Panasonic LUMIX G9II
Image courtesy: Panasonic

Panasonic has announced the upcoming release of new firmware for the Panasonic LUMIX G9II mirrorless camera. The version 2.0 firmware will add RAW video output over HDMI to the camera.

RAW over HDMI

With RAW over HDMI enabled, you can record 12-bit RAW video data from the LUMIX G9II to a compatible external recorder. You can use the Blackmagic Video Assist 5 inches 12G HDR and Blackmagic Video Assist 7 inches 12G HDR to record BRAW. In addition, you can record Apple ProRes RAW to Atomos devices including the Ninja V, Ninja V+ and Ninja Ultra. With the RAW output, you will be able to record at resolutions of 5.7K, Cinema 4K, 5.8K (4:3) and 4.4K (4:3).

Advantages of RAW recording

When you record RAW video, you are recording the camera’s sensor data before any image processing. As a result, you can capture more of the dynamic range and more detail from the camera’s sensor. You can also select different compression settings. This means you can choose between higher image quality or reduced storage space depending upon the nature of the project you are filming. In addition, with some editing software, you also have much more flexibility in post-production with RAW files. For example, you can change the ISO and white balance of your footage as if you were changing those settings in-camera. So, now all G9II users will benefit from these advantages.

Disadvantages of RAW video

There are some disadvantages to shooting RAW video, unfortunately, as not all editing software can handle the files. Final Cut currently won’t decode BRAW video. However, you can edit BRAW with DaVinci Resolve, Premiere Pro, Media Composer, and some of the free-to-use video editors. Also, Davinci Resolve doesn’t work with ProRes RAW so you will need to use Final Cut or Premiere Pro. In addition, RAW files are much larger than the compressed file formats normally recorded in-camera. This means that you will need large, fast drives for storage and editing.

What we think

For many video shooters, RAW video can be overkill. However, when you want to record in the highest possible quality, it’s great to have the choice. Once you have color-graded RAW video in post production, you won’t want to go back to using compressed formats. Of course, you do have the additional expense of buying an external recorder. However, you are also getting a high-quality five-inch or seven-inch monitor with a full suite of video tools such as peaking, false color, zebras, histogram and video scopes. The addition of HDMI RAW output to the LUMIX G9II makes it much more of a true cinema camera.

Availability

Panasonic hasn’t given a release date for the version 2.0 firmware update at the time of writing. The company’s press release also stated, “Details are still under development and subject to change.”

Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.