Nikon Firmware Update for Z Series Cameras

Nikon released their second firmware update for their round of mirrorless cameras, the Z6 and Z7. The update was released on May 16, 2019, and includes a number of updates, most notable is the addition of Eye-AF. Personally, there is still much more that needs to be addressed with the Z series, but thankfully, almost all issues can be addressed with future firmware updates.

Nikon has stated that users will enjoy three main additional features following the firmware update.

These upgrades are:

  • Eye-Detection autofocus (AF) for still-image shooting
  • Extension of the low-light AF detection range
  • Addition of auto-exposure (AE) tracking capability to the continuous high-speed (extended) mode

Nikon has addressed customer feedback with this update, but a lot of the market that uses these cameras for landscape and wildlife photography are still hopeful for additional updates this summer.

Per Nikon’s announcement, here are the in-depth details on the new features.

1) Eye-Detection AF for still-image shooting

The new firmware offers Eye-Detection AF functionality that automatically detects and focuses on human eyes when using the Auto-area AF mode in both AF-S and AF-C. When the eyes of multiple subjects are detected, the multi-selector or sub-selector can be used to select the eye upon which the camera should focus. This enables precise focus on the eye of the intended individual, even when looking through the Electronic Viewfinder. This function is applicable even when the subject’s face is partially covered by another object, or in the event when a subject is frequently changing their pose.

2) AF performance improvements in low-light situations

The new firmware enables even faster autofocusing when capturing photos and video in dark or dimly lit scenes, for both stills and video. It will extend the AF detection range*1 from −1 EV to −2 EV with the Z 7, and from −2 EV to −3.5 EV with the Z 6. In addition, the Z 6 will be able to autofocus with even darker scenes, as the available low-light AF detection range*1 will be extended*2 from −4 EV to −6 EV when the Low-light AF function is enabled.

With still-image photography in AF-S mode, ISO 100, f/2.0 lens, at 20° C/68° F.

The low-light AF detection range will remain the same with the Z 7.

3) AE tracking in continuous high-speed (extended) mode

With earlier firmware versions, auto exposure (AE) was locked with the first shot in a burst of high-speed continuous shooting at approx. 9 fps (Z 7) or 12 fps (Z 6) in continuous high-speed (extended) mode. Firmware Ver. 2.0 adds support for AE tracking in continuous high-speed (extended) mode, allowing the cameras to track exposure just as it does focus (AF tracking). This helps to ensure that all images captured with a burst of high-speed continuous shooting are in focus and exhibit optimal exposure, even when the brightness of the scene changes.

The new firmware can be downloaded (no cost) from Nikon’s Download Center at the following link: https://downloadcenter.nikonimglib.com. Users will be prompted to follow the instructions provided to successfully install the firmware.

Here is my own personal wish list of updates that I hope to see in the next firmware update.

  • Ability to see the full image on the LCD display
    • Right now, the most minimal LCD view still includes camera settings, which obscure the view of certain areas on the LCD. That makes aligning your composition harder since you can’t see certain areas of the frame. Last week I was shooting and only when I loaded my files on my desktop did I notice some distracting elements that were originally blocked by camera settings on the LCD.
  • Support for CFExpress
    • XQD cards are expensive and are not the fastest media available for the Z series – that’s CFExpress cards. The cards are lightning fast, hopefully, cheaper, and they seem to be the future. But first, Nikon needs to add compatibility for the format.
  • Save settings after turn-off
    • Certain camera settings do not save when you turn the camera off. Most important to me, focus position and self-timer settings. I often shoot with a 2-second timer on and this setting rests after every turn-off. Same with the focus position and any other adjustable setting outside your three exposure settings.
  • Magnified View for Manual Focus
    • Other mirrorless models will automatically switch to a magnified view of wherever your cursor is when you adjust the manual focus dial on your lens (when in Manual Focus). That can be extremely useful for dialing in focus manually.

Here are instructions for downloading the new update:
Windows

  • Create a folder on the computer hard disk and name it as desired.
  • Download F-Z7-V103W.exe to the folder created in Step 1.
  • Run F-Z7-V103W.exe to extract the following file to a folder named “Z7Update”:
    • Z_7_0103.bin (the camera firmware)
  • Using an XQD card reader, copy “Z_7_0103.bin” to a memory card that has been formatted in the camera.
  • Note: Be sure to copy the firmware to the root (top-most) directory of the memory card. The camera will not recognize the new firmware if it is placed in a folder under the root directory.
  • Insert the memory card into the camera and turn the camera on.
  • Select Firmware version in the SETUP MENU and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the firmware update.
  • Once the update is complete, turn the camera off and remove the memory card.
  • Confirm that the firmware has been updated to the new version.

Mac OS

  • Download F-Z7-V103M.dmg.
  • Double-click the F-Z7-V103M.dmg icon to mount a disk image containing a folder named “Z7Update”, which in turn contains the following file:
    • Z_7_0103.bin (the camera firmware)
  • Using an XQD card reader, copy “Z_7_0103.bin” to a memory card that has been formatted in the camera.
  • Note: Be sure to copy the firmware to the root (top-most) directory of the memory card. The camera will not recognize the new firmware if it is placed in a folder under the root directory.
  • Insert the memory card into the camera and turn the camera on.
  • Select Firmware version in the SETUP MENU and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the firmware update.
  • Once the update is complete, turn the camera off and remove the memory card.
  • Confirm that the firmware has been updated to the new version.

D850, D7500 and D5600 DSLR Camera Firmware Update
Nikon has also released a firmware update for the D850, D5600, and D7500. The update is not substantial but includes Wi-Fi connectivity. Public feedback had called for Wi-Fi and Nikon has finally released it for certain DSLRs.  

Wi-Fi connectivity is now supported for devices running SnapBridge 2.5.4. A menu option allows your camera to link to a Wi-Fi network and connect with a smartphone, tablet, or remote control application. You can download the new update from Nikon’s Download page on their website.

Matt Meisenheimer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Meisenheimer is a photographer based in Wisconsin.  His artistry revolves around finding unique compositions and exploring locations that few have seen. He strives to capture those brief moments of dramatic light and weather, which make our grand landscapes so special.  Matt loves the process of photography – from planning trips and scouting locations, taking the shot in-field, to post-processing the final image. Matt is an active adventurer and wildlife enthusiast as well. He graduated with a degree in wildlife ecology and worked in Denali National Park and Mount Rainier National Park as a biologist. He also spent 6 months working in the deserts of Namibia before finding his path in photography. Matt’s passion for the wilderness has taken him to many beautiful places around the world. As a former university teaching assistant, Matt is passionate about instruction. It is his goal to give his students the technical and creative knowledge they need to achieve their own photographic vision. He truly enjoys working with photographers on a personal level and helping them reach their goals. You can see Matt’s work and portfolio on his webpage at www.meisphotography.com

 

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