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Panasonic Interview: ‘We will strengthen both full frame and M43’



Panasonic Interview: ‘We will strengthen both full frame and M43’
Yosuke Yamane, director of Panasonic’s Imaging Division.

In the latest in our series of socially distanced interviews with senior executives in the digital photography industry, we sat down (virtually) with Yosuke Yamane, director of Panasonic’s Imaging Division. Among the topics discussed were Panasonic’s approach to developing cameras for both photographers and videographers, upcoming improvements to autofocus, and the future of Micro Four Thirds.

Please note that this interview was conducted over email and has been edited for grammar, clarity and flow.

With much of Panasonic’s recent efforts focused on full-frame camera systems, what does the future of Micro Four Thirds look like?

We will strengthen our product lineup in both full-frame and Micro Four Thirds in order to support all shooting opportunities for creators. We have full-frame for creators who want more power to capture images and videos with a shallow depth of field, and M43 for creators who want compactness, light weight, mobility, and an adequate depth of field. The product group consists of two systems with different characteristics, which supports various shooting scenes and demonstrates the creator’s imagination.

Many creators have high expectations for new M43 products [and] we will continue to strengthen the lineup from this year onwards

Last year, we introduced the Lumix DC-S5, which has a compact and lightweight body and high performance in both still images and videos. On the other hand, in M43, in addition to the GH5, GH5S, and G9 we introduced the Lumix DC-G100, which is highly portable and allows you to enjoy vlogging, and the box-style camera the Lumix DC-BGH1, which increases flexibility in video production and has excellent video performance and customizability. M43 has a wide range of uses, and many creators have high expectations for new M43 products. We will continue to strengthen the lineup from this year onwards.

In terms of lenses, how are Panasonic’s efforts allocated between its full-frame and four thirds systems?

Since the launch of the S series, we have focused on developing full-frame lenses with the highest priority given to the early enhancement of the lineup. First of all, for professionals who are the target of the S series, we will enhance the S Pro lens range to deliver high performance that covers a wide range of focal lengths. And after the release of S5 last year, we enhanced the range of lenses by achieving both compactness and light weight and high performance with an affordable price, with our series of F1.8 primes covering 20-60mm.

As for M43 lenses, we now offer 31 lenses, which are useful for various scenes, and in the future, we are planning to develop more lenses that meet the needs of creators regardless of whether they shoot M43 or full-frame.

Are you working on improving DFD to make it more competitive with phase-detection AF from other brands?

Autofocus is a technology that is constantly advancing. With the recently released Lumix DC-S5, we have evolved the DFD algorithm based on the needs and feedback of creators, and we have received a positive response from the market following the release. However, we recognize that there are still issues that need to be improved to reach perfection when it comes to AF. We are currently considering further improvements, such as improving the processing capacity with new hardware and improving the accuracy with new software algorithms. Please look forward to the evolution of our AF in the future.

Faster sensor readout would improve rolling shutter and help you further improve DFD. Will Micro Four Thirds always offer this kind of speed advantage over full-frame?

Compared to full-frame sensors, M43 sensors are easier to read out quickly, and they consume less power. This is one of the reasons why we have been able to keep our video features one step ahead. The higher the speed, the better the high-speed shooting performance, the less rolling shutter distortion, and the more potential for autofocus performance improvements. We would like to take advantage of [the potential for higher-speed sensor readout in M43] and continue to take advantage of the unique features of M43 to create attractive products that will please our end users.

The Panasonic Lumix DC-BGH1 is a Micro four Thirds ‘box camera’ designed to be used as a module in various types of rig, including potentially mounted to a drone. Compared to full-frame, Four Third sensors have the potential for greater speed and lower power consumption, making them ideal for some kinds of applications, including video.

Panasonic has already shown an interest in computational imaging in its consumer photography products. What has the market response to these features been, and can we expect to see further development and innovation along these lines?

We have announced cameras with Post-Focus, which allows you to select the focus position after shooting, and Focus Stacking, which allows you to adjust the depth by combining photos with different focus positions. And these were appreciated by end-users. In addition, a high-resolution mode enables G9, S1 series, and S5 users to capture high-resolution images (S1/S1H/S5: 96MP, S1R: 180MP) by synthesizing multiple photos. This has been valued by users who capture landscape and architecture.

