Feature by Steve Heiner
Think of shooting video using the Picture Controls in the camera as you would of shooting a still image recorded in JPG—the video file “bakes in” the exposure and colour. There really isn’t much you can do to adjust the look or feel of the video at this point.
This is fine if you like the effect of the Picture Control on the video, or you aren’t interested in colour grading the final video in post-production.
If on the other hand, you’re looking for more control over the exposure and look of your final video footage, you may be interested in recording video in N-Log.
Shooting in 10-bit N‐Log format preserves details in highlights and shadows and expands the range of effects available through color grading. Nikon makes a 3D LUT that will allow you to recreate the colour accuracy that Nikon is known for.
Record video, capturing up to 12 stops of dynamic range of the camera’s image sensor, retaining detail in the highlights and shadows.
A LUT, or lookup table, is an array of preselected values used in movie colour correction to map colours from the original input footage to the desired colours in the final output. Colour correction is performed by looking up input colors and assigning them new RGB values based on the data in the table. To be able to correct saturation or hue requires a 3D LUT, in which each combined RGB value maps to a single combined value in the table.
Regardless of whether you use the Nikon 3D LUT or another LUT you will need to colour grade your N-Log video footage.
Nikon’s N-Log 3D LUT is available for the Rec. 709 colour space and makes colour grading a snap in Adobe Premier Pro CC, Apple Final Cut Pro X or Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 15. This LUT enables adjustment of brightness, saturation and hue.
The Z 6/Z 7 and D780 cameras also offer a View Assist function that displays simple gradation compensation in-camera, which is useful for spot checking focus and exposure while shooting, and viewing the footage on the camera’ LCD.
To record N-Log footage, you’ll need to connect the Z 6/Z 7 or D780 to a digital recorder that supports 10-bit video such as an Atomos Ninja V, as the cameras can’t record 10 bit N-Log to the media card in the camera.
Download Nikon's N-Log 3D LUT here.
After working as a photojournalist for several hometown newspapers in his native state of Utah, Steve Heiner joined Nikon in 1985 as a Technical Representative in Dallas, TX. He later worked in Sunnyvale, CA; Salt Lake City, UT and eventually New York. During his time in the field, Steve provided technical assistance and training to pro photographers during major sporting and news events. He has trained government and military specialists around the country and while at sea. He joined the Nikon management team in the Melville headquarters in 1999. Today he holds the position of Senior Technical Manager and Media Spokesperson.