Nikon Z8 & Z9 Settings for Bird and Wildlife Photography

3rd Edition Release: July 2023

Bird Photography with the Nikon Z9 | © 2023 Jason P. Odell

The Complete Guide to the Nikon Z8/Z9 Digital Cameras for Bird and Wildlife Photography

Bald eagle

Bird Photography with the Nikon Z9 is a complete camera settings guide for bird and wildlife photographers by professional photographer Jason P. Odell. This comprehensive guide includes a complete description of how to configure the Nikon Z8 & Z9 mirrorless cameras for photographing birds and wildlife. Moreover, this book offers readers the “why” in addition to the “what” when it comes to Nikon Z9 camera settings. You’ll get all of Jason’s settings and button configurations, along with numerous tips and tricks for getting the best bird pictures with the Nikon Z9 camera.

Update: July 6, 2023: The 3rd Edition is now available, updated for Z9 firmware v4.00 and the Nikon Z8.

Update: Nov. 15, 2022. Firmware version 3.0 was released in late October. Most of my settings are still the same, but I’ll be working on some minor updates. You can see what’s new in Nikon Z9 firmware 3.0 (for still shooters) here. The current version (2.0) of the eBook is still valid.

Update Aug 22, 2022: The Second Edition is now available, and is updated to cover features and settings added with the Z9 firmware 2.0 and 2.1 updates.

New in the 3rd Edition (July 2023)

  • Fully updated to include new features in Z9 firmware 4.0
    • Updated to include settings for the Nikon Z8 camera
  • Completely revised settings that incorporate the new features in the Z9 and my most recent control configurations for both BBF and Shutter AF

Topics include:

  • Basic Camera Settings & Image Formats
  • Autofocus settings and customizations
    • Configurations for both back button and shutter-AF focus techniques
  • Control configurations and suggested layouts for bird and wildlife photographers
  • Shooting settings for bird portraits and birds in flight
  • Tips and tricks for capturing dynamic bird photos

Jason, you did an excellent job on this book by describing the “why” rather than the “what.”  I thought I understood the system but have leaned lots of new “stuff.”

-Joe Farrell, Mechanicsville, PA

View Table of Contents Here

Nikon Z8/Z9 Autofocus Settings for Bird and Wildlife Photography

This eBook contains a complete description of how the Nikon Z8/Z9 autofocus system works, and the autofocus settings I recommend for bird and wildlife photography. You’ll get an in-depth look at how the autofocus system works, and what autofocus settings to use.

Nikon Z9 autofocus settings
  • Understanding the Focus tracking with lock-on settings (Custom menu a3)
  • Detailed descriptions of every autofocus area mode in the Nikon Z8 & Z9, including 3D-tracking mode
  • How to know which AF-area pattern to choose for bird and wildlife photography
  • How automatic subject detection works in the Nikon Z9, including use cases and limitations
  • Settings for using back button focus and shutter AF in the Nikon Z9

The AF chapter is awesome! Much of the material and his explanations are better than any AF description written by anyone else.

-Jon Kandel, Alexandria VA

Control Configurations and Function Button Settings for Bird & Wildlife photography

Nikon Z9 control settings

I’ve configured the controls and buttons in my Nikon Z9 for bird and wildlife photography, and I’ll share those settings with you. I also present a variety of alternative configurations for you to consider, plus:

  • Setting up the Nikon Z8 & Z9 buttons for bird and wildlife photography
  • Knowing which settings to assign to custom buttons
  • How to set up the function buttons on the Z9 in a way that is ergonomically advantageous for your shooting style and subjects
  • Custom control configurations for both back button focus and shutter AF
  • Configuring the Nikon Z9 for photographing birds in flight with a single button
  • Configuring controls to enable/disable subject detection with a single button press
  • Assign custom functions to Z-mount and F-mount Nikon lenses
  • How to set up custom viewfinder and LCD screens

Shooting Settings for Birds in Flight and More

Shooting settings for birds in flight

You’ll get my core settings for exposure, white balance, and image format, and how I store them using the Nikon Z9 custom banks. I also provide you with suggested shooting settings for a variety of field scenarios, including settings for photographing perching birds, waterfowl, and birds in flight.

  • Selecting the right shutter speed and frame rate
  • How to use manual exposure for bird photography

Tips and Tricks for Capturing Dynamic Bird Photos with the Nikon Z8 & Z9

brown pelican

In addition to my camera settings, the book includes a detailed look at a range of best practices, and tips and tricks for bird photography, including:

  • How to quickly switch between focus area modes
  • How to set a focus trap
  • Using focus peaking and manual focus override
  • How to create a “digital teleconverter” in the Nikon Z8 & Z9

Custom Lightroom Presets

Bird Photography with the Nikon Z9 includes Jason’s custom presets for Adobe Lightroom/Lightroom Classic for processing Nikon Z8 and Z9 raw files. These Lightroom presets use ISO-adaptive settings to automatically adjust sharpening and noise reduction in your Nikon Z9 raw files.

Structured Keyword List of Over 10,000 Bird Species

Bird Photography with the Nikon Z9 includes a structured keyword file of over 10,000 bird species, compatible with Adobe Bridge, Lightroom Classic, and Photo Mechanic. Simply load the keyword file into your software and you’ll be ready to go in seconds.

Download Bird Photography with the Nikon Z9

  • Printable PDF eBook with bookmarked contents
  • Supplemental files: Bird keywords, Lightroom presets, (ZIP archive)
  • Instant delivery (11 MB)
  • Readable on PC/Mac/tablets that support PDF (including iBooks on iOS devices)
  • © 2022 Jason P. Odell | All rights reserved