How to Enable the Nikon Z8 Sensor Shield to Minimize Dust Spots on Your Photos

The Nikon Z8’s sensor shield is a very useful feature that closes over the sensor to reduce the risk of dust settling on the sensor when you’re switching lenses. But it’s disabled by default. Here’s how to turn it on.

Screenshot of menu system of Nikon Z8 Sensor Shield feature to prevent dust spots on the sensor
Last Updated:
Filed Under: Mirrorless Cameras
Topics: Nikon, Nikon Z8

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Dust on the sensor can make for some ugly splotches on your photos. The built-in sensor cleaning function, which shakes the sensor at very high speed, does an OK job. And you can also minimize the visual effects by using large apertures, but that’s not always a good solution. A better bet is to keep dust off the sensor to begin with.

But that’s easier said than done. Every time you change a lens, there’s a good chance of some dust sneaking its way in there. And that’s even more likely when you’re out and about shooting in dusty environments, obviously. And with their static charge, digital camera sensors are literal dust magnets.

With DSLRs, there’s at least a mirror there to help intercept floating dust particles. It’s definitely not a complete solution—plenty of dust can still find its way onto the sensor.

But with a mirrorless camera, the sensor is fully exposed. It’s made even worse by the shortened flange focal length of mirrorless cameras, which makes the sensor even more exposed.

The Nikon Z8, comes with a solution. 1 It’s in the form of a shield, or cover, that goes across to protect the sensor when the camera it turned off. And when you’re changing lenses, that can make a huge difference, because any dust is going to hit the shield rather than the sensor itself.

But, somewhat oddly, the feature is disabled on the Z8 by default.

It’s easy to do, but it can make a real difference in how often you have to deal with dust bunnies when you edit your photos.

NB: Before doing this, make sure the sensor is free of dust as much as possible by using a bulb blower on it, if necessary. 

How to Enable the Sensor Shield on the Nikon Z8

You can find the setting under:

Setup Menu > Sensor shield behavior at power off
Screenshot of menu system of Nikon Z8 Sensor Shield feature to prevent dust spots on the sensor

When you go to the submenu, you get these two options. The default selection is Sensor shield stays open.

Screenshot of menu system of Nikon Z8 Sensor Shield feature to prevent dust spots on the sensor

To enable the sensor shield, choose Sensor shield closes

Screenshot of menu system of Nikon Z8 Sensor Shield feature to prevent dust spots on the sensor

You’ll get this popup information. 

Screenshot of menu system of Nikon Z8 Sensor Shield feature to prevent dust spots on the sensor

Clean Image Sensor

There’s another feature that works well in conjunction with the sensor shield. I’ve covered it in more detail separately, but here’s the short version.

The Nikon Z8, as with many digital cameras in recent years, includes a built-in sensor cleaning function. The gist is that it momentarily vibrates the sensor to (hopefully) shake free any dust particles clinging to the sensor. It can be useful, although it’s not a whole solution by itself. 

By default, this setting is to clean the image sensor every time the camera is powered off. If you want to manually engage it or turn the feature off, you can find it in the adjacent menu item. 

Screenshot of menu system of Nikon Z8 Sensor Shield feature to prevent dust spots on the sensor

Things Worth Knowing

  • If you do need to use a dust blower on your sensor to blast away any dust, you’ll need to turn the shield feature off first. Otherwise, you’ll obviously just be blowing dust off the shield, not off the sensor itself.
  • Don’t ever use one of those pressurized can dust blowers on a camera sensor. You can end up with marking residue, and they often come out very cold, potentially damaging the sensor. If you do need to use a blower, an old-school bulb blower is a much safer option.
  • This also goes for the Nikon Z9. It also has a sensor shield feature, and it’s disabled by default. You can enable it with the same steps.

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. They’re not the only cameras to do it; a handful of others, like higher-end Sony cameras, also have a sensor shield.[]

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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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