How to Turn on the Histogram on the Nikon Z8 Display

The Nikon Z8 does have a live view histogram that can display through the viewfinder or on the live view back screen. But turning it on isn’t as intuitive as it could be. Here’s how to do it.

Then hit the menu button to save and back out of that menu item. 
Text & Photos By David Coleman
Last Revised & Updated:
Filed Under: Mirrorless Cameras
Topics: Nikon, Nikon Z8

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Quick Summary

  • Nikon Z8 offers a live histogram for real-time exposure assessment.
  • The histogram helps in judging exposure more accurately than relying solely on the viewfinder or back screen.
  • The histogram feature isn’t enabled by default and isn’t labeled “histogram” in the menu.
  • To enable for photos:
    • Custom Settings Menu > d Shooting/display > d18 Custom viewfinder shooting display or d17 Custom monitor shooting display.
  • For video brightness information:
    • Custom Settings Menu > g Video > g15 Brightness information display.
    • Enable via g17 Custom viewfinder shooting display or g16 Custom monitor shooting display.

A live histogram that updates in real-time can be a very useful tool when shooting with a mirrorless camera. Electronic viewfinders and back screen monitors are improving, but they can still be too bright, too harsh, have a white balance that is too cool, or just not give an accurate representation of exposure.

In other words, they’re not always great for judging exposure. A histogram takes the subjectiveness out of it–you can see the exposure right there on the graph.

The Nikon Z8 does have a live view histogram that can display through the viewfinder or on the live view back screen. But turning it on isn’t as intuitive as it could be. You won’t find the word “histogram” anywhere in the menu screens.

The histogram isn’t enabled on the Z8 by default. It’s one of those settings, like turning on the framing grid, that is somewhat buried deep in the menu system, and even then isn’t all that clear.

Histogram for Shooting Photos

I’ll start with enabling the histogram when shooting photos. The display when shooting videos is handled separately (more info below). 

The gist is that you need to enable the histogram in the display presets. And you do those individually for the viewfinder display and the back screen (or monitor) display. 

You can find this setting under: 

Custom Settings Menu > d Shooting/display > d18 Custom viewfinder shooting display

or 

Custom Settings Menu > d Shooting/display > d17 Custom monitor shooting display
Nikon Z8 Menu Screenshot - Custom Viewfinder shooting display

When you go into that, you’ll see a screen where you can select which display presets are active when you scroll them using the camera’s DISP button. Click on the OK button to check or uncheck each preset. Unchecked presets won’t be shown when you cycle through the displays on the back screen or viewfinder. 

Nikon Z8 Menu Screenshot - Custom Viewfinder shooting display presets

But what’s not immediately apparent is that you can edit each of these. Press the right button (the right side of the main control wheel on the back of the camera, just next to the OK button). Then you’ll see another panel that shows the individual display items that are active for that display preset.

You’ll notice that the grid is not selected by default. So go down to that and check the box. That will make it show up in the mockup. 

Then hit the menu button to save and back out of that menu item. 

This only enables it in that specific display preset. If you want it enabled in others, you’ll have to do it for each one. 

Brightness Information Display for Shooting Video

When shooting video, there are actually two ways to represent brightness information. The first is a traditional histogram, which is the default option. But there’s also a wave-form monitor, and you can choose whether it displays small or larger. 

It’s a two-step process to enable this. 

Step 1: Select Brightness Information Display

The first step is to choose what kind of brightness information display you want to use. The options are a histogram (default) or a waveform monitor. The waveform monitor is available in two sizes, standard and large.

Whatever you have this set to is reflected when the enable the brightness information in the display presets below. 

You can find that setting under:

Custom Settings Menu > g Video > g15 Brightness information display
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Menu for Brightness information display

Step 2: Enable the Brightness Information Display

The next step is to enable the grid display on the display preset you’re using. You can do it separately for the viewfinder and the back screen. I’m doing it for the viewfinder here, but the process is the same for the back display (or monitor, as it’s called in the menu system). 

You can find this setting under: 

Custom Settings Menu > g Video > g17 Custom viewfinder shooting display

or 

Custom Settings Menu > g Video > g16 Custom monitor shooting display

When you go into that, you’ll see a screen where you can select which display presets are active when you scroll them using the camera’s DISP button. Click on the OK button to check or uncheck each preset. Unchecked presets won’t be shown when you cycle through the displays on the back screen or viewfinder. 

Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Menu Framing Grids Video Mode

But what’s not immediately apparent is that you can edit each of these. Press the right button (the right side of the main control wheel on the back of the camera, just next to the OK button). Then you’ll see another panel that shows the individual display items that are active for that display preset.

Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Menu Setting to Enable Histogram when Shooting Video
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Menu Setting to Enable Histogram when Shooting Video

A Quick Video Guide

Here’s a quick video version I put together to show how it’s done:

YouTube video

I’m putting together a growing collection of video quick guides to using the Nikon Z8.

Video: Nikon Z8 Quick Guides

Nikon Z8 Manual & Firmware Updates

  • You can find the Nikon Z8 manual here [PDF]. There’s also an online reference guide.
  • You can find the latest Nikon Z8 firmware and related software updates here. Nikon released an updated version (C:Ver.1.01) on August 23, 2023.

Nikon Z8 Price & Availability

The Nikon Z8 was released in May 2023. For good reason, it has been highly sought after. It is still a hot seller, but it’s starting to show up in stock in more places. 

The Z8 It packs many of the features of the flagship Z9 into a smaller form factor and is touted by Nikon as the true successor to the Nikon D850 DSLR (and also as “the ultimate hybrid camera”). 

It’s sold in various configurations, including:

Check the current availability and price at:

Nikon Z8 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera / Body Only
  • 45.7MP FX-Format Stacked CMOS Sensor
  • 8.3K 60p N-RAW, 4.1K 60p ProRes RAW
  • Lightweight Design, 30% Smaller than Z9
  • Up to 20 fps Raw, 30 fps JPEG Shooting
  • 493-Point AF, AI-Based Subject Detection
Nikon Z8 with NIKKOR Z 24-120mm ƒ/4 S Zoom Lens
  • with NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S Zoom Lens
  • 45.7MP FX-Format Stacked CMOS Sensor
  • 8.3K 60p N-RAW, 4.1K 60p ProRes RAW
  • Lightweight Design, 30% Smaller than Z9
  • Up to 20 fps Raw, 30 fps JPEG Shooting
  • 493-Point AF, AI-Based Subject Detection

Essential Accessories for the Nikon Z8

Some accessories are optional, but these are pretty much essential. And they don’t come with the camera as standard.

FTZ II Lens Mount Adapter

If you’re upgrading from a Nikon DSLR and have F-mount lenses you want to use on the Z8, don’t forget to pick up an FTZ II lens mount adapter. This lets you use Nikon / NIKKOR F-mount lenses on Nikon Z mirrorless camera bodies while retaining autofocus, stabilization, and other features. And because there’s no glass, there’s no impact on image quality or light loss.

Nikon FTZ II Mount Adapter
Allows use of Nikon F-mount lenses on Nikon Z mirrorless cameras with no loss of image quality.

Memory Cards for the Nikon Z8

The Nikon Z8 has two memory card slots. One takes CFexpress Type B or XQD memory cards. The other takes SD cards. I’ve put together a more detailed post on Nikon Z8 memory card recommendations, but here are some quick recommendations. 

Slot 1: CFexpress Type B 
SanDisk Extreme Pro (SDCFE) CFexpress Type B
  • Type: CFexpress Type B
  • Write Speed: 1200 MB/s
  • Read Speed: 1700 MB/s
ProGrade Digital Cobalt CFexpress Type B
  • Type: CFexpress Type B
  • Write Speed: 1500 MB/s
  • Read Speed: 1700 MB/s
Lexar Professional Gold Series CFexpress Type B
  • Type: CFexpress Type B
  • Write Speed: 1500 MB/s
  • Read Speed: 1750 MB/s
Nikon 660 GB MC‑CF660G CFexpress Type B
  • Type: CFexpress Type B
  • Write Speed: 1500 MB/s
  • Read Speed: 1700 MB/s
Slot 2: SDXC UHS-II V90
ProGrade Digital V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC UHS-II V90
  • Write Speed: Up to 250 MB/s
  • Read Speed: Up to 300 MB/s
SanDisk Extreme Pro V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC UHS-II V90
  • Write Speed: Up to 260 MB/s
  • Read Speed: Up to 300 MB/s
Lexar Professional 2000x Gold V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC UHS-II V90
  • Read Speed: Up to 300 MB/s

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2024-03-01 at 15:01. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

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David Coleman

I'm a professional photographer based in Washington, DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and many places in between. I've been shooting for 30+ years, and my photos and time-lapse videos have appeared in a bunch of different publications, from major newspapers to magazines and books, billboards, TV shows, professional sports stadiums, museums, and even massive architectural scrims covering world-famous buildings while they're being renovated. You can see some of my travel photography here and here.

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