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:

Nikon Z 6:

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!

Hidden Features of the Nikon Z7 and Nikon Z6

Camera users are often curious about “hidden” features that their camera may have, though typically most advanced models really don’t have many, as long as one carefully goes through all of the Menu and Custom Settings items, and reads through the manual or a guide. However, with so many options and functions, there are a few items that are actually a bit hidden away on the Nikon Z7 and the Nikon Z6. It’s not that the Z7 and Z6 manuals doesn’t mention them, or that they can’t be found with careful investigation of the camera, but you may need to have them called to your attention to learn how to locate them and how to take advantage of them. And there are a few button shortcuts to access features and settings that you simply need to learn if you wish to take advantage of, because once you are using your camera, they are not indicated in any menus or button icons.

These article is adapted from a section in my in my comprehensive Nikon Z 7 / Z 6 Experience user guide to the Nikon Z7 and Nikon Z6. All of these “hidden” features, as well as all of the other features, functions, settings, and controls of the Z7 and Z6 are discussed in detail, in the guide.

Nikon Z7 Nikon Z6 body controls detail tips tricks

Figure 1 – Detail of the controls of the Nikon Z7

Displays and Button Settings – When the Information Display or the Live View scene is active on the rear Monitor, you can press some of the camera buttons to change the corresponding settings as you view them on the rear Monitor. Or you can also view and change them in the electronic Viewfinder, while shooting. For example, by default, the Fn1 Button is assigned to White Balance and the Fn2 Button is assigned to Focus Mode/AF-Area Mode. When you press these buttons, you can view and change those settings, and the screen will even indicate which Command Dial to use for each setting (see Figure 2 – left). If you customize those buttons for another setting such as Auto Bracketing or HDR, you will be able to view and change those settings on the displays, as you press the assigned button and turn the Command Dials.

Nikon Z7 Nikon Z6 tips and tricks

Figure 2 – Left: Using a Fn Button and the Command Dials to change the White Balance setting on the rear Monitor. Right: Changing the HDR options via the Photo-Mode i Menu.

i Button Features – You can press the i Button to access different contextual i Menus during photo shooting, video, and image playback. The Z7 and Z6 also add the ability to change additional sub-options of various settings, via the i Menu, without having to dig into the menus to set those options. For example, when using the WB item on the Photo-Mode i Menu to select Auto White Balance, you will also be able to select which of the three Auto White Balance sub-options you would like. And you will be able to directly fine-tune a White Balance setting using the adjustment grid. If you replace some of the default i Menu items with options such as HDR, Auto Bracketing, or Multiple Exposure, you will be able to directly access and change the various settings for those features (see Figure 2 – right).

In some situations, the i Menu it is the only way to access and change certain of these hidden features. For example, the Photo-Mode i Menu will allow you to access the Split-screen display zoom feature. You will first need to use Custom Setting f1 – Customize i Menu and assign Split-screen display zoom to the Photo-Mode i Menu. Then when you are composing an image, you can access this feature which allows you to simultaneously zoom-in at two different areas of the scene, to help verify focus and to ensure that the composition is level across the scene (see Figure 3). This can come in handy for landscape and architectural photographers.

Nikon Z7 Nikon Z6 tips and tricks

Figure 3 – Left: Press the i Button to access the i Menu screen with various shooting settings. You can use f1 to customize this menu, and add items such as Split-Screen Display Zoom. Right: Split-Screen Display Zoom shown in use, to compare two areas of the same scene to help determine if the framing is level.

The Playback i Menu will allow you to access two hidden features, the Quick Crop option and the Peaking Stack Image preview. During image playback, you can magnify an image and adjust the framing as desired. If you then press the i Button to access the Playback i Menu, and select the Quick Crop option, you can automatically crop the image and save a new image with the crop that is currently seen on the display (see Figure 4 – left). If you have used the Focus Shift Shooting feature to create a series of images that will later be combined into a focus-stacked image, you can view a monochrome preview of the final, stacked image. To view this preview, first use image playback to view any of the images from the Focus Shift Shooting series. Then press the i Button and select the Display peaking stack image option to view the preview image. Note that this preview image is only available when using certain lenses (see Figure 4 – right).

Nikon Z7 Nikon Z6 tips and tricks

Figure 4 – Left: Accessing the Quick Crop feature via the image Playback i Menu. Right: The Peaking Stack Image preview, accessed with the Playback i Menu when viewing one of the images from a Focus Shift Shooting series.

And when a Multiple Exposure series is in progress, you can press the Playback Button to view the last image. If you then press the i Button, you will access a menu that allows you to view the Multiple Exposure progress, as well as edit the series by retaking or discarding the last exposure if desired.

There are a couple different ways to change the settings on the i Menu. You can highlight the desired icon (see Figure 5 – left) then press the OK Button and view all the options. This method will even allow you to access and change various applicable sub-options. Or you can highlight the desired icon, and turn the rear Main Command Dial to directly change the setting on that screen. If a setting option includes sub-options, such as the three available Auto White Balance options, or the Continuous Low frame rates (see Figure 5- right), you will use the front Sub-Command Dial to change the sub-options.

Nikon Z7 Nikon Z6 tips and tricks

Figure 5 – Left: Photo-Mode i Menu, accessed by pressing the i Button. After highlighting the desired setting, either press the OK Button, or use the Command Dials to change the settings. Right: The rear Main Command Dial will select the setting, and the front Sub-Command Dial can be used for any available sub-options, such as the Continuous Low frame rate.