If we can utilize computational methods while improving the quality of videos, we have the potential to create even more value

Smartphones have been implementing similar functionalities recently. We believe that realizing these consumer trends in cameras will bring even deeper value to customers and we will continue to evolve them.

Can we expect to see computational methods applied to video? (For example, to decouple motion blur from shutter angle, or other clever techniques?)

We do not deny that as a possibility. As an example, our camcorders are already equipped with functions such as generating HDR images based on multiple images with different exposure times. On the other hand, in these days when mirrorless cameras are used for high-end video production, I think the point is whether we can meet the quality required by the market or not, so careful research is required. If we can utilize computational methods while improving the quality of videos, we have the potential to create even more value.

Is it possible that we’ll see internal Raw video capture in Panasonic cameras in the near future?

We cannot answer about future products. But of course, we feel that demand for Raw recording is increasing, and we need to develop products with that in consideration.

The Lumix DC-S5 (pictured above) and the S1H both use twin SD card slots, but the S1 and S1R offer dual SD and XQD/CFexpress slots. According to Mr Yamane, it’s the heat buildup of current CFe interfaces which makes that media problematic for long-duration video shooting, but efficiencies in future developments of CFe can be expected to mitigate the issue.

We’ve seen the adoption of CFexpress take off, but other devices are starting to plug directly to SSDs. Which makes most sense for video?

It is interesting question, and both have their strengths. There is no doubt that the mobility of a mirrorless camera is maximized by small, in-camera storage. CFexpress is valuable in that aspect. On the other hand, the current CFexpress consumes a lot of power during high-speed writing. This is no problem with still images, but with videos it can cause the camera to heat up, and there is a concern that it will limit the recording time. As the bit rate gets higher, the risk of that happening will be higher as well.

We believe that the ideal solution is in-camera storage like CFexpress for video recording

Recording to an external SSD is one solution to the heat issue caused by internal recording. Connections with USB cables however would be a problem for those who need mobility. Even if a cartridge type is used, the whole setup will be huge. We therefore believe that the ideal solution is in-camera storage like CFexpress for video recording. It is expected that innovations will happen in future around lower power consumption of CFexpress, especially for long time video shooting.

Who do you see as the main audience for your video products? Consumers learning video, or professionals using them alongside Varicam models?

The main targets of video are both professional videographers and general consumers who personally enjoy capturing video. Our flagship full-frame video camera, the DC-S1H, has been approved by Netflix, and is already utilized on many video production projects including movies, dramas, and commercials. In addition, the GH series – our flagship M43 video cameras – are being used by many YouTubers. Furthermore, the box-type M43 video camera BGH1 has also been approved by Netflix, and we are approaching a wide range of end-users by supporting scenarios such as multi-angle shooting, live streaming, and drone shooting. We will continue to develop new products that can be used for various video shooting needs by a variety of customers.

We are approaching a wide range of end-users by supporting scenarios such as multi-angle shooting, live streaming, and drone shooting

We recently announced several major firmware updates on March 17th. We added enhanced video functions to the Lumix DC-S1 such as 6K/C4K/4K60P, 10-bit/4K anamorphic video recording, and we also added RAW video output functionality via HDMI (with additional functions via the DMW-SFU2 Filmmaker Upgrade Software Key). The S1H supports Raw data output via HDMI to Blackmagic Design recorders, and the BGH1 supports IP streaming output and video Raw data output via HDMI. We are looking forward to seeing the videos shot with these advanced features!

What are the main features and improvements that your customers are asking for from your video products?

We cannot answer in detail, but we believe that our GH series and S1H have been highly rated for their functions / performance, such as unlimited video recording time and various shooting assist functions. We have been able to obtain a lot of feedback from customers who are using Lumix products in various ways. We will continue to listen to the customers who use our products, and solve any problems that they may have. In the future, we will continue to refine our features, lead the industry with technologies that expand video expression such as high bit rate and high frame rate, and continue to create cameras that please our customers.

The Lumix DC-G100 is a compact Micro Four Thirds camera aimed at video and stills creators and vloggers.

What trends do you see in the market, over recent years? Is there still a market for compact cameras, for instance?

The global digital camera market has been damaged by COVID-19, but the current trend is improving. However, the market for compact cameras is shrinking. On the other hand, demand for mirrorless cameras has grown steadily, especially for video production and live streaming, and demands are diversified. Under these circumstances, the role of mirrorless cameras will expand.

To respond to this, we will strengthen both full-frame and M43. In 2020, we responded to growing and diversifying demands with the Lumix DC-S5, which offers functions recognized by professionals in a compact and lightweight full-frame body, the M43 G100 for vloggers, the BGH1 box camera, and firmware updates to speedily respond to the market.

How do you plan to get your cameras into the hands of younger, smartphone-first customers?

We live in an era where people all over the world have smartphones, take photos and videos, and share them. Although the camera performance of smartphones has been improved, there are limits to what smartphones can do. With digital cameras you can take expressive videos and stills that are clearly different from smartphones.

The key to survival for the camera market in the future is responding to diversifying needs quickly

Video production by young people is increasing, and low price and easy-to-use mirrorless cameras are attracting attention. In addition, creators want to shoot images that are more advanced and unique. By catering to this need, and strengthening the affinity between our cameras and smartphones, we hope that young people will also take digital cameras in their hands. The key to survival for the camera market in the future is responding to diversifying needs quickly.

The Panasonic S1 and S1R launched just over two years ago, how have they been received?

The S1R and S1 are products developed for professional photographers and hybrid users without compromise in all aspects. In the market, they have been highly valued for their performance, operability, robustness, and other points required as tools for professional work. In terms of image quality, the color reproduction is particularly appreciated. On the other hand, we received many requests for improvements to AF performance. We have made updates in the S5 with regard to AF tracking, and we expanded these improvements to the S1R and S1 November last year via firmware.

Panasonic makes some of the largest, toughest-built mirrorless full-frame cameras on the market, do you see this as a major differentiator between you and your competition?

We think one of the major differences between the S series, which was developed for professionals, and [options from] other companies is their durability and robustness, exemplified by the continuous shooting time of videos. In addition, we are also focused on the accuracy of image stabilization and shutter accuracy in actual shooting. Furthermore, the UI was created through interviews with many professionals, so it offers excellent usability.

Editor’s note: Barnaby Britton

The two main takeaways from this interview with Mr. Yamane are a recognition of where his company needs to improve (specifically around AF performance in mirrorless bodies) and a commitment to do so, coupled with a concurrent commitment to Micro Four Thirds. This should come as good news to virtually all Panasonic shooters, regardless of which system (or which side of the video/stills divide) they’re invested in.

Some of the most innovative and pioneering cameras in the early history of consumer digital imaging were launched under Panasonic’s Lumix brand. While in recent years more of the most obvious innovations (but by no means all: Panasonic was talking about machine learning before Olympus or Sony) have been in terms of video performance, the company is still releasing excellent enthusiast stills and ‘hybrid’ cameras. The Lumix DC-S5 is a good example of a camera that takes many of the powerful video features introduced in more expensive models, but packages them in a smaller, more accessible body, aimed more at stills-focused and multimedia shooters.

Micro Four Thirds has a lot of advantages for hybrid stills/video use, and high-end video

Where Panasonic still tends to fall down a little compared to competitors is autofocus performance. Mr. Yamane is refreshingly honest about this, and about the need to improve. He wouldn’t be drawn on the long-term future of Panasonic’s DFD (depth-from-defocus) technology but his commitment as expressed in this interview to ‘improving processing capacity with new hardware and improving the accuracy with new software algorithms’ is encouraging.

Also encouraging, in this bad-news-biased echo-chamber where dire rumors are constantly circulating about this or that company, or this and that class of cameras being ‘dead’ is his commitment to Micro Four Thirds.

While it seems likely that, long-term, Panasonic will focus its stills photography energies more on full-frame, M43 has a lot of advantages for hybrid stills/video use, and high-end video. Chief among these is an ability to keep the physical size of the body and lens combinations small, and the potential for greater sensor readout speed compared to larger full-frame chips. The boxy, tiny and powerful BGH1 is a good example of a camera that could only exist with a sub full-frame sensor inside it, and it’s a safe bet that it won’t be a one-off. With Olympus / OM Digital Solutions primarily still focused on stills photographers, and Sony pushing full-frame in its enthusiast and professional video cameras, it seems likely that Panasonic will explore the ‘small sensor hybrid camera’ niche further in future.

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World’s largest camera: 3.1 gigapixels for epic timelapse panos of the universe




World’s largest camera: 3.1 gigapixels for epic timelapse panos of the universe

We have a winner for sensor Top Trumps: the LSST camera is the world’s largest astronomy camera. It’s more than 350 times the size of a full-frame sensor, for reference.

