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So Many New Camera Tests it's Hard to Keep Track: Phantom Miro, RED SCARLET, Sony F3, and Canon C300

05.17.12 @ 11:56AM Tags : , , , , , , , , ,

We’re trying to share more actual shorts and not just camera tests here, as a difference of one stop in dynamic range from one camera to the next is not going to make or break your narrative or doc. From DSLRs costing hundreds to 4K cameras costing tens of thousands, there is a great camera out there for your budget. Still, one question all filmmakers will be asked is, “what do you want to shoot on?” and so it’s still handy to keep tabs on what’s available. Here are several new tests of some of the latest large-sensor imagers:

Here is a Sony F3 vs. RED SCARLET skin tone test from Timur Civan:

And here is a RED SCARLET vs. Canon C300 outdoor test (we previously posted a nighttime bike race of these two cameras, which also included the Canon 5D Mark III):

DP and visual effects artist Jim Geduldick shot this on the $25k Phantom Miro M120:

Here’s the behind-the-scenes:

Finally, here’s a nighttime shoot with the Canon C300, shot by Hello World Communications at 10,000 ISO:

So… with all these options out there, do you have one particular camera in mind for your next project? Is it one of the above, a DSLR, or even… film? Let us know your thoughts!


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 39 COMMENTS

  • Vimeo blocked in India. Doomsday for aspiring Indian filmmakers.

  • They all look great.

  • john jeffreys on 05.17.12 @ 12:51PM

    I am a natural light enthusiast, not because I’m lazy but because I feel that artificial light is artificial and makes my subjects look tacky and fake like a commercial or corporate training video. That being said, I’d like to rent (or ideally, own, but I have to do student loans first) a c300 or 1D-c (whenever that comes out) because of their low light capabilities for my next two projects this summer, one of them a longer short (30-45mins) and the other a feature film. totally in love with the c300, and my 5d 2 would make a very capable b camera for it

    • Dude, so all the classic films made over the past century look tacky and fake like a commercial or corporate training video.?

    • Not lighting at all will only make your film look tacky and lazy. Observing natural light and augmenting it to your needs can still yield a satisfying, naturalistic image, but with these new ultra-sensitive cameras there is a misconception that you don’t have to light at all. Do yourself a favor and study how natural light interacts with environments and subjects then challenge yourself to accurately recreate the look. This allows you greater control, which is important when wanting to emphasize a dramatic moment, even if it’s in a subdued way. If you depend entirely on natural light you’ll just end up having to compromise your image.

      • If John Jeffreys wants to use all natural lighting for his film, then so be it- that’s an aesthetic he can strive to make work (and utilizing it properly might yield amazing results). We’ve already seen a great number of videos up on Vimeo and YT over the past few years that prove just this.

        However, if you’re looking to make things look natural, and I know this article is a bit dated now, this is the best route to go:

        • john jeffreys on 05.17.12 @ 4:49PM

          oh yeah ive been generalizing i think, Drive had incredible lighting design.

          ok, im talking shit. lighting is cool. as long as its tastefully used

          • My friend, lighting is more than cool! Lighting IS cinematography simple as that. Yes so is composition, framing, etc but when it comes down to it, cinematographers are painters of light.

          • Lighting is second only to production design in determining the whole look of a film, in my opinion. Perfect camera movements and composition and lens choices and depth of field can still look like utter garbage if the lighting isn’t considered.

        • Somewhat off-topic, but the comments section of that article is full of horrible, horrible people…

    • Well if your shooting daylight, then a camera with a native 5000k sensor would perform best for you, and other than the alexa the other option is red, which especially if you want to control contrast of natural light, Raw is for you.

      The 1dc is a poor choice, no hd sdi, no 25p so the camera is anti europe, no focus assist functions. no high frame rates, 8bit color no raw capabilities, its obsolete before its release, you can by a redone or a fs700 for almost half the price of a 1dc, makes no sense.

      • john jeffreys on 05.17.12 @ 4:55PM

        i like the 1dc because its body style is something i am familiar with, it shoots 4k (albeit a bad codec) straight to cheap CF cards, its also an advanced stills camera, and it has 1080p 60 and can also crop the sensor between aps-h, super 35, and full frame (which means, with the appropriate adapter, i can use any lens i want almost). its very versatile. hd sdi is not a big deal for me, as is PAL framerates because im shooting both films in america

        • The common mentality of “sticking to what I know” rather than comparing features advantages and benefits of what the market has to offer is will have you paying more for less.

