Autofocus settings for birds in flight with Nikon Z cameras
I’m back from my third annual San Diego Birding & Wildlife photo workshop, and this year I decided to use the workshop as a testing ground for the Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera. Ever since the Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras were released, the general consensus seems to be that their hybrid phase/contrast autofocus system was great for everything except fast moving subjects, like flying birds. I decided to test the Z6 myself and see how well it could perform in the field in real-world conditions.
For four days I put the Z6 through its paces, and came away with the conclusion that by tweaking the autofocus settings, you can nail BIFs with this camera almost as well as I could with my tried and true Nikon D850 DSLR. The trick is to customize your autofocus settings to something other than the defaults, and the settings I chose will actually seem counter-intuitive. More on that in a moment.
Updating the firmware on a Nikon Z mirrorless camera is fairly straightforward. To do so, you’ll need:
A formatted XQD memory card
An XQD card reader for your computer
A fully charged EN-EL15 battery
Nikon firmware update file
After downloading the firmware update, copy the binary (.bin) file to the ROOT (main) directory of the XQD card. Put the card in your camera and navigate to the Firmware Version option in the Z6 or Z7’s SETUP (wrench icon) menu. Follow the on-screen prompts to update your firmware to the current version (currently 2.10).
This week, Rick and Jason discuss Nikon’s mirrorless cameras, the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7. Both Jason and Rick own and use these cameras, and offer their first-hand thoughts of the new Z-mount, and the strengths and weaknesses of the Nikon Z system.