Atomos Ninja V vs Shinobi as a Monitor
I’ve been using the Atomos Shinobi monitor since it was released in 2019 so I’m pretty familiar with it now. When I picked up a Atomos Ninja V recently I assumed it’s monitoring features would be the same as the Shinobi, that’s not the case though. In this post I’m going to look at the Atomos Ninja V vs Shinobi when using them as purely as monitors.
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The Ninja V is Great for cameras that allow an external signal to be recorded at a higher quality than they are able to record internally, it’s also capable of recording Apple ProRes, ProRes RAW,Avid DNX & H.265. The device can also use SDI connections and Syncing via add on AtomX modules
The Shinobi is a dedicated HDMI monitor so has no recording functions at all. Being a dedicated monitor the Shinobi offers a good range of features that help you focus and expose your shots.
The Ninja V’s frame is built of alloy with plastics used for the back plate and battery holder. The Ninja weights in at 360g without a battery or SSD mounted to the back.
One nice feature is that threaded mounts top and bottom have adapters allowing for either 1/4 inch or 3/8 fittings. It also features locator pin holes allowing for more secure fitment to arri style monitor mounts stopping the monitor from slipping.
The Shinobi’s frame is all plastic so feels much less substantial than the Ninja. This makes the Shinobi a lot lighter at only 196g without a battery. Unlike the Ninja the Shinobi just has 1/4 threaded mounting points top and bottom and this one doesn’t have the locating pin holes.
Both devices seem to have similar screens 1920×1080 5.2” screens with 1000nit brightness. I have noticed that sometimes the ninjas display seems to show some banding in the highlight roll off that I don’t see in the Shinobi but maybe thats down to the way it processes the images.
The Ninja V has HDMI in and out ports which is useful if you want to send a signal on to a video transmitter or secondary monitor. It also has a remote control input, 3.5mm audio input and a headphone socket. The audio input and headphone sockets are metal on the Ninja V. On the back is a battery slot for Sony NPF batteries and a slot for mounting SSD’s using bespoke Atomos Caddies.
I’ve been using the AndyCine Lunchbox caddies which take M-Sata drives removed from 1TB Samsung T5 Drives. It’s quite scary taking a perfectly good T5 drive apart but I like this more compact solution and so far it has been working reliably.
I’ve also been using these Plehood 8K HDMI Cables which work well.
The Ninja V also has an additional connector at the base of the battery slot that can be used to mount additional AtomX modules for adding SDI and Syncing capabilities. It can also be used with the recently released Ninja Cast device.
The Shinobi just has the single HDMI in port with no output. It does have an SD card slot though allowing for LUTs and updates to be loaded on to the device.
It also features a headphone out and remote in although on this model they are plastic. On the back it also has a slot for Sony NPF batteries.
The Ninja V offers HDMI recording to various codecs up to 4.2K 60 written to a rear mounted SSD. This can be a huge benefit with cameras that provide an output signal via HDMI that either matches or exceeds the cameras ability to record internally. In my case using the FX3 it gives me the ability to record in various codecs including 4.2K ProRes RAW HQ at 12 bit which exceeds what the camera is capable of recording internally. Having video files written to the SSD not only provides the option of higher quality video files but can speed up post production workflow and editing speeds although normally at the cost of much bigger files and storage space.
I’ve been using the Ninja V to record in ProRes RAW with my Sony FX3. Having a separate audio input can also be useful with the Ninja as it offers the ability to record more channels of audio with full control in the menus.
I’m not going to go in to detail about the recording options in this post as I want to focus on comparing the two devices for monitoring use only. I will be posting more about recording with the Ninja V in the future.
The Ninja V has a red tally light on the back and adds a red tally box around the display when recording.
Not being a recording device the Shinobi doesn’t have any tally lights. I personally think that having the ability to display a red box on the display would be a useful addition for the Shinobi. I Don’t have a clue if this would be possible with a non recording device but it would certainly be very useful if he Shinobi could still indicate that the camera is recording.