          1080 60p is not worth 15k especially when its cropped sensor, you can get 200+ frames per second for half price.

          You’re overestimating the versatility of a cropped sensor, canon has been vocal that the cropped sensor will have a 1080p frame, but will only resolve 700 lines.

          If you want a versatile mount that go with a sony e mount

          • I remembering you saying that the suggested retail price would come down though it hasn’t, its 15k at BandH what price would it have to be for you to say its too expensive?

        • John Jeffreys, I may catch some grief for saying this but, if HD SDI is not a big deal to you and, by your own admission, the 1DC outputs “a bad codec”, should you even be dabbling in this price category? Why not just use your 5Dmk2? Why anyone would, IMO, spend (read ‘waste’) this kind of $ because you are familiar with the body style, is beyond me. OK, 4K but, “bad codec” and no way to get a good codec because no SDI out. To me, that is sheer lunacy. As Ryan stated (I think in reference to the FS700) you can get much better value at half the price. I just don’t get the Canon-Love thing. I own a 5Dmk2 and several Canon lenses but, their latest round of products fall SO short of where they should be. You can see in the ScarletX and C300 comparison above, the C300 looks like doodoo. Canon should adopt Screamin’ Jay Hawkin’s, “I Put a Spell On You” as their theme song.

          • john jeffreys on 05.18.12 @ 2:22AM

            because i like the “look” of the footage they output; sony footage has that “look” and it looks nasty and sharp. i like the familiarity. i like the fact that its a really good stills camera because im a media artist above all else and i like things that serve multiple roles. also, because it looks like a stills camera, i can film with it anywhere and not get caught. my 5d is great but it doesnt have hd monitor out, sensor crop modes, and expanded iso performance/low noise that the 1dc has, not to mention the 4k acquisition and 1080p 60. also, that camera wont be 15k i hope. it will probably be 10-11

          • More money than sense. I do photography as my fulltime profession and more recently, HDSLR videography as well using my 5D and 7D. I know about about multi-purpose, but spending that kind of cash for terminally crap codec is definitely lunacy. If you want to create a “look”, try using different glass, filters, and grading. But for god’s sake, don’t spend $15k to end up with something that clamps your options. Rather buy different cameras. For that money, you could afford a BMD Cinema Camera, an FS100, plus an AF100 and use them all for different “looks” (if for some reason you are physically unable to grade footage in post). If you want a stills camera, and you are a canon fanboy, but a 7D. honestly, I use it more than the 5D for stills. If you smart, you buy a Nikon D800 for stills, it’s the best camera in the world using the 35mm format.

            You sound like you have already made up your mind, and logic/reason has nothing to do with anything.

          • @Terence Keams-
            Yep, yep and more yep! To me, Canon is the worst offender when it comes to milking as many dollars out of the consumer as possible. Their products of late have very short shelf lives and little usefulness long term. Canon (and all the other manufacturers, too) are capable of giving us the camera we need. They don’t do it because, it seems, there are no shortages of fanboys willing to buy purposefully crippled cameras. There will be many cameras available soon that will outperform the 1DC in every way… for much less $.

  • WTH, no Ikonoskop footage 8-0

  • I have two definite projects in the pipeline, both features. One is a historical drama, the other is a documentary (which is aimed at feature length, though there is a possibility we might cut it for TV instead, it’s not definite yet). Both projects are low-to-no-budget. My intentions are to use an AF100 + Atomos Ninja as an A camera with (mostly) Nikon glass that I’m modifying myself to add solid Delrin gears. I have f1.4 primes at 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm, various zooms including the Panny 7-14, a couple of shift/tilts and macros, etc. B camera (sharing the same glass) will be a hacked GH2. C camera (if needed) will be an HMC 150, more likely useful if I need extra-deep depth of field or I want to do a lot of camera movement. Lighting wise I have 5 flourescent heads with softboxes and will probably add a few LED panels soon. I also am building my own Chromatte-like green screen rig. I’ve already built a fairly nice slider and will be building a jib and a track dolly — I have a machine shop so I can always trade off between cost and time if I am prepared to design and build my own gear. Next project is most likely going to be a really solid base plate/rail mount for the AF100 that is milled from a solid piece of aluminum so it has no give whatsoever and have a low profile relative to the tripod. Post-wise, I have recently been using Adobe Production Premium CS5.5, but have just jumped to creative cloud, so I’ll be using CS6. I have a variety of Red Giant plugins. I also have Lightwave 11, ZBrush and Turbulence FD on the 3D CGI side. As far as audio is concerned, I’m mostly going to be using a H4n, with various microphones (lavs, NTG3, etc.) and a little submixer as needed. In audio post, I have Logic Pro, Reason, East-West Complete Composers collection and Native Instruments Komplete 8 — this is maybe a little more extreme than most people would go for but I’m an ex-sound engineer/music producer/musician/composer, so that stuff isn’t really negotiable.

