Never miss focus or have trouble viewing your footage on a sunny day again.
Just a few months ago, I upgraded my main camera to a Canon EOS R5 and while I really love having the flip-out screen for reference, it’s simply not enough to assist when I’m shooting video. The built-in screen is a 3.15-inch, 2.1 Megapixel Clear View LCD II Vari-angle Touchscreen LCD. I’ve found that’s it gets the job done for focus points and exposure, but the subtleties and nuances of video colors just get lost and for a while, I’ve wanted to add an attached video monitor that was not only robust and highly portable, but it also needed to be capable of handling at least 4K video. This is how I came to test out the Ninja V 5″ 4K HDMI Recording Monitor from Atomos.
The Ninja V 5″ 4K HDMI Recording Monitor is an on-camera monitor with a built-in video recorder that is capable of 4K video capture and playback. The monitor records to mini-SSDs that can then be connected to your computer for file transfer. The unit is capable of recording Apple ProRes RAW footage up to DCI 4K60 directly from the sensor of certain cameras. The Ninja V is built with an aluminum chassis to withstand rigorous production and is powered from a single L-series battery. The screen is an IPS LCD that is illuminated by a 1000 cd/m2 LED backlight. This level of brightness makes it possible to view the screen in daylight without needing a hood. The screen is also color-calibrated from the factory to ensure accurate image representation.
Recording Codecs include RAW over HDMI: With the Ninja V, you have the ability to record Apple ProRes and ProRes RAW with select cameras at rates up to DCI 4K60 and up to 120 fps in HD. The unit also enables ProRes RAW capture with smaller, more cost-effective mirrorless cameras. The compatibility with Avid DNx enables wide compatibility with a wide range of cameras and editing software.
Bright 5” Display with AtomHDR: The display has 10+ stops of dynamic range of your camera’s log image thanks to AtomHDR. It also has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 with 1000 cd/m2 brightness for ease of viewing during daylight along with 10-bit color processing and user calibration. The display also supports custom LUTs.
DSLR and Mirrorless Camera Support: The display is compatible with virtually any HDMI or SDI source including cameras from ARRI, Canon, FUJIFILM, Nikon, Panasonic, RED, Olympus, Sony, and Z-CAM.
4K 60p Capabilities: The monitor has the ability to store recordings on it. With it, users can record DCI or UHD 4K at rates up to 60 fps. All recordings are stored as high-quality Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHR files with 10-bit 4:2:2 chroma subsampling.
SSD Recording: The monitor records to standard 2.5″ SSD drives or to compact AtomX SSDmini drives (up to 2TB of storage). A user can capture up to 150 minutes of 4K video on a 1TB drive.
User Calibration: The display can be calibrated by the user using the X-Rite i1 Display Pro tool.
Anamorphic De-Squeeze: The Ninja V supports Anamorphic de-squeeze, allowing you to comfortably view anamorphic footage with 2x, 1.5x, 1.33x, or Panasonic 8:3 ratios.
Audio Input/Output: The Ninja V accepts video input/output signals through HDMI. Additional external audio can be added via the 3.5mm Line In/Mic In port and audio can be monitored through the use of the headphone port.
Time-Lapse: After Firmware 10.61 was released, time-lapse was announced as a new feature. Once you are updated you can record a time-lapse video as a single file in ProRes, DNx, and ProRes Raw over HDMI or SDI.
Compatibility Mode for HDMI and SDI Inputs: Firmware 10.61 also increases the stability of input/output locking for 12G-SDI and improves signal locking from select cameras including Z-Cam and Canon EOS 1D X Mark II on 4Kp50/60 video.
