Nikon caused quite a stir when it released firmware version 2.0 for its Z9, with major updates including the ability to shoot 8K/60p and 4K/120p video in N-RAW, a pre-buffer option when shooting continuously (JPEGs only though), and a 120fps viewfinder refresh rate mode. Now the company has unveiled firmware version 3.0, which is free to download from Nikon’s website, and it’s another big one—though most improvements are more relevant for topside shooters.
Underwater photographers will be most interested in the enhancements Nikon says have been made to autofocus. Low-light performance has been improved by 0.5EV while the 3D-tracking mode is also improved, with stickier subject tracking and better tracking of fast-moving animals when using “animal” subject detection. It’s also now possible to change focus points to red, instead of white, for better visibility against light subjects.
Underwater videographers may find a creative use for the new High-Res Zoom mode, which gives 4K shooters a 2x digital zoom that can be controlled using Fn1/Fn2 custom buttons, left/right buttons on the multi selector, or the Fn ring or control ring on compatible lenses. It works by allowing the Z9 to begin capturing oversampled 4K video from the full width of the sensor and then slowly cropping in until, at 2x zoom, it is capturing the 4K APS-C 1.5x crop section of the sensor.
Other upgrades in this firmware version include a new C60 Mode for continuous shooting, which captures 19.4MP images at 60fps in DX mode (in-between the C30 and C120 options); High-Frequency Flicker Reduction mode for video; the ability to customize more buttons (including the Record button); and an Auto Series Playback function for automatically playing back multiple frames from a single burst.
Firmware version 3.0 is free to download from Nikon’s website. Check out the press release and the video below.
Nikon releases upgraded firmware version 3.0 for the Nikon Z 9 full-frame mirrorless camera
Firmware 3.0 Adds Nearly 20 More Features + More Powerful Performance to Nikon’s Mirrorless Flagship
MELVILLE, NY (October 26, 2022)- Nikon Inc. has announced yet another substantial update for the Nikon Z 9, bringing more powerful performance and added features to what’s widely regarded as the most capable full-frame mirrorless camera available. Now available for free download, the firmware 3.0 update is the second major update to the Z 9 this year, adding enhancements to video and photo capture, usability, operability, autofocus and so much more.
“Firmware 3.0 not only demonstrates Nikon’s commitment to addressing our customers’ needs, but also our continued support to update products to their full potential for the benefit of our users,” said Jay Vannatter, Executive Vice President, Nikon Inc.
Both video and photo shooters as well as creators will see impressive benefits from the new firmware with this update. Some of the more notable features include a new Hi-Res Zoom function¹, which provides the effect of additional optical zoom for 4K video, and a new C60 High-Speed Frame Capture+², enabling 60 fps still shooting in DX-format. Firmware 3.0 also includes enhancements to the AF as well as upgraded display and operability, such as increasing the number of buttons that can be used as custom controls.
Starting today, Z 9 owners can visit the website here to download firmware 3.0 for free. Nikon will continuously meet users’ needs through firmware updates that expand the functionality of its cameras.
Significant Updates with Firmware 3.0:
- High-Res Zoom: When capturing 4K UHD video, this feature enables the option for high-resolution zooming which effectively extends the focal range of a lens. 4K UHD footage is captured in 8K UHD resolution, and then gradually cropped to the 4K frame size in real time, effectively doubling the focal length while maintaining resolution. This is not otherwise possible with digital zoom or cropping in post. Hi-Res Zoom is available regardless of the lens used, allowing users to streamline production and take advantage of prime lenses, or the extremely shallow depth of field of a f/1.2 maximum aperture lens. This feature can be assigned to the camera’s Fn1/Fn2 buttons, a lens’ Fn ring or control ring, as well as the left/right buttons on the multi selector. The end result is a smooth, parfocal zoom transition with no loss of resolution. Using the buttons enables zooming at a constant selected speed, while use of the control ring allows users to zoom in or out as quickly or slowly as they like.
- High-Speed Frame Capture+ C60 Mode for continuous shooting: In addition to the existing C30 and C120 options, High-Speed Frame Capture+ now offers a C60³ option for bursts of continuous shooting of approximately 19-megapixel still images at approximately 60 fps. This feature is in DX mode, which increases effective focal length while satisfying the diverse needs of photographers – especially those in the fields of photojournalism, sports and bird photography who value speed and reach.
- Autofocus Enhancements: Firmware 3.0 improves upon the Z 9’s powerful AF system, enhancing performance and subject detection. The low-light limit has been extended by 0.5 EV, with accuracy improved in low light and low-contrast conditions. Multiple enhancements have been made to 3D-tracking mode; focus will be “stickier” on a subject, and less likely to shift into a foreground obstacle that momentarily obscures a subject. Users now also have the option to change the color of focus points to red, which can be useful for shooting in a variety of backgrounds. Additionally, the detection and tracking of fast-moving animals has been improved when “animal” is selected in 3D-tracking.
- High-Frequency Flicker Reduction added with firmware version 2.10 is now available for video recording.
- Timecode synchronization and UltraSync Blue: Timecode across multiple Z 9 cameras controlled by a single wireless remote control is now possible4. ATOMOS UltraSync BLUE is now also supported over a Bluetooth connection, enabling the syncing of recording-equipment and/or audio-device timecodes, including equipment from other manufacturers. This is extremely helpful when editing videos recorded in multiple external audio recorders.
- Vertical Playback Display: Images and the i menu can be displayed in vertical orientation during playback mode.
- More buttons for Custom functions: The number of buttons that can be used as custom controls and the extension of customizable functions has been increased for smoother access to frequently used functions. This also includes the ability to make the Record button programmable.
- Auto Series Playback function automatically displays images from the same burst of continuous shooting group after the first image in the burst is displayed in playback mode.
- Improvements to Flash workflow: The “Show effects of settings” option in View mode (Photo Lv), which reflects exposure settings in the photo live view display has been improved. This update allows users to choose whether the effects of exposure settings are reflected when a Speedlight or remote trigger is attached. This function allows the user to check background exposure prior to shooting, helping to confirm the resulting background exposure in advance.
- Display enhancements: File Info has been added to the information display, and a focus indicator is now available in camera.
- “Override other cameras” function has been added, enabling easy switching between master cameras when multiple cameras are designated as a primary.
- Support for the FTPS protocol offers faster, safer image transfer with encryption.
- Reset focus distance during [Focus shift shooting]: During focus shift shooting, the focus position at the start of shooting can be memorized and returned to the initial focus position after a series of shots has been taken.
- Full format function: When using CFexpress cards that support full formatting, this function can be used to delete data completely to help users maintain maximum performance.
¹ Hi-Res Zoom is available only with video recording in the following codecs: at ProRes 422 HQ 10-bit (MOV), H.265 10-bit (MOV), H.265 8-bit (MOV), or H.264 8-bit (MP4) -with image area set to FX (36×24). Restrictions apply to some camera features.
² With AE/AF tracking at an image quality setting of JPEG normal only. The maximum number of frames that can be captured with a single burst is fewer than that possible with high-speed continuous shooting. Use of a Nikon-recommended memory card is recommended.
³ Image area fixed at DX (24 ×16). If a DX lens is attached when C120 is selected, the high-speed frame capture setting will automatically change to C60 and image area will be fixed at DX (24 ×16). Pre-Release Capture is supported.
4 A signal from the shutter-release button resets device timecodes. Therefore, still images cannot be captured during video recording by pressing the shutter-release button when timecode synchronization is enabled.