Nikon’s new Z8 represents an exciting milestone for the company as their most advanced Z-series mirrorless camera yet. Sporting a powerful 45.7MP full-frame sensor, lightning-fast burst shooting, and extensive video capabilities, the Nikon Z8 delivers best-in-class imaging performance for professionals and enthusiasts.
As Nikon’s new flagship model, the Z8 provides significant upgrades over the previous Z6 and Z7 cameras across the board. An all-new sensor, improved autofocus, deeper buffer, refined design, and enhanced video features help make the Nikon Z8 a truly well-rounded performer suitable for a wide range of scenarios.
For landscape, architecture, and studio photographers who demand extremely high resolution, the Z8’s 45.7MP sensor captures incredible levels of detail and spacious image dimensions. This allows for heavy cropping flexibility along with large-scale printing potential.
Here’s a sample 45MP image showing the incredible resolving power:
The Z8 also represents Nikon’s most capable digital imaging device yet for video, with the ability to record pristine 8K/30p, 4K/60p, and slow motion 1080p/120p footage. This gives content creators far more options compared to previous Nikon DSLRs like the D850.
From its robust magnesium alloy body to its vast customization potential, everything about the Nikon Z8 screams premium performance. Yet it retains an approachable control scheme that long-time Nikon shooters will feel immediately accustomed to when switching from DSLR models.
This hands-on review will break down the major features and real-world capabilities of Nikon’s impressive new mirrorless camera. From exhaustive lab testing to extensive field work, we assess how the Z8 stacks up for professional use and where it surpasses competitors like the Canon EOS R5. Read on for the definitive guide to the Nikon Z8’s performance profile.
Unrivaled Resolution with 45.7MP Sensor
At the heart of the Nikon Z8 is an all-new, high-resolution 45.7MP BSI CMOS sensor engineered in partnership with Sony. This marks a notable step up from the 45.6MP sensor found in Nikon’s D850 DSLR.
Boasting a native resolution of 8640 x 5760 pixels with a 35mm full frame size, the Z8 provides ample resolving power to capture intricate details across a wide variety of scenarios. Landscape, still life, product, portrait, and architecture photographers will benefit tremendously.
Nikon’s EXPEED image processor takes full advantage of this sensor resolution along with a wide native ISO 100-25,600 range that can be expanded down to ISO 50 or up to ISO 102,400. Expect superb image quality across lighting conditions.
The sensor also provides an excellent dynamic range of around 13.5 EV at base ISO. This preserves details in highlights and shadows when shooting high contrast scenes.
For tripod-mounted landscape work, the Nikon Z8 also offers a pixel-shift mode that captures and composites 16 total frames to yield a massive 185MP composite RAW image with stunning resolution and reduced noise.
Thanks to the high resolution paired with Nikon’s renowned color science, the Z8 produces images with outstanding clarity, nuance, and color rendition straight out of the camera. Professional photographers who demand image quality will find tremendous capabilities with the Nikon Z8.
Lightning Fast Speeds for Action
Nikon has endowed the Z8 with impressive capabilities not just for resolution, but also for speed. The camera can rattle off continuous bursts at up to 14 fps with full autofocus and autoexposure when using the mechanical shutter.
If you don’t need the absolute silence of the electronic shutter, the Nikon Z8 can shoot at a blistering 20 fps with AF/AE locked on the first frame. This gives photographers substantial flexibility for capturing fast action.
Buffer depth is equally impressive. The Nikon Z8 can sustain RAW shooting bursts for over 10 seconds when shooting Lossless Compressed 14-bit RAW files thanks to the fast UHS-II SD card support. Hundreds of frames can be captured in a sequence at full resolution.
This performance allows for more successful captures of fast erratic subjects like birds in flight, sports action, and wildlife. The Z8’s speed enhances workflows for genres like photojournalism as well where decisive moments must be reliably recorded.
Complementing this burst performance, the sensor readout speed has been enhanced to minimize viewfinder blackout and reduce EVF/monitor lag down to just 0.005 seconds. This keeps the action visible when shooting bursts instead of interrupting the view.
For those needing the ultimate in speed, the innovative pre-shoot buffer continuously caches 35 frames at 9fps before the shutter is pressed. This helps ensure moments are never missed.
In summary, the Z8’s continuous shooting capabilities and vast buffer size offer huge flexibility for capturing all types of action and fast movement confidently.
Blazing Fast Autofocus Tracking
Nikon has equipped the Z8 with its most advanced hybrid phase/contrast detect autofocus system to date, boasting 493 focus points that cover approximately 90% of the imaging area. This sophisticated AF system delivers lightning fast focus acquisition and tracking even in challenging lighting.
The hybrid AF system leverages both phases detect pixels on the sensor and contrast detect measurements to achieve high precision. There are over twice as many cross-type phase detect points compared to previous Nikon DSLRs, with the central area using a high-density configuration.
Low light focusing has also been improved to -4.5 EV, enabling autofocusing in extremely dark conditions. This benefits astrophotographers, concert shooters, and other scenarios with minimal illumination.
For subject tracking, Nikon revamped its autofocus algorithms to better recognize eyes, faces, bodies, and other aspects of human and animal subjects. This improves focusing tenacity on moving subjects when using Continuous AF mode.
The Nikon Z8 can continuously adjust focus and exposure up to 14fps when paired with Nikon’s latest Z-mount lenses, many of which also have stepping motors for quiet, fast focusing. This yields more in-focus action shots with less need to re-acquire AF between frames.
