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Nikon Z8 Review

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The Nikon Z 8 is probably the closest I’ll ever get to owning a new Nikon flagship camera. It often comes down to need, justification and price.


Need – do I really need what a new, current flagship camera has to offer? More times than no, I would not – the features would be overkill.


Justification – can I justify the expense or the feature set that the camera has to offer? More times than not, I could get the performance I needed in a price that made more sense in a non-flagship camera. For example, it makes sense that a Nikon D500 is the more appropriate tool for the job for me than the Nikon D5. What I really needed was decent low light performance with top notch auto focus performance. The D500 was that tool at the fraction of the cost.


Expense – does it make sense to spend flagship camera money? For me, that makes sense only if there are features that you need that can’t be had any other way. For example, if you need all day power without changing batteries, the D5 is the better option over the power hungry D500.


Why go through all of this?


For me, the Nikon Z8 is speced to basically be the flagship Z9 but without the built in grip. At $1500 USD less than the flagship, it can be a compelling case for purchase. Still, at $4000 USD new, does that make financial sense?


For me it does and let me go through that before we get into the normal gear review sections.


As mentioned previously, the Z8 is a smaller version of the Z9. It has the stacked 45mp fully electronic shutter. This is the new part and something that I will use sparingly as I have few use cases that will require the full resolution.


The other new parts worth mention are the high frame rate captures. My Nikon D500 will give me 10fps all day and night. The Z8 will give us up to 120fps! It also has “pre-capture” features that allow for saving images in the buffer prior to and after the shutter is fully depressed.


Where the big thing that makes sense to me is as follows. Based on the options of resolution settings and frame crop settings the Z8 is the resolution of the Z9, the Z6 and the D500!


If looked at from that perspective, for $4000, you have the equivalent of those cameras all in one!

Prices when new(body only):
Z9 = $5500
Z6 = $1600
D500 = $1600


Gives us a total: $8700


The quick press of a button or 2 will give you flagship performance of the newest Nikon Z, with the added bonus of a Z6 (medium jpg resolution at 25mp) and the D500 (19mp resolution in DX crop mode).


Now, one last thing that is not related to the cameras above, specifically speaking in regards to the Z6 and D500. For a while, I was trying to figure out if I should delve into the world of medium format. Looking into used Fujifilm medium format was really where I was probably heading if I did go that way.


50mp medium format used was finally at a very nice price. Get a body and a lens or two and you can have quite the nice starter kit. Did I really want to get into yet another mount with additional lenses?


Essentially, no and really for me, the high megapixel files are not something I would want all the time. Yes, the sensor is larger than a Nikon FX and that comes with its own look and feel. Having the Nikon 45mp sensor, I feel will get me close enough to satisfy my medium format “craving”, so to speak.


That is my justification for why the Z8 makes sense for me.

Now – enough of being in my brain and onto the gear review!



Nikkor Z 28-78mm f/2.8 (45mp)

Tech Stuff



The below specifications were sourced using Google Bard AI. Every attempt was made to verify the accuracy. Some items may not be 100% accurate as the Bard AI is still in BETA at the time of this writing. Also, not every specification is listed below. If you are looking for a more comprehensive listing, definitely check out www.nikonusa.com



45.7 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor
BSI (backside illumination)
Stacked design
No optical low-pass filter


ISO range: 64-25600 (expandable to 50-102400)


Image processor




493-point phase-detection autofocus system
493-point contrast-detection autofocus system
Subject detection for 9 subject types
Eye detection
Animal eye detection
vehicle detection and tracking



8K UHD video recording at up to 30fps
4K UHD video recording at up to 120fps
10-bit video recording
H.265 and HEVC encoding
ProRes RAW HQ recording



0.50-inch electronic viewfinder
3.69 million dots
100% coverage
0.8x magnification
Eye sensor



3.2-inch tilting touchscreen LCD
2.1 million dots
100% coverage






Up to 700 shots (CIPA)



144.5 x 110.5 x 76.5 mm

875 g (body only)



Nikkor Z 28-78mm f/2.8 (45mp)


Right off the bat, the camera body has a solid feel in the hand. It is bigger than the Z6 and smaller than the Z9. If you know me, you know I have a thing about cameras sizes and the point at which there is just too small a body and handling suffers. I also will admit that there is a point at which we can have a camera that is too big that you may not want to carry it with you.


Comparing the Z6 with the Smallrig bottom plate versus the Z8 body alone, the Z8 is still a few millimeters taller.


