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September 21, 2012

Blackmagic Cinema Camera Shows the Canon 5D Mark III Who's Boss

It's hard to really explain to some people the advantages of one camera system over another. There are many people who just glaze over when you start talking about 12-bit RAW and ProRes 4:2:2 HQ. If you are one of those people, then we've got a comparison for you, which gives you pretty pictures and hard evidence to compare two similarly priced cameras: the Blackmagic Cinema Cinema at $3,000 and the Canon 5D Mark III at around $3,500. The test was conducted by OneRiver Media, who also recently took the camera for a go in this short film. Click through for the test video.

It is HIGHLY recommended that you download the video as the original uploaded file is far better quality than the embedded video here:

Now, the conclusions from the video should be pretty obvious even to someone that isn't experienced in filmmaking. While many will still say, no one can see sharpness from a compressed web video, after going through the generation loss, the higher the quality of your original source, the better the final product will look. With a DSLR you're already starting with what should be an export codec only, H.264. If you could start with a much higher quality internal codec, could the final uploaded quality be improved? Yes, but you're still limited by the image the camera can produce. That's where the Blackmagic Cinema Camera's quality comes in.

Let's just take for a minute, all things being equal (even though they aren't). If the 5D Mark III could also output 10-bit ProRes and 12-bit RAW, what kind of quality could we get? Would it be better? Absolutely, but it still wouldn't address the two biggest reasons the BMCC has a superior image: resolution and dynamic range. The former is the one most people will use to say that the camera doesn't matter much if videos are just going to the web. I disagree depending on the initial compression, but it's more valid than claiming the latter doesn't matter. Dynamic range is the first thing that even an inexperienced person will notice, and it's one of the reasons people still love film over digital - as not all digital cameras have caught up with film in the dynamic range department. It often subconsciously affects the image. Humans are actually very aware of brighter points in an image -- even when we're not looking for them -- and it's often the first place someone's eye will go when the overall image is darker.

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera's superior dynamic range will give a more cinematic image just for that reason alone. Sure, with the Mark III you can shoot with a flat profile and underexpose to keep some of those highlights from blowing, but there is only so far you can push a compressed 4:2:0 8-bit image. Yes there are plenty of negatives about actually using the camera, some of which have been addressed by the Micro 4/3 mount option for the camera, but which image is better should be obvious to even inexperienced shooters after watching the video. Many will still complain about the sensor size, and that they'd rather wait for the Super 35mm version of the camera, but I can tell you right now, it's not coming anytime soon. Blackmagic chose the sensor precisely because of the low cost, dynamic range, and resolution, and there aren't any publicly available sensors that check off all of those boxes at the Super 35mm level. Even with all of the new cameras that have been announced over the last week or so, this camera should still edge out all of them based on the factors above.

Here is another video showing off the superior quality of the Cinema Camera, this time Jon Carr took Vincent Laforet's test camera for a spin:

Other cameras might be better in low-light and might be easier to work with thanks to bigger sensors and removable internal batteries, but if you're willing to work around those issue, you're going to get an image for $3,000 that rivals cameras costing at least 10 times as much. As always, use the right camera for the right job, and if the BMCC doesn't fit your shooting style, it might actually make your life more difficult. If you've been using DSLRs, however, and you're used to working with certain limitations, the BMCC might just be your next camera.

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Your Comment

169 Comments

BMC taking a steamy dump on Canon's chest.

now if they can only ship it!

September 21, 2012

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David

LOL!

September 21, 2012

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Canon at its core is a lens company. They love the BMCC because it has a Canon lens mount. But yes they better come up with a lower budget cinema camera or risk loosing some profits.

September 21, 2012

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Rex

This video has convinced me in buying the BMCC over the 5D mark2

September 21, 2012

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I have been looking for a camera upgrade because it is time for my business to do so.

Check out Phillip Blooms 45 Minute review if your seriously looking at purchasing.

http://philipbloom.net/2012/09/05/bmd/

September 21, 2012

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Videoscaper

September 21, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

yah, the blackmagic has some serious disadvantages over the advantages that might outweight your decision. Watch that Philip Bloom review. He is filming his turorials with a C300 if i am correct, which they look very very nice.

