The Nikon Z9 came out in 2021 and impressed the camera world with its top-notch specs. Now, the company is out to make some noise with its latest offering, the Nikon Z8.
With a price difference of around $1,500 can the more affordable Nikon Z8 compete with the Z9? Or is it better to spend more for the flagship Z9?
Let's find out in this NIkon Z8 vs Z9 comparison. Our goal is to determine which one can give you more for your money.
Sensor and Image Quality
The sensor of the Nikon Z8 is the same as the Nikon Z9. Both cameras have a 45.7-megapixel stacked BSI CMOS sensor which produces excellent images.
This is in partner with the EXPEED 7 processor that allows for swift processing without lags or stutters.
The sensor and the processor are the most impressive features of the Nikon Z8 since it is carried over from the Z9.
This makes the Z8 a compelling option since you are getting the same image quality at a more affordable price.
The Nikon Z8 is solidified as a mini Z9 with its autofocus performance. Both units have Nikon's most advanced AF system to date.
The cameras have a 493-point phase detection AF. Now, that is a lot for an average user. However, these cameras are intended for professionals and the 405 Auto-area AF points with 100% frame coverage is huge boost for their work.
Moreover, the Z8 and the Z9 can still focus even in low light scenarios - an area where entry-level cameras struggle. The starlight mode can detect and AF on subjects at -9EV.
Both cameras have different AI-based tracking modes such as subject tracking for humans and animals (not all animals though). There is also tracking available for vehicles which is a neat feature if you love sports photography.
So what does it mean for you?
Well, the blazing fast AF speed partnered with the subject tracking means you can easily take your shots without worrying of missed focus. If you are a professional wildlife or sports photographer, it also gives you the opportunity to take home more keeper shots.
The Nikon Z8 has a little bit of an edge over the Z9 though. The Z8 includes aircraft in its AI tracking.
It might not be a big deal for some but, it just shows how far Nikon has developed its Z8.
Design and Build Quality
The design of both cameras differentiates them from each other. The Nikon Z9 has a built-in vertical grip with full controls.
Meanwhile, the Nikon Z8 is smaller since it has no integrated vertical grip. There is a vertical grip available for it but, that comes at an added cost.
In total, the Z8 is lighter by around 430 grams and smaller by 30% compared to the Z9.
Both cameras have ergonomic controls with all the important buttons accessible by one hand.
The only problem with the Z8 is Nikon decided to exclude a dial on the left. Nikon placed a Bracket, White Balance, Continuous shooting, and Mode button on the left. It looks like a dial but do not be fooled since it is not.
If you are coming from a regular DSLR, this might be confusing since you might try to twist it a few times.
Now, the Z9 features the same buttons but with a dial to control the shooting mode. It is a small feature but, it helps elevate the shooting experience.
Both the Nikon Z9 and Z8 have a magnesium alloy body and weather sealing. You can use these cameras on any weather condition, and it will still work smoothly.
If you are coming from an entry-level camera, you will easily notice the difference in build quality. The Z9 and Z8 have heft to it unlike entry-level units with plasticky build.
The Nikon Z9 impressed a lot as it was the first Nikon camera to offer 8K recording with no crop. The Nikon Z8 followed its footsteps and offers the same video quality.
There is also 4K UHD video recording with up to 120fps. There is no crop factor in this setting as well.
Videographers will love the 10-bit color and the different supported codecs such as ProRes 422 HQ and H.265.
Despite having the same video features, there is still a difference between the two.
The Nikon Z8 has a recording time limit at around 90 minutes on 8K and around 2 hours on 4K.
On the other hand, the Nikon Z9 has an unlimited recording feature. This is possibly due to the larger body of the Z9 providing ample cooling and preventing overheating.
The obvious winner right here is the Nikon Z9 since it has a built-in vertical battery pack. It is currently rated to around 700 shots.
The Nikon Z8 has a smaller battery and is rated at around 300 shots.
Of course, the battery life changes depending on the settings and situation. If you take a lot of videos, then you will clearly drain the battery faster on either unit.
Nikon Z8 vs Z9: Which One Should You Get?
Ultimately, the choice between the Nikon Z8 vs Z9 depends on your needs and budget. The Nikon Z9 is the better camera overall and if you have the budget, go for it as it will last you a very long time.
The Nikon Z8 is in an interesting situation though. It is fast enough for sports and wildlife, and it can take excellent videos too.
However, if you are going to spend around $4,000 for the Nikon Z8, adding $1,500 on top of it for a Z9 might be the wiser choice. You are already going all-out on a new camera body so why not get the flagship?
But let's say you are going to use the camera for portrait sessions or a more controlled scenario. The Nikon Z8 will do, and you save $1,500.
Yet, if saving money is your priority, and you know you are not going to maximize the features of the Z8 (or the Z9), why not go for the Nikon Z6 Mark II or the Z7 Mark II instead?
Both cameras are more affordable, and they are not a slouch either. They can still take excellent photos at a fraction of the price. You can easily use them for portrait sessions and commercial shoots.
Again, the choice is yours. Evaluate your needs and see if you can go all out for the Nikon Z9 or save a little with the Nikon Z8. Both cameras will not fail you either way.