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How Does the RED EPIC Compare to the 5D Mark II -- After Being Compressed for the Web?

08.25.11 @ 11:11AM Tags : , , , , , ,

As part of a guy’s night out I saw the new Conan: the Barbarian the other night and it was honestly the first time I found myself thinking in a theater, “this is soft — I could really do with a 4K image.” It was also the first time I thought, “I bet my five year-old nephew could write this.” But then I read an honest and insightful post by screenwriter Sean Hood on Quora, and the behind-the-scenes answer (especially with three credited screenwriters) is never as simple as “it was badly written.” Getting back to the first thought about 4K, however, internet TV show Film Riot asks the question: once compressed for the web, how different are the RED EPIC and Canon 5D Mark II? Of course there’s a big difference in the theater, but how about on your laptop?

It’s interesting — once compressed for the web, the clips are pretty similar and as far as bang-for-your-buck goes, the 5D Mark II is still a hero.

To download 5K footage, go here (at present, the link is dead due to too much bandwidth, which happens with 5K footage); to download the free REDCINE-X, go here.

And, I’m doing things out of order here, but if you’re more interested in an overview of the operational functions of the EPIC, here’s an earlier Film Riot episode:

I’ve held an EPIC in my hands and it’s an incredible feat of engineering. That said, so is the 5D Mark II. It’s a good time to be shooting.

Speaking of which, I’d love to shoot my first feature film (which needs your help!) on an EPIC. DSLRs would be problematic because of their pronounced CMOS skew (which is not ideal for fast action, and which the RED exhibits a good deal less of), and the RED is especially appropriate because the script calls for several slow-motion sequences. As we get closer to the shoot date — which is not going to be for several months — if any NoFilmSchool readers are lucky enough to pick up an EPIC and want to cut a low-budget first feature a deal, that would be wonderful! Otherwise there are plenty of RED ONE M-X cameras floating around. We’ll see — first, the Kickstarter campaign has to be successful…


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  • I wonder how the hacked GH2 would do in this kind of test? Sure, the 5D is fullframe and gets you that ridicolous narrow DOF, but in cinema you usually don’t shoot under 2.8.

    • Roger Wielgus on 08.27.11 @ 3:39AM

      “ridiculous narrow DOF”. I am asking myself who is ridiculous writing such non sense as well as “Cinema usually don’t shot under 2.8″. Lot’s of feature film are shoot at 1.4

      • I’m retired IATSE, and you would be surprised at how much is shot at f5.6. Very seldom did I light anything below 2.8. Sometimes we would push one stop and print-up one stop so that we didn’t have to shoot below 2.8. This doesn’t mean that some people didn’t shoot WFO plus flash the film. BTW with digital cine cameras they sometime use a 360 degree shutter in low light levels.

    • That sounds funny… he meant shallow?

  • What is with the Arri Alexa?
    I have tested the red epic, red one mx and alexa with the guys form cinegate ( a prg company in germany) two weeks ago.
    The epic is cool, but the firmware doesn’t work. In 6 hours we had 9 reboots. After a firmware update there was only one working sdi output.

    • Yeah, I just saw via Twitter that Philip Bloom’s first EPIC shoot was a bust because the camera was bricked — he needed that latest firmware. EPIC-M has always been a “beta” camera, so hopefully when the EPIC-X starts shipping they’ll be a *bit* more stable.

  • Fantastic work guys. Thanks for this.

  • “ridiculous depth of field?” is that what it is, ridiculous? That ridiculous depth of field camera allows you to shoot at an f-stop that is at the sweet spot of the lens and have an incredible depth of field. Nothing ridiculous about it.

  • Ryan and the Film Riot guys are hilariously awesome. I really enjoy their show. And this test is not one to miss. The 5D easily holds up online.

    They raise a point that I feel is overlooked in the pursuit of a better image. The Web IS the finishing format for tons of us independents! I can throw up a YouTube or Vimeo video in HD 1080p on my widescreen tv and no one in the room can tell whether it’s a Blu-ray, DVD or Web video. The video gurus can, of course, but most people cannot.

    I compare it to mp3s versus records or CDs. We all know we could listen to hi-fi records and get better sound quality but mp3s are fast and convenient. Similarly, we all appreciate hi-def movies on the big screen, but online HD will do just fine for the majority of us.

    And it gets better. My HDTV is directly jacked to the Web. Bye bye DVDs and Blu-ray.

    • I totally agree: Web-HD is mostly not that good. I shoot a lot of stuff for my workplace with an SD shoulder mount (Sony DVCAM). It is an excellent SD camera with a really good PowerHAD 3-CCD sensor and its images are incredibly sharp and detailed for SD.

      When I upload these clips to our youtube channel, I just upres them to FullHD – in 720p on Youtube you couldn’t tell for sure if this has been shot in HD or not.
      If you’re a pro, you will immediately notice that the 1080 youtube video was probably up-rezzed, but most amateur viewers will definitely think it is real HD material (because they have never seen really good SD and even less good HD material in their lives).

  • I wonder how the Epic compares to the Panasonic Lumix GH2 with hacked firmware that allows for better video quality than the Mark II. For web, I mean :)

  • If i want to shot for a big theater, it’s RED, If i want to shot for a web, tv …etc, Then its 5D, so logical to me.