V2.0 firmware brings 180-megapixel images to Nikon Z8
Nikon has announced the first major firmware update for the Nikon Z8 (buy here). Amongst other features, the Nikon Z8 Version 2.0 firmware update brings Pixel Shift. This allows it to create 180-megapixel images.
The Nikon Z8 also receives the bird detection autofocus first featured in the Nikon Z9 (buy here), as well as the Auto Capture feature. This lets you set up the camera and have it shoot automatically when conditions are met.
Nikon Z8 180MP Pixel Shift
The Nikon Z8 now features the Pixel Shift feature first seen in the Nikon Zf (buy here). It allows the Nikon Z8 to shoot a sequence of 4, 8, 16, or 32 photographs, moving its sensor slightly between each to produce a final result of up to 180 megapixels.
The 4 and 8-shot sequences don’t actually increase the image resolution but produce a higher quality result using the native 46-megapixel image size. This is an attempt to overcome the limitations of a Bayer filter array, helping to fill in missing colour data instead of having to interpolate.
The 16 and 32-shot sequences do produce the higher resolution 180-megapixel images with a lot of detail. The images do need to be merged within Nikon NX Studio before you can edit or share them.
Bird Detection & Auto Capture
The Nikon Z8 gains a couple of Z9 features in the new update. The dedicated Birds option has been added to its subject-detection settings and it also gains the Auto Capture feature.
As well as adding bird detection, Nikon brings the usual range of updates to the autofocus system. This means increased overall performance, better detection, and tracking with contrasty backgrounds. This will be very handy for picking out flying birds from woodland environments.
The Auto Capture feature is designed for automated shooting. This allows the camera to automatically shoot photographs when certain criteria are met. Configurable criteria include motion, distance and subject detection (people, animals or vehicles).
On release, Auto Capture was promised as a future feature for the Nikon Z8 that would come in a firmware update. When all mention of it was removed from the Nikon Z8 web page, however, it suggested Nikon had changed its mind. It’s nice to see they followed through on that original promise.
Nikon Z8 Firmware v2.0
Here are the complete changes with the new Nikon Z8 v2.0 firmware update.
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.
The Nikon Z8 v2.0 firmware update is available to download now from the Nikon website.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.