Nikon Z7 / Z6 Firmware Version 2.0 Update

In May of 2019, Nikon released Firmware Version 2.0 for the Z 7 and the Z 6, which added important features to these cameras. Most significantly, the cameras gained eye detection autofocus for still image shooting, which can be used when working in Auto-Area AF Autofocus Area Mode. This allows you to automatically locate and focus on a subject’s eye, as well as remain focused on it as the subject moves. A second major improvement is that the Z 7 and Z 6 can now update the exposure for each image in a burst when using Continuous High-Speed (Extended) Release Mode. Previously, the autofocus would be updated for each shot, however the exposure was locked at the first image. The third important change is that the autofocus has been improved for low-light shooting, with the detection range of the Z 7 now extended to -2EV, and the range of the Z 6 extended to -3.5EV. When using the a11 – Low-Light AF Custom Setting, the range is extended to -6EV for the Z 6, and remains at -4EV for the Z 7.

Left: The updated Custom Setting a4 – Auto-Area AF Face/Eye Detection menu item, now with the face and eye detection AF option. Right: You will notice a new icon near the lower-left of the shooting screen, indicating the Shutter Type that is in use. Here the “E” icon indicates the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter.

I have updated the text and images of my Nikon Z 7 / Z 6 Experience guide to incorporate these firmware Version 2.0 changes. The eye detection feature can be enabled with Custom Setting a4 – Auto-Area AF Face/Eye Detection. Custom Setting d5 has also changed, and is now called d5 – Shutter Type. Previously this menu item was used to enable the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter, but it has now been updated to allow you to also select the Mechanical Shutter, or to choose the Auto option where the camera will choose the shutter type, based on the current shutter speed.

Various bug fixes and minor changes are also included in the firmware update, as listed on Nikon’s webpages. You can learn about the firmware and download it here:

Nikon Z 7:
https://downloadcenter.nikonimglib.com/en/products/492/Z_7.html

Nikon Z 6:
https://downloadcenter.nikonimglib.com/en/products/493/Z_6.html

Auto-Area AF Face/Eye Detection item, to enable face and eye detection when using Auto-Area AF-Area Mode.

a4: Auto-Area AF Face/Eye Detection
This option applies when using the Auto-Area AF Area Mode, where the camera automatically selects the subject. When Face Detection is enabled and used with Auto-Area AF Area Mode and AF-S Focus Mode, the camera can locate a face to focus on, rather than simply locating the nearest subject or object. With the firmware Version 2.0 update to the Z 7 and Z 6, Custom Setting a4 now also offers the Face and Eye Detection option. If Face and Eye Detection is enabled, the camera will automatically locate one of the eyes, (typically the nearest eye), and a small focus point will surround that eye. If multiple eyes are detected, small triangles will surround the active AF Point. Press left or right on the Multi Selector or Sub-Selector to position the AF Point over another eye, if desired. When working in AF-S Focus Mode and the Shutter Button is half pressed or the AF-ON Button pressed, the focus point will turn green when focus is achieved. If a face is detected but the eyes are not, a larger focus point will surround the face of the nearest subject. Again, you can press left or right on the Multi Selector to reposition the AF Point over another face.

With Auto-Area AF Area Mode and AF-C Focus Mode, you can choose an initial AF Area to begin tracking a moving subject, and then the camera will retain focus on the subject as it moves about the frame. Press the OK Button to initiate the focus tracking square, locate it as desired, and press the OK Button again to begin tracking. When Face Detection or Face and Eye Detection are enabled, the camera will automatically locate and follow the nearest face or eye. Again, press left or right on the Multi Selector or Sub-Selector to position the AF Point over another face or eye, if desired. This feature can obviously be helpful if the subject you are focusing on or tracking is a person, and if their face or eye will remain visible to the camera. The Z 7 and Z 6 will also look at the upper body of the subject, so that it can ideally continue to track the subject even if the camera momentarily loses sight of the face if it turns or is obscured.

Face and Eye-Detection AF and Playback
If the camera made use of face or eye detection autofocus when capturing an image, you can press the OK Button to quickly zoom in 100% at the face or eye, to inspect it for focus. As will be indicated by an icon on the playback screen, you can use the front Sub-Command Dial to quickly jump between faces in the image. 

Left: The camera made use of Eye-Detection AF when capturing this image, as indicated by the small red square on the subject’s right eye. Right: Press the OK Button to zoom in 100% at the area of focus.

d5: Shutter Type
This menu item was originally called Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter, and was used to enable that feature. However with the firmware Version 2.0 update the menu is now called Shutter Type, and offers additional options. The Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter of the Z 7 and Z 6 will help to reduce shutter movement, which can cause motion blur and thus reduce the sharpness of an image. The high resolution sensors, especially of the Z 7, can require careful shooting in order to obtain the sharpest images. Slight internal motion of the shutter mechanism can impact the results, such as with landscape, macro, and controlled studio shooting. So the Z 7 and Z 6 offer this Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter feature, which is used in both Viewfinder shooting and Live View on the rear Monitor. If the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter is enabled, rather than the mechanical shutter’s front-curtain being used to expose the sensor as the image is captured, the sensor itself acts as the first curtain. (The mechanical front-curtain of the shutter goes up in advance in order to be out of the way and not move during actual shutter release.)

Left: Shutter Type, including the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter to help eliminate the internal movement from the first shutter curtain, in order to reduce blur from small camera movements. Right: Add the “Shutter Type” item to the i Menu, for quick access during shooting.

You will not want to use the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter for general shooting, but rather only for controlled shooting situations and when working on a tripod, ideally with a remote shutter release. It is recommended for tripod use with both slow shutter speeds (under 1/60) and with long telephoto lenses. You will not want to use this feature for capturing action and motion, as it may result in subject blur. Also note that the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter can be used with shutter speeds up to 1/2000, and ISO settings up to 25,600 (Z 7) or 51,200 (Z 6). You can enable the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter and make use of Exposure Delay at the same time, for when you are working on a tripod but do not have a remote shutter release.

If you will not be using the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter, set this menu item for Mechanical Shutter, to make use of the mechanical shutter. With the Auto setting, the camera will automatically select which option to use, based on the shutter speed setting. The camera will use the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter with slow shutter speeds, below 1/250, in order to help reduce blur caused by internal camera movement. You may wish to make use of one of the other shutter options of this menu, so that you know which shutter type your camera will be using at all times.

This new menu item also adds a new icon to the lower-left of the camera Monitor and Viewfinder during shooting. The A, M, or E icon indicates the Auto, Mechanical, or Electronic option as the current setting.

You can learn about all these new features, plus all the other features, functions, controls, and menu items of the Nikon Z7 and Nikon Z6 mirrorless cameras in my Nikon Z 7 / Z 6 Experience comprehensive guide, now updated for camera Firmware Version 2.0!

Nikon Z 7 / Z 6 – Exploring the Menu Settings

As with all new mirrorless and dSLR cameras, the lists of specifications don’t tell the entire story. Many of the important functions, options, and additions of a new camera can be found in the menus and Custom Settings. These are the types of options that can really differentiate a camera, from a user-experience perspective, and yet these options are often over-looked by reviewers and spec comparison posts. For example, two cameras may share the same autofocus AF Modes and AF Area Modes, and thus look equal on a spec comparison sheet. But one will be much better suited for photographing action and movement because it has additional menu options and Custom Settings which allow the user to tweak and customize the AF system for their specific needs and shooting style.

Nikon Z 7 Nikon Z 6 Custom Settings

Some of the Custom Settings options of the Nikon Z 7

A video of all the Nikon Z 7 menu items has been posted on YouTube by Jeff Curtner. You can find the video here. It is simply a video of someone navigating all the Z 7 menu items, the i Menu, and the Live View display, but lots of information can be gathered from this, including a few menu options that have not been mentioned in Nikon’s materials or by other reviews of the Nikon Z 7 and Nikon Z 6. All of the screenshots in this post have been taken from this video.

Despite being a mirrorless camera, and thus differing from a Nikon dSLR, a large number of the menu items and options are similar to the Nikon D850 and other recent Nikon models. I will not go into detail about any of those items, since if you are currently using a D850, D500, D7500, D750, etc, you will already be familiar with those menu items and their options. You can consult one of my Menu Setup Spreadsheets to learn about suggested settings for those menu items, or have a look at my comprehensive user-guides for these cameras, such as Nikon D850 Experience. A comprehensive user-guide for the Z 7 and Z 6, Nikon Z 7 / Z 6 Experience, will be available in November or December 2018. You can learn more about it here:

http://www.fullstopbooks.com/nikon-z-7-z-6-experience/

Menu Setup Spreadsheets:

http://www.fullstopbooks.com/setup-guides/

Comprehensive User Guides for most Nikon dSLR models:

http://www.fullstopbooks.com

And now a look at some of the Menu and Custom Setting options of the Nikon Z 7 and Nikon Z 6 that have not been discussed in many recent Z 7 and Z 6 camera reviews. Some of the most important ones are in the Custom Settings items, but we will start at the top of the Menu tabs, with the Photo Shooting Menu:

Photo Shooting Menu

The Expeed 6 processor of the Nikon Z 7 and Z 6 offers processing speed that allows for some new features, including Diffraction Compensation, a Mid-Range Sharpening Picture Control parameter in addition to the Sharpening and Clarity parameters, and the new Creative Picture Controls. As an in-camera processing feature, Diffraction Compensation may potentially slow down the maximum continuous frame rate a tiny bit, though perhaps not – we will have to read the fine-print of the Nikon Z 7 User’s Manual when it is available. The Creative Picture Controls are found in the Set Picture Control menu, and listed after all the typical Picture Controls. If you don’t wish to separately set the three Picture Control sharpening parameters, you can use the new Quick Sharp option to adjust these sharpening-related parameters together.

Nikon Z 7 Z 6 menu

Diffraction Compensation menu item (left), and the Creative Picture Controls as found in the Set Picture Control menu (right). The Movie Picture Control option is shown here, but a similar menu is also found in the Photo Shooting Menu, for still image shooting.

The White Balance menu item is located in the Photo Shooting Menu, though for quick access it can also be assigned to one of the Function Buttons, or changed via the i Button Menu on the rear Monitor or in the Viewfinder. As with recent Nikon models, the Z 7 and Z 6 offer three different Auto White Balance options, Keep White, Normal, and Keep Warm Lighting Colors. The cameras also offer the recently added Natural Light Auto option, designed to reproduce colors as the eye sees them in natural light. And there are the other standard Nikon WB options, including multiple Fluorescent sub-options such as Day White and Cool-White. To access these options quickly while shooting, you can assign WB to one of the customizable buttons, and then press that button and change the WB setting as you view it in the electronic Viewfinder or on the rear Monitor, as shown in the figure below.

Nikon Z 7 Z 6 menu setup

Left: Photo Shooting Menu – White Balance options, including three Auto WB options, and the Natural Light Auto option. Right: If WB is assigned to one of the camera  buttons, you can also quickly access and change this setting in the Viewfinder or on the rear Monitor.

The Z 7 and Z 6 offer in-camera, 5-axis Vibration Reduction, for both still image and video shooting. This image stabilization also works with F-mount lenses, including non-VR lenses, via the Nikon FTZ Adapter. (Image stabilization will be limited to 3-axis VR with non-VR lenses.) I’m not sure if this menu item shown below is for enabling the in-body electronic image stabilization, or if it is an option that is used with newer Nikon lenses that have VR, but don’t have the VR and VR Mode switches on the lens itself. I will update when more information is known.

Nikon Z 7 Z 6 menu settings setup

Left: Vibration Reduction menu item, to enable VR and to set the VR Mode. It is possible that this is not the in-camera Electronic Vibration Reduction menu item, but rather it is possibly for enabling VR on newer lenses that don’t have the VR and VR Mode switches on the lens itself. Right: Focus Shift Shooting options (Focus stacking), including the Peaking Stack Image preview image option.

The focus stacking feature of the Z 7 and Z 6 is called Focus Shift Shooting, and is accessed in the Photo Shooting Menu. You will use this menu to set the Number of Shots, Focus Step Width, and Interval between shots. It will also allow you to lock the exposure on the first frame, enable completely Silent Photography for the process, and create a new storage folder to save the focus stack images where you can quickly locate them. The new Peaking Stack Image option will display a monochrome preview of the final focus-stacked images, which can be viewed after the focus stacking function is performed. Beware that the Silent Photography option can result in banding in the images, particularly under artificial lighting that cycles. So if you are using this option, it is best to verify that your images are clean before initiating the Focus Shift process.

Custom Settings Menu

Many of the importation functions, options, and customizations for the Z 7 and Z 6 can be found in the Custom Settings Menu. These menu items are often where the important, powerful functions of a Nikon camera are found. For example, the on-camera, phase-detection aspect of the hybrid autofocus system of the Z 7 and Z 6 allows for Face-Detection autofocusing, with both Viewfinder shooting and Live View shooting. This feature can only be used with the Auto-Area AF area mode, and is enabled with Custom Setting a4. The Custom Setting a5 – Focus Points Used, can be used to limit the number of selectable focus points. The Z 7 has 493 AF Points, and the the Z 6 has 273 AF Points, so that is a ridiculous number of focus points to have to click across in order to locate the active AF Point where you want it to be. I will have to confirm this, but I believe that this menu item will be used to limit the number of selectable points, so that you can more quickly and easily select the AF Point you desire. I am going to speculate that all the the AF Points will actually be used by the camera when automatically tracking a moving subject.

Nikon Z 7 Z 6 Custom Setting menu setup

Left: Custom Setting a4, to enable AF Face Detection when working in Auto-Area AF area mode. Right: Custom Setting a5, to limit the number of selectable AF Points.

The Z 7 and Z 6 also offer a Dynamic Area AF area mode, where the selected AF Point is used to focus on the subject, but the immediate surrounding points will help retain focus on the subject if it momentarily strays from the initial point. This is similar to the 9-Point Dynamic-Area AF of previous Nikon dSLR models. The Custom Setting a10 – Focus Point Options offers the Dynamic-Area AF Assist item, which applies to this area mode. If enabled, you will be able to also view the active surrounding AF Points, in the Viewfinder when shooting, and not just see the single selected AF Point. The Custom Setting a11 – Low-Light AF is a new option for the Z 7 and Z 6, and is used to make the autofocusing system even more sensitive when working in low light. However, enabling this option may cause a slight lag in autofocusing.

Nikon Z 7 Z 6 Custom Settings menu setup

Left: Custom Setting a10, to enable the Dynamic-Area AF Assist option in order to view all the active AF Points when using that AF Area Mode. Right: Low-Light AF, to assist with focusing in low light situations.

The Z 7 and Z 6 offer an Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter option, found in Custom Setting d5. This feature makes use of an electronic shutter, using the sensor itself as the shutter, and thus eliminates the sound and the motion of the first curtain of the mechanical shutter. This can help to eliminate slight internal camera movements and vibrations when capturing an image, and is useful for tripod shooting such as landscape and macro shots. The cameras also offer a Silent Shutter option, which will be completely silent. However, that can cause banding when used with artificial lighting that cycles. When Custom Setting d8 – Apply Settings to Live View is enabled, all of the various camera settings and exposure settings will be applied to the scene as viewed on the rear Monitor during Live View. This will include the White Balance setting, Picture Control, and Exposure Compensation amount. Thus you will better be able to preview the appearance of the final image.

Nikon Z 7 Z 6 Custom Settings menu setup options

Left: Custom Setting d5, to enable the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter. Right: Custom Setting d8 – Apply Settings to Live View, where the scene on the rear Monitor will reflect the current camera settings and exposure settings.

