When Nikon introduced its new flagship mirrorless camera, the Z 9, the crowds were excited: 8K60 internal N-RAW recording would be possible with this camera. But how would Nikon pull it off? No comment. Well, until now, as Nikon has just announced that intoPix’s TicoRAW codec will be responsible for capturing internal Raw with an upcoming firmware in 2022.
Recording any kind of compressed raw codec internally with a video camera is a tricky business due to the infamous RED patent. Whenever a camera manufacturer announces the possibility of internal raw recording, details get a little fuzzy.
Blackmagic Design, for example, has developed its own concept for internal raw recording by splitting the debayering process between the camera (or recorder) and the downstream computer for post-production, cleverly circumventing the RED patent.. Read more about it here.
Now Nikon has announced how they will handle internal N-RAW recording for their flagship mirrorless Z 9 camera, which is also one of our picks for the best mirrorless camera of 2021 award!
Nikon Z 9 N-RAW – based on intoPix TicoRAW
The name of Nikon’s raw codec is N-RAW but it is based on intoPix’s TicoRAW codec which has been customized in order to deliver its full potential with the Nikon Z 9 camera.
intoPIX is really proud to work with Nikon. Together we share the same ideals and passion: offer ever more beautiful images and videos, at anytime, anywhere in the world. Experience image-making like never before.Gael Rouvroy, CEO at intoPIX.
Since the upcoming N-RAW capabilities are based on a customized variant of TicoRAW, intoPix’s official documentation may not give the full picture, but I’ll try to outline the potential anyway. First, though, a paragraph from the official press release:
“Nikon made the bold strategic move to select the intoPIX TicoRAW technology: leapfrogging existing camera limitations to meet all advanced and upcoming requirements of imaging professionals, whether in live sports, film, wildlife documentaries or other challenging environments. Thanks to this addition, the new Z 9 camera offers High-Efficiency RAW recording up to 8K and 60fps (available through the 2022 firmware update), preserving all the benefits of the RAW format, while ensuring very low power processing and very fast transfer speed.“
TicoRAW (= N-RAW ?)
The TicoRAW codec offers a pretty bold headline to start with: 54 minutes of 8K60 12-bit raw video squeezed into 1TB of storage with 12:1 compression. A 2:1 compression still equals 27 minutes, and with a mathematically lossless 2:1 video, you get 11 minutes per 1TB.
How exactly intoPIX accomplishes to compress raw video without violating RED’s patent remains their secret but for what’s maybe more interesting for us, the filmmaking community, is that their TicoRAW (Tico as in Tiny Codec) seems to be very flexible indeed. According to the company its patented compression technology is mathematically lossless and even visually lossless down to 1 bit per pixel (BPP in the above chart).
The codec works with CFA (Color Filter Array) raw data and supports Bayer sensors with up to 16 bits. What about resolution, you ask? How about 200 megapixels! Additionally, according to intoPIX, the codec’s latency is very low at just 0.1 milliseconds. It seems that this codec, on which N-RAW is based, really offers great potential for today’s and future cameras.
We’ll have to wait and see what tricks Nikon’s N-RAW codec has up its sleeve for their Z 9 mirrorless flagship, but the impressive TicoRAW codec as a foundation seems like a solid choice by Nikon. It’s certainly a bold move not to rely on their own solutions, but to reach out to other companies to join forces in such a critical area, but it seems like the two companies are really on to something here.
Apart from this new N-RAW codec, the Z 9 will also be able to record 12-bit ProRes RAW. And all this in a somewhat compact mirrorless camera.. crazy times indeed.
And by the way, our Nikon Z 9 video review is currently in the works.
Link: intoPIX TicoRAW
What do you think? Is the Nikon Z 9 and their N-RAW codec is something you get excited about? Share your thoughts in the comments below!