Results from the Single-Chip Camera Evaluation Conducted by Robert Primes, ASC
One of the highlights of NAB's "content theater" screenings was the Single-Chip Camera Evaluation, the result of an exhaustive camera shootout conducted in February by Robert Primes, ASC and a full crew (totaling what was estimated at over 5,000 man- and woman-hours). After seeing the terrific half-hour presentation at Zacuto's booth, I went back for a second look at the full presentation. While the images -- which should be released online in the future -- are far more important than the charts, here are some key results from the screening, which featured cameras ranging from the cheapest Canon DSLR to cameras costing hundreds of thousands.
Unfortunately the RED EPIC wasn't available at the time the test was conducted, so the RED is represented by a RED ONE MX in these tests. These are just screengrabs via ProVideo Coalition of the test itself; stay tuned for Zacuto's behind-the-scenes videos coming in June. There was also mention of a potential Blu-ray release of the test.
Note these are "line pairs," which is double the traditional "TV lines" measurement -- if you're used to the latter, multiply each number above by two. I also suspect that the 1D Mark IV's focus was soft in this test. And, of course, measured resolution does not take into account aliasing and other artifacts that may make one camera's resolution cleaner than another's.
Note this chart starts at 9, not 0, so the differences between each camera are not nearly as pronounced as it seems visually. As with resolution, not all latitude is created equal -- some cameras retain more highlight detail (film especially), whereas others pack in much more shadow detail (of which the RED is a good example).
Ultimately it's easy to get caught up in a numbers game, or to look at a particular test chart and say, "that's ugly." But the fact is, few of the flaws exposed in these tests are going to outright ruin a film. The only issues that I saw as potential deal-breakers are the infamous DSLR aliasing, and the slow CMOS readouts of a few cameras (which will only come into play if you're shooting an action film or otherwise need a very nimble camera). Every single one of the cameras featured was, to me, perfectly adequate to the task of telling a great visual story.
[via ProVideo Coalition]