Nikon Z8 review: a supercharged D850 successor

Nikon Z8 review: a supercharged D850 successor

The Nikon Z8 is a mirrorless camera that is mid-sized and high-end, including a full-frame sensor and CPU similar to the Z9 sports camera, which has the greatest range. With a smaller form, the Nikon Z8 has most of the same features.

Key specifications of Nikon Z8

  • 45.7MP Stacked CMOS sensor
  • Up to 20fps with Raw, 30fps full-sized JPEG
  • Pre-burst capture in JPEG modes (up to 120fps for 11MP crops)
  • Subject recognition AF and 3D Tracking
  • Synchro VR combining in-body and in-lens stabilization, rated at up to 6EV
  • 8K/60p video in N-Raw, 4.1K in ProRes Raw
  • 8K/30p or up to 4K/60p from 8K
  • Choice of ProRes 422 HQ, H265, H.264
  • N-Log or HLG capture
  • 3.68M dot EVF with dedicated low-lag sensor feed
  • 2.1M dot screen on two-way hinge
  • One CFexpress Type B, One UHS II SD slot
  • Dual USB-C ports

The Nikon Z8 is available now with a recommended price of $3999.

What’s new in Nikon Z8

In almost every respect, the Nikon Z8 is a match for the Z9, with essentially all the larger camera’s features and capabilities duplicated in a smaller body.

The 45.7MP Stacked CMOS sensor at the center of it all includes parallel readout channels, one for photos or video and another to deliver the viewfinder feed with the least amount of lag.

Accordingly, it can shoot at 20 frames per second in Raw and 30 frames per second in full-frame, 60 frames per second in APS-C, and 120 frames per second in 11MP JPEG. In addition, if you want to shoot 10-bit HEIF files in addition to Raw, the Nikon Z8 may also be used to create HDR photographs utilizing the HLG curve.


Additionally, the Nikon Z8 has a pre-burst feature that allows it to begin taking pictures with the shutter halfway pressed and capture as much as one second of pictures when the shutter is fully pressed.

The JPEG options for this are 30, 60, and 120 frames per second.

The Z8 can record over 1000 JPEGs or HE* compressed Raws at 20 frames per second, according to reports, since it has the same buffer as the Z9. It is possible to record 685 of the less compressed HE Raws or 79 of the losslessly compressed Raws files in one shot.

Similar to the Z9, the Z8 lacks a mechanical shutter and offers a quick readout of about 1/280 seconds. To stop dust from getting in when switching lenses, it does include a shutter shield mechanism that you can set to close when the camera is turned off.


The Z8 can record video in 8K/60p in the N-Raw format or in ProRes 422 HQ, H.265 or H.264 at 30 or 60 frames per second. It is possible to shoot 4K video at up to 120 frames per second (subsampled) or at up to 60 frames per second (oversampled) using 8K capture.

Resolution options Bit depth Options
  • 8K/60p
  • 4.1K/120p (sub-sampled)
  • 5.4K/60p (APS-C)
  • 4K/120p (2.3x crop)
12-bit SDR
  • 4.1K/60p (sub-sampled)
  • 5.4K/30p (APS-C)
12-bit SDR
ProRes 422 HQ
  • 4K/60p
  • 1080/120p
10-bit SDR
  • 8K/30p
  • 4K/120p (sub-sampled)
  • 4K/60p (from 8K)
  • 1080/120p
10-bit or 8-bit SDR
  • 1080/60p
8-bit SDR 4:2:0

The Nikon Z8 and Z9 have different recording times; the Z8 can only record for 90 minutes, while the Z9 can record for 125 minutes. This discrepancy is likely due to heat build-up.

Similar to the Z9, the camera’s normal color modes in video mode have a base ISO of 200. When you switch to HLG, the base state changes to ISO 400, which encourages the usage of one stop less exposure to maintain an extra stop of highlights. A minimum ISO of 800 is required for N-Log to record and hold onto an additional two stops of highlights.

Dedicated subject detection mode for airplanes

Aircraft detection was previously included in the Z9’s vehicle detection mode; however, on the Z8, it is now a separate, selectable option. According to Nikon, tracking accuracy is increased when aircraft and regular vehicle tracking are separated. Although Nikon has not confirmed anything, we wouldn’t be shocked if the Z9 didn’t get a comparable capability in a later firmware update.

On the other hand, Nikon has promised to release a Bird detection mode for the Z8 in early 2024. This mode is separate from the Animal mode, which currently includes birds, and was added to the Z9.

How the Nikon Z8 compares to its competitors

The price tag of $4000 puts the Z8 in direct competition with the Canon EOS R5, and it doesn’t look at all bad in comparison. It’s priced somewhere around the cost of the Sony a9 II but its high resolution means it has more in common with Sony’s more expensive a1.

