8-bit vs 10-bit
It is pretty obvious from the above video that 10-bit is much better than 8-bit on the Nikon Z6. In fact, I have no hesitation in recommending an external recorder if you want the best image quality from the camera.
However, if you want to just output to YouTube, it might not be such a bad idea to stick to 8-bit. Here are advantages and disadvantages:
- Full size of the sensor. As I mentioned in this video, you lose 10% of the image area in 10-bit.
- Lower bit rate. UHD is 144 Mbps.
- You don’t need to lug around an external recorder, SSDs and a cable, extra batteries, etc.
- Image quality!
- Compression artifacts are worse than cameras like the GH5 or a7S II in 8-bit.
What cable and recorder you need for 10-bit 4:2:2?
Any recorder capable of receiving a 10-bit signal via HDMI should work. I’ve tried it on three different devices and it all works.
I currently use an Atomos Shogun to record and it takes all modes.
The cable I’m using is from Amazon Basics.
HDMI options in the Nikon Z6
The HDMI options in the camera are limited. You get these options:
1 Output range – Auto, Limited Range, Full Range
Limited Range is studio swing, between 0-100 IRE. Pick Full Range.
2 External recording control – On, Off
This allows you to control your external recorder (record and stop) via the camera record button. This only works if the camera doesn’t have an XQD card in camera.
3 Output data depth – 8-bit, 10-bit
4 and 5 N-Log and View Assist – I’ll discuss this in a future video.
8-bit vs 8-bit!
You can record 8-bit 4:2:0 internally (H.264) or 8-bit 4:2:2 externally (e.g., DNxHR SQ). The data rate is three times more, but the image quality is definitely better. It’s not as pronounced as 10-bit, but the difference is easily visible on a production monitor.
I’ve tested this in all the Picture Controls – Neutral, Flat, Portrait, and so on.
And if you have an external recorder, pick 10-bit. There isn’t an overriding reason to stick to 8-bit.
My HDMI settings
In a nutshell:
- Output range – Full Range
- External recording control – On
- Output data depth – 10-bit