CES 2019, Nikon, and Atomos: Updates and News

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I’m a photographer, and more often than not, I’m a one-man operation. I use a tool, a camera, to do my job, so I try to pay attention to developments in my industry to know what the current trends are to make better decisions for both future investments, and what clients are looking for when it comes to delivering the most value and the best experience.

A current trend I’ve seen online is clients requesting both still photography and video work. Easy enough to provide with a small crew, a bit more work if you’re flying solo. I’ve been following the news coming out of CES 2019, hoping for some announcements, and I’ve been genuinely surprised and pleased with the news I’ve heard from Nikon.

Their newest cameras, the Z 7 and Z 6, will be getting an update with some features that should make the process of producing quality work consistently much easier and faster.

The first update, Eye AF, or Eye AutoFocus, is a featured that has been pioneered by the Sony Alpha series. By tracking the eye, and thus, putting the face in focus, eliminates the need to focus, recompose, and focus again on a subject. I tried this out on the Sony a7r III early last autumn and it allowed me to concentrate more on subject framing and lighting. I’m excited for Nikon to embrace this feature, as I believe that the time saved over multiple photos for a session with a client can add up and be redirected to other things, like squeezing in an unplanned shot on the shot list.

Second, is support for CFexpress. It has the same physical format as the XQD cards the Z series already supported, and it offers a higher transfer speed than XQD, which should help move files off the camera buffer quicker AND make it easier to offload photos, with the right reader/cable combination. This is important for working with those higher resolution files, like the 45 MP files on the Z 7, or 4k video, you need the storage that can move those larger files. The less time it takes to move files, the quick I can get to editing them, and the faster I can send them out to my clients.

That last part, about video, brings me to the third part of announced updates, and a big one for hybrid shooters. Atomos, known for their external recorders and monitors that allow for recording and professional monitoring features, has the Ninja V external recorder and monitor. When paired with the Z series, it unlocks their full recording potential, using 4:2:2 10-bit recording, which helps deliver video footage that provides better color grade flexibility in post-processing. Atomos has announced that their bringing support for ProRes RAW to the Nikon Z series cameras.

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This combination means that shooting with the Z series and the Ninja V would give me full frame RAW video footage. The same freedom I have with colors in my still work I could now achieve with video. Offering the Ninja V with the Z 6 as a Filmmaker Kit is a smart move, as it provides nearly everything to be a one-person hybrid shooter.

I would love to have the right client with the right budget to create something with these tools. Until then, I might rent them out and create work for personal projects, but knowing the tools are available to allow me more creative freedom leaves the doors wide open for the future.

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