Nikon Z9 gets firmware v5.0 with portrait processing options and feature refinements: Digital Photography Review

Nikon has released firmware 5.0 for its Z9 pro sports flagship, enhancing the Auto Capture function introduced last Jun, offering presets for countering LED flicker, adding the portrait color mode and processing options from the Z8 and Zf, along with a series of smaller refinements.
The full list of changes is in the press release below but one eye-catching improvement is the addition of a series of preset frequencies that can be used to mitigate flicker from common LED lights and signboards, for use with the High-Frequency Flicker Reduction function.
Pros using the Auto Capture mode to take photos when certain criteria are met (i.e., subject type, distance and direction of movement) will appreciate the ability to set the camera to only activate at a particular time and for a particular period. This prevents a remotely-sited camera running down its battery or filling its memory before the event starts. Auto Capture now also works with the Airplane detection mode added in firmware v4.10.
Other changes include refinements in the way playback mode works, to make it quicker and easier to review the large numbers of images the Z9 can shoot, as well as expanding both the number of custom functions that can be assigned to buttons, and the range of buttons to which they can be assigned.
The Rich Tone Portrait color mode from the Zf has been added, along with Skin Softening and a Portrait Impression Balance processing function which fine-tunes skin tone rendering and brightness.

Press Release:
Nikon releases firmware version 5.00 for the Nikon Z 9 full-frame mirrorless camera
Nikon Also Updates SnapBridge App to V 2.11 and Adds Easy Shooting Setup Feature
MELVILLE, NY (March 13, 2024) – Nikon is pleased to announce the release of firmware version 5.00 for its flagship full-frame/FX-format mirrorless camera, the Nikon Z 9.
Firmware version 5.00 is the fourth major update since the release of the Z 9 and increases usability for sports photography by expanding the Auto Capture and High-Speed Frame Capture+ functions. Portrait photography is also enhanced for more effective capture of the images photographers want, with the Skin Softening and Portrait Impression Balance functions, and Rich Tone Portrait Picture Control that enables rendering of details of the subject’s complexion with rich tones. Furthermore, the evolution of the Z 9 continues with improved operability achieved in response to feedback from professionals requesting increased speed and efficiency.
Nikon will continuously meet users’ needs through firmware updates that expand the functionality of its cameras.
Primary features of firmware version 5.00 for the Z 9:

Expanded functions for sports photography

A function that lets users specify the shooting start date/time and duration in advance has been added to Auto Capture. This helps to reduce battery consumption for more efficient shooting, even when the camera must be positioned and configured well before it will actually be used. Auto Capture flexibility has also been increased to allow users to shoot using the DX crop (24×16) image area, and also adds the addition of an [Airplanes] AF subject-detection mode, plus the display of a yellow frame when the camera is in standby for shooting.
In addition, a low-speed [C15] item has been added to High-Speed Frame Capture+ options for increased usability with continuous shooting. What’s more, frequency presets for common LED lighting and signboards have been added to the High-Frequency Flicker Reduction function, making it easier to choose the optimal shutter speed and efficiently reduce the effects of high-frequency flicker.

Enhanced portrait functions

A Rich Tone Portrait Picture Control suitable for creating base images in situations that require retouching, such as wedding and studio photography, has been added. Also, a variety of functions designed to improve portrait photography, including Portrait Impression Balance and Skin Softening have been incorporated. Further, Nikon offers NIKKOR Z lenses including the NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S, NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.2 S, and NIKKOR Z 135mm f/1.8 S Plena, all of which support the capture of portraits that accurately express the user’s intent.
Overall, convenience has been increased with the ability to use the continuous LED light of the Profoto A10 as an AF-assist illuminator1 and the addition of a [Prefer focus point (face priority)] option for frame advance when reviewing images displayed with playback zoom enabled.

Other features added for enhanced operability

When [Extended menu banks] is enabled, users can now manage the shooting modes for photo mode and video mode, which were previously linked, separately.
Visibility is improved with an option that allows the user to adjust the width of the focus point border.
Manual focusing is now possible with maximum aperture live view in manual focus mode.
A function that allows the user to cancel zoom when focus mode is set to manual focus and the view through the lens is zoomed in by pressing the shutter-release button halfway has been added.
High-Res Zoom operability has been improved, and the AF-area brackets display color when the subject is in focus has been changed from red to green.2
The number of functions that can be assigned to custom controls has been increased, as has the number of controls that can be customized.
The addition of a [Customize retouch options] item allows the user to choose the functions displayed in the retouch menu.
[Loop playback], [Wait before playback], and [Auto series playback speed] options have been added for playback of a series of images captured with a burst of continuous shooting.
Playback speed for all videos can now be specified in advance from the i menu ([Original speed], [1/2× speed], [1/4× speed]).
Wi-Fi station mode has been added to enable connection to SnapBridge without occupying the entire Wi-Fi connection on a smartphone.

Nikon SnapBridge Update:
SnapBridge is Nikon’s companion Android and iOS app that connects to your camera to automatically download photos and videos, and remotely activate the shutter. Now with Ver.2.11.0, SnapBridge adds new functions such as Easy Shooting Setup, which allows users to configure camera shooting settings suited to a particular scene or subject directly from a user’s smart device3.
The new Easy Shooting Setup function can be used by tapping [Easy Shooting Setup]4 in the SnapBridge camera tab, selecting a main subject or situation, and deciding output parameters, such as having a soft out-of-focus background or motion blur. It allows even those who are unsure about camera functions and terms to easily create camera shooting settings that achieve desired results. Settings are applied the moment they are sent to the camera, allowing users to immediately begin capturing their vision. Easy Shooting Setup also provides tips for available scenes and subjects such as people, landscapes and pets to help users better achieve the intended results. Furthermore, favorite shooting settings can be assigned to one of the user setting positions5.
Supported operating systems:

Android™ (version 10 or later), iOS (version 15.7 or later)
Cameras that support Ver.2.11.0’s Easy Shooting Setup:
Nikon Z f, Nikon Z 5, Nikon Z fc, Nikon Z 50 and Nikon Z 30
The NX Ready app available in some regions will be discontinued with the release of SnapBridge Ver.2.11.0.
1. It is necessary to update the firmware of the Profoto A10 to the latest version. Please refer to the Profoto website for details.2. In any focus mode except AF-F.3. The SnapBridge app can be downloaded free of charge from the Google Play™ and App Store®. See Nikon’s website for further information.
See Google Play™ for Android™ device system requirements. See the App Store® for iOS device system requirements. There is no guarantee that this app will run on all devices.
4. Not displayed if the camera with which the smart device running SnapBridge is paired does not support Easy Shooting Setup.
5. Z 50, Z 30, and Z 5 only (as of March 13, 2024).

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