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As an underwater photographer: What can I do with Nikon Z8 what I am not able to do with a Nikon D80


As my current photography setup - with a focus on underwater photography - is based on the Nikon D8, I ask myself if the Nikon Z8 should be my step into mirrorless.


The Nikon Z8, as a more recent model, incorporates several advancements over the Nikon D800, offering several features and capabilities that are not available in the older camera. Here are some key differences and advantages of the Nikon Z8 compared to the Nikon D800:

  1. Mirrorless Design: The Nikon Z8 is a mirrorless camera, while the Nikon D800 is a DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera. The mirrorless design eliminates the need for a mechanical mirror and pentaprism, resulting in a more compact and lightweight body for the Z8. This makes it more portable and easier to handle, especially in underwater environments.

  2. Electronic Viewfinder (EVF): The Nikon Z8 features an electronic viewfinder, whereas the Nikon D800 utilizes an optical viewfinder. An EVF provides a real-time preview of the image, displaying exactly what the sensor captures. It offers advantages such as exposure simulation, focus peaking, and the ability to review images directly in the viewfinder, which can be particularly useful for underwater photographers in challenging lighting conditions. And, not having to change position in order to review the just shot image on an external display can be essential. Specially, as in underwater photography one moves really close to the subject in order to minimise the density of particles in the water between subject and lens.

  3. Higher Resolution: The Nikon Z8 boasts a higher resolution than the Nikon D800. While the D800 offers an impressive 36.3 megapixels, the Z8 takes it a step further with a 60-megapixel full-frame sensor. This higher resolution allows for capturing more detail and provides flexibility for cropping or printing large-format images.

  4. Enhanced Low-Light Performance: The Nikon Z8 incorporates improved low-light capabilities compared to the Nikon D800. Its larger pixel size, better ISO performance, and advanced noise reduction algorithms enable it to capture cleaner and more detailed images in low-light situations, which is beneficial for underwater photography where light diminishes as you go deeper.

  5. Advanced Autofocus System: The Nikon Z8 features a more advanced autofocus system compared to the Nikon D800. It utilizes Nikon's latest autofocus technology, which includes a higher number of focus points, improved subject tracking, and enhanced speed and accuracy. This allows for more precise and reliable autofocus performance, even in challenging underwater conditions with fast-moving subjects. That might be another "killer feature" given subjects in nature photography often move quickly and getting the focus spot right is key for good quality pictures.

  6. 4K Video Recording: While both cameras offer video capabilities, the Nikon Z8 provides 8K video recording, whereas the Nikon D800 is limited to Full HD (1080p) video. The ability to shoot in 8K resolution allows for higher-quality video footage with more detail and flexibility in post-processing.

  7. Connectivity and Features: The Nikon Z8 incorporates modern connectivity options, such as built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which facilitate wireless image transfer and remote camera control using compatible devices like smartphones or tablets. Additionally, the Z8 offers improved in-camera features like in-body image stabilization, multiple exposure modes, and enhanced creative options, allowing for more creative control over your underwater photography.

It's important to note that while the Nikon Z8 offers these advancements, the Nikon D800 still remains a capable camera with excellent image quality. However, if you are specifically looking for the latest features, improved performance, and the benefits of a mirrorless design, the Nikon Z8 provides a significant upgrade in terms of resolution, low-light capabilities, autofocus performance, and video capabilities, which can enhance your underwater photography experience.

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