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July 2, 2012

Which Camera Won the Zacuto Camera Shootout? The (Anonymous) Winners and Losers

A couple weeks ago Zacuto released their Revenge of The Great Camera Shootout, which pitted the Apple iPhone 4S, Panasonic GH2 (Hacked), Canon 7D, Canon C300, Sony FS100, Sony F3, Sony F65, RED Epic, and Arri Alexa against each other. This year, however, there was a twist -- they didn't tell you which was which. I ran a poll asking folks which camera they liked the most, and with over 600 responses here are the results, by camera letter:

We'll have to wait for Part 2 of the shootout, coming July 13, to know which letter corresponds with which camera. However, it was interesting to see Camera B come out on top, as to my eye it looked like one of the most "artificial" electronic images in the test -- but the masses have spoken and my own opinion is not what this post is about! The methodology to this not-very-scientific survey was as follows: I gave 5 points for a camera getting a vote as a 1st choice, 4 points for a 2nd choice, 3 points for 3rd, 2 points for 4th, and 1 point for 5th.

Keep in mind that this particular test in the shootout was not a test of pure camera performance. Each camera had a different DP working from a base lighting setup that they were allowed to change to show off their own camera's strengths (and hide a camera's weaknesses). As such, some cameras were shooting a scene with a 14-stop dynamic range and other cameras were shooting that same scene with a lot more fill light to counteract a dynamic range that exceeded the camera's latitude. In part three of the Zacuto shootout we will see the exact same lighting setup shot with each camera -- and the results of our poll will likely change.

For more of our own thoughts, see Joe's thoughts on the shootout.

Disclaimers: we did not post this poll anywhere other than on this site (we also referenced it in the comments of Zacuto's shootout page). It was open to the public. The vast majority of poll-takers are members of the daily No Film School audience and their opinion is strictly their own. One voter could be a qualified professional cinematographer and the next could be Some Guy on the Internet. I compiled the results with 602 votes; there may be more now. If you go to the original poll and take it, you can see the unfiltered results. Our posting of this poll does not represent an endorsement of one camera over another. Also, this poll does not mean that anyone at No Film School (or Zacuto) thinks that your choice of camera is going to make or break your movie! It is simply here to educate and to inform.

With those disclaimers out of the way... did these poll results agree with your own interpretation?

Link: Zacuto's Revenge of The Great Camera Shootout

Disclosure: Zacuto is a No Film School advertiser.

Your Comment

32 Comments

B is going to the the iPhone. Just wait and see.

July 2, 2012

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That would be ironic justice. Wouldn't it?

July 2, 2012

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Actually, I think B is the GH2, and I didn't like it at all. I'm quite surprised by these poll results.

July 3, 2012

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I am not surprised to see F and H near the top, but B does look more digital and sharper then some of the others. Maybe all of our Vimeo and Youtube watching has influenced what type of image we like as many videos are sharpened or have increased contrast to compensate for the compression.

July 2, 2012

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Casey

I personally preferred C, F & H. I like a 'softer' look more than the harshness of the B camera.

July 2, 2012

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Jeroen

Pretty close to my preferences as well. I had C, A, H and F as my top four.

July 2, 2012

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Me too! My order was CHF

July 3, 2012

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Edge

B is by far the most lit scene, which upon one quick glance (which most of the voters did), it is probably most memorable. However, B is the most 'digital' looking scene and, from my study and pixel peeping, 99% the GH2. Now, that is not to say the GH2 is too digital or anything, but in this case, let me explain why B was close to the bottom for me.

1. It had the most lighting added, therefore the least dynamic range. (Color was pretty compressed too, just look at the lamp shade - completely grey whereas H and F had a nice fleshly tone emanating out from it). Also, some aliasing on the window pane - but not bad like the 7d (G 100% - aliasing everywhere).

2. The "room" became a "set" because of the lighting changes and looks more like a soap set than a naturally lit room. F - most likely the Alexa - was lit very naturally. Could you ever see a scene from "24" being lit like B and looking like a soap? That would take you out of the moment.

3. Now, H for me was sharpest, had the most latitude and best color fidelity (detail in the lamp and lights). Can you imagine, if it is the F65 (99% sure) that it looks the best WITHOUT the relighting all the other scenes had? Amazing!

4. To add light and tons of post work is a detriment to a camera. A camera is supposed to make the MOST of natural light available in which the DP gets to sculpt with artificial light - in the hopes of creating a masterpiece. But it is all about the use of LIGHT. When obvious changes become so dramatic that the lighting looks staged, that speaks to a camera's weakness far more than resolution alone.

