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Zacuto Finally Reveals Which Cameras are Which with 'Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout' Part Two

07.15.12 @ 1:30PM Tags : , , ,

There’s no question that any material Zacuto releases about cameras is going to create a stir. Actually, anytime anyone releases anything about cameras people usually get very defensive if their favorite camera isn’t at the top of the list. We already ran a poll about which cameras were the favorite for NoFilmSchool readers, and if you happened to be at the shootout in person at one of the screenings, the results are pretty interesting. I’ve already given my thoughts on the shootout, and today with the release of Part Two, you’ll be able to finally match up your favorite scenes with what cameras they were shot on. Check out a trailer below:

I won’t spoil more of the test for anyone before they see it, but the empirical tests were not surprising to me and to a lot of other people at the screenings. The cameras that we expected to be at the top were at the top with few exceptions. Seeing it on the big screen was a completely different experience than seeing it online, and I have to say that it made certain cameras seem a lot closer than they might have seemed otherwise. Each scene was picked as someone’s favorite in the screening we were at, and that just proves above all else that subjectivity plays a huge role in deciding what is aesthetically pleasing to different people.

Head on over to Zacuto to watch Part Two by clicking the link below.

Link: Zacuto Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout Part Two: Igniting the Debate

Disclosure: Zacuto is a NoFilmSchool advertiser.


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  • Seeing, now, that B, the GH2, was the NFS poll winner, it’s still baffling that so many people preferred it’s look to the others. To me, it should definitely be near the bottom.

    • I had that one way down, along with the Iphone. Idk why people in the part II were saying how good it was… it was crap tbh.

      • I think it says a lot about those that voted the GH2 to #1 in the poll… aesthetically-challenged adolescents who believe an over-lit set is a better set. If the iPhone set had been over-lit, they would have made D the winner.
        And, for the people, actually at the screenings, who chose the GH2, I’ve lost much respect.

        • Or maybe it’s just because a GH2 can produce a beautiful image? I think all things the folks in the video were saying about it are true: it is baffling the quality you can get out of the camera. It’s not as good as the RED cameras, but who would argue otherwise?

          I can’t believe you’ve lost respect for the professionals in the video who said they liked the GH2. That is a level of snobbery and arrogance I can’t begin to comprehend.

          • Yes, I am a snob when it comes to image quality. And what I am baffled by is the lack of comprehension, of that quality, by a lot of viewers here.

          • David I will say this, the “zacuto” camera test was to do that, test the camera too see how they hold up in a certain condition, and the fact that these “top dogs” pick a GH2 is pretty pathetic.

          • Once again, the old adage rings true, “You can lead a horse to water but, you can’t make it drink.”

          • Gotta agree with David on this. it won because it produced a pleasing image to many people including to some top Professionals. That said, doesn’t matter one lick if the viewer is experienced or not in filmmaking. All that matters when it came to this test was a pleasing image.

          • Had I, as a DP, had to shoot this scene with a GH2 and that lamp in the far left looked like it does, with it’s horrible color rendition and, apparently, enough banding as to make the lamp look like it has flat sides instead of being round, it would be in the dumpster or, at least, on ebay that afternoon.

          • Dear Dixter. Congratulations on having an opinion, just like the guys in the test.

          • Francis Ford Coppola preferred the scene shot with the GH2 over the other cameras but what does he know about creating a filmic look?


      • What these viewers are apparently judging is the overall brightness of the room and the saturation — expressing a preference for one lighting and grading approach over another. For a dramatic piece (or a soap or sitcom) the GH2 approach probably *was* more appropriate than, say, the lighting used by the Sony or Arri team, which were content to showcase their camera’s dynamic range and not strive for lighting which was dramatic or TV-acceptable.

        Why Zacuto didn’t show the ungraded images is puzzling — the defects and limitations of the low-end cameras weren’t hard to see. Nobody would have chosen the GH2 in that test.

        • Did you not watch the first segment? It was ungraded straight out of the camera. Please inform yourself.

          • Ummm… don’t think so.
            Wasn’t the point of Episode 1 to show how each camera could look it’s best in the hands of experts? Correct me if I’m wrong but, to my understanding, all the footage in Episode 1 was graded.

          • Baloney. The only difference between the clips in part 1 and 2 is that the part 2 clips now carry a label. The single-light setup, ungraded footage is not shown in either part.

