Is Nikon about to launch an 8K camera? It may well now be more likely following Apple's WWDC 2019 event.
Along with many new introductions and changes shown off were some impressive new video-editing capabilities. David Earl, from Apple's Logic Pro X marketing team, took to the stage to demonstrate just how effortlessly Final Cut Pro ran on the new Mac Pro, even when tasked with juggling three streams of 8K footage at once.
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The video shown was described as 8K ProRes raw footage originating from a documentary shot in Kenya, which was said to have been captured and edited in HDR. Earl mentioned that the documentary followed National Geographic photographer Ami Vitale – who just happens to be a brand ambassador for Nikon.
Nikon's current DSLRs and mirrorless models, such as the D850 and Z7, only capture conventional footage at 4K and Full HD, although they can be used to create 8K timelapses. And while some timelapse footage was shown off by Earl, the majority of this appeared to be either captured at a more standard frame rate, or at a faster frame rate and slowed down.
Earl went on to state that there were more than 33MP in every frame, and a sensor with at least this pixel count would be required for 8K capture. It's highly likely that a new Nikon Z-series body would use a different sensor to the 24.5MP and 47.3MP sensors we've already seen in the Z6 and Z7 respectively, in order to position them at a different level in Nikon's lineup.
Now, 8K cameras do, of course, already exist, and there's every possibility that the footage was from an 8K camera from another brand that was simply capturing Vitale going about her work. The question of who-shot-what-with-which-camera is not entirely clear here; the implication is that Vitale is behind at least some of the footage, although the final frame appears to show her photographing a rhinoceros.
Whatever the facts behind the footage, the arrival of Panasonic's 6K-ready S1H has raised the bar for video capture on full-frame mirrorless models, and Nikon hasn't added any cameras to its Z system since the original Z6 and Z7 that kicked off the line last year.
WWDC 2019 kicked off on the same day that four new product codes registered by Nikon were spotted, leading to speculation that a slew of new cameras would hit shortly. Nikon has only announced three cameras this year so far, all budget compacts, despite stating back in 2017 that it would be placing greater focus on higher-end models. So we'd be very surprised if we don't see a third Z-series camera with some new tech on board before the year is up.