The cameras offer a newly designed i Menu, which will allow you to quickly access and change various settings. This menu can be accessed on the rear Monitor, and also in the electronic Viewfinder. This offers the advantage of changing various camera settings, while shooting, without taking the camera down from your eye. Custom Setting f1 enables you to Customize i Menu, so that you will be able to access the settings and functions you use most frequently. For example, if you often use the in-camera HDR or Bracketing features, you can add them to this menu. Custom Setting f2 – Custom Control Assignment allows you to customize various buttons and controls on the camera, including the Fn1 and Fn2 Button, and the Movie-Record Button. For example, you can assign WB or AF Modes to the Fn Buttons, and then press the button and turn the dials to quickly adjust those settings. The Multi-Selector Center Press can be assigned to a function such as AE/AF Lock, or I believe it will be able to be used to quickly, temporarily switch to a different AF Mode / AF Area Mode. This is useful if you need to quickly switch between shooting a still subject and a moving subject, while shooting.

Nikon Z 7 Z 6 Custom Settings menu suggested setting setup

Left: Custom Setting f1, used to customize the functions available on the i Menu. Right: Custom Setting f2 – Custom Control Assignment, to customize the various camera buttons.

Setup Menu

There are a few additional notable new features located in the Setup Menu, including the ability to adjust the Brightness and the Color Balance of both the rear Monitor and the electronic Viewfinder. The HDMI menu item allows you to adjust the video settings when recording to an optional external device, including 8-bit or 10-bit, and enabling N-Log, and View Assist to preview the appearance of the final image.

Nikon Z 7 Z 6 Custom Setting menu setup options

Setup Menu options for adjusting Monitor Color Balance (left), and the advanced HDMI settings for recording video to an optional external device (right).

Of course there are additional menu items and functions that have not been discussed here, including many of the features found on previous models such as the D850. You can learn more about many of the new features and functions of the Nikon Z 7 and Nikon Z 6 in my previous blog post Nikon Z 7 and Z 6 – Beyond the Specifications:

http://blog.dojoklo.com/2018/08/24/nikon-z-7-and-z-6-specifications/

And be sure to join the Nikon Z6 and Z7 Setup and User Tips Facebook page, to learn, share, and ask more about using your Z 6 / Z 7.

~ ~ ~

To learn about all the features, functions, controls, and customizations of the Nikon Z 7 and Nikon Z 6, be sure to have a look at my Nikon Z 7 / Z 6 Experience user guide, to be available in November or December 2018. It is a comprehensive 350+ page guide, to help you take control of your camera, and the images you create.

Nikon, Nikon Z7, Nikon Z6, Z7, Z6, book, menu, guide, tips, tricks, how to

My Nikon Z 7 / Z 6 Menu Setup Spreadsheet Excel document will be available in October 2018. It will be free for a limited time after the introduction of the camera, and will be available for download here:

http://www.fullstopbooks.com/setup-guides/

If you want to pre-order or order the Nikon Z 7 or Nikon Z 6, please consider using my affiliate links below. Your price will be the same, but they will give me a small commission – thanks!

Nikon Z 7 at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MPaiU5 – $3396.95

Nikon Z 7 at B and H:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Mirrorless_System_Cameras/ci/16158/N/4288586281/BI/7364/KBID/7886/kwid/000/DFF/d10-v1-t3-z4288586281

Nikon Z 6 at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MKHSe0$1996.95

Nikon Z 6 at B and H:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Mirrorless_System_Cameras/ci/16158/N/4288586281/BI/7364/KBID/7886/kwid/000/DFF/d10-v1-t3-z4288586281

Why Nikon Isn’t Concerned about the Z 7 vs. a7R III

After years of speculation and anticipation, Nikon has finally introduced the new Nikon Z 7 and Nikon Z 6 full-frame mirrorless cameras. Initial reactions have been heated and emotional, as people debate whether or not the single XQD memory card slot will be its downfall, or whether the autofocusing system will be up to the needs and expectations of Nikon dSLR users. And of course there are endless comparisons of whether they live up to the offerings of the comparable Sony a7R III and a7 III full-frame mirrorless models.

Comparing the specifications, the two sets of cameras are similar on many points. The Z 7 and the a7R III are the high resolution models, while the Z 6 and the a7 III are the little brothers, with most all of the same features as their big brothers, but with a lower mega-pixel count. With some features, such as eye-detection autofocus, burst rates, and buffer rates, the Sonys appear to come out ahead, and with many other features the Nikons seem equal or better.

