Atomos Ninja – Any Day Now

If you've been following the long wait for the Atomos Ninja HDMI recorder, then you'll know it should start shipping this week (hopefully). It's a sexy little unit that acts like a low res monitor, but is really a portable recorder to capture uncompressed Video goodness. Many times this is done by connecting a Video camera to a computer of some sort and a capture card. Above is a nice little example from Vimeo member UrbanFox.TV or what the Ninja is all about. It's already been delayed for several days and i'm waiting to see some examples.

DSLR shooters probably aren't going nuts for something like this because it's pretty rare to get clean HDMI out for recording. Sure the 7D outputs in 1080, but there's something not quite all there.. Other non DSLR camera shooters who use higher end Canon's, the fancy Sony's, and Panasonic are literally drooling for a portable solution to capture uncompressed HD output signals. Sony camera like the EX1 will need SDI input on a recorder, so soon another version 'the Samurai' will meet those requirements. [Note: Though your camera may output uncompressed signals, the Ninja saves the incoming signal to Apple ProRes]. Rumor mill is that only 250 units will touch US ground on this first shipment and who knows when the next batch arrives. If you weren't on the pre-order list and didn't get confirmation to receive one soon, it looks like someone is making one available via eBay.

find-price-button Atomos Ninja Portable HDMI Recorder

23 thoughts on “Atomos Ninja – Any Day Now

  1. C. Mason Taylor

    *Correction to my above statement. You don't lose video quality when you transcode into lossless formats, but there are no truly viable lossless video codecs right now, especially not for HD video. ProRes is as close as we're likely to get any time soon, and again, it's very, very good, but it still isn't lossless.

  2. C. Mason Taylor

    Another point re: Fabdex's comment,

    Not transcoding to ProRes is also going to preserve video quality. Every time you transcode (even into really really good formats) you lose some quality. Every time. Though of course, beyond that, recording directly into ProRes is going to drastically improve the compression artifacts you'll normally see when it comes to H.264. The super-high bitrates Canon normally uses for H.264 compression are certainly going to be an improvement over say, standard AVCHD, but ProRes will beat it hands down, still.

    Now if it comes down to recording in an interlaced format versus progressive scan, that's a whole 'bother ball of wax.

  3. Arturo

    It looks good but there may be some confusion about the definition of the word "literally." I think you mean people would very much like this device, not that they are literally drooling.

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    Atomos Ninja – ????? » CheesyCam

  5. Wow.. Thanks Dave. I was beginning to worry when I was told you had problems, but not what they were! Yes better to iron out the niggles..

    Nice to hear the updates are fully automatic, looks like it has been well thought out, and looks quite sturdy too.

    And being able to allocate a drive and caddy to a project is going to save time.

  6. Graeme,

    The Ninja exists and I've got one on my desk beside me now, and it works fine. The reason for the delay is a few minor things that are better to fix now rather than when it's been shipped.

    BTW - the Ninja is EXTREMELY easy to update with new firmware. Unlike a mobile phone (where stuff is stored on the device) all your content is stored on removable media with the Ninja - so you don't have to back up anything. All you do is copy the upgrade file to a disk or SSD, push it into the Ninja, wait a few seconds while it recognises the file, and then it upgrades itself and reboots.

    Because it's so easy, we're planning regular upgrades, some of which might contain new features.

    So anyone that buys a Ninja is going to find that it gets better the longer they own it!

  7. Using the nano, ordered Ninja. BUT.. the Ninja has not been made available yet, but seems to be put back weekly.

    I do hope its going to work.. well.. Thats all. Nothing more.. nothing less. Its like waiting for Christmas to come, and always seeing on the news that Christmas this year is post-phoned another week.

    Now this week were apparently awaiting another firmware update. When (if) this comes will it eventually be released or do you feel there would be more "bugs" that need correcting before a release. Ill have to wait for the dreaded "Another week" statement this week I suppose.

    Dave Shapton, hello! When do you feel it will be released to the plonkers awaiting it finally? Nobody else has a comment!

    Then I can finally get rid of my 12v power source (lead acid battery - gym membership on hold, theres no need lugging THIS around) to power recorder/light 🙂

    Graeme [email protected] - My real email address disguised to look like - my real email address!

  8. @Fabdex,

    I'm guessing that copying material from a fast drive over USB 3 is going to be faster than software encoding to ProRes. (And of course, we do that in real time, in hardware). There's nothing to stop you doing a simple edit direct from the Ninja drive, either.


