Few filmmaking products this year are as highly anticipated as the Atomos Shogun. In what can only be described as a Festivus miracle, we now have an incredibly in-depth guide to using the fabled device just days before it's slated to begin shipping to the masses.
The Shogun external recorder/monitor, which was the first and only of its kind to be able to utilize the 4K HDMI outputs of the Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7s until the recent announcement of the Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q+, suffered from some brief shipping delays earlier in the month. Luckily, the device is finally starting to make its way into the warehouses of resellers, which means that patiently awaiting filmmakers everywhere will begin getting their hands on the 4K recorder in a matter of days.
German filmmaker and frequent Atomos collaborator Stefan Czech recently had the chance to spend some time with an early version of the Shogun. During that time, he managed to review the recorder, shoot a music video, and put together an in-depth guide to using it with the Sony A7s, Panasonic GH4, Canon C100, and Canon 5D Mark III. It's a lengthy watch, but well worth your time if you're considering an investment in this new piece of gear, or if you're just curious.
For me, there are a few major takeaways from Stefan's presentation. First and foremost, the Shogun does wonders for both the image quality and the general usability of the Sony A7s. Up until recently, we hadn't seen any 4K images from the A7s because the camera is unable to record 4K internally. While the internal 1080p images are fairly clear and detailed, the 4K images from the Shogun take the detail and overall image quality of the A7s to another level entirely. Additionally, the built-in exposure tools, combined with the Shogun's ability to display a basic Rec 709 monitor LUT for log footage, make the tedious process of exposing properly while using S-Log2 so much simpler and more efficient.
Another revelatory note from the presentation comes from the GH4 segment. It can be difficult to accurately portray the differences between 8-bit and 10-bit footage, as well as the differences between a 4:2:0 and 4:2:2 color space. In the following comparison, Stefan shows us just how massive an impact those specs can have on a final image.
The other thing to note is that the Shogun makes a highly capable companion for HD cameras as well, which isn't really much of a surprise. With that said, if you're in need of a monitor/recorder for an HD camera, there are plenty of options on the market that are less expensive than the Shogun.
Ultimately, it seems pretty safe to say that the Atomos Shogun lives up to the massive amount of hype built up around the device since NAB, and that it adds tremendous value to cameras like the A7s and GH4 that have the ability to output a 4K HDMI signal, as well as any other camera that can output a clean HD signal over SDI or HDMI.