Firmware 1.3 for the Nikon z6 II brings the new Portrait Impressions feature along with the voice memo feature and a few other things. The most fascinating though is the new Portrait Impressions. It addresses a concern we’ve had about Nikon’s images being a bit too green. It’s a bit difficult to use, but you can get some nice results with it. However, it only applies the changes to JPEGs. Our Nikon z6 II review has been updated, and we invite you to check it out.
There are a few oddities about this update that I discussed with Hillary before writing this. First off, the Nikon z6 II is indeed a very good camera. It’s highly capable and it can use Nikon’s best lenses to make beautiful images. But this update is a little weird as it feels like Nikon is making something that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Everything that Portrait Impressions can do has been possible with every camera system. But Nikon could’ve taken this update further by adding a few presets to the camera. More importantly, Nikon could’ve found a way to apply this image edit to the RAW file. However, at the moment, it’s just easier to edit the RAW files. I hope Nikon changes this. Photographers set in their ways of editing the RAW in post-production will probably keep doing that. If they’ve been shooting for years, they also would’ve thought at some point that their predecessors would keep using Rodinal and looking at contact sheets. But lots of folks find it very liberating to not need to edit their images at all. That’s where things need to go.
What I’m hoping is that Nikon will be adding something big. They’ve got tons of creative looks in-camera. And I’d like to apply those to RAWs and JPEGs both. You can currently apply it to video if you wish.
Here’s what we said:
“Nikon’s 1.3 firmware update for the Nikon Z6 II gives us what they’re calling the Portrait Impressions Balance tool. If you’ve used pretty much any other camera out there though, this has been available and on the market for years. However, where Nikon makes this special is by focusing only on the yellow and purple scales. Fujifilm users have used it to create great looks like those from Fuji X Weekly. You can do similar with Sony, Panasonic, and other cameras. As Hillary stated in her Nikon z7 II review update, it will really help you get rid of the greenish look that Nikon’s portraits have.
All of this depends on what white balance you’re using, of course. If you’re like me, you specifically choose kelvin levels to get something a bit closer to film. Daylight might look really odd with even more purple in the scene. Add a daylight flash to the scene and things might get even odder. And Tungsten (or incandescent as Nikon calls it) might as well too with a lot of yellows. Luckily, you’ve got three modifiable profiles you can work with. What’s more, this only applies to the JPEGs, unlike what Fujifilm and other camera systems will do.
Where Nikon fails here though is by not giving us a preview of how the scene renders while it’s being adjusted. To be fair, other camera systems do the same thing. When my buddy create the look of Lomochrome Purple on my X Pro 3, I didn’t realize it until after I was reviewing my images.
Nikon also could’ve given photographers a few customized presets in addition to three modes that we could customize ourselves. For the record, I’ve written a ton about color theory on this website. And even I couldn’t figure out what the system is doing. Shooting photos with similar lighting, the same lens, and the same exposure sometimes gave me different results.
Still, I feel Nikon could’ve gone even further here. Professional photographers who have been shooting for years have their own way of working. But professional photographers who are more green shoot completely different. And if Nikon wants to get new customers, they’ll hopefully develop this system more. Obviously, they recognize that it’s an issue and that’s why they’re giving this update.”