Space station astronauts receive Nikon’s flagship full-frame mirrorless camera

Nikon was pleased to announce that the Nikon Z 9 was launched into orbit to the International Space Station (ISS) in January, helping NASA astronauts capture the iconic and breathtaking images of Earth and space in stellar quality and clarity. This is a landmark achievement for the Nikon Z series, as this will be Nikon’s first mirrorless camera used by the space station crew.

Multiple Z 9 bodies along with an impressive selection of NIKKOR Z lenses have been sent to the orbiting laboratory on the 20th Northrop Grumman commercial resupply services mission for NASA. The Cygnus cargo spacecraft, carried on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on January 30th, 2024.

The Z 9 uses the latest mirrorless technology and is replacing the current inventory of Nikon D6 and D5 digital SLR cameras on the space station, with the D5 in service since 2017. Since the Apollo 15 mission more than 50 years ago, Nikon cameras and lenses have been used by NASA for space exploration on various missions and the space shuttles. Starting in 1999, Nikon cameras (the Nikon F5) and NIKKOR lenses have been used aboard the orbiting laboratory to aid in scientific research, maintenance, and aiding astronauts capturing the iconic images of Earth, the heavens, and beyond. The gear is used both inside the space station, but also in the unrelenting vacuum of space in a special “blanket” developed by NASA. In 2008, NASA took delivery of the D2XS digital SLR, and in 2013, 38 Nikon D4 digital SLR cameras and 64 NIKKOR lenses were delivered to the space station crew.

The Nikon Z series of mirrorless cameras launched in 2018, and since then has benefitted from the latest innovation, constant firmware updates and a rapidly expanding line of NIKKOR Z lenses. The Z 9 is Nikon’s flagship mirrorless full frame camera, well regarded for its extremely robust build, unwavering reliability for professionals and next generation technology. The Z 9 is the first camera of its type to eliminate a shutter, minimizing moving parts for maximum durability. The cameras used on the orbiting laboratory are physically unmodified, meaning terrestrial consumers have access to the same build quality as the space station crew in space. This is a testament, certifying that Nikon technology and the Z 9 is capable of thriving in the extreme rigors of living in zero gravity and space exploration.

While the camera is physically the same, Nikon engineers worked directly with NASA to create a custom dedicated firmware to better serve the astronauts and the environment in space. This includes expanding noise reduction to faster shutter speeds to account for the constant bombardment of cosmic radiation that the crew and gear are subject to about the space station. Additional changes have been made to the file naming sequence, as well as default settings and controls that are optimised for life aboard the orbiting laboratory and for being enclosed in the protective covering for exterior missions. Changes have also been made to the in-camera FTP and transfer protocol to simplify the astronaut’s workflow, increase efficiency and reduce power consumption when sending images from space to Earth.

New Nikon cameras and NIKKOR lenses aboard the space station

As NASA integrates the latest technology of Nikon’s mirrorless camera system, a selection of lenses has also been sent to assist astronauts. The shipment consisted of 13 Z 9s, a total of more than 15 NIKKOR Z lenses, including super-telephoto and macro lenses, and 15 FTZ II adapters.

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Yesterday Nikon announced the release of its latest firmware: version 2.00 for the full-frame, FX-format mirrorless camera, the Nikon Z 8.

The new firmware is the Z 8’s first major update since its launch, offering users a significant improvement to their shooting – whether that be of images or video – thanks to the inclusion of cutting-edge functions also found in the Nikon Z 9 and the Nikon Z f.

Designed with bird photographers in mind, a dedicated [Birds] feature has been added to the Z 8’s AF subject detection options, increasing bird-detection performance in a variety of high-contrast backgrounds, including forests and rocky mountains and in various states – flying or perched. This enables users to produce razor sharp shorts that surpass all expectations, even for those birds that have unique appearances that are harder to identify.

Firmware version 2.00 for the Z 8 enforces new Auto Capture functionality which introduces automatic shooting for both still images and video by pre-configuring auto capture criteria, including motion, distance, and subject detection. These options can be used either separately or together, according to the user’s needs.

Additionally, the guarantee of high-resolution photos has been made possible thanks to the new pixel shift shooting function, using dedicated software to merge multiple NEF (RAW) files. This is ideal for capturing the finest details in subjects with complex designs – such as buildings and art pieces, with precise rendering of the subject’s colours, textures, and structures.

What’s more, the firmware update also offers a new Rich Tone Portrait Picture Control, harnessing the rich tones of subjects while retaining the most intricate details – essential for portrait photography. In fact, users can now assign further functions and operations to custom control and have the option to exit zoom with a half-press release which improves the general useability of the Z 8.

But the list of functions made accessible thanks to firmware version 2.00 doesn’t end there. The full list, along with access to download – free of charge – can be found on the Nikon download centre.

You can download the new firmware here:

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Yesterday Nikon announced the release of Nikon Tether Ver. 2.0.0 – a free of charge, easy-to-use computer software that enhances usability for tethered shooting*1 with a Nikon camera.

