When first released, we called the Nikon Z8 a “brilliant hybrid camera,” but also asked the question, “why don’t we care that much?”

The hybrid digital camera packs loads of features for both photographers and video shooters, but it’s always had a steep hill to climb to challenge the most popular mirrorless options from Canon, Sony, and Blackmagic.

When the Nikon Z9 was released, it certainly indicated that Nikon was serious about becoming one of the best manufacturers in the industry, and while the Z8 was poised to be the more compact and affordable version of the flagship, we’ve been watching it closely as a darkhorse to become the hybrid shooters new favorite.

Now, with the release of their first firmware update for the Z8, Nikon appears to be doubling down on making the Z8 live up to its hype. So, here’s everything you need to know about the Nikon Z8 version 2.0.

Nikon Z8 Firmware Update Version 2.0

The big highlights of this free firmware update are that Nikon is adding multiple new features and enhancements that should spruce up both the camera’s still-image and video capture capabilities. There are also a few key updates that should improve workflow overall as well.

And, in truth, most of these updates are aimed at leveling up the Z8 to be more like its flagship sibling camera the Z9. In particular, there is a new dedicated “bird option” for AF subject detection that should help the camera shine in that brand of wildlife photography.

For us video pros though, the biggest update might be some added support for a new Auto Capture function that can enable automatic shooting when the subject meets one of your pre-configured criteria (a feature that works for photo and video).

Pixel Shift Shooting and Richer Tones

Overall, these updates are a bit more photo-specific than video, but the base technology behind these updates should help out both photo and video. The Nikon Z8 version 2.0 is getting a new Pixel Shift shooting mode that will help with the creation of super high-resolution photos by merging multiple RAW files.

There’s also a new Rich Tone Portrait Picture Control that will help with rendering rich tones while still retaining skin details for your portrait photos, and that technology should either now (or in the future at least) make its way to the video side, too.

There are also some subtle updates that will help allow users to have more access to shutter volume and other sound options that should help out with various shooting modes and settings as well.

Everything New Coming to the Nikon Z8

Regardless of the photo versus video debate that comes with this camera, the Nikon Z8 is set to get its first major update and that’s a good thing. The camera market is at its healthiest when there are as many great brands creating great cameras as possible, the Z8 has all the promise to be one of the best on the market.

Here’s a full list of all the updated features and changes included in firmware version 2.0:

  • A dedicated [Birds] option 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.
    • 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.

You can download the firmware update here. And, if you’re curious, here are the specs and details for the Nikon Z8 itself:

  • 45.7MP FX-Format Stacked CMOS Sensor
  • Lightweight Design, 30% Smaller than Z9
  • 8.3K 60p N-RAW, 4.1K 60p ProRes RAW
  • 8K30p and 4K120p Video, 10-Bit Internal
  • Up to 20 fps Raw, 30 fps JPEG Shooting
  • 493-Point AF, AI-Based Subject Detection
  • Blackout-Free Real Live Viewfinder
  • 3.2" 4-Axis Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • CFx Type B & SD Memory Card Slots
  • 5 GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Nikon Z8 Mirrorless Camera

New Release!
  • 45.7MP Stacked CMOS Sensor
  • Lightweight Design
  • 30% Smaller than Z9
  • 8.3K 60p N-RAW
  • 4.1K 60p ProRes RAW
  • 8K30p and 4K120p Video
  • 10-Bit Internal
  • Up to 20 fps Raw
  • 30 fps JPEG Shooting
  • 493-Point AF
  • AI-Based Subject Detection
  • Blackout-Free Real Live Viewfinder
  • 3.2" 4-Axis Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • CFx Type B & SD Memory Card Slots
  • 5 GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth