The New Z Firmware – More than I Expected
I was in Ohio when the new Z7 / Z6 firmware was dropped. I was out shooting and not able to do the update until late at night which I did. The only thing I had to test with to see if the new eye-detection AF (not the only updated feature of this firmware) worked were the faces on the television. Dang, if it didn’t work and it works beautifully (which is spooky if you ask me)! The eye-detection is part of the Auto Area AF and when everything is set correctly (see below), a yellow box goes on the eye and you can either leave it on the eye selected or by depressing the Multi-Function dial, change it. I was really curious though if this new feature worked with critters as well as people and since I was working with birds, I gave it a go.
The two photos you see here were both taken with the Z6 / 800mm / FTZ using the new AF eye-detection. In the top frame, where the Warbler is big in the frame it worked no problem, in the bottom frame, it did not. That’s because of size of the subject in the frame. This is a Yellow Warbler, not much bigger than your thumb so it should have not worked at all but it did when big enough in the frame. But that’s not really the biggie of this firmware to me. There is more, much more!
The biggie of this firmware to me is the improved EVF performance. The only way I can verbalize it is it’s much, much closer to the OVF experience. The view is much more organic and less electronic with the blackout period almost gone. The AF operates in lower light which is something I was really skeptical about until I used it. I had shot for two days with my mighty D5 and the Z6 performed better than it in the low light of the forest! The combination of “cleaner” EVK and better low light AF performance really impressed me. This firmware to me really upped the game of the Z7 / Z6 and if I hadn’t field tested it for myself, I wouldn’t have known that. It’s a whole lot more than I expected. Here’s all the firmware updates:
• Added eye-detection AF for use when taking photographs. To enable eye-detection AF, select:
– AF-S or AF-C for Focus mode in the PHOTO SHOOTING MENU
– Auto-area AF for AF-area mode in the PHOTO SHOOTING MENU
– Face and eye detection on for Custom Setting a4 (Auto-area AF face/eye detection) in the CUSTOM SETTING MENU
If the camera detects the face of a portrait subject, the face will be enclosed in an amber border indicating the focus point. If the subject’s eyes are detected, an amber border indicating the focus point will appear around either eye. If the camera detects more than one face or eye, triangles will appear to either side of the focus point; to position the focus point over a different face or eye, press the multi- or sub-selector left or right.
• Improved autofocus performance for photos and movies shot under low light: -2 – 19 EV (low light autofocus -4 – 19 EV), measured in photo mode with single-servo AF (AF-S) at ISO 100 and 20°C with an f/2 lens.
• The following improvements have been made to the Continuous H (extended) option for Release mode:
– Not only focus but now also exposure will respond to changes in the subject during shooting
– The burst shooting display after the memory buffer fills is now easier to read
• Reduced the length of time the display turns off (the blackout period) when pictures are taken with On or On (monitor only) selected for Image review in the PLAYBACK MENU.
• Item d5 in the CUSTOM SETTING MENU, formerly Electronic front-curtain shutter, has been renamed Shutter type and offers a choice of Auto, Mechanical shutter, and Electronic front-curtain shutter. If Auto is selected, the camera will automatically choose a shutter type according to shutter speed.
• Changed the color the focus point turns when the AF-ON button is pressed or the shutter-release button is pressed halfway with Auto-area AF selected and face detection or target tracking active.
• Edited and revised help text.
• Fixed the following issues:
– The camera would stop responding if certain operations were performed while HDMI output was in progress with 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) selected for frame size.
– The value selected for maximum sensitivity would sometimes be exceeded during movie recording in mode M with On selected for Auto ISO control (mode M) if Active D-Lighting was enabled.
– The display would sometimes briefly behave unexpectedly in movie mode before or during recording.
– The items in My Menu would sometimes not display correctly.