Nikon Releases the First Major Firmware Update for the Z8

Nikon Z8

Nikon is making the Z8 mirrorless camera — PetaPixel‘s 2023 Camera of the Year — even better through firmware version 2.0, a free update which adds multiple features and enhancements for still-image, video capture and improved workflow.

The list of upgrades is significant and marks Nikon’s continued efforts to make its cameras feel new over time. This particular update isn’t as immense as the first one the Nikon Z9 got back in 2022 but is still quite substantial.

Primary Updates in Z8 Firmware Version 2.0

The first major update is a dedicated autofocus option for birds which first appeared on the Z9 and which Nikon says increases the bird detection performance of the camera in a variety of situations.

“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,” Nikon promises.

Nikon Z8

Auto Capture, which was added to the Z9 last year is also coming to the Z8. It enables 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,” Nikon explains.

The update also adds Pixel Shift shooting, which allows photographers to create a high-resolution image by merging multiple RAW files. This feature does require the use of a tripod or some other method of stabilization as well as Nikon’s NX Studio computer software.

Nikon is also adding its Rich Tone Portrait Picture Control which it claims renders “rich tones” while also retaining skin detail.

“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,” Nikon says.

Nikon Z8

In addition to these major features, firmware version 2.0 adds the following 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.

The update is free and available to download today.

NX Tether is Also Being Updated to Version 2.0

In addition to the above updates to the Z8, Nikon also updated its NX Tether software to enhance the functionality of shooting tethered with a Nikon camera. In addition to interface updates, NX Tether 2.0 brings support for both photo and video capture as well as full-coverage live view display. It also provides control over shooting settings that are unique to Nikon, such as Picture Control and Active D-Lighting.

NX Tether

NX Tether 2.0 also allows the selection of image format (JPEG, RAW, or HEIF), and beyond that, when recording to both card slots (RAW + JPEG or HEIF), photographers can choose to have only the JPEG or HEIF images transferred to the computer. With the Z8 and Z9, wireless control is enabled by using the camera’s built-in WiFi to connect via Nikon’s Wireless Transmitter Utility software.

The free NX Tether Version 2.0 can be found on Nikon’s website along with a full breakdown of all the new features as well as a list of supported operating systems and cameras.