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NAB 2018 Recap: Atomos

Let me start off by saying that since I was first stumbled onto the original Atomos Ninja recorder/monitor, I have been a fanboy. Their consistent attention to detail, innovative solutions and relatively reasonable pricing have always kept me intrigued.

I currently use an Atomos Ninja Flame 4K recorder/monitor for my Panasonic G7 4K video rig and while it is a bit large and bulky for that camera, it is a beautiful piece of machinery.

Their big draw at this year's NAB show was the introduction of two innovations: first, a brand new codec that Apple has developed called ProResRAW, and a new, very small Ninja product that will record 4K60p using this new codec.

Now, what is ProResRAW? Simply put, it is raw sensor data combined with metadata, recorded to an external drive. This bypasses the cameras internal compression process which means you get higher quality footage. This has long since been a selling point with Atomos. However, what the new ProResRAW codec does is simply mind-blowing. The bitrate of this new codec is the same or as much as half as that of the current ProRes 422 HQ and here is the kicker: ProResRAW is a 444 codec. Yes, you read that correctly: the same bit rate as ProRes 422 HQ but with 444 color being captured! This is a MAJOR leap forward and one that I cannot frankly wait to get my hands on! Now, there is a caveat: this codec, at this point in time, will ONLY be available on Mac OS hardware. PC users will have to use CinemaDNG.

Ok, so if that's not enough, here is more information about the new Ninja recorder. It's called the Ninja V and brings a 10-bit 1000nit monitor to the table and weighs in at 350grams, which is a measly 12oz. It does come with a smaller SSD drive slot, which means your older 2.5" SSD drives will still fit, but will extend beyond the edge of the unit. It's a 5" screen, still gives you 10+ stops of dynamic range and has an interesting feature Atomos is calling a built-in modular expansion slot. According to the brochure, "bi-directional high speed video, audio and power are available. Expansion modules will dock onto the battery slot of the unit and offer advanced features." It will be interesting to see what kind of modules are developed but I always like the idea of making in investment and getting the ability to add value through the addition of features to that investment later!

Two caveats to know about this Ninja V: 1) because it's a smaller frame, you only get one battery slot, so no more swapping batteries while recording; you will have to plan ahead for that. Atomos is claiming 2 hours of record time on a 5200mAh battery if using monitor and recording at 4K60p and up to 3 hours on a 7200mAh battery in the same conditions. Of course, the external DC input allows continuous use.

2) while you are able to record 4K60p, you will not be able to monitor in 4K; the 5" screen is native 1920x1080. So bear that in mind when deciding to purchase. It is also unclear as to whether the Ninja V will be able to utilize the new ProResRAW codec; for now, only the Shogun Inferno monitor/recorder and Sumo 19 monitor are compatible.

I think this is going to be an amazing little recorder and I am eyeing it quite seriously to either add to my current load out or to replace my Ninja Flame. For me, if it can take advantage of the new codec, then it's a no brainer for a $695 price point. However, if it does the same thing as my Flame, just in a smaller form factor, it doesn't make any sense to change what I have.

For more information and details on the ProResRAW codec and/or the Ninja V:

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