Yes, the Z 8 is 30 percent smaller than the Z 9, and 15 percent smaller than the D850—in case if you’re a DSLR shooter who’s been waiting to move to a Nikon mirrorless. But in the hands of wedding videographer Sharrone Calafiore, the Z 8’s size and weight was just the beginning—but a significant one, to be sure. Wedding days are long; lighter and smaller gear will be…well, let’s say a bit of a blessing for Sharrone and her crew. “As videographers, we’re sometimes carrying three or more bodies,” she says, “and with Z 8s, it’s going to be easy to carry them in one rolling bag.”
The Big Benefit
Most important, though, was confidence—specifically autofocus confidence she never had prior to this camera. “I was blown away by the Eye AF tracking,” she says. “There was an instance of incredibly low light, and the camera was instantly finding the subject’s eye.”
The Z 8 represents a big change for Sharrone, as she recently switched out her previous system for Nikon gear. In her years of experience as a videographer she’d relied on manual focus, using focus peaking for confirmation. That changed with the video she made with the Z 8. “With my previous system I didn’t feel the autofocus was reliable,” she says. “But the autofocus with the Z 8 is ridiculous—I was in situations where people would walk past my lens and the Eye AF on my subject didn’t budge; there was no loss of focus, no hunting for focus. It never came off the subject.”
And if she needs to check focus, the Z 8’s zoom on/off control offers instant verification. “While I’m recording, I can punch in and magnify something or someone to be sure of focus. The subject may be moving around, or the lighting can be changing, and even when I know the AF is working, sometimes I just want to see if maybe I’m a little soft.
With my previous system, I had to stop, punch in close, then start up again. With the Z 8 I can do it while recording. It’s one of those ‘little big things’ that’s great to know you have.”
Sharrone’s video is a showcase for both her style and the ability of the Z 8 to handle the demands of a real-life scenario: a couple renewing their marriage vows in circumstances that mimic situations she deals with at every wedding: low light, people in motion, creation of idealized, romantic sequences and spontaneous, unexpected opportunities to capture subtleties of expression and personality. It was also a showcase for the quality of her go-to lenses for wedding videography—the NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.2 S and the NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S.
“It was an authentic shoot,” Sharrone says. “The bride is a model and was hired as that, but then we found out it was the five-year anniversary for her and her husband, and we ended up having an actual renewal of vows as the subject of our video.”
Sharrone’s video is a showcase for both her style and the ability of the Z 8 to handle the demands of a real-life scenario ...
The Beauty Part
Because she’s relatively new to the Z system, there are several features of the Z 8 that she’s still looking forward to exploring. From a portrait perspective, there are two, which were introduced to the Z system by the Z 8, that are of special interest. One is Skin Softening, an effect that softens a subject’s skin without affecting anything else. The second is Portrait Impression Balance, a setting that allows the fine-tuning of hues commonly associated with skin.
Ultimately everything the camera offers will be judged by how well it serves Sharrone’s style and achieves the level of quality she demands. Performance, consistency, confidence, pro-quality results—those are the key words.
“I’m not a person who buys into the ‘latest and greatest’—it has to feel right, it has to look good,” she says. “Most of my peers, on the artistic side—we’re not gear heads. All those fancy spec words are foreign to us and make our heads spin. We just want a camera to do what we need it to do, and if it can make our day easier and give us the features that help us concentrate on the visuals, that’s what we’re interested in. I would not have considered moving to the Z system otherwise…and frankly, it didn’t take long for me to be convinced.”