Nikon has announced a major firmware update for its flagship Z9 full-frame mirrorless camera. Firmware 2.0 adds a series of features including 8K/60 Raw video capture, waveform displays and a 120Hz viewfinder mode.
There’s also a pre-buffer option to capture up to a second of action before the shutter button is fully pressed and the ability to create custom AF area shapes, tailored to the subject you’re shooting. Firmware 2.0 will become available later this month, either from Nikon’s website or using the Snapbridge app.
The changes are so extensive that we’re going to separately detail the additional features and camera gains and the operational changes that will become available.
|As promised, Firmware 2.0 adds the ability to shoot 8K/60 video in Nikon’s proprietary, compressed, N-Raw format.
Raw video is probably the single biggest addition that f/w 2.0 brings. The Z9 gains the ability to capture Raw video at up to 8.3K/60p in the proprietary N-Raw format. 8.3K allows the footage to be cropped at DCI (8192 x 4320) or UHD (7680 x 4320) 8K. There’s also a 4.1K option at up to 120p that Nikon says is created from the full 8.3K capture, though it didn’t give details over how it’s being processed to give reduced resolution but remain ‘raw.’ There are also 1.5x and 2.3x crop options. N-Raw will initially be supported by DaVinci Resolve and Edius NLEs.
The camera also gains the ability to shoot ProRes RAW at up to 4.1K/60p, again with crop options available. Users who prefer their footage demosaiced and gamma-encoded gain an ‘extended oversampling’ mode, which delivers 2:1 oversampled 4K/60p footage from 8K capture.
Video operation improvements
Alongside the additional video modes, the Z9 gains a series of UI and operational improvements for video shooters. Chief among these is the provision of a waveform display (available in two sizes), a powerful way of visualizing exposure. This will be available as part of the camera’s custom display options, making it easy to access by just hitting the DISP button. Sadly waveforms are not available in stills mode.
In addition, the Z9 gets a dedicated video settings display, the ability to display a red frame surround when the camera is recording, and the ability to adjust the magnification size during video capture.
Firmware 2.0 also brings the ability to control ISO in 1/6EV increments, for finer control and smoother transitions, and a ‘Fast AF On’ function that lets you assign a button to perform a quick focus pull, rather than a slow focus rack, while recording.
|You can set the JPEG-only C30 mode to capture 30, 15 or 10 images buffered before a full shutter press. In the 11MP C120 mode, it’s 120, 60 or 40 images.
In stills mode, the Z9 gains a pre-buffer option in its JPEG-only 30fps and 11MP 120fps modes. This starts capturing frames when the shutter button is half-pressed and retains up to one seconds’ worth of buffered images when you fully press the shutter, and up to a further 4 seconds afterwards. In addition to the maximum one second pre-buffer, you can also select a 0.3 second and 0.5 second pre-buffer, which will capture 10 and 15 images, respectively, in JPEG-only C30 mode.
There’s also a 120fps viewfinder mode, giving a smoother, more natural look to the viewfinder preview and bringing the camera into line with more of its rivals. Unsurprisingly, this mode will impact the battery life compared to the 60fps mode.
|The Z9’s viewfinder gains a 120Hz high fps mode: one of the areas its spec table was lacking, relative to its peers.
Another addition is the ability to create custom-sized Wide AF zones. You can select which AF areas are active, from an 19 x 11 grid, and create two different user-defined zones. These let you concentrate the AF system on the plane of the scene you anticipate the action happening in and work with the camera’s subject tracking modes.
The camera also gains a motion blend function in the Retouch menu, letting you create composite images in which your subject appears multiple times on the same background. Nikon specified this mode works best when the camera is either on a tripod or held very still as the subject moves.
Stills operation improvements
Firmware 2.0 also brings an on-screen timer to Bulb shooting mode (both for when shooting and for the noise reduction/processing delay) and a viewfinder dimming mode to reduce the impact on the photographer’s night vision when shooting long exposures in low light.
Also new is a ‘hold’ (toggle) version of the Recall Shooting Function option, so you no longer need to hold a custom button down to access your saved shooting function settings, if you want to access them for more than a shot or two.
In addition you can now choose how quickly the joystick navigates between AF points, and there are new features in playback mode that let you jump directly between the first and last images in a burst, rather than having to navigate through the whole burst.
Firmware 2.0 will be available from Nikon’s website on April 20th, and for download and installation via the SnapBridge app a day later.
