Are Nikon back in the video shooting game? No, not really but the Z6 has been around for some time now and it is finding a niche. If you have Nikon glass or just fancy being a bit different then watch and read on to find out ten reasons why the Nikon Z6 might actually be a good video shooting option.
Here is a video produced by Dave Maze from Kinotika to get us going.
A lot of good points in the video so let’s go through them quickly.
The Nikon is small and has a good feel to it, as it should with decades of stills camera building behind it. The moulding of the body sits well in your hands despite the unforgivable mispronunciation of the word “protrusion” in the video. The deep grip is perhaps easier to really grab than, say, one of the Sony mirrorless models.
The button and dial layout also seems pretty nice and simple.
Full frame 4K, up to 30 frames per second with no crop. That’s right, are you paying attention Canon? Nikon are making you look bad at stills camera video. Nikon!
Is this a deal-breaker for video shooters? No, but it is nice to buy a full frame camera and actually use that full frame. We all understand by now the maths involved with crop factors and their effect on both field of view and f-stop so I won’t go over it again here, but it is nice to not think about it at all with the Nikon Z6.
So after banging on about the full frame, no crop 4K video why on earth would we want an APS-C, crop 4K video mode? Well, that crop in the image gives you a free zoom, essentially making your lenses longer without losing quality. This is not just handy but saves you money, winner winner.
Does everything look better in slow-motion? Some things certainly do and having high quality slow-motion in the Nikon Z6 is fantastic. 120 frames per seconds in HD is up there with the best of them in this form factor. There are some image issues with the Z6’s slow-motion but it’s pretty good.
In body image stabilisation for those who don’t follow acronyms helps smooth out your shots, particularly when hand-holding the camera. Combined with optically stabilised lenses the results can be quite excellent. Put it all on a gimbal and suddenly things are looking spectacular.
The Nikon doesn’t actually have “IBIS” as such but their own equivalent term… it means basically the same thing.
4K 10-bit recording
The more bits the better and with the addition of an Atomos Ninja V external recorder, the Nikon Z6 will record a lovely 10-bit image. Adding an extra piece of hardware to the camera does somewhat detract from the form factor, light-weight and the ease of use of the stills style camera, but some compromises have to be made.
It’s not there yet but soon there will be a Raw video recording mode available for the Nikon Z6. Paired again with the Atomos recorder this is quite exciting for anyone who loves raw recording. It gives you a world of options in post-production and makes this camera even more powerful. It comes in the form of ProRes Raw and will be available soon.
Personally, I rarely use autofocus for video shooting but it is nice to have on the occasions you do need it. I recently shot a music video with a mirrorless camera on a ronin, attached to a jib and the face tracking autofocus came in very handy indeed with the camera far out of my reach. Face tracking is also where the Z6 does a good job. The other modes are not quite so reliable but it’s a start.
Using XQD Cards is not really a selling point in my opinion as they are expensive, specialist and need an adapter to read. On the plus side, they are fast and reliable. And expensive. More expensive than similar capacity SD Cards. Did I mention that XQD cards are expensive?
There are only a handful of Z lenses to choose from but they are well constructed and nicely designed. I would anticipate using adapters with the Z6 for quite some time until that lens line-up fills out a little.
So, have I changed my mind and decided that Nikon are back in the video shooting game? Nope, but this camera seems a creditable entry back into the video market. The native lens choice is tiny and as this is a niche video camera right now there isn’t a particularly vibrant eco-system around it. It is definitely worth keeping an eye on however as some of the features really can’t be found anywhere else in this price range or style.
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