Photo: Jacqueline Ramseyer Orrell/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

“Space,” according to Douglas Adams’ Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. “is big. Really Big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”

It turns out the same is true of cameras made to map space. You may think your full-frame camera is big but that’s nothing compared to the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) camera recently completed by the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

You may have seen it referred to as the size of a small car, but if anything that under-sells it. SLAC has essentially taken all the numbers you might recognize from photography, made each of them much, much bigger and then committed to a stitched time-lapse that it hopes will help to understand dark matter and dark energy.

Unlike many astro and space projects, LSST is recognizably a camera: it has a mechanical shutter, lenses and rear-mounting slot-in filters.

Image: Chris Smith / SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

We got some more details from Andy Rasmussen, SLAC staff physicist and LSST Camera Integration and Testing Scientist.

The LSST has a 3100 megapixel imaging surface. That surface is an array made up of 189 individual sensors, each of which is a 41 x 40mm 16.4MP CCD. Each of these sensors is larger than consumer-level medium format and when arranged together gives an imaging circle of 634mm (24.9″). That’s a crop factor of 0.068x for those playing along at home.

The individual pixels are 10μm in size, making each one nearly three times the area of the pixels in a 24MP full-frame sensor or seven times the size of those in a 26MP APS-C, 61MP full-frame or 100MP 44 x 33 medium format model.

To utilize this vast sensor, the LSST has a lens with three elements, one of which is recognized by Guinness World Records as “the world’s largest high-performance optical lens ever fabricated.” The front element is 1.57m in diameter (5.1 ft), with the other two a mere 1.2m (3.9 ft) and 72cm (2.4 ft) across. Behind this assembly can be slotted one of six 76cm (2.5 ft) filters that allow the camera to only capture specific wavelengths of light.

One of the six 76cm (2.5 ft) filters that are swapped over, typically once the camera has shot a set of images of the 1000 regions of the sky it captures.

Photo: Jacqueline Ramseyer Orrell/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

This camera is then mounted as part of a telescope with a 10m effective focal length, giving a 3.5 degree diagonal angle of view (around a 634mm equiv lens, in full-frame terms). Rasumussen puts this in context: “the outer diameter of the primary mirror is 8.4 meters. Divide the two, and this is why the system operates at f/1.2.”

That’s f/0.08 equivalent (or around eight stops more light if you can’t remember the multiples of the square root of two for numbers that small).

Each 16MP chip has sixteen readout channels leading to separate amplifiers, each of which is read-out at 500k px/sec, meaning that it takes two seconds. All 3216 channels are read-out simultaneously. The chips will be maintained at a temperature of -100°C (-148°F) to keep dark current down: Rasmussen quotes a figure of < 0.01 electrons / pixel / second.

But the camera won’t just be used to capture phenomenally high-resolution images. Instead it’ll be put to work shooting a timelapse series of stitched panos.

The sensor array under construction in 2020. Each of the sensors in the 3 x 3 array being installed is a 41 x 40mm chip. The final camera uses 189 of these imaging sensors, plus another 8 for positioning the camera, along with 8 wavefront sensors at the corners of the array.

Photo: Farrin Abbott/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

The camera, which will be installed at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile, will shoot a series of 30 second exposures (or pairs of 15 second exposures, depending on the noise consequences for the different wavelength bands) of around 1000 sections of the Southern sky. Each region will be photographed six times, typically using the same filter for all 1000 regions before switching to the next, over the course of about seven days.

This whole process will then be repeated around 1000 times over a ten-year period to create a timelapse that should allow scientists to better understand the expansion of the universe, as well as allowing the observation of events such as supernova explosions that occur during that time.

The sensors, created by Teledyne e2v, are sensitive to a very broad range of light “starting around 320nm where the atmosphere begins to be transparent,” says Rasmussen: “all the way in the near-infrared where silicon becomes transparent (1050nm),”

The sensors, developed in around 2014, are 100μm thick: a trade-off between enhanced sensitivity to red light and the charge spread that occurs as you use deeper and deeper pixels.

No battery life figures were given, but the cost is reported as being around $168M.

