Has a Firmware Update Brought a Big Improvement to the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 Cameras?

Nikon recently released a significant firmware update for their new Z 6 and Z 7 mirrorless full-frame cameras, bringing not only animal eye autofocus, but also a major upgrade to the autofocus tracking. Just how good is this new update? This short video seeks to find out.

Photographer Manny Ortiz loves Nikon’s mirrorless cameras, but the autofocus has been one area where he’s found them a little lacking. With the new firmware released, it was only a matter of time until Ortiz headed out to put it to the test.

Ortiz isn’t afraid to push his Z 6 to its limits, choosing to test the performance with an adapted 105mm f/1.4 lens. Though this still isn’t a perfect camera, the results certainly look impressive. The new technique of using the Z 6 and Z 7’s Function 1 and Function 2 buttons looks to be incredibly smooth and takes advantage of a part of the camera — where the fingers of your right hand sit alongside the lens mount — that so many manufacturers other than Nikon and Panasonic seem to be ignoring. Feedback from Nikon mirrorless shooters on these function buttons seems to be overwhelmingly positive.

Have you updated your Nikon? Are you impressed? Leave your thoughts below.

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4 Comments

Raul Arias's picture

If you want the tracking to stick to the subject you focused when something or someone passes in front, you just need to go to the menus and in A3 “autofocus tracking with lock on” and set it to 5 or Delay, in that way it will not re focus to the object that passes in front of the subject. And sticks to the original subject. I tested. It works. When the camera is set as default it jumps quick to the objects that pass in front of the subject. Try it. Sometimes the camera requires tweaking but it does the job amazingly.

Nicolas KIEFFER's picture

TLDR : read the manual ! (RTFM)

Frankly boys, who are those so called pros that have almost zero knowledge how to setup a AF module ?
Oh ? sorry, the device have to be setup by default as what the user prefer already, ya know, that famous pre-cognition system that I am sure even SONY rigs are already using ?

I've got to say that Manny was extremely diplomatic when describing how the AF of the Nikon Z cameras is noticeably inferior when compared to the competitions' mirrorless offerings. One can definitely learn to work around the quirks of a camera, but it would be much better if the camera didn't have those quirks to begin with, especially when the competition doesn't have those quirks.

Just one thing, I always thought that "back focusing" had a different technical meaning (an AF system was always focusing slightly behind what an SLR camera thought was in focus) than the definition used by Manny: "focusing on the background rather than on your subject".

Raul Arias's picture

It’s not a quirk, it’s a setting, it let you choose on escenarios that you want, one is moving quickly to a new subject closer to the camera, the other is not doing and sticking with the original subject, is not that you have to hack the camera, it’s a setting that in an advanced camera is normal, and it allows you to make the decision on how the camera behaves.