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Old March 2nd, 2011, 03:08 PM   #1
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Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

Dear Friends,

Since AJA announced the Ki Pro Mini, we frequently get asked why one would choose the nanoFlash versus the Ki Pro Mini.

Another related question is why shouldn't I just buy a Ki Pro Mini, since it costs less.

So, we have prepared a document that addresses these questions.

Of course, we are trying to be fair, there are applications for both units.

And, of course, we like our nanoFlash and think it holds up very well to the competition.

When a Lower-Priced Recorder can Actually Cost More
nanoFlash / Ki Pro Mini Comparison

When considering the purchase of a professional video recorder, it is important to analyze the total cost of ownership, including the recorder, media, battery and mounting, among others.

Below we compare the costs of adding the nanoFlash (nano) and the Ki Pro Mini (mini) to the popular Sony EX3 camera.

Recorder Costs
• nanoFlash Bundle (recorder, AC power, D-Tap Cable, Hot-Shoe Mount, CF Reader) = $2995
• Ki Pro Mini (recorder, AC Power) = $1995

The mini recorder is clearly less expensive than the nano by $1,000.


Media Costs
In comparing the media costs we used the industry accepted norms for broadcast quality video.
Your desired bit-rates for both units may be different.

nanoFlash
• Recording at 50 Mbps 4:2:2 Long-GOP
• Uses Transcend 400X 32GB Compact Flash cards at $80 each
• Record Time = 80 Minutes / card
• Media Cost = $1.00/Minute
• Cost to Record 160 Minutes = $160 (Two 32GB Cards)
• Longest uninterrupted record time = 160 minutes (actually infinite with hot-swap)

Ki Pro Mini
• Recording at 100 Mbps 4:2:2 I-Frame
• Uses Lexar 600X 32GB Compact Flash cards at $250 each
• Record Time = 36 minutes / 32GB card (10% of card volume is reserved)
• Media Cost = $6.94/Minute
• Cost to Record 144 minutes = $1,000 (Four 32GB Cards)
• Longest uninterrupted record time = 36 minutes (double if you use 64GB cards, which cost more than 2X the 32GB cards).

The lower Compact Flash card cost coupled with the more efficient CODEC makes nanoFlash the clear winner in the media cost comparison. Additionally, if you need more record capacity, you can elect to offload the nanoFlash files onto the low-cost Nexto drive (500GB drive for $300), which adds 1200 minutes of additional record time. On the mini, which is not compatible with the Nexto, you will need to purchase 33 additional CF cards, or some other less convenient and portable backup solution.


Power
The nanoFlash draws 6 watts (max) compared to the mini which requires 15-18 watts. The low power consumption on the nanoFlash enables many users to run off a single battery, powering both the camera and the nano. The mini typically will require a second battery.

nanoFlash
• Replace the standard Sony battery with Swit S-8U62 (with D-Tap) for $169
• Use same charger as EX3
• Requires D-Tap to Hirose cable (included with nano bundle)
• Total battery (and mount) cost = $169 (3 hour run-time for camera and nano)

Ki Pro Mini
• Add an Anton Bauer Dionix 90 Battery and Charger for $895
• Anton Bauer Gold Mount for $125
• AJA Mini Mount for $75
• Total battery and mount cost = $1095 (5 hour run time for mini, 3 hour for mini + camera)

The lower power consumption of the nano clearly reduces the battery costs. Using the same battery to power the camera and the nano adds no additional weight or complexity. The addition of the AB battery adds 1.7 lbs of weight and $926 in additional cost over the nano solution.


Mounting
The nano bundle includes a hot-shoe ball mount, which we have found to be sufficient for most applications, as the nano can be easily mounted on top of the camera. The mini mount will likely require a 15mm rod system and associated mounting plates. The total cost is difficult to estimate.

nanoFlash
• Hot-Shoe ball mount included in bundle, added cost = $0

Ki Pro Mini
• Mounting system is not clearly defined, price to be determined.