Functions that were previously only included with Camera Control Pro 2*2; such as the configuration of a wide variety of camera settings, live view display during remote tethered shooting, and support for video recording, have excitingly now been made available with Ver. 2.0.0.

This new software helps to create a more efficient workflow for photographers shooting in a studio setting, enabling them to showcase their work to the client on a large monitor, whilst proceeding with the shoot simultaneously. In addition, the variety of camera settings that can be configured remotely from the computer have also been increased, supporting professionals to shoot both still images and video in a range of different scenarios – taking their work to the next level whilst maintaining optimum quality.

Designed with convenience in mind, the user interface showcases an organised layout of various options available with tethered shooting. Users can freely adjust the layout of the live view and control displays to better suit their individual needs. The simple, yet multi-functional design enables intuitive operation without hesitation, for increased productivity.

Primary features

  • Support for still-image and video recording
  • The functions that were available for a charge with Camera Control Pro 2, are now available, for free
  • Addition of a live view display, adding greater versatility and convenience to remote tethered shooting from a computer
  • Camera operation functions for control over shooting settings that are unique to Nikon, such as Picture Control and Active D-Lighting
  • Users can select the format (JPEG, RAW, HEIF) in which images are recorded. What’s more, when recording to both card slots (RAW + JPEG or HEIF), the user can choose to have only the JPEG or HEIF images transferred to the computer
  • Wireless control is also possible by using the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi to connect to the computer with Nikon’s free Wireless Transmitter Utility software
  • Supports an efficient workflow with the switch between still-image and video shooting, and a multi-functional yet simple and easy-to-use user interface
  • The application window layout can be arranged to suit the user’s preferences for flexible use in any situation

*1 The process of connecting a camera to a computer or tablet and confirming images real-time on-screen as they are shot.

*2 Current users of Camera Control Pro 2 are recommended to use NX Tether to support a new camera.

Compatible OS

Windows Version:

Microsoft Windows 11

Microsoft Windows 10

Mac Version:

macOS Sonoma 14

macOS Ventura 13

macOS Monterey 12

Cameras supported with Ver. 2.0.0*1

Digital-SLR Cameras: D6, D780

Mirrorless Cameras: Z 9, Z 8, Z 7II, Z 6II, Z 7, Z 6

*1 When a Nikon camera other than one of those listed as being supported with Ver.2.0.0 is connected, only some basic tethered shooting functions are available for use.

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Nikon Owner issue 81 front coverFRONT COVER BY ROSS HODDINOTT


Elena Dudar

By Gray Levett

By Gillian Greenwood
Gillian Greenwood continues her benchmark series on women photographers of today with a feature on award-winning travel and hotel photographer Michelle Chaplow, who has photographed a number of UNESCO-recognised buildings and hotels in more than sixty countries during her career.

By John Archer-Thomson
Ecologist, photographer and writer John Archer-Thomson returns to Nikon Owner with the second part of his feature on Western Canada, which includes stories of black bears, sea otters and ‘old growth’ forest. He shares
his and his wife Sally’s colourful adventures with us in photographic detail.

By Heather Angel
The revered wildlife photographer and writer Heather Angel brings her considerable expertise to the subject of water and its effect on marsh marigolds in spring.

By Andrew Main Wilson
Our globe-trotting adventurer Andrew Main Wilson explains that for him it is the lesser-known and least-visited countries that have created the greatest sense of photographic fulfilment. Burundi is one such country.

By Becky Danese
Technical writer Becky Danese guides us through the highways and byways, the pluses and minuses, of using expiring or expired film for a shoot.

By Gillian Greenwood
Gillian Greenwood looks at the extraordinary work of the late social documentary photographer Shirley Baker and talks to award-winning filmmaker Jason Figgis about his remarkable film Shirley Baker: Life Through A Lens.

Becky Danese reviews a new audiobook Landscape Photography for Mirrorless and Digital SLR Users by Daniel Lezano and Ross Hoddinott.

Simon Stafford answers the Technical Helpline

Words by Gray Levett
When the Nikon F was released in 1959, it was accompanied by a set of Nikkor lenses whose focal lengths were marked in centimetres. There are other markings too, known today as ‘tick marks’. Gray Levett describes them in detail and Tony Hurst captures a Nikon F fitted with a 5cm f/2 Nikkor-S tick-marked lens & rare lens hood.

By Gray Levett
Although Jimi Hendrix’s all-too-brief music career spanned only four short years, he is widely celebrated as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music. Music photographer Michael Putland’s image captures him at his prime.

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Nikon Zf Roadshow is coming to Grays of Westminster!

Zf Roadshow is coming to Grays of Westminster


We are delighted to announce that Grays of Westminster will be hosting a Nikon Roadshow open day on the 27th October from 11am-4pm with the fantastic Bruno Murari, Nikon trainer.

Come along and see the new Nikon Zf, see Nikon’s new lenses and have your questions answered by Bruno and the Grays of Westminster team. And come and say hello to our Nikon Owner staff as well.

No appointment necessary.

Add to your calendar.


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