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Sub-$1,000 HDMI Field Recorder Atomos Ninja Now Available

02.21.11 @ 4:21PM Tags : , , ,

I’ve mentioned the AJA Ki Pro Mini ($2,000) and Nanoflash ($3,000) in the past as the new kids on the block when it comes to compact field recorders. However, there’s a startup by the name of Atomos who is now shipping a $995 field recorder. The Atomos Ninja records an HDMI output direct to ProRes (HQ, 422, or LT), and despite its lower price, it also offers a touch LCD screen. Here’s a look at the announcement of the Atomos a few months ago from

The Atomos uses 2.5″ notebook HDD or SSD hard drives (I’m not clear on whether the $995 includes a drive or if you provide your own), has a hot-swappable dual-battery system, and records 1080i59.94, 1080i50, 1080p25, 1080p24, 1080p23.98, 720p59.94, 720p50, SD 480i, and 576i. However, Canon DSLR shooters will apparently be disappointed, due to the lack of a clean HDMI-out signal (even on the 7D?). While we’ll have to wait to get some in-depth reviews, it does look like the Atomos should work well with the Panasonic GH2, Nikon D7000, Panasonic AF100, and Sony F3 (as well as other cameras that offer an uncompressed HDMI output).

Before I get too far ahead of myself, why would someone want to use an external field recorder? Well, one of the ways large camera manufacturers like Canon, Sony, and Panasonic differentiate their consumer/prosumer offerings from their more expensive cameras is by saddling the cheaper models with a low-bitrate codec. Some of these cameras, however, come with an uncompressed HDMI output, and by recording the signal to a higher-quality codec (like ProRes HQ), one can get a better image than what would be recorded internally. For more on bitrate and codecs, see the free eBook of the DSLR Guide.

Atomos have announced on their site that the Ninja is shipping, though there’s still not a “buy now” button, and availability is a bit confusing:

The first production run of Atomos Ninjas was completed 30 January 2011. The Ninjas have made their way from factory to Hong Kong and are currently awaiting dispatch to our worldwide distribution centres. We expect a short delay due to Hong Kong closing for Chinese New Year (3/2/2011 – 6/2/2011) and delivery starts from HK on 7 February 2011. In the week following this, the Ninjas will be forwarded to local distribution centres and then to resellers and customers. All pre-orders will be fulfilled through the authorised Atomos sales and support network to ensure your product is locally supported. Those who have pre-ordered will be contacted during the week ending Feb 12, and given details on where to purchase their Ninja. Information about the Atomos sales network will be posted online in the coming weeks.

Link: Atomos Ninja

[via FreshDV]


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  • The GH2′s HDMI out is probably not going to be useful for HDMI recording until a hack comes through.

    The GH2 sends out a 1080i wrapped 24p, and on top of that is not a true 4:2:2 – it’s a messed up 4:2:0 out of the HDMI. People have been messing with it, to try to make it work, but Barry Green states here that there’s not really any point in even trying it:

    As for the D7000 it only outputs 720p while recording and there are overlays that cannot be removed. The image is centered on the 720p, so it’s not likely you’ll be able to extract much more than an SD image from the HDMI out – useless in my opinion.

    The Atomos looks like a great deal, it’s just unfortunate there aren’t many cameras that can really fully utilize it. HDMI on a lot of these cameras is crippled or in some sort of wrapper. HD-SDI is the better option on the AF-100 and the F3 – especially since the locking mechanism with HD-SDI makes moving around with the camera a lot less stressful while recording.

  • alexander miller on 02.21.11 @ 10:59PM

    So i wonder how big of a job it would be for magic lantern to figure out how to erase those two dots… hmm.

    good price point though, i can imagine this would be very useful for documentary filmmakers. I would much rather carry two or three small HDD’s then a butt ton of cf cards, for convenience and organization mostly

  • Exciting stuff. Come on 5D mark iii….

  • A non-ProRes recording option would be nice… Not everyone uses FCP. :)

  • Don’t forget that the Ninja works with most video cameras. We’re investigating DSLRs thoroughly, and we’ll publish our results.

    For those who don’t want to work with ProRes, we’re able to implement other codecs if there is the demand, but we’ve been swamped with interest for the ProRes version so other codecs are not the first priority. You can use ProRes in other NLEs if you’ve got the codec installed. Feedback on this is helpful, though.

    Meanwhile, for anyone who doesn’t want to work with HDMI, we’ve got the HDSDI-equipped Samurai on it’s way!

    Dave Shapton
    Atomos Europe

    • Thanks, Dave. Looking forward to more info on the Samurai and for updates on the Ninja’s availability.

    • Chris Mendes on 03.16.11 @ 5:54PM

      Dave when will the HdSdi model be out in the US.The product sounds great……. Non locking connectors while on the move make me sweat.

  • It would have been so incredible for this to work with the gh2! Even more incredible would be a higher end higher res version that would be useful for focus work and adjustable aspect ratios for anamorphic! Like a combo of the ninja and the smallhd. I d pay 1800$ for that all day.

  • I don’t like all the bells and whistles when all it really needs to be is a recording unit. If it’s not an HD monitor, why bother. Touch-screens aren’t the best input devices in the world, and are just something else to go wrong. K.I.S.S., please.

    Q: Can it use 7200rpm drives? Am I correct that it’s SATA only? What about HDMI loop-through?

  • I wish I had a camera that this worked with. Would there be any increase in picture quality if I used it with a Sony FX-1000 (HDV) camera?

  • I have an atomos ninja and a pmw-f3 and af100 … it only does 18060i… how can i get it to do different frame rates??? this little thing works so good

  • Currently the nanoFlash recorder is matched up with Sony EX1/EX1R cameras to meet the BBC HD requirements for HD level Gold Standard HD acquisition: (+National Geographic, Discovery, PBS, Animal Planet, etc)

    My ideal would be an atomos that saved HD in Quicktime or Sony MXF Files up to 4:2:2 and MPG Files in 4:2:0 Long-GOP allowing universal native NLE support for FCP, Avid, Edius, Vegas & Premiere

    HDMI together with SDI/ASI In would be ideal :)

  • I use Atomos Ninja with Sony FX1000 and works great, now I have 1980 x 1080 image and pure 30p frame rate, not problem, much better color and quality. Others formats rates are interleced:
    1980 x 1080 30p fine
    720 x 480 30p recorded on 30i
    1980 x 1080 24p fine
    720 x 480 24p recorded on 24i

    Any one have this camera must gave Atomos Ninja, This sony FX1000 is a graet camera, but HDV is not on this days, upgrade to good codec ProRes, full HD 1980 x 1080 and real 30p, this is it, Atomos Ninja does.