I chose to leave these images un-cropped so you could get an idea of the framing. All of these subjects were within 5-10m from me. I shot all of them at 600mm and wide-open at f/6.3. Click any image to enlarge it.
One thing I will say about this combo, the Z9 and the 180-600mm have a combined weight of over 7lbs (3,300g). If you’re not using a monopod, hand-holding this lens will get tiresome after awhile. With a the Nikon Z8, you’re still dealing with a 6.3lb kit. (I certainly noticed it, although I was also at 9000′ (2743m) elevation…
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.
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.
Yesterday, Nikon released firmware version 3.0 for the Z9 mirrorless camera. Most of the major changes centered around video functions, but there a lot of hidden features that to me are most welcome. Here’s what stood out to me:
New C60 (60fps) burst shooting option: This isn’t really something I need, because it requires shooting in DX crop mode and capturing normal-quality JPEGs (not raw). Still, it’s nice to have more options for burst shooting.
Change the AF point in 3D-tracking AF to red: This is great! The default AF point in 3D-tracking AF was white, and could sometimes be hard to see.
New option for Prioritize Viewfinder mode: Thank you, Nikon. The original behavior for Prioritize Viewfinder (firmware 1.x) is what I preferred, because it lets you start on the LCD monitor and then hand off that view to the viewfinder. Firmware 2.x changed this behavior to always putting the camera in “shooting mode” when you held it up to your eye. Now you can choose the behavior you like (I prefer Mode 1) to suit your own shooting style.
More custom buttons & functions: With firmware 3.0, Nikon has given photographers even more ways to customize their camera. You can now assign functions to the ISO and exposure compensation buttons, and some new functions were added. My favorite? Toggle FX-DX crop with a single button, instead of a button + dial combo. Very nice!
AF sensitivity has been improved by 0.5EV, down to -7EV, giving the Z9 one of the most sensitive low-light AF systems available. Only the Canon R3 (which is 24MP) has a more sensitive system.
Extended LCD brightness range: Nikon added 4 additional brightness settings to the rear LCD, which should help in very bright and very dark conditions.
I’m working on a revision to my Z9 eBook to include the newly released Nikon Z8. The two cameras share the same autofocus system, and new Z8 owners can start reading about it by getting my Z9 book. The Z8 version will be a FREE upgrade to all existing eBook owners.
What’s New in the Second Edition
I’ve fully updated the printable PDF guide to include new features in Z9 firmware 2.1, including:
Wide-area Custom AF
Recall shooting settings (hold)
Focus point selection speed
High FPS viewfinder display
I completely revised my custom settings to incorporate the new features in the Z9 and my most recent control configurations for both BBF and Shutter AF
Coming Soon: Firmware 3 (Z9) and Z8 updates
There are a few tweaks I’ve made to my Z9 settings after the release of firmware version 3, and those will be in the updated edition, along with settings for Nikon Z8 owners.
We took our annual trip into the Colorado high country this week, driving to the top of Mt. Evans. Along the way, we photographed mountain goats, bighorn sheep, marmots, and other alpine wildlife. We’ll talk about what gear we used, and what settings worked for this style of photography.