you’re shooting in landscape or portrait, and it feels solid. In addition, the screen does not fold back towards the camera, which means that it does not interfere with any of the ports or connected cables. However, the downside of this is that it doesn’t have a selfie mode. That is, the Z8 will not be the best choice for vloggers if they are not ready to connect an external monitor.

Shooting video

The video shooting capabilities in the Nikon Zet 8 camera are also really impressive. It can shoot up to 8K at 30fps without an external recorder. More importantly, it has a number of advanced 4K shooting modes. It can record 4K UHD footage in H.265 4:2:2 10bit at up to 100fps without the need for an external recording device. These are amazing options.

It can also shoot 12-bit 8K RAW and 4K UHD video in ProRes 422 HQ 4:2:2 10-bit at up to 24 fps. Because the Z8 doesn’t have a built-in grip like the Z9, it’s much easier to place it in a cage or other cinema equipment. In addition, the Z8 has another USB-C port in addition to the data port, so it can charge while you work. This is very convenient for videographers or photographers who spend a lot of time without regular charging.

Battery

Battery life is one of the few key differences between the Z8 and Z9 cameras, aside from their size. The Z9 uses an EN-EL18d battery with a maximum of 700 CIPA-rated shots achievable on a full charge. The new Z8 uses the much smaller EN-EL15c battery that is also used in the Z7 II, Z6 II and Z5, delivering a maximum of 300 CIPA-rated shots on a full charge.

Connections

The Z8 is Nikon’s latest camera with built-in IEEE 802.11b/g/n/a/ac (5GHz and 2.4GHz) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0. There’s a regular USB-C charging port, as well as a new Super-Speed ​​USB communication port, making the Z8 the first Nikon camera to offer USB-C to Ethernet connectivity via an adapter (not included). There’s a full-size HDMI Type A port, headphone and microphone jacks, and a 10-pin remote/accessory.

Nikon Z8 Price
At the moment (June 2023), the price of the Nikon Z8 camera is $ 4,000 per body when ordering in foreign online stores. You can buy a Nikon Z8 with a 24-120mm f/4 lens for $4,900. The FTZ II adapter adds $150 to the purchase price. Sales will tentatively begin in July 2023.

Nikon Z8 Conclusion

With the same specs as the Z9, this is indeed a very capable camera. The compactness makes it more attractive to photographers and vloggers, because many people were put off by the Z9 due to its size and weight. Nikon also offers an attractive price for the Z8, and it compares well with cameras like the Sony A1, Sony A7RV and Canon EOS R5.

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