Nikon Z8 Image Formats, Sizes & Types

The Nikon Z8 lets you choose from among a few different image file formats, as well as several frame sizes, output dimensions, and levels of compression. Here’s an explanation of the options.

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

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The Nikon Z8 has a number of options you can select from in choosing the photo output from the camera. You can choose the type of image file, the size, the crop, and the amount of compression.

These settings are likely among the first that you’ll want to set up on your new Z8. So here’s a rundown of the options, in plain English.

I’m focusing here on still images. But, of course, the Z8 also has very impressive video capabilities. I’ll cover video formats in a separate post.

Image File Formats & Quality Settings on the Nikon Z8

Image File Formats on the Nikon Z8

Two of these will be very familiar. The third might be new to you unless you’ve used a very recent generation of cameras.

RAW / .NEF

The Nikon Z8 saves 14-bit RAW files. They have the file extension .NEF, which has long been the standard for Nikon’s RAW files.

You can choose a level of compression, from lossless or two variations of high-efficiency compression. For High-efficiency compression, the version with the star uses less compression than the non-star version. So the file sizes are larger, but the image quality is closer to Lossless. Or, as Nikon puts it:

High efficiency produces pictures that compare favorably in quality to those produced by Lossless compression and are higher in quality than those produced by High efficiency.

You can find the option to change the RAW compression under:

Photo Shooting Menu (camera icon) > RAW recording
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Settings Menu Raw Recording
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Settings Menu Raw Recording options

JPEG / .JPG

This format doesn’t need much introduction. It’s as ubiquitous as any image format has been.

You can choose levels of compression from Fine (approx. 1:4 compression ratio), normal (1:8), or basic (1:16). The higher the level of compression, the more the image quality suffers.

It uses the file extension .JPG.

HEIF / .HIF

If you’re upgrading from anything other than the most recent generation of cameras, this format might be new to you. But you might have come across an extremely close relative, HEIC, especially if you use an Apple device.

I have a more detailed post on HEIF images separately, but the gist is that this is designed as a modern replacement for JPG. It has a lot more features and is vastly more flexible than the old-in-the-tooth JPG format, although is not yet anywhere near as compatible.

But in the Nikon Z8’s implementation of HEIF is actually very specifically targeted to a particular feature—it’s not offered on this camera as a general-use alternative to JPG. (It’s always possible that its use might be expanded in a future firmware update.)

The HEIF compression on the Z8 is set to be roughly similar to the JPG compression amounts: fine (approx. 1:4 compression ratio), normal (approx. 1:8), or basic (approx. 1:16). The compression codec used with HEIF is significantly more efficient than that with JPG, so the balance, inevitably a compromise, on quality and compression typically results in smaller files with better or equivalent image quality (or, conversely, better quality at similar file sizes).

It uses the .HIF file extension.

The Nikon Z8 can shoot HEIF files, but it’s not as straightforward as just choosing to save that file type. In other words, you won’t see an option to choose between JPG or HEIF directly.

That’s because the Z8 only really uses a specific feature of HEIF files: HDR or, as the implementation on the Z8 is called, HLG. 1

HLG is one of the options in the Z8’s picture controls and, specifically, tone mode. Like more conventional HDR files, HLG files rely on a wider dynamic range than is possible with the JPG format. So if you have the tone mode set to HLG, the Z8 will save HEIF files. If you have the tone mode set to SDR, it will save JPG files.

You can find the Tone Mode (which determines whether JPEG or HEIF is used, under:

Photo Shooting Menu > Tone Mode
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Settings Menu Tone Mode

For JPG, use the standard SDR. For HEIF, use HLG. 

Image Quality Options

As with most other digital cameras, the Nikon Z8 gives you a number of options in how to save image files. You can choose the image file format from the three outlined above. But you can also choose combination pairs. For example, a setting of RAW + JPEG fine will save both a RAW version and a JPG version of the same image, and the JPG version will have minimal compression applied in order to maximize image quality.

Having the option to save combinations can be useful in several ways:

  • A duplicate version can be used as a backup.
  • The JPG or HEIF version can be used for quick sharing, with the RAW version used as an archival master. This can be especially useful when you’re traveling, for example, when JPG versions are easier to work with on the road, but you want RAW versions available for more intensive processing when you get home.
  • JPG (and to some extent HEIF) can be useful in situations where you need to submit an unadulterated image to assure the recipient (such as a news agency) that the image has not be edited or manipulated.

Using the RAW+JPEG or RAW+HEIF options also enables options to save the RAW version to one memory card and the JPG or HEIF version to the other (assuming you are using both memory card slots, of course).

These are the various available options in the Z8’s image quality settings.

NB: If you’re using the tone mode HLG, for in-camera high-dynamic range (HDR) images, they can only be saved in the HEIF format, so the JPEG options won’t be available in that case.

Format Quality Setting
RAW Lossless
High efficiency *
High efficiency
JPEG / HEIF Fine (approx. 1:4)
Normal (approx. 1:8)
Basic (approx. 1:16)
RAW + JPEG / HEIF Fine (approx. 1:4)
Normal (approx. 1:8)
Basic (approx. 1:16)

You can find the image quality setting under:

Photo Shooting Menu > Image Quality
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Settings Menu Image Quality
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Settings Menu Image Quality Options

Image Area

There are several options available for the image area of the frame that’s used, ranging from the full frame (FX) to a few cropped-frame options.

It’s important to note that this setting only affects JPEG/HEIF options. RAW images are captured with the full frame, although a metadata switch affects how they’re displayed in image editors.

Image area Aspect Ratio Explanation
FX 36 x 24 (3:2) This is the full frame, equivalent to the full coverage of a frame of 35mm film.
DX 24 x 16 (3:2) This is equivalent to the coverage of Nikon’s APS-C sensors, and it has a crop factor of approximately 1.5. If you attach a DX lens to the Z8, you’ll be limited to this image area (i.e., the FX option won’t be available).
1:1 24 x 24 (1:1) This is a square aspect ratio using the full height of the sensor.
16:9 36 x 20 (16:9) This aspect ratio is conventionally used with HD video and TVs. It uses the full width of the sensor.

You can find this option under:

Photo Shooting Menu > Image area
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Settings Menu Image Area
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Settings Menu Image Area options

Image Sizes

In addition to image size (or crop) and quality, you can also select from some choices for image size.

Again, it’s important to note that this setting only affects JPEG / HEIF images. RAW images are always recorded at full size (i.e., Large).

FormatSizePixel Dimensions
FXLarge8,256 x 5,504
Medium6,192 x 4,128
Small4,128 x 2,752
DXLarge5,392 x 3,592
Medium4,032 x 2,688
Small2,704 x 1,792
1:1Large5,504 x 5,504
Medium4,128 x 4,128
Small2,752 x 2,752
16:9Large8,256 x 4,640
Medium6,192 x 3,480
Small4,128 x 2,320

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
  1. HLG stands for Hybrid Log-Gamma, and it’s a specific type of image dynamic-range technology that was originally developed for television broadcasting and other high-definition video. The difference is that it allows for more detail in the highlights and upper ranges of the dynamic range. That can be used with some HDR devices, but it doesn’t display on non-compatible devices.[]

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2023-09-28 at 16:01. 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.

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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