Nikon Updates Z9 Again: Even Better for Portraits, Wildlife, and Sports

A Nikon Z9 mirrorless camera on a yellow background.

Nikon described itself as “passionate” about providing firmware updates to its users, and the company demonstrated this commitment yet again with Nikon Z9 firmware version 5.00, the fourth major update since the flagship mirrorless camera launched in October 2021.

The Nikon Z9’s Auto Capture Mode Now Offers More Control and Performance

The significant 5.00 update arrives almost precisely nine months after Nikon released version 4.00 for the Z9. The latest firmware builds upon last June’s 4.0 update, supercharging 4.0’s Auto Capture function with new features and control.

sports photo of an Asian man kicking a soccer ball, action photo

Auto Capture can detect subjects, motion, and distance and automatically capture images when specific conditions are met. For example, when a particular subject, like a person, animal, or vehicle, enters the frame, the Z9 can record photos or videos without direct user control. This is hugely beneficial for wildlife and sports photographers.

However, what if a photographer sets up a Z9 to automatically capture a sporting event? With the camera powered on, the camera could have been triggered countless times during warm-ups and pregame festivities, way before the real action starts.

In the Z9’s 5.00 update, photographers can now specify the shooting start date and time and shooting duration for Auto Capture. Nikon says this helps reduce battery consumption, enable more efficient shooting, and make the Z9 a better fit in professional workflows.

wildlife image of a young cheetah

Auto Capture can work within the DX (24 x 16 millimeter) image area. It also adds the “Airplanes” subject option that was added alongside improved bird detection AF in version 4.10 last October to Auto Capture. The mode also shows a yellow frame when the camera is in standby and ready to shoot with Auto Capture enabled.

A Great Sports Camera Gets Even Better

Photographers don’t always want the absolute fastest shooting speeds, even when photographing sports, so Nikon has added a low-speed (C15) drive mode for additional options. Further, Nikon has added frequency presets for typical LED lighting and signboards to the Z9’s High-Frequency Flicker Reduction function, making it easier for photographers to pick the perfect shutter speed to avoid LED flicker — a common challenge for sports photographers.

A photo of two cars racing against each other. The car in the front is blue, and the cars are going around a corner.

Enhanced Portrait Functions

Although the Z9 is an especially excellent camera for wildlife and sports photography, thanks to its 45.7-megapixel resolution, it’s also popular among portrait and studio photographers.

The latest firmware update brings Rich Tone Portrait Picture Control to the Z9. Nikon says the new setting is helpful as a starting point for wedding and studio photography. Nikon has also incorporated Portrait Impression Balance and Skin Softening settings into the Z9.

A black woman in a red dress laying down on a bed of red flowers, portrait photograph.

For photographers with the Profoto A10 light, a popular round-head speedlight, the Z9 can now use the A10’s continuous LED light as an AF-assist illuminator.

Firmware 5.0 adds [Prefer focus point (face priority)] as an option for frame advance during playback with zoom enabled. This means users can stay zoomed in on faces when scrolling through multiple captured photos.

Other Improvements in Firmware 5.00

The Z9’s new firmware adds many other relatively minor updates and usability improvements. Among the complete list of changes, some highlights include the option to adjust the width of the focus point border, the ability for photographers to manually focus with maximum aperture live view in manual focus mode, and an option to cancel the automatic zoom function when manually focusing by half-pressing the shutter release.

Nikon Z9 product image -- lifestyle -- white woman holding Nikon Z9 camera and telephoto lens

The full breakdown of the Nikon Z9 firmware version 5.00 is available on Nikon’s support website.

Nikon SnapBridge Update

Alongside the new Z9 firmware, Nikon has updated its SnapBridge mobile app for Android and iOS devices to version 2.11.0. The latest version includes a function called “Easy Shooting Setup.” This feature allows users to configure settings on compatible cameras suited to a specific scene or subject.

On the Nikon Zf, Zfc, Z5, Z30, and Z50, users can select a subject or situation and decide output parameters, such as a soft, out-of-focus background or motion blur. The app will create camera shooting settings to achieve the desired result, which are applied automatically on the camera itself. Easy Shooting Setup also offers tips for certain scenarios, like photographing people or landscapes.

Image credits: Nikon