Nikon confirmed that the Z9 will have a unique video function available on the DJI Ronin 4D.

The Nikon Z9 is already a fantastic video camera, and now it’ll be even better owing to a firmware update that adds support for Apple ProRes Raw, a feature that DJI had to remove from the DJI Ronin 4D movie camera before its introduction.

Nikon announced that a future update will make the Z9 the first mirrorless camera to support Apple ProRes Raw HQ, a codec that claims to combine the editing convenience of Apple ProRes with the freedom of raw video when it debuted the Z9 last October.

And now, despite the recent revelation that the DJI Ronin 4D would no longer support ProRes Raw, the camera giant has confirmed that it will still include it in the Z9 upgrade, which has yet to be announced. Nikon told YM Cinema “the future firmware update will allow for the capture of 12-bit raw video formats. These formats include N-RAW (Nikon’s original RAW video format) as well as ProRes RAW HQ.”

The reasons why DJI had to remove ProRes Raw support from the Ronin 4D right before shipment are still unknown, although it’s likely due to patent difficulties with the codec, which led another manufacturer, Kinefinity, to remove internal ProRes Raw support from their Mavo Edge camera.

Manufacturers who want to support codecs like Apple ProRes Raw on their cameras must pay Red royalty fees. Red Digital Camera, which makes high-end pro video cameras like the Komodo, has a patent on compressed raw video formats, which means that manufacturers who want to support codecs like Apple ProRes Raw on their cameras must pay Red royalty fees. Apple attempted to contest Red’s patent in 2019 but was unsuccessful.

This indicates that, despite Nikon’s assurances that the Z9 would support ProRes Raw HQ in the future, a last-minute adjustment, similar to what happened with DJI and Kinefinity, is feasible. However, with or without the ProRes upgrade, the Nikon Z9 remains one of the most capable hybrid cameras available.

Another string to the Z9’s bow 

Because of its support in programs like Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, and DaVinci Resolve, the Apple ProRes format has become an industry standard for professional video editors. When Apple debuted the iPhone 13 Pro, it was the first time it was included in a phone.

However, cameras that allow internal recording of ProRes, particularly the ProRes Raw version, are still uncommon. This is partly owing to the size of the files, which makes it a high-end function reserved for professionals, but it’s also due to patent concerns that Kinefinity, and presumably DJI, encountered.

It’s increasingly typical for cameras to offer Apple ProRes external recording via recorders from companies like Atomos, which signed a licensing deal with Red in 2019 to support compressed raw formats like ProRes Raw.

Professional video shooters, on the other hand, would welcome a camera with built-in ProRes Raw capability since it would eliminate the need for external recorders like the Atomos Ninja V in their workflows.

It remains to be seen if the Nikon Z9 will be the first mirrorless camera to support ProRes Raw internally, but the firm is optimistic that it will. Professional photographers are increasingly being requested to capture a combination of stills and movies, which might give the Z9 an advantage over its competitors.

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