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Atomos Ninja or any external recorder?
  • Hi everyone,

    I have been scouring the site for relevant information, but am gathering it in drips and draps, so I thought I might as well start a new topic.

    I am thinking of getting an external recorder for my GH2 (i know, I am late to the game), but have read that some recorders don't work with GH2. But first, allow me to establish some background info I know (but stand corrected). GH2's output wasn't clean till Panasonic upgraded firmware to v1.1. 25p is now clean, and Atoms Ninja website has published instructions on how to integrate GH2 into the recording workflow. Testers have reported clean footage, but some testers claim that red channel is still jaggy (the extent of which i have not seen). Then I read that Black Magic Hyperdeck does not recognise GH2 output as true HDMI; some testers have reported unusable footage(?). In any case, whether 25p or not, the recorded output has been reported to be "interlaced" on the Ninja.

    Now I have also read that GH2 with hacked firmware v1.1 yields aberrations, such as colour shifts, inaccurate gamma, ghosting(?) when recording onto the Ninja. Could someone pl verify this? Does hacked firmware not work?
    I am on the brink of buying a Ninja, but thought I should look before I leap. Appreciate all yr kind views.

  • 62 Replies sorted by
  • @subco

    I read that hdmi outfeed for monitoring is clean, but somehow recording is not (am i making sense?) Because of this, someone actually wrote to Panasonic, and got a terse reply saying, and I paraphrase, "HDMI has always been there for monitoring and not recording purposes."

    All this conflicting stuff that i have read is really driving me nuts. But thanks all the same for the info

  • @kazuo AFAIK the GH2 has no way of knowing if the HDMI signal out is being recorded or not. I don't believe there could be a built-in limitation like you describe.

  • HDMI output on GH2 is compressed. And messed up interlaced. Your best option is driftwoods high bitrate patches like quantum 9b.

  • @fatpig

    When you say messed up interlaced, how bad is it? The Ninja website describes the output as "beautiful" Surely one man's meat is another man's poison, or is there more objectivity than meets the eye? Is the footage going to be usable?

  • There was a whole project dedicated to analyzing the HDMI out in this forum. The results were that there was no advantage in using an external recorder. i am sure you will find the thread here in the forum. :)

  • There is very little to gain from externally recording today afaik. While it seems possible to record without interlacing artefacts - at least in PAL land and cam set to HBR (its still tagging the HDMI output as 1080i while delivering PsF... afaik ) - and its no compression applied beside the well known downsampling to 4:2:0 - there is still very little reason to spend the money and take the hassle. The difference between high end settings like sedna or flow motion and external uncompressed recording might help with chromakeying anyhow. If you plan to record events with other shooters locked to 25 fps or want to be more flexible with shutter in 50 hz pulsing light you might also thing about external recording. Just don't expect any miracles.

  • Been there, looked into it, asked here and it's not worth doing. Just mt 0.02

  • Yeah, this has been beat to death. Another reason to shy away from external recording on the GH2 is the mini HDMI port is not very robust. Presumably external recording would be for some high end studio work -- that HDMI port is about the last thing I want to trust on a GH2 unless you've got a killer cage/clamp set up -- and even then, risky.

  • IMHO .. if your in PAL land (as I am) and require 25P it is worth doing.

    NTSC persons seem to have issues (pulldown/cadence) that I have not encountered

    Yes it's PsF .. so deinterlace it, or whatever dependent upon your NLE.

    As many have noted the GH2 24P codec eats the 25P/HBR codec. This is irrelevent when using an external recorder.

    You can choose your codec (dependent upon your external recorder) .. I use DNxHD

  • @kavadni

    Hey dude, I know you live in PAL land, so do I :) so I can disregard the NTSC guys now heheh. I read that you have invested in the Hyperdecks as well.

    1. Having recorded with the GH2, how are the results? How's the red channel? Read reports about it still being jaggy.

    2. Can external recorders work with a hacked setting on GH2? Or do i have to reset the camera back to default v1.1 firmware?

    I figured I would rather get the Hyperdeck rather than Ninja because of BM's support network. Besides, BMC is really an evolved Hyperdeck, so getting it is like getting half the BMC!


  • @Kazuo

    Regarding red channel .. I am not much of pixel peeper .. I will try and shoot some red for you early next week .. perhaps a rotating colour chart .. message me and remind tuesday if I forget .. I don't have to leave the house until next thursday - family duties and housework today.

    Have you any examples where others have shown the red channel issues?

    The hacks are entirely irrelevant to recording via externally via HDMI .. when I record externally I use something that is safe and spans reliably (cluster of flomotion).