    I'm sure you meant it anyway, but the Samurai has an HD SDI INPUT; you said output.


  9. Emm

    Post author

    @Dave Shapton - Always nice to hear from the top guys on this tiny blog. Thanks for commenting..

  10. Mr.Brown

    Oh WOWW!! I think you guys have just started something for me here!! So your telling me this Ninja will allow my 60D to record continuously with no 12min limit!!! Or will that only work with a 7D because of clear 1080 hdmi out?

    I also have a Sony NXCAM wih HD-SDI out and Atomos apparently will release a version with SDI output called the Atomos Samurai. I'm wondering if it would be better to wait for that. Also i'm rerely ever an early adopter.

  11. Fabdex

    @ Nick: the quality would vary in a way: you'd be recording 1080i instead of 1080p. Skipping the transcoding step would save you time but you'd still have to copy your files over to your editing drive. And would the $1000 price make it worthwhile ?

    For me, the Ninja looks like the best way to make a $2000 camcorder like the new Canon XA10 compete with the big boys. I'd shoot my main interview with an XA100/Ninja combo and use my T2i as a "B" camera.

    As far as my wish list of new features go for Magic Lantern, I'd love it if they could somehow provide a clean output from the Canons. I'm also waiting to see if they'll be able to implement the spectacular lossless digital zoom of the T3i in the next release.

  12. I don't think we ever claimed that we can record from "any" DSLR! What we do claim is that we can record from any valid HDMI source (that is within the normal HDMI specification). What this means is if there is viewfinder stuff in the signal, we have to record that as well.

    Just to clarify: Video passing via HDMI is ALWAYS uncompressed. You can't send compressed video through HDMI. What might happen is that a camera compresses the video before uncompressing it and passing it out of the HDMI port. I've never seen this happen, personally, but can't rule it out.

    We then capture it to Apple ProRes, which (in my opinion) can be visually indistinguishable from the original, uncompressed video.

    Not all cameras work the same way. Most, if in Live View or Record mode, bypass the in-camera compression, which means that using a Ninja will give you a better picture.

    We're testing as many cameras as we can right now. Virtually all of the video cameras work fine. None of the Canon DSLRs output a clean HDMI signal as far as we know. Other manufacturers cameras do.

    We'll post our results on as soon as we can.

    Dave Shapton
    Atomos Europe

  13. Emm

    Post author

    @KJ - There is no time limit. No need to hit record on the camera. Just capture the live view output.

  14. KJ

    Since that footage is saved in ProRes, what about the time limitation of the camera to record only for 12 minutes onto the internal camera card, you will obviously have missing footage. I guess you could use the magic lantern hack to auto rerecord.

  15. Jay

    Also, don't forget the ability to record for longer periods of time without having to worry about file size limits of Canon cameras.

  16. Nick

    @Fabdex - Would there be image degradation in that scenario, or would the quality be comparable? If its quality is comparable, I'd say the ability to capture directly to ProRes is an added benefit for me over SD cards because it removes the transcoding step of my editing workflow. That alone will save me at least 2 hours on every job I do. Another benefit above SD is the scene/shot labeling interface the rep shows off in the video.

    Just to start unnecessary rumors: When do you think we'll see a Magic Lantern Ninja hack. OH SNAP!

  17. Emm

    Post author

    @Fabdex - Yeah, good catch. What I meant was that some cameras output HDMI uncompressed, but the Ninja 'saves' to ProRes.

  18. Fabdex

    Emm: the Ninja doesn't capture uncompressed HD, but ProRes.

    Nick: a "clear" HDMI is far from a "clean" HDMI. Capturing the output of a T2i with a Ninja (even with Magic Lantern) would offer no benefit over capturing to the SD card. The reformatted 1080i (not 1080p) signal from the T2i recorded with the Ninja wouldn't look better and wouldn't be worth the expense.

  19. Jay

    I was following this too since the rummors started to come out. Manufacturer at first made some comments about being able to get clean signal out of all DSLR but I don't think they, at the time, tested it and then tried to backpedal the story. Once tested they realized that the square and the blinking red dot were there. Shame really. Perhaps ML guys will figure something to out to clean that out.

  20. Nick

    T2i + Magic Lantern + ClrScrn function in ML will give you a clear HDMI output. Instead of hitting record on the camera hit it on the Ninja. Crop to 16x9. Boom. HDMI capture for a DSLR.

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