With addition of RAW video, Nikon Z Series looks to win over filmmakers

nikon z6 z7 raw video ces 2019 3
An upcoming firmware update for the Z7 and Z6 adds support for RAW video output. Les Shu/Digital Trends

The Nikon Z Series, comprising the Z6 and Z7, are already Nikon’s best ever cameras for video production — and two of our favorite cameras of 2018 — but they’re about to get even better. At CES 2019, Nikon demonstrated upcoming firmware that will, among other things, allow the cameras to output RAW video over HDMI. The announcement was made jointly with Atomos, maker of external video recorders, which has partnered with Nikon to provide its Ninja V HDMI recorder as part of the new Nikon Z6 Filmmaker’s Kit.

Like a RAW photo, RAW video preserves more data and means filmmakers will be able to capture footage that is more representative of what their camera’s sensor can actually see compared to compressed video. RAW files record more color and greater detail in the shadows and highlights, which is particularly useful for high dynamic range (HDR) workflows. The footage can also be pushed further in color grading, and offers greater flexibility to fix white balance and exposure issues. It’s a feature that sets dedicated cinema cameras, like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, apart from the likes of mirrorless cameras and DSLRs. Or at least, it was.

The RAW video feed from the Z6 or Z7 will be recorded in the new Apple ProRes RAW format, a video-specific RAW filetype announced last year that previously only worked on select high-end cinema cameras. At that time, it was speculated that such a feature could allow compact mirrorless cameras to shoot RAW video and thus rival the image quality of cinema cameras, and Nikon has now become the first mirrorless manufacturer to allow its cameras to do so.

nikon nikkor z 14 20mm f4 unveiled ces 2019 z6 group horzflt
Nikon launched its Z6 Filmmaker’s Kit at CES 2019, which includes the Atomos Ninja V 4K HDR 5-inch Monitor Recorder, Rode VideoMic Pro+, MOZA Air 2 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer, and other video accessories. Nikon

ProRes RAW offers the image quality of a RAW file with the ease of use that ProRes is known for in the postproduction world. With 12-bit color, it surpasses even the 10-bit N-Log footage the Z6 and Z7 can output currently. It also yields a manageable file size that brings the option of RAW recording to more users, with a choice of data rates ranging from 80 to 140 megabytes per second. And unlike CinemaDNG — a competing RAW video format — ProRest RAW has full metadata support, saving information about the camera, lens, and exposure settings.

We were already impressed with the video capabilities of the Z Series, but the addition of RAW video could propel Nikon ahead of its full-frame mirrorless rivals Canon and Sony, which have both dominated the video market in the past.

The firmware update, which does not have a release date at this time, will also bring eye-detection autofocus and CFexpress card support to the Z Series.


Authentic, holistic, retro photography is in: Here are 2019’s predicted trends

What types of imagery are we most drawn to? According to recent stock photography data from Adobe, StoryBlocks, and Shutterstock, authentic, holistic, and humanitarian content will be in high demand in 2019.

Photography news: Careful, self-driving cars can ruin your camera sensor

In this week's photography news, learn how self-driving cars destroyed a digital camera via lasers. Find out how many patents Canon filed for in 2018. Read about what Tamron lenses are available for the Nikon Z6.

GoPro bumps resolution on Fusion 360 cam to 5.6K with new firmware

Currently available in public beta, Fusion firmware version 2.0 offers a new 5.8K mode that results in 5.6K output when the 360 camera's two hemispheres are stitched together. It also adds support for 24 fps video and RAW time-lapse…

Sony crams its best camera tech into the new $900 A6400

Love Sony's autofocus, but can't stomach the full-frame price? The Sony A6400 mirrorless camera uses some of the same autofocus technology and the processor of the A9 in a compact, more affordable crop-sensor camera.

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.

This A.I.-powered camera follows the action to produce epic selfie videos

Want to capture more epic action selfies? The Obsbot Tail is a camera-gimbal combo that uses artificial intelligence to follow the action. Using a handful of different modes, the camera works to keep the action in the frame.

With 5-stop optical stabilization, Fujifilm GF 100-200mm is ready for adventure

Fujifilm revealed a new lens designed to deliver on the GFX system's promise of adventure-ready medium-format photography. The GF 100-200mm F5.6 R is a weather resistant, relatively lightweight, 2x telephoto with impressive stabilization.

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone…

Olympus teaser shares glimpse of OM-D camera that’s good for more than sports

Is Olympus about to release a new mirrorless camera geared toward sports photographers? The latest teaser offers a glimpse of an upcoming OM-D camera set to launch on January 24, and by the looks of the teasers, it's capable for landscapes…

Nikon A1000, B600 pack big zooms into compact, budget-friendly cameras

The new Nikon Coolpix A1000 packs in a 35x zoom lens, 4K video, and an optical viewfinder, while Nikon's B600 brings a 60x zoom lens to the table. The cameras are modest updates to Nikon's budget-friendly zoom models.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world will take your breath away

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.

Here are 8 GoPro tips to get the most out of your action cam

There's more to your GoPro camera than just mounting it to your skateboard. Whether it's finding the best accessories or understanding the settings more thoroughly, learn to shoot video like a pro with these simple GoPro tips and tricks.