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A nature photography tour of Madagascar, Part 1: Andasibe




A nature photography tour of Madagascar, Part 1: Andasibe

Madagascar. A huge, wild, faraway Island. Even mentioning its name provokes an exotic, exciting feeling in my soul. I had wanted to visit Madagascar for many years before finally realizing my plans in 2022. It was one of the most wonderful trips I’ve done in recent years, one that stayed with me for a while. It included many adventures, diverse and exciting locations, new experiences and a heck of a lot of photography. Enough photography to be interesting (in my opinion, at least) even for the general photography crowd, not to mention nature photographers.

Madagascar may not be a beginner’s destination in the sense that it poses some challenges to the traveler. My scouting trip included extremely long drives (one of them two days in total, during which we had to sleep in a guest house surrounded by a very tall metal wall…).

In some locations, sleeping conditions aren’t on par with the expectations of the typical western tourist. The already-poor country was also badly hit by COVID-19, which left some of its better hotels permanently closed. It is currently recuperating and reinstating the tourism infrastructure, domestic flight schedule and higher-tier accommodation possibilities.

While it has more than its fair share of domestic problems, Madagascar is an absolute heaven for wildlife and landscape enthusiasts. In this series of articles, I’d like to tell you the story of my scouting trip to this magical island. I hope it gives you new insights and information about its sheer natural diversity and triggers your interest in visiting. While a Madagascar trip is not always easy or comfortable, it is extremely worth it for the adventurous soul.

Without further ado, let’s move on to my first stop on the trip: Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. Andasibe Park is located about 150 km (3-4 hours) east of Madagascar’s capital of Antananarivo, near the small village of Andasibe. It consists mostly of a vast rain-forest, which is habitat to numerous species, many of them endemic, rare and endangered, among which 11 lemur species, including brown lemurs, Diademed sifaka lemur, wooly lemur and others. There are several chameleon species and numerous bird and insect species. Andasibe is especially known for its population of the largest lemur species, the Indri Indri.

In general, lemurs are quite hard to photograph. They are energetic, move around quickly and often, and are increasingly reluctant to get close to humans since feedings are being phased out (a wonderful thing in any other respect). They live in dense forests, so good viewings and compositions are few and far between. The photographer often has to chase the animal as it moves through the canopy, which can be challenging and exhausting, especially in the wet, muddy, humid environment. I got back to the lodge absolutely dirty with mud and plant material from head to toe every day.

An adult Indri Indri in the rain.

Canon 5D4, Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3
F6.3 | 1/500 sec | ISO 1600 | 516mm

Indri Indri (locally called Babakutu, which may be translated as “father of a little boy”) is a diurnal tree-dwelling lemur. It lives in family groups, feeding mainly on leaves but also seeds, fruits and flowers. Photographically, the Indri Indri is a wonderful subject. The black and white fur (with hints of brown and grey) is starkly contrasted by its beautiful, large green eyes (and by the colors of its forest habitat). It is also very loud and often bursts into song, allowing easier detection and photography of the singing itself.

The only photographic disadvantage is that it chooses to stay high up in the canopy most of the time (other than when going to the toilet), which can harm the shooting angle; remember, as wildlife photographers, we usually prefer an eye-level vantage point. When you see an image of an Indri Indri at eye level, chances are it was shot during human feeding, which should be avoided and discouraged.

The song of Babakutu is made of high-pitched glissandos and can be heard from far away. In my opinion, it’s pure joy to listen to. It’s very much an arboreal equivalent of a whale’s song.

Canon 5D4, Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3
F6.3 | 1/320 sec | ISO 3200 | 600mm

Besides the Indri Indri, there are several other beautiful lemur species in Andasibe.

Brown lemurs are some of the most common lemurs, but they’re fun to photograph. They are also the most likely to climb to eye level, making them easier to capture.

Canon 5D4, Canon 70-300mm F4-5.6
F5 | 1/160 sec | ISO 3200 | 176mm

Eastern wooly lemur. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t usually smoke illicit substances.
More seriously, this lemur species is highly endangered due to rapid habitat loss.

Canon 5D4, Canon 70-300mm F4-5.6
F5.6 | 1/100 sec | ISO 800 | 277mm

The Diademed sifaka lemur is one of the largest and most colorful lemur species. Classified as critically endangered, population estimates for the species range between 6,000 and 10,000 individuals.

Canon 5D4, Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3
F6.3 | 1/1250 sec | ISO 3200 | 388mm

An eastern lesser bamboo lemur (also known as the gray bamboo lemur). These lemurs are extremely quick and nimble, jumping from branch to branch in the thick forest. They are also incredibly cute and furry.

