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Old Apr 15, 2012, 07:25 PM   #1
matteusclement
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atomos ninja - anyone use one?

I stumbled across this device while searching for stuff on the 5diii

I have a canon HV30 and t2i which by the looks of it, would not really benefit from the ninja, although bypassing the tape would be nice on the HV30.

for either the mark3 or something like a canon xh-a1, what does the ninja do and what's the benefit?
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Old Apr 15, 2012, 08:33 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matteusclement View Post
I stumbled across this device while searching for stuff on the 5diii

I have a canon HV30 and t2i which by the looks of it, would not really benefit from the ninja, although bypassing the tape would be nice on the HV30.

for either the mark3 or something like a canon xh-a1, what does the ninja do and what's the benefit?
I have the Atomos Ninja 2.0 that I use for my XH-A1. There are two benefits:
1) Tapeless - I record to a Crucial M4 256GB SSD
2) Records straight to ProRes422 (or HQ, or LT) in 4:2:2 colorspace at 1920x1080 square pixel instead of 4:2:0 color at 1440x1080.

The component breakout cable from the XH-A1 bypasses the compression that gets sent to tape, which is said to also knock the color down from 4:2:2 to 4:2:0, but I've only just got it, and have not yet done any tests to see if I can get better color correction out of the Ninja's files.

What I really like is that I can record with or without a tape in the camera, and with the 256GB SSD, I can keep shooting over 4x longer without needing to stop for a new tape. Also, no chance of dropouts, not that I ever got any on the Sony Digital Master HDV tapes.

It's nice as a monitor, too. You can start / stop recording from the monitor mode, too.

The only downside I deal with is that you need a certain AC powered HDMI converter to go from component to HDMI, and it has to have the HDMI v1.3 firmware on it. The first one I bought from Monoprice was only $20, but it has v1.2 firmware, which results in a green image or no image. I got the same unit (made in China) by KanexPro from B&H for $75 that has v1.3 on it, and it's perfect. The need to plug into a wall outlet isn't such a big deal for me though, since I usually need that power for lighting kits anyway. There is very little that I shoot without lights, and when I do, I can still shoot to tape for those shots.
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Last edited by wonderspark; Apr 15, 2012 at 08:40 PM.
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Old Apr 15, 2012, 08:42 PM   #3
matteusclement
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wonderspark View Post
I have the Atomos Ninja 2.0 that I use for my XH-A1. There are two benefits:
1) Tapeless - I record to a Crucial M4 256GB SSD
2) Records straight to ProRes422 (or HQ, or LT) in 4:2:2 colorspace at 1920x1080 square pixel instead of 4:2:0 color at 1440x1080.

The component breakout cable from the XH-A1 bypasses the compression that gets sent to tape, which is said to also knock the color down from 4:2:2 to 4:2:0, but I've only just got it, and have not yet done any tests to see if I can get better color correction out of the Ninja's files.

What I really like is that I can record with or without a tape in the camera, and with the 256GB SSD, I can keep shooting over 4x longer without needing to stop for a new tape. Also, no chance of dropouts, not that I ever got any on the Sony Digital Master HDV tapes.

It's nice as a monitor, too. You can start / stop recording from the monitor mode, too.

The only downside I deal with is that you need a certain AC powered HDMI converter to go from component to HDMI, and it has to have the HDMI v1.3 firmware on it. The first one I bought from Monoprice was only $20, but it has v1.2 firmware, which results in a green image or no image. I got the same unit (made in China) by KanexPro from B&H for $75 that has v1.3 on it, and it's perfect. The need to plug into a wall outlet isn't such a big deal for me though, since I usually need that power for lighting kits anyway. There is very little that I shoot without lights, and when I do, I can still shoot to tape for those shots.
do you work for ATOMOS?!

wow. I want one now!

do you use the SSD just to be super safe?
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try this:
take an empty pop can, place it on the floor, smash it flat, now try to pull it back to how it was.
see how it looks like crap? that's called compression
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Old Apr 15, 2012, 08:50 PM   #4
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No, but maybe I should get some compensation from them, haha! They never said my camera was supported, and I ended up spending a month testing and troubleshooting with them until I got it to work. Turns out the first Ninja unit I got was bad after all. At first, I thought it was just an incompatibility with the HDMI converter, but after swapping out for a new Ninja, it all works beautifully.

I use the SSD because it was cheap-ish ($300) and yes, I feel way better using it over HDD. I figured out how to update the firmware to v.309 on the M4 SSDs on my Mac, so I don't have to worry about the 5200-hour bug or anything else. It just works as it should.
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 12:26 AM   #5
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Sounds like very good news, wonderspark!

