Here we have our Atomos Ninja Star review, along with some ways to utilize this awesome pocket sized recorder. We’re also giving one Ninja Star to a lucky fan!
To qualify, just make sure you’re following @HDSLRShooter on twitter and tweet directly to @HDSLRShooter saying you want to win the Ninja Star using the following hashtag:
Atomos has changed the way we think about media. With the Atomos line of recorders, you can record 10-bit video straight from your camera’s sensor, eliminating the need to transcode highly compressed mpeg files. Not only that, you get a monitor as well. But what about times where you don’t need a monitor or a monitor isn’t convenient like shooting with a GoPro or mirrorless camera or even a DSLR?
One of the attractions to shooting video with a DSLR for me is the ability to shoot video while maintaining a low profile. Once you slap a monitor on your camera, it just screams, “I’m Shooting Video!” Whether you want to be incognito or you’re just looking to decrease the size of your rig, Atomos has a tiny solution, the NINJA STAR. At 4.6 ounces, Atomos boasts that the Ninja Star is the world’s smallest, lightest Apple ProRes recorder. It’s small enough to mount to the smallest of cameras without turning it into a monster rig. The Ninja Star gives you the highest quality files taking you out of the 30Mbps MPEG to 220Mbps ready to edit 10-bit 422 Apple ProRes HQ, and because it records direct from your camera’s sensor means no more 29.59 minute record limits on your internal recordings. On just one battery, you can record for 5 hours!
Unlike other Atomos recorders the, Ninja Star uses CFast Cards instead of SSDs and Spinning Hard Drives. The CFast Cards allow the Ninja Star to keep its small size while insuring you’re getting the best capture possible. Most cameras work with the Ninja Star that have an HDMI connection and clean HDMI out – this means that the output doesn’t contain all of the info you see on your camera’s monitor. You can get the CFast Cards from a variety of Manufacturers but Atomos actually makes their own in either 128 gigabytes and 64 gigabyte sizes, however, they are sold separately. An Atomos 128GB CFast card delivers up to 80mins of Apple ProRes HQ recording.
The Ninja Star records audio direct from the camera on the 2 embedded digital channels, or you may add an external mic via the audio line in for an extra 2 channels of analog audio. You can also Trigger record start/stop & record timecode direct from the camera over HDMI. The micro HDMI input and output allows you to connect and record from any HDMI device or loop out to a monitor. Once you have connect the Ninja Star to a monitor you can play back right off the device.
In true Atomos Style, you get everything you’ll need to get started with the Ninja Star right out of the box — except for CFast Cards.:
- One Atomos Ninja Star Recorder
- One Mounting Cheese Plate which attaches to the top or base of the Ninja Star
- One Sony NP-F570 Type Battery
- One AC Power Supply
- One Travel Power Supply
- A Variety of different AC plugs
- The Charging Unit
- One USB 3.0 Atomos CFast Card Reader.
- Comes complete in a handy hard case
So how will you use your Atomos Ninja Star? Here are some jobs where the Ninja Star came in very handy.
We love using the GoPro especially for shooting on the outside of a vehicle. Using this car mount rig from Filmtools and the Redrock Micro Cobalt cage gave us extreme stability while keeping the rig small. GoPro, like most of the cameras on the market, use a highly compressed Mpeg format for video files. This is typically fine, but if you plan on color grading the footage or adding graphics the footage can fall apart, meaning it can start to manifest extreme pixelation and image degradation.
The answer, is to record 20Mbps ready to edit 10-bit 422 Apple ProRes HQ straight from the sensor using an Atomos Recorder, and the Ninja Star will let us do that and keep the size of our rig small. Once we have the GoPro mounted to the Redrock Micro Cobolt Cage we simply mount the Ninja Star using the included Cheese Plate, connect the two with an HDMI cable and you’re in business. We’re now ready to shoot without destabilizing our Filmtools car rig while still getting ProRes recording.
A couple of notes when using with the GoPro 3 Plus:
- If you plan on monitoring using a cell phone app and the camera’s Wifi capabilities, you can’t use the Atomos Ninja Star at the same time, or the footage will look highly degraded
- The Solution: Line up your shot using the GoPro iPhone app, and then turn of the GoPro’s Wifi and then you’re recording will look great.
- Second thing to consider when using the GoPro — be aware that if you’re using the video back for the GoPro, once you power up the Ninja Star, the video back will shut off.
- The 5D Mark III and the Ninja Star play great together, however, the 5D doesn’t carry Audio in the signal. Therefore, if you want to record audio while shooting with the 5D Mark III, make sure you run your microphone directly into the Ninja Star’s Audio Port.
- Make sure you’re seeing a signal on the audio meters, monitor the audio directly out of your microphone, and you’ll be in business.
The Atomos Ninja Star is perfect for drones, but make sure your drone can handle the payload. If you’re using a larger drone like the S1000+ from DJI, the Atomos Ninja Star works beautifully because it was designed for a large payload. However, if you’re using a smaller drone like the DJI Phantom II, the folks at DJI recommend using the Atomos Ninja Star with the Light Bridge which sends an HD or 4K Signal from about a mile. The Ninja Star plugs directly into the light bridge and you’re in business. It is possible to use the Ninja Star with the Phantom II by removing the battery and using a P-Tap adapter to power the Ninja Star directly from the Phantom II’s power. This will shorten the battery life of the drone itself and you are totally maximizing the payload ability of the drone and it’s not recommended.
The Atomos Ninja Star comes complete with everything you need to start shooting immediately and retails for $295. The Atomos C-Fast Cards retail for $159 for the 64gb and $239 for the 128gb.
For more information and to find out where to buy, go to the Atomos website at www.ATOMOS.com
Neat little gizmo. I’m going to try it with a body-worn GoPro for adventure video.
I don’t think you’ll regret it, and remember it works with most cameras with an HDMI out port provided theyhave clean HDMI out.
Clint! Does this or the Shogun work well with a GoPro Hero 4? cheers, Dave
Totally works with all GoPro Products. The Star can’t record 4K but the Shogun can.
Hi Clint, has anyone compared the Gopro 4 internal 4K footage with 1080 ProsRes HQ footage?
I guess my question is: what are the best settings on the GoPro 4 Black prior to plugging in the Ninja, or is the fact that the ninja is accessing the clean HDMI signal, the GoPro 4 Black settings make no difference? (the Gopro 4 Black is not listed in the Atomos compatibility chart…)
I will be integrating (hopefully) what I shoot into 4K footage shot 24P on an F-55 with SLog and SGamut1 and unfortunately do not have the time to run any tests…
(Full 4K grading to be done on Resolve.)
another question — what’s your opinion of the ProTune setting? I suppose I should use it and the “Flat” color setting?