Silent Shooting with the Nikon Z8

Here’s how to set the Nikon Z8 up to shoot (almost) silently.

Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Menu Setting - Silent Mode ON
Last Updated:
Filed Under: Mirrorless Cameras
Topics: Nikon, Nikon Z8

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When you take the Nikon Z8 out of the box and start taking photos, it can be amazing how quiet it is. Especially if you’re updating from a DSLR like the D850.

That’s because the Z8 only has an electronic shutter—there’s nothing mechanical moving to make a sound. It’s not even a hybrid shutter, which many recent mirrorless cameras have adopted. So, crucially, there’s no mirror slap or mechanic shutter movement. 1

On the Z8, that sound you’re hearing when you press the shutter is actually artificially generated.

But what if you want to shoot silently? Maybe you’re shooting skittish wildlife. Or a theater performance.

Here’s a rundown of how to set the camera up to get it as quiet as possible. There are two parts to it.

But first, it’s worth noting that the “silent” we’re talking about it here is more of a subjective “I can’t hear it” kind of thing rather than an objective scientific observation. What I mean by that is that you can turn off all the noise-making settings on the camera, but there still might be faint sounds coming from the lens during autofocus, adjusting the lens aperture, or the camera going into standby mode (which, again, is the lens aperture). There are some workarounds for some of these below, but there are other moving parts of the camera–especially within the lens–that can still make some noise.

Silent Mode

The quickest and most direct option is to use the dedicated Silent Mode.

In reality, this doesn’t do anything different to the Camera Sounds option below. That is, it won’t dampen anything different. But it’s a quicker one-touch way to override the settings in the Camera Sounds section.

It’s a simple ON/OFF toggle, and you can find it under:

Setup menu > Silent mode
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Menu Setting - Silent Mode ON

The default setting is OFF. 

Adjusting Camera Sounds

The Silent mode feature turns all sounds on and off, but the Z8 also gives you the option for more granular control. You can disable or change the volume of the sounds of the camera’s feedback system, from beeps for autofocus lock to the shutter sound.

This section doesn’t offer any more silence than the Silent mode switch above, but they’re obviously very closely related. And there are times when I don’t require absolute silence, but I do want the camera to be discreet while still retaining some audible feedback. So I might set the beeps off and the shutter sound to low (which is my standard combination of settings).

You can find these settings under:

Setup menu > Camera sounds
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Menu Setting - Camera sounds

Here’s a rundown of the specific options this gives you access to.

Shutter Sound

That shutter sound you hear is fake. It’s an artificial sound, because the Z8 doesn’t have a mechanical (or even hybrid) shutter.

What that means is that you can turn it off. And you can adjust its volume. 2

To turn it on or off, go to:

Setup menu > Camera sounds > Shutter sound
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Menu Setting - Shutter Sound

The default setting is ON.

Change Shutter Sound & Beep Volume

You can also change the volume, with a choice of 1, 2, or 3 (loudest). To do that, go to:

Setup menu > Camera sounds > Volume
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Menu Setting - Camera sounds volume
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Menu Setting - Camera sounds volume

This volume setting controls both the shutter sound and the beeps.

Turn Beeps ON or OFF & Adjust Sound & Volume

You can enable beeps for various camera feedbacks, including when navigating the menu, etc.

To turn beeps on or off, go to:

Setup menu > Camera sounds > Beep on/off
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Menu Setting - Beep Off

The default setting is OFF. There’s another choice here in addition to the expected ON/OFF. And that is “Off (touch controls only)”. It’s pretty self-explanatory: it will only use the beeps when you’re using the back touchscreen (i.e., not the buttons). 

Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Menu Setting - Beep on/off options

You can also adjust the volume of these (same setting as above) as well as a choice of low or high pitch. The pitch setting is at:

Setup menu > Camera sounds > Pitch
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Menu Setting - Sounds Pitch
Screenshot of Nikon Z8 Menu Setting - Pitch High Low

Things Worth Knowing

  • Considerations when shooting video. It’s worth clarifying that the kind of sound reduction I’m detailing here is external sound. That is, sound you or your subject might hear.

    There is another kind of sound that is particularly relevant to shooting video if you’re using on-board audio recording, and that is the internal sound of autofocus motors or internal stabilization or buttons working. At least in part, that is a different kind of problem, and the solutions can be different.

    When shooting video, turn down or off the camera sounds and enabling silent mode are useful steps, but it can also be helped enormously by using a manual-focus cine lens. They tend to have very smooth and quiet focusing.

    Or, better yet, use off-camera sound recording, which will bypass this issue and also nearly always give you better-quality sound.
  • Turning on Silent Mode has a few consequences worth knowing about:
    • The frame advance rate when shooting high-speed burst modes might drop.
    • It’s not compatible with flash units (they won’t fire).
    • Long-exposure noise reduction is disabled.
  • There’s a special exception for the standby timer. Even when using Silent Mode, it will still make a sound when the standby timer is activated or ends. But there’s a workaround you can use to mute it. In the setting Custom Setting C3 > Power off delay > Standby timer, choose No limit.
  • Quietening a lens. Different lenses have different noises. Some have quite a click when the optical image stabilization engages. Some autofocus mechanisms are quieter and smoother than others. And some are quieter than others at moving the aperture blades. One small step towards quietening the lens blades is to use a smaller (i.e., higher number) aperture. Say, ƒ/8 or ƒ/11 instead of ƒ/2.8. It doesn’t always make much difference, but it doesn’t hurt to try if you’re really trying to minimize sound.
  • An old analog approach to muffling camera noise is to use a camera blimp, like this one.

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. One of the downsides of a fully electronic shutter is that you can get rolling shutter distortion with fast-moving subjects. Nikon has tackled this on the Z8 by using a special stacked CMOS sensor with a high-speed scan rate.[]
  2. The Nikon Z8 doesn’t currently have customizable shutter sounds, but that feature was added to the Z9 with firmware version 4.0.[]

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2023-09-30 at 09:32. 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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