Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Findlay Sunrise

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In the Field

Findlay Sunrise. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. May 27, 2023.

This is my first post of an image captured with the Nikon Z 8. This scene of the Rocky Mountains is visible when you look east from my property in the East Kootenays of British Columbia. I never tire of looking at or photographing this scene and, like so many landscapes, it's always very different depending on the time of day, cloud cover, haze and/or smoke conditions, and more. This is the type of scene I love to capture with a super-telephoto lens owing to how well the long lenses "collapse" or compress the distance between the objects (in this case the ridges and distant mountains), effectively turning them into little more than graphic elements. In this shot the closest ridge (in the lower foreground) is about 4 km away and the most distant mountain is about 50 km away.

The announcement of the Z 8 in early May of 2023 was surrounded by a lot of hype, which is almost remarkable in that it's a camera that, unlike the Z 9, didn't usher in any significant new technology or features. Basically, the Z 8 is a smaller and lighter version of the Z 9 that offers much of the Z 9's high levels of performance. But, to make it smaller and lighter than the Z 9 compromises were the Z 8 has a smaller battery (with less battery life), fewer customizable buttons (that can lead to some inconveniences when shooting in the field), the loss of some functionality (e.g., no built-in GPS, no vertical controls without adding the optional MB-N12 battery pack), and different ergonomics and handling (which users may or may not prefer compared to the Z 9).

My best guess is that new owners of the Z 8 who are "upgrading" from any Nikon DSLR or from a Z 6 or Z 7 series camera will absolutely LOVE the Z 8. Its performance will, without exaggeration or hyperbole, simply amaze them. But I think new owners of the Z 8 who already own a Z 9 may have a wider range of "responses" to the Z 8. Z 9 owners who place high value on camera portability and tend to shoot "shorter" lenses (i.e., not super-telephotos) may justifiably prefer the Z 8 over the Z 9. But those Z 9 owners who value all those features "compromised" by the Z 8 - and who care less about the weight/size difference of the two cameras - or even prefer the weight, size and egonomics of the Z 9 (and I suspect many super-telephoto shooting wildlife photographers are likely to be in this group) may well prefer or even strongly prefer the Z 9.

Me? Well...while I am primarily a wildlife photographer, I DO put my cameras to multiple different uses. Some of those uses include carrying my camera for long distances (just this morning I carried it around my neck with a Z 400mm f4.5S attached on an 8 km "jaunt" in the woods). Of course in these situations the lighter weight of the Z 8 is most welcome!

However, even after less than a week of having a Z 8 in my hands I can already say that overall I strongly prefer the Z 9 over the Z 8. Why? Well...I'm one of those users who very much appreciates the additional buttons and vertical controls of the Z 9 - I use them ALL the time. I also like the larger and heavier body of the Z 9 for two reasons - not only does it fit my hand better but I prefer the handling (balance, feeling of security, room to alter my hand position, etc.) of the Z 9 with the vast majority of my lenses (and not just with my super-telephotos).

How can I sum my actual thoughts up? I do very much appreciate what the Z 8 offers and why many users will really like it. And it will serve a useful but "secondary" role in my own photography. But I have to say that the main thing the Z 8 has done for me is that it has given me a much stronger appreciation for how well thought-out and designed the Z 9 is! 😉

Here's a larger version (4800 pixel) of this "graphic" Z 8 landscape shot:

Findlay Sunrise: Download 4800 pixel image (JPEG: 1.6 MB)


1. These images - in all resolutions - are protected by copyright. I'm fine with personal uses of them (including use as desktop backgrounds or screensavers on your own computer), but unauthorized commercial use of the image is prohibited by law. Thanks in advance for respecting my copyright!

2. Like all photographs on this website, these images were captured following the strict ethical guidelines described in The Wildlife FIRST! Principles of Photographer Conduct. I encourage all wildlife photographers to always put the welfare of their subjects above the value of their photographs.

Behind the Camera

Findlay Sunrise. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. May 27, 2023.

Lossless compressed RAW (NEF) format; ISO 64.

Nikon Z 8 paired with Z Nikkor 400mm f4.5S. Hand-held. VR on in Normal mode. Single-point AF area mode.

1/125s @ f5.6; No compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Findlay Sunrise. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. May 27, 2023.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF file (and JPEG files for web use), including all global and selective adjustments, using Phase One's Capture One Pro 23. In the case of this image there were no global adjustments made. Selective local adjustments performed using Capture One Pro's layers and masking tools. In this case selective adjustments were made on 4 separate layers and included very minor selective tweaks to highlights, clarity, colour saturation, and colour balance.

Photoshop modifications were limited to the insertion of the watermark and/or text.


Findlay Sunrise. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. May 27, 2023.

Species Status in Canada*: N/A