Nikon’s Z6 & Z7 mirrorless cameras now have Eye Autofocus

Tips & Techniques

Nikon has now released Firmware Update 2.0 for the Nikon Z6 and Z7 mirrorless cameras. The new firmware brings improved low light performance a number of minor tweaks and fixes and, finally, Eye-Detection Autofocus.

Lack of Eye Autofocus has been the biggest missing feature, and largest complain from potential mirrorless customers. Not just for Nikon, but for everybody else, too. Sony has set a standard and now everybody else must meet it. Well, now, Nikon has.

Nikon says that the new Eye-Detection AF feature will detect and focus on the human eyes when using Auto-area AF in both AF-S and AF-C. When it sees multiple eyes from multiple subjects, you get to choose which eye it should remain focused on. It even works, they say, when a subject’s face is partially obscured.

  • Added eye-detection AF for use when taking photographs. To enable eye-detection AF, select:
    – AF-S or AF-C for Focus mode in the PHOTO SHOOTING MENU
    Auto-area AF for AF-area mode in the PHOTO SHOOTING MENU
    Face and eye detection on for Custom Setting a4 (Auto-area AF face/eye detection) in the CUSTOM SETTING MENU
    If the camera detects the face of a portrait subject, the face will be enclosed in an amber border indicating the focus point. If the subject’s eyes are detected, an amber border indicating the focus point will appear around either eye. If the camera detects more than one face or eye, triangles will appear to either side of the focus point; to position the focus point over a different face or eye, press the multi- or sub-selector left or right.
  • Improved autofocus performance for photos and movies shot under low light: -3.5 – 19 EV (low light autofocus -6 – 19 EV), measured in photo mode with single-servo AF (AF-S) at ISO 100 and 20°C with an f/2 lens.
  • The following improvements have been made to the Continuous H (extended) option for Release mode:
    – Not only focus but now also exposure will respond to changes in the subject during shooting
    – The burst shooting display after the memory buffer fills is now easier to read
  • Reduced the length of time the display turns off (the blackout period) when pictures are taken with On or On (monitor only) selected for Image review in the PLAYBACK MENU.
  • Item d5 in the CUSTOM SETTING MENU, formerly Electronic front-curtain shutter, has been renamed Shutter type and offers a choice of Auto, Mechanical shutter, and Electronic front-curtain shutter. If Auto is selected, the camera will automatically choose a shutter type according to shutter speed.
  • Changed the color the focus point turns when the AF-ON button is pressed or the shutter-release button is pressed halfway with Auto-area AF selected and face detection or target tracking active.
  • Edited and revised help text.
  • Fixed the following issues:
    – The camera would stop responding if certain operations were performed while HDMI output was in progress with 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) selected for frame size.
    – The value selected for maximum sensitivity would sometimes be exceeded during movie recording in mode M with On selected for Auto ISO control (mode M) if Active D-Lighting was enabled.
    – The items in My Menu would sometimes not display correctly.
  • Added eye-detection AF for use when taking photographs. To enable eye-detection AF, select:
    – AF-S or AF-C for Focus mode in the PHOTO SHOOTING MENU
    Auto-area AF for AF-area mode in the PHOTO SHOOTING MENU
    Face and eye detection on for Custom Setting a4 (Auto-area AF face/eye detection) in the CUSTOM SETTING MENU
    If the camera detects the face of a portrait subject, the face will be enclosed in an amber border indicating the focus point. If the subject’s eyes are detected, an amber border indicating the focus point will appear around either eye. If the camera detects more than one face or eye, triangles will appear to either side of the focus point; to position the focus point over a different face or eye, press the multi- or sub-selector left or right.
  • Improved autofocus performance for photos and movies shot under low light: -2 – 19 EV (low light autofocus -4 – 19 EV), measured in photo mode with single-servo AF (AF-S) at ISO 100 and 20°C with an f/2 lens.
  • The following improvements have been made to the Continuous H (extended) option for Release mode:
    – Not only focus but now also exposure will respond to changes in the subject during shooting
    – The burst shooting display after the memory buffer fills is now easier to read
  • Reduced the length of time the display turns off (the blackout period) when pictures are taken with On or On (monitor only) selected for Image review in the PLAYBACK MENU.
  • Item d5 in the CUSTOM SETTING MENU, formerly Electronic front-curtain shutter, has been renamed Shutter type and offers a choice of Auto, Mechanical shutter, and Electronic front-curtain shutter. If Auto is selected, the camera will automatically choose a shutter type according to shutter speed.
  • Changed the color the focus point turns when the AF-ON button is pressed or the shutter-release button is pressed halfway with Auto-area AF selected and face detection or target tracking active.
  • Edited and revised help text.
  • Fixed the following issues:
    – The camera would stop responding if certain operations were performed while HDMI output was in progress with 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) selected for frame size.
    – The value selected for maximum sensitivity would sometimes be exceeded during movie recording in mode M with On selected for Auto ISO control (mode M) if Active D-Lighting was enabled.
    – The display would sometimes briefly behave unexpectedly in movie mode before or during recording.
    – The items in My Menu would sometimes not display correctly.

So, for all those moaning that Nikon didn’t have Eye AF, now it does. And from what I saw of the firmware pre-release in action at NAB last month, the performance looks pretty excellent.

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