Nikon releases long-awaited RAW video upgrade for Z7, Z6 full-frame cameras, but it will cost you
posted Tuesday, December 17, 2019 at 12:00 AM EDT
Back in February, Nikon outlined a plan for additional features and performance improvements to their Z7 and Z6 full-frame mirrorless cameras. Two of these anticipated new features and performance improvements, including continuous Eye Detection focus tracking and unlocking continuous auto-exposure at the cameras' fastest burst rates, arrived this past summer with a v2.0 firmware update.
The remaining two unveiled features, support for RAW video recording and CFexpress memory cards, were notably missing. The Nikon Z cameras, especially the Z6, already offer impressive video specs, including full-width 4K recording, full pixel readout 4K (on the Z6), N-Log, 4:2:2 10-bit output and image stabilization. The addition of RAW video recording, in particular, would make the Z cameras even more impressive to the video world, rivaling dedicated cinema cameras and making the Nikon Z7 and Z6 the first in the "full-frame mirrorless" market to offer RAW video support.
But now the wait is over.
With the release of Firmware v2.2, which adds support for super-fast CFexpress memory cards, Nikon has also announced details on how to add RAW video support to your Z6 or Z7 cameras. But unfortunately, it's not just a simple software update for this new feature, but rather a standalone service upgrade that costs $199.95 and requires you to send your camera into a Nikon Service Center.
According to Nikon, the new RAW video output feature was co-developed with Atomos, makers of popular HDMI recorders and field monitors. With the new feature upgrade, the Z7 and Z6 can record 12-bit 4K UHD and Full HD RAW video out via HDMI to select Atomos recorders using the ProRES RAW format. Much like RAW still image files, RAW video is just that, raw image data captured straight from the sensor out to the HDMI recorder, avoiding any in-camera image processing. This increased information allows for greater control over video footage for post-production, such as better dynamic range control and improved color grading.
Nikon does not specify precisely why you need to send in your camera for service to gain this new feature, but perhaps there are some deeper software changes required that a typical firmware update can't patch. It seems similar to Canon's previous paid C-Log Upgrade for the 5D Mark IV, which also required sending your camera into a service center.
However, there are a couple of ways around the $200 service fee. Those who from now on purchase Nikon Z6 Filmmaker's Kit, which includes a 24-70mm f/4 S lens and an Atomos Nikon V 4K HDMI recorder among other video-centric amenities, will get the RAW video upgrade included free of charge. Furthermore, those who have already purchased a Z6 Filmmaker's Kit are eligible to have the $200 service fee waived, provided you have proof of purchase.
Price and Availability
Firmware v2.2, which enables CFexpress functionality, is available now, free of charge. After the firmware upgrade, users will be able to use CFexpress and XQD memory cards interchangeably, as they share the same form-factor. Additionally, at this time, only a small number of Type B CFexpress cards, those manufactured by Sony, will be fully supported. However, the number of supported cards will expand as more CFexpress cards are tested and certified. For all the details, please visit the Nikon Z series Firmware update page to download and find more information.
The RAW video output upgrade is available starting today and will require installation by a Nikon Service Center. A $199.95 fee will apply. For more information, click here.