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Nikon Z8 Review

Following plenty of Z8 rumours and speculation, in another exciting move from industry giant Nikon, the Nikon Z8 arrives as the true successor to the immensely popular Nikon D850. The Z8 has more in common with the flagship Z9 than expected, not least due to being a full-frame (FX) mirrorless camera made completely without a mechanical shutter (so there’s no wear and tear). Instead, the Z8 relies purely on an electronic shutter and the blisteringly fast readout speeds, which the Nikon designed back-illuminated CMOS sensor provides.

Nikon Z8 Review With Specs Comparison vs Z9 and D850

Our Nikon Z8 review highlights the many benefits which this thoroughbred hybrid mirrorless camera offers, and includes a side-by-side specs comparison vs the Nikon D850 and Nikon Z9.

Whether you’re considering upgrading or moving from a DSLR to Nikon’s mirrorless Z system for stills and video content creation, you’ll find everything you need to know right here.

Nikon Z8 release date

The Nikon Z8 launched 10 May 2023 as the latest full-frame mirrorless camera to join the Z system since the December 2021 launch of the Z9. By comparison, the most recent DSLR which Nikon released was the flagship D6, which arrived in February 2020 and costs considerably more at £6,799.00.

Video rig full set-up with new Nikon Z8 and gimbal

Nikon Z8 key features

Before we get into a deeper comparison the Nikon Z8’s key features are well worth noting. As one of the most advanced mirrorless cameras on the market, which brings several firsts to the Nikon system, there’s plenty to get excited about, whether you’re a pure photographer or hybrid creator.

  • Nikon developed 45 megapixel full-frame stacked CMOS sensor
  • The latest Expeed 7 image processor
  • Deep learning intelligent AF subject recognition
  • 20fps RAW burst with 1000+ image buffer and up to 120fps JPEG burst
  • Completely blackout-free EVF with zero lag
  • Supports HEIF image format (smaller file sizes with 1 billion more colours than JPEG)
  • 8K/60p and 4K/120p video up to 12-bit with N-Raw and ProRes RAW (internal)
  • 24-bit linear PCM audio
  • 1x XQD/CFexpress Type B slot and 1x SD card memory card slot
  • First Nikon camera with USB-C to ethernet connection

Shooting in the field with the full-frame Nikon Z8

Most notable features for content creation

It’s instantly clear that the Nikon Z8 is more than simply a high-speed sports camera, packing advanced hybrid features to make it easier to capture both stills and movie content. These include:

  1. Four-axis tilting monitor for difficult angles and more flexible framing
  2. An array of built-in video quality options including ProRes RAW, 422 HQ and N-Log
  3. Video tools such as focus peaking, zebra stripes and waveform
  4. Timecode linking, custom AF tracking and linear focus support for video
  5. Creative picture modes for Long Exposure, Focus Shift, Motion Blend and Multiple Exposure
  6. Deep learning AF subject tracking of people, cat, dog, bird, car, motorbike, bicycle, train, airplane
  7. Up to 20fps burst shooting in RAW with 50+ second buffer
  8. The camera is totally silent thanks to having no shutter, which can be eerie when firing 120fps without a sound!
  9. When recording movies you can capture over two hours in 4K/60 and 90 minutes in 8K/30

Many of these features are shared with the more expensive Nikon Z9, which includes the same processor and sensor combination, within a larger pro-size gripped body.

In the field with Nikon's latest full-frame mirrorless Z8

Nikon Z8 Vs Z9 Vs D850 specs comparison

A specs comparison between the Nikon Z8 vs Z9 vs D850 (DSLR) demonstrates just how powerful this full-frame camera is and what it can do to help you capture ever-more impressive stills and movies.

