The Overall Winner of the 2012 Zacuto Camera Shootout Poll Is....
Now that part two of Zacuto's Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout is out, we know which camera was which in our poll. Several hundred voters ranked their top choices among the Apple iPhone 4S, Panasonic GH2 (Hacked), Canon 7D, Canon C300, Sony FS100, Sony F3, Sony F65, RED Epic, and Arri Alexa. One response got over twice as many votes as the 2nd place finisher -- see which here:
That's right -- "Didn't have a favorite" won the shootout by a mile. Which is the way it should be! While it's an oft-repeated mantra in these shootouts, the fact is that cameras don't make good movies, people do -- and the results of our poll shows that most people don't care what something was shot on. ((I didn't include the "Didn't have a favorite" voting tally the first time we published this poll, since there were no labels other than camera letters.))
Surprisingly, the first place finisher by votes (disregarding the "didn't have a favorite" responses) was the hacked Panasonic GH2 -- the second cheapest camera in the entire shootout at $750 for the body only (the iPhone 4S is technically the cheapest, though you may consider it a phone and not a camera per se, and it may carry with it contracts etc.). I personally wasn't a huge fan of the camera's look, but from a value standpoint it's hard to beat for its imagery alone. Also keep in mind that each one of these scenes had a different lighting setup designed to play to a camera's strengths -- part three of the shootout will show the same scene without changing the lighting from one camera to the next.
As for my own tastes, I watched the shootout twice in a slightly different order and ranked the cameras in my own order of preference. From first to last I ranked them as follows (replacing camera letter with actual model now that we know which is which): the Arri Alexa and RED EPIC (tie), Sony F65, Sony FS100, Panasonic GH2, Canon C300, Sony F3, Canon 7D, iPhone 4S. I'm not surprised I liked the Alexa, EPIC, and F65 the most, but I am surprised I liked the FS100 so much more than the F3 -- which just shows how much the lighting choices and grading decisions affected the outcome. I also went back to re-watch the RED EPIC footage
knowing they had HDRx enabled ((Thanks to a comment below by Art, according to EPIC cinematographer Ryan E. Walters they shot, but did not use, the HRDx track. Ryan's post is a great read and I highly recommend it!)), which gives a greater dynamic range but also creates some motion artifacting that I wasn't looking for initially (and which can be harder to detect over a flash video presentation).
I updated these poll results with the extra responses that happened between the publishing of the anonymous results and the release of part two of the shootout (accounting for 13% more votes), and I closed the poll as soon as the part two was released so all voting would be kept anonymous.
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 final results with 678 responses. 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... now that you see which is which, are you surprised by your own choices? Which cameras did you like best?
Disclosure: Zacuto is a No Film School advertiser.