As mentioned both devices use Sony NP-F style batteries although none are included with either device. The Ninja V does however come with an adapter plate allowing it to be powered via an included mains adapter or battery with a D-TAP output.
The Shinobi is not supplied with either of these although the one supplied with the Ninja does also work with the Shinobi and can be purchased separately.
Battery Run Time
I tested both devices using fully charged DSTE NP-F750’s. The Shinobi ran for 5 hrs 20 minutes minutes and the Ninja ran for 2hrs 32 minutes. This shows that the Shinobi lasts roughly twice as long as the Ninja. It’s worth noting that this was at full backlight on both devices and the Ninja wasn’t recording which would likely redu ce battery life further.
Heat & Fan Noise
Both devices get quite hot during operation. Even without recording the Ninja’s fan is running constantly and the device still gets hotter than the Shinobi even when it’s not recording. The fan can also be quite noisy so would need to be kept at least a few feet away from a mic in a quiet environment.
The passively cooled Shinobi has no fan so remains totally silent.
Both devices offer various monitoring tools with some differences so what I’ll do is go through these on both devices to show them side by side.
Waveform & RGB Parade – Both devices offer these in three sizes.
Vector Scopes – Both have Vector scopes in two sizes
Histogram – The Shinobi offers Luma & RGB Histograms, these are not on the Ninja.
Colour Isolation – Both devices offer B/W and Blue only,
Focus Peaking – Both devices offer peaking at three levels
Peaking looks better on Shinobi for some reason with smooth lines and easily visible edges. On the Ninja V the peaking display seems to go contrasty with visible stair stepping on the edges making it harder to use.
False colour – Both devices have the False Colour feature but again the Shinobi seems higher resolution with finer edge detail than the Ninja. The Ninja V does have a more detailed IRE scale however.
Zebras – Both devices offer Zebras
The Shinobi’s Zebras are more adjustable and precise. The ninja can only be set in steps of 5 with each setting showing around +/- 2% of the setting chosen. The Shinobi can be adjusted in steps of 1 and only shows the results of the exact setting chosen.
Punch in – Both devices have 1:1 and x2 punch in, however the Shinobi also has a x4 option.
Aspect Ratio – Both devices offer multiple aspect ratios however the Shinobi handles this better. The Ninja V displays a white line over the left and right sides of the frame covering part of the image whereas the Shinobi does not do this. The Ninja has more options though, including a 3×3 grid.
Title Safe – Both have same 3 title safe areas, although both are slightly different
De-squeeze – The Ninja has more de-squeeze options
LUTS – The Ninja V’s Weakness!
This is one area where the Shinobi does a much better job than the Ninja V and could be a big deciding factor on your purchasing decision.
When you apply a LUT on the Shinobi it gives you a visual idea of how the final image will look whilst at the same time displaying the exposure data unaffected from the camera. This remains true when using False Colours, Zebras & Scopes.
The Ninja V doesn’t handle LUT’s in the same way. When applied a LUT still shows how the image will be effected but it also effects the exposure tools including the waveforms, scopes and the false colour display. This means that by using a lut you can no longer trust the exposure tools on the Ninja V.
My recommendation if you want to use LUT’s with the Ninja V is to avoid the exposure tools altogether and judge exposure on the camera itself. Either that or just remember that you’re looking at post production levels. All of these points are covered in the video at the top of this page or if you would prefer you can watch the Atomos Ninja V vs Shinobi video on my YouTube Channel.
Atomos Ninja V vs Shinobi – Which to buy?
If you need to record externally then then the Ninja V is great. The biggest downsides for me though are the fan noise and way it handles LUTS. If using LUT’s the exposure tools become unreliable so just be aware of this limitation when shooting.
When it comes to Atomos Ninja V vs Shinobi as a monitor though I’d recommend the Shinobi instead. It’s lighter, has longer battery life, it’s silent and actually offers more monitoring features. More importantly the Shinobi handles exposure correctly while displaying LUTS and it’s peaking and false colour tools look better. The Shinobi is also half the price of the Ninja V.