Cost Summary
nanoFlash

• nanoFlash Bundle = $2995
• Compact Flash Reader (included)
• Media for 160 minutes of 50 Mbps Long-GOP 4:2:2 (broadcast quality) recording = $80
• Swit S-8U62 Battery = $169
• Hot-Shoe Mount = $0
• Total Cost = $3244

Ki Pro Mini
• Ki Pro Recorder = $1995
• Compact Flash Reader = $19
• Media for 144 minutes of 100 Mbps I-Frame 4:2:2 (broadcast quality) recording = $1000
• Anton Bauer Battery, Charger, Mount = $1095
• Camera Mounting System = Unknown
• Total Cost = $4109 + cost of camera mount


Next, let’s consider the unique features that each recorder offers:


nanoFlash Unique Features
• Installed base of over 3200 units
• Acceptance by all major networks: BBC, Nat Geo, Sky, ABC, CBS, Discovery, etc.
• Well tested code base, 6 major firmware updates over last 18 months.
• Lowest size (1/2 of mini), power (6 watts vs 15-18 watts) and weight (1 lb vs 1.2 lb), note that the weight of the battery is not included in this figure.
• Feature rich: over/under crank support for all cameras, time-lapse, pre-buffer recording, image flip, hot-swap, 3:2 pull-down removal on both HD-SDI and HDMI Inputs
• Widest Bit-rate support: 18 to 280 Mbps, I-Frame and Long-GOP Sony CODEC
• Low-Cost Field Backup / CF Card Off-Load Solution (Nexto Drive, 500GB, $300)
• Excellent NLE support: Avid, FCP, Premiere, Vegas, Edius
• Ability to span CF cards for much longer record times.
• Very active forum (DVINFO) and customer acclaimed 24/7 technical support

Ki Pro Mini Unique Features
• Balanced XLR Audio Inputs
• Ethernet Connection for control and setup
• 10-bit CODEC (see note below)
• LANC Loop

8-Bit / 10-Bit CODEC Diferences
While the mini does offer a 10-bit CODEC (the nano is 8-bit), the extra 2-bits of quantization are only helpful if your camera has very low noise (measured as the video signal to noise ratio, aka S/N). For reference, each bit of SDI data equates to about 6 dB of the signal to noise figure.

Most affordable cameras (priced under US $10K) only output 8-bits of effective data over SDI (the lower 2-bits are permanently set to zero). Cameras with 8-bit (effective) outputs include all Canon and JVC cameras as well as all Panasonic cameras which utilize the DVCProHD or AVCHD CODECs (including the AF100) and all cameras with HDMI-only outputs.

The Sony EX1/EX3 is the only notable “affordable” exception, which does output 10 active bits over HD-SDI. However, even at a 0dB gain setting, the EX1/EX3 has a video S/N ratio of 54dB, or 9-bits of effective data. When the camera gain is increased above 0dB, the S/N value quickly drops to 8-bits of effective data.

The new Sony F3 camera with an S/N figure of 63 dB is one of the first “affordable” cameras with a full 10-bit effective SDI output.

So, the extra 2-bits of quantization available on the ProRes CODEC will be a valuable feature for use with the Sony F3 camera, but few other “affordable” cameras will benefit for the extra data. One can argue that ProRes, being an I-Frame only CODEC, is easier to edit. However the nanoFlash does offer both Long-GOP and I-Frame only CODEC capability.

In summary, in our opinion, the nanoFlash remains the most cost-effective professional video recorder, one that is field-proven, and one with the richest feature set coupled with excellent after-sales support.
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Old March 2nd, 2011, 09:04 PM   #2
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Re: Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

Hi Dan,

A couple of comments.

Quote:
Ki Pro Mini
• Uses Lexar 600X 32GB Compact Flash cards at $250 each
Aja just removed this card from their approved list. It apparently doesn't actually record anything if it's in the KiProMini when powered up, even though the KiProMini indicates that everything is just fine. This only leaves the two SanDisk Extreme Pro cards (32GB and 64GB), and the Hoodman UDMA RAW 32GB card. (Hoodman?) You might want to edit your KiProMini cost comparison upward.