            Should I suggest you better inform yourself? Or would that be superfluous?

    • B was almost last for me. Who is saying it won, other than the poll on NFS? The documentary shows some people liked it, it also shows many people did not. Many people liked F.

      B is the high sugary, sweet content that packs a vibrant punch in your mouth but leaves you with a bellyache. You cannot live on sweets alone. Likewise, you cannot live on high contrast, low dynamic range, codec that falls apart in the blacks (on pt. 1 I saw artifacts on B) and super long set-up times needing tons of light and post work.

      H needed NO CHANGE to the set and still produced an image that was sharpest, most natural will spill light and great range/contrast in the skin tones.

      If I want a soap scene, light like B with a GH2. If you want a movie scene, light like F or use H or C or A.

      • I don’t think there is any real consensus about a favorite scene or camera, I think that’s why the top voted option wasn’t any specific camera at all. At the screening I was at, there were favorites for every single camera. At least a handful for each, except for maybe the FS100. GH2 did have a significant number who liked it as their favorite though. I can’t say for certain if it was more than any other camera though.

  • john jeffreys on 07.15.12 @ 2:31PM

    im so over all this camera hype. lets focus on creating good movies.

    • touché

      • you guys are on the wrong thread.

        • john jeffreys on 07.15.12 @ 3:15PM

          i feel like most of the people who hang out on camera blogs and argue about the gh2 or the 7d or the alexa have no talent at all and would rather just sit around on the computer and be superficial. there are tons of cameras out there, choose one that fits your project the best and move on. fuck.

          • Yeah, well, most people who hang out at film production websites can’t write worth a damn, are ignorant of the preceding 2000 years of art and culture, and know nothing which 10 million other would-be filmmakers don’t also know.

            If we’re going to let small deficiencies like that get in the way, what’s going to happen the aspirational movie business?

          • john jeffreys on 07.15.12 @ 4:43PM

            the only thing the dslr revolution/democratization of filmmaking as done for us is flood vimeo and youtube with millions of shitty wedding and timelapse videos

          • “the only thing the dslr revolution/democratization of filmmaking as done for us is flood vimeo and youtube with millions of shitty wedding and timelapse videos”.

            I’ll raise a glass to that!

          • Well, just to clarify the sneer — it’s probably best to assume every aspiring moviemaker, including you and me, lacks extraordinary abilities in the arts, because otherwise we and they would be working in art forms which don’t pose the extraordinary financial barrier of the movies (regardless of how cheap the cameras get).

            Great writers would be writing; great visual arts would be painting or sculpting; those who can do neither tend to want to make movies.

            It’s not nice to say, but it’s a fact. If you make the festival rounds and know people in the business, ask yourself: how many of them have truly original minds?

          • Wow. A lot of bile here.

            geraldH: It’s not a fact, it’s spectacularly flawed and oversimplified reasoning. To correct your train of thought: Those who are (or could be) great writers, would write IF they want to write. Those who are (or could be) great painters or sculptors would paint/sculpt IF they want to paint/sculpt.

            How you conclude that the only people interested in making films are people lacking other talents baffles me. For example, I’m a musician, amongst other things. Only recently have I become interested in film making. A friend of mine is a very good writer, and through me has also become interested in film making. By your logic, we must be terrible at music and writing, respectively; a frankly insulting and ignorant generalisation on your part. Or… just maybe… we’re good at those and are also interested in the separate and equally valid art of film?

            You also seem to ignore the possibility that there are as many crap artists and writers as there are film makers. You may find that there are a lot of morons on the festival circuit, but who’s to say it’s any different anywhere else?

          • John, you are sounding ignorant and harsh here. These blogs, tech specs, tests (which this is not a test yet btw – more of artistic expression, next episode will be the test) are here to help indie filmmakers LEARN strengths of cheaper cameras and how to get a film asthetic.

            None of us indies are buying an F65 or renting one for that matter, but we are using DSLR’s and love film asthetic.

            To just ‘use the camera that works’ is a futile statement for many of these cameras seeing that an iphone and DSLR’s simply do not ‘work’ out of the box for filmmaking, but rather need to be coaxed and helped along the way. The GH2 took tons of light, set up and post to look good.

            That is far from just ‘working.’

            You seem to be the one not knowing a set or crew.

            If you choose a camera that takes a ton of set-up time, lighting and post work and then not budget and time-allocate accordingly, who is the foolish one now? That could be the death of a film right there.

