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Vaxis Atom 500 SDI Review - Newsshooter

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Essentially

. The advantage of using an SDI wireless video system is that it can be compatible with more cameras, and you should be able to get better latency than when using HDMI.

Atom 500 SDI is touted as an affordable SDI and HDMI wireless video system that can transmit video from almost any camera to receivers and applications. Affordable wireless video solutions have appeared everywhere in the past year, and their functions have continued to improve.

Atom 500 SDI is aimed at professional users, while Atom 500 is aimed at Prosumer, YouTube, and Vlogger markets.

Atom 500 is composed of SDI / HDMI TX and SDI / HDMI RX units. Both work on the 5GHz frequency band.

Over the years, I have reviewed many Vaxis products and their build quality has always been good. The Atom 500 SDI shell is basically the same as the Atom 500. As I pointed out when reviewing the Atom 500, none of these systems seem to be as rugged and durable as the company's other products. Vaxis must keep weight and size reduced, which is undoubtedly a compromise.

Having said that, I have no concerns about the build quality of the Atom 500 SDI. However, it is still a fairly sturdy product, but once you start targeting professional users, they will expect its quality to be much better than casual users.

Interestingly, Vaxis changed the design of the three buttons on the front of the TX and RX units. They are no longer as flush as on the Atom 500, which makes them easier to use and operate.

Atom 500 SDI TX has dual inputs, but unlike Atom 500, it has no loop-through function because TX does not have any output. If there is no output on the TX unit, you will not be able to perform operations such as looping out the signal through the monitor. 

The Atom 500 SDI RX and TX units weigh 170 grams (5.99 ounces), which is only 12 grams heavier than the Atom 500 158 grams. Their physical dimensions are 113mm x 63.5mm x 20mm. This makes it slightly larger than the Atom 500 (105mm x 60mm x 22mm).

This weight and size really make it very small and compact, for wireless video systems that have both SDI and HDMI functions.

I personally think that the Atom 500 SDI system is very suitable for use with small and medium-sized digital cinema cameras with SDI capabilities.

Atom 500 SDI comes with TX unit, RX unit, user manual and USB Type C cable. Unlike the Atom 500, you will not get a cold shoe or cold shoe platform.

On the front of the TX and RX units is a small OLED display where you can see important information and make changes. The only change you can see with the new Atom 500 SDI is that you can now display the temperature of the device in Fahrenheit or Celsius.

Since Atom 500 SDI uses 5GHz channels, Vaxis introduces a new automatic channel selection by default. The RX and TX units will continuously scan the surrounding environment and use the best available channel.

For those who want to manually select a channel, Vaxis also provides this feature for you. You can enter the channel scan mode, where the system will find the best available channel for you to use.

Another nice feature of Atom 500 SDI is that you can prioritize image quality or latency as needed. If the image quality is more important, the system will give priority, if the delay is more important, it will reduce the quality. Remember, you can only select these options on the RX device. If you only use the Vaxis Vision App with the TX unit, these parameters cannot be changed.

Both TX and RX units have built-in antenna units. Since the external antenna is usually longer than the actual RX or TX unit, this does minimize the footprint of the system.

Vaxis includes two 1/4 20" mounting holes on both TX and RX units. One on the side and one on the bottom. Strangely, there is a label for cold shoe mounting, but there is no actual hole to fix it.

Vaxis uses H.265 encoding to transmit signals, which can be viewed through applications on smartphones and tablets. This is very clever because it allows Vaxis to send a better signal while using less bandwidth. This is what we see now that many companies are doing.

According to Vaxis, the delay time is less than 0.08 seconds (80 milliseconds). I will further test the Atom 500 SDI latency through the application and the output of the RX unit.

Sending a wireless video signal so that multiple people can view it on a dedicated application at once is nothing new. Teradek has been doing this for many years, and recently, we have seen very cost-effective systems from companies such as Holland, Acsoon and Zhiyun.

The Vaxis Vision application is a separate dedicated application for Atom 500 and Atom 500 SDI. It allows anyone with an iOS device to view the wireless signal from the TX unit.

The Vaxis Vision app is more than just a viewer. It enables you to activate monitoring functions such as peaking, focus punching, frame guidance, etc. As long as it supports HDMI recording trigger, you can even remotely roll and record the camera. (Please check if it can be used with SDI)

I will tell you how it works and further performance in the review.

