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Which Monitor / Recorder for video?


LuisT
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Hello everybody,

 

what do you think would be good to get as a monitor that can record as well. It's not an absolute necessity for our jobs but could be nice. Also good to be able to zoom on screen to check lavs.

 

The pix E5 or E7 are discontinued and hard to find used. Atomos or Shogun are extremely noisy. Blackmagic video assist a bit less but still.

 

What are your thoughts?

 

 

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Can't provide much but maybe it's a little help.

The only monitor/recorder I've used is the PixE5 and I was quite happy on that shoot. I didn't really use the recording feature a lot though but it's nice to re-watch a rehearsal that wasn't even captured by the video department. The image was nice, the display bright enough and if I remember correctly it can run about 8h with two NP-F batteries without recording (as I said, I didn't do that a lot). Less battery life outdoors on a bright day.

The only downside for me is the fan noise. It can get quite annoying and the only way to get rid of it is to record. So it felt a little weird to have to record video in order to make the fan stop even though I didn't need it most of the time.

 

EDIT: I just remembered that there was something annoying about the playback because the PixE didn't play back the h.264 files it recorded. Probably to lazy to decode... ProRes works but then your drive needs to be big. You should fact check that though because I'm not sure if I remember correctly...

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Both Atomos and Blackmagic are solid companies with a long history of making and improving this gear, and more importantly, of releasing a continuing stream of firmware and functions updates.  I have a product from each, still working and productive even though they are older than current models, but each has been updated with their latest specific firmware releases having many of the current features of the newest.  Many of the camera brands use or recommend either brand, and these two have stepped in with firmware to support the camera brands and accessory features.  If either will work for you, and if the noise can be controlled or minimized, I say give it a good trial.

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Atomos or Blackmagic are pretty much the only monitor-recorders out there at this point after Sound Devices (Video Devices) and Convergent Design (which sold the Odyssey 7Q) both exited that market segment in the past few years. The Odyssey 7Q was unique in that it had an OLED screen and didn't have a fan (which is unusual for a 4K-cabable recorder), although the on-screen interface was a bit clunky. In terms of audio features, the Sound Devices PIX monitor-recorders were by far the best (as you might expect given the company background), and were solidly built, although they were a bit on the heavy side. But these models have all been discontinued at this point.

 

Among the currently available options from Atomos and Blackmagic, there are still a variety of differences between their different models, but it really depends on what your needs are. One decision is whether you want a larger 7-inch monitor (Atomos Shogun 7 or Blackmagic Video Assist 7") or 5-inch monitor (Atomos Ninja V or Blackmagic Video Assist 5"). The larger screens are obviously easier to see, but that also makes for a heavier unit. And there are also I/O differences driven in part by limited space available for ports on the smaller monitors. For example, the Ninja V has no SDI inputs, only HDMI (although they do sell an SDI add-on unit that fits into the battery slot). The Video Assist 5" does have built-in SDI, but on less robust mini DIN connectors, and it lacks any external audio inputs (the Ninja V at least has a 3.5mm audio input). In contrast the 7-inch models have full size BNC connectors for SDI as well as XLR inputs for balanced audio (albeit via a breakout cable in the Shogun 7 case and mini XLRs on the Video Assist 7").

There are also screen differences between the different options which could matter if you are shooting outside and need something that's daylight viewable or if you are monitoring HDR video. The Shogun 7 is the brightest at up to 3000 nits, followed closely by the Video Assist HDR models at 2500 nits, then the Ninja V at 1000 nits, then the Video Assist 3G models at 300 nits. The 2500 nits+ models are generally daylight viewable screens, the 1000 nits of the Ninja V is borderline and you might often need a hood, below that works best indoors or with a lot of shade. The 300 nit models aren't really HDR capable either.

In terms of build quality, the Blackmagic units are perhaps a bit more solid as they have metal frames, whereas the Atomos monitors tend to use more plastic. But this also means that the Blackmagic monitors tend to be heavier than an Atomos monitor of the same size, so it's a bit of a tradeoff.

 

Another key difference is in terms of recording media. The Atomos recorders use SSDs for recording whereas the Blackmagic Video Assist line uses SD cards. SD cards are a lot smaller in physical size which allows the Video Assist 7" to have dual card slots for continuous relay recording. But you actually need pretty fast SD cards to record video (4K video in particular) which often means faster UHS-II cards (V60 or V90) that are quite a bit more expensive and also more limited in capacity. It's hard to find V90 cards larger than 256GB for example, and these can fill up fairly quickly with video especially at higher resolution or higher quality settings. So I think generally the 2.5-inch SATA-based SSDs used by the Atomos recorders tend to be more cost effective in terms of cost per GB. I should point out that the Video Assist recorders do have an option to connect an external USB-C drive for recording, which in principle somewhat equalizes the media costs. However, the location of the USB-C port and having a drive dangling from the monitor makes for pretty awkward field usage, so I'm not sure I'd recommend this unless you are going to get creative in terms of rigging to make things more secure.

And then I haven't even gotten into recording formats, if you want to record RAW video for example, then there are competing RAW formats between the Atomos and Blackmagic recorders as well as different cameras that they are compatible with. But if you just want to record regular video, you may not need to worry about this.

 

Anyway, the key point is that there is no single best option out there, what makes the most sense really depends on what your workflow and intended usage are.

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Very happy with the Blackmagic video assist 7inch (previous version). Bought it second hand when the new version came out. SDI or Hdmi inputs and ouputs. In its smallrig cage it is pretty rugged, shoot in any location safe. on a cart only obviously as it is not a light model. It also has 2 TA3 analog audio inputs.

 I have put a SD card in but I actually never had to press record yet 😅

 

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4 hours ago, davedv said:

In terms of build quality, the Blackmagic units are perhaps a bit more solid as they have metal frames, whereas the Atomos monitors tend to use more plastic. But this also means that the Blackmagic monitors tend to be heavier than an Atomos monitor of the same size, so it's a bit of a tradeoff.

 

Great rundown Dave. Ya, Atomos stuff seems to break down even more than BMD stuff. But, as Fred just mentioned, Smallrig makes US$100 (or so) cages for the several Atomos and BMD monitors. Some/all also add HDMI clamps and 1/4-20 & 3/8 holes, so some strain relief possibilities. https://www.smallrig.com/products/monitor.html

 

 

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On 10/13/2021 at 11:24 PM, LuisT said:

.

 

@Fred Sallesdo you find your BM silent enough? (even in the summer, on a really hot day)

 

Yes no complain. Although I never had to be too close to the mikes and never tried in a soundproof studio. There is always enough noises around in real life on a real set to mask a distant and quiet fan.

 

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On 10/12/2021 at 8:11 PM, LuisT said:

is it recording? Is it not too fragile if not mounted at one spot all the time?

No recording. I would only recommend it If mounted at one spot. Ita not very sturdy, but for me it works fine.

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I am interested in this, but I have never heard of a sound guy recording video!  Is that a thing now? What is the purpose of this?
 

I’ve been using a Smit monitor rack, which has great i/o including standard def.  I think someone off of this site recommended them. I am considering changing it out to a single bigger monitor, because everybody sends quad feeds these days.

 

Dan Izen

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I have a smartview Dual monitor that broke. 1 one the 2 screens is broken and the price of fixing it by blackmagic is the same price as buying a new one.

 

I am not always shooting 2 cameras. Mostly 1, so i am considering a smaller monitor to be more compact.

 

Also, the recording is not a priority for sure. But it can be nice from time to time to check a take without 25 persons in front of video village.

Also to be able to zoom in the screen to check for lavs is interesting in my opinion.

 

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