SPECS (Ninja V monitor only)
5.0″ / 12.7 cm
1920 x 1080
Bit Depth / Color Support
8-Bit+FRC (1.07 Billion Colors)
Pixels Per Inch (ppi)
100% Rec. 709
Real-Time LUT Monitoring
Anamorphic De-Squeeze, Blue Only, False Color, Focus Peaking, Pixel Zoom, RGB Parade, Scaling, Vectorscope, Waveform, Zebra
1 x HDMI Type A (HDMI 2.0) Input
1 x HDMI Type A (HDMI 2.0) Output
1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm Mic/Line Input
1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm Headphone Output
1 x D-Tap Input
1 x LANC (2.5 mm)
|FORMAT SUPPORT||Video Format|
HDMI (8/10-Bit 4:2:2)
DCI 4K: 60/50/30/25/24
UHD 4K: 60/50/30/25/24
Video Signal Conversion
HDMI to SDI
DCI 4K: 60/50/30/25/24
UHD 4K: 60/50/30/25/24
4K: 2 Seconds
Full HD: 8 Seconds
Up to 4097 x 2160
ProRes 422, HQ, LT, Raw, Raw HQ 8/10-Bit
DNxHR HQ, HQX, LB, SQ 8/10-Bit
Maximum Audio Tracks
|POWER||DC Input Power|
6.2 to 16.8 VDC
1 x L-Series
10 W (Typical)
22 W (Maximum)
|MOUNTING||2 x 3/8″-16 Female|
104°F / 40°C
|GENERAL||Material of Construction|
5.9 x 3.6 x 1.2″ / 151 x 91.5 x 31.5 mm
12.7 oz / 360 g
Limited 1-Year Warranty
The Ninja V monitor was originally released in 2018 and has been going strong ever since. Just a few months ago, Atomos re-launched the Ninja V with a Pro Kit that features the AtomX SDI and a few other accessories. This is actually the kit that I received to review. It’s supposed to be a bridge between compact cinema and mirrorless cameras that can output Apple ProRes RAW via HDMI or SDI, record up to 12-bit RAW externally on Ninja’s onboard SSD and cross convert signals for monitoring and playback review. The kit includes the Ninja V monitor, Master Caddy II, Battery Eliminator, Atomos AtomX SDI Module, Atomos Connect 4K, D-Tap Cable, and the AtomX 5″ Sunshade. The addition of the AtomX SDI module more than doubles the Ninja V’s I/O functionality making the kit a smart purchase for any video creator. The Pro Kit retails for $949 at the time of publishing.
Since I received a unit for review with a complete kit of accessories, I want to list out exactly what I received. Some of it is included in the Pro Kit, but there are quite a few pieces that are not included. In my opinion, I think it would be nice to see all this included in the Pro Kit to sell it as an expansion of the current Pro Kit.
In the Review Kit:
- Atomos Ninja V monitor
- Atomos AtomX SDI Expansion Module
- Atomos AtomX 5” Sunshade
- Battery Eliminator (with AC/DC adapter)
- DC to D-Tap Cable
- Master Caddy II (4)
- HDMI to HDMI cable
- HDMI to Mini HDMI cable
- Battery Pack ATOMBAT003 (NP-F750) x 3
- Battery charger (with AD/DC adapter)
- USB 3.0 Docking Station (ATOMDCK003) for downloading data from an SSD to a computer
- Atomos AtomX SSDmini 500GB
Setting up the Ninja V for use is incredibly easy. The monitor has two 3/8″-16 screw mounts on it – one on the top and one on the bottom. This is great for versatility. On the back, there are two channels – one is used for the SSD and the other is for the power adapter or battery. Since I had both the battery eliminator and battery packs, I tested the monitor using both. I didn’t notice any difference in the monitor’s performance between the two power sources other than the length of use. Of course, the battery eliminator connected to a stable AC power source is going to provide continuous power for any length of time while the battery will only last so long (2-3 hours depending on the capacity of the battery). The quick start guide does instruct users to make sure the SSD is plugged in before powering on the monitor. After you connect your input signal, you can power on your monitor. From there, you control the monitor from its on-screen controls. Aside from changing settings of the monitor, the controls are record, play, monitor, and edit. When you are done recording, you turn the unit off, remove the SSD and insert it into a USB 3.0 or 3.1 docking station. That is a basic description of the operation of the Ninja V.