Detail of an official Nikon Press Photo of the Nikon Z7 body.

But I contend that, while Nikon certainly considered the Sony models when designing the new Z series, this Nikon vs. Sony comparison is not their primary concern. Nikon put that aside, and concentrated on Nikon. They designed a “future-proof” lens system with the new Z-mount, which will begin to make a large difference with the introduction of future wide-angle and fast lenses. There is already an f/0.95 lens that has been announced, the 58mm f/ 0.95 S Noct Lens. Most importantly, they designed a mirrorless camera that looks like a Nikon, feels like a Nikon, and functions like a Nikon. The camera buttons will all be familiar to a Nikon dSLR user, and just as important, the camera menus and navigation will be the same.

As anyone who has used a Sony a7 model will tell you, navigating the menus, finding the setting you are seeking, then interpreting a setting and its options can be painful. I can attest to that, I wrote the book on it! (Sony a7R III Menu Setup Guide and Sony a7 III Menu Setup Guide). It is a very different experience from using a Nikon or Canon menu, and it takes a bit of getting used to. Some of the Sony buttons, controls, and functions offer the same issue, and are not necessarily intuitive to either a new user or to a user coming from Nikon. And that is where Nikon wins… with existing Nikon users.

The Z cameras are not necessarily designed for camera users trying to decide between the Sony a7 and the Nikon Z. If a dedicated Nikon user wanted to try out or to jump to a mirrorless system, a Nikon user would have already bought a Sony a7 camera (or a Fuji or one of the other offerings). Instead, the Z cameras are designed for Nikon users trying to decide between buying a mirrorless camera or not buying a mirrorless camera. If they are going to buy a mirrorless camera, there is a high likelihood they will now be buying a Z 7 or Z 6. Nikon has greatly reduced the friction of converting to mirrorless, by offering a familiar camera. And in addition to the camera body, buttons, menus, options, functions, and features being similar to their current Nikon dSLR, Nikon users can painlessly bring along all their F-mount lenses, with the simple addition of the FTZ Lens Adapter. And Nikon users can expect that the image quality is going to be there.

Beyond the hype and chatter, the pre-orders for the Z cameras appear to be happening, and I believe that these cameras are going to be a success. Nikon has finally entered the full-frame mirrorless camera market, and they are here to stay.

If you want help setting up the Menus and Custom Settings of the Nikon Z 7, Nikon Z 6, Sony a7R III, or Sony a7 III, have a look at my comprehensive Menu Setup Spreadsheets, which are all free for a limited time after the introduction of each of the cameras. Or they are always free with a link included within the text guides for each of the cameras, which can be found at my FullStopBooks website, including the new Nikon Z 7 / Z 6 Experience comprehensive user guide to the Nikon Z 7 and Nikon Z 6.

And if you want to continue to learn, discuss, and ask questions about the settings, features, and functions of the Z 7 and Z 6 from a user-standpoint, please join the Nikon Z 7 / Z 6 Setup and User Tips Facebook group!

Nikon, Nikon Z7, Nikon Z6, Z7, Z6, book, menu, guide, tips, tricks, how to

If you want to learn more about some of the features and specifications of the Nikon Z 7 and Nikon Z 6, have a look at my blog post Nikon Z 7 and Z 6 – Beyond the Specifications.

If you want to pre-order or order the Nikon Z 7 or Nikon Z 6, please consider using my affiliate links below. Your price will be the same, but they will give me a small commission – thanks!

Nikon Z 7 at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MPaiU5 – $3396.95

Nikon Z 7 at B and H:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Mirrorless_System_Cameras/ci/16158/N/4288586281/BI/7364/KBID/7886/kwid/000/DFF/d10-v1-t3-z4288586281

Nikon Z 6 at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MKHSe0$1996.95

Nikon Z 6 at B and H:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Mirrorless_System_Cameras/ci/16158/N/4288586281/BI/7364/KBID/7886/kwid/000/DFF/d10-v1-t3-z4288586281

Nikon FTZ Lens Adapter