Over the past ten years camera technology has moved at a rapid pace, rendering many cameras almost obsolete within a few short years.
Even if you have a good workhorse that is perfectly capable of capturing high quality HD images, there are often limitations with the codec that is being recorded, as well as the type of media that the camera records to.
The good new is that many of these HD cameras have a HD SDI video output, or at the very least a HDMI output, which allows for the output of uncompressed HD video into a new range of high quality and affordable portable recorders.
These recorders such as the Kipro Mini from AJA or the Samurai and Ninja 2 from Atomos, use your camera’s HD/SDI or HDMI port to record uncompressed or compressed video record straight onto a hard drive or compact flash card.
While portable recorders have been with us for a long time, what makes the new models different is that are not bound by the limitations of Firewire (IEEE 1396) and by receiving an uncompressed signal can utilize the current ready to edit formats such as Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD.
The new generation of recorders are also more affordable and even on the highest data rate of Apple ProRes HQ, give the ability to shoot for long periods. This would be especially beneficial to event recordings and any long form filming such as seminars, weddings and sporting events.
Many professional video cameras can record at least 50Mbps. But with the ability to by-pass the cameras native format to an uncompressed signal, you have access to higher bit rates from 100-220Mbps, very useful for more intensive post-production work.
If you are editing in Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro or Avid, then recording by this method means that you won’t need to spend time transcoding your footage, you can start editing more quickly, and simplify your work-flow.
It’s also a useful work-flow for multiple camera work, giving the ability to use cameras of different formats.
These recorders also have some other handy features, the Atomos Samurai and Ninja Models for instance have a built in LCD monitor for reviewing shots and different clip marking options.
So with the combination of the relatively high data rate of formats like ProRes, combined with 10-Bit capable recording, make a portable recorder a powerful addition to your kit.
They can give your older perfectly capable HD cameras a new lease of life, save you money and simplify your work-flow.
John Hubbard is a video production professional, who resides in Melbourne, Australia.