Start­ing with a clean slate has

Camera - - ON TRIAL -

en­abled Nikon to come up with its most ca­pa­ble ILC yet when it comes to shoot­ing videos. Apart from the ob­vi­ous ad­van­tage of the mir­ror­less con­fig­u­ra­tion for this ap­pli­ca­tion, the Z 7 is very well fea­tured for videog­ra­phy, in­clud­ing ze­bra pat­terns, an N-Log gamma pro­file (to op­ti­mise dy­namic range), a fo­cus-peak­ing dis­play and em­bed­ded time cod­ing.

While the lower-res Z 6 records with a full pixel read-out (i.e. no pixel bin­ning) from across the full sen­sor width at 6K res­o­lu­tion be­fore down sam­pling to 4K for en­hanced image qual­ity (sim­i­lar to Sony’s A7 III), the Z 7 also uses a full pixel read-out, but only in the APS-C ‘DX’ for­mat so the 1.5x fo­cal length mag­ni­fi­ca­tion fac­tor comes into play. How­ever, the image qual­ity is still ex­cel­lent as it records at 5K res­o­lu­tion be­fore down sam­pling to 4K so sharp­ness and def­i­ni­tion, in par­tic­u­lar, both ben­e­fit. Time-lapse se­quences can be cap­tured in the 8K res.

The 4K clips are recorded in the Ul­tra HD res­o­lu­tion of 3840x2160 pix­els at 25 fps (PAL stan­dard) or 24 fps with MPEG-4 AVC/H .264 com­pres­sion in either the MOV or MP4 for­mats. The Full HD (1920x1080 pix­els) frame rates run up to 100 fps (or 120 fps in NTSC) to cre­ate slow-mo­tion ef­fects (up to 24 fps x5). The Z 7 has built-in stereo mi­cro­phones with man­u­ally ad­justable lev­els and an at­ten­u­a­tor, and these are sup­ple­mented by both a stereo au­dio in­put and out­put (both 3.5 mini­jacks). The sen­si­tiv­ity range for shoot­ing video is 64 to 25,600, ex­pand­able to ISO 102,400. The max­i­mum record­ing du­ra­tion is the 29 min­utes and 59 sec­onds im­posed by the EU tax leg­is­la­tion on video cam­eras (but by-passed if you use an ex­ter­nal recorder).

The na­tive N-Log tone curve is only avail­able via the HDMI out­put which de­liv­ers 10-bit 4:2:2 colour. The handy ‘View as­sist’ func­tion dis­plays gra­da­tion com­pen­sa­tion while record­ing with N-Log for con­fir­ma­tion of the fi­nal look of the footage.

Si­mul­ta­ne­ous record­ing to the me­mory card isn’t pos­si­ble with the 10-bit stream­ing, but si­mul­ta­ne­ous record­ing is pos­si­ble with 8-bit 4K UHD record­ing (2K to the me­mory card). The Z 7 sup­ports the Ato­mos Open Stan­dard pro­to­col for HDMI trig­ger­ing and time­code while, in turn, the new Ato­mos Ninja V recorder/mon­i­tor will sup­port the 10-bit 4K N-log out­put from both Z se­ries cam­eras.

The video func­tion­al­ity is ex­ten­sive and in­cludes con­tin­u­ous AF with sub­ject track­ing and the op­tions to ad­just both the speed and track­ing sen­si­tiv­ity. All the ‘PASM’ ex­po­sure modes are avail­able along with the ‘Pic­ture Con­trol’ pre­sets, the ‘Cre­ative Pic­ture Con­trol’ pre­sets, ‘Movie Ac­tive D-Light­ing’ pro­cess­ing and ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion. The lat­ter can be ap­plied very smoothly via the multi-func­tion con­trol ring that’s a fea­ture of all Nikkor Z lenses… and it can also be used to ad­just the fo­cus, again very lin­early and smoothly.

Be­cause our loan pe­riod with the test Z 7 was very short, we didn’t have enough time to fully ex­plore its video ca­pa­bil­i­ties or shoot more than a cou­ple of clips (and there was no chance to sam­ple the 10-bit HDMI out­put), but the po­ten­tial is un­doubt­edly there and we sus­pect it may well at­tract as many videog­ra­phers as pho­tog­ra­phers.

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