RAW Video – The Next Battleground

A couple months ago, I wondered aloud whether Sony would respond to Nikon’s announcement that their Z cameras would be able to record RAW video with the Atomos Ninja V (ETA sometime in the fall, if I’m not mistaken). And now, with breathless reviews pouring in of Blackmagic’s implementation of BRAW in their $1,300 P4K cinema camera (along with the not unexpected groaning in online forums about the loss of CDNG as a result of a lawsuit brought by billionaire James Jannard), there is even greater anticipation for a full frame RAW video hybrid beast.

The advantages of shooting RAW are much more flexibility in post processing and greater dynamic range, allowing the highest image quality possible. Of course, nothing comes without a cost; and in the case of RAW, the disadvantages have traditionally been tremendous file sizes requiring vast amounts of storage space and longer processing times, in turn necessitating more powerful workstations.

Then along came BRAW and ProRes RAW, promising to deliver exceptional image quality with much smaller file sizes, along with the ability to edit projects on a reasonably affordable laptop.

Now Sony is in the unenviable position of being the sole full frame mirrorless camera without the ability to record 10-bit 4:2:2 externally. They simply can no longer afford to protect their cinema lineup by withholding higher bit rates and better codecs. For sure, Sony could take the easy route and level the playing field by merely offering 10-bit 4:2:2 external; or they could surpass the rest by implementing RAW output in their a7s III. Oh, and a built-in variable ND filter would knock it out of the ballpark.

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