            For each scene, the GH2 was over an hour or more than the F65.

            Multiply that by 12 scenes a day and 60 days on a large shoot. That is a TON of time!!

          • @mattbatt
            excellent point and one I wish I would have come up with in my comments about the GH2 elsewhere.
            Makes you think. Your $$$ is going to go somewhere. Is it going to be your camera or the time it takes to make your camera work?

    • Luke,

      It’s fine to say everyone is an artist — that’s the democratic approach, after all — but if standards are adjusted in this way to accommodate a very large pool of aspirants, what claim does anyone in it have to the sort of attention and opportunity that most hope to derive from a career in the movie business, and without which no career is possible (for lack of resources only fame can attract)?

      As as anyone who’s been involved in the movie business will tell you, most of one’s time is spent trying to raise money, often fruitlessly. What kind of a dedicated artist is going to spend his or her life not actually pursuing the passion which supposedly animates it?

      The answer explains the mediocrity to be found in the movie business including the indie movie business.

      In the end, I’d argue that we can either be elitists in the arts or democrats. But we can’t be both at the same time — meaning, if everyone can do it, the work can’t be very important. If almost no one can do it, then maybe it stands a chance. And for the very expensive forms, like cinema, it’s that much more unlikely that the “best and the brightest” will go into the medium in the first place.

      I realize such a claim will be found highly insulting on a website dedicated to the democratic, but the realities of the business, and the movies which get made, tend to be bear it out.

      • I’m not claiming that “everyone is an artist” or any such wishy-washy non-committal stuff. There are people who are good at what they do, and there are people who aren’t. Please don’t turn this into a false dichotomy, or misrepresent my argument. I’m merely saying that your assertion that film suffers more from this is baseless. I’ll refute a few specific things here, but beyond these you’re oversimplifying the issue, and I think you’re displaying arrogance in the way you do so. You can’t just swan in with a simple, one point theory and assume it accounts for the complexity of an entire art form.

        Ok, making films is costly. Ok, painting is cheaper. That has absolutely no bearing on whether you A) are good at, or potentially good at painting or B) want to paint (which are totally separate things).

        I can tell you that recording music and gigging is also costly, in a similar ball park. I’m also going to tell you that I’m a good musician. You can believe that or not as you choose. Music happens to be fundamentally important to me; more important than any other art form, film included. It also happens to be expensive. According to you, I’m lying. I’m just rubbish at everything else, so I threw money at something til it stuck. Wrong. I love music, so I was willing to put money in to make it. That’s the basic flaw in your argument right there.

        You’ve ignored my point that there are just as likely to be plenty of terrible artists, writers and so forth who love their art. I fail to see how you’re less likely to suck at something you love because it’s free or cheap.

        Perhaps most importantly, you fail to appreciate that all of the above are not just arts, but crafts. No-one starts good. You start off shit, you learn through doing.

        • Nobody’s disputing that their are poseurs, incompetents and mediocrities in all art forms. What I’m saying is that the particular impediments of film ensure that the overall standard of accomplishment in film is considerably lower than it is in other art forms (even forgetting the requirement of mass-market accessibility), and that the medium actively discourages the temperaments traditionally associated with the practice of the arts. It’s no secret that the measure of what can be achieved in the medium is largely qualified by the budget available, and most of a filmmaker’s time is spent trying to raise money. And to the extent the filmmaker is not a producer herself, she’s dependent on the tastes and market assessments of actual producers and financiers. This is not hopeful, for the arts.

          I offer this account as an explanation, not as a theory: as I see it, the films which emerge from the indie film movement have never been up to standards of mature art forms — whether that no-budget efforts, or the more technically accomplished work which sometimes follows with professional financing. But if you think the successful indie filmmakers of the last 20 years are comparable with the best we have in music, literature and fine arts, then we’ll just have to differ on this one.

          • I really don’t understand your take on this. Are you saying there are no good low-budget films compared to Hollywood films? If so, of course there are good low-budget films! There are films made on a shoestring which, in terms of artistry, eclipse many blockbusters. You don’t need a RED or an oscar-winning CGI-VFX house to craft a story.

            On the other hand, if you’re saying there are no good low budget films in an absolute artistic sense, or compared to literature or something… then I think you’ve lost me again. Not sure how one would make such a comparison, and regardless there’s no way I’d agree that the art of film is somehow behind other arts, indie or otherwise.

