Continued Z8 Commentary

Let’s step through some of the questions that came up in my presentation, and in both the comments of that presentation as well as on various fora recently.

The MB-N12 “Fiasco”
I put that last word in parentheses because it overemphasizes points that people are trying to make. However, that, said, the primary gripe I see that’s justified is that the MB-N12 is essentially the MB-N11 with some small adjustments that result in something that just doesn’t quite look right. “You could have designed the Z8 bottom to the MB-N11 shape/sizing.” Or "you could have designed the MB-N12 to the Z8 better."

Yes, I believe Nikon is their own worst enemy here. We’ve had this endless stream of grips—and other accessories, for that matter—that really seems unnecessary. Given that the accessories are always lagging the camera intro and often in short supply, Nikon simply isn’t looking at the problem the correct way. I fail to see how their current design scenario for grips is benefiting Nikon. It certainly isn’t benefiting customers. 

That said, the other complaint about the MB-N12 is that it won’t hold an EN-EL18 battery. Personally, I’m over that scenario, where the grips need to support multiple battery types. That means I also have to travel with multiple chargers (though I suppose USB Power Delivery might solve that issue, but not really at Nikon’s max 15W cable negotiation). A single EN-EL18 is 27Wh, the EN-EL15 is 14Wh. In essence, two EN-EL15s, which is what the MB-N12 holds, is near the equivalent of one EN-EL18. There was no way that the MB-N12 was going to hold two EN-EL18’s, so basically you’re getting the same Wh ability with the way Nikon has designed the grip. 

I suppose a Z9 user with a Z8 as a backup might want EN-EL18 conformity. But that would only occur with a grip on the Z8, where the Z8 becomes bigger than the Z9, so why not just a second Z9?

As many of you know, I’m not a fan of the add-on grips in the first place, as they introduce a point of failure that is real in practice. Moreover, given the existence of the Z9, there’s a better solution if you’re always using a vertical grip, and it doesn’t have a point of failure in it. 

I’ve written before that Nikon is clueless these days about the “system” part of “systems camera.” Not that they’re alone in that. The problem is that we have too many engineers that aren’t photographers designing cameras and particularly accessories now, and they see the “problems” from a different viewpoint than a user. Still, I don’t see how any engineer would see the MB-N12 as a “solution” to a real problem, let alone having a different grip for every body. 

Want a grip? Buy a Z9. Don’t want a grip? Buy a Z8. There’s not much of a use case in between.

8K For How Long?

That’s a good question (what’s the time limit for recording 8K video in the camera?). Nikon’s own material says 90 minutes for 8K/30P internally, but there’s a footnote: using an external battery. 

Heat is the culprit. Running the camera at full blast will start to heat up any internal EN-EL15C battery, and at some point, that internal buildup will trigger a heat warning. Getting a solid handle on the numbers for that is going to be fraught with problems, because ambient temperature will be a strong variable, too. 

I’m not a “long take” kind of videographer. I’ll bet my average recorded clip length is less than a minute. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes position a camera that’s doing a “long capture” of the action, it’s just not something I rely on, and I’m not doing it in 8K in the first place. So I’m probably not the one to ask about maxing out the video record time on a camera like the Z8. Still, I’ll do some investigations that should help give you a better general idea of what to expect.

With a “cool” card, I seem to be able to max out the 90 minutes of recording in my office temp (71°F). But as I noted, this needs more data to be useful. Working on it.

Update: Ricci and Matt Irwin have documented tests online at this point. It’s a reasonable conclusion that at office temps (70°F, 20°C) and card with good thermal characteristics you’re going to fill the card using 8K/60P before the camera shuts down. Remember, Nikon is calling this a hybrid camera, not a video camera. By that you should assume that it’s not the primary camera recording immensely long takes at resolutions higher than those used currently in public distribution. I think the eventual conclusion from any top-end videographer won’t be a lot different than they are dealing with cameras like the RED ones: you have to pay attention to possible overheating if you’re going to run them constantly, particularly in hot outdoor environs. But for shorter, intermittent takes, I don’t currently see an issue. 

Where in the GPS Am I? 

There’s no GPS system built into the Z8 like there is on the Z9. That means no in-camera logging, but it also means that location accuracy is compromised, too. Using SnapBridge on its fastest setting means that you get location updates every 15 seconds or so. Even at my walking pace these days I can move a lot in that amount of time, meaning that the actual location recorded in the frame isn’t at all accurate.

Now, I’m not a big fan of GPS. I use the Z9 logging feature in Africa because it helps me understand my movement through the terrain as I look for animals. It helps me understand where they were and weren’t, and where I might go next. But deadly accurate position? No, I don’t need that, nor do I want to publish images that might reveal the exact position I took a photo at. 

However, you kept asking me questions about GPS, so here goes: connect a GPS to the 10-pin port (I used the low-cost Micnova, available on Amazon), and the SETUP menu suddenly has a Location data section. Here’s the proof:

So the answer you’re looking for is: yes, you can use an external GPS with the Z8. You can even set the camera clock from the external GPS satellite info. 

Also, make sure you read my FAQ about the Z8.

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