Note also that while it's obvious that there is no hot swapping with the KiProMini, it may not be obvious that there is also no continuous recording from one slot to the second slot. When the card in the first slot is full, one has to unmount it and then mount the card in the second slot.

Billy
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Old March 2nd, 2011, 09:10 PM   #3
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Re: Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

Dear Billy,

Thank you.

We learned that the Lexar, which was the lowest priced card of the AJA approved cards, was pulled after we posted this.

Mike Schell and I decided tonight to leave our comparision as is, as this is a best case scenario for AJA. It will only make the nanoFlash look better if we revise it upwards, since the now lowest price approved card for the Ki Pro Mini costs more.

Also, AJA stated that they will be approving more cards.

Of course, we expect AJA to find the issue and then fix it as soon as possible.
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Old March 2nd, 2011, 10:02 PM   #4
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Re: Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

Just to put in my two cents. I recently bought (and returned) a JVC GY HM 700 and its Anton Bauer battery and charger. This fully charged battery lasted only 3 hours, not much more than a "lesser battery". That combined with the ridiculous cost and the elephantine weight of both the battery and the charger have induced me to never buy anything that requires Anton Bauer again. Go with the Nano.
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Old March 3rd, 2011, 12:45 AM   #5
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Re: Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

A few more points:

the nanoFlash is noiseless, silent.
because of its weight, small footprint and non-ventilated surfaces it can be attached anywhere on a camera package where a strip of velcro can be placed.
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Old March 3rd, 2011, 08:47 AM   #6
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Re: Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Siegel View Post
.....That combined with the ridiculous cost and the elephantine weight of both the battery and the charger have induced me to never buy anything that requires Anton Bauer again. Go with the Nano.
I took that decision long ago.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 05:42 PM   #7
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Re: Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

Good comparison Dan,
In general, I would like to see a NanoFlash that records 10bit 4.2.2 and dare I say bring back the XDR and make it dual HD/SDI that will record 4.4.4. Now, it's likely that a large number of affordable cameras are going to come out with 35mm censors and that means very clean images. The XDR would be a perfect size for 4.4.4 recording by the way.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 06:16 PM   #8
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Re: Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

Dear Dean,

Thank you for your suggestions!

We try very hard to listen to our customers and friends.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 09:55 AM   #9
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Re: Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

AJA cannot control the card mfrs. If anything, I think it shows diligence on AJA's part for constant monitoring of media. Likewise C-D continues to test even approved media and has removed cards from the approved list.

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Old March 7th, 2011, 10:42 AM   #10
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Re: Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

Dear Friends,

Just to be clear, we do not fault AJA in any way for having to remove a card from their list of Qualified Cards.

Some CompactFlash card manufacturers change the chips used in their CompactFlash cards and unexpected problems pop up.

We have close relationships with at least two card manufacturers.

I have posted before that I like Delkin cards. One of the reasons is that Delin has agreed not to change the formula of the cards without first consulting with us. And they have a nanoFlash at their factory to test any changes that they make.

Axtremex is another manufacturer that we have a close relationship. Thus, these cards are tested also in a nanoFlash and we should not be in a situation where the card's formula's have changed without us being in a position to test the new cards.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 11:37 AM   #11
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Re: Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

Both the nanoFlash and the Ki Pro Mini can record at 220 Mbps.

With the nanoFlash, one can use a 400x card that cost significantly less than the 600x card required by the Ki Pro Mini.

To achive what is widely considered Broadcast Quality, Sony PMW-F800 quality, the nanoFlash can record at 50 Mbps. To achieve Broadcast Quality with the Ki Pro Mini, one needs a higher bit-rate.

The nanoFlash allows for "Hot Swapping", the Ki Pro Mini does not. Thus, one can record as long as one wants, with an appropriate number of cards and a way to download the cards.

There are many ways to power a camera and to power the nanoFlash and to power the Ki Pro Mini.
The Sony EX1/EX3 was choosen as these are very popular cameras.

If one wants to add a battery charger to the cost of the nanoFlash, the cost is $60 to $90 ($59.95 for a 1.3 amp charger, $89.95 for a 2.7 amp charger).