            Money does not a good film make, and, especially today with DSLRs etc, you don’t need mountains of it to make one. Increasingly it’s down to the skill of the artist. That’s what democratisation means. It gives more people the opportunity to be good, it doesn’t mean more people are crap! If you don’t see that… I just don’t get it. The very thing you bemoan is the thing fixing the “problem” you propose!

            If you think that “the measure of what can be achieved in the medium is largely qualified by the budget available” then I fear you are judging the artistry of a film in a way I genuinely don’t understand.

  • shakezoolah on 07.15.12 @ 2:42PM

    A – Sony F3
    B – GH2
    C – Red Epic
    D – Iphone 4s
    E – C300
    F – ARRI Alexa
    G – 7D
    H – Sony F65
    I – FS100

    you are welcome

    • According to that list, I had the GH2, F3 and F65 as my top 3 (in no particular order). The only 3 I guessed correctly were the iPhone, 7D and GH2, the differences were pretty apparent in these. I guess I like the Sony video look, which I couldn’t have even fathomed saying before these results. The more you know…

    • I also had the exact same last three ( G, H and I). But my top three were C300, Arri, and Epic. After seeing the poll and how many people liked “B” it was hard for me not to second guess myself, but after re-watching B (GH2) several times, I still could not understand why people would like a such saturated and pixelated sharp image.

      • And if you look at the lamp at bottom left, there is some aliasing. There is also a ton of big clunky compressed DSLR noise too, that stood out like no other.

      • Agree with you about B but I am surprised you had H low on the bottom. I think people saw a different hue/magenta mix (since is was mastered off site) and tend to bias it by being too ‘different.” Look at the sharpness, the contrast and dynamic range, the skin tone in the two main actors and the natural look. Hard to put H anywhere but the top.

  • Time to sell the Alexa and buy an iPhone 4S…


  • How do I view it? It says “The creator of this video has not given you permission to embed it on this domain. This is a Vimeo Plus feature.”

  • This was the first and probably last time I’ll get to feature in the same film as Francis Ford Coppola, and other luminaries of the film world. I was lucky enough to attend the Paris event (hence the speaking bad French). To be honest, there’s a big difference seeing the results on the big screen in 2K as opposed to on a (probably un-calibrated) monitor on Vimeo. As a Scarlet owner, as was pleased to see how the Epic held up, but (almost?) all these cameras can be used for great storytelling, in the right circumstances.

  • What were the results of the poll? I never peeped it. Seems to be have been taken down- for obvious reasons.

  • I judged them based on how I thought they looked, F was the only real standout for me with the rest sitting in the middle. The only two bad ones where D and G. They were unusable, but the rest could be used to make a quality looking movie.

    My top 5 were F, B, A, C, H in that order. The rest didn’t standout as being worthy of a second look. Some of that could have been grading and what my eyes find pleasing and not so pleasing.

  • Humility is a good thing, it’s the only way you ever learn. If someone with no recognizable picture to his name can dismiss a respected expert with a repertoire that speaks for itself, umm, umm, ummm.

  • I think the biggest winner here was…


    Seriously though they got some seeerious PR with this thing. Smart on their part! And interesting contest too

  • To be honest, after playing this Part 1 again on 60″ Panasonic LED TV, I choose Alexa and EPIC as the best followed by GH2 (which I picked the 1st when I first watch this shootout on my 22″ PC). I guess, the GH2 looks more like an Soap Opera when played on large HD screen. The Alexa and EPIC tone this effect down without too much loss on its details.

    • kicap, give us a break. Changing views after you already know the cameras means nothing. I thought B was over-lit,, and I could tell that on my 16 inch screen. Don’t tell us now you changed your mind now that you already know the cameras..

      I thought H was the best. It’s sharp, it has tons of color information, and nice skin tones. I still think the same.

      • Art, I guessed all the cameras correctly and I agree with you. First time I saw it, picked H. Sharpest, skin tone popped, dynamic range was amazing, had a unique look. Look real.

        B looks like a soap or stage.

  • Sony obviously cheated with the F65. Why did they have to take the footage offsite to turn it into tiffs?

    I chose Sony first, C300 second and GH2 third.

    I liked that the C300 DP was going for a different look.

