It looks like Canon isn’t the only one bringing old features back to their modern cameras. Nikon, too, has brought back a long-lost feature to its Nikon Z9 (buy here) in a new v4.00 firmware. It’s called Auto Capture and allows you to set your camera down and just walk away. It monitors for specific events to happen and automatically shoots one or several photos. The new firmware also adds several other valuable features.
The Nikon Z9 Auto Capture feature is reminiscent of the Freeze Focus function in old film cameras like the Nikon N90s/F90x when used with the Nikon MF-26 multi-function back. This let you work in a similar way, setting your camera down and having it automatically shoot a photo when a subject enters the plane of focus. It’s a feature users have been begging to get back for 20 years. The Z9 brings it back in a much more advanced way.
The new firmware adds several useful features for both photographers and filmmakers, but the Auto Capture feature clearly headlines the list – which is available for both stills and video. It opens up all kinds of opportunities for wildlife photographers and filmmakers to leave cameras unattended so as not to disturb the animals with their presence. It also allows sports photographers to shoot handheld with one camera while leaving others in fixed positions on tripods to cover multiple angles simultaneously when specific events happen.
Here’s the list of major changes with the new v4.00 firmware update according to the Nikon press release. The complete list of changes is available on the Nikon Z9 firmware update page. There’s also a Supplementary Firmware Update Manual, explaining how to use the new features.
New and Enhanced Features
- 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.
Other features of the v4.00 firmware include bringing back the Exposure Delay Mode. Sure, there’s no mirrorless slap to worry about, but there are still potential vibrations from hitting the shutter on a wobbly tripod. This solves those. 3D autofocus tracking has also been improved for small, fast-moving subjects, along with a number of UI/UX enhancements.
The new Nikon Z9 v4.00 firmware can be downloaded now from the Nikon website.