When recording videos to your camera, the information that the sensor is capturing, no matter how amazing of a sensor it is, will always be restricted to the media you’re recording to. In other words, there is a level of compression that occurs when you record to a CF or SD card. A video recorder like the Atomos, on the other hand, gives you the ability to record the uncompressed HDMI video feed onto a hard disk in a ProRes format. The question is, does your camera give you an HDMI out option?
Canon DSLR’s have handicapped the ability for users to record directly from the camera’s sensor. Canon’s higher end cameras have this capability, however in efforts not to cannibalise on their high end products, they’ve not implemented clean uncompressed HDMI out from their prosumer end DSLRs. Nikon and Sony have stepped up to the plate and now provide their customers with DSLR cameras that have the ability to output uncompressed footage directly from the camera’s sensor. This is huge for some shooters who have been looking to record at a higher bit rate.
Cameras that record video in mov, mp4, and mts files, for example, give you a compressed version of what the camera’s sensor originally captured. The Atomos Ninja allows you to bypass those compressions and retain the most information in a ProRes format.
This means you get more latitude to work with and full playback ability as soon as your footage hits the editing suite. There is no batch converting needed.
With the Ninja, you not only have the ability to capture clean HDMI in 1080p at 24fps from your camera’s sensor, you are also working with harddrive storage. This means that you no longer have recording limitations of 10 to 15 minutes per clip. Continuous recording from your camera can be done while using the Ninja so you will not miss a shot. The Ninja units also accept Spinning Disk or Solid State Drive hard drives. Spinning disks are rather inexpensive nowadays and the price of SSDs is coming down. This could be a cheaper alternative to purchasing multiple CF or SD cards for memory storage.
There are some key differences between the Ninja 1 and 2. Both are video recorders, but the 2 has been updated as more of a recording monitor as well, here’s why:
The Ninja 2 has a higher screen resolution, HDMI out and pass thru, focus peaking, zebra, blue only, audio monitoring and recording and with the Ninja 2 you now have the ability to export XTL files directly from the unit. Additionally, you can set in and out points and favorite or reject clips to cut down editing time. This means that by the time the video file arrives in the editing suite, editing time can be cut down immensely. On both units, you still get record, playback, file storing for easier file management and time code to name a few. Keep in mind that the Ninja 2 records in a ProRes codec, this is hugely beneficial for Final Cut editors and the XTL files can be exported to FCPX.
When the Nikon D800 first came out, FStoppers did a video review and weren’t able to produce optimal results (read all the comments about the error here). Keep in mind that was an early review in which there was still much confusion around the correct camera settings needed to achieve desired results with the Nikon D800 and the Atomos Ninja 2 specifically. Atomos and Nikon worked together very closely to not only put out an updated firmware, but also to put together more information about how to configure the Nikon D800 to ensure that their customers know exactly how to achieve clean HDMI out in 1080p. Below is a very detailed interview about this to clear up any confusion around the settings and such.
Ron Adair did a wonderful job of showing what the Ninja is able to capture in comparison to the Nikon D800. Below is his Nikon D800 Internal Recording VS. Atomos Ninja video. Video info and comments can be found HERE on his Vimeo page.
Ron Adair’s EXAMPLE IMAGES comparing the Atomos Ninja 2 Recording to the Nikon D800 In-Camera footage.
To find out which popular DSLRs will work with the Ninja and which will produce CLEAN HDMI out, check out info from Atomos HERE.
Steps for recording HDMI 1080p on an Atomos Ninja 2 from a Nikon D800:
First make sure the Menu Settings within the Nikon D800 are correct:
Firmware: Latest version
Wrench –> Firmware Version: A: 1.00/ B: 1.01 (as of current date)
Ninja Firmware 3.22 (as of current date)
Advanced HDMI Output:
Wrench –> HDMI –> Output Resolution –> AUTO
Wrench –> HDMI –> Advanced –> Output Range –> Limited Range or Auto (Auto best, no difference detected)
Wrench –> HDMI –> Advanced –> Live View On-Screen Display –> OFF
Wrench –> HDMI –> Advanced –> Output Display Size –> 100%
Custom Setting Menu –> g Movie –> c4 Monitor Off Delay –> Live View –> No Limit
CF Card MUST be taken out of the camera in order to record HDMI out to the SSD on the Atomos Ninja 2 in 1080p.