The Ninja V isn’t the newest monitor option available, but it is still a strong contender. As I write this, the next monitor in Atomos’s lineup is preparing to release – the Ninja V+. That monitor is set to release in May 2021, which is now. The intriguing feature of the V+ is its workflow with 8K video. It can record 8Kp30 ProRes RAW when connected to a Canon EOS R5 camera. Since that’s my primary camera, it’s definitely an appealing option to me. That said, the price tag on the Ninja V+ is nearly 2.5 times more than the original Ninja V. So if you don’t need that extra functionality I would say that the Ninja V is still worthy of investment.
I have a 5.7-inch field monitor that has served my purposes pretty well to this point. The only big downside of it is its brightness rating. The current monitor I have only has 460 nits of brightness. That has made working in sunlight a problem. The screen just isn’t bright enough to compete with bright sunlight. The Ninja V with its 1000 nits of brightness is. I was shocked at the difference in the two screens, but the field monitor I already have is definitely a ‘budget-friendly’ model and only costs 1/5 of what the Ninja V costs (the other field monitor also doesn’t record). So, the old adage, “you get what you pay for,” comes to mind here. When you invest in a premium, cinema-grade field monitor like the Ninja V, you are going to get a better product. I haven’t had any issues using the Ninja V in bright sunlight. In fact, I happened to have it with me when I was taking photos of some bald eagles recently. My main purpose was to capture still photos of them, but since I had the monitor with me, I grabbed some video, too. The day was very sunny and there was a lot of direct sunlight on us. I didn’t have any problems being able to see the screen and get an accurate view of what I was shooting.
As far as the weight goes, I have to admit that the Ninja V does add quite a bit to my camera rig. As I mentioned, the Canon EOS R5 is my primary camera and the body of the camera alone weighs 1.6 pounds (726 grams). The monitor – without a battery – weighs 360 grams, which is almost exactly half of my camera body weight. Once I add a lens, the battery for the monitor, and its SSD, not to mention connecting cables, the camera with a monitor attached is about double the weight I was carrying before. This pales in comparison to old film camera rigs, but it is still quite an adjustment. Since I primarily use the monitor when I’m shooting video, the tripod holds the weight of the rig, but I feel it’s still worth noting for those that want to do hand-held shots.
The monitor is incredibly easy to use. It doesn’t have a lot of complicated settings to walk through in order to start using it. You can simply give it power, connect it to your camera, and go. It is possible to fine-tune your experience through different settings and menus, but the top menu on the monitor just has the basic controls. You do still have access to a waveform, RGB parade, focus peaking, and zebras if you need them, but they aren’t in the way.
Perhaps one of the biggest perks of this monitor is the fact that you can use it as a secondary recording device – and it records RAW files. With the addition of the AtomX ADI module in the Pro Kit, users can now record ProRes RAW over SDI in addition to ProRes RAW over HDMI. This opens up the compatibility of the monitor quite a bit and cameras like Panasonic’s Varicam LT, Canon C500mki and C300mkii, and Sony’s Fx9 with XDCA-FX9 and FX6 can now utilize the monitor, too. I wasn’t able to actually test out the functionality of the AtomX ADI module, but looking at other reviews of the kit, it seems as though this module is a little difficult to get started with, but works well after set-up is complete.
The main reason I wanted to add the Ninja V to my set-up is because of its ability to record onto an SSD. This option frees up my camera and helps with the overheating issue that the R5 has with prolonged use. With this in mind, the Ninja V has been a solid workhorse for me.
The Ninja V is a stellar monitor and a great addition to any set-up. It does add weight and bulk to a camera rig, but in my opinion, its ease of use and added functionality are worth it. The Pro Kit does a great job of expanding the functionality of the Ninja V and it seems like a good value for what is provided.