Nikon Z7 II and Z6 II Cameras To Support Blackmagic and ProRes RAW

Let's get RAW. 

When Nikon unveiled the Z7 II and Z6 II full-frame mirrorless cameras, what flew under the radar is that both cameras will support 12-bit Apple ProRes RAW and Blackmagic RAW (BRAW) via its HDMI output. 

That said, there's been incorrect reporting by multiple outlets saying the Z7 II and Z6 II do not need to be sent into a Nikon service in order to receive the RAW update. 

That is incorrect. 

The Z7 II and Z6 II will require the internal upgrade to be performed by a Nikon service facility.

If you read otherwise, that's wrong. This affects both camera models and both RAW formats. The service charge will be $199.95 + shipping, which is the same cost required to update the Z7 and Z6 cameras. 

Atomos already announced the Ninja V will support Apple ProRes RAW on both cameras up to 4K 30p. However, the Z7 II can record up to 4K 60p internally and the Z6 II is expected to get the same functionality at a later date. The caveat here is that both cameras will only output 4K 30p externally. Below are the resolution and frame rates that will be available externally: 

  • Z7 II: 4K UHD at 30p, 25p, 24p (DX format only), 1080p FHD at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p (FX format only)
  • Z6 II: 4K UHD at 30p, 25p, 24p (FX, DX format), 1080p FHD at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p (FX, DX format)

Blackmagic RAW will be available in February 2021, and No Film School has confirmed that the Video Assist 12G will support 4K 30p for both cameras right out of the box. That said, if you purchase the RAW update now to use ProRes RAW, when BRAW is released, you will not need to send the camera back into Nikon. All you will need to do is download and install a firmware upgrade.

Those who have purchased the ProRes RAW update on the original Z7 or Z6 will get BRAW for free as part of a software update and you won't need to send your camera to a Nikon service facility. Only those who haven't paid for the update will need to send in the camera. 

If RAW isn't a necessary part of your workflow external 10-bit N-Log is also an option. 

We talked about how the second-gen cameras are a refresh worth considering for video shooters, and the addition of BRAW is welcomed, especially those using a Resolve workflow. If you use a Pocket Cinema Camera 6K/4K, or URSA Mini, you'll be able to bring in a Nikon Z as a B- or C-camera and shoot BRAW. 

Similar to the original Z cameras, it looks like the Z6 II might be better suited for video shooters.

The noticeable difference between the Z7 II and Z6 II is their megapixel count. The Z7 II touts a 45.7-megapixel backside-illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor, while the Z6 II features a 24.5 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor. But as we know, megapixel count is everything when it comes to video. If you're shooting stills and tend to print large portraits, yes, you're going to want to consider higher megapixel counts.

Another difference is their phase-detection points, but that's a direct connection to the sensor.

The Z7 II has 493 detection points and Z6 II offers 273. How many is enough? That depends on the technology behind the autofocus, but rather than simply counting the number of phase-detection points, you should be noting how much of the sensor is covered. Is it 50%, 80%, or 100% of the sensor? If you have 400+ phase-detection points, but it only covers a small portion of the sensor, it's not going to be as effective when objects appear near the edge of the frame. You could lose focus. Nikon's cover 90% of the sensor using a hybrid AF.

Do you own a Nikon Z camera? Share your thoughts in the comments below.      

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2 Comments

Does anyone know what the return-to-Nikon upgrade includes? Is hardware or circuitry involved and not just firmware?

It seems strange that the Z6 II and Z7 II require a return-to-Nikon upgrade. I would have thought whatever was done for the original Z6 and Z7 would be included in the new models to avoid the whole return-to-Nikon dance.

The cost and logistics seems to imply some hardware mod they chose not to include in every camera even after it had been figured out for the original Z series.

Would have been nice to have this built in the the II models as an additional incentive to upgrade or choose these newer cameras over the originals and avoid the hassle of sending the camera back to Nikon.

October 21, 2020 at 11:46PM

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So, do I understand correctly that original z6 will also support BRAW? After the update? Up to 24fps I guess.

October 22, 2020 at 6:59AM

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