Firmware Update for All Nikon Z Cameras – And Our Wishlist Gets Smaller

Tips & Techniques

Nikon Z5 and 24-70mm Kit

Nikon just announced firmware updates for its entire Z-series camera lineup, to be released on April 26. Rather than routine bug fixes, all the changes Nikon is listing so far are performance related. Let’s take a look at the features that were added to each camera.

Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II

The new firmware for both the Z6 II and Z7 II is called version 1.20, and it’s primarily an update to autofocus speed and tracking performance. Nikon’s wording in the press release is pretty confusing, but here are the improvements we seem to be getting:

  • Faster autofocus in low light
  • Better tracking when using face detection, eye detection, or subject-tracking AF
  • Improved face and eye detection when using external speedlights

Nikon Z6

Nikon is not limiting the firmware updates to just its newest cameras. The previous generation Z6 and Z7 are getting updates as well, along with the less expensive Nikon Z5 and Z50. Here are the Nikon Z6’s updates, with version 3.30:

  • “Save Focus Position” option, to let you retain the current focusing distance when turning off and on the camera, as opposed to resetting focus to infinity
  • Voice memo function (same as on some of Nikon’s pro DSLRs, like the D5 and D6)

Nikon Z7

For whatever reason, the Z7 does not gain the voice memo function, so there’s only one feature added to it in version 3.30:

  • “Save Focus Position” option

Nikon Z5

The Nikon Z5’s firmware will be version 1.10, and it has two new features:

  • “Save Focus Position” option
  • Faster autofocus in low light conditions when using the low-light AF mode

Nikon Z50

Lastly, firmware version 2.10 for the Nikon Z50 will add one new feature:

  • “Save Focus Position” option

Our Take

Even though this is a relatively minor update, it still fixes one of the biggest complaints in our Nikon Z wishlist – the “Save Focus Position” option. This was a strange problem with the first Z cameras, where any Nikon Z lenses would reset focus to infinity when turning off and on the camera, even when set to manual focus. Although Nikon fixed the issue on the Z6 II and Z7 II, that was little comfort to existing Z-system users, until now. I personally use the Nikon Z7 as my main camera, and this issue has always bothered me, so I’m looking forward to installing the firmware update later this week.

It remains to be seen how significant the autofocus updates are going to be for the Z6 II, Z7 II, and Z5. Nikon’s wording in the press release is quite confusing and leaves room for interpretation about how significant the changes are. We’ll be testing the level of improvements and including that information in our upcoming Z6 II and Z7 II reviews.

The one other feature that Nikon is adding is a “voice memo” option for the Nikon Z6. (Nikon also says it’s planning to add the same feature to the Z6 II at a later date.) This option should be useful for making notes in the field about the photos you’re taking, such as information about who’s in a photo at a wedding, or post-processing ideas you have in the field. It’s a bit surprising that – as far as we know – this feature won’t appear on the Z7 or Z7 II any time soon, given that those are Nikon’s higher end Z-series cameras.

Nikon’s full press release is below:

NIKON TO RELEASE NEW FIRMWARE FOR Z SERIES MIRRORLESS CAMERAS ON APRIL 26

MELVILLE, NY – Nikon Inc. is pleased to announce that firmware Ver. 1.20 for the Z 7II and Z 6II, firmware Ver. 3.30 for the Z 7 and Z 6, firmware Ver 1.10 for the Z 5, and firmware Ver. 2.10 for the Z 50 will be released on April 26.

Firmware Ver. 1.20 for the Z 7II and Z 6II will offer increased AF performance, including faster focusing when shooting with AF in low light situations. Further, AF usability when using an external Speedlight will also increase, through improvements to detection performance in scenes where it was difficult to detect faces and eyes, as well as improvements to subject visibility during live view shooting. In addition, tracking frames used for face and eye detection, as well as subject-tracking AF have been improved, enabling smoother and more stable shooting.

Additional firmware updates will also be available on April 26 for other Z series cameras. These updates include firmware Ver. 3.30 for the Z 7 and Z 6, as well as Ver. 2.10 for the Z 50, which will add the Save Focus Position option that allows the current focus position to be saved when the camera is turned off and restored when next turned on. The new firmware for the Z 6 will also add the voice memo recording/play function, popular with the D6. The addition of the voice memo recording/play function is also planned for the Z 6II in a future firmware update.

Further, firmware Ver. 1.10 for the Z 5 will include faster AF detection speed during low light situations when shooting in the Low-Light AF mode, thereby improving usability. The Z 5 will also gain the Save Focus Position option.

For more information on the latest Nikon products, including the latest firmware updates, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

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