Atomos – The All New Ninja 2
Atomos Ninja 2 – One of the main pitfalls of using DSLR Video Recording, is the 29minute 30 second maximum record time. The restriction that limits video recording in digital cameras to 30 minutes could be abolished if the World Trade
Organization’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA) is expanded. Several countries, including the USA, have begun informal talks to extend the scope of the ITA to include products that are currently subject to tariffs and duty. At present, digital cameras’ video cuts off after 30 minutes to avoid them being classified as video cameras (which attract 5.4% duty because they are considered to be video recorders). If the video cameras are added to the ITA, this distinction would no longer matter.
So how do you get around this problem easily whilst retaining superior quality and the worlds best codecs… The answer.. The Atomos Ninja 2.
The Ninja 2 is the world’s most advanced HDMI smart production recorder, monitor and playback deck. Every part of its physical and operational design has been carefully crafted to deliver the ultimate experience in simple operation and mission critical reliability. The Ninja 2 combines multiple devices – external monitor, capture card, playback deck and cut edit suite – into a single affordable tool.
It’s lightweight, tough and robust for operation in the field.
Atomos Ninja 2
Blanc Creative opted for the Ninja 2 and our first impressions were not going to disappoint. We purchased a few extras with the basic unit, which included the Carry Case with Foam Inserts. The Atomos Ninja 2 Carry Case is a custom case built to hold the Ninja ProRes DTE 10-bit field recorder. With foam inserts (for retail version), it holds the recorder securely without causing damage to the unit. The case has some funky decal on both sides which could lead people to think you’re some kind of secret agent, but it fits with the technology inside the case and the simplistic shoulder strap fitting was just brilliant, slotting into the case so that it’s secure when the lid closes. The foam inserts are robust, have room for additional batteries and docking station, but by the same account, we struggled to insert the sun hood and any other necessities may have to be stored elsewhere.
One of the downsides we would have liked to have seen rectified on the Atomos was the inclusion of a hot shoe mount or adaptable mount as part of the standard unit package. Simply because this is a DSLR ready unit, we would found testing the Atomos Ninja 2 was somewhat difficult and hand held. Blanc Creative appreciate that with a host of DSLR Rigs on the market, that Atomos can’t produce a one product meets all user approach, but by the same account, the inclusion of a hot shoe mount for filming on the fly and room in the carry case, would have been a welcome bonus.
Additionally, the most worrying aspect is that of finding the best mechanism to secure the HDMI lead from the Atomos Ninja 2 into the DSLR. Damaging the CAnon 5DMKIII HDMI connector is going to land you with a heavy cost, possibly in excess of £300, but trying to find a solution of securing cable is not easy. Zacutto offer a solution with the Pincher;
The Pincher is a neat little devise but packs a big price tag at over £85. It doesn’t work on it’s own. The Pincher was designed to easily attach to a Zacuto DSLR Baseplate or Gorilla Plate with two Allen screws. Once attached, the HDMI cable is held into place with a fully-adjustable rotating clamp or “dog.” Other HDMI cables may work with the Pincher, but we strongly recommend using the Zacuto HDMI Cable for optimal use. This device can be mounted on the new Zacuto EVF Gorilla Plate Bracket and will function with all leading DSLR cameras, including the Canon 5D, 7D, T2i, Nikon D7000, D5100, D3100, D3, Panasonic GH2 and many more. Og course, the base plate comes at a cost, but up until now, care and cable management looks to be the most affordable way forward until somebody comes up with a better idea.
Atomos Ninja 2 – 10-BIT 4:2:2 QUALITY
So why record 10-bit from the sensor of a camera, if it’s 8-bit? Well, if you want to edit, use CG or 3D effects, green screen or add titles and transitions, these will all be 12-bit or more. If you record 8-bit like most cameras, when the 12-bit or higher graphic is inserted into the timeline, the colours are ‘crushed’ down to 8-bit, making the result extremely poor quality. We bypass the 8-bit and record 10-bit colour registries to ensure your video plays nicely with all computer effects.
The Atomos Ninja 2 records directly to Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD editing codecs onto commodity 2.5” hard discs at the camera, saving you on media costs, time for capturing and of course giving higher quality from any MPEG-based camera. Blanc Creative loved the idea of shooting with the Avid DNxHD, a worlwide accepted broadcast codec. The Unit comes with a free activation codes and installation and initial firmware updates were some of the easiest we have ever come across. The whole support mechanism, clear and concise instructions and massive support pages, mean that Atomos really have put the customer at the forefront of their operation.
YOUR CAMERAS BEST FRIEND
Today’s camera sensors and lenses are quite spectacular, and the Atomos Ninja 2 harnesses even large 5K+ sensors on professional video cameras to ensure you get the best from your camera – YES they support your make and model of Canon, Sony, Nikon, Panasonic, JVC, RED & ARRI. SDI-based cameras simply require an Atomos Connect to convert from HD/SD SDI to HDMI.
With all this crammed into a tiny fully customized OS, Atomos Ninja 2 give you all you need to produce – AC power, battery and charger, 2.5” HDD/SSD computer docking station – you will not believe what’s on offer!
