Nikon Z8 Gains Bird Detection and Pixel Shift with Firmware 2.0

Nikon Z8 Gains Bird Detection and Pixel Shift with Firmware 2.0

Nikon has announced a major firmware update for its Z8 Mirrorless Camera: Firmware 2.0. This is the first major firmware update for the Z8 and it brings the already impressive camera up a level, refining its ability to track birds and other moving subjects, as well as benefiting landscape and still life shooters with a new Pixel Shift mode. There are also new Picture Control modes and video recording updates, along with a host of other functionality improvements and minor usability enhancements. The Firmware 2.0 update is available for download now from Nikon’s site.

Nikon Z8 Mirrorless Camera
Nikon Z8 Mirrorless Camera

Wildlife and bird photographers should look forward to this update, thanks to the inclusion of a new [Bird] mode AF subject detection option. This setting improves bird tracking in various scenes and against busy backgrounds, offers more accurate subject detection with 3D-tracking AF, and specifically helps keep birds in sharp focus while in flight. The improved detection also helps to recognize small and distant birds easily, as well as uncommon and unique-looking species, even when in cluttered and complex scenes.

Benefiting more general wildlife applications and other action shooting, Nikon has also added an Auto Capture mode to the Z8 that automatically captures photos or records video when it detects motion. Shooters get to define the direction of motion, subject type (choose from people, animals, vehicles, or airplanes), speed and size of the subject, and even a designated distance to trigger any automatic capture. Similarly, the Z8 also features improved Pre-Release Capture, which can now buffer frames up to 1 second prior to releasing the shutter and 4 seconds after releasing the shutter, for a maximum total active Pre-Release Capture time of 300 seconds.

On the other side of the photography coin, landscape, architecture, macro, and archival shooters can rejoice with the addition of a Pixel Shift mode that will produce composited images up to an effective 180MP. You can choose to record between 4 and 32 consecutive NEF frames, depending on the level of detail required, and the sensor will be physically adjusted between exposures. Then, using NX Studio, the resulting frames can be automatically assembled into a single high-resolution image with greater detail and color depth along with reduced noise and moiré.

On the video front, a few small-but-important updates: a new ISO 200 equivalent setting can be used when recording in N-Log. This Lo 2.0 setting captures greater tonal information in the shadows without affecting noise, making it ideal for rendering dark subjects against a bright background. Full HD slow-motion recording has been boosted, with new 4x and 5x shooting speeds now available in-camera. You will also find improved Hi-Res Zoom, up to 2x, available when recording UHD 4K and FHD footage.

Beyond these major updates, Nikon also made some smaller updates to the Z8, including:

  • Improved focus point visibility; make the focus point border width thicker for easier recognition

  • New Picture Control modes: Rich Tone Portrait, Flat Monochrome, and Deep Tone Monochrome

  • Enhanced performance with NX MobileAir and NX Field apps

  • Cycle AF-area function for quicker switching between AF modes

  • Addition of an Exposure Delay mode for shake-free shooting with a tripod

  • New 1.3, 1.7, 2.3, and 2.7 EV Exposure Bracketing increments

  • New custom shutter sounds and volume options

  • Vertical orientation of menu and info displays when shooting vertically

  • Remaining memory card space warning during video recording

  • Improved magnified playback and greater EVF brightness during playback

It’s great to see Nikon releasing a healthy firmware update for one of its most popular cameras; the improvements for birders, architectural shooters, and sports photographers really make this a valuable upgrade to an already impressive platform. What are your thoughts on Firmware 2.0 for the Nikon Z8? Let us know in the Comments section, below.