|Can you imagine a more ‘DPReview’ camera than the Nikon Z8?
The Nikon Z8 is, without question, my gear of the year. It’s probably the best camera I’ve ever used, and yet that’s only part of what made it stand out to me.
Until recently, you had to choose one camera to capture the very best landscape images (that you’re capable of), but quite another if you wanted to capture the action at the Olympics. The Z8 is competitive for both. And beyond this, it’s a very credible video camera. And it does all this at two-thirds the cost of Nikon’s top-end pro model, in a body that’s a fraction smaller and lighter than the D850.
It’s still a bigger, heavier and more expensive camera than I can ever imagine myself buying, but I felt lucky every time I hit the shutter button.
In 2023, DPReview went through what you might call ‘rough air.’
At the start of the year, it was no secret that our then-parent company was planning layoffs, so the turbulence didn’t come completely out of the blue.
By March 21st we could share the bad news publicly, which made it suddenly feel very real. It was made clear to us that the decision was final. Come a certain date, we would all be out of a job. All there was left to do was to put our affairs in order and accomplish whatever we could. Return all the cameras, prepare the site to become an archive, work out how to say goodbye.
We were already well into the glide path, publishing wind-down and goodbye content when a short message came over the headset.
“Could you, er, keep going for a bit?”
“For how long?” we asked.
“Just keep going.”
And so we found ourselves pulling up on the stick, trying to settle into a plausible-looking holding pattern, and trying not to glance too often at the fuel gauge. We brainstormed new content ideas, returned to those articles we’d never quite got ’round to finishing, and waited for further updates.
This uncertainty meant having to make some distinctly noncommittal phone calls to our industry contacts: “I know we’ve said we are closing, but would it be possible for you to factor us in for any launches you might be planning?”
And one of the launches was the Nikon Z8, the first to fall after our supposedly non-negotiable end date. And can you imagine a more ‘DPReview’ camera than the Z8? The prospect that we wouldn’t get to cover it had been heartbreaking.
By the time of my call, Nikon had already made all its plans for demonstrating the camera without us. A little arm-twisting and calendar shuffling later and I’d arranged to fly to New York en route to the UK, where I’d been planning to lick my post-redundancy wounds.
Nikon US was doing all it could to keep the camera under wraps, so my last-minute need to film and take photos along The Highline in the midst of Manhattan must have been nerve-racking for its staff. But they were kind enough to accommodate us, if it helped reinforce the message that we wouldn’t be closing, after all.
Being able to report on the camera changed my UK trip completely.
|Back at the races! Nikon UK lent me a camera and I was able to borrow a Z 100-400mm from Amateur Photographer’s Andy Westlake to get some photos at the Crystal Palace Crit series in London.
Nikkor Z 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 VR S @ 400mm | ISO 12,800 | 1/2000 sec | F5.6
Train journeys across Scotland became opportunities to edit YouTube videos. Hotel Wi-Fi was pushed to extremes, uploading the footage and all those 46MP Raws ready for the embargo.
Nikon US also convinced Nikon UK to lend me one of its precious loaner cameras immediately after the embargo lifted. With access to the camera, the time I’d expected to spend with family, contemplating my future suddenly got repurposed. Instead I was looking for ways to scratch the surface of a camera that can shoot landscapes and action with equal aplomb. I was suddenly looking for sporting events and trying to borrow appropriate lenses from erstwhile colleagues.
And I loved every minute of it. There’s something wonderfully confidence-inspiring about using a camera that you know is going to comfortably do whatever you ask of it. Even if you haven’t worked out what that is yet.
But more than that, the experience of going out and shooting with a camera, and trying to find the clearest way to describe what it offers is what I love doing. And I appreciated it all the more for having spent several months believing I wouldn’t get to do it anymore. I was excited to show we were still here, and that we weren’t about to disappear.
That’s what I meant when I said I felt lucky, every time I pressed the shutter button. And that’s the story that plays in my head, every time I look back at the Z8 gallery: every photo contains a reminder of a distinctly bumpy period that’s thankfully now behind us.
Now we’ve got through that period of turbulence, we look to have some clear skies ahead of us, so we’re going to turn off the seatbelt sign and we invite you to settle back, relax and enjoy the journey. We’re delighted to say that our regular on-screen entertainment will continue to be available.
Review sample gallery
Pre-production sample gallery from New York
All images shot using a pre-production Nikon Z8