    I am a convicted BMD fanboy .. I love my hyperdecks (studio and shuttle).

  • @kavadni

    It's great to be able to talk to an informed person like yourself. Too much info out there, and half the time, I suspect pp just cut and paste stuff, and pass it off as their opinion.

    anyway, here is something I found that might help you look at red channel:

    Cheers mate

  • I don't think I am particularly well informed, or have a full understanding of digital.

    I have a film background (mostly 16) .. I took a 12 year break to be a single parent .. I paused when a digibeta camera was $80k and I was lucky to shoot on SP .. I come back to this .. what I can do with my equipment would have cost me more than a 1/2 million bucks in gear 12 years ago .. my investment .. about 25k

    I passed on the ninja because of the issue I read about .. I bought the first hyperdeck for uncompressed keying with my EX1 .. then I just plugged in my GH2 .. um .. no issues for PAL .. there could be some .. maybe I am too stupid or uninformed to realise.

  • @kazuo the plugin is not compatible with AE CS6! ??

  • I did very careful testing with a Ninja for a German magazine.

    While it's feasible in PAL (HBR), you don't gain much vs. the best intra hacks here. Rather spend your money on 64 GB 95 Sandisk cards and go Sedna, CM, AN (or soon Intra-Venus).

  • Or try Sanity 5. You might be amazed at how good it looks with even less bit rate.

    Regarding HDMI capture: If you use it in PAL, you don't have the pulldown issues NTSC has, but you still have the mangled chroma problem in the red channel. You can either

    1. do nothing, or

    2. you can fix it with the Chroma Fix in the Avisynth script.

  • If you are running CS6 you might try running the before mentioned pixel bender shader trough this:

  • I use a Ninja with mine. While the hack is great and in 24p I notice very little difference, in 25p it's there. As I live in Sweden (PAL) 25p is what I use mostly, so then a Ninja is a great gain!

  • @Gabel Sorry dun quite understand you dude. "In 25p, it's there" What's there? Chroma aberrations in the red channel? If the jaggies are there, then how could the ninja be a "great gain?"

    Appreciate if you could make yourself clearer thanks

  • HBR is – even with the best settings – never as good as 24p, it was a kind of afterthought by Panny.

    So, you may see an advantage if you need PAL. In 24p it's a PITA, though. In my opinion even in PAL it isn't worth the extra money and the need for another machine to take care of. Unfortunately you can't start the Ninja automatically like some pro-cameras do. But your mileage may vary.

  • @meierhans ...sorry this is pixelbender kernel... for this chroma fix plugin you need pixelbender graph!

  • @kazuo: Sorry, I was in a bit too much of a hurry when I wrote it. What I meant is that the difference in there. In 24p, there's not really a gain with the Ninja, but in 25 (with me being PAL land is standard) there is a positive difference. Sure, the chroma is a bit mangled, but an easy fix. But for 24p, I usually skip it. There the difference is too small (the image is much sharper and cleaner in 25p with the Ninja).

    @nomad: I got my Ninja for around $500 (a little less too) of a friend, which made it more reasonable. I needed an extra monitor anyway, so I use the Ninja for framing and my AC uses my SmallHD, which works well. But A LOT harder when your by yourself...

  • @Gabel

    Thanks for the heads up. Seems like I am hearing there is a discernible difference for 25p. i read Martin Beek's description, and he did say that the blacks are darker, not crushed, but darker, and resolution is in general sharper. I would think that between a hack setting, and ext recorder, in 24p, the difference would be quite negligible. As @nomad pointed out, 25p does look and feel like an afterthought. Even with the hacks, I often wonder why 25p is never as good as 24p. For this matter, despite living in PAL land, I have been forced to shoot 24p if the client's distribution is via web streaming.

    Regarding the fixing of red channel, you mentioned its easy.. how do you go about it? Via avisynth or chroma plugins? Can you share your workflow?

    Hmm torn between hyperdeck and ninja. Hyperdeck can now record umcompressed on avid codec. But SSD costs are forbidding :(

  • You know that you can convert your final product from 24 to 25 FPS without problems?

    I postet a Virtualdub Preset (last post first page), so you just render your Master to some lossless codec AVI, open it in Virtualdub, load preset and hit F7. The video is not recompressed with this method. Been doing so for a bunch of projects already.

    The chroma fix plugin in After Effects is pretty much self explaining. Just give it a try. No need for Avisynth anymore.

  • The HyperDeck is nice, but it needs good SSDs, the Ninja will record on lower-spec SSDs and harddisks too. Plus, with the Ninja 2 in particular, you have a lot of nice extra features, while the HyperDeck is really barebones.