In October I said I wanted my next camera to essentially be a Z9 without the battery grip. Last week, the rumors indicated the Z8 would be exactly that. Nikon’s announcement today confirmed it: the Z8 is a Z9 without the grip. Same sensor, same fps, same autofocus, same customizability, almost the same buttons, even the same movie features.
I’ve had space in my budget for a year, so I preordered it within minutes of the announcement. According to Nikon it ships starting May 25th, but I have no idea how much stock they have and whether mine will ship that day. In the best case, I’ll have it before June. While I’d always love a few more RAW fps, a higher resolution viewfinder, or pixel shift images, the fact is that the Z8 specs are plenty for me. I’m super excited to get this camera and can’t wait for it to arrive. In the meantime, let’s go through the specs and what they mean to me.
|Feature||What it Means|
|46 MP BSI Stacked CMOS Sensor||The same resolution as the D850, Z7. The same exact sensor as the Z9. Stacked design means virtually no rolling shutter. Basically the same resolution as the Canon R5 and Sony A1. If I crop by 1.5x in post, I end up with a 19 MP file basically equivalent to my D500. I can take fast action shots, extend the reach of my lenses, and get high-resolution landscapes and macros all with a single camera.|
|No Mechanical Shutter||This is the same as the Z9 and continues Nikon’s “bold” design choices. I don’t completely love this because it ever-so-slightly lowers the image quality versus the Z7 and provides no alternative in situations where a tiny bit of rolling shutter might appear. Eliminating the shutter does remove a component that can wear, makes the camera entirely silent, and completely eliminates shutter shock or weird bokeh effects from first curtain shutter. Overall it’s still a plus.|
|20 fps continuous shooting in RAW||This is the same rate as the Z9. That matches the Canon R5 and the Sony A9. I can also take 30 fps or 60 fps full-resolution JPEGs as well as 120 fps 11 MP JPEGs, again like the Z9. Both my D500 and Sony a6100 max out at 10fps so this is very exciting. Unlike Canon, there is no 1/1000 second shutter minimum, and unlike Sony, there are no fps limits for non-Nikon lenses. I’ll have more moments to choose from than ever before.|
|79 frame / unlimited RAW buffer||Same as the Z9. At full 14-bit RAW, that’s about 4 seconds of continuous 20 fps shooting. I rarely hold the shutter for that long, but if I did that on my D500 I could do it for 10 seconds. No fear, switching to Nikon’s High Efficiency Star format provides nearly unlimited RAW shooting with a barely perceptible difference in image quality. Nice.|
|Z9 Autofocus & Performance||The exact same autofocus system as the Z9 – same coverage (90% of frame), same subject tracking (human eye / head / torso, animal eye / torso, vehicle, plane, auto), same 3D tracking, same customizable focus areas. It should also perform well with adapted lenses just like the Z9. This will provide an increase in keepers and will let me get shots that I never would have been able to get in the past.|
|3.6M Dot 120 fps EVF||Again, the same EVF as the Z9. This is where Nikon gets the most criticism, because it’s lower than the R5’s 5.6M dot EVF and the A1’s 9M dot EVF. It’s the same resolution as the EVF in the Z7, Z6, and Z5 but runs at a higher refresh rate and has no blackout due to its live pipeline. Though lower resolution than its rivals, the Z9’s EVF is well regarded for its smoothness, color rendition, clarity, and consistency. This should be the same. I survive fine with my a6100’s viewfinder, which is the worst of any current mirrorless camera, but I have certainly hit its limits in very bright and very dark light. This new EVF will be night and day.|
|4-Axis Screen||I think I’d have preferred a flippy screen like Nikon’s competitors, but I’m not offended by this. It’s basically the same design as my D750 and D500 but it also flips “down” when the camera is vertically oriented. I’ve spent a lot of time taking images with my D800 recently, which doesn’t have any sort of flipping screen, so I’ll welcome anything at this point.|
|Video||This was the biggest surprise to me – video is exactly the same as the Z9. Nothing is scaled back. Full 8K / 60p, 4K / 120p, oversampled 4K, ProRES RAW, 422 HQ, N-Log. I literally don’t know what half of that stuff is, but hey, I can grow into it if I start taking video.|
|Pro Body||It’s larger than a Z7, but still 15% smaller than a D850. It still retains the illuminated buttons from the D500 / D850 / Z9. It’s a little bit lighter than the D850, and it’s only 10 grams heavier than my D800, which is the heaviest camera I own. I should be able to handle that.|
|IBIS||Again, same as the Z9. 5.5 stop, 5-axis for any lens; 6 stops for lenses with Synchro VR. I have a bunch of prime lenses that aren’t stabilized, so this will be an awesome improvement across my entire collection.|
|Focus Stacking||This works just like the D850, Z7, and Z9. I’m looking forward to using this for macro work so that I hopefully don’t need to stack manually anymore. I’m hoping to drop 50 images into Photoshop and get a nicely-stacked image with a few minutes work instead of several hours of detailed editing.|
This is exactly the camera I’ve been waiting for! I can keep all of my Nikon gear, gain extra resolution, and get shots I never could achieve before. I can do my wildlife, action, landscape, and documentary photography all with one camera. I can buy into Nikon’s high-quality Z lens lineup as well, but I can do it gradually when lenses are on sale or used.
Speaking of lenses, I was not going to purchase any Z lenses originally, but then decided I could take the opportunity to purchase focal lengths I didn’t have. So I bought the Z 24 – 120… which I already have in F mount. Why? Because it’s sharper, lighter, and includes a function button and control dial (remember those things I said Nikons didn’t have). I considered the Z 24 – 70 f/4, but after reading reviews, I found that the 24 – 120 has very similar image quality with a much more usable range. I promise, my other Z lenses will be focal lengths or aperture ranges I don’t already have. Promise.
So after two years of waiting, it’s finally here. I’m super excited, but depending on where I ended up in the order queue, I could be in for a wait again. Historically, Nikon’s big releases have been very constrained. I can’t even say lately because the D800 took almost six months to ship all initial orders in 2012, the D850 did the same in 2017, and the Z9 took nearly a year in 2022. I’ve heard rumors that Nikon delayed the Z8 to ensure it had enough components to meet demand. We’ll see. Until then I’ll keep obsessively reading anything I can get my hands on about the Z8 and dreaming of mine.