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GEAR TESTS: Nikon Z8 Underwater Camera Review

Jim Decker

Jim Decker

CEO: Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo


We've been waiting for this camera for a long time. Lucky for us, Nikon was able to score a first release camera and Nauticam brought their first housing along for the demo gear fleet. 

Right off the bat it feels like a Nikon, whereas previous full frame mirrorless cameras (Z6 and Z7 series) felt a bit foreign to use. Any D850 shooter will feel right at home with a familiar menu system and control layout.

With having a purely electronic shutter, the Nikon Z8 feels extremely quick to respond to a pull of the shutter. It encourages one to be on top of the action and shoot more shots faster, which it has no problem doing. The downside to the electronic shutter is it's only a 1/200 sync speed, which felt a bit slow, especially when I've been shooting the Sony A1 for the last year or so and have gotten really used to the 1/400 sync speed which is a full stop faster.

On the brighter side (or shall I say the darker side??) this is a great camera for knocking out ambient light for macro and shooting, even in the sand at 40 feet, in Little Cayman, in June, at noon on a full sun day. Despite the 1/200 sync speed I can get the ISO into extension down to 32 and the Nikon Z MC 105 lens can go to ƒ40, which makes this a darker ambient light camera/lens setup than the Sony.

Autofocus was nothing short of amazing! The worst (or I guess best) torture you can do for an autofocus system is macro with a 1:1 lens put through a wet macro lens. The Z8 had zero issues and would only hunt if I was far outside of the range of the macro diopters minimum and maximum working distance.

To sum it up, this was an excellent macro camera to shoot. Wide angle color looks great, but the 1/200 sync speed means you'll need to make sure you have some powerful wide angle strobes for larger scenes.

Robin Dodd




The long-anticipated Nikon Z8 is finally here. This rig was in high demand during the event, so I only got one day of diving on it, but what a glorious photo day that was. I shot the Nikon Z-mount 14-30 behind the Nauticam WACP-2 for an ultra-wide 140 degree rectilinear look. I used Seacam 160D strobes for really wide and even lighting across such a huge scene. The main thing that stood out to me during the dive was the responsiveness of the autofocus tracking, making it feel like I was back in the comfort zone of the Nikon D850 that we have been so accustomed to for years. It would definitely take more than just a single day of diving to truly put this camera through it   s paces, but I can confidently say that I was pleased overall. The electronic viewfinder didn't bother me too much, and the dynamic range that it displayed did as good of a job as I could have asked for. This camera seems to be continuing to set a high performance bar for Nikon full frame mirrorless systems and I look forward to spending more time with it in the future.


Hergen Spalink

Hergen Spalink

Nauticam Ambassador

Hergen Spalink


Nauticam Ambassador


The Nikon Z8 is the long awaited mirrorless successor to the D850 DSLR. With next-level autofocus and improved video specs, the Z8 is a pleasure to use. The menu, interface and button placement will all seem familiar to D810/850 users as will the look and feel of the images. I chose to assign the 'Fn2' lever, which is easily reachable from the left handle, to disable Exposure Preview, allowing me to quickly switch between viewing my background exposure and composition and the simulated Optical Viewfinder modes. The switching is seamless and with no blackout shooting, it's easy to keep proper composition with moving subjects and dynamic scenes. The Nikkor Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens pairs well with the WACP and new Fisheye Conversion Port (FCP) using only a 10mm extension when zoomed in a touch to 28mm.