Both Atom 500 SDI RX and TX units have built-in battery boards that can be loaded with Sony NP batteries. You can also choose to power it via USB-C.

The battery plate has been redesigned and now has a spring-loaded mechanism to help secure the battery. The battery will not move or sway.

Vaxis is pleased to provide you with two ways to power your equipment. The use of built-in batteries can reduce the size, but most professionals do not want to use devices with built-in batteries unless they can power the device for a long time.

Running the Atom 500 SDI with Sony NP batteries on small and medium digital cameras will not make it too heavy. However, I do hope that Vaxis has at least some kind of industry standard power connector installed on the TX unit. In this way, you can power it directly from the camera's output.

Both TX and RX units have built-in fans. If you use TX near the onboard microphone, you may hear sound. I recommend placing the TX unit away from any onboard microphones.

In a very quiet room where recording is important, this can also be a problem, but you can turn off the fan as needed.

The fan on the TX is indeed much larger than the fan on the RX.

You can change the fan setting between Auto/High/Off. You can see a temperature indicator on the OLED screen, but I am not sure what temperature the Atom system can safely work to.

With SDI and HDMI, you can only set 1080 to 59.94p at most.

Atom 500 SDI can transmit the following content via SDI:

Atom 500 SDI can transmit the following content via HDMI:

You can shoot in HD up to 60p, and depending on your camera, it can still send images through the TX unit. I tried to feed 23.98, 24, 25, 30 and 60p signal sources to the TX unit and they all worked. Except for 4K signals above 30p, it will not. I tried all these tests with Panasonic S1H.

As mentioned earlier, both the Atom 500 SDI TX and RX units have SDI and HDMI ports. TX has SDI input and HDMI input. RX has an SDI output and an HDMI output.

The TX and RX units also have USB-C/DC inputs.

The system can be password protected, so only the person you want to view the signal can use. This is a nice feature that many other affordable wireless video transmission systems do not.

As I always say, a good wireless video solution should be easy and fast to set up and get up and running. To be honest, this shouldn't be a difficult task, and if so, then I think the product has failed.

Like most Vaxis wireless systems, the Atom 500 SDI is actually plug and play. You just need to turn on the power of the TX unit, input the video source, then turn on the power of the RX and connect it to the monitor.

Or, you can turn on the power of the TX unit, input the video source, and then start the application.

If you use TX and RX units to send signals to the monitor at the same time, you only need to make sure that both TX and RX are on the same channel. After everything is normal, I will get a picture within 20 seconds. Twenty seconds is about twice the time it takes for other Vaxis wireless systems I have reviewed to receive photos. In any case, the Atom 500 SDI system is fast and easy to use.

Now, if you want to send an image from TX and view it on the app, then this does involve several steps, especially the first time you use it.

First, you need to download the Vaxis Vision app. Then, once it is turned on, it needs to be connected to the TX unit.

When you try to connect for the first time, this screen greets you. At first, I didn't know what to do because the instructions contained therein did not mention this step.

My final conclusion is that on the TX unit, you need to enter the menu and pair. Here it will also provide you with VX_# and password.

After entering this information, you will be asked to join the Vaxis Vision WiFi network.

After joining, the following screen will greet you. The pictures from the TX unit and a bunch of icons will be there.

Once completed once, you don’t have to enter VX# and the password entirely. However, you need to do this the first time you connect to a new device. If you plan to place it on a customer’s phone or tablet, you need to consider this time.

Now, back to usability, I want to see what happens if I lose the connection, so I turned off the TX and turned it back on. Once the TX is turned off, you will lose the pictures on the app (as expected). Once I turned the TX device back on, the RX device recovered the signal within 22 seconds. This is too slow.

If you are using the Vaxis Vision application and then turn off the TX and then reopen it, you will lose the picture, but the picture will not be restored unless you restart the application from the beginning.

So, what if I unplug HDMI or SDI from the camera? The system can re-establish the connection between the monitor and the Vaxis Vision application in less than 4 seconds.

So, what happens if you suddenly change the camera's frame rate from 23.98p to 30p when the system is turned on? It took about 10 seconds for the picture to return. When I changed the camera back to 23.98fps, it also took about 10 seconds to restore the connection.

