May 14, 2013

BMCC vs. Canon 5D Mark III: Did Blackmagic Just Get a Full-Frame RAW Video Competitor?

Even though Blackmagic announced two more cameras at NAB, the original 2.5K BMCC is still shipping in limited quantities. While the company has been working hard to address the situation, an unlikely competitor has come along thanks to Magic Lantern: Canon's year-old 5D Mark III. It is now the only DSLR to shoot RAW stills and video, and even though the hack is still in the early stages, it's becoming clear that it will be a force to be reckoned with at this budget level. The guys over at cinema5D have been working with the hack, and they've now posted the first test comparing RAW video from the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and the Canon 5D Mark III. The results are interesting, to say the least.

Here is the video, shot using the 24-105mm on the Mark III and the 16-50mm Tokina on the Blackmagic:

Some observations from their site:

What became clear is that both cameras provide very similarly capable RAW files. You can adjust everything and everything is possible. You can get similar details out of the sky and set all you like in post. Color temperature, tint, dynamic range, no problem. The 5D is just as strong as the BMCC, providing maybe a bit more dynamic range.

Where the cameras differ in terms of RAW is one big thing: Noise. The 5D mark III can shoot indoors at ISO 1600 and there’s almost no noise while the Blackmagic starts to get ugly at this point.
The noise from the BMCC is also apparent when raising the blacks in a shot.

Moire and aliasing is another big big issue on Blackmagic and there is very litte of that on the 5D RAW. The cleanness of the shots of the 5D RAW in general is extremely pleasing and jumps at you when you sit in front of the RAW images. Check some of the dng’s yourself in our other post.

The Mark III's video before this hack was pretty lackluster compared to a lot of the other options for video. The Nikon D800 had a sharper image, more dynamic range, and clean HDMI, and Canon has only just delivered that update recently. Honestly, while I think the camera as an overall package was worth it, if you were to look just at the video capabilities, the Mark II has about 75% of the quality for around half the price. If you're willing to install Magic Lantern, however, the 5D Mark III just became a powerhouse in its budget range.

I really haven't had any issues with aliasing on the BMCC, but you can definitely find them in specific circumstances. While the guys weren't using the same lens on both cameras, the Blackmagic has a bit sharper of an image -- but not by much -- and that's really the crazy part about this hack. Just in terms of image quality alone, the BMCC completely destroyed the Mark III just a week ago.

It probably goes without saying that the BMCC's firmware is made to shoot RAW, and the Magic Lantern hack for RAW video is still in its infancy. The BMCC certainly has advantages to the hacked Mark III, like audio input with RAW, internal ProRes/DNxHD, HD-SDI, playback in-camera, more re-framing options in post, and a free color grading application (DaVinci Resolve). If the hack becomes rock solid and allows for longer record times, and if you're willing to deal with the workarounds (and strictly image quality is your chief concern), there is a very compelling reason to take another look at the 5D Mark III if you haven't done so already (and if you own one, you can see the quality for yourself).

Either way, these cameras would definitely complement each other on set, and there are situations where one might be more appropriate over the other.

Head on over to cinema5D for more on the hack and how you can get started with it (though again, waiting until they fully release it is probably the best course of action for most people).

Link: Canon 5D mark III RAW vs. Blackmagic Cinema Camera RAW -- cinema5D

Disclosure: Blackmagic is a No Film School advertiser.

Your Comment

149 Comments

lol, 5D is like a caveman tool compared to the new Blackmagic Production Camera, which costs $500 more.

May 14, 2013

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ZIM

With all ML functions enabled I don't think so and raw capabilities in MKIII are just jaw dropping... No moire and aliasing... Look the first shot comparisson, the road...

Also 5D is a full frame camera, all your lenses already working, no crop factor... You can buy 128gb kompubay cards for less than $200.

As told in the article, the code is in its first stages, only dev soft now... In a few weeks we could have lots of MKII folks working in raw in a 5 years old camera! lol

But yeah 4K BM camera is just awesome, but we'll have to wait for how long to put our hands on one?

May 14, 2013

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Alex Mand

Don't kid yourself...the result you're seeing on the road is due to the lens, not the camera.

Love what ML is doing, but this particular test is pretty flawed in it's execution.

Wake me up when you can record 5 minute segments at fullHD in RAW. Then it'll be something I can actually use for work.

May 14, 2013

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sean

I'd be surprised if a lens could create aliasing...

May 14, 2013

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Luke

Being too sharp, a lens certainly can help create aliasing. Surprised?

May 15, 2013

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Kent

"Help", yes. "Create", no. The implication of the above post was essentially that if you put a lens of the exact same quality on the 5D, it would moire. Which it wouldn't.

May 15, 2013

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Luke

By a "caveman tool," do you mean having interchangeable batteries, having a full frame sensor, amazing lowlight performance, the ability to take stills, and not having to purchase expensive SSD's?

May 14, 2013

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Drew

expensive ssd's? By my reckoning 140min of 4k footage is going to cost as much as much as 75min of CF 1080p RAW 5d footage.

May 14, 2013

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Chris Lambert

He nailed it, Drew. Caveman tool = much better low light/cave situation performance ;-D

May 14, 2013

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Jay

^ LOL! Amazing

May 14, 2013

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Nick

Mammoths are also easier to frame thanks to the FF sensor...you need a fisheye in the BMCC to fit those wide tusks in!

May 18, 2013

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....and the 5d3 is in boxes in stores, ready to be picked, the BMPC is in the stratosphere. Point for Canon there.

May 14, 2013

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Premini

This ML advancement is still in the stratosphere too.... while this is *very* exciting (and I'm not even a Canon user! Only Panasonic + Nikon for me at the moment, but maybe that could change....) it stills has a fair while to go before we can see it widely used in production (however at the rate they're advancing every day I wouldn't be surprised if this changes very quickly!).

May 14, 2013

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I got my 5d Mark III for $2700. Oh, and it's also a stills camera - something that the Black Magic Cameras are not.

May 14, 2013

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James K.

Right. Black Magic Cameras are CINEMA Cameras. Designed to shoot cinematic style/quality images. The 5D is a stills camera with a video function. Different strokes for different folks.

May 15, 2013

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mick

They aren't. They are just named that way. They look more like video than any camera on the market. Its a name only.

May 15, 2013

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In terms of functionality, maybe (though I wouldn't be so crass as to label it a "caveman tool" even without this hack).
The nature of the RAW video recording hack limits the usability of the camera from many standpoints, but if you can deal with the shortcomings, (particularly if you already own the camera) it's still a pretty decent deal. I mean, the lack of audio, increased rolling shutter, weird workflow, lack of supporting video functionality, and all the other issues DSLRs already had are still there. Being a hack, it's also not likely to be acceptable for use on budgeted, insured productions.
That said, the RAW video hack is absolutely substantial. In terms of low-light performance