After the previous 10-bit update, the two companies continue to impress the video community by enabling 12-bit Apple ProRes Raw recording capability on the Nikon full-frame mirrorless cameras.
The announcement confirmed that the future raw video output from the Z 6 and Z 7 full-frame mirrorless cameras will be 12-bit in either 4K UHD or Full HD. Release date is still to be announced. The Atomos Ninja V will be able to record this 12-bit output in the Apple ProRes Raw format allowing users to utilize rich colors and achieve flexible color grading, perfect for both HDR and SDR workflows. ProRes Raw recording will come in a future AtomOS update for Ninja V from Atomos. Despite the name, this so called “ProRes Raw” is not a real raw format but the latest high-quality and high-efficiency codec released by Apple last year. As with any codec, the data coming from the camera is compressed even though the ProRes Raw format directly encodes the Bayer pattern image. Demosaicing and processing are deferred to the time of playback and are performed by application software.
To my knowledge, this is the first time that this kind of feature is enable on a prosumer level camera. Until today, that type of high-quality video recording used to be reserved for professional video cameras or niche products like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. Furthermore, the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 come with full-frame sensors unlike the smaller Super 35mm found on a regular video camera. Hardcore users can also use the Magic Lantern hack on Canon 5D cameras to record 14-bit raw video but the workflow is complicated and time consuming.
This announcement is excellent news for enthusiast and indie videographers who can rely on the affordable Z 6 body for serious video and postproduction work. Unlike Canon that always finds frustrating ways to cripple its DSLR and mirrorless cameras, Nikon really pushes the envelope in regards to the video specifications.
It will be interesting to observe the reaction of Panasonic which is very aggressive in the video department. In a recent interview conducted by Andrew Reid from EOSHD, a Panasonic general manager revealed that the company “frequently communicate[s] with Atomos, and we are discussing about how to improve in [the] future.”