PRETTY MUCH EVERY professionally-minded photographer these days is looking at the emerging market for commercial filmmaking and is having to consider whether to get involved at some level or other. Clients are increasingly realising the value of video footage and its appeal to customers and will often ask for this to be supplied along with the stills, and those that can’t oblige increasingly run the risk of losing out on commissions.
“It’s hard work for us as stills photographers, continually having to relearn things and to reinvent ourselves,” says award winning food and drink photographer and long-time Nikon user David Nash. “For myself, filmmaking is something that I realised some time ago that I needed to be looking at more seriously but it can be difficult to know where to start in terms of putting a kit together. It’s very easy to make expensive mistakes and to invest in something that can’t really do the job you need or isn’t easy to work with.”
Fortunately Nikon has taken the initiative and has pieced together an outfit, the Z 6 Essential Movie Kit, that offers the perfect entry point to serious-minded and professional stills photographers who are looking for a go-to outfit that will tick most of the boxes for someone who is starting to make films from scratch.
Sitting at the heart of the kit the mirrorless Z 6 is the ideal camera for the hybrid operator, since it can deliver high quality stills courtesy of its 24.5MP full frame CMOS sensor and dazzling line up of photographic features, while it also has stunning video credentials. Not only can it output full frame 4K/ UHD movies at 30p but also enthralling slow motion with richly detailed Full HD movies up to 120p, and it’s one of the most accomplished mirrorless filmmaking cameras on the market.
Nikon has added to this an Atomos Ninja V 5” recording monitor that eliminates the Z 6’s internal compression and time limits so that it’s possible to record up to 4Kp60 10-bit HDR video direct from the camera’s sensor over HDMI 2.0. If you then invest further in a 1TB ATOMX SSDmini you unlock the ability to achieve up to 150 minutes of 4K recording on a single drive.
Tantalisingly plans for the Ninja V to allow the Z 6 to record in Apple’s new ProRes Raw codec are currently under development, which would provide an incredible specification for a camera at this price point. Put simply, this enables all of the benefits of a new standard of compression for Raw footage, resulting in much smaller video file sizes than before while retaining the amazingly higher quality video data rates and editing capabilities of the original uncompressed Raw video.
Completing the kit is an FTZ mount adaptor to enable F-mount NIKKOR lenses to be used with no loss of quality, a SmallRig camera cage and top mounting grip handle, a Magic Arm clamp to attach the Ninja V securely to the Z 6, two 5200 mAh batteries and a fast charger to keep the Atomos running on even the longest shoot and a coiled HDMI cable to ensure the rig remains tidy while minimising the strain on connections. The entire outfit is available for a highly realistic £2459 and we arranged for one to be sent over to David to get his professional feedback.
As someone familiar with the qualities of the Z 6 David was already ahead of the curve, although this is a straightforward camera that anyone should be able to get to grips with very quickly. Putting together the SmallRig cage was a relatively simple task and the whole kit was up and running remarkably quickly. “Once you’ve done it the first time it’s all very straightforward,” says David, “and you would subsequently be able to piece the cage together and be ready for a shoot within a few minutes.”
The ability of the Atomos monitor to expand on the video capabilities of the Z 6 really appealed to David, while the ultrabright 5.2in screen was another big plus point. “The size of the monitor was in perfect ratio to the camera,” he says, “while it could be positioned at whatever angle you require, making it extremely straightforward to view the scene you’re shooting without having to look through the viewfinder.”
The SmallRig cage was, however, for David, the icing on the cake. “Someone has really done their homework on this,” he says. “The Z 6 sits in there so snugly and you can tell that SmallRig hasn’t rushed this device out just to be first on the market. It’s been really well thought through and this is one of the best rigs I’ve ever handled. The quality is first class and I particularly appreciated the built in Manfrotto-compatible quick release system that enables you to extract the camera in a matter of seconds if you want to move on to shooting stills. The small touches are great: there’s even an Allen key held in place in the top handle by a magnet so you’ve always got this on hand if you need to adjust anything.” Overall
David’s opinion of the kit was glowing and, in his opinion, it offers an excellent first step on the road to becoming video-enabled. “This is a great starting point,” he says. “No one would suggest that you would end here and never add to the kit, since down the line you might want to go out and buy yourself a few types of microphone, like a shotgun or a lavalier for interviews, or maybe a gimbal or a follow focus as you start to get more serious. But the Z 6 kit will give you all of the basics and, for those who might not know where to start, it’s a great introduction.”
Sign up to this FREE training day exclusive to readers of Professional Photo!
COME AND LEARN FILMMAKING AT THE NIKON SCHOOL!
Be part of the new revolution of Z6 filmmaking. This informative and easy to follow workshop, led by trainers Neil Freeman and Ricci Chera and being held on Tuesday March 31 at the renowned Nikon School in London’s Fitzrovia from 10.30-16.30, will cover everything from a technical background through to real world shooting experience and will enable you to shoot video with confidence.
Video is a whole new world of terminology and technology. The Nikon School course will help you understand how to get the most out of shooting video and give you the grounding you need to take your first steps towards the production of professional quality video. Topics covered will include:
Auto Focus settings
Custom buttons for video
Using an external recorder
Frame size frame rate.
Shooting for edit
This course is exclusively available through this website link and places are available on a first come, first served basis. Be quick: numbers are strictly limited and this course will fill up fast! Sign up at Nikon
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