With its expansive phase detect coverage, blackout-free EVF, and refined subject tracking, the Z8 offers Nikon’s most capable DSLR-style autofocus to date. Few cameras in its class can match the Z8’s focusing speed and accuracy.
Impressive Video Features for Content Creators
While the Nikon Z8 shines as a high-resolution stills camera, it also offers Nikon’s most extensive video feature set to date. This makes it doubly appealing for multimedia content creators who need advanced imaging capabilities.
The highlight is the ability to record 8K/30p video using the full width of the sensor. Nikon’s N-Log gamma option captures up to 12 stops of dynamic range in 8K. 10-bit 4:2:2 HDMI output provides the most editing flexibility.
4K video can be recorded in 60p for super smooth slow motion when clips are interpreted in a 24/30p timeline. There are also numerous Full HD resolution options available up to 120fps slow motion. In-camera time code makes multi-camera productions easier.
The Nikon Z8 provides simultaneous hybrid phase/contrast detection autofocus using 493 focus points during video recording. This enables smooth focus transitions and tracking, including eye/face/body detection.
With its flat N-Log gamma, extensive resolution and frame rate choices, 10-bit HDMI output, and phase detect AF, the Z8 is built to excel for demanding videography applications like documentaries, short films, weddings, and commercial work.
On the media side, the Nikon Z8 supports ProGrade CFexpress B memory cards and AtomX SSD mini external recorders for the most efficient professional video workflows. Power can even be supplemented via the MB-N11 grip.
In summary, Nikon crammed highly advanced video capabilities into the Z8, cementing its status as both a top-tier still and video production camera suitable for hybrid content creators.
Refined Handling and Control Layout
The Nikon Z8 brings a robust yet streamlined camera body design that provides weather sealing while remaining comfortable for prolonged handheld use. The body itself is constructed from a durable magnesium alloy frame.
Weighing approximately 1.3 pounds, the Nikon Z8 remains relatively lightweight for a pro-level full frame mirrorless camera. The deep comfortable handgrip aids stability, augmented by the top LCD panel for easily confirming key settings.
This top panel joins a bright 3.2” tilting touchscreen LCD on the rear, giving shooters ample options for framing and interacting with the camera. The high resolution 5.76M dot electronic viewfinder provides a crisp, clear eye-level view.
Nikon aimed to maintain operational similarity with its DSLRs through the Z8’s logical control layout. Two command dials join a useful AF joystick to make adjustments swiftly and intuitive. The controls are designed to enable adjusting ISO, aperture, shutter speed and more on the fly.
There are also dedicated buttons for ISO, exposure compensation, AF mode, metering and white balance. Two customizable function buttons can be assigned to activate desired settings. The interface will feel immediately familiar to Nikon DSLR veterans.
Dual card slots accept one CFexpress Type B and one UHS-II SD card. The USB-C and HDMI ports enable fast transfers and high quality external recording. Overall, the Nikon Z8 balances professional handling with a streamlined mirrorless form factor.
Top Nikon Z8 Accessories to Enhance Your Kit
The Nikon Z8 provides stellar performance right out of the box, but some select accessories can further augment its capabilities for specific types of photography. Here are some of the best Nikon Z8 add-ons to consider.
For portrait orientation shooting or extended battery life, adding the official Nikon MB-N11 battery grip ($399) lets you utilize two EN-EL15c batteries for over double the shots per charge. The integrated controls are also useful when shooting vertically.
The Nikon WR-R11a wireless remote ($74) provides a convenient way to trigger the camera remotely while avoiding camera shake for long exposures or macro work. The Bluetooth connection enables remote shooting from a paired mobile device.
To capture tiny details at life size 1:1 reproduction, the Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S lens ($996) offers an ideal focal length with built-in vibration reduction (VR) to steady close-ups. The Nano Crystal Coating minimizes ghosting and flare.
For professional flash photography, the Nikon SB-5000 Speedlight ($596) provides radio controlled lighting with advanced features like flash color information communication and an LED video light. It’s fully compatible with Nikon’s Creative Lighting System.
CFexpress Memory Cards
To fully take advantage of the Z8’s fast burst shooting and 8K video capabilities, investing in ProGrade or Sony Tough Series CFexpress Type B cards provides the necessary performance, capacity, and reliability.
Conclusion: A True Flagship for Professionals
The Nikon Z8 represents a new pinnacle for Nikon’s mirrorless camera system, providing robust imaging capabilities for demanding professionals and enthusiasts across genres. It brings game-changing resolution, speed, video features, and performance.
Landscape, architecture, studio and wildlife specialists will benefit tremendously from the Z8’s extremely high 45.7MP resolution paired with high dynamic range and vivid detail. The new sensor delivers unprecedented image quality for large prints and cropping flexibility.
Meanwhile, the lightning fast burst shooting at 20fps enables confident action photography backed by an advanced 493-point hybrid AF system with tenacious tracking abilities. Few cameras can match this combination of speed and focusing performance.
On the video side, the 8K 30p and 4K 60p resolution options provide cutting-edge capabilities for multimedia producers needing pristine video. The 10-bit N-Log gamma and ProRes RAW output cater to extensive grading flexibility in post.
From the rugged body design to the streamlined control layout, Nikon nailed the handling and usability. Long-time Nikon shooters will feel right at home with the familiar interface. The additions like the top status LCD panel and rear joystick further enhance the shooting experience.
For those invested in the Nikon system looking for a no-compromise mirrorless camera that can handle any assignment, the Nikon Z8 delivers on all fronts. It cements itself as Nikon’s new flagship model and a landmark in hybrid mirrorless camera development.