  Nikon Z8 Nikon Z9 Nikon D850
UK Price £3,999.00 £5,299.00 £2,799.00
Sensor 45MP full-frame stacked CMOS 45MP full-frame stacked CMOS 45.7MP full-frame CMOS
Max Video Reolution 8K/60p, 4K/120p, ProRes RAW 8K/60p, 4K/120p, ProRes RAW 4K/30p, Full HD/60p, NA
Max Audio Resolution 24-bit, 48kHz Linear PCM 24-bit, 48kHz Linear PCM 16-bit, 48kHz Linear PCM
Shutter lifecycle No shutter No shutter 200,000
ISO range Lo1, 64-25,600, Hi 2 Lo1, 64-25,600, Hi 2 64-25,600 +-1 EV
File formats RAW (including high efficiency), JPEG, HEIF 10-bit RAW (including high efficiency), JPEG RAW, JPEG, TIFF
AF points 493 points, 90% coverage (horz., vert.) 493 points, 90% coverage (horz., vert.) 153 point dynamic-area AF, 3D-tracking, group-area AF
AF detection range EV -7 to 19/EV -9.0 with starlight view EV -7 to 19/EV -9.0 with starlight view -4 to +20 EV
Subject detection People (torso, head, face, eye), animals (dog, cat, bird), vehicles (car, bike, bicycle, train), airplane People (torso, head, face, eye), animals (dog, cat, bird), vehicles (car, bike, bicycle, train,), airplane  Face-priority AF (auto)
AF modes Pinpoint, single-point, dynamic-area (S, M, L; in photo mode only), wide-area (S, L, C1, C2), auto-area AF, 3D-tracking (in photo mode only), subject-tracking AF (in video mode only) Pinpoint, single-point, dynamic-area (S, M, L; in photo mode only), wide-area (S, L, C1, C2), auto-area AF, 3D-tracking (in photo mode only), subject-tracking AF (in video mode only) Dynamic-area AF, 3D-tracking, group-area AF
Continuous shooting 20 fps RAW, High-Speed Frame Capture+ (30fps / 120 fps in JPEG, Pre-Release Capture) 20 fps RAW, High-Speed Frame Capture+ (30fps / 120 fps in JPEG, Pre-Release Capture) 7 fps
In-body VR stabilisation 5-axis sensor shift up to 6.0 stops (Synchro VR) 5-axis sensor shift up to 6.0 stops (Synchro VR) NA
Battery life (CIPA) 275 shots (EN-EL15c) 700 shots (EN- EL18d) 1,840 shots (EN-EL18c)
Shutter speed 1/32000 to 30 sec, up to 900 sec, electronic shutter 1/32000 to 30 sec, up to 900 sec, electronic shutter 1/8000 to 30 sec.
Portrait impression balance Yes NA Yes, Via Firmware Version 1.30
Skin softening Yes NA NA
High-frequency flicker reduction Yes Yes Yes
USB charging Yes Yes Yes
USB terminal Yes NA NA
LAN terminal NA Yes NA
10-pin terminal Yes Yes Yes
Synchro flash terminal NA Yes Yes
LCD touchscreen 3.2-in. 2100k dot vertical/horizontal 4-axis tilting 3.2-in. 2100k dot vertical/horizontal 4-axis tilting 3.2-in. 2300k dot Tilting
EVF 3690k-dot OLED (3000cd/m2), Lo1, Lo2 3690k-dot OLED (3000cd/m2), Lo1, Lo2 Optical
Button illumination Yes Yes Yes
Sensor shield Yes Yes Shutter
Motion blend mode Yes Yes NA
Viewfinder refresh rate 120 fps, 60 fps 120 fps, 60 fps Optical
Memory card slots 1x XQD/CFexpress Type B and 1x SD card memory card 2x XQD/CFexpress Type B 1x XQD/CFexpress Type B and 1x SD card memory card
Network Wi-Fi (2.4GHz, 5GHz)/BT/ USB-LAN Wi-Fi (2.4GHz, 5GHz)/BT/LAN/GPS Wi-Fi (2.4GHz) /BT/Optional GPS
Voice memo mic NA Yes Yes
HDMI out 10 bit 10 bit 10 bit
Dust and moisuture sealing Yes Yes Yes
Weight 910g 1340g 1005g

Both of these mirrorless bodies offer numerous advantages over the D850 DSLR, which is an impressive camera in it’s own right. Perhaps most importantly AF has moved on significantly with deep learning subject recognition, which is incredibly effective, accurate and sticky on a subject, even as it moves around.

You also gain 3x faster shooting speeds in full resolution, with class-leading burst rates and an incredibly deep buffer, not to mention in-body stabilisation for sharp results at far slower shutter speeds, especially when paired with compatible mirrorless Z lenses.

The Nikon Z8 is fully integrated with Nissin and Profoto flash systems, as well as Nikon’s own Creative Lighting System (CLS), and you can shoot at 1/32000 shutter speed during bright daylight conditions while using a fast Nikon mirrorless lens, such as the much praised Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S.

Action photography while cliff hanging with the Z8

The D850 does offer seriously impressive battery life and an optical viewfinder, which some still prefer, however the ultra bright 3000cd/m2 OLED electronic viewfinder has ZERO lag and no blackout for a closer optical viewfinder experience. It also boasts 120fps refresh rate, which is easy on the eye and incredibly effective even with distant subjects.

Size and weight is where the Z8 and Z9 differ most and thanks to the Z9’s integrated battery grip it gets longer battery life and vertical mode is of course built in. The Z9 also includes two XQD/CFexpress high-speed memory card slots and a voice memo mic, which can save you time when shooting professional events.

A closer look at the Z8 mirrorless camera body

Nikon Z8 handling and ergonomics

At 910g the Z8 isn’t a pocketable camera by any means, but it is the lightest body in this 3-way comparison. It features illuminated buttons for low light situations and Nikon’s excellent 4-axis tilting LCD touchscreen, which really does help when framing from almost any angle.

