Change this setting before removing the body cap
Ever since interchangeable lens digital cameras entered the market in the early 2000s, sensor dust has been a constant nemesis of digital photographers. There’s just no way to really keep dust out of your camera, unless you never change lenses in the field. Blower bulbs and sensor cleaning kits became a mandatory accessory for digital photographers, and even then the occasional dust bunny would still show up on an image.
Mirrorless cameras are even more prone to sensor dust given that the sensor is completely exposed to the elements when you remove the lens or body cap. Thankfully, the Nikon Z8 and Z9 cameras offer a great feature to prevent dusty sensors, but it’s disabled by default.
If you have a Nikon Z8 or Z9, there’s one setting you should make before doing anything else when you get your camera. This one setting will keep dust off of your sensor and save you time post-processing your photos.
Nikon Z8 & Z9 Sensor Shield
The Nikon Z8 and Z9 cameras have no mechanical shutter in front of the sensor, just like most mirrorless cameras do. But these cameras offer a great feature: a sensor shield.
The sensor shield is similar to a camera shutter, except it’s sturdier and serves no purpose except to protect the imaging sensor from dust. However, the feature is disabled by default in the Nikon Z8/Z9 cameras.
If you enable the sensor shield function before removing the body cap from your brand-new Nikon Z8 or Z9, you may never need to worry about a dust spot on your images ever again.
Get my Nikon Z9 (and Z8) wildlife settings guide here
Enabling the Sensor Shield
To activate the sensor shield feature, go to the Setup Menu (wrench icon) in your Nikon Z8/Z9. From there, scroll down until you find the menu item labeled: Sensor shield behavior at power off.
By default, it’s set to “off,” meaning that the shield isn’t deployed. Change the setting to “on.” and you’re good to go. If you make this setting change before removing your camera’s body cap for the first time, you may never need to clean your sensor ever again!
Note that if you do need to use a blower to clean your image sensor, you’ll need to disable the sensor shield before powering off your camera so that the sensor can be exposed for cleaning.