Firmware update brings Pixel Shift and bird detection to Nikon Z8


This post is by Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com) from Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

Nikon has released firmware version 2.0 for its Z8 high-end mirrorless camera, adding features for still and video shooters.

Recent Videos

Fans of avian photography will be pleased to see the addition of a dedicated bird detection mode. As with the Z9, Nikon claims improvements in recognition, tracking, and AF performance in various circumstances. The mode (distinct from that included as part of animal detection mode) should be able to recognize a wider range of birds in a wider array of poses, even against complex backdrops.

A new Auto Capture feature will take a photo or video when one or more specified criteria are met. Those criteria are distance, motion, and subject detection so, for instance, as soon as that deer enters the frame headling right to left, the Z8 can go to work.

The Pixel Shift feature first seen on the Zf has also arrived. The camera can take 4, 8, 16, or 32 photos by shifting the sensor by 1/2 or 1 pixel and then saving them as individual NEF files. The 4 and 8-shot modes provide improved color resolution and less noise at the sensor’s native 46MP resolution, while the 16 and 32-shot modes produce whopping 180 Megapixel files with even more detail. The files must be merged in NX Studio before they can be shared or edited.

A new Picture Control mode has been added for portrait photographers. The “Rich Tone Portrait” mode retains skin details while preventing highlights from clipping, making it ideal for wedding and portrait photography.

The camera also gains a wider choice of shutter sound effects to indicate the firing of the camera’s silent electronic shutter. Options include sounds that mimic the shutter of the Nikon F5 or S-series rangefinder, rather than the default DSLR-style sound effect.

Other improvements include:

  • The number of functions and operations that can be assigned to custom control has increased.
  • A function has been added that enables users to exit zoom with a half-press of the shutter-release button when focus mode is set to manual focus.
  • An option that allows users to choose the width of focus-point borders has been added.
  • An option that allows users to choose not to record shooting orientation information in image EXIF data has been added.
  • A new [Prefer focus point (face priority)] option has been added that centers the display on a face when one is detected while scrolling through photos during playback zoom.

Version 2.0 of the Z8 firmware can be found on Nikon’s website.

NIKON RELEASES FIRST MAJOR FIRMWARE UPGRADE VER. 2.0 FOR THE NIKON Z 8

Nikon Also Releases Updated Free NX Tether Ver. 2.0 Utility Software to Seamlessly Support Professional Photographer and Videographer Workflow

MELVILLE, NY (February 6, 2024) – The critically acclaimed, editorially celebrated and award-winning Nikon Z 8 is getting even better. Today, Nikon announced the availability of the first major firmware update for the Z 8, Firmware Ver. 2.0. This free update adds multiple features and enhancements for still-image, video capture and improved workflow. Additionally, Nikon has also announced availability of the latest version of NX Tether, Nikon’s free tethering software for still and video professionals.

“The Nikon Z 8 already offered best-in-class features; with this latest update, we are once again proving that we are always listening to our customers and will work to surpass their expectations,” said Naoki Onozato, President and CEO of Nikon Inc. “We also realize that our users’ workflow is an important part of the job, and NX Tether Ver 2.0 is an example of the software ecosystem we can provide that integrates seamlessly to enhance the capture experience.”

Z 8 Firmware Ver. 2.0

Similar to the feature previously added to the Nikon Z 9, a dedicated option for birds has been added to the AF subject-detection options, increasing bird-detection performance in a variety of situations and providing greater support for bird photographers. Additionally, support for the Auto Capture function enables automatic shooting when the subject meets one or more pre-configured criteria, providing users with new options for both stills and video shooting.

The update also adds Pixel Shift shooting, which enables the creation of super high-resolution photos by using dedicated software to merge multiple NEF (RAW) files captured with the function. With the Z 8’s high- resolution sensor, images can be captured with an astonishing 180 megapixels. Pixel Shift shooting is ideal for capturing the finest details in subjects with intricate designs, such as buildings and art pieces, while providing precise rendering of the subject’s colors, textures, and structures.

There’s more to love with the update, as Rich Tone Portrait Picture Control is added to enable the rendering of rich tones while retaining skin details for portrait photography. In combination with other functions such as Skin softening and Portrait impression balance, portrait photographers have more control than ever. More functions and operations can now be assigned to custom controls, and users now have access to new shutter volume and sound options.

Primary Updates: Z 8 Firmware ver. 2.0

A dedicated [Birds] option has been added to the Z 8’s AF subject-detection options. In addition to increased detection, tracking and AF performance with complicated and high-contrast backgrounds such as forests and mountains, this option better enables the detection of birds in various circumstances, including flying, perched and even those with unique-looking appearances.

  • The Auto Capture function has been added, enabling the automatic shooting of stills and video when the subject meets one or more pre-configured criteria. The three criteria that can be configured are a [Motion] option that detects subjects that move in a designated direction, a [Distance]1 option which begins shooting when a subject is within a certain range of distances, and a [Subject detection] option that detects people, animals, vehicles, or airplanes within the frame.
  • Firmware version 2.0 adds Pixel Shift shooting, allowing users to create high-resolution photos by using dedicated software to merge multiple NEF (RAW) files recorded with the camera mounted on a tripod or otherwise stabilized.
  • For portrait photographers, the addition of the Rich Tone Portrait Picture Control increases options for portraiture by realizing the rendering of portraits with rich tones while retaining skin details. This Picture Control is ideal for the creation of a base image in scenes where retouching is presumed, such as at weddings and for studio photography. In combination with the variety of other functions offered by Nikon for portrait photography, such as Portrait impression balance and Skin softening.
  • Other functions, and additional enhancements to operability and functionality:
    • The number of functions and operations that can be assigned to custom control has increased. o A function has been added that enables users to exit zoom with a half press of the shutter-release button when focus mode is set to manual focus.
    • New shutter sound and volume options.
    • An option that allows users to choose the width of focus-point borders has been added.
    • An option that allows users to choose not to record shooting orientation information in image EXIF data has been added.
    • A new [Prefer focus point (face priority)] option that centers the display on a face when one is detected while scrolling through photos during playback zoom has been added.