Besides winning the award for headlines I never thought I’d write, Nikon is updating the Nikon z9 to firmware 4.0 that gives it an auto mode. But apparently, this isn’t the auto mode meant for people with too much money to spend on a camera and way too much money for lessons. Instead, from the way that it’s explained, it works more like zone focusing — but not and autofocus zone. Think more Leica-style street photography with manual focus — except it’s autofocus. Trust me, Leica can explain it better.
Nikon Z9 Firmware 4.0
Here’s what the new firmware is bringing.
- Users can set the camera to automatically record still images or video by pre-configuring Auto Capture criteria. The three criteria that can be configured include a [Motion] option that detects subjects that make certain movements, a [Distance] option which begins shooting when a subject is within a certain range of distances,2 and a [Subject detection] option which detects a person, animal or vehicle within the frame. These options can be used either separately or together to automatically trigger shooting when the selected criteria are met.
- This feature allows the user to shoot remotely and without having to manually determine the timing of shooting/recording, enabling more freedom to perform other tasks, or to leave their camera outside in places they cannot remain for extended periods of time, such as when recording wild animals.
- When using more than one Z 9, one camera can be used for hand-held shooting as the user moves from place to place, with the other cameras can be set up for automatic shooting from tripods at fixed locations. Auto Capture also enables shooting from multiple angles without using the extension cords previously required to control multiple cameras, eliminating worries about connections during remote shooting. This feature can also be used with the Pre-Release Capture function for more reliable capture of decisive moments.
Advanced Video Recording Functions:
- ISO sensitivity can now be set as low as Lo 2.0 (ISO 200) with N-Log recording: ISO sensitivity has been expanded on the low end to increase dynamic range in shadows and enable rich and clear expression of shadow tones in which noise is suppressed.
- Hi-Res Zoom speed options: Speed steps have been increased from 3 to 11 for more precise speed control. Finer adjustment of the zoom speed is now possible, enabling a look that better matches the user’s intent with more stable zooming at slower speeds, for example.
- Slow-motion video function: This new feature enables high-speed recording of videos that play back at 1/4 (4×) or 1/5 (5×) the frame rate for a slow-motion effect.
Additional Shooting Enhancements:
- Customizable shutter sound: Users can choose from five types of shutter sound played when the shutter is released and set a higher volume for the sound.
- Focus enhancements: Superior subject acquisition performance with 3D-tracking is used to capture stills of small and fast-moving subjects that cannot be detected with subject detection.
- Pre-Release buffer expansion: To better respond to the needs of those working on location, the length of time the camera continues to buffer frames before canceling shooting during the Pre-Release Capture phase of High-Speed Frame Capture has been increased from 30 to 300 seconds, allowing users to wait longer between the half press and full press of the shutter-release button.
- Exposure delay mode: This item is added to the Custom Settings menu, which helps to reduce blur caused by the camera shake that occurs when the shutter-release button is pressed.
- More custom controls: The number of functions that can be assigned to custom controls has been increased, as well as the number of controls that can be customized.
- Improved manual focus UI: The focus distance indicator for manual focus newly displays the approximate distance between the camera and the focus position in units selected by the user.
- Playback enhancements: The new [Frame advance zoom position] option that allows users to choose how the camera centers the display when scrolling through pictures during playback zoom can now be assigned to a custom control. When [Prefer focus point] is selected, the camera centers the display on the focus point active with shooting. Additionally, the accuracy of the progress bar displayed with video playback has been increased.
A Better Camera for Photographers?
We’re not going to lie, the Nikon z9’s new features seem pretty cool for photographers. Besides the type of shutter sound, the new auto-capture mode is bound to prove itself quite useful. If you can tell it to use a 24-120mm to capture people moving back and forth within a specific zone and combine that with the pre-release capture feature, you suddenly have a lot of potential. As we found in our review though, Pre-release capture only works in JPEG mode.
I can see how it will be useful for bird photographers, wedding photographers, event photographers, sports shooters, and law enforcement that use Nikon cameras like the Nikon z9 for stuff like traffic cameras.
I’ll also really give it to Nikon here, I don’t know of any other brand that has features like this. So bravo to them and for making the Nikon Z9, an already attractive camera, more into something folks want to purchase.