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Nikon Z 8: Preview and first impressions

We tried the Nikon Z 8 in preview at the Italian presentation, in this article we present our first impressions

Nikon Italia has chosen a captivating location full of elements of interest for the launch of the new Nikon Z 8, the Seletti space in Milan and here we have the opportunity to try out the new mirrorless for which we can provide you with the first shooting impressions. The Nikon Z 8 is presented as a replica of the Z9 in a format that collects the legacy of the famous D850 reflex model. A camera that meets the “weight” needs of professionals who found the Z 9 rather demanding for reportage and filming, but who certainly appreciated its potential thanks to the work done by Nikon on the Z system. Let’s go in order and find out immediately what they are the technical specifications of this new camera, which will be available on the market from May 25 with the first models.

Nikon Z 8: Preview and first impressions

Specifications: Nikon Z 8 preview and first impressions

The Nikon Z8 is a 45.7 megapixels FF (1.0x) sensor mirrorless camera produced since 2023. The sensitivity range, including range, is 32 – 102400 ISO and it can shoot bursts of 20 FPS x 1000 RAW, 30 FPS x 1000 jpeg. The detailed specifications are as follows:

  • Sensor Format: Fullframe, 36 x 24 mm
  • Resolution: 45.7 Mpx
  • ISO sensitivity: 64-25600 (32-102400 including extension)
  • File formats: Raw, JPG
  • Shutter speed: 900″- 1/32000
  • Exposure Compensation: +/- 5 stops, 1/3 stop steps
  • Exposure Mode: M, S, A, P
  • Metering types: Multi-Area, Semi-Spot, Spot
  • Mount: Nikon Z
  • Stabilization: Yes
  • Autofocus (n. aree AF): Hybrid phase-detection/contrast AF con AF assist e AI (493 points)
  • Live View: Si
  • Dustproof: Yes
  • Video mode: 8k @ 60fps
  • WiFi: Yes, plus bluetooh
  • GPS: No
  • USB: Si, Type-C 3.2
  • Touchscreen: Si
  • Display: 3.2″, 2.1 million dots 1024×680 pixels
  • Viewfinder: Electronic, 100% coverage, 3.68 million dots, 0.80x
  • Built-in Flash: No
  • Memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-II) and CFExpress Type B on slot 1 (Dual slot)
  • Shutter: Electronic
  • Battery: Li-Ion. Nikon EN-EL15c

Machine body | Nikon Z 8: Preview

The camera body is one of the real novelties of this Nikon Z8 and we see it from the technical characteristics with its 910 g taken or 30% less than the Z9 and 15% less than the D850 reflex. Not a small feature, above all because it meets the needs of professionals, who deal with reportage and weddings who have been able to fully enjoy all the specifications of the Z9, but not its portability. In fact, the Nikon Z 8 is certainly a lighter camera, which with Nikon’s typical ergonomic grip is very comfortable for shooting on the move. The testimony of the Nikon ambassador Francesco Brunello was fundamental, a wedding photographer for many years who abandoned the SLR camera body to switch to the Z system now that his camera body is also suitable for that type of photography.

As regards the experience of use and shooting, it looks like the Z 9, not very mechanical and very digital, with a single wheel to govern the manual settings of shutter speed, aperture and ISO and all the other modes accessible via the keys and the touchscreen displays. A type of intuitive settings, but which consequently do not allow you to enjoy the full mechanics of manual shooting. The body looks like an evolution of what was seen on reflex cameras, aiming for a compromise capable of meeting more people. We had to play with the Z 8 for a few minutes, quickly getting to grips with the body and finding a layout that will surely be familiar to fans of the brand. Present the display on the shoulder with the synthesis of all the set parameters, together with the classic layout of the upper left part of Nikon with the quick settings of the machine modes. It’s nice to see the classic Nikon 8-pin attachment on a new generation body and the presence of the HDMI Type-A port is surprising. The battery is small, in a new format for this Z 8, but, thanks to the Vertical Grip, it will be possible to mount two more capacious EN-EL15s.

Real Live Focus and Viewfinder | Nikon Z 8: Preview

Focusing is fast, and it features deep-learning AF that accurately tracks and detects the movement of people, dogs, cats, birds, cars, bicycles, motorcycles, and airplanes. We are therefore in line with the best of the competition in terms of functionality. The addition of planes is new compared to the Z 9, with its own dedicated mode. The eyes always remain in focus and we were able to confirm this from our (brief) test, even when the subject is in motion. A pleasant novelty is the Real Live viewfinder, very fluid which benefits from Dual Stream technology which prevents the vision from going black-out after shooting, however “only” 3.68 million points of this unit remain. Although the Z 8 is a very good camera, compared to the D850 the improvements in terms of image quality are mostly related to the new Z lenses, not so much to the sensor which seems to us to be on the same level. This, in consideration of the fact that we are talking about a Stacked unit, is a very positive factor. If, on the other hand, we compare the Z 8’s focusing system with that of the D850, there’s no story: the Z 8 (obviously) wins on every front.

Nikon Z 8: Preview and first impressions

Field results

Once the technical specifications and the characteristics that make it different from the Z 9 and D850 have been pitted, we can get to the heart of the test carried out. We focused mainly on shooting, in a place that lent itself to a type of still-life photography and portraiture. In fact, two models in wedding dresses were present who posed in the garden adjacent to the Seletti space, with some mice perfect for organizing small photo shoots. For this reason we decided to mount a Nikkor Z 85 mm 1.8 which allowed us to play a lot on the still life details of the objects present and above all on the portraiture of the models. The shooting experience was certainly exciting: Nikon Z 8 is a fast machine, with an intuitive system that allows you to shoot without thinking too much, especially for the autofocus which is very responsive to movement needs. The burst is very good, as expected, and the operation of the body is discreet.

The paste of colors that we obtained by shooting with the aperture fully open and with very low ISOs is typical of Nikon; really great for portrait reportage, especially for those involved in wedding photography. In particular, we had fun raising the ISO even in good light conditions, for shots of faces and models: this allowed the camera to create that “vintage noise” that takes a lot of work out of post production to get certain types of atmospheres. We would have liked to deepen the video part as well, but in the short time available to us we have not been able to do anything about it. Our test was therefore limited to a few shots.

In our opinion, in light of this test, Nikon Z 8 is a camera that caters to professionals with different needs. Its technical characteristics made us think of a camera suitable for sports photographers and reportage photographers, given the deep-learning auto focus and very specific focus tracking but, in fact Z 8 is also a camera with its small size it can also be used for portraiture, still life and studio. It will certainly be interesting to study it calmly and analyze every aspect in order to evaluate its actual potential.


Drawing conclusions on such a complex stain after such a short test is always very complex, a “day” and just one predetermined set are too little to fully understand it. Despite all this, our first impression is certainly positive. The Nikon Z 8 is a camera that is mainly compared with the “old” D850 of which it wants to be the heir, and offers the same potential of the reflex with all the advantages of the mirrorress also on the video side, with a much more contained weight. Nikon Z 8 is a camera that is aimed at an audience of professional photographers looking for an all-round body, which can also be well appreciated by amateurs, because in any case it certainly has a more accessible price than the Z 9 and costs “only” about €700 more than the D850. If you want to know more, stay connected on the pages, to have more information in the future during the review.