    • Why is that cheating? The point was to show the cameras at the best their respective teams could muster. Are you saying the F65 should have been in less capable hands? That that would have been fairer for the other cameras?

      Which brings me to comment that…
      Even though the DP’s and operator teams were chosen on various merits, who’s to say, they were able, on that particular day, to bring out the best their respective cameras are capable of? How do we know these people are really the best at extracting, from these cameras, their true capabilities? Some people have ‘off’ days, or they get a little lazy. Maybe the colorist didn’t get exactly the right mixture of cream and sugar in his coffee.

      Obviously, people see things quite differently. And judgement calls are extremely subjective and vary from day to day. It’s very interesting and informative to see this test but, it is not, at all, definitive. I think a lot of calls are being made here on that assumption. I also feel, as someone stated elsewhere, that the test was flawed in that people were allowed to manipulate the light. I think it would have been more appropriate to keep the light constant and manipulate the footage in post as this would have, IMO, better revealed the discrepancies and shortcomings of each camera. But, to my understanding, perhaps more of this will be born out in Part 3. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

  • I was a little disappointed since I saw episode one about the gh2 B (From what people said and the crew description I was sure it was it), because of the over-lit soap-opera, over sharpen digital look. I think that it was the crew that tried perhaps a bit too much to compensate the perception that this camera would has less DR and sharpness than the other pro camera. I am sure they did not see the other ones work and perception went a bit overboard.

    From what I have seen and done the gh2 is capable of much more natural organic look than that. Just saw the film bellow done on the gh2. A bit sharp and gritty, but still very organic. The lens seems to be a very important factor for the gh2. The super sharp modern lens also tend to give this over-sharpen digital look to the gh2. But in the end what this test does is put ART, craftsmanship at the heart of cinematography. Those last years, it is all been “my camera is better or bigger than yours”. Now what this shows is that appart from two cameras Iphone and 7D (This is my personal observation and others can disagree) everyone can do very very nice images that can be very close to each other that even putting them side by side, it would be difficult to choose which is which.

    The last episode will surely show where are the difference and nowadays I would say it is DR. The pixel peepers will rejoice because they will have material to dismiss and degrade. As many said, the DR makes a very big difference in cost as would need light/generator etc and I agree 200% because I have been claiming it all along that we are already there in term of sharpness and low light with the cheaper cameras. But if you are an indie you have one very important thing that a Hollywood crew does not and it is time. You don’t have a multi million dollar cast, costing ten of thousand of dollar per hour to film. So you can choose another time where the light is less harsh. Have time to gel the windows etc. This is a very demanding scene that they have done to stress the camera and you don’t have to shoot like that every-time.

    Look at this shot on the gh2

  • I had the Alexa as my favorite and C300 in second which is shocking since I normally don’t like the very video look that comes out of that overpriced cannon. F65 was 3rd and the GH2 was 4th. Epic and F3 were tied for 5th. Very interesting test and I think it says as much about the individual DP’s style as much as it does the cameras they worked with.

  • My top picks was GH2 (shocked), Arri Alexa, & Sony F65.

  • Daniel Mimura on 07.28.12 @ 1:27PM

    Having a good dynamic range, obviously can have some huge advantages…but it has disadvantages too…

    I haven’t heard anyone mention the problem of the fact that the more you can see outside of the house, the more fake the set looks. It’s so clearly a set! The more you can see outside, the more effort you have to put back there, and this is just background stuff, not generally the things you want to spend a huge amount of money on, if you don’t have an unlimited budget.

    Of course you can blow it out in post, so you have more options with the bigger dynamic range

    I think of how Kaminski shot Shindler’s List…all lights are blown way out. They had deep sets (this is a big budget movie)…but to get that docu-realism Kaminski/Spielberg work going for…they wanted to blow it out, so you can’t even see outside the windows most of the time.

    It kept the focus on the actors and the scene…not generic details in the background.

    People always seem to want more dynamic range. Often, I want less (again, you can do it in post now)…but when shooting on film, it was often harder to overexpose highlights or crush blacks with negative than with reversal.

    Dynamic range isn’t everything—it’s better for day exteriors where you often don’t have the ability to control everything (12×12 silks, solids, 18ks…time to control all that…etc…), but in a studio, it doesn’t necessarily help you b/c you have the tools and the control to make the lesser dynamic range stuff work just fine which is why I think so many people voted for no favorite. In the studio, you can control it to get anything to work.