Tag Archives: Nikon Z8

Skip the Travel Tripod?

Advances in image stabilization systems make shooting hand-held easier than ever

Christmastime in Europe is a magical thing to experience.

In 2023, I went on several trips where travel photography was the predominant style. That meant focusing on outdoor/street scenes, and indoor/ architectural scenes. These subjects are particularly prevalent in Europe, where I took a group of clients to visit Christmas Markets in Austria and Germany, along with a stop in Prague.

As always, I recommended for my clients to bring a lightweight travel tripod, because a primary goal for us was to shoot during the twilight/”blue hour.” Having a tripod in those situations can be really handy, because it allows you to shoot slower shutter speeds and keep your ISO down, which often leads to cleaner images (less noise, and more dynamic range).

I was excited to be using my new OM System OM-1 kit, with a couple of zooms (12-45mm f/4, 40-150 f/4) and two small primes (9mm f/1.7 and 25mm f/1.8). My entire kit only weighed 3.5 lbs.; less than my Nikon Z9 and 24-120mm f/4 combo, which I lugged around Croatia in 2022.

Along with my camera, I packed my trusty Gitzo traveler tripod and a small ball-head, and flew off to meet my clients in Prague, excited to capture photos of these magical cities at Christmastime. That’s when reality set in.

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Nikon Z8 Owners: Never Worry About A Dirty Sensor Again

Change this setting before removing the body cap

Nikon Z8 sensor

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.

Enable the sensor shield from the Nikon Z8/Z9 setup menu

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.