In the final test, I want to change the operating channel and see what happens. I changed the receiver to another channel, and then changed the sender to the same channel. This time it took me about 20 seconds to finish the photo.

The app is fairly basic, but it does have some nice features. You can zoom in focus by 2x and 4x, and you can use your finger to move around on the screen.

There are also peaks and zebras, and you can change the intensity of both.

Even though the intensity can be changed, the color of the peak cannot be changed, but the peak stays in red.

You can also set frame guides and center marks, as well as adjust the brightness, contrast, and clarity of the screen.

Unfortunately, without these menu items, you cannot get a clear view, at least as far as I know. Of course I tried my best to see if I could. I think this is a bit wrong with the design of the application. Although I am sure that this problem can be easily resolved by updating the application. Having said that, I mentioned this to Vaxis 6 months ago and I haven't added it yet.

In my opinion, the image quality of the signal appearing on the app is very poor. The image looks very low resolution and not clear at all. At the top, you can check the image quality on the iPhone through the Vaxis Vision app, and on the left you can see NinjaV.

Vaxis also stated that as long as the app supports HDMI recording triggering, it will allow you to remotely scroll through the recording camera. I tried this operation on Panasonic S1H, but it didn't work.

Zero latency (or close to zero latency) is one of the important reasons why you spend more money on high-end systems. Most high-end wireless video systems have almost zero latency, and many systems with limited budgets can have significant latency, especially those that use HDMI. In theory, since Atom 500 SDI uses SDI, the latency should be very low. Is that right? Well, let's find out.

I used Kinefinity MAVO LF for some delay tests and output the SDI signal from the camera to the Atom 500 TX. Then, I connected the monitor to the Atom 500 RX via SDI.

I measured the average delay in three test series of 140ms. Even for this price system, the latency is quite high, especially when using SDI. Unexpectedly, when the SDI signal is sent to the TX unit and monitored using the Vaxis Vision application, the average delay is 71ms, which is basically half of the delay when using the RX unit.

Now, when I try the HDMI test, the TX unit will not receive any HDMI signal from the camera. This seems to be a problem between Kinefinity MAVO LF and Atom 500 SDI.

To test the HDMI delay, I used Panasonic S5. In a series of three tests, I found that the average delay is 158ms, which is only slightly worse than the results obtained when using SDI. When I feed the HDMI signal into the TX unit and then use the Vaxis Vision application, I get an average delay of 123ms. Strangely, this is better than what I got when I used the RX device.

You should never test the image delay with just one camera, so I did another test with BMPCC6K and Atomos Ninja V. I output the signal from the BMPCC6K to the TX unit via HDMI. Then, I connected the RX unit to Atomos NinjaV via HDMI. I also opened the Vaxis Vision app on the iPhone. This test is performed with the RX unit priority set to delay.

Above, you can see a test that clearly shows the delay between the subject, the image on the BMPCC6K, the image output from the RX unit to the Ninja V, and the Vaxis Vision application.

In a series of four tests (for this reason, I did not calculate the delay from the stopwatch being shot to the camera), the average delay I got was as follows:

What do these numbers actually mean? Well, anything below 100ms is considered low, because most people won't feel such a small delay. Once more than 100 milliseconds, we will feel a significant delay.

What you obviously need to know is that the amount of delay you will see varies from camera to camera, especially when using HDMI.

You see, HDMI has inherent image processing issues, and yes, if you combine it with one of the cheaper wireless video systems, there may be a lot of delays. Ultimately, you need to live with an acceptable limit.

The strange thing is that the image waiting time when using the Vaxis Vision application is shorter than the image waiting time when using the RX unit. Usually the opposite is true.

I recently checked

, Even if this is an HDMI-only device, its latency is better than that of the Vaxis Atom 500 SDI.

When I tested the HDMI delay of Accsoon from Kinefinity MAVO LF, I set it to 

 spread. These results are excellent for inexpensive wireless video systems.

You can use the Atom 500 SDI RX and send the signal to the monitor, or you can use the Vaxis Vision application at the same time. I tested this and it does work properly.

You can do this with great pleasure, and it will definitely increase the flexibility of the system.

Unplugging the connector, changing the settings, and turning the receiver and transmitter on and off is one thing, but how effective is it in the real world?