    Ultimately, I’m going for good enough on a budget without sacrificing capability, and for wherever practical owning everything outright, keeping the need for renting gear to a minimum or often eliminating it, throughout the whole chain from shooting to mastering. The camera is just one link in a big chain as far as I’m concerned. :-)

    • dont use a hmc150 for anything you care about

      • Indeed — it’s listed as C for a good reason. :-)

        • shaun wilson on 05.17.12 @ 5:06PM

          Could the budget afford to buy a Blackmagic camera and fork out for a few GoFlex 4TB drives with four SSD cards then run your glass primes with that? Not ideal cause you’ll also have to run it off VLock batteries with a power out rig (Ebay good start) but its a 2.5K RAW option that will make the hmc150 look like VHS. You’ll also have to be very careful with only shooting one or two takes max because of limited space but considering most silent films went out with a 2.1 shooting ratio of limited film they still got the job done and so could you.

          • I had thought about it, but my glass is all Nikon or M43 (or Bronica/Zenzanon/Schneider if I stack a couple of adapters and have plenty of light — those lenses are ridiculously sharp by DSLR standards).

            But then, the AF100 + Ninja is no slouch. I’m pretty happy with the results. My reason for going that route was all price/performance. I picked up the camera used for $3300, but bizarrely it seemed to be an unopened, unused box and was absolutely mint showing no signs of ever having been even turned on. Adding the ninja, that brought me to $4300-ish, a bit more than the black magic (but way cheaper than replacing my lens collection!). My other thoughts were the D800, which I decided against because I wasn’t too impressed with the tests I saw from it, and wasn’t too keen on the ergonomics in comparison with the AF100. The FS100 was also a possible, but would have run about twice the cost factoring in the need to replace my wider M43 glass, and I also wasn’t wild about its ergonomics — I could make it as usable as the AF100, but it would require spending quite a bit of time and/or money on a rig, whereas with the AF it is actually quite feasible to just mount it as-is on sticks and get on with it. And I’d still be wanting a Ninja to record it anyway.

            I think the AF100 + Ninja combo is a good compromise, both in terms of cost and image quality. Going straight to Prores edits really nicely — despite the much higher bitrate, it’s far more responsive than an H.264 stream inside Premiere or After Effects, and the bitrate (though still yielding great images) is nowhere near as hard to deal with than a 2.5k uncompressed image. It also remains to be seen whether 2.5k downsampled to 1920 will really look any better than the AF100′s native 4k downsampled to 1920 (notwithstanding the 4:2:2 8 bit limitation). I do a fair bit of green screen, which makes the Black Magic more tempting, but actually I’ve had no great difficulty keying the AF100′s footage, even when encoded with the built in H.264 codec.

            Putting it another way, I think what I have is good enough that I don’t really have any excuses left and I’d better get on with it and shoot something! ;-)

    • Gareth Evans shots The Raid with two Af100′s and a GH2. That got a 600 print release in America and is almost certainly going to be the highest grossing Indonesian film of all time. Food for thought.

      • Interesting — I shall have to check it out. I’d heard of the movie but I didn’t know it was shot with AF100s. The GH2 as B cam thing works really well, by the way — I’ve had no difficulty intercutting footage between the two cameras. Also interestingly, I’ve done traditional stop motion animation (at just under 5k resolution!) with the GH2, which scaled down to 2k and looked gorgeous — having a native 16:9 sensor for stills at much higher resolution is really handy. I’ve also used that to get clean plates for compositing. I’m waiting on clearance to release that footage, so hopefully I’ll get to post it sometime soon.