For some, the Z8 may be a little too much for one to want to bring along all the time. Others may find that they are willing to forgo the little bit of larger size that gives them the feature set that this advanced mirrorless camera offers.


Dials. This is very similar to Nikon DSLRs or the current lineup of Z mount lenses. Main and sub command dials fall naturally under index and thumb. The power switch is around the shutter release and is easy to find.


Shutter Release – The shutter release has a positive feel between activating the auto focus and actuating the shutter. It is pretty standard Nikon.


With that being said – it is weird at first not feeling the shutter vibration or hearing an actual shutter. For now, to appease my transitional state, I’ll be using the “fake” shutter sound on low to give me an audible indicator of when the camera is taking a picture. That is until I get used to the on screen queues like the pulsing box around the edges of the EVF.


Rear LCD – Bright and can articulate in many directions so that you can see it from almost any angle. There is not a way to get it to face forward for selfies or monitoring video from the lens side of the camera.


I honestly like the implementation here. I can get any angle I need for high, low angles and in portrait or landscape orientation.



Much like that on other Nikon Z cameras with top LCDs – see the Z9 and Z6/Z7 cameras. What you’ve been used to with the DSLR line as well. You get a lot of great exposure and shooting information.



The viewfinder is electronic and beautifully smooth and blackout free, most likely due to the shutterless design. There have been some that are critical about the EVF resolution. Much like high ISO performance or sensor megapixels, one must really put into perspective what is needed and what real world use results in and not paper specs alone.


I set the camera to use the high performance 120fps EVF mode.


Weather Sealing

Nikon states that this is weather sealed and probably very well sealed at that. Most likely not as good as the Z9 but probably top of the food chain for cameras in this price range.


Lens Line Up
You have access to the full lineup of Z mount lenses and with the FTZ/FTZ II hundreds of f-mount lenses. If you are going to use the full sensor resolution, some lenses will be a better than others to get the maximum image quality.



Close to 100% crop – Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S (45mp)
Also, the literal first shot I took with this camera.



Overall System Performance
You’ve got a smaller version of a Nikon flagship camera. So as one can expect, the camera is built to be very responsive and have controls in places that make sense and make the experience of photography and videography intuitive.


I’ve not experienced any issues with this camera when going through the menus or changing options. It is everything you can hope for, and it should for the price that it is asked new.

The Z8 is a BEAST in all the right ways.


Close to 100% crop – Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S (45mp)



Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 (25mp)



Single Point

Plentiful auto focus points and single point auto focus is fast and quick with all the lenses we tested. Please note that auto focus speed is going to depend greatly on the lenses you use.

Point to point, even from close focus to infinity was quick and precise.



My benchmark for testing the continuous focus on the Z8 will be against the D5 and D500 AF-C algorithms. I know these very well and understand how they work. Understanding that the AF methods on the Nikon Z is different than the DSLRs, step one is understanding the “equivalent” if there is one and then understanding the new modes so that you can use the appropriate one for the subject you are trying to capture.


The too long, didn’t read (TL;DR) version for those wondering how it stacks up against the D5/D500 – just as good if not better in most instances that I can tell from my testing scenarios.


Something missing from the Z6 and Zfc that I am glad Nikon has put into the newest mirrorless is the 3D tracking. I will say that I have had great success shooting mixed martial arts and boxing on the Z6 and Zfc using the AF-C and Auto mode. It does very well with finding the athletes and tracking them, but it did have occasion where it would miss focus or initially track the wrong thing. As mentioned in prior reviews of those older Z cameras, I’d put the accuracy rates in the not too shabby D700/D750 category.


The star of the show is the 3D auto paired with the face detect mode. It was “very sticky” on the intended subject, and that was right out of the box settings. The disc golf we covered recently did not have a lot of obstructions between the camera and subject, so will have to test other scenarios soon.



Nikkor Z 28-78mm f/2.8 (45mp)


Manual Focus

I will use manual focus on occasion, but usually only with adapted manual focus lenses or in situations where the AF may have some difficulty, like shooting through a fence, tall grasses or through tree branches/leaves.

You’ve got all the good stuff you’d ever need here including focus peaking, magnification to ensure that you get what you are wanting in focus.


My personal preference is to use yellow focus peaking.



Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 (45mp)

Other Focus Items Of Note

Not brand new to the Z system, but enhanced from the initial offerings are people and animal face/eye detection. You also have vehicle detection as well.


One feature that we were excited to test out was custom setting of auto focus points to be able to get the detection points exactly where you want them. I’ve never seen anything like this before from a camera maker, at least not to this degree.


