Nikon and Atomos Announce 12-Bit ProRes Raw External Recording on the Z 6 and Z 7 Cameras

Nikon and Atomos Announce 12-Bit ProRes Raw External Recording on the Z 6 and Z 7 Cameras

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.”

Will Panasonic and Atomos team up to offer a similar 12-bit ProRes Raw external recording on the S1 and S1R camera in the future? Hopefully.

Oliver Kmia's picture

Oliver Kmia is specialized in time-lapse, hyperlapse, and aerial videography. He also works with several drone manufacturers as a marketing and technical consultant. He is the lead brand ambassador of Hello Kitty camera, his favorite piece of equipment. Most people think Oliver is an idiot and they are probably right.

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So a whole bunch of whoopla at a "future" date and no video samples to be had. I mean it's interesting, but there is no substance to the PR release.

That’s how press releases work. Did you expect a hand delivered prototype?

Eh I hadn't realized this whole article was based on a single line of future firmware development notes. This article made it seem like more.

No substance?

The other firmware features they announced along with this are going to be out in May. Nikon is already selling a "video" bundle with the Z6 and Atomos, so I wouldn't think they would wait too long to issue the update.

Knowing very little about video this seems like a really big deal.

Nikon can put these features into their mirrorless cameras because they don't have to worry about cannibalizing sales of $10,000 video cameras like Canon, Sony and Panasonic do. It will force the others to do the same to compete.
I'm seriously debating picking up the Z6 Filmmaker Kit, I need a 2nd 4k camera for corporate interviews. It's basically a free gimbal. Using SSDs instead of XQD cards also saves hundreds of dollars. My only hangup is that I already have a Moza Air 1 and the 2 doesn't have cool features like focus/aperture control from the wheel over USB (Nikon is lousy with SDK support).

Shame they can't add some of this video stuff to the D850. I have a capable 4K camera setup (BMPCC4K), and have been thinking about switching to a more video capable manufacturer but maybe Z series might be the cheese for now.

It feels incredibly strange to watch Nikon suddenly become a strong video option after years of being a footnote. How quickly things can change...

Same. I've been set lately on moving from my D750 to the Fuji XT-3 and now, I'm not so sure. Might just go to the Z7.

I got my Z6 way before any of these updates were announced, so it has been a couple of pleasant surprises.

I bought both Z6 and Atomos Ninja V in anticipation of the Prores Raw firmware release but as of July 2019, am still waiting for even an announcement as to when it will happen.