Comparison of codecs is beyond the scope of this one post. Also codec comparisons should be done by an independent party or group.

Please feel free to price out a Ki Pro Mini and a nanoFlash, then determine the cost of CompactFlash cards for your type and duration of shooting. Then add mounting options and a battery and charger to suite your needs.

Then, if you wish, compare features.

Of course, the Ki Pro Mini will have features that we do not, and we will have features that it does not.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 12:52 PM   #12
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Re: Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

Personally, I see nothing wrong with CD doing a comparison like this and pointing out its strengths. Just about every manufacturer does this, from camera manufacturers to car manufacturers.

If I was considering buying one or the other (I am not because I already have a nanoFlash), I would be glad if both manufacturers did such a feature-by-feature analysis emphasizing the strengths of each respective product. It would, of course, still be up to me to decide which one to buy, but the decision would be easier because I could match my specific needs to each of the products.

Nowhere in this thread (or any thread in this forum that I have seen) has Dan or anyone from CD come even close to saying anything negative about their competitors. Nor have they ever misrepresented their products (or those of their competitors). For example, they have clearly stated the nF is incapable of 12 bit or of 4:4:4, so if that is what you need, you have to look elsewhere. They are and always have been extremely professional.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 02:04 PM   #13
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Re: Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

A couple of other thoughts:

First, anyone who frequents this forum or has a nanoflash knows that Dan Keaton works for C-D. They also probably know that he can be called (and reached) on the phone at any time (day or night) to help resolve technical issues, or even just to chat about the features (present and planned) of the NanoFlash. The support he provides is WAY better than the support (even paid support) that I have received from any other company in this industry. Period.

This is the NanoFlash Forum, and as such is a good place to post a comparison of feature sets with competing products.

Quibbling about a battery charger is getting pretty silly. The point is that the NanoFlash requires little enough power that it can even run off an EX battery that's powering the camera.

I don't know about the KiProMini receiving a 'seal of approval' from the various networks yet, though I do know that this is something that tends to take some time and effort, so I think the point is that if you are shooting for Discovery or National Geo, you might not be able to submit contractual master material until such time as it has been approved.

I will say that with the F3 released and other low-sensor-noise cameras on the horizon, I would welcome a higher-bit-rate update to the NanoFlash -- but remember, the 8-bit limit is tied directly to the recording codec (and chip), so it's pretty much a given with the current NanoFlash design. Both I and my clients have been extremely impressed with the quality of the 100Mbps Long-GOP and 220 Mbps I-Frame recording in shooting both Blue and Green Screen material with the EX1 and EX3.

I also can see that as a company, C-D has been extremely responsive to the needs and requests of its customers, and has implemented many requests originated within this forum. (Have I thanked you lately for coming up with a PC version of the MOV to MXF file converter - which has already saved me on several occasions?)

Finally, for those of us who already are happy NanoFlash owners, Dan's comments provide a good reference source for us to use in tech discussions with our clients, many of whom seem to think that no-one would come out with a new recorder that wouldn't automatically integrate all the features of every previous competing recorder.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 01:25 PM   #14
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Re: Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

For me, I easily run a SolaENG 3 (30w), nano and EX3 off a Swit 88whr v-mount battery on my Zacuto rig

But, I still have a problem with Premiere Pro CS5 and importing nano files.

Dan, any word back from Adobe on when this will be fixed?

FYI, I tried 50Mb from a nano to see if Adobe 'saw' them as regular XDCAM HD but the conforming/ram issue still occurs :(

PS After some extensive testing, I have greatly reduced the noise in my EX3; so, shooting greenscreen now works beautifully.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 05:22 PM   #15
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Re: Ki Pro Mini verus nanoFlash

Dear Steve,

I will ask our support team to run some tests with CS5.

Are you running 5.0.3.5 or higher?

So we can duplicate your conditions:

Long-GOP or I-Frame Only

Bit-Rate

CS5 full version number

nanoFlash firmware version number

Frame Rate

1080 or 720p

Embedded Audio or Analog Audio

Number of Audio tracks.

After we run some tests, we can contact Adobe.
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