Nikon has just released the next big firmware update v2.20 for the Z6 and Z7 cameras that adds CFexpress support. In addition, the company has announced its paid service upgrade to add ProRes RAW video recording to both cameras.
For $200 plus shipping, Nikon will upgrade any Z6 or Z7 camera with ProRes RAW video support (12-bit 4K or 12-bit Full HD), allowing the cameras to output high-quality video via their HDMI ports. A compatible Atomos video recorder such as the Ninja V with the latest firmware update must be used in order to take advantage of this feature. Once patched, the Nikon Z-series cameras (especially the Z6, since it uses full sensor width for video) will become the most capable video recording mirrorless cameras on the market. Those who have purchased the Nikon Z6 Filmmaker’s kit bundle will receive the firmware update for free.
Why is Nikon Charging for RAW Video?
If you are wondering why Nikon is charging money for the ProRes RAW video, it has to do with its licensing. This means that Nikon either has to charge this fee up-front as part of the cost of the camera, or charge select users who specifically want to add ProRes RAW video support to their cameras. I think we should all be happy that it is an optional upgrade, as I don’t think the higher price tag of these cameras would be fair towards those who don’t care about video features at all.
Those who thought that they would be getting this upgrade for free, I think considering that other manufacturers like Canon charge a fee to add simple Log recording (while Nikon provides that for free), and considering that no other mirrorless camera manufacturer even offers ProRes RAW video support in any of their cameras (only high-end professional video cameras have it), it is fair for Nikon to charge $200 for it. The thing is, very few people will actually be sending their Z-series cameras to get this upgrade anyway, but those who are seriously into video production, will now add the Z6 to their list of cameras to buy for their video work. At $1700 (plus $200 ProRes fee), the Z6 is the cheapest option on the market to make high quality video. And the Z6 filmmaker’s kit, which includes the Atomos Ninja V, is now a pretty sweet deal at $3,700, and it comes with the free ProRes upgrade.
Those who don’t care about the ProRes RAW video recording capability will still get support for the next generation CFexpress memory cards, which can record at insanely fast speeds (theoretically up to 4 GB/sec with CFexpress 2.0) when compared to XQD cards. Since both memory card types have identical form factors, there is no need to physically change anything on the Z-series cameras (as well as other Nikon DSLR cameras with XQD card slots) in order to use CFexpress. Once firmware is updated to support CFexpress cards, they will just work.
At the moment, Nikon has only been able to test Sony-branded CFexpress cards, so the release note says that only those cards are officially supported and tested. However, this does not mean that other CFexpress cards that are out there will not function – many owners of CFexpress cards by other manufacturers have already been reporting that their cards are working fine after the Z6 / Z7 firmware update. Once Nikon tests other brands, I am sure they will add them to the list of officially supported cards.
How to Update to Nikon 2.20 Firmware
If you are ready to upgrade your Z6 or Z7 camera with the latest v2.20 firmware, go ahead and visit the below link to download the firmware update:
From there, click on the “Mirrorless Cameras” link, select “Z Series”, then click one of the links for Z6 or Z7. Once you download the firmware, follow my article How to Update Firmware on Nikon Cameras to update the camera firmware. Make sure to fully charge your camera battery before proceeding.
What About Other Firmware Features?
While it is surely exciting to see Nikon release all these firmware updates, many of us wished that Nikon would provide other critical firmware updates and fixes, such as the ability to turn off all information on the LCD screen, or improvements to autofocus tracking features. I have already written a long post on my Nikon Z firmware update wishlist, which has many critical features that are lacking on these cameras. I really hope Nikon takes these seriously and provides at least part of the critical fixes in the next iteration of firmware updates. The Nikon Z-series cameras are already excellent, but Nikon needs to push software features even further to stay competitive. Nikon has already recognized that software is a big part of success of mirrorless cameras, but now it is time for the company to start rolling out the much-needed updates.
Here is the official press release from Nikon:
MELVILLE, NY (December 16, 2019 at 11:00 P.M. EST) – Nikon Inc. is pleased to announce the release of firmware Ver. 2.20 for the Nikon Z 7 and Z 6 full-frame mirrorless cameras. This firmware update offers several improvements that make these cameras even more powerful, including the addition of support for the next generation memory card, CFexpress. Additionally, Nikon has announced that beginning today, service to install RAW video output functionality will be available for those wishing to add enhanced professional video capabilities.
Support for CFexpress, the New Standard for Speed and Durability
Updating Z 7 and Z 6 firmware to Ver. 2.20 enables the use*1 of CFexpress*2 cards. CFexpress cards are robust and reliable, and support even faster data transfer than XQD cards for a smoother and more efficient photographic workflow.
CFexpress cards use a similar form factor to XQD, eliminating the need to physically modify the camera’s memory card slot. After upgrading, users will be able to use CFexpress as well as XQD cards in their camera interchangeably. In addition to the Z 7 and Z 6, CFexpress memory card support will be added to the Nikon D5 (XQD-Type), Nikon D850 and Nikon D500 digital SLR cameras in the future.
Initially, only limited CFexpress card types are fully supported and the number of supported cards will continue to expand as additional cards are tested and certified (Type B CFexpress cards manufactured only by Sony Corp. Availability date for the cards may vary by market).
RAW video output function (4K UHD and Full HD)
Developed in conjunction with Atomos, this capability enables recording of RAW video, which has greater flexibility for color grading compared to other video formats.
With this upgrade, 12-bit 4K UHD or full-HD RAW video can be recorded*3 to select models of Atomos video recorders*4 connected to a Z 7 or Z 6 camera via a HDMI connector. As RAW video is not subjected to in-camera processing, all information that is outputted from the image sensor is preserved. This abundance of information can later be used in post-production.
The RAW video output capability upgrade can be installed at a Nikon service center and will incur a fee but will be included free of charge as part of Nikon Z 6 Filmmaker’s kit bundles. Those customers in the United States who have already purchased a Nikon Z 6 Filmmaker’s kit (Product #13545) will be eligible to have the fee waived (proof of purchase required). For more details about the Nikon Z 6 Filmmaker’s kit, please visit here.
For additional technical information, equipment requirements and instructions on requesting the RAW video output upgrade, please visit: www.nikonusa.com/RAWvideo.
Price and Availability
The firmware update Ver. 2.20 which enables CFexpress functionality is available now, free of charge. Please visit The Nikon Z series Firmware update page to download and find more information.
The RAW video output upgrade is available starting today and will require installation by a Nikon Service Center. A $199.95* fee will apply.
For more information on the latest Nikon products, including the Nikon Z mount system, please visit www.nikonusa.com.
*1 Type B CFexpress cards manufactured by Sony Corp. only. Operation is not guaranteed with cards from other manufacturers (as of December 2019).
*2 CFexpress is a trademark of the CompactFlash Association.
*3 With the Z 7, full-HD RAW video can be recorded using the FX-based movie format, and 4K UHD RAW video can be recorded using the DX-based movie format. When the Z 6 is used, recording of either 4K UHD or full-HD RAW video is possible with both FX- and DX-based movie formats. See the cameras’ Technical Guide, available from the Download Center, for details on differences between Z 7 and Z 6 specifications.
*4 The Atomos Ninja V supports Nikon RAW video output, and records videos in ProRes RAW format. Operation is not guaranteed with recorders other than the Ninja V (as of December 2019). RAW video output from a Nikon camera is supported by Ninja V firmware Ver. 10.2 and later. See the Ninja V firmware download site.