Nikon Z8 Canon EOS R5 Sony a1 Nikon Z7 II
MSRP $4000 $3899 $6500 $3000
Pixel count 45.7MP 45MP 50MP 45.7MP
Sensor type Stacked CMOS FSI CMOS Stacked CMOS BSI CMOS
Image stabilization In-body + in-lens* In-body + in-lens* In-body* In-body*
Max burst rate 20 fps Raw
30fps JPEG
12fps (mech shutter)
20fps (elec shutter)
30 fps (lossy Raw)
20 fps (lossless Raw)
9 fps
Readout rate ∼1/270 ∼1/60* ∼1/260 ∼1/16
High-res mode No 9-shot JPEG only 4 or 16-shot, combined on PC No
Viewfinder res / mag 3.68M dots
/ 0.8x
5.76M dots / 0.76x 9.4M dots / 0.9x 3.68M dots
/ 0.8x
Rear screen 3.2″, 2.1M-dot two-way tilting touchscreen 3.2″, 2.1M-dot articulating touchscreen 3.0″, 1.44M-dot tilting touchscreen 3.2″, 2.1M-dot tilting touchscreen
Top-plate display Yes (OLED) Yes (OLED) No Yes (OLED)
Video capabilities Up to DCI 8K/30p (full width), 8K/60p N-Raw, 4K/120 Up to DCI 8K/30p (full width), 4K/120 Up to UHD 8K/30p (full-width). UHD 4K 30p
(Full width pixel-binned or oversampled APS-C)
Log video N-Log, HLG, 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ, Canon Log, 4:2:2 10-bit S-Log 2, S-Log 3, HLG (10-bit) N-Log over HDMI only (10-bit)
Ethernet socket Via USB-C adapter (not supplied) Via optional WFT grip Yes No
USB socket(s) 2x USB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C
Battery life
340 / 330 320 / 220 530 / 430 420 / 360
Card slots 1 CFe Type B/XQD, 1 UHS II SD 1 CFe Type B, 1 UHS II SD 2 CFe Type A / UHS II SD 1 CFe Type B/XQD, 1 UHS II SD
Size 144 x 119 x 83 mm 138 x 98 x 88 mm 129 x 96 x 78 mm 134 x 101 x 68 mm
Weight 910 g 738 g 736 g 705 g

In this company, the Nikon Z8 doesn’t appear all that spectacular on paper. It appears to be trailing behind the EOS R5 in terms of features, especially when it comes to the viewfinder. The truth is very different: the Nikon Z8 has a far faster shooting rate and a quicker sensor readout, which reduces rolling shutter in e-shutter mode. Its viewfinder also feels more realistic and is better suited for capturing action. With longer recording lengths and a greater range of capture modes and codecs, the Nikon has the advantage in video, but its AF is among the best that we’ve seen.

Body and handling of Nikon Z8

Even though the Nikon Z8 is much smaller than the Z9, it is still a fairly large camera. Compared to the current Z6 and Z7 models, its form factor is more similar to that of the D850 DSLR. The body is noticeably heavier than those versions even though carbon fiber and magnesium alloy are used. According to Nikon, the weather sealing is comparable to that of the Z9.

It seems that Nikon has fixed two highly-publicized production errors, fixing the cameras under warranty.

Existing Nikon users will recognize it right away because of the grip’s striking resemblance to the D850’s and the dials’ comparable placement. The rear of the camera features a conveniently located AF joystick, while the front of the camera features a range of customisable buttons, including the now-customary pair of function buttons adjacent to the lens attachment.

The control binnacle, which has been a feature of high-end Nikon cameras for over 20 years, is located on the left shoulder of the camera.

Just like the Z9, the Z8’s bottom left front incorporates an AF mode button, which replaces the company’s DSLRs’ conventional MF/AF-S/AF-C switch. While rotating the rear dial modifies the AF area mode, holding the button and gently pressing the front dial modifies the AF drive mode.

The Z8 and Z9 have the same 3.69M dots (1280 x 960px) viewfinder, which sounds somewhat tinny. Nonetheless, the Stacked CMOS chip’s parallel readout design produces a low-lag feed that makes for one of the most immediate and realistic viewfinder experiences we’ve ever had. According to Nikon, it can preview HLG video, indicating that the panel is capable of achieving HDR brightness levels.

The Z8 incorporates illuminated buttons for use in low light, just like many high-end Nikons.

The Z8 is the first camera that has been shown to have two USB-C connectors. This makes it possible to use one connection for data transfer or tethering and keep the other free for charging or powering the camera.


The usage of a smaller battery helps to enable the smaller body. In this instance, the majority of Nikon’s mirrorless cameras use the identical EN-EL15c. With a capacity of 16Wh, it is almost half that of the battery found in the Z9. When using the rear LCD, the camera achieves CIPA ratings of 340 shots per charge; when using the viewfinder, the ratings are 330. These numbers increase to 370 and 340 shots per charge, respectively, when energy conservation mode is activated.

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