Atomos Samurai – Harddisk Field Recorder review

I had a chance to test the new Atomos Samurai with the Sony F3 (thanks to the guys at Austria) and the RED Scarlet-X.

Here are the key advantages and disadvantages you should consider before buying:

+ affordable
+ affordable storage (2.5″ notebook disks)
+ package is almost complete (case, harddisk dock, cables, batteries, chargers) all included
+ auto rec trigger on recrun timecode
+ nice quality recording (Scarlet-X footage looks the same as downscaled original in post)
+ ProRes 10 bit –> easy workflow
+ soon: Avid DNxHD codec (announced for March ’12 $150 upgrade)
+ simple, easy to use, no manual needed (good for rental)
+ long battery life (approx. 10h, continuous power feature)
+ playback to SDI out.
+ firmware upgradeable
+ no buttons
– screen quality / daylight visbility
– no XLR inputs
– no buttons

All the features of the Samurai at a glance:

  • Supported formats: HD 1080i60, 1080i59.94, 1080i50, 1080p30, 1080p25, 1080p24, 1080p23.98, 1080pSF23.98, 1080pSF24, 1080pSF25, 1080pSF30, 720p60, 720p59.94, 720p50, SD 480i, 486i, 576i
  • Encoding Strength:
    Apple ProRes®: HQ – 220Mbps (=100GB per hour), 422 – 150Mbps, LT – 100Mbps
    Avid DNxHD: 220Mbps / 145Mb/s
  • 5″ display 800×480 pixels touchscreen
  • 3G/HD/SD-SDI x 1 input and loopthrough
  • playback and direct HD-SDI out playback
  • Audio: 48kHZ 12 channels SDI / 2 channels analogue
  • REC: SDI trigger / SDI timecode / Lanc controller / Lanc timecode
  • harddisk adapter via FW800 and USB 2.0/3.0
  • continuous battery use (easy switch)
  • weight: aluminum 690g (inc batteries and hd)

Concerning the bad screen quality: This wouldn’t really be a negative point as it was never intended to deliver amazing images since it’s not a field monitor but only a recorder with a huge interface display. However the bad visibility due to low brightness and reflective surface needs to be mentioned as it will affect the ease of use under daylight conditions.

The Atomos Samurai currently costs $1,595 which makes it the most affordable HD-SDI field recorder at a quality that is rental proof. I can recommend this device to anyone who needs to record an HD-SDI feed to a High Quality 10bit codec.
If you can look past the screen’s flaws the Atomos Samurai is a great, easy to use device with a long list of pros pluses. Currently these devices are the Samurai’s competition:
AJA KiPro Mini ($2.000)
SoundDevices PIX 240 ($2.749)
Hyperdeck Shuttle 2 (available for preorder $345)


Reviewed by: Sebastian Wöber

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Stefan October 13, 2013

thanks a lot, very helpful! I was not sure whether to use the Samurai as well as an field monitor, but you clearly showed that this is not very feasible. Great site!