Nikon announces development of new firmware for Z6 and Z7 promising faster AF

Nikon has announced more details of firmware in development for the Z6, Z7, D5, D850 and D500.

As previously reported, firmware is being planned that will add Eye-detection AF, CFexpress support and Raw video over HDMI to the Z6 and Z7, with AF and AE improvements also coming in May.

While the date for the addition of Raw video and CFexpress support is still unconfirmed, Nikon has added more detail to earlier reports, including the fact that in durability testing, CFexpress media has been (successfully, we assume) "inserted and removed from a camera 12,000 times". After the update, users of the Z6/7, D850, D5 and D500 will be able to use XQD or CFexpress cards in their cameras interchangeably.

The May 2019 update will add Eye-detection AF to the Z6 and Z7, alongside other AF/AE improvements including 'faster autofocusing in dark or dimly lit surroundings' and the addition of continuous AE to high speed (extended) shooting. Full details below.

Press release:

DEVELOPMENT OF NEW FIRMWARE FOR NIKON’S FULL-FRAME MIRRORLESS CAMERAS, THE NIKON Z 7 AND NIKON Z 6

Continuing to Adapt to Changing User Needs with the Addition of New Functions and Improvements of Capabilities

MELVILLE, NY (February 13, 2019 at 11:01 P.M. EST) – Nikon Inc. is pleased to announce additional details regarding the development of new firmware for its full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Nikon Z 7 and Nikon Z 6. The firmware in development includes new functions for the Z 7 and Z 6, such as Eye-Detection AF, RAW video output, and support for CFexpress memory cards. In addition, the cameras’ AF/AE functions will be further improved.

The Z series will continue to flexibly respond to changing user needs and offer next-generation features that give users new creative opportunities.

Functions and capabilities to be added and improved with new firmware:

1. Support for Eye-Detection AF for still image shooting (scheduled for release in May 2019).
Eye-Detection AF is convenient for portrait photography. The Eye-Detection AF in development will work not only with the AF-S (Single AF) focus mode that is convenient when photographing still human subjects, but also with the AF-C (Continuous AF) focus mode, which is effective when photographing human subjects that frequently adjust or change their pose. What's more, the function is capable of detecting multiple eyes, from which the user can select the eye upon which the camera should focus, allowing the photographer greater flexibility when photographing multiple people to suit their intent.


2. Increased AF/AE performance (scheduled for release in May 2019)
AE (auto exposure) tracking will be newly possible in continuous high-speed (extended) mode, in addition to the AF tracking that existed previously. In addition, low-light AF performance will be improved, enabling faster autofocusing in dark or dimly lit surroundings with both still-image shooting and movie recording.

3. Support for RAW video output
Output of 4K UHD and Full HD RAW data stream from the camera will be supported. The output RAW data stream can then be recorded in the compatible RAW format using an external recorder. This will allow users to utilize rich 12-bit colors to achieve flexible color grading.

Release timing for this feature will be announced at a later date.

4. Support for CFexpress memory cards
The new firmware will provide support for CFexpress, a new standard for memory cards. Having passed durability tests in which they were inserted and removed from a camera 12,000 times, these memory cards offer users a greater sense of security. They also offer high-speed performance that will provide users with a more efficient workflow. After upgrading, users will be able to use both CFexpress as well as XQD cards in their camera interchangeably. In addition to the Z 7 and Z 6, in the future, CFexpress memory card support will be added to the Nikon D5 (XQD-Type), Nikon D850, and Nikon D500 digital SLR cameras as well.

Release timing for this feature will be announced at a later date.