September 21, 2012

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Daniel Salazar

Just FYI the Comparing the Cinema Camera link takes you to the OneRiver Media Blog site.

Can you please provide a correct link for the video download.

September 21, 2012

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Videoscaper

Sorry about that, but for future reference you can also click on the Vimeo logo in the corner of the video, or right click on the video and click, watch on Vimeo.

September 21, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Thanks for the info Joe.

I'm thankful for this site.

You guys keep the good stories coming.

September 21, 2012

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Videoscaper

I have the Cinema Camera, I have been shooting around NY for the past week and I have to say the image really is amazing. The color, sharpness and this may sound crazy but it has this amazing film grain that i love. I have a 5d as well and the more i use it and work with footage from other cameras the more you realize just how soft the image is.

September 21, 2012

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Tom

Can you please give us more info on your workflow and what you find are some of the advantages/disadvantages compared to what you normally shoot with?

September 22, 2012

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Jerome

Absolutely THE best comparison review I've seen to date!
Well done! Just brilliantly put together.
E><

September 21, 2012

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Elahn

Just curious about 2 things -
1. Audio recording.
2. Frame rates.

September 21, 2012

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Elahn

If you check out the Phillip Bloom video review, he goes into both in pretty much all the detail there is to talk about.

September 21, 2012

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trackofalljades

he didn't mention if he used the "ALL-I " codec....a lot of ppl forget about this gem....highest rate of current dslr's...i bet he used the low-res ipb setting....

September 21, 2012

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Carlos

He mentions that he's using it at 7:10 in the video.

September 21, 2012

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Scott

Yes he does. He clearly says he used it and theorizes it's why there is no macro blocking chunks in the fountain shot.

September 21, 2012

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sean

he did mention that - in the shot with the water bubbling. He used All-I.

September 21, 2012

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Now do a comparison for stills functionality and watch the BMCC crumble.

horse for courses, guys.

September 21, 2012

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john jeffreys

The BMCC is not being touted as a still image camera but a cinema camera - your argument is moot. That being said, the 5dmkII/III takes a larger still image from RAW but I would be hard pressed to say that the image 'crumbles.' The BMCC still has more dynamic range and is sharp. You will not resolve the detail that a 22 MP sensor does in RAW still mode but we know that.

September 21, 2012

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It hurts me to say this, but john jeffreys comment is obviously meant to be sarcastic/hilarious. Of course the BMCC is not for stills: otherwise it would be called the Black Magic Cinema and Stills Camera, aka BMCaSC, which provides something more akin to an educational title rather than a piece of filmmaking equipment.

September 21, 2012

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AD Stephens

I was being like half sarcastic. I actually do think that the comparison is a little unfair, the 5D is designed to be a photo camera that ALSO takes video as a side feature. The BMC is a purely video camera. Of course it's better.

September 21, 2012

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john jeffreys

What should they be comparing the BMCC to? Maybe a FS100 or AF 101 for being in the same price range and all are strait up video cameras? i don't know any video camera that has caught the indie film community's imagination like the 5d has, while still being in the $3-$5grand ball park.

September 21, 2012

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Well... how about comparing the BMC to a C300? Cinema camera vs. "cinema" camera, seems fair no?

September 21, 2012

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nobody

Yeah... I'm both dumb and retarded but let's see a direct image comparison because I've not been impressed with the images I've seen from the C300, not at all. The rest of the stuff you mention may be a problem for you, I don't know why you'd assume that is the case for anybody else?

September 21, 2012

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nobody

Eh... what happened to John Jeffreys message?

September 21, 2012

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nobody

I don't know Nobody. Compaing a $3 grand camera to a $14 grand camera isn't...um... Fair..not even ballpark fair. I think Peter down below has a much better idea, compaing it to the c100 with a recording drive as soon as that comes out.

September 21, 2012

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Isn't fair to which manufacturer? The Canon is not a $14,000 camera in any respect other than price; clicking through to EOSHD yesterday there was a blog post about Canon admitting 1DX and 1DC are identical in terms of visual hardware. Joe makes the (valid) point in his write up that the Black Magic rivals the image quality of cameras ten times the price.

