We are witnessing a race of sorts. The race to see who can dominate the RAW WAR. Atomos and Blackmagic Design and their respective compressed raw formats are fighting for dominance. Atomos has opened the ProRes RAW door to more than a handful of hybrid cameras: Sony A7s III, Nikon z6, and the Sigma FP, to name a few. Giving these hybrid cameras capabilities more often reserved for larger and heavier rigs.
Recently, Atomos also gave the tiny box-shaped ZCam the option to record ProRes Raw. I shot a bunch of video for this look at ProRes RAW from the ZCam E2 and Atomos Ninja V but here is a small sample of my daughter painting on our back patio.
I was given the opportunity to test out the diminutive ZCam E2 Micro Four Thirds camera and an Atomos Ninja V loaded with, at the time, yet to be released firmware. I loved using the Atomos Ninja V; I did not love using the ZCam E2 MFT camera. The Atomos Ninja V has a lot to admire about it: The bright 1000nit screen, the lightweight, and the easy to use a touch-screen. The ZCam has a lovely image, but the box-style camera and it’s iPhone app control is not my thing. I realize I may need more time and experience with the ZCam to fully appreciate it as a camera.
You see, I love easy to use cameras. Actually, all cameras should be easy to use because you want as little as possible between you and the visual you are trying to record. For a number of reasons, the ZCam is not right for me. It may be right for you, though. Take my opinion with a grain of salt. I did not have a ton of time with the ZCam E2. Yet, I am not here to review the ZCam E2. I am here to review ProRes Raw and ZCam E2 usability.
Originally the ZCam E2 had three ways to record an image: H.265 10-bit files, ProRes, and ZRAW. ZRAW needs to be converted to an editable video via ZCam’s ZRAW VideoSuite. This raw workflow may be cumbersome. In my opinion, ZCam needed a better raw recording option. The Atomos Ninja V and it’s ProRes RAW capability is nearly a necessity for the ZCam to thrive. The continued improvement and adding of features is really nice to see from ZCam and proves the small camera company is sure to make big waves in the camera market.
It is the strength of a wholly thought out and well designed Atomos Ninja V that gives the ZCam E2 a measure of success in my mind. Atomos has figured out how to make something simple, easy to use, and nearly a necessity for some cameras to capitalize on more desirable recording features, like 12-bit ProRes RAW at 4K 60p.
ProRes RAW on ZCam E2
Using the ZCam E2 and Atomos Ninja V combo comes naturally. The Zcam E2 needs a monitor for operation, and the Ninja V fits perfectly by being neither too big nor too heavy. Operating to the two devices felt like working with one, but this was only the case after finding the ZCam E2 settings for a scene and settling into the shooting of a scene. Atomos has figured out how to access and change needed features better than ZCam, or, at least, the small size of the ZCam gets in the way of operation.
Atomos ProRes RAW
ProRes RAW gives shooters the ability to shoot a 12-bit compressed raw format. If you happen to edit in Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere, this is a considerable segment of editors; you can adjust the clips for a desired look within the NLE. All of this is very straightforward. Straightforward is precisely how you want the technical part of your editing or shooting to go. Atomos gives the ZCam E2 a more natural way to record compressed raw footage than the ZRAW Video Suite needed to process ZRAW.
There is always one thing. The one thing that perturbs me about ProRes RAW is the near need to buy Final Cut Pro to process it. I say near need because Adobe Premiere can process it too, as can Assimilate Scratch which is a brand new update. Forgive me if I think one of the largest and wealthiest corporations in the world, Apple, Inc., can afford to allow other software to process ProRes RAW.
The other thing. I like my raw workflow to have all the features of a raw workflow. Until recently, ISO / Gain and White Balance / Tint control were not settings one could change in Final Cut Pro using ProRes RAW. Thankfully, Assimilate Scratch has solved this issue with their latest update. I hope this will push Apple and Adobe to follow in Assimilate’s footsteps. Fingers crossed.
By pushing ahead and adding ProRes RAW to as many hybrid cameras as possible, Atomos is winning the compressed raw war. Rightfully so too, Atomos has the opportunity to support compressed raw workflows from several different cameras. Obviously, this is a great business strategy for Atomos and helps consumers, like me, know an Atomos Ninja V will have a high return on my investment for a long time.
