Reader Questions About the Z8

The following are reader questions I’ve been getting about the Nikon Z8. Quite a few of the specific questions I’ve been getting have a simple answer: same as the Z9. Thus, I’ll try to keep this page mostly to questions where the Z8 is different than a Z9.

  • Availability
    • When will I get my Z8? NikonUSA says the camera ships beginning May 25, 2023. 
    • Will the Z8 be in short supply? As usual, NPS Priority Purchase will cut into the initial volume of cameras that are available, with Nikon Professional Services customers cutting in line. I don’t yet have enough information to judge how quickly in stock inventory will be widely available. However, Nikon UK indicated that 12,000 units were made in the first month of manufacturing (compared to 3500 for the Z9). It’s quite possible that the backorder wait on a Z8 will be very short if that level of production was continued. 
    • Is the Z8 available for NPS Priority Purchase yet? Yes, it is. Emails were sent by NikonUSA about fifteen minutes after launch. You can go to the site and log in to start the process.
    • Can I order a Z8 if I’m not NPS? Yes. Pretty much all dealers are now taking orders, including this site’s exclusive advertiser (B&H; use link at bottom of page).
  • Power
    • So what’s the real battery life? Nikon’s CIPA claims are 330 images on a charge at regular settings (EVF, no power saving), 370 images at extreme settings (LCD, power saving). But as I’ve noted in the past, what CIPA really gives you a reasonable understanding of is hours of use. That would be about 2.8 hours with the camera on and intermittently photographing with the EVF always active. Nikon’s “burst photography” number is 2280 images. I don’t yet have the test information that generated that number, and I need to do more work with the camera to get my own impression. Initial impression: it’ll do at least as well as a Z6/Z7. My first full photo session with the Z8 was 1325 photos with 35% battery charge left. I wasn’t taking a lot of bursts. 
    • Does the MB-N12 take EN-EL18 batteries? No, it takes hot-swappable EN-EL15 batteries.
    • Can I use a different USB power source? Yes, if it supports USB Power Delivery 15W. That generally means a source with at least 5a, not 2a. 
  • Storage
    • Does the Z8 have the same Full/Quick format like the Z9? Yes.
    • How much does an SD card slow down the camera? Lot’s to unpack here, but it’s always been the case that slowest card in the camera dictates storage performance. If you’re using NEF+JPEG with JPEG going to the second slot, the SD card will ultimately be the deciding factor in buffer performance. Too early for me to give you specific numbers, though. However, I provided a quick answer with one of my Z8 followup articles.
    • Is card overheating an issue? Several reports of stress testing producing overheating have appeared in early YouTube videos. It’s tough to fully assess what that may mean because these tend to be 8K/60P N-Raw recordings with unspecified cards and unspecified settings (like the Z9, the Z8 has a user-selectable temperature cutoff). For still photography, I’d say that there isn’t any issue, particularly if you avoid some of the cards known to get hot (cards with good heat tolerance are Delkin Black, ProGrade Cobalt). For video, we’ll need to do far more testing to be able to make useful suggestions, however I haven’t had issues with maxed out 4K video on the Z8 so far with my fast sustained write cards. But I’ve only done shorter tests at office temps. 
  • Images
    • What, no pixel shift? I suspect we’ll eventually get that as a firmware update, but…I’m not a big fan of pixel shift as it doesn’t work with any motion in the scene. Most current implementations are really awkward in terms of workflow. Moreover, I’ve been doing something similar with fast bursts and stacking in Photoshop already. 
    • Does it produce HDR image pairs faster? It appears that with the camera set at 20 fps, with the HDR overlay function the shutter speed of each image is the gating element (remember, the shutter speed will vary between the images). I’ll need to do more testing to see if you can really do an HDR overlay that substantially reduces subject motion.
    • Why is there a global SDR/HLG option (Tone mode) for stills? Nikon appears to have done something unusual. The Image quality options are RAW, RAW+JPEG/HEIF, and JPEG/HEIF. SDR is always applied to RAW and JPEG. If HLG is chosen, then HEIF is selected to be recorded instead of any JPEG. This is more confusing UX than it need be, but it does save Nikon from having a really long scrolling list of Image quality options.
    • What about HLG Raw? I’m still investigating, but it appears that Nikon is applying both a hybrid log gamma and the BT.2000 color space any time HLG is invoked, including for all still formats. The histogram certainly changes, but what happens in the raw files is something I’m still examining. Clearly JPEG and HEIF both are doing HLG, but it would unusual to see the raw data shift, as well.