Surely a comparison to a C300 is as valid as one to a 5D?

September 21, 2012

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nobody

Nobody's right. Errm, I mean the guy with the username "nobody" is right.
Comparing it to the C300 is very legitimate. Especially for indie film makers who might be interested in seeing the benefits of capturing/working with RAW as opposed to the sharpening etc all being done in camera. As well as how the DR and colorimetry stack up.

September 22, 2012

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Lliam Worthington

+1 to what Drew says. Doesn't make sense at all to compare a $3k cam to a $14k one. Just doesn't.
Also, the boundry between a video camera and a stills camera has been blurred and shifted and distorted so much in last couple of years that Nobody's argument doeasn't hold up anymore.

September 22, 2012

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JB

ok compare it to a gh2 then that is 1/3 of the price. and in prores please
it will then be like comparing red scarlet to bmc. in raw

price is a factor, or its not.
workflow is a factor, or its not.
if one is not interested in the above factors then any comparison is valid.
if one is, then one must think about more things than just the camera body.

September 22, 2012

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I am a photojournalist, and when everybody else was complaining about the soft video and high cost of the 5D3 we were super excited about the 61 focus points, amazing low light performance, 6fps etc etc. But as the market continually evolves many news websites are starting to use video instead of, or to supplement photos, video starts to become much more important. It seems to me that to do run&gun video and great stills at the same time, the 5D is still the best camera for the job. BUT since I am starting to look at doing music videos and short films, I might pick up BMCC instead of a second 5D body :)
The point being use the right tool for the job at hand.

September 21, 2012

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I think it's a Cinema Camera, not the best for stills right? It's optimized for video so why even compare it's stills capability?.

September 21, 2012

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Bob

Then do a comparison from a video shoot where the client asks you to pull a still from a segment of footage you show them. Horses for courses.

September 21, 2012

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Paul

Lets say BMCC can shoot RAW photos 30fps in 2K....and canon MIII cant do that, right?

September 21, 2012

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The biggest difference in measuring sharpness between these two cameras is going to be Canon low pass filter...BM's design choice to leave that out will certain allow their camera to resolve more detail...but I would like to see some side-by-side moire tests for balance.

Definitely impressed though. Still waiting on my pre-order :(

September 21, 2012

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sean

Taking out the low-pass filter in the Mark III proved no discernable increase in sharpness back when people were entertaining that idea, so the resolution of the video in the Canon comes down to their downscaling method.

September 21, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

I can't wait to try this camera out. I've shot 7d/5d2/GH2 since they came out, and most recently shot some on 5d3, but I just can't get over the image out of this camera. Though a lot of us may differ on our favorite hammer in the toolshed, I think we can all agree on one thing - it's certainly a fun time to be a filmmaker.

September 21, 2012

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Benjamin Dewhurst
Writer
writer/director

I look forward to the BMCC vs GH3 video! Good stuff.

September 21, 2012

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Scott

The problem I'm dealing with is, I don't know which BMCC to get. I want to be able to use my Canon lenses on it, but if the opportunity comes up, I'd like to have the option of putting PL mount lenses.

September 21, 2012

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you can always put a canon adaptor on the m4/3 version. not the other way around.

m4/3rds will give you the post options.

September 21, 2012

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David

Get the micro 4/3 mount. Unless all your canon lenses is electric. I personally only have one manual lens. However I still plan on getting the m 4/3 mount because I can get some Rokinon Cine lenses to make up for it.

September 21, 2012

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Depends on your style of shooting as well. If you go handheld run & gun a lot, electronic lenses with working IS may come in handy. And the video proved you can get pretty wide with EF lenses (even if they're not f1.2) so if you've already got EF lenses, might make sense.

September 21, 2012

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Scott

OK, I'm officially putting this guy in charge of any camera reviews to come. That was a quite pleasant review.

September 21, 2012

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I agree, that review was extremely well done.

September 21, 2012

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nobody

That One River Media comparison video of the BMC is the best I've seen so far.

September 21, 2012

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Erwin (Netherlands)

Thats It!!! I'm buying one !

September 21, 2012

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Ali

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of canon fanboys suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

September 21, 2012

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Funny! :) Might be true though.

September 21, 2012

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