The actual transmission distance is also related to the current air electromagnetic environment. Because the system works in the ISM frequency band, it will be affected by various air interferences in the 5GHz frequency band.

With this in mind, I decided to test the scope and performance of the system. To test the range of the system, I stood within the line of sight of the receiver and started to attach the TX to the camera and walk away. I found that I can easily reach 350m (1148′) and still have a stable signal. I'm pretty sure I can go further, but I ran out on the straight road where I was testing.

Now, Vaxis claims that the maximum operating range is 500' (152m) of the site, but this is usually only possible on flat, open terrain without wireless interference. I conducted this test in central Tokyo, which is one of the busiest RF and WiFi traffic areas on the planet. In this environment, I did not expect the Atom 500 SDI to reach anywhere near its claimed working distance, but it greatly exceeds it.

I really can't explain why or how, but the test did not lie. What you should keep in mind is that the distance you can reach varies greatly depending on where you are and how you use the system.

The only logical explanation I can offer is that the automatic channel selection system must work well.

When I use the Vaxis Vision App, I found that the maximum distance is about 90m (295'). That is, once you start to stay away from the TX 40-50m, the application signal will not be truly stable. I keep seeing the picture disappear and then reappear.

Whenever I check the wireless video transmitter, I will test it in the exact same location under the same working conditions. In this way, I can get a good understanding of the comparison between various competing systems.

I also found that the automatic channel function is really easy to use. I took the Atom 500 SDI to another environment, and I noticed that sometimes it automatically changes the channel.

. Considering its function, this represents a pretty good price/performance ratio.

How does this price compare to other wireless video systems that can be streamed to the app?

Please note that all of the above systems provide different functions. The only other products that really compete with it are Holland MARS 400S and 400S Pro.

Vaxis will begin to provide customers with warranty services similar to DJI maintenance. If your device is faulty, if you register on the Vaxis website, Vaxis will replace it with a new or refurbished device.

The only other products I mentioned that can compete with it are Holland MARS 400S and the just released Mars 400S PRO. They are the only devices with SDI and HDMI functions, TX and RX units, and other devices that can transmit to the application.

Hollyland has

MARS 400S is compatible with SDI and HDMI, and its working range is up to 400 feet.

MARS 400S and 400S Pro can be used with iOS and Android APP. Using the app, you can stream videos and watch them on up to four iOS or Android devices at once. The receiver can also be used at the same time. The retail price of MARS 400S Pro is

.

Teradek has

, But have both HDMI and SDI and use applications with more functions. Serv Pro can also connect to 10 IOS devices at a time. It is also more expensive than the Atom 500 SDI, and has a limited range and no RX unit.

The wireless video transmission system needs rock-solid reliability. It doesn't have to hinder you, and it's easy to set up and use. 

The Atom 500 SDI has a reasonable structure, is relatively easy to set up and use, and offers many functions at a price. A system with both SDI and HDMI and the ability to stream to the application is priced at $449, which is impressive.

It should be noted that the image delay depends on the type of camera used. My test shows that the image delay can change a lot. With Kinefinity MAVO LF, the latency is quite good for an affordable wireless system, but it is very bad when used with Panasonic S1H or S5. If you are watching the signal and are not near the camera and cannot see what is happening, the image delay is not necessarily important.

I find it strange that the lowest delay I can achieve is by outputting the SDI signal to the TX unit and then monitoring it through the Vaxis Vision application. To say the least, it provides less latency than using TX and RX via SDI.

You don’t want to buy a product, no matter how much it costs, or who you are targeting, and then find that its performance does not meet your expectations. I just hope you understand the expectations and limitations of the Atom 500 SDI.

Atom 500 SDI has a lot of features and prices, but latency may be an issue, and the image quality when using the Vaxis Vision application is not very good. Although the price of wireless video transmission systems has dropped significantly in recent years, and you can now get a good system without spending too much money, if you are already close to delay, then you will always have to spend more money. No performance.

Matthew Allard is an award-winning, ACS-certified freelance photography director with 30 years of work experience in more than 50 countries/regions around the world.

He is the editor of Newsshooter.com and has been writing articles on the site since 2010.

Matthew has won 41 ACS awards, including four prestigious golden tripods. In 2016, he won the Best Photography Award at the 21st Asian Television Awards.

Matthew can be hired as a DP in Japan or work anywhere else in the world.

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