July 2, 2012

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B came off my list because of the blown highlights muddy skin and some tiny motion issues. But I had to watch the scenes at least 5 times before I could decide. On first glance B was very near the top. It took some study for me to get past the artistic choices of the different DP's. There were many changes that weren't simply correcting for a camera's strengths/weaknesses. There was a lot of choosing what aspects of the scene to highlight. Which is of the the most intriguing (and possibly flawed) parts of this 'test'. I'm really looking forward to the next installment.

On a different note, personally I was disappointing that film was not part of the equation this year. Particularly this years shootout was geared toward showing off each camera at its best.

July 2, 2012

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Yep, B is GH2 for sure. Was the only bloody scene that had light lol. Hard to choose any other scene
when the talent are lost on the dark for good portions. The fact it is the most chosen says more about the importance of audiences liking to be able to see the picture! So all you overly dark cinema projectors take note!

July 3, 2012

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Lliam Worthington

Ya, I think people chose B because you could see the most people, makes sense. But I guarantee you, walk in a room with your natural eye (according to Clarkvision, able to have 1 million:1 dynamic range ratio if adjusted), have it backlit like the scene and you will focus on the people in front who sit down to talk to you, the rest will be darker.

So, in terms of being a natural scene, B was least natural.

Then again, maybe if it were your home, you'd turn on more lights :)

July 3, 2012

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B is probably the epic.

July 2, 2012

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john jeffreys

B is almost certainly the GH2 — there's nasty aliasing on the window framing and the left-side lamp that wouldn't be visible on the Epic. Good lighting, imperfect camera.

(Also, those who've seen the whole thing already and spoken in forums have confirmed that B is the GH2.)

July 2, 2012

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Right, ok, proof at last. Not that you needed it. Was the easiest pick for sure I thought.
I thought E may have been the epic.

July 3, 2012

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Lliam Worthington

Agree, I think the B cam was the Epic.

July 2, 2012

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Erwin (Netherlands)

No way B is the epic.

July 3, 2012

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Lliam Worthington

Everything is as per my preference except that I voted H as the fourth and C going for 3rd place. Well, at least B and F is exactly as my ranking and D as the worst of all!
I believe that B is GH2 and D is iPhone. The rest doesn't really matter to me.
And NO WAY "B" is iPhone!! That will make the whole world turnaround.....hahahaha

July 2, 2012

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yeah, I agree with you. And if "B" is iPhone, the whole world would be crazy!!!

July 2, 2012

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They're all fuckin digital!

July 2, 2012

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Nick D

It's hard to choose because are they lighting for the camera or their personal tastes? Obviously it would be different if you lit everything the same way for each camera. Knowing your equipment informs how you light. Hopefully you have maximum flexibility so that you can focus where you want, but we don't always have that luxury.

July 3, 2012

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Mike

Don't worry, Part 3 will answer your question Mike. Soon you can also decide which camera is your preference...

July 3, 2012

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So we have to wait two months? Part two is not even out

July 3, 2012

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Believe
B - Canon C300, eletronic
C - Arri Alexa, organic
F - Red, medium

July 3, 2012

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Felipe

Wrong, wrong, wrong

July 3, 2012

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corrective1

This is what I believe after doing screenshots and looking over the stuff (PS: I do not know Sony stuff very much so I do not know their looks).

A - F3 - At first, I thought this image was 'sterile' but it does have good DR and color.
B - GH2 - codec banding in the shadows, needed a HUGE amount of light, least realistic, aliasing on the window, sharp image
C - I guess C300 but it could be "I". C was good, dark but sharp, decent color.
D - iphone - soft soft soft, dark, low quality, no bokah
E - RED - highlights are yellow, RED's tell
F - Alexa. Smooth, great DR, sharp, beautiful color rendition (look at that lamp)
G - 7d, 100%. Aliasing and moire, soft, dark but decent range of color - saturation was boosted.
H - My favorite, thinking the F65. The sharpest and widest FOV out them all, amazing color fidelity, looks like no added lights to this scene. Simply: amazing!
I - First glance through, the worst one IMHO. Then the details came out, definitely better than D and G, some aliasing. My gut was C300 which would make it surprising because I did not fair well. I'm gonna say FS100 here.

Here are my Rankings: H, F, A, C, E, I, B, G, D

July 3, 2012

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you are all losers

July 3, 2012

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devon

B is the GH2. I was at one of the screenings.

July 5, 2012

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tester

Cam B was my first pick and F was the second, A third. interesting

July 5, 2012

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Camera B looks like how Spanish soap operas are shot. I thought I liked it the first time I saw it, but realized I liked that I was able to see everything. Then I realized it looked like TV...straight up video.

So I don't like B really.

July 8, 2012

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F and H were the best!! B and D were not that good !! anyways i hope they surprise me!!

July 10, 2012

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sebastian

the shootout was not good theyve should light every take the same way to really compare the results .

July 10, 2012

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sebastian

Sucks that camera B is GH2. I have a GH2 and it shoots better than that.

July 15, 2012

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ernstdante