Firmware Friday: Eye AF and more for Nikon Z6, Z7; stability improvements for Sony Alpha-series


posted Friday, May 17, 2019 at 10:07 PM EDT


This week's Firmware Friday roundup is a bit of an unusual one, in that while there are plenty of cameras receiving new firmware in the past seven days -- for 10 models, to be exact -- we actually don't have a huge amount to discuss. The reasons for that are twofold. While Nikon has updated both its Z6 and Z7 mirrorless cameras to firmware version C:2.00, we've not only already told you about these updates in a separate article, but also tested the flagship new feature of both updates against the competition. And as for Sony, while the company has updated a total of eight models with new firmware versions, in every case the only change is a promise of improved stability, with no specifics offered as to what the changes involve.

But enough of the preamble, let's get down to what's new!


Nikon Z6, Z7 and related software

As noted at the outset, we've already told you about Nikon's new firmware earlier in the week, so we'll keep things brief here, and let the release notes do most of the talking. Firmware version C:2.00 for the Nikon Z6 (download here) and Z7 (download here) includes a variety of changes, but the standout is a new eye-detection autofocus function which we've already tested against Sony's rival system, as you can see here.

Other changes are as follows, with both cameras sharing almost all of the same tweaks:

  • 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. As measured in photo mode with single-servo AF (AF-S) at ISO 100 and 20°C with an f/2 lens:

    • Z6: -3.5 – 19 EV (low light autofocus -6 – 19 EV)

    • Z7: -2 – 19 EV (low light autofocus -4 – 19 EV)

  • 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.

    • Z7 only: The display would sometimes briefly behave unexpectedly in movie mode before or during recording.

    • The items in My Menu would sometimes not display correctly.

And that's it for Nikon's camera updates this week. On the software front, the company has also updated its Camera Control Pro 2 (download here), Capture NX-D (download here) and ViewNX-i (download here) applications, with all three updates adding support for newly-updated Z6 and Z7 mirrorless cameras. (If you use both Capture NX-D and ViewNX-i, you can get a combined, updated installer here.)

Capture NX-D and ViewNX-i now support the Nikon Coolpix W150, and ViewNX-i now allows adjustment of focus frame line width, too. Camera Control Pro 2, meanwhile, gets two bug fixes as follows:

  • Fixed an issue that resulted in the camera and the LCD display area in Camera Control Pro 2 showing different statuses for exposure lock if AE Lock only was deselected in Camera Control Pro 2 while exposure lock engaged on the Z 7 or Z 6 under certain conditions.

  • Fixed an issue that resulted in Camera Control Pro 2 and the camera showing different options for white balance if the user switched from Programmed Auto to another exposure mode while Enable Controls on Camera Body was disabled.

Sony A6500, A7 II, A7 III, A7R II, A7R III, A7S II, A9 and A99 II

And as noted at the outset, Sony's updates for eight of its Alpha-series cameras bring only one change -- improved stability. Sony doesn't note what the changes involve, unfortunately, but if you're experiencing any issues with your Alpha camera, grab an update at the links below:

And that's all for this week. Be sure to check back next time for all the latest camera firmware news!


**Worried you might've missed a critical update lately? Don't be! Just click here for all recent Firmware Friday articles!**

See all the latest Firmware Friday updates

(Camera parts image courtesy of Kelly Hofer / Flickr; used under a Creative Commons CC-BY-2.0 license. Image has been modified from the original.)