How to Format Memory Cards in a Nikon Z8

The Nikon Z8 has two methods for formatting the memory cards. One is obvious. The other is less obvious but is also quicker.

Nikon Z8 Mirrorless Camera. Photo by David Coleman " havecamerawilltravel.com
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Topics: Nikon, Nikon Z8

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There are two ways to format memory cards in the Nikon Z8. One method is obvious. The other is a little less so but also quicker.

And it’s worth mentioning upfront that even though it’s quite possible to format memory cards using a computer, it’s generally best practice to format memory cards in the camera they’ll be used in. That’s true with any digital camera. It lets the camera set the card up with the filesystem and folder hierarchy that it needs and expects and reduces the risk of problems to do with the memory card.

So here are the two methods available on the Nikon Z8.

Method #1: Using the Menu

This is the most obvious method: using the camera’s menu system. You can find it under:

Setup Menu > Format memory card
Nikon Z8 Format Memory Card Screenshot of Camera Settings Menu

You’ll get an option to choose between the CFepxress/XQD card slot or the SD card slot. 

Nikon Z8 Format Memory Card Screenshot of Camera Settings Menu CFexpress/XQD slot

If you choose CFexpress/XQD slot, you’ll then be given the option to choose between a full format and a quick format. 

Nikon Z8 Format Memory Card Screenshot of Camera Settings Menu Quick Format

In most day-to-day uses, the quick format will suffice. That’s the standard formatting procedure used on most cameras. It basically wipes the card, but it doesn’t actually go through sector by sector and wipe all of the data. After a quick format, it’s still often possible to recover data using data recovery software

The main reason not to use the full format option in day-to-day use is that it takes quite a lot longer. And you’ll get a warning to that effect if you choose that option. 

Nikon Z8 Format Memory Card Screenshot of Camera Settings Menu Warning that Full Format Takes a Long Time

But there are two core situations where a full format is the best option.

  • The first is if you have sensitive data on the memory card that you need to be sure is wiped and can’t be recovered with standard over-the-counter methods.
  • The second is if you’ve been having trouble with the memory card and want to make sure it’s healthy and free of bad sectors. The camera’s full format isn’t a full-blown memory card repair tool, but it is a useful first step toward keeping memory cards healthy. 

Notably, if you choose to format the SD card slot, you won’t get these choices between a full or quick format. The only option with the SD card slot is the default quick format on that slot. 

Nikon Z8 Format Memory Card Screenshot of Camera Settings Menu SD Card Slot Confirmation

Method #2: Using the Quick-Format Buttons

Like a number of models preceding it, the Nikon Z8 also has a quick format option that works as a shortcut to avoid scrolling through the menu system. But it’s not quite so obvious how to use it, and there are some slight differences from how it works on some other Nikon cameras. 

There are two buttons to look for: one on the top and another on the back. They have a red “Format” label next to them.

The one on top is next to the ISO button, near the shutter button.

Nikon Z8 Mirrorless Camera
You can see the small red FORMAT icon here. While it’s not especially clear at first which button it refers to, it’s the ISO button.

The one on the back is the Delete button, which has a trash can / rubbish bin icon. It’s at the top left on the back of the camera.

Nikon Z8 Mirrorless Camera
The second FORMAT button is the trash can / rubbish bin button on the back of the camera (top left, near the viewfinder).

Press both of the red Format buttons together and hold them down for two seconds. The top screen will go blank (except for battery indicator), while on the back screen you’ll get the option to choose between CFexpress/XQD slot or SD card slot.

You then proceed just as you would through the menu system. 

Bonus Alternative

There’s a third alternative that isn’t really fully a different method, but it is another way to make a shortcut to the format function in the menu setting. And that is to add that function to the My Menu custom section of the camera’s settings. You can find more information on how to do that here.

Things Worth Knowing

  • The Nikon Z8 has two memory card slots, one of which is compatible with CFexpress Type-B and XQD memory cards, while the other is compatible with SD cards (UHS-II). I’ve put together a separate post on the best memory cards for the Nikon Z8.
  • It’s best practice to format the memory cards in the camera, not in your computer. That’s true of any digital camera. It reduces the risk of file system corruption that can lead to memory card errors. Formatting in the camera lets the camera set the card up with the folder system and filesystem it needs and expects. That said, it is possible to format them in a computer, and here’s a guide I put together on how to format memory cards on Mac.
  • You have some control over managing how the memory cards in the Z8 are used. You can treat them as sequential memory so that when one card fills up it automatically switches over to the next one as overflow. You can copy to both simultaneously to create a mirrored backup version. Or you can send image files to one and video files to another. You can also designate one slot or the other as the primary slot.
  • The Z8 does not require both memory card slots to be used in order to function, but some of the high-end video modes are designed for use with some of the fastest CFexpress Type-B cards. So if you only have an SD card inserted, some of those high-bitrate video modes might not work as expected (or at all).

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, so it might be worth getting on a waitlist sooner rather than later. 

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 2023-09-29 at 06:59. 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.

David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a professional freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. More »

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