Nikon Learn & Explore

Quick-Change Artist: Video or Stills, the Hybrid Z 8 Delivers Pro-Quality Imagery

© Kristi Odom

Nikon Z 8: - When your mission is to make a compelling connection to wildlife, slow-motion video reveals the beauty in the details. 

The subjects change. So do the locations. The gear, too. What remains constant in the imagery of wildlife photographer Kristi Odom is the mission: reveal the personality, show the commonality, the details, the environment and the life of the animals in order to inform, charm and convince, to prompt an emotional response so viewers will care; so they will admire and respect, and want to protect.

The latest gear in service to her purpose is the 45.7-megapixel Z 8, and her video and behind-the-scenes footage tell the story of how this hybrid video/stills camera will help her make the message even more compelling and complete.

“The Z 8 is definitely going to be one of my main bodies,” Kristi says, and the hybrid camera is now part of the plan for both stills and video. “At the flick of a switch, I can go back and forth between still photos and slow-motion video depending on what my subject is telling me, what I’m feeling and how I want to tell the story.” 

Kristi Odom photo of a grouse bird in the snow in Yellowstone, taken with the Z 8

© Kristi Odom

A spruce grouse in the snow of Yellowstone. Z 8, NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S, 1/1000 second, f/6.3, ISO 2500, manual exposure.

Obviously, still photography was Kristi’s first passion, but over time she realized that movement was essential to the message. “I wanted to be able to connect with nature through slow-motion video, to be able to reveal the nuances that went by too quickly for the eye to see.” 

As an example, she mentions a scene from the Z 8 video. “Seeing what it looks like when a coyote falls through a hole in the snow—that’s impossible to express it in a single photo, but with video you see the full experience, you see that like me, out there with my camera, the coyote also had its problems with the snow.” 

For another example of the power of the moving image, we would mention another scene in the video: Without slow-motion, would the blue-sky reflection in the nictitating membrane of the raven’s eye have instantly and completely caught your attention? 

Kristi Odom photo of a fox in the snow, taken with the Z 8

© Kristi Odom

Changing the Z 8 from video mode to make a still image takes just a quick flip of a switch. Z 8, NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S, 1/1250 second, f/6.3, ISO 250, manual exposure, Matrix metering.

Kristi Odom photo of a baby pronghorn, taken with the Z 8

© Kristi Odom

This nature portrait of a baby pronghorn is the result of Kristi’s low angle, the 800mm lens and her usual choice of a fast shutter speed in case there’s movement from hand holding a long lens. Z 8, NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S, 1/2000 second, f/6.3, ISO 500, manual exposure, Matrix metering.

At the flick of a switch, I can go back and forth between still photos and slow-motion video depending on what my subject is telling me, and what I’m feeling.
Kristi Odom photo of goldeneye ducks in flight, in a blur, taken with the Z 8

© Kristi Odom

Goldeneye ducks are common to the Yellowstone area. A slow shutter speed caught the motion of their fast flight over the water. Z 8, NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S, 1/30 second, f/32, ISO 200, manual exposure, Matrix metering.

On the Move

Thanks to the quick-change ability of the Z 8’s modes, Kristi can go from incredibly sharp, detailed, practically dimensional still images to high-resolution pro-quality video—all in compact, lightweight camera. “As a hybrid shooter, having that smaller camera makes it easier to hike with and to get to a location with, and it’s also easier to hold for long periods of time for video shots. The size is very important to me.”

Ease is one thing; quality is another, and at the top of Kristi’s list of most important Z 8 benefits are shooting ProRes Raw internally and 120 fps at 4K. The former provides a high-quality video file; the latter, high-resolution slow-motion imagery. Both are crucial to the power of Kristi’s storytelling imagery. 

Kristi Odom photo of icy crystals, taken with the Z 8 and 50mm macro lens

© Kristi Odom

Kristi made this image of ice crystals right outside Yellowstone. “I was fascinated by how the pattern of the ice went from triangular shapes to circles.” Z 8, NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8, 1/250 second, f/16, ISO 2000, manual exposure.

Kristi Odom photo of ice crystals, taken with a Z 8 and 50mm macro lens

© Kristi Odom

Just a few feet away from the crystals, this section of ice offered an entirely different look. Z 8, NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8, 1/250 second, f/16, ISO 2000, manual exposure, Matrix metering.

For the video, made in and around Yellowstone National Park, Kristi was checking out what the Z 8 offered and simultaneously taking full advantage of those capabilities. She shot mainly with the NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S, sometimes using a tripod or a gimbal, but mostly hand-held. 

“I really didn’t get into video until mirrorless cameras came along,” she says. “It used to be harder, but now, with all the added active stabilization in the lenses and the cameras, and the autofocus systems, it’s becoming something pretty simple that everybody can do—and you don’t need a team of people to make your videos.”

Essentially the technology caught up to her needs and her sensibility, allowing her to best communicate what she was seeing and feeling. “The tech provides a higher level of achievement,” she says. “Simply more effective images, whether stills or motion.” 

© Kristi Odom

Nikon Z 8 BTS: - A surprise result of Kristi’s video might be something heard as well as seen.

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