Nikon's Trio of Firmware Update Announcements at CES 2019 Likely to Spice Things Up a Bit

Nikon's Trio of Firmware Update Announcements at CES 2019 Likely to Spice Things Up a Bit

Nikon have kept their word on promising some beefy firmware updates for their new full frame mirrorless, the Z series. These exciting new development announcements may tip the scale in the wars with Sony and Canon — for now. 

The new firmware updates that are in development for Nikon's Z series:

  • Eye AF
  • CF Express compatibility 
  • Raw video support

Eye AF

This has been a favorite feature on Sony cameras for a while now — prompting many portrait photographers to reach for the a7 range rather than Canon or Nikon. While this won't turn the tables on Sony, who also have effective Eye AF for animals, it will make anyone who is changing systems think twice. Not mentioned, however, was if this feature would be available in video mode.

CF Express

Nikon saw the writing on the wall with their choice to go with XQD slots when they designed the Z series. With SD formats being the standard for many years, the industry was bound for major improvements, and boy has there been a few leaps in the last couple of years. XQD cards have supremely fast read/write speeds when compared to SD cards: the upper limit for an SD card is 312 MB/s, while for XQD cards, as of now, it's 1.4 GB/s. CF Express cards take that even further with an upper limit of 8 GB/s. It goes without saying that they also have the same physical form, allowing them to be cross-compatible if the software allows it, and now it looks like the Z series firmware update will take advantage of that.

Raw Video Support

This is probably the most exciting update from Nikon. No other stills/video hybrid has this feature: the ability to output raw video to the ATOMOS Ninja 5, using the ProRes raw codec. This feature is a game-changer, especially for videographers who need a flexible and light system. 

Positive Moves

There was a lot of speculation as to whether or not Nikon would be able to keep its promise of significant updates, but it really seems that it has been listening to its community. These new features really open up a host of new creative avenues for its users. Your turn, Canon.

More detail on these features will be announced at a later date, including when they are to be released.

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15 Comments

Francisco Eduardo de Camargo's picture

Undoubtedly with these updates Nikon shows commitment to its users. It shows seriousness regarding the development of resources for your system giving a lot of confidence ...

There is a big difference between making an announcement to say something is in development versus delivering it.

Rob Mitchell's picture

I like how the Eye AF has indicator arrows to allow you to select left, right or next face, etc.
No idea how the other brand show selection options?

Jan Kruize's picture

Eeeeeehhhhh frimware? What’s frimware?

Mike O'Leary's picture

Firmware is a software program or set of instructions programmed on a hardware device. Sometimes, if a company wants their device to work more efficiently, they will update the firmware. Also, like here, a firmware update can be used to add new features to a device.

Mike, Jan is referring to the spelling error in the headline.

Mike O'Leary's picture

Oh, dear. Thanks guys!

a canon shooter criticizing a headline on a Nikon article. must be a single old man. thanks for the article Mike O'Leary . looking forward to the firmware upgrade,. would be wonderful if eye AF would be an option for the D850. not sure if it is limited to mirrorless camera's

lol - still waiting on the firmware they announced for the D600 several years ago

nobrainer, im upgrading my D750 for a Z6. it just fixed the things i was missing on it like EYE AF

Andrew Morse's picture

"Your turn, Canon."

Rumour has it that Canon's doing a big firmware update as well which adds features, but as with all things (and both Canon's and Nikon's rumour/announcements), I'll believe it when I see it - https://www.canonrumors.com/new-major-firmware-for-the-canon-eos-r-shoul....

Pedro Pulido's picture

Canikon users can thank Fujifilm for this. the kaizen philosophy is finally reaching the bigger brands. Finally the market understands the value of firmware updates and new features on "older" cameras. Not everybody is going to buy a new body every year... but if you keep your client happy, they will think about the next model of the same brand before they consider switching.

Well played Nikon. hope Sony and Nikon go through the same path.

thanks Fujifilm!

Puffy Butter's picture

I don’t think CF Express is going to give any performance benefits to the existing Z cameras as they already can’t take full advantage of XQD speed due to limitations of PCIe.

Eye AF gives a thrill to our hearts, but on the other hand we should think about how efficient will it work. When you implement a feature for the first time there is always a glitch.

Nikon changing their outlook and beginning to do firmware updates would be a good move. We've long since left the world of fixed firmware for other areas and it's time for photography to catch up. My laptop, desktop, iPad, iPhone and watch get regular updates and new features. My car (Tesla S) is 4 years old but I'm still getting updates and new features. My wife's X more so than mine since she has a newer computer. My TV, receiver, home automation system and security system get bugs fixed and new capabilities.

We actually choose a 'budget' home automation system (Control 4) rather than Crestron or RTI because C4 are doing a much better job of providing updates, adding new features and providing more end-user control.

Hopefully Nikon are moving in to this new era. Sadly I don't trust them quite yet.