Major upgrade adds new pro cinema & video production capabilities to Nikon Z 9, plus features for fast-action photography and more
– The Z 9 Becomes Even More Powerful with Free Firmware 2.0 Upgrade for Video and Stills
– Firmware Updates Also Announced for the Nikon Z 7II & Nikon Z 6II Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras
– Nikon Announces Development of the MC-N10 Remote Grip
MELVILLE, NY (April 14, 2022) –Today, Nikon Inc. has announced major feature additions to the Nikon Z 9 that will soon be available through a free firmware upgrade. The upgrade is Nikon’s most comprehensive to date, significantly expanding the Z 9’s already powerful video and stills feature set. With enhancements including in-camera 12-bit RAW video at up to 8K 60p, oversampling at 4K UHD 60p, and a new Pre-Release Capture function that increases the odds of catching hard-to-predict moments, the Z 9 solidifies its role as the ultimate hybrid camera for filmmakers, videographers, photographers and creators. Additionally, Nikon has also announced AF performance enhancements and other improvements with firmware v. 1.4 for the Z 6II and Z 7II, as well as the development of the new MC-N10. The new upgrades for the Z 9, Z 7II and Z 6II will all be available free of charge starting April 20, 2022.
“The Nikon Z 9 is considered by many to be the most powerful and versatile camera on the market. With the most extensive combination of powerful stills and advanced video capture abilities available today, it’s been our most successful flagship camera ever,” said Jay Vannatter, Executive Vice President, Nikon Inc. “Now the best is getting even better – These latest updates are just another example of the Z system’s ability to rapidly evolve and gain features and usability by using our customers feedback.”
At the forefront of this comprehensive firmware upgrade are enhancements for cinema and video capture, chiefly the addition of 12-bit internal RAW video recording in a variety of frame rates and resolutions, as well as functionality and interface adjustments made specifically for videographers. Footage can now be captured at up to 8.3K 60p with Nikon’s new N-RAW format, or up to 4.1K 60p in ProRes RAW HQ.1 This allows the Z 9 to capture the largest possible color depth and a vast dynamic range for maximum flexibility when color grading and in post-production. Nikon’s new N-RAW (.NEV file)2 packs all the depth and detail of 12-bit RAW video into a file that’s half the size of equivalent ProRes RAW HQ files for lighter workflow. The new video options take full advantage of the Z 9’s exceptional full-frame sensor, with N-RAW footage captured at up to 8.3K (8256×4644), allowing for export in UHD or DCI 8K aspect ratios. Shooting at such a high-resolution grants consistency in a multiple camera production, or the flexibility of letting users add effects such as zooming, reframing and trimming when producing 4K content.
Firmware 2.0 for the Z 9 also adds still-photo features, including enhancements to autofocus and high-speed image capture. Imagine trying to anticipate the most decisive moment of a game or action sequence; When shooting at 30 or 120fps in High-Speed Frame Capture+, the camera starts capturing up to one full second before the shutter is fully depressed, giving the photographer extra time to trigger the camera and still capture the most impactful shot. From the instant a receiver jumps for a pass in the end zone, or a bird dives into the water for a meal, the fastest fleeting frames will be captured before a human can physically react. When half-pressing the shutter, the camera can record frames up to one full second before and up to four seconds after the shutter is fully pressed, all with no viewfinder blackout or distractions that would otherwise interrupt the action.
Videography and Cinema Upgrades for the Nikon Z 9
- Addition of internal N-RAW video recording up to 12-bit 8.3K 60p and 12-bit ProRes RAW HQ up to 4.1K 60p. The power of RAW video allows for extreme latitude with tonality, with a range of more than 68 billion colors for flexibility when grading or consistency as part of a multi-camera production.
- Nikon’s new N-RAW raw video format records a vast amount of scene information, yet is a significantly smaller file size, allowing for much more recording time and less intensive workflow. N-RAW footage can be recorded in the following formats: 3K 60p, 24p, or 4.1K 120p, 60p, 30p, 24p while in full frame/FX mode, 3.8K 120p with a 2.3x Crop, or 5.3K 60p, 30p, 24p with a DX (1.5x) crop.
- The N-RAW format also creates an mp4 proxy file, which is efficient for previewing, quick transfers or edits on the fly.
- 4K UHD 60p footage can now be oversampled from 8K footage, allowing for the sharpest and cleanest possible 4K content.
- A Red “REC” frame indicator on the monitor and viewfinder has been added during recording to easily identify when video is being captured.
- A Waveform monitor has been added to confirm the brightness levels and position of the subject while recording.
- A new dedicated video info display gives various video recording settings at a glance, such as frame size and rate, audio settings, codec, bit depth and HDMI output settings, all of which can be confirmed on a single screen. Additionally, a frame rate/size display on the top control panel helps to confirm when the rear monitor is difficult to view.
- A “Fine ISO control (Mode M)” enables exposure adjustment in increments of 1/6 EV for ultra-precise and smooth changes in exposure.
- The Fast AF-ON function allows a user to assign different AF speeds to separate controls. From a slow rack focus to a fast transition, two speeds are now assignable on customizable buttons to improve video shooting efficiency.
- To enable slow shutter video recording of extremely dark scenes or intentionally introduce blur when shooting video in M mode, the shutter speed can be set at a slower than 1/frame rate.
- With select frame rates and resolution settings, the user now has the ability to save consecutive frames in a selected section of video footage as a series of JPEG images while the playback is paused.
