The Atomos Shogun

How The Atomos Shogun Shows Filmmakers What They Are Capturing – by Michael Head

DSLR filmmakers have a distinct need to see what they are shooting, including framing, exposure and focus. The challenge is, DSLRs typically have small screens on the back of the camera, which are not ideal for viewfinding (even with the movable screens many DSLRs now feature.)

Enter the viewfinder. A viewfinder is basically a screen that takes an image from the sensor and lets you put it where you want it. Having a viewfinder is a great tool. Since the advent, many manufacturers have now incorporated the ability to record images directly from the viewfinder as well.

Doing this avoids the compressed video taken internally by the camera and allows for greater flexibility of recording format and media.

One of the leaders in this field is Atomos.

In the past, I have utilized the Ninja 2 recorder for about a year now, and I have never regretted the purchase. But with the increasing accessibility of 4k video, Atomos has stepped up to the plate with the soon forthcoming Atomos Shogun.

Atomos-Shogun

Atomos Shogun

Atomos made some very smart choices for their recorders.

While there are no shortage of monitor or recorders, many manufactures went the route of specialized, dedicated media. This basically amounts to an SSD (solid state drive) in a specially designed package.

Atomos went another direction with the Atomos Shogun.

For starters, the Atomos Shogun utilizes off-the-shelf 2.5 inch SSDs and spinning disk hard drives – the kind you would put into a laptop. I think that is brilliant because it means that while storage media must be considered, it is also generally affordable and coming down in price all the time.

The Good of The Atomos Shogun:

  • 1980 x 1200 DPI 7 inch screen – above HD to allow for additional controls
  • Records 1080P from 23.98 (24) fps to 120 fps – high defintion slow-mo!
  • Records Ultra HD 4K up to 30 fps – even over HDMI
  • Records in flavors of Prores and in Cinema DNG raw files – for cameras that can out put raw
  • HDMI, 3G-SDI, and Genlock for timecode inputs
  • Audio breakout cable with 3.5mm and XLR inputs – Who needs dual system audio?
  • Variety of battery solutions – use what you’ve already got (with adapters)
  • Records to Hard Drives and SSDs, including the option to use two disks in a RAID 0 array for increased speeds
  • Monitoring, including histograms, focus peaking, false color, blue only – just about anything a DP could hope for Audio Monitoring
  • In monitor play-back, with the ability to mark good and bad takes – start your edit early

The Not-So-Good of The Atomos Shogun:

  • Not cheap – $2,000, plus media!
  • Running audio into the recorder might introduce more need for cable wranglers during shoots.
  • Can it record Cinema DNG raw files over HDMI or only SGI?

Final Thoughts on The Atomos Shogun:

At NAB this year, Atomos representatives announced they were working with Sony during the development of the Atomos Shogun and the Sony A7s – so these two were just about made for each other! The A7s can output 4k over HDMI, and the Shogun records higher quality Prores then the camera can record internally.

Atomos has hit on a great market – accessible recorders and monitors, all in one. The Atomos Shogun is only their latest offering, but it is going to be a great addition to a cinematographer’s toolkit!

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Michael Head is a filmmaker and full-time geek living the the Dallas-Fort Worth Metromess. Follow him at @michaeldhead. Check in every Tuesday for Micheal’s “tech-Tuesday” articles. Check out his website at michaeldhead.wordpress.com.

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