I was also quite impressed when I read the specs of this little baby and wanted to try it.

Just a few days ago, I saw a video in which people were testing it with a Nikon D800 and had some rather disappointing results: Click here

They are saying that the ninja was crushing the blacks so deep that you couldn't get any information out of them anymore. That would be kind of a dealbreaker for me, since color correction is most prone to problems in very low light setups anyways. And if the 4:2:2 color sampling is not helping because of the lack of information in the dark areas, that would be a problem.

I have to say though that they were recording with a DSLR. And I get the feeling that maybe this DSLR camera's HDMI output is made for image control on an external monitor, not for recording out of it. I can see how the camera will then not try to output the flattest color profile possible out of that HDMI port but an image that would look nice on screen, maybe even with higher contrast.

As I said, it might not be an issue with your cameras, but be aware of that and actually try it out when you get the thing, so you can send it back if the quality suffers...
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 12:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floh View Post
Sounds like very good news, wonderspark!

I was also quite impressed when I read the specs of this little baby and wanted to try it.

Just a few days ago, I saw a video in which people were testing it with a Nikon D800 and had some rather disappointing results: Click here

They are saying that the ninja was crushing the blacks so deep that you couldn't get any information out of them anymore. That would be kind of a dealbreaker for me, since color correction is most prone to problems in very low light setups anyways. And if the 4:2:2 color sampling is not helping because of the lack of information in the dark areas, that would be a problem.

I have to say though that they were recording with a DSLR. And I get the feeling that maybe this DSLR camera's HDMI output is made for image control on an external monitor, not for recording out of it. I can see how the camera will then not try to output the flattest color profile possible out of that HDMI port but an image that would look nice on screen, maybe even with higher contrast.

As I said, it might not be an issue with your cameras, but be aware of that and actually try it out when you get the thing, so you can send it back if the quality suffers...
I think it might be the DSLR limits. I think that's what philip bloom was saying about the 5diii - no uncompressed out at 1080p.

I'll keep it in mind for the future.
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try this:
take an empty pop can, place it on the floor, smash it flat, now try to pull it back to how it was.
see how it looks like crap? that's called compression
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 12:39 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by matteusclement View Post
I think it might be the DSLR limits.
I think so, too. In said video, they don't mention that but I can imagine this would be the problem.

If you actually order one of these, you can still try to record the same stuff with the ninja and on your tape and then go for a comparison later. It would be interesting to see if it makes a difference and in what direction.

That's the nice thing about ordering: You usually have a 14 day return policy if the stuff doesn't provide what you expected.

So: Go ahead and get the thing! All I wanted to say is that you should try some scenes with dark areas and see if you lose information there.
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 01:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floh View Post
Sounds like very good news, wonderspark!

I was also quite impressed when I read the specs of this little baby and wanted to try it.

Just a few days ago, I saw a video in which people were testing it with a Nikon D800 and had some rather disappointing results: Click here

They are saying that the ninja was crushing the blacks so deep that you couldn't get any information out of them anymore. That would be kind of a dealbreaker for me, since color correction is most prone to problems in very low light setups anyways. And if the 4:2:2 color sampling is not helping because of the lack of information in the dark areas, that would be a problem.

I have to say though that they were recording with a DSLR. And I get the feeling that maybe this DSLR camera's HDMI output is made for image control on an external monitor, not for recording out of it. I can see how the camera will then not try to output the flattest color profile possible out of that HDMI port but an image that would look nice on screen, maybe even with higher contrast.

As I said, it might not be an issue with your cameras, but be aware of that and actually try it out when you get the thing, so you can send it back if the quality suffers...
Ha, too bad about the firmware version in their test. I can confirm that Ninja firmware 2.01 and 2.2 both work fine with the XH-A1, but the latest firmware (2.2) addresses the Nikon DSLR cameras specifically. I updated mine to 2.2 with the promise from Atomos that if it "broke" my recording from the XH-A1, that they would send me a copy of the old 2.01 firmware so I could go back. Alas, 2.2 works fine, so I'm up to date and happy.
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 10:25 AM   #9
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wonderspar why did you go with the ninja instead of the nano flash?
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 02:41 PM   #10
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wonderspar why did you go with the ninja instead of the nano flash?
I didn't like:
- 2x price of Ninja ($1995 vs. $999)
- CF card storage, due to smaller size and way higher price over SSD

Where a 64GB CF card is $300-400, a 256GB SSD is in the same price range. It's nice that it can do either HDMI or SD/HDI, though. Basically, the Ninja does the same for half the price, and media is one quarter the price for SSDs, or much, much cheaper if using 2.5" HDDs. Based on price alone, it's a no-brainer.

