Blackmagic Video Assist vs Atomos Ninja V – Which One is Right for You?

If you are shooting video you should pick up a monitor. It’s basically an essential purchase and nowadays if you opt for a monitor/recorder combo you can unlock raw video with some of the latest mirrorless cameras. For that there are only two companies you should be looking at: Atomos and Blackmagic.

Atomos shook things up when ProRes RAW and Ninja V came out and tons of cameras started supporting it. Then Blackmagic with the Video Assist made Blackmagic RAW an option. Some cameras even support both, like the FUJIFILM X-H2S. Josh Cameron wants to help you pick the best one if you just need a monitor or are looking for raw capture.

When considering the formats the decision is almost made for you. ProRes RAW is supported best by Final Cut Pro X and Blackmagic RAW is designed for DaVinci Resolve. That’s a fine way to make a decision but there are nuances to it all.

Obviously, you should care about the codec options. 

For the Ninja V:

  • ProRes
  • DNx
  • H.265
  • ProRes RAW

For the Blackmagic Video Assist:

  • ProRes
  • DNx
  • Blackmagic RAW

Good options for both, though the Atomos might have an edge if you are looking for H.265, which you probably aren’t if you are using these devices.

Looking at the menus, Blackmagic’s intuitive touchscreen interface is much, much better for the user than Atomos. It’s tough to find some settings on the Ninja V compared to the Video Assist.

Image Credit: Atomos

One issue for both was the color accuracy out of the box. Blackmagic was able to be tweaked to something decent while Atomos required the Ninja to be sent back for a recalibration. Atomos does have better recording indicators.

It even has the full red record frame while Blackmagic only has some smaller tally lights that aren’t as obvious.

Media is an interesting comparison as they choose wildly different methods. Atomos has the option of using standard SATA SSDs in their enclosures or picking up dedicated SSDminis.

Blackmagic on the other hand offers SD cards or direct recording via USB-C to a portable drive. Unless you have some rigging for the SSDs on the Blackmagic it honestly is probably easiest to just pick up SATA SSDs and install them in some caddies. Those can just be plugged into computers with a simple adapter.

Image Credit: Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic does win on I/O as it has full SDI in/out alongside the HDMI in/out. There’s also a 12V power input directly on the body. The Ninja V doesn’t have SDI, only HDMI, and for a 12V input you need a battery adapter.

Also, the Ninja power button isn’t as well designed as you would hope. Blackmagic isn’t perfect as there is an issue with the USB-C port being placed right next to the middle bottom 1/4”-20 mounting thread.

Overall you can’t go wrong with either. Atomos may be better if you don’t ever plan on using Blackmagic RAW, especially since it is cheaper. However, Blackmagic seems to offer a more complete package out of the box with SDI, USB-C, and 12V power input.

Which would you pick?

[source: Josh Cameron]

Order Links:

  • Blackmagic Design Video Assist 5” (B&H, Amazon)
  • Atomos Ninja V 5” Monitor/Recorder (B&H, Amazon)

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