Canon 5D4, Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3
F5.6 | 1/500 sec | ISO 3200 | 324mm

Malagasy chameleons are known for their striking colorations. I shot several species of chameleons on the trip, but the most beautiful one was the male Parson’s chameleon, whose coloration was especially vibrant and eye-pleasing.

A close-up portrait of a male Parson’s chameleon. Note the amazing coloration on the abdomen.

Canon 5D4, Canon 70-300mm F4-5.6
252mm, F5.6, 0.2 sec, ISO 100

Another close-up from a different angle. The horns are nicely visible here.

Canon 5D4, Canon 70-300mm F4-5.6
F5.6 | 1/250 sec | ISO 3200 | 244mm

In addition to the usual close-ups, I took one ultra-wide angle image with my 11-24mm to better show the chameleon’s habitat.

Canon 5D4, Canon 11-24mm F4
F11 | 1/4 sec | ISO 800 | 11mm

It’s interesting to note that the female Parson’s chameleon is comparatively dull in appearance. I guess the male is dressed to impress!

A female Parson’s chameleon.

Canon 5D4, Canon 70-300mm F4-5.6
F5 | 1/200 sec | ISO 1600 | 155mm

In the next article in this series, I’ll talk about shooting the Red Tsingy, a man-induced beautiful natural phenomenon, which was the next stop on my Madagascar trip.

Erez Marom is a professional nature photographer, photography guide and traveler based in Israel. You can follow Erez’s work on Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to his mailing list for updates and to his YouTube channel.

If you’d like to experience and shoot some of the world’s most fascinating landscapes with Erez as your guide, take a look at his unique photography workshops in Svalbard, Greenland, Madagascar, the Lofoten Islands, Namibia and Vietnam.

Erez also offers video tutorials discussing his images and explaining how he achieved them.

Selected Articles by Erez Marom:

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Atomos announces Ninja Phone for connecting camera to iPhone for monitoring and recording




Atomos announces Ninja Phone for connecting camera to iPhone for monitoring and recording

Atomos has announced the Ninja Phone, a monitor and recorder that connects cameras with HDMI out ports to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. The unit acts as a ‘co-processor’ to encode a camera’s HDMI signal to 10-bit ProRes or H.265 and send the encoded video to the phone. There is also support for USB-C mic input.

A Ninja Phone iPhone app was also announced to control the unit. Through the app, users can control settings and file transfer between the Ninja Phone and their iPhone. The app will also allow for vertical video capture, live streaming and remote file uploading to cloud services. An encoded ProRes file can also be saved locally to the phone as a .mov file, allowing users to build some redundancy into their workflow by having the source camera and iPhone both save the same file.

There are some limits, however. Source camera output taps out at 1080/60p, meaning you can’t send a 4K signal from a camera to the Ninja Phone.

No plans were shared for bringing the device to Andriod phones or other USB-C iPhones.

Atomos’ announcement today spent considerable time gushing about the iPhone 15 Pro/Max display stats (2,000,000:1 contrast ratio and support for Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG). Atomos has said the device leans on Apple’s A17 chip to decode the video feed and display video with no latency, so it’s unclear how dependent the Phone Ninja is on Apple’s tech or if there are technical limits for if/when the Phone Ninja may come to other devices.

The Atomos Ninja Phone is expected to ship in June 2024 at an MSRP of $399. The unit will also require a $59 phone case, which Atomos says is needed to “ensure that the locking cable system can be deployed.”

Now your phone can be a Ninja too!

Melbourne, Australia, April 12, 2024 — Atomos announces Ninja Phone, a whisper quiet, 10-bit video co-processor for smart phones and tablets that lets you record from professional HDMI cameras.

The first release of Ninja Phone, demonstrated at NAB 2024 at the Atomos booth (C4931) is designed for iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max and their amazing OLED display. It’s a powerful combination that uses Atomos’ world-beating knowledge of Apple ProRes encoding and Apple’s cutting-edge silicon and screen technology to create the world’s most beautiful, portable, and connected professional monitor-recorder.

Atomos has a proud history of working closely with all leading Japanese camera manufacturers and as you would expect from an Atomos product, the Ninja Phone lets you connect any professional camera with an HDMI output to Apple’s magnificent OLED screen in HDR.

