In October 2021, the Nikon Z9 finally shipped out to creatives around the world. With a full-frame sensor that could record 8K (7680 x 4320) video at up to 30p and 4K UHD at up to 120p, Nikon came back to the fight, ready to win.
Unfortunately for the narrative folks, the camera only allowed H.265 and ProRes options at 4:2:2 10-bit, as well as some more compressed H.264 and MPEG-4 AVC flavors.
But now, a new firmware update unleashed some new powers for the Nikon Z9. Let's take a look.
The firmware update for the Nikon Z9 will feature its new N-RAW format. This will be 12-bit and can record at 8.3K up to 60p.
Nikon claims its new RAW format records a vast amount of scene information yet is significantly smaller in file size. While recording, MP4 proxy files are also created, providing efficient previewing files for quick transfers or edits on the fly.
Here's Gerald from Gerald Undone with some breakdowns on the quality.
N-RAW Recording Options
- 8.3K 60p & 24p
- 4.1K 120p, 60p, 30p, 24p in full-frame
- 5.3K 60p, 30p, 24p with a Super35 (1.5x) crop.
- 3.8K 120p with a 2.3x crop
But N-RAW wasn’t the only upgrade. 4K UHD 60p footage can now be oversampled from 8K footage, leading to super sharp and clean 4K content.
A new dedicated video display also gives necessary recording settings at a glance. Frame size and rate, audio settings, codec, bit depth, and output setting can now all be confirmed on a single screen. If the rear screen is inaccessible, the top control panel can show frame rate and size.
New Info Display Credit: Nikon
The Fine ISO Control or Mode M enables detailed exposure adjustment in increments of 1/6 EV, while the FAST AF-ON function allows users to assign different autofocus speeds to separate controls. This can be a slow rack or a fast transition, among other options. But only two speeds are assignable at once.
In addition, select frame rates and resolution settings allow for the ability to save consecutive frames in a selected section of video footage as a series of JPEG images while the playback is paused. This is a great feature to quickly gather stills on set or send them off to clients or producers.
Finally, a few more things. The new firmware increases the refresh rate of the EVF to 120 fps for smoother playback, which is super cool. The Auto Exposure has been updated to give better exposure to human faces, and Auto White Balance has also been improved.
There are a bunch of other little tweaks, but they fall under quality-of-life updates instead of huge improvements, so we'll just skip them.
The new firmware updates will be available for download for free starting on April 20, 2022. They can be found either on Nikon’s website or via the SnapBridge app soon afterward.
- 45.7MP FX-Format Stacked CMOS Sensor
- EXPEED 7 Image Processor
- 8K30p and 4K120p Video, 10-Bit Internal
- Up to 20 fps Raw, 30 fps JPEG Shooting
- 493-Point Phase-Detection AF System
- AI-Based Subject Detection and Tracking
- Blackout-Free Real Live Viewfinder
- 3.2" 4-Axis Tilting Touchscreen LCD
- Vertical Grip, 2x CFexpress Type B Slots
- 5 GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GNSS
We’re really excited to see Nikon’s flavor of RAW hit the market. With its pedigree, it’s hard not to be.