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The Nikon Z 8 could be the mirrorless D850 we’ve been waiting for

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If reports about the Nikon Z 8 are accurate, Canon and Sony should watch their backs because Nikon is coming out swinging.

The Nikon D850 is arguably the greatest DSLR that ever graced the photography world. The D850 was a megapixel monster that was built tough. The D850 also focused effortlessly and had every bell and whistle a DSLR could have. Unfortunately, up until now, Nikon hasn’t delivered a camera that can be considered a mirrorless D850.

Yes, we’ve seen the Nikon Z 7 and Z 7 II. Still, besides the similar megapixel count, the differences between the D850 DSLR and the mirrorless Z 7 range are huge. However, all of this could be about to change as there’s noise out there about a Nikon Z 8. If the specs floating around are accurate, the Nikon Z 8 will dunk over the Canon EOS R5 (read our review here) and give cameras like the Sony a1 and a7R IV a huge scare.

The Nikon Z 8 — A Z 9 in a non-gripped body

According to a report on Nikon Rumors, not only will the Nikon Z 8 be a mighty mirrorless warrior, the camera might be here before us sooner than we think. The recent speculation suggests that the Nikon Z 8 will feature the same 45.71-megapixel stacked sensor and the EXPEED 7 image processor found in the Z 9. In addition, the Z 8 could also ship with the same autofocus system that includes the AI tracking modes that the Z 9 uses.

The body will be the most significant difference between the Z 8 and the Z 9. The Z 9 is a pro-body camera with an integrated grip. Gripped cameras are often favored by wildlife and sports photographers who are out in the field for extended times. Maximizing battery life without constantly switching out batteries is ideal for these situations. Non-gripped cameras are for everyone who doesn’t mind plonking new batteries into their camera more frequently.

Price it right, and it will sell like hot cakes

If real, the Nikon Z 8 will have the Canon EOS R5 firmly in its sights.

There’s not much else out there in terms of specification right now. Still, one could make an educated guess about what it might have. I would expect it to keep the dual card slots, but instead of two CFexpress slots, there might be one CFexpress slot and one SD UHS-II slot.

Expect the Nikon Z 8 to have the same IBIS system, which will be good for six stops of shake reduction. The same articulating screen and the same 3.69-million dot EVF should be expected too. Nikon will have to make some cuts somewhere, though, to bring the price down closer to the Canon R5 while also undercutting the Sony a1. I see Nikon cutting back on the 8K video modes and offering 6K or maybe just 4K. I can also see the GLONASS, GPS and QZSS positioning sensors being cut. The Nikon Z 8 will also use a cheaper battery cell compared to the Z 9, which will also help bring costs down.

If Nikon can get the Z 8 to market and price it at around $4,500, which would place it in the same ballpark as the R5 and will make it significantly cheaper than the Sony a1, Nikon could move back to the top of the pile when it comes to high-end cameras for professional photography. We won’t have long to find out what Nikon has in store for the Z 8. Nikon could announce the Z 8 as early as this month (August) and release it in September.

The future of the Z 5, Z 6 and Z 7 series

Nikon Z 8

Even with the potential release of the Nikon Z 8, I don’t believe that the Z 5, Z 6 or the Z 7 will be going anywhere anytime soon. The Z 5 is the perfect entry point into the Nikon full-frame Z mount family. The Z6 offers excellent bang-for-the-buck performance as well.

The Z 7 series is slightly trickier as it has been Nikon’s higher megapixel offering until now. I can see the Z 7 series morphing into Nikon’s answer to the Sony a7r line. The Z 8 will be about performance. I think the Z 7 III could launch with a higher megapixel sensor, like the 61-megapixel variant that Sony offers. This, of course, is just me speculating, but it makes sense for Nikon to do this. Only time will tell.

One thing for sure is that the camera market is becoming quite exciting again. Sony has dominated the mirrorless camera space for far too long. So it’s refreshing to see Nikon and Canon putting their best feet forward again. What do you think about the Nikon Z 8? What do you think we will see? Let us know in the comment section below.

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