Still Photo Upgrades for the Nikon Z 9
- For the first time in a mirrorless full frame camera, the Pre-Release Capture feature acquires hard-to-predict moments easier than ever before3, allowing for the burst capture of images up to a full second before the shutter is fully pressed.
- Twenty types of Custom Wide-Area AF selection patterns have been added, giving the user more control over what part of the frame they want to focus on, which can also work in conjunction with subject detection. This is useful for a variety of sports and situations such as volleyball or a finish line. Twelve additional patterns are available for video capture.
- The new Retouch menu feature, “Motion Blend” creates an in-camera overlay from a series of subject movements from continuous shooting into a single picture in-camera. For example, a snowboarder’s aerial can be captured from start to finish sequentially in one finished frame.
- AF stability, tracking performance, and subject detection in low-light situations have been enhanced.
- When reviewing images, users now have the option to skip to the first shot in a given burst.
- For capturing amazing star trails and long exposures, Firmware 2.0 enhances the Z 9’s Long Exposure display to include a live count of the exposure time. Users also can now dim the viewfinder further and with greater precision to preserve power and their night vision.
Additional Functionality Upgrades:
- The Z 9’s Real Live Viewfinder is arguably the most impressive EVF available, and the only one that provides a truly blackout free view. Firmware 2.0 adds the high fps viewfinder display function to increase the refresh rate to 120 fps for an even smoother, more lifelike view.
- Auto Exposure (AE) has been enhanced to have more stable exposure with human faces, such as when a subject turns away from the camera and then faces it again, or when the composition changes.
- Improved “Prioritize viewfinder” monitor mode gives a familiar shooting and review flow.
- “Prefer sub-selector center” is added to the custom menu, improving the operability of the sub-selector.
- Improvements in AWB even when the scene changes rapidly and adjustments to “Choose color temperature” and preset manual WB.
- A new custom setting: Focus Point Selection Speed allows users to adjust the speed that AF points can be moved through the frame.
- For confirmation of high-speed shooting, visual shutter release indicators appear clearly on the display and the Real Live Viewfinder.
- Enhanced memory set/recall function enables instant recall of several focus positions.
- “Recalling shooting functions (hold)” is now added to the conventional “Recalling shooting functions,” enabling the users to maintain the recalled function without continually pressing a button.
- Option to switch focus/control ring roles helps photographers who don’t need manual focusing employ the control ring.
Upgrades for the Nikon Z 6II and Z 7II
In addition, firmware version 1.40 for the Nikon Z 7II and Z 6II has improved AF performance. This update will enhance the stability of the AF, preventing the focus point from unintentionally moving to the background. The ability to emulate linear focus with select lenses will also be added while manually focusing4, so that users can smoothly adjust the focus position as intended with an operational feeling similar to cinema lenses. This firmware update also supports the ML-L7 Remote Control (Released in September 2018).
Development of the MC-N10
Nikon is pleased to announce the development of the MC-N10 Remote Grip for mirrorless cameras for which the Nikon Z mount has been adopted. The MC-N10 is an accessory that allows remote control of Nikon Z-mount mirrorless cameras via a wired connection. It can control various functions of Nikon mirrorless cameras, increasing the efficiency of video recording with a small crew and expanding the possibilities of video recording. It also supports still shooting. Further details, including pricing and availability will come at a later date.
Nikon MC-CF660G High Performance CFexpress Card
The MC-CF660G is a CFexpress (Type B)5 memory card with a large capacity of 660 GB. It realizes a maximum read speed of approximately 1700 MB/s and maximum write speed of approximately 1500 MB/s. It is particularly suited for video/still shooting with the Nikon Z 9 full-frame/FX-format mirrorless camera.
Pricing and Availability
The new firmware updates will be available to download for free starting on April 20, 2022 at Nikonusa.com, and via the SnapBridge app soon afterwards. Further details about the MC-N10 will come at a later date. The new Nikon MC-CF660G High Performance CFexpress Card will be available starting in June for a suggested retail price of $729.95.6
For more information about the latest Nikon products, including other NIKKOR Z lenses and the entire collection of Z series cameras, please visit nikonusa.com.
Specifications, equipment, and release dates are subject to change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer.
- Use of the Nikon MC-CF660G, ProGrade Digital COBALT 650GB or ProGrade Digital COBALT 325GB memory card is recommended.
- N-RAW will be supported by EDIUS X ver.10.3.2 (by Grass Valley) and DaVinci Resolve 17.4.6, DaVinci Resolve Studio 17.4.6 (by Blackmagic Design). For N-RAW readout in 8K, DaVinci Resolve Studio ver.17.4.6 is required. As of April 14, 2022.
- See Nikon websites for compatible lenses.
- Pre-Release Capture can be configured only when High-Speed Frame Capture+ is active.
- CFexpress is a trademark of the CompactFlash Association in the United States and other countries.
- SRP (Suggested Retail Price) listed only as a suggestion. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change at any time.