The deeper grip allows you to hold the camera securely with one hand and the body is 15% smaller than the D850, while the omission of a battery grip makes it a whopping 30% smaller than the Z9.

There aren’t tons of new buttons to figure out and Nikon has kept a familiar button layout, which will work with existing memory muscle to anyone coming from within the ecosystem. The rear panel has a quick menu access info button, and everything else is where you expect it to be on a Nikon body, making the switch reasonably straightforward if you’re coming from a DSLR.

Wedding photography with the Z8

Best Nikon Z8 accessories

Photographers and video creators rely on camera accessories in order to draw out the best quality from content and the Z8 offers plenty of opportunities for add-ons, including a USB-C Nikon Remote Grip MC-N10 for easy to reach remote control while capturing videos.

You will need at least one spare Nikon EN-EL15C battery and although you can use UHS II SD cards, a CFexpress card like the Sandisk CF Express Extreme Pro 64GB gives you incredibly fast speeds of up to 1500MB/s Read and 800MB/s Write, which helps to keep up with 8K video and fast burst rates.

Although Nikon is partnered with Rode and Sennheiser, you can mount virtually any on-camera microphone you choose, such as a Saramonic Vmic5 Pro On-Camera Supercardioid Shotgun Mic or a cost-effective wireless system such as the Hollyland Lark M1 DUO.

As with mics, you can also mount virtually any Nikon fit flashgun from the flagship wireless Nikon SB-5000 or the Profoto A10 for Nikon, to lower cost alternative from other brands.

The all-new Nikon Z8 in action

Full-frame mirrorless Z lens options

The Z system has grown exponentially since launching in 2018 and there are now 100s of native Nikon/Nikkor and third party lenses to choose from. If you’re joining from an F-mount bayonet you can use the second-generation FTZ Mark II Mount Adapter, which is really comfortable and works on just about any F-mount DSLR lens. Native Z mount lenses are well worth moving to as soon as possible due to their advantages, such as combined lens and body stabilisation, barrel controls and blistering AF performance.

The best lens options depend on subject, but some of our favourites include the premium S-series holy trinity:

Between these three lenses you can capture subjects from near to far, with a fast aperture plus excellent stills and video capabilities, all derived from the super-wide Z mount.

There are excellent specialist optics too, such as the Nikon Z 105mm F/2.8 VR MC S Lens for macro images, while dedicated sports and wildlife lenses include the Nikon Z 400mm F/2.8 TC VR S with Built In 1.4x TC and the Nikon Z 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 S zoom. You can learn more about super tele options in our Nikon Z Super Telephoto Lens Comparison, as well as the Nikon Z 800mm F6.3 lens in detail.

Third party manufactures include Voigtlander and Laowa, while both Sigma and Samyang have begun to release Z mount options to choose from.

Another full video set-up, rigged Z8

Who is the Nikon Z8 for?

The Nikon Z8 is particularly well suited to those who need a combination of speed and image quality, regardless of specialising in mainly stills, video or both and this is a noteworthy camera for:

  • Weddings / Portraits
  • Fashion / Lifestyle
  • Corporate / Events
  • Documentary and independent filmmaking
  • Wildlife
  • Landscape / Astro

The Z8 is incredibly capable and may well find itself as a backup body for professional photographers who already own the Z9 and need a similarly performing camera as a failsafe, without the additional weight.

For the rest of us it’s a very tempting proposition as a main camera body. The mirrorless ecosystem is growing rapidly and benefits from technology, which is being continually developed, so there’s every reason to switch from a DSLR or upgrade from a Z6 or Z7 series I or II.

Check out our Z8 video review


The Nikon Z8 offers flagship performance without the Z9’s additional size and weight. It does chew through batteries so you’ll need spares, but that is a price worth paying for one of the most accomplished full-frame hybrid cameras available at launch.

Video performance is second to none, with professional ProRes support and 8K in-camera recording, while stills capabilities are equally impressive in any lighting conditions. You can burst in full 45MP resolution RAW for nearly a whole minute without the camera missing a beat and capture wide dynamic range shots as fast as 1/32000 in bright sunlight.

Nikon’s artificial intelligence AF system is going from strength to strength and includes world-class technology which delivers impeccable results and a growing list of subjects. Camera hardwear benefits from a super bright EVF with no blackout, as well as an intuitive and versatile flip LCD touchscreen, all of combine to support enthusiast content creators and pro-level users.

Reserve your Nikon Z8 mirrorless camera today in order to harness everything it has to offer for your photo and video content creation and get a free quote if you're considering selling your camera or trading in.


By Nick Dautlich on 10/05/2023

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