      • I checked it out and, wow, really impressive. It looked like the DP shot most of it hand held with a fig rig — since I have one I shall have to give it a try. It looked like they were using a wireless follow focus, which makes sense, but I could do one of those myself I think — I probably even have the parts lying around. I’d most likely use a multiturn servo (usually intended for model boat winches — the ones I’ve used are bomb proof, I even had them work at 5% atmospheric pressure in a vacuum chamber, yes, I have a weird day job), and hook it up to an Arduino with an XBee transceiver, with another Arduino/XBee as a remote control. Probably a couple of weekends work… Hardest part will be current limiting the servo so it doesn’t damage the lens or lens gears if it hits an end stop, but that is also pretty straightforward.

        • Just seen it – good movie but the image didn’t really hold up on the big screen. Hopefully will look more impressive on Blu-ray. Lot of handheld work and fast pans meant so much skew in the image & the low light work was less than impressive. That being said it’s a good action film and well worth a watch.

  • Can someone explain to me what is going on in Timur Civan’s’ skin tone test? It says F3 with S-log but, what does Delog LUT mean? Is this graded footage or just straight out of the camera with S-log enabled and no grading? Is this Scarlet footage out of the camera ungraded? Sorry, I don’t get it.

    • You have to learn about gamma spaces to really get log and lut stuff. But heres a basic way to understand it

      Log Signal= the largest amount of information that the sensor can see. Its very low contrast because it is getting the most detail out of the darks and highlights. Its preferred because you get the most information to work with rather than baked in high contrast footage that cannot restore detail in darks or highlights

      LUT= a look up table which can be understood as a luminance adjustment, easy way to understand it is a color correction that brings log signals back to normal by lowering the darks and increasing the highlights(most of the time). Normal is rec 709 which is the industry standard for HD color and luminance reproductions (but you don’t have to bring it exactly to rec 709, colorists and DITs tweak the luminance to adjust the LUT or pre-grade, to the contrast that they prefer. So:

      Log + LUT = normal look or Deloged

      Delogged footage is not really considered graded footage because there is only really a luminance correction applied not a grade.

    • Dixter, If I am interpreting Timur’s graphic titles correctly, both the Sony and Scarlet footage have been “delogged” meaning a lookup table was applied to each sets of footage. I assume that the F3 footage used a Sony recommended LUT and the Scarlet footage used a Redlog Film LUT. With all due respect to Timur (who is a very good DP IMO), I don’t think this test shows us very much about the cameras. It is more about the characteristics of the LUT’s used. I tend to prefer the look of the Redlog LUT in these tests because it has more contrast and greater color saturation which makes the flesh tones pop. However, I believe that the F3 footage could be graded to look nearly identical to the Scarlet footage – and the reverse is probably true as well. It’s nice to know how each camera natively records color (the Canon vs. Scarlet ungraded footage). However, the final test when comparing cameras and color is to work on the best grade possible for the desired look. That might change project to project depending on color fidelity and the look one is seeking for a project.

      • The LUT is a custom LUT made by DIT Thomas Wong. He did his best to extract the most information out of the signal. The F3 was in Slog, the RED was set to REDLOGFILM.

        The RED looks more crunchy because it has less DR. Now in this limited dynamic range scene, that crunch makes it more attractive. We did this to show what the cameras are doing with respect to skin tones.

  • If only I were alive these days.

    • I know how you feel. I’m actually feeling better these days as something inside of me has died.

  • Ryan and Randolph, thanks much for your responses! I, actually, did know what a LUT is but, had to ask the question as a novice to make sure i got the full picture… which, both your responses illuminated the concepts further and confirmed my understanding. I was, especially, glad to hear what you, Randolph, said as, I too, did not get much from Timur’s comparison although, now, it does make more sense. And, not knowing what LUT was used (maybe it is rec709) didn’t help. BTW, Timur knows his stuff and I mean NO disrespect, whatsoever! I think the term delogged is confusing. Why can’t we just say ‘LUT applied’ and say what that LUT is? I know… video-speak… And I have an F3 with S-log and those images, without full explanations, to the novice, could paint the F3 as much inferior to what it is capable of, IMO. Thanks to both of you again.