Nikon Z8 Sensor Cleaning

The Nikon Z8 has a clean sensor function set to run automatically on camera power off. Here’s how it works.

Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Clean Image Sensor Menu Setting
Filed Under: Mirrorless Cameras
Topics: Nikon, Nikon Z8

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Dust has always been an enemy in photography. Whether it’s dust getting in a lens, on film when you’re putting it in the enlarger to print, or settling on the sensor, it’s a very analog problem. But it can be quite a struggle to keep dust from ruining your shots.

That’s especially true with mirrorless cameras. When you’re changing lenses, the sensor is exposed. And with its static charge, it acts as a literal dust magnet. Even in the few seconds it takes to swap lenses, it’s amazing how much pesky dust can get in there. 

The Nikon Z8 (and Z9) has a sensor shield feature that adds a protective cover over the sensor when the camera is powered off. It works well, and I’ve covered that separately. But here I’m focusing on another useful feature that can help: the Z8’s sensor cleaning feature. It’s a feature that many of the better digital cameras have adopted in recent years.

It’s not exactly “cleaning” in the literal sense. There’s no wiping, scrubbing, or fluids. What it does is much simpler: it vibrates the sensor at very high speed for a second or two each time the camera powers off, with the objective of shaking any dust particles loose.

On the Z8, this feature is enabled by default to clean the sensor every time the camera shuts down, even if the menu system isn’t as clear about this as it could be. You can disable it if you want, so that there’s no automatic cleaning. Or you can manually run the process.

You find this feature on the camera’s menu system under:

Setup Menu > Clean image sensor
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Clean Image Sensor Menu Setting

Under that menu item, there are two submenu items: Start and Automatic cleaning. 

The Automatic cleaning option is that controls whether the sensor cleaning is engaged automatically when you turn the camera off or not. The first time I looked at this, I found the display a bit confusing. The OFF makes it looks like the feature is disabled. But in this case, that’s a icon indicating that the automatic cleaning is turned ON. The icon signifies that it’s engaged and that it’s engaged when the camera is turned off (that’s a graphic of the camera’s power switch).  

Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Clean Image Sensor Menu Setting

To enable or disable the feature, go to the next screen, where you have only two choices: leave it at the default setting of Clean at shutdown or turn the feature off. 

Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Clean Image Sensor Menu Setting

If you go back in the menu one level, you’ll also see the Start option. That’s to manually run the sensor cleaning. 

Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Clean Image Sensor Menu Setting

Things Worth Knowing

  • The sensor cleaning feature is worth having and worth turning on, but it’s by no means a silver bullet. I often find dust spots on the sensor even after having run the sensor cleaning operation multiple times. Admittedly, I tend to switch out lenses quite often–I’m a fan of fast primes–so I’m probably exposing the sensor more than maybe average shooters. 
  • I use this feature in combination with the sensor shield. And I’m in the habit of fairly routinely use a bulb dust blower

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 2023-09-27 at 19:31. 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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