Atomos Ninja 2 REVIEW
The Fighter – Part Two
Affordable external HD-Video-Recorder with HDMI in and out for recording from Cameras like the Canon C100 which outputs clean uncompressed 4:2:2 HD Video via HDMI.
UPDATE:There seems to be a problem with black levels with DNxHD under Windows. It seems to be related to the Quicktime Gamma-Shift problem circling around. News Soon.
UPDATE: Read more about my Levels Problem FIX!
UPDATE:Get the newest firmware version 4.11
What makes the Ninja so simple to use is the touchscreen, which is also the biggest weekness of the recorder because the image quality on screen is not very good and is more-less milky and not very contrasty.
On the other hand there are the fairly simple on-screen buttons and controls that works great most of the time, responseness of the touchscreen is not as responsive as we are used to from smartphones, because it’s not a capacitive touchscreen but a resistive one. The advantage of a resistive touchscreen is that it can be touched even with a pencil or gloves which comes handy if you are outside in the cold.
The mainscreen has big buttons for record, play, monitor and menu and is surrounded by smaller “text-buttons” for the input control, codec menu, battery menu, timecode adjustments, audio levels menu, file naming menu and the harddisk control menu.
Rugged with plastic
Build quality is good and sturdy with aluminium housing and mounts, but the plastic caddies for the HDDs should be handled with care.
Caddie with Sandisk SSD inside
I use a 2.5″ SSD for the more extreme filming scenarios with cold weather and shaking camera, etc. and a normal 2.5″ HDD with more capacity for all other situations.
The Ninja2 feels rugged and the aluminium housing will get warm in operation, which is normal according to Atomos and is an indication of a working heat dissipation while doing heavy video magic.
Top mounthole and dual battery slot
There are two sturdy 1/4″ mounting points, one at the top and one on the bottom and there is a screen orientation switch in the menu which let you use the recorder in an upside down configuration for a better cable management on your rig.
In the box
The waterproof transportation case for the Ninja2 and all it’s accessories is decent and cool. Everything you need to operate the ninja is in it except the HDMI cables.
In the box
You get a world charger with country conversion plugs, a dual charger, two Sony-compatible NP-F550 battery packs with each 2300mAh for apx. 3.5h operation, two caddies for SSD or HDD disk drives which are mounted into the caddies, a USB3/Firewire800 hotplug caddie reader (SSD/HDD reader) with apx. 110-150 megabytes/sec reading speed and an extra USB power cable, so you need an additional usb port for the reader.
The codec fight
Since firmware version 4.01 it is possible to choose between ProRes and DNxHD codecs.
Available compressions are:
(all with 4:2:2 color subsampling and a maximum of 10bit if supported by the camera)
- Apple ProRes HQ 220mbit
- Apple ProRes 422 150mbit
- Apple ProRes LT 100mbit
- Avid DNxHD 220X 10bit 220mbit
- Avid DNxHD 220 8bit 220mbit
- Avid DNxHD 145 8bit 145mbit
The image recording quality is amazing with ProRes HQ and ProRes422 and still ok with ProRes LT. The higher bitrates adds so much more detail and is works perfectly for Blue-Screen or Green-Screen work.
Unfortunately I found some issues with AVIDs DNxHD codec on the Ninja2.
Correct Video Levels with ProRes
raised Black-Levels in DNxHD
It seems that the black levels are raised and the gain is lowered on DNxHD recordings only, when switching to the ProRes codec the video-levels are just fine and full dynamic range. The DNxHD codec itself is great, but it looks like a bad implementation from Atomos a problem with Quicktime under Windows (Under investigation!). I hope it gets fixed soon.
UPDATE: I found a fix for the wrong Levels. Read about the fix in my article.
Screen in angle
lots of stuff in the case
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