Affordable ProRes Recorder... Atomos Ninja Star March 02 2015, 0 Comments

There are a plethora of video recording devices available these days from Blackmagic, Convergent Design and Atomos that can easily connect to your camera bypassing poor internal codecs, such as low bit rate MPEG 4.

Most of these, however, are pricey ranging from $700 to $2500 (although the Blackmagic Hyperdeck Shuttle is under $350) and each offer varying degrees of sophistication and options from HD-SDI to 4K RAW recording.

One recent offering from Atomos though has really caught our attention - the Ninja Star.

Why this one?

Mainly the price. At only $295 USD it is really a bargain, especially considering it comes with a carry case, battery, charger, CFast card reader and cheese plate for mounting. The only extra thing you need is a CFast card and Atomos now makes them, too. Note, these are CFast 1.0 cards and are also much more affordable than the CFast 2.0 cards. An Atomos 64GB card is only $159 USD (compared to a CFast 2.0 card that is approx. $$650 or more).

The other nice thing about this device is it's also feature packed:

10-Bit 4:2:2 ProRes Recording
Record up to 1080p video in edit-ready 10-bit 4:2:2 Apple ProRes HQ, 422, or LT from your camera's uncompressed HDMI output, bypassing a round of internal compression and data loss.
The Ninja Star stores video to a single CFast card, generation one or later. CFast cards are small, reliable, and available in sizes up to 256GB, providing up to 2 hours and 40 minutes of Apple ProRes HQ recording.
Start/Stop Trigger
Trigger record start/stop and capture time code in sync straight from the camera with Atomos' HDMI time code trigger protocols from Sony, Canon, Panasonic, Nikon, and JVC.
Audio Line-In
Record audio direct from the camera on the two embedded digital channels or add an external mic via the audio line-in for an extra two channels of analog audio.
Micro HDMI Input with Loop-Output
The Ninja Star's Micro HDMI input allows you to connect cameras with an HDMI output. A Micro HDMI loop-output is provided for viewing sending the signal to an additional device, such as an external monitor.
Additional Features
  • Battery lasts up to 5 hours
  • Lightweight at only 4.6 oz
  • Large, colored control buttons
  • Audio level, battery life, and recording time indicators
  • Mounting cheese plate with 1/4"-20 threaded holes along the bottom and the sides for flexible mounting options

With most new DSLRs now offering "clean" HDMI output (along with other cameras like the Canon C100 or various affordable Sony cameras like the A7S), it's a no-brainer to add one of these to the rig and record in the very post-friendly ProRes codec.

The only downside (if you want to call it that) we see with this recorder is it only does 1080 HD, nothing larger. But of course, there are options for that now too from Convergent Designs and again, Atomos. Also, there is no monitor on the Ninja Star - but that's why it's so affordable - and, you can easily loop through it to an external monitor of your choosing.

All in all this looks to be a great piece of gear to add to any filmmaker's kit.

What do you think? Have any experience using one of these external recorders? Please let us know in the comments below.