Nikon has released its first major firmware upgrade (V2.0) for the Nikon Z 8, its full-frame/FX-format mirrorless camera. They simultaneously announced an update to their NX Tether Software (V2.0.0).
The standout feature without a doubt is 'Auto Capture'. This allows the camera to capture stills or video automatically and / or autonomously. The user can create pre-set parameters or criteria, that will cause the camera to automatically capture a specific subject, at a specific time by using the Z 8's subject detection, autofocus, and automatic exposure. And it can do all of these calculations and shoot at up to 120fps!
For example, you can set the camera up on a tripod near a bird's nest and create the parameters for the camera to capture any moments when the bird returns or leaves the home.
Or you could set it up to record joggers in a marathon when they cross the finish line. This would be great to have one camera locked off on a tripod, shooting wide using Auto Capture – while you personally shoot the actual winner in a vertical format using a telephoto.
Users can choose from three settings to be used separately or in combination; [Motion] detects subjects moving in a set direction; [Distance] starts shooting when the subject is within a certain range or distance; and [Subject detection], which detects people, animals, vehicles, or aeroplanes within the frame.
So the question is – is this new automation taking away the hard earned, specific skill sets of patience and precision framing & focussing? To a degree, yes it is. We used to hear stories of National Geographic photographers spending days waiting for a specific bird or animal to appear. Now you can just set up the camera in a hide and perhaps even use a satellite wifi station to transmit the photos to you while you are 50km away drinking Mai Tais in a mosquito-free, air-conditioned hotel room. So – no real complaints here!
You can now also remotely control up to 16 Nikon Z 8 cameras simultaneously using the NX field remote capture software. I don't know what is more mind blowing – the fact you can automatically shoot a whole football match, or that someone can actually afford (and carry) 16 Nikon Z8's with accompanying lenses? That's $92,000 on camera bodies and at least $40,000 on lenses. Perhaps Nikon could give you a nice discount when buying in bulk?
The other main upgrade is Pixel-Shift which has been available to other camera brands for a while. This function allows the creation of high-resolution photos (up to 180MP) by using dedicated software to merge multiple NEF (RAW) files recorded with the camera mounted on a tripod or otherwise stabilised.
Other enhancements and functions in the NIKON Z 8 firmware upgrade version 2.00 include:
• Enhanced bird detection.
• Increased number of functions and operations can be assigned to custom control.
• A function that allows users to exit zoom with a half-press of the shutter-release button when focus mode is set to manual focus.
• An option that allows users to choose the width of the focus-point borders.
• An option that allows users to choose not to record shooting orientation information in the image’s EXIF data.
• A new [Prefer focus point (Face priority)] option that centres the display on a face when detected while scrolling through photos during playback zoom.
• UltraSync BLUE, an ATOMOS AirGlu accessory, can be connected via Bluetooth when the MC- N10 Remote Grip is attached to the camera.
There is a full list of upgrades available at the Nikon download centre here.
New NX Tether Software update
The other main software update by Nikon is an update to the NX Tether Software (Version 2.0.0)
The primary features are:
• Enhanced workflow.
• Upgraded remote shooting style.
• Flexible window arrangements and upgraded user interface.
You can download the NX Tether software update here from Nikon Australia.