Designed using aircraft grade aluminium, the Atomos Ninja 2 delivers durability and portability. Locking mechanisms for each removable part means sturdy reliable operation. Weighing a mere 370grams the Ninja 2 is completely at home on top of any camera, whether in the studio or up a mountain.
Atomos Ninja 2 don’t believe in jigsaw-puzzling a best of breed product, we have designed every circuit, coded every function and invested thousands of hours in testing, quality control, design and manufacturing. We do not buy standard IP cores like codecs, they do not lease HDMI/SDI interfaces – Atomos write everything from scratch to deliver you a finely tuned thoroughbred video machine!
UNBELIEVABLY LOW POWER CONSUMPTION
We loved the double battery considerations of the Atomos Ninja 2. They power usage is clean, with detailed on screen voltage and remaining charge on a per battery basis. The functionality of being able to change one depleted battery for a fully charged while the system was in use was a feature we really loved. Consuming just 6 watts of power – that’s nearly five times less than the nearest competitor – the Ninja 2 is perfect for battery-powered, in-the-field operation. Boasting no less than 4 power options, including the supplied NP series battery, DC power adapter for larger batteries, AC mains power and the Atomos patented Continuous Power dual battery system. You’ll never be without power when you need it most. Once again, the system comes with only 1 battery and then there’s the extra cost should you opt for a double battery charger. We would have much preferred to have seen the unit come with two batteries to start with and for the price to incorporate a double charger as standard, if nothing more than buy a fully equipped system with a fully transaparent pricing structure. The Atomos Ninja 2 can be main powered from a dummy battery connector, which is excellent for indoor use. The charger comes with worldwide adapters, although we were presented with a faulty UK plug adapter, which was not expensive to replace, but again, caused initial problems when we wanted to test mains usage. Canon and Nikon battery adaptors are now available. Check with your local re-seller to order.)
AFFORDABLE 2.5” HDD OR SSD
2.5” hard disks are the most affordable digital storage on the planet. They outperform SSDs, SD card, SxS and P2 cards in terms of cost and reliability for video use. In normal video shooting environments the 2.5” HDD is your new tape. Extremely low running costs, long record times (up to 30 hours) and limitless supply. For those vibration sensitive shoots, around the racetrack or in the helicopter, Atomos of course support modern SSDs.
A Word of Warning…
The Atomos Manual gives some specific advice in relation to the subject of over-tightening the Hard Drive Caddy around your chosen hard drive. Please make sure that you adhere to this guidance. The smallest of over-tightening will result in a hard drive caddy that will be warped and your Hard Drive will be virtually impossible to remove from the Ninja 2. Blanc Creative resorted to a two man operation and a tea towel to remove theHard Drive after it had been installed for the very first time.
The AtomOS 4 operating system driving the Atomos Ninja 2 allows access to all functions through a fast and responsive touch-screen interface. SmartMonitor helps you accurately assess focus and exposure with focus peaking, adjustable zebra, false colour twin mode, blue-only exposure check and adjustments for individual filters. SmartLog allows you to get started on post-production in the field by logging and pre-editing your footage on the fly.
RECORD DIRECT FROM THE SENSOR
The Atomos Ninja 2 records direct from the sensor giving you the best quality from your great lens and camera, no matter when it was made. Old and new cameras alike can get the benefit of higher quality recording, enhancing new cameras and breathing new life into older ones. One of the greatest feratures for video production is the ability to record directly into the Atomos Ninja 2 at 10 x magnification with superior quality. That’s right! Set your magnification using the 5DMKIII, focus accordingly and the press record on the Ninja 2. Your camera will automatically record the full scene, but the Ninja 2 means you have full control to literally record close up straight into the Ninja 2.
If you’d like to see how this work, Film Producer Stefan Czech who has delivered a 40 minute video review of the Atomos Ninja 2. I have to say that Stefan has produced a phenomenal, informative and professional piece of video work to showcase the Ninja2. Thank you Stefan Czech. The video can be viewed on Vimeo by Clicking Here or via the official Atomos Website. This was in my opinion, the ultimate review out there on the subject. Very thorough well delivered. Thank you for taking the time to do it Stefan!
Atomos Ninja 2 – SYNCED REC TRIGGER AND TIMECODE
Triggering record and capturing timecode in sync with your camera is essential to smooth production with external devices. Atomos have teamed up with all the leading camera manufacturers, including Canon and Sony to give you frame accurate timecode and start/stop triggers over HDMI from popular HDMI cameras like the Canon C100, 5D MKIII, 1DC and the Sony FS700.
Blanc Creative are excited about shooting in 2014 with the Atomos Ninja 2. We’ve highlighted what we consider to be a realistic overview of a field recorder that has been developed with the Canon 5DMKIII in mind. Our initial views are that is is an invaluable tool for DSLR film making, particularly when shooting continuous scenes, long interview, live concert footage or just require numerous takes held on one storage device. We would highly recommend the Atomos Ninja 2 and have really been blown away by the whole company, from the client support, user manuals, software updates and durability.
For more information, please visit the Atomos Official Website
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