The recording format is irrelevant in my case. I could use either the MPEG2 or ProRes codecs.

----------

The other unit I looked into (but decided against) was the Blackmagic HyperDeck Shuttle 2, but recording uncompressed doesn't give much record time, and DNxHD isn't a codec I want to deal with.
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Old Aug 29, 2012, 02:26 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by matteusclement View Post
I think it might be the DSLR limits. I think that's what philip bloom was saying about the 5diii - no uncompressed out at 1080p.

I'll keep it in mind for the future.

People just finding this post now (like I did on google)-don't listen to people pointing out the clipping on the Ninja, apparently it is because the guy in the interview did not set up his camera properly for the RGB colorspace of the ninja with the D800.

If you are having this issue, you need to set your D800 RGB values to 16-235 in HDMI Advanced Settings->Output Range->Full Range, note -pg. 257 of the Nikon D800 manual.
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Old May 26, 2013, 05:05 PM   #12
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How does it perform?

Hi Wonderspark,
I am thinking to buy an atomos samurai for my canon xh a1. Is it worth it in terms of image quality? Some people say that the converter may introduce some noise which can negate the benefit of 10 bit. (i'll probably go for a BM mini converter). Have you experienced any issues in this regard?
Also how did you rig the atomos and the converter to your xh a1? Do you have any pictures with your rig?
Thank you!
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Old May 26, 2013, 06:02 PM   #13
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Canít fault it as a recorded but donít expect to get anything else apart from framing from the monitor. Colours are off and it is not very sharp.

I had to use it to focus on during a shoot and ended up having to resort to the monitor on the back of the camera. A cramped neck later and I still think it was the better decision!
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Old May 27, 2013, 05:01 AM   #14
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I use it with the Canon C100, and it's given me a camera worth more than the C300, for less than half the cost. It's a beautiful little device, and the image out of it is stunning.
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Old May 27, 2013, 08:03 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by wonderspark View Post
The other unit I looked into (but decided against) was the Blackmagic HyperDeck Shuttle 2, but recording uncompressed doesn't give much record time, and DNxHD isn't a codec I want to deal with.
I for one would have to venture into the BMD option with my RED due to having both Avid and Apple/Adobe worlds as far as NLE goes.
There are other options but costly ones.
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Old May 27, 2013, 12:02 PM   #16
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For $800 how could you possibly hope to do better, but I find the Ninja to be kind of a piece of junk despite the apparently amazing price.

The 24p pulldown cadence detection is slow, temperamental, difficult in subdued light, and I've seen it register the wrong cadence, ruining a day's worth of shooting.

HDMI is chintzy. But of course, it's not a professional standard. Still the connection is unreliable and if you have BNC on your camera get the Samurai.

The monitor is poor, however you can focus by using peaking and judging subjectively where the most dots/lines are because its circle of confusion for sharpness is very generous.

I do like having a monitor and external recorder all-in-one and it is small and dirt cheap. The improvement in IQ is ok with the C100 and the shadows look much better and high ISO looks much better as the AVCHD codec handles noise poorly, but I wouldn't bother with a dSLR since the IQ is low to begin with and then you're giving up the advantage of a compact camera. However as a monitor on an Israeli arm it can be nice! If you have the Mark III (only Canon dSLR with clean HDMI out) just use the raw mode, WAY better image quality and more fun, too, or for clients who want a lot of footage just use IPB and deliver those files as-is. For the C100 I can see using it.

For a professional rig use a higher quality recorder and BNC.
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Old May 29, 2013, 07:13 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by DGrieux View Post
Hi Wonderspark,
I am thinking to buy an atomos samurai for my canon xh a1. Is it worth it in terms of image quality? Some people say that the converter may introduce some noise which can negate the benefit of 10 bit. (i'll probably go for a BM mini converter). Have you experienced any issues in this regard?
Also how did you rig the atomos and the converter to your xh a1? Do you have any pictures with your rig?
Thank you!
The picture was great, but I ended up selling the XH-A1 and returning the Ninja. I was having an issue where it would only record for about 5 minutes and stop, rather than record continuously. It was odd... not related to anything like a 2GB file size limit... the files were some other obscure size. It just pushed me to abandon tape cameras all together.
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