The Ninja Phone encodes the camera’s HDMI signal to ProRes or H.265, both formats at superb 10-bit quality for perfect HDR. The encoded video is sent via Ninja Phone’s USB-C output to the iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max’s USB-C port. The iPhone’s super-advanced A17 system-on-a-chip decodes the pristine camera sensor image to display on the high-resolution iPhone screen.

The display is a massive improvement over typical built-in screens that come with most cameras, boasting a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio and supporting Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG. It can display 11 stops of dynamic range with a peak brightness of 1600 nits, perfect for HDR and outdoor viewing.

The Ninja Phone iPhone app, downloadable from the App Store, controls and coordinates the operation of both the Ninja Phone and the iPhone, making them feel like a single, responsive device. For social media creators who need to shoot in 9:16 portrait mode, the Ninja Phone app adjusts to horizontal or vertical video modes. The Ninja Phone app will run on iOS and iPadOS, and will be downloadable at the time of shipping.

The camera’s output appears on the iPhone screen with zero latency thanks to Atomos’ super-efficient ProRes pipeline – encoding on the Ninja Phone and decoding via Apple’s state of the art iPhone.

We’ve added professional video and cinematic smarts to the world’s most advanced phone, says Atomos CEO and Co-Founder Jeromy Young. Ninja Phone is for the thousands of content creators who capture, store, and share video from their iPhone 15 Pro but aspire to work with professional cameras, lenses, and microphones. At the same time, the Ninja Phone is a perfect tool for longer-form professionals who want to adopt a cloud workflow without a complex and expensive technology footprint.

The ProRes-encoded video can be stored on the phone as a .mov file and/or simultaneously transcoded by the iPhone to 10-bit H.265 for workflows like camera to cloud, or live streaming via the iPhone’s built-in 5G and Wi-Fi 6E connectivity.

The Ninja Phone accommodates external iPhone accessories by integrating a separate USB-C hub to allow necessary professional add-ons like wireless USB-C microphones, for perfectly synchronizing video and audio. Third-party accessories are supported via the Ninja Phone with more added over time.

Powered by standard NP series batteries, a battery eliminator, or a USB-C 5V/3A input, the Ninja Phone charges the iPhone while in use with any of these power sources, ensuring long phone operation can match professional shoots.

Atomos has developed a unique and rugged locking ecosystem to maintain a secure grip on connected HDMI and USB-C cables. With Atomos locking cables, it is the most robust capture cable system available today, although it is fully compatible with standard, non-locking cables.

The iPhone 15 Pro’s enhanced connectivity opens a door for Ninja Phone users to make full use of Atomos’ Cloud Services (ACS). These include super-efficient Camera to Cloud workflows, remote live production, and cloud editing. With ACS, content creators can publish video to social media within minutes, and filmmakers can send their footage to their postproduction team via the cloud for the fastest possible production workflow.

I’m so proud that Atomos is once again teaming up with Apple to unlock video creativity through ProRes, and this time it’s on Apple’s most advanced device ever, the iPhone 15 Pro. I’m especially pleased that this product has no fan and is whisper quiet. Atomos has always had an amazing relationship with Japanese camera manufacturers too, and now the Ninja Phone connects these incredible cameras directly to an iPhone’s storage, monitor and its extraordinary wireless and cell networking,” added Young.

Thanks to the iPhone 15 Pro, this is the first time Ninja users will have access to an OLED monitor screen, which, at 446 PPI, is by far the highest resolution, most capable HDR monitor that’s ever been available to them,” added Young. It’s the perfect partner for many of the new, smaller format mirrorless cameras coming out of Japan, for example Fujifilm’s X100 and G series, Canon’s R5 Series, Sony Alpha Series, Nikon Z series cameras and Panasonics GH and S series.

Remarkably, the Ninja Phone weighs in at just 95gms, and a sprightly 335gms when coupled to an iPhone 15 Pro.

The Ninja Phone will cost USD/EUR 399, excluding local sales taxes, and is expected to begin shipping in June 2024. Customers will also need to choose the case for iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max, not just to protect the phone in normal use, but to ensure that the locking cable system can be deployed. The cases will be available separately at USD/EUR 59 each, also excluding local sales taxes.

In summary, the Ninja Phone is an essential addition to any filmmaker’s toolkit. It combines road-tested Atomos ProRes expertise with an out-of-this-world screen, proven professional monitoring features, and built-in mobile connectivity for collaborative, remote editing.

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