    • Is HEIF a standard? Well, yes and no. I see a number of people claiming that it is a recognizable image format on lots of devices. But they’re mistaking image data format with image file wrapper. The Z8 creates a .HIF file. That’s a wrapper that has a HEIF image in it. As some discovered very early on when Apple made HEIF the default image format on the iPhone, not all software understands the wrapper the actual image data is in. We’ll get there, but it sure would have helped if the DCF and other standards totally tackled what should happen. 
    • Can you use HEIF in Pre-Release Capture? No. Once you’ve set HLG, the pre-release settings are grayed out.
    • So you no longer use a dial to set Release mode? Correct. Like the Z9, the Z8 has a Release mode button. On the Z9, that button doesn’t apply to everything unless you’ve set “use Release Mode button” on the dial ;~! Nikon apparently learned what all us Z9 users were doing: never using the dial.
    • What’s the bracketing? Up to 9 images for up to 1EV, only 5 images for 2EV or 3EV options, just like the Z9. This is more than enough bracketing (-15EV to +15EV!). 
  • Focus
    • Are there focus differences between a Z8 and Z9? Yes. The ones that are known are: (1) the Z8 can find a face as small as 3% of the frame, where the Z9 was some unspecified larger size; (2) the Z8 breaks out Airplanes as a separate possible subject detection choice (it’s still also included in Vehicles)
  • Video
    • Can the Z8 do 8K time-lapse? Yes, time-lapse is still up to 8K/30. 
    • Is the video really the same on the Z8 as the Z9? Yes, as far as I can tell, with only a couple of very small differences (e.g. stop lower base ISO for HLG work than Z9). Also, there’s a slightly shorter limit to maximum 8K recording time (probably to keep from having heat build-up). 
  • General
    • What does Nikon mean by weather-sealing? Nikon’s exact words are "excellent drip-resistance and dust-resistance," as well as operation down to 14°F (-10°C)
    • What’s the weight without battery? 28.9 ounces (820g).
    • What comes in the box? This is based upon the box I got: camera, EN-EL15c battery, MH-25a charger, HDMI/USB cable clip, Z8 strap, UC-E24 USB Cable (A to C), BS-1 hot shoe cover, DK-33 rubber eyecup, BF-N1 body cap, User’s manual (not Reference manual), QR code for intro video, and Nikon warranty card.
    • Can you use the original FTZ adapter? Absolutely. Still unknown how tight the situation is with the MB-N12 battery pack mounted, though. But even on a Z9 you can use the original FTZ, it’s just a matter of finger space while using the vertical grip.
    • Will Nikon update the Z8 firmware like they did the Z9 firmware? Difficult to say. Nikon has said that there is already one set of planned firmware updates that will unlock a couple of new capabilities. Because the Z8 and Z9 are using the same electronics, it’s unclear if Nikon will reserve some future things for the Z9, so I’ll just go with what Nikon has said: there’s at least one planned firmware update that will add a couple of small items.
    • Is the Z8 really the D850 upgrade? Nikon certainly wants you to think so, and mentioned that in the sub-head of their press release. Personally, I think most D850 users are going to be a hard sell in getting them to upgrade to a Z8. I’ve publicly stated that I believe those holdouts to be wrong, but one wants what one wants, and the Z8 is not exactly it for quite a few of the D850 crowd, apparently. As I noted in my presentation, other than price, the D500 user is one who would more likely embrace the Z8, as it’s essentially everything they’ve been asking for, and then some. 
    • Why is the Z8 so expensive [in my country]? I believe the range of pricing worldwide all works out to between US$4000 and US$5000 after currency conversion. Some countries have VAT (value added tax), where the US price is always quoted as prior to state sales tax (if any; Oregon residents don’t pay sales tax, for instance). Because of the way Nikon distributes products, each regional subsidiary also has different practices, including warranty policies. Overall, it’s difficult to say you’re comparing apples to apples when you just use list price at launch from different countries. 
    • Does the Z8 have the same sensor, shield, coating, etc. as a Z9? Yes. In terms of the technical aspects of the two cameras, they’re pretty much the same. The Z8 drops the GPS circuitry, replaces an Ethernet connector with a second USB one, and uses a different card slot configuration. But image sensor, EXPEED7, sensor filtration and coating, and physical sensor shield are all the same.
    • What Ethernet adapter do I need? Nikon has officially endorsed two Anker USB-to-Ethernet adapters: A83130A1, and A83130A2 PowerExpand adapters.
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