So, the afternoon that the Samurai Blade was first in stock at B&H, I ordered it. I had been waiting a while for it to be available and was happy it was finally on it’s way.
At CineGear I was able to check out quite a few recorders including the Atomos Samurai Blade and the Convergent Design Odyssey 7. Both are excellent recorders. Both have terrific feature sets. Both are priced at $1295 USD.
I went with the Blade.
- It’s 5.5″ screen makes it a nice tiny recorder to hang on any rig.
- It has a non proprietary storage media solution. (the Odyssey uses Convergent Design’s own SSDs to ensure compatibility with the recorder)
- With the Blade, you can use SSDs or spinning 2.5″ hard drives right from your local computer store (as long as they meet the specs required by Atomos) The fact that you can use spinning drives is one of the main reasons I went with the blade. I can use a 500 gig laptop drive for tripod shoots and it will only cost me $60 or so and yields almost 5 hours of ProRes HQ. For “run and gun” I’ll probably want to use SSDs because of the risk of shock to the drives.
- I can run all day on a couple Sony NP-F970 batteries.
- The Blade works well with both my EX3’s SDI out and my 5D3’s HDMI out. For the HDMI from the Canon 5D3 I use the Atomos H2S converter. It converts HDMI to HD-SDI and does 3:2 pulldown removal in real time.
- The focus assist features work like my Zacuto EVF and SmallHD AC7 monitor. I can see the focal plan coming my way as I roll through focus.
- The waveform feature is very handy and pretty much a necessity these days on DSLR shoots.
One of the other things I’ve been waiting for in a recorder is the ability to delay the audio coming into the recorder to compensate for the 5 frame LAG the Canon 5D3 has on it’s clean HDMI output. When feeding the recorder audio directly you’ll end up with your picture behind your audio 5 frames. Those clips will then need to be slipped back into sync on the timeline during editing. However, (this was great) I wrote Atomos about the LAG and asked if there was anything in the works at Atomos to help. The next day (at 3:02 am) Tech support sent me an e-mail saying they had released a new firmware update that morning and added an audio delay function and way better audio meters. I was stoked as those were really the last 2 minor things that disappointed me about the Blade.
The Convergent Design Odyssey 7 and 7Q look like excellent recorders as well. At the time I needed my recorder the Odyssey units weren’t shipping and did not yet offer ProRes. They are projected to ship a little later this year. The 7Q will be able to do up to 4K resolutions and also record in camera raw formats.
All in all I think the Atomos Samurai Blade is a great choice for a flexible external field recorder and one that I will be able to use for some time to come. As we all move ever closer to the 4K world new technology is going to keep sneaking up on us. But for now HD recorders are a great way to go.
Until next time – Good shooting