The C1 and C2 custom autofocus modes allow you to create your own rectangular/square focus box shapes. Kind of specialist, but if you have a use case then this is a good addition. I used it a little bit when following some sports and it worked quite well with linear moving athletes.



Close to 100% crop – Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S (45mp)

Battery and Battery Life
As mentioned above, the camera uses the en-el15c batteries and is CIPA rated at 700 images per charge. Older en-el15 batteries can be used, but they will not have the same longevity. If you can, use the en-el15c for maximum efficiency.


None of my third party batteries would work with the Z8. The Z8 checks for the presence of internal chips in the batteries, if the chip is not found, it gives you a message and then turns off.


I’ll definitely be getting probably 2 more en-el15c batteries for extended shooting engagements.


As I always like to point out in mirrorless camera reviews, I would love to see the CIPA rating change. mirrorless cameras have a different power need and it can be disingenuous to go by a “number of shots” rating. I prefer to go by “time powered on”. Nikon’s Z6, for example, I’ve shot and gotten 1500-2000 shot for one battery on one occasion and then got only 200-300 in other situations. It really does depend on the amount of time you have the camera on, IBIS usage, shooting RAW or jpg, etc. So keep all these things in mind when looking at the battery life rating.



Close to 100% crop – Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S (45mp)

In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)
There was no f-mount cameras with in body stabilization (and there still isn’t one – gotta go Z mount if you want in body stabilization from Nikon), and only (at the time of this writing) the FX sensor bodies have IBIS in Z mount. Z8 IBIS is very good and can be used in conjunction with lens VR. Nikon rates the stabilization at 5.5 stops and I see nothing in my testing that would dispute that claim.



Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 (45mp)


For me, the size of a camera is important. There is a point of diminishing returns on size. You can only go so small before the controls are hard to reach and the camera is difficult to hold.


Feel in The Hand

I already mentioned that the camera feels solid. While it may not be made of the same material and to the same exacting degree as the

Z9, this is a super solid feeling camera. I cannot imagine anyone would be disappointed in it.


The grip is large and deep. I can wrap my hand around the grip and my finger tips do not touch the camera body.



Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 (45mp)

Image Quality
We are talking about a flagship Nikon Z camera, so you’ll be getting the best on offer as of the release date.


Most bench marking reviews have shown that there may be a slight hit in ISO and dynamic range in using the 45mp stacked sensor. In real life use, I doubt that anyone will notice the variance.


What can one say other than the image quality is stellar with the state of the art sensor and the high resolution.

Through out the review, we’ll be showing you samples at the full 45mp resolution as well as the reduced medium (25mp), just as I will be using it in my shooting needs.



Nikkor Z 40mm f/2 (DX Mode 19mp)


Nikkor Z 28-78mm f/2.8 (45mp)



Nikkor Z 28-78mm f/2.8 (45mp)

Other Features


Pre-Capture Mode

This is similar to features found on other cameras from other makers like Olympus and Fuji, just to name a few. You have the ability to save images stored in the imaging buffer prior to and after the shutter is fully pressed. Great for grabbing that bird takeoff or landing shot, grabbing the decisive moment or landing of a punch in a boxing match.


You cannot use pre-capture in any drive mode, you need to be using the C30/C120 fps drive modes. It was a good option for ensuring I got some keeper shots when shooting sports. Just realize that it can eat up a lot of card space.



Nikkor Z 40mm f/2 (DX mode 19mp)

Final Thoughts
This camera is one of those I never really thought that I would ever get, at least not anytime soon. Here we are, though and all I know is that this camera is everything I had hoped it would be and more.

Final Thought: Highly Recommended!



Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 (25mp)


Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 (25mp)


Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 (45mp)


Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 (25mp)


Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 (25mp)


Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/2.8 (45mp)


Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 (25mp)



Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 (25mp)



Nikkor Z 70-180mm f/1.8 + TC2.0x teleconverter

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See my content here:

http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | 500px Profile & Pics


I shoot Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Leica.  Probably not enough!  LOL

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I'm guessing you didn't run into the lug issues.  In any case it gives me D3/D700 vibes where you have nearly all the features of the flagship body, in a smaller package and only slightly less capable.  Given it's sales numbers, people are reacting positively to it.


Thanks for the review.



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No, I checked in the site and my copy was not affected by the lug issue.  

so far the only feature I can think of the Z9 has that the Z8 does not is the option to setup a focus trap and have the shutter tripped based on subject and motion.  

See my content here:

http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | 500px Profile & Pics


I shoot Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Leica.  Probably not enough!  LOL

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