Monitor Mode Button – This button isn’t hidden, but it is causing some users a bit of confusion when they are not able to see any menus or playback images on their rear Monitor screen. In order to select if the Monitor or the Viewfinder will be in use, you will need to press the Monitor Mode Button, which is located on the side of the Viewfinder “bump.” Press it repeatedly until you see the Prioritize viewfinder option, as you look on the rear Monitor or in the Viewfinder. Set it for this option for now, so that you can make use of both the Viewfinder and the rear Monitor. If you are pressing the Playback Button or the Menu Button and not seeing anything appear on the rear Monitor, be sure to look in the Viewfinder and set the Monitor Mode to Prioritize viewfinder.

Live View Exposure Preview – An important function to make note of is that you need to enable Custom Setting d8 – Apply Settings to Live View in order to view the scene, in the Viewfinder and on the rear Monitor, with the current camera and exposure settings applied. This will allow you to better preview the resulting image and make exposure adjustments, and will also enable you to access the Live View Histogram of the scene by pressing the DISP Button.

Custom Control Assignments – A few other hidden features of the Nikon Z7 and Z6 can only be accessed by customizing one of the camera buttons to assign it to that function, using Custom Setting f2. For example, a customization will allow you to press a hold one of the Fn Buttons to temporarily switch to a different Metering Mode, such as Spot Metering (see Figure 6 – left). If you will be using non-CPU, F-mount lenses with the Z7 or Z6, you can register the lens to the camera, and thus gain additional functions such as in-camera Vibration Reduction. You will need to use f2 to assign the Choose non-CPU lens number option to one of the buttons, so that you can tell the camera which lens number is in use.

If you are making use of an optional wireless remote to trigger multiple cameras, there is also a “hidden” setting for this in the Custom Setting f2 button assignments. You can choose to assign the Fn1 Button, Fn2 Button, or Sub-Selector Center press to the Sync. Release selection option, which is used in conjunction with Custom Setting d3 – Sync. Release Mode Options. You can set up the camera so that, for example, when using the Z7 or Z6 as a master camera to remotely trigger other cameras, you can press the Fn1 (or Fn2) Button while taking the shot, and then just the master camera will shoot, or just the remote cameras and not the master, based on your settings.

Nikon Z7 Nikon Z6 tips and tricks

Figure 6 – Custom Control Assignments – Left: Assigning the Fn1 Button to the Spot Metering function, to temporarily switch to a different Metering Mode with the press of the button. Right: The Customize Command Dials, Sub-Dial Frame Advance options, to use a dial to jump ahead 10 images during image playback.

Sub-Dial Frame Advance during Playback – If you wish to quickly scroll through your images as you view them on the rear Monitor during playback, you can use the rear Main Dial to advance one image at a time, and use the front Sub-Command Dial to advance 10 or 50 images. To set this up, access Custom Setting f5 – Customize Command Dials, and set the Menus and playback option for On. The Sub-Command Dial will then be used to jump 10 or 50 images at a time, based on the Sub-dial frame advance setting. Set the Sub-dial frame advance item for 10 images or 50 images, or you can also choose to jump to protected images, still images or movies only, or to a different folder (see Figure 6 – right).

One Button Playback Zoom / Histogram – Using Custom Setting f3 – OK Button, you can assign the OK Button so that during image playback it will immediately zoom-in, at the magnification level of your choice, centered at the area of the active focus point so that you can closely inspect your image. Or you can instead assign the button press to display a large histogram with the image, so that you can evaluate your exposure (see Figure 7 – left).

Nikon Z7 Nikon Z6 tips and tricks

Figure 7 – Left: Use Custom Setting f3 – OK Button, Playback Mode to set the OK Button to show a magnified view or to show a large histogram. Right: Touch the bottom of the screen during full-image playback in order to access the “Frame Advance Bar” touch screen feature.

Frame Advance Bar – This image playback feature enables you to use the touch screen to quickly scroll through images without having to swipe one-by-one (see Figure 7 – right). And when viewing a magnified detail of an image, use the touch screen arrows to view the same magnified area of previous or following images.

Flash Information Screen – With a compatible optional Speedlight flash attached and turned on, such as the SB-5000 or SB-500, press the DISP Button repeatedly to access the Flash Information Screen showing the current flash settings, and then press the i Button to view and change the various settings and options, including Wireless Flash Options (see Figure 8).

Nikon Z7 Nikon Z6 tips and tricks

Figure 8 – Left: When using an optional Speedlight flash, press the DISP Button to access the Flash Information Screen showing the current flash settings. Right: Then press the i Button to view and change the various settings and options.

Nikon Z7 / Nikon Z6 Menu Setup Guide

In addition to my Nikon Z 7 / Z 6 Experience user guide, I also offer a Z7 / Z6 Menu Setup Guide, with suggested settings and starting points for most all of the camera menu settings and Custom Settings. The Excel spreadsheet includes separate listings for different shooting situations including Landscape, Studio, Action, etc. You can download the spreadsheet here:

Again, all of these hidden features and settings, and other unique features, as well as all of the other features, functions, settings, and controls of the Z7 and Z6 are discussed in detail, in my comprehensive Nikon Z 7 / Z 6 Experience user guide.

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And for any portrait photographers using the Nikon Z7 / Z6, here is an interesting article I recently came across at the blog, which discusses all the numerous aspects to consider when creating a portrait, including lighting, background, angles, and making the subject relaxed and natural. It is a helpful tutorial for new portrait photographers, and a nice refresher for those already making portraits.

Be sure to share your portraits and other photos on my Nikon Z7 / Z6 Setup and User Tips Facebook page:

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!

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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: – $3396.95

Nikon Z 7 at B and H:

Nikon Z 6 at Amazon:$1996.95

Nikon Z 6 at B and H:

Nikon FTZ Lens Adapter