ZCam E2 Specifications
- DCI and UHD 4K up to 160 fps
- 13-Stop Dynamic Range (16 WDR Enabled)
- 10-Bit Color Recording, Supports ProRes
- 4/3″ WDR CMOS Sensor
- Record DCI/UHD 4K at up to 160 fps or 1080p at up to 240 fps
- Triple native ISO 80 / 160 / 800
- 13 stops of dynamic range using ZLog, and 16 stops of dynamic range in WDR mode
- Built-in multi-frame noise reduction technology to produce clean footage
- H.265 (10-bit color) internal recording on CFast 2.0 card
- 10-bit ProRes recording in 422 HQ, 422, 422 LT, and 422 Proxy is supported
- Video output through HDMI 2.0 is supported (up to DCI 4K @ 60 fps, 10-bit color, YUV 422)
- Full-metal housing for efficient heat dissipation
Atomos Ninja V
- 1920 x 1080 Touchscreen Display
- 10-Bit Exterior Viewable Monitor
- 4K HDMI Input
- Upcoming 4K 12-Bit ProRes Raw Update
Supported Log Formats
- ARRI Log C
- Canon CLog / CLog 2
- Fuji F-Log
- JVC JLog
- Sony SLog2 / SLog3
- Panasonic Vlog
- RED LogFilm
- ARRI Log CEI160 / LogCEI200 / LogCEI250 / LogCEI320/ LogCEI400 / LogCEI500 / LogCEI640 / LogCEI800 / LogCEI1000 / LogCEI1280 / LogCEI1600
- Canon CLog / CLog2 / Clog3
- Fuji F-Log
- JVC JLog1
- Panasonic Vlog
- PQ10k, HLG
- RED LogFilm / Log3G10 / Log3G12
- Sony SLog / SLog2 / SLog3
- ARRI ALEXA Wide Gamut
- Canon Cinema / DCI P3 / DCI P3+ / BT2020
- Fuji F-Log
- JVC LS300
- Panasonic V Gamut
- Rec. 2100
- Rec. 709
- RED DragonColor / DragonColor2 / RedColor2 / RedColor3 / RedColor4 / RedWideGamut
- Sony SGamut / SGamut3 / SGamut3.cine / BT2020
- Wide Color Gamut (SGamut / SGamut3 / SGamut3.cine / Canon Cinema / BT2020 / DCI P3 / DCI P3+ / Panasonic V Gamut / ARRI ALEXA Wide Gamut) mapping to Rec. 709 on screen
- Wide Color Gamut (SGamut / SGamut3 / SGamut3.cine / Canon Cinema / BT2020 / DCI P3 / DCI P3+ / Panasonic V Gamut / ARRI ALEXA Wide Gamut) mapping to Rec. 709 / BT2020 / DCI P3 on loop out
4K 60p Capabilities
Record high-resolution 4K footage in DCI or UHD formats up to 60 fps, including 24 and 25 fps for a more film-like aesthetic. All recordings are stored as high-quality Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHR files with 10-bit 4:2:2 chroma subsampling. A variety of bit rates are available to fit your project and storage needs.
Record to standard 2.5″ SSD drives or to compact AtomX SSDmini drives, capturing up to 150 minutes of 4K video on a 1TB drive.
Input/output audio via HDMI or add external audio via the 3.5mm Line In/Mic In port; output audio using the 3.5mm headphone port for convenient audio monitoring.
5″ Daylight Viewable Screen
The Ninja V features a 5″ IPS LCD screen that is illuminated by a bright 1000 cd/m² LED backlight, making it possible to view in daylight without requiring a hood. Plus, the screen is also color calibrated from the factory to ensure accurate image representation.
HDR Signal Management
Log and HDR signals can be difficult to monitor with conventional equipment. Though, with the Ninja V’s built-in HDR signal management functions, the log signal can be converted to the PQ standard for compatibility with existing consumer and professional HDR equipment.
The Ninja V supports Anamorphic de-squeeze, allowing you to comfortably view anamorphic footage with a squeeze of 2x, 1.5x, 1.33, and Panasonic’s 8:3.