The Nikon Z8 is here – and Canon and Sony need to watch out

Nikon Z8 lifestyle image
(Image credit: Nikon)

After years of rumors, the Nikon Z8 has finally been announced by the Big N – and, as expected, it is a "baby Z9" in terms of both specs and price, which incredibly is a thousand bucks less than the flagship camera. 

Indeed, the company itself used those words in describing the Nikon Z8 to us, saying, "In a nutshell, it is the baby Z9," while it also calling it, "the true successor to the Nikon D850".

Essentially, the Z8 is a Nikon Z9 in a regular body (as in, it doesn't have an integrated vertical grip or high-capacity battery). So naturally it packs all the same specs: a 45MP stacked sensor, 8K 60p and 4K 120p video, up to 120fps burst shooting, an exclusively electronic shutter, and intelligent AF built on deep learning

In fact, the latter represents one of the areas in which the Z8 is actually more advanced than the Z9. While it carries over the existing subject tracking categories – people, cats / dogs / birds, car, motorcycle, bicycle, train, airplane – it also adds a new category that the Z9 lacks: aircraft.

Nikon couldn't tell us exactly what kind of airborne craft this could detect, though we would hazard a guess at things like helicopters and drones (we asked about obscure vehicles like microlights, too, but that couldn't be confirmed). 

The Z8 also possesses dual USB-C ports – the first camera we can recall having this feature – enabling the camera to, for example, charge and tether simultaneously. It is also the first Nikon camera to support USB to ethernet connectivity. 

In short, the "baby Z9" actually does more than the "daddy Z9" does – and for much less bank. Certainly the Z9 proper has longer battery life, can shoot video for longer, and has more programmable buttons. 

Otherwise, though, this really is a Z9 for people who want the specs but don't want the bulky "pro DSLR" form factor – Nikon concedes that there is a category of user who simply won't buy a camera that shape and size, no matter how good it is.

The Nikon Z8 goes on sale May 25, priced at an incredible $3,999 / £3,999 / AU$6,999. And unlike the chaos that was the Z9 launch, the company assures us that availability will be much improved for the Z8. 

Pre-order the Nikon Z8 at Adorama (US)
Pre-order the Nikon Z8 at B&H (US)
Pre-order the Nikon Z8 at Park (UK)
Pre-order the Nikon Z8 at Wex (UK)
Pre-order the Nikon Z8 at Ted's Camera (AU)

(Image credit: Nikon)

If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested in reading about the best Nikon cameras, the best Nikon lenses and the best 8K cameras.

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.