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Review: Atomos Shogun Flame

The Atomos Shogun Flame has a great feature set for my DSLR-based videography, giving me many features and capabilities that my DSLR simply does not have, but which make shooting, viewing, assessing, recording, and editing, easier and better.

The Atomos Shogun Flame is one of the many recorders that Atomos makes. This model features a 7" screen, 4K video recording, and the ability to use LUTs on the screen. It also has a higher brightness mode for using it outside under the sun.

I recently reviewed the Video Devices PIX-E5, a 4K video recorder from Sound Devices, which has been making professional gear for many years. The Atomos was in my studio at the same time as the Video Devices recorder, so I was also able to compare the two side-by-side.

One key advantage of the Atomos is that it has a 7" screen which makes it much easier to see what’s going on in the video. I also found the Atomos’ on-screen navigation to be easier to use. Lastly, because the exterior of the case is plastic, the Atomos was always cooler to the touch because the hottest parts are internal.

The Hardware

When you buy the Atomos Shogun Flame, you get a bright yellow HPRC case, with hard foam cutouts specifically designed for the gear inside (Figure 1, below). My case came with the recorder, four ESATA hard drive caddies, a USB 3.0 reader for ESATA drives, paper manual, lens hood, single-bay battery charger and power supply, a second power supply for the recorder, AC cables, L&R XLR breakout to LEMO, 2.5mm remote cable splitter, D-Tap 12v power adapter, two NP-F750 batteries, and a shoulder strap for the case. Aside from spots to store two more batteries, and the ability to use the larger NP-F950 batteries, there’s not much more I'd ever add to this kit.

Figure 1. The Shogun Flame and included accessories in its HPRC case

The recorder comes in the familiar Atomos shape with colored corner bumpers. The bright yellow lets everyone know which model you have. On top you have a 1/4-20 thread and two vents for heat to escape. On the back you have the media slot and slots for two NP-F batteries. Each battery slot has a separate battery release so they're not going to fall out. However, the media slot does not lock. So be careful how you grab the Atomos. I found myself with my fingers on the drive while it was set up for recording and if I wasn't paying attention, I might have pulled on it just enough to make the drive come out.

Under the slots are three BNCs for SDI In and Out (Figure 2, below). These are 1.5, 3, 6, and 12G so they will accept 4K over a single SDI cable from BMD gear that supplies it. There's also a sync BNC port. There's a screw lock power port that will accept 6.2-16v. Underneath the unit there’s another 1/4-20 threaded socket.

Figure 2. BNCs for SDI In and Out on the Shogun Flame

The right side features the recessed power button, 3.5 mm headphone jack, and the LEMO connector for audio in (Figure 3, below).

Figure 3. Right side of the Flame: power button, headphone jack, and audio in

On the left there's HDMI In and Out (Figure 4, below). The hardware will accept HDMI in and send the signal SDI out, and vice versa.

Figure 4. Left side of the Flame: HDMI In and Out

I enabled REC Trigger in the camera and the Atomos, so I was able to have the Atomos recording slave to the in-studio camera. This way I could ascertain at any time whether the camera was recording or not by whether the Atomos was recording. It also gave me an additional backup of the footage recorded in studio. My 750GB of HDD space easily bested the 64GB cards used in the studio and which had to be swapped out mid-day with new cards.

Despite most external recorder talk discussing SSDs, I used a hard drive which afforded me more space with a lower cost. The recorder was sitting on the table in the control room, so the shock-proof nature of SSDs was not required. HDDs are also fast enough to record high-bitrate ProRES and DNxHR. The Atomos will handle both SSDs and HDDs.

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