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Why I Chose Odyssey 7q Over Atomos Shogun

I’m an early adopter. Being an early adopter lets you (in many case) input to future product updates and it’s generally fun to play with toys when they are sparkly and new.

When Atomos announced Shogun, I was thrilled. At the time, I was shooting BlackMagic cameras and Shogun was the only recorder on the market with 12G-SDI. It could record RAW from the BlackMagic Cinema Camera and the URSA. It also promised to be compatible with just about any 4k camera coming onto the market.

Shogun was also cheap for what you were getting, especially if you factor in all of the promised firmware updates.

I ordered my Shogun and waited. And waited. Finally, it arrived. One TEENSY little glitch, they promised they’d fix… it could PLAY YOUR FREAKING VIDEO BACK. The little “Play” button was greyed out. Come on, man. But I got over it, because by that time I was shooting URSA and CFast 2 cards are wicked expensive and were hard to find at the time.

Atomos slowly released updates with the features they had promised originally would be there from the start.

Then I changed cameras. I wanted something run-and-gun capable, which the URSA most certainly is not (not to mention Blackmagic Design shares Atomos’ affinity for promising a lot and delivering very little), so I went with the workhorse Sony FS7.

Sony doesn’t mess around. When someone, anyone finds a glitch with their professional camera products, they actually fix it. Fast. When Cinema 5d discovered a RAW output glitch, it was fixed within a couple of months. After mucking around with a company that doesn’t ever deliver what it promises (BMD), I was super excited to start working with Sony.

Some projects dictate using all 14 stops of dynamic range that the FS7 can offer, and the way you do that is by recording 12-bit RAW .DNG using the XDCA-FS7 extension unit to an external recorder. Sony makes a recorder, but it is $5350 plus you need a $2000 interface unit. That’s a lot of cash to do what Atomos promised/promises that the Shogun can do. But the date for Atomos support of the FS7 is constantly pushed back further and further. Now it’s saying sometime in the 3rd quarter of 2016. Mmmmhmmm.

I had always steered clear of the Convergent Design Odyssey 7q because every review I read said the interface is terrible, the screen isn’t as nice, it’s basically poopy compared to the Shogun. But I was left in a situation where I could spend $7500 for the Sony system (plus another several thousand in proprietary media) or I could find a nice used 7q.

I did one better, because I found a used 7q that already had the RAW license on it (normally $995 extra). I went into it with tame expectations of the screen, interface, and build.

What I got shocked me. The Shogun feels like a plastic toy compared with the 7q. Even the power connector is a well-designed Neutrix that actually stays in place. The first impression out of the box was good. I always felt like one drop would be the end of the Shogun. The 7q feels like it could take a punch.

Then I turned it on, plugged it into the camera, and watched as the 7q detected the FS7 and instantly presented me with all of the available recording formats for FS7 RAW recording, which include HD, 2k, and 4k ProRes and .DNG. I thought – it can’t really be that simple. I didn’t read the manual. I spent 2 minutes pushing the various buttons on the touchscreen and I feel confident I know exactly how to use it. Within 5 minutes of unboxing, I was recording gorgeous Cinema DNG RAW in all of its 12-bit glory.

But there’s more. Shogun, by it’s design (single drive) is permanently constrained to 30P when shooting 4k or UHD. The 7q can shoot 60P in 4k and UHD, and it can shoot TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY FRAMES PER SECOND in 2K. WHAT?! Holy Snikeys.

If you only ever shoot ProRes and you never plan to go over 4K30P, the Shogun will probably work fine for you. If you want to shoot anything more, you simply must get the Odyssey.