Atomos Shogun: With An A7S, You Want One
It has been a long time coming, delayed several times, and still is not functionally complete but finally the long awaited Atomos Shogun has started to arrive to fill dealer backorders. What this means to people like myself who are using a Sony A7S is that we will be able to record to the external Shogun in 4k video for the very first time. Hurray! But Sony users are not the only ones to benefit. Panasonic GH4 owners benefit from being able to record their 4k video externally to the Shogun in 10 bit ProRes 422, vs the internal 8 bit compressed recordings they are used to. This product release promises to be a big step forward for all 4k video users.
If you have any doubts about what the Atomos Shogun brings to the A7S party, here is a 4k demo real shot with an early prototype firmware Shogun and a Sony A7S. My suggestions, immediately make sure the playback has the YouTube quality set to its highest setting (4K). Next enlarge the view to at least cinema size or even better, full screen for the maximum visual impact. Pretty stunning, isn’t it?
Before we get carried away in 4k land and forget, there is another significant reason to using an Atomos Shogun for all your video recordings, even internal 1080P: Monitoring. The sad fact is, even with the excellent rear screen on my Sony A7S, it is just too small to be able to hand rack focus on the fly, and consistently keep everything in focus. I can do it with the EVF, barely, but that is not practical for long performance shoots. Since I shoot to the XAVC-S Codec using Picture Profile PP7 for the S-Log2 curve, the video display on the rear screen of my Sony A7S is flat, dull grey and compressed. This is a serious problem, in that I can not see or monitor in real time the actual colors or dynamic range I am recording.
The Shogun will allow me to record in S-LOG but monitor on its built in big and beautiful 7″ display in Rec 709 or with a custom built LUT applied so I can see the final look of the footage while shooting. What this means is the director or art director and I can meet in advance, work out a preliminary “look” for the project, then I can export a pre-built custom LUT I can upload to the Shogun display to use monitoring the actual footage as we capture it. This insures we have exactly what we want in the can.
The Shogun uses a high end IPS display panel as well so the color should be stunning on the display. The Atomos Shogun also has an optional color calibration Spyder, so the screen can be fully color calibrated, another welcome feature for professional recordings. Other Atomos Shogun features include a start / stop trigger so you can trigger recording on the Shogun the normal way using just the camera’s video button, time code, WIFI remote control you can do from your computer or phone, and they even have an optional CFast card adapter.
What doesn’t yet work on the Shogun is playback. Presently there is no playback enabled in the shipping firmware, but a near future firmware update is promised to correct this situation. For now, the only way to playback the footage is to remove the SSD and view the actual file on a computer. Crippling? Yes. Frustrating? Absolutely. And I wouldn’t want to be the programmer sweating away with the world waiting for this update! But given the choice of 4k recording now without playback, or recording now without 4k recording or playback, I guess being 50% of the way there is better than nothing. Is the glass half full, or is it half empty awaiting a firmware update?
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