April 27, 2016 at 10:59AM

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Monitor/recorder brain freeze

I can't decide between the Blackmagic Video Assist and Atomos Ninja Blade.
I am planning to do equestrian themed short documentaries. With both I am worried about screen brightness for outside use. The Blade has a visor available which is helpful (though this factor does make me wonder if I should worry less about ProRes and just buy a used decent EVF).

They are both at my budget limit. The Blade has the advantage of coming with a battery and while I otherwise really couldn't care less about SD vs SSD but I do happen to have a 2.5" HD in a desk drawer so that would reduce starting cost for the Blade

Main benefits of the VA seem to be higher res screen and ability to do 1080p60 (which provides slo-mo flexibility which I can see could be useful in showjumping clips). But my DLSR can't output p60 so it would only be with Hero4 (and I can probably just use Protune footage tbh).
I have seen comments suggesting the Blackmagic UI is a lot better than Atomos.
I have no current or expected use for SDI

Blade is obviously older though Atomos seem to be promising a firmware update for "HDR" (emulation anyway) soon.
Pulldown removal will speed up my workflows as my Nikon only outputs 24p wrapped in 1080i. With the VA I could do this in Compressor but it costs time.
Audio input on the Blade at first seemed important as my Nikon doesn't output audio over HDMI, but I found the Blade has a line level input so its not like you can just plug a decent microphone in and need to spend more on a preamp setup. I can't find really any examples of Blade 3.5mm audio input being used.
Blade has a better set of tools but I'd probably only use peaking, zebras and histogram anyway.
Blade has a colour calibrated screen. There are lots of comments about VA having a green tint.

If the Ninja Blade had a proper mic port and working master LANC it would clinch it. But it doesn't have either, so I remain in mental struggle.

Thoughts?

3 Comments

I should have also said that for equestrian filming, good focus tools are a key consideration

April 27, 2016 at 11:23AM

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Definitely buy the Ninja Blade.

Even if the specs of the BlackMagic VA look great it does not mean that it is a great device. I have used several BlackMagic cameras (like BMCC, BMPC, BMPCC and URSA) and they all give you an astonishing image. But that's it.

BlackMagic is only focused on the end product. Not on the workflow or how comfortable shooting with their gear would be for the filmmaker.

It's the same thing with the VA. It's specs look great but it's not as good as the Ninja Blade.

The Blade was designed by the requests of filmmakers and Atomos has listened to that requests.

That's why most of the filmmaking community uses the Atomos recorders over the BlackMagic VA.

April 27, 2016 at 4:33PM, Edited April 27, 4:33PM

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Eric Halbherr
Director, DP, Editor, Creative Storyteller
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Thanks Eric. I'll look more into simple/cheap mic level to line level preamps too

April 28, 2016 at 2:40AM

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I'm going through the same decision process now, so really appreciated seeing such a clearly formulated post on this issue.
While I respect the knowledge of the only responder here so far, I wonder if it's that simple, especially in particular cases.
I, for example, shoot documentary and art projects while traveling overseas alone.
Saving space in my backpack is a major concern, so recording to SD cards and not having to pack an SSD card reader sounds great.
The Ninja Blade, especially when loaded up with batteries, is bulkier and heavier than the BMVA.
The monitor function of the BMVA seems way superior (1080, and now with all the firmware update focus/exposure assist features--although people really talk a lot about a green image).
Again, respectfully challenging the responder's assertions, when you talk to people about Blackmagic products, people have very different experiences with their cameras, as opposed to their other products. So I'm not sure how important a bad experience with a BM camera is for making this decision.
The only thing that seems to make the BMVA the bad move in this decision is the lack of 2:3 pulldown, which, as far as I understand, as long as you're handling you're own post-shoot workflow (which I am), can be fixed in Apple's Compressor or another free software option (http://blog.abelcine.com/2011/08/19/simple-workflow-for-removing-23-pull...). Apart from the time taken to do this (in the background while you do something else), is there going to be a quality difference between the Atomos removing the pulldown versus removing the pulldown using Compressor, having outputted to the BMVA?
Hopefully, the poster is happy with whatever they've decided. I just wanted to push this post as I'm making the same decision, and hope to clarify why exactly the Atomos is the better option.
I believe it comes down to the 2:3 pulldown issue.
Thanks for any further info.

August 12, 2016 at 3:47PM

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