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Blackmagic Video Assist VS Atomos Ninja Blade
  • Need to pull the trigger between the Blackmagic Video Assist 5" VS Atomos Ninja Blade for my GH4. Urgently needs suggestion on which is the better one (now that the BMVA has got rid of its small problems via firmware). I have 2 of those recommended SD cards for the BMVA. So, ideally i would save 200$ on the SSD's. Looking at other pros and cons between the two which make the extra spending for Atomos worth or not worth it.

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  • The Blackmagic Video Assist has a fan and is not silent. The Blade is silent. The VA records 1080/60p. The Blade only records up to 1080/30p, and won't even accept a 1080/60p signal. (I'm not sure if the GH4 is capable of generating a 1080/30p signal, if that frame rate matters to you). Blade has LUTs. VA has a 1080p screen, but from experience I can tell you that 1080p on a 5" monitor is pretty much pointless. You'll barely be able to tell the difference between 720p and 1080p. The Blade can extract 24p from a 30i signal, whereas the VA would just record it as 30i. (I don't think it matters for the GH4, but it could for some other cameras) The Blade has an IPS screen.

  • Blade also has lots more exposure tools (false colour, vectorscope, waveforms, etc.) It can also take supercheap Hitachi spinning hard drives, costing around 60/70€/$ for 1 TB of storage.

    VA has SDI options, which the Blade doesn't

  • Thanks for your views @balazer. But i read somewhere that the BMVA also has an IPS screen as non IPS trail on touch. Also, read at many places that the fan is not noisy and others who said that its audible enough. I was kind of sure about the BMVA but you have made me thinking again. Only thing which has made me thinking now is the 150$ investment in SSD's (I already had the SD cards needed for the BMVA).

    Also, Could you suggest what Sandisk SSD is compatible with the Blade? Preferably 120GB as that way i can buy 2 of them if i decide to go for it. Need to make a decision by today.

  • I was almost set to buy the VA, but ultimately decided against it because of the fan. I decided to get just a monitor, and that was a good choice for me. On my camera, external recording is of little benefit. I mostly wanted a focus assist device. But I've found that a big sharp monitor is really helpful for evaluating all aspects of the image. My monitor is 7 inches and 1080p. I also tried a 5" 1080p monitor and concluded that the larger size is just a lot nicer to look at and judge focus from. But that's just me. If you really need recording, then none of this is relevant. :)

  • @balazer and @roly Thanks for your inputs.

    I am leaning towards the Blade now but that would mean spending 100$ extra for a 240GB SSD. Hmm, confusing...

  • …or the same amount for two 500gb hard drives

  • I have the BMVA and the noise from the fan is almost zero. Beside you will not put your mic on top or under the monitor right?

  • I am leaning towards the Blade now but that would mean spending 100$ extra for a 240GB SSD. Hmm, confusing...

    it was already mentioned that you can use cheap SATA-3 drives. A SSD is not required and has no benefit in speed

  • I am aware about that. But i have heard those spinning drives are noisy and unreliable. I am fine with the noise bit but unreliability makes me jittery. What has your experiences been with the combo? And which HDD is most recommended for reliability and other things for the Atomos Ninja Blade?

  • I shot tons of footage on the blade on HDD. Choosing a brand is always a kind of lottery, so take any :-) Btw SSD can die too and SD cards are the less reliable medium from experience.

  • So i got the Ninja blade finally. Now deciding between a HGST (formerly Hitachi) Travelstar Z5K500 vs Travelstar Z7K500 500GB HDD for it. Which one do you guys recommend? Is the Travelstar Z7K500 (7200rpm) noticeably noisier than the Z5K500 (5200rpm)? Any other HDD Recommendations which might be a better buy than the HGST?

  • Atomos stuff is notoriously sensitive to the drive. ONLY use their recommended drives. As for the difference between those two, I doubt anyone here is using both, or that there is a truly significant difference.

  • I use the Hitachi/Travelstar 1tb 7200rpm hhd in the recommended atomos list - no problems so far (touchwood). Noise is a non issue.

  • Spoke to users on Fb Gh4 group. Everyone started recommending not risking data loss by using a HDD and going for an SSD. confusing!

  • But do they speak from direct experience or just "in theory"? What conditions will you be using it in? How frequently? How critical is your work? How much monetary difference does it make?

  • Spoke to users on Fb Gh4 group. Everyone started recommending not risking data loss by using a HDD and going for an SSD. confusing!

    just in case you will still have your internal SD card. I shot 2yrs on the Blade with two HDD 750 from the list. I can't count how often I filled them up. By a SSD if it makes you sleep better at night :-)

  • They cited personal examples of how they have lost data before. And explained the high risk of mechanical spinning disk and chances of data loss. Planning to do an indie film. Ofcourse the HDD's sound right due to being bang on buck but if footage loss chances are high, nobody would want to be in a situation like that.

    @peaceonearth Shooting V log L with the Blade. So shooting internal 8 bit h.264 wont work.

  • I'm curious why you don't record 4K internally and then downsample in post.

  • 10 bit 4:2:2 V log L prores Thats why :-)

  • Interesting, there is such a huge advantage in post with downsampling. I just can't imagine give all that up and having to add on an extra recorder and cards...would be interesting to do an AB sometime if I can borrow the gear.

  • The recorder does the same. Takes the 4k signal from the cam and downsamples it to output Full HD.

    +2 Stops of DR is huge up in V log and the extra 2 bits of color depth.

  • I am on the fence now between BMVA and Blade (or even ninja 2) to use ocassionally with the digital bolex. (basically when I can't afford to shoot raw, I will use it) @club_irate any regrets with the blade? - so, does the VA fan really bothers? Any difference on focus peaking?

  • Skip the Ninja 2 completely, as its screen is so outright sh*t. The little tiny extra cost for a Samurai/Ninja Blade or BMD VA is totally worth it.

  • Can someone tell me how much better are the images from a external recorder compared to a internal recording from cameras like the Panasonic GX85 (or other 8 bit mirrorless)? Are they a lot better for grading? Tks!