Nikon adds linear focus ring capability to select Z lenses with new firmware updates

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If there’s one thing almost every mirrorless filmmaker agrees on, it’s that focusing by wired lenses is absolutely zero when it comes to manual focus. And almost all mirrorless lenses these days are wire focused instead of mechanical focusing. It has its advantages, of course, but for the filmmakers, it’s terrible.

Nikon has released new firmware updates for three of its most popular Z-mount lenses, although the 50mm f/1.2S, 24-70mm f/2.8S and Macro 105mm f/2.8 VR S, to add a linear focus mode for the focus ring. It’s still essentially wire focused because there’s no mechanical interaction, but now the amount of rotation of the focus ring has to be directly proportional to the change in focus distance, regardless of speed at which you rotate it.

If you’re unfamiliar, threaded focus is a way for manufacturers to reduce the size and weight of lenses. When you turn the ring, instead of focusing the lens directly, you send a signal to the camera’s processor and it sends signals to a motor. The slower you turn the ring, the slower the motor adjusts focus. The faster you turn the ring, the faster the motor adjusts focus.

This basically means that rotating the ring a specific distance doesn’t necessarily adjust your focus the same way. Turn it slowly and the focus shifts a bit. Spin it quickly and it moves a lot. This is great for photographers who want to quickly switch from near focus to far focus or really set focus on static subjects, but not so great for filmmakers who need to focus point from one specific point to another.

The new firmware updates are essentially the same for all three lenses and require your camera to be running certain versions of firmware in order to use the new Linear Focus Mode feature:

NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S Lens Firmware Version 1.10:

  • Added support for linear rotation of the focus ring during manual focus: when an option other than [Non-linear] is selected for [Focus ring rotation range] * in camera [CUSTOM SETTINGS MENU]rotating the ring by the selected amount focuses from minimum distance to infinity, regardless of rotation speed.
  • Added support for [Switch focus/control ring roles] * in camera [CUSTOM SETTINGS MENU].

NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S Lens Firmware Version 1.20:

  • Added support for linear rotation of the focus ring during manual focus: when an option other than [Non-linear] is selected for [Focus ring rotation range] * in camera [CUSTOM SETTINGS MENU]rotating the ring by the selected amount focuses from minimum distance to infinity, regardless of rotation speed.
  • Added support for [Switch focus/control ring roles] * in camera [CUSTOM SETTINGS MENU].

NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Lens Firmware Version 1.10:

  • Added support for linear rotation of the focus ring during manual focus: when an option other than [Non-linear] is selected for [Focus ring rotation range] * in camera [CUSTOM SETTINGS MENU]rotating the ring by the selected amount focuses from minimum distance to infinity, regardless of rotation speed.
  • Added support for [Switch focus/control ring roles] * in camera [CUSTOM SETTINGS MENU].

*As of August 2022, this feature is available with the Z 9 (from camera “C” firmware version 2.00), Z 7II (from camera “C” firmware version 1.40). camera) and the Z 6II (from camera firmware “C”). version 1.40).

Hopefully we’ll start to see more manufacturers add this capability to their lenses, because when you want to use a follow focus unit to shoot video, that’s next to impossible with the standard wired focus modes. . That would make them useful.

[via Nikon Rumors]

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