On April 26th, We’ll Know If Nikon Finally Catches Up

Nikon issued a press release today about firmware for the Z6 II, Z7 II, and the Z5, saying that the autofocus is about to improve.

There’s some good news for Nikon users today. On April 26th, the z6 II, z7 II, and the z5 will be getting firmware updates. The firmware focuses on autofocus performance. In our tests, the Nikon system has been falling behind some of the top tiers of cameras, especially with low light performance. Most importantly, though, we’ll see if Nikon is still playing catch up or not. 

Key Details of the Firmware

  • The Z6 II and the Z7 II will get firmware that centers around improving autofocus and shooting in low light.
  • Autofocus when using speedlights will improve.
  • There’s a big emphasis on both face and eye detection.
  • The Z5 will get an improvement to focusing in low light.
  • The Z5 is also getting a “save focus position” setting. That’s awesome for street photography, astrophotography, landscape photography, etc.
  • Other Nikon cameras (z6, z7, z50) will all get new firmware with smaller improvements.

The Nikon Song on Repeat

As a member of the member, news from Nikon sounds a lot like the background noise you put on when you’re working. It’s nothing big or important that you’ll jam out to–but it’s pleasing. It’s often lukewarm, and it’s always something that you’ve heard before. But after a while, you get tired of it, so you need to switch it up. That’s exactly what almost all news from Nikon has been for a long time. And I don’t just speak for myself, but also on behalf of the staff. When I read in Reviews Editor Hillary Grigonis’s piece about how their autofocus is behind, I was shocked. Hillary has been a Nikon shooter for a while, and like everyone else on this site, she is as honest as they come. So to hear from her that everyone else is still ahead is quite saddening.

That’s what I feel has been the sea shanty Nikon has bellowed for years. It’s always just about how they’re improving something to catch up to someone else. When the Nikon Z6 II and the Nikon Z7 II were announced, I was underwhelmed. It felt like Nikon was trying to just catch up to everyone else instead of being their own thing. 

This is where I’m incredibly torn. I said the same thing about Canon for many years. But a day came where they surprised a lot of us. And then they did it again. The difference between Canon and Nikon is that Canon still stayed really high up on the sales charts. Nikon hasn’t done that as much. Instead of just playing catch up, maybe it’s time for Nikon to do something totally different. I’m not talking about the Key Mission products. Here are a few ideas:

  • The Nikon Zf: A mirrorless camera with an all-metal body and a few limited edition primes. Basically, a mirrorless version of the Nikon Df where they don’t hold back at all.
  • A retro full-frame Nikon rangefinder-style body: have you ever seen those Nikon rangefinder cameras?
  • A smaller Z series camera that is the spiritual successor to the Nikon 1 series. They’d have an APS-C sensor, no viewfinder, and target it at passionate photographers who do this as a hobby. Don’t forget the weather sealing.
  • Literally, just something different from what Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, and Leica are doing.
  • Creating lenses that not everyone else has. They’ve got a few, but Nikon doesn’t really do anything out of the ordinary. They mostly still do stuff that everyone else does.

This, again, is not to say that Nikon makes bad products. Do they take good pictures? Sure. Do they have autofocus that works? Yes, in most situations. But there’s nothing that makes them any different than anyone else. 

I want to make this a bit simpler for everyone, especially Nikon fans, who say that we bash the brand too much. Let’s talk about pants:

  • Levi’s are the tried and true. They work, they’re durable, and they’ve had a long brand reputation. These pants might outlive you, but they’re not comfortable for everyone.
  • UNIQLO has great pants, but it’s easy to not be a fan of them if you actually want something a bit more stylish. Specifically, if you want something stylish that no one else has. They last a few years.
  • Brooks Brothers make beautiful pants. They’re not as durable as Levi’s and not as comfortable as UNIQLO’s. But, they last pretty long.
  • Hawker Rye pants are often very affordable, stylish, comfortable, and last you a few years.

Do you see what I’m getting at? They’re all pants. They’re all made in different ways. And they all find ways to differentiate themselves. If you were to think about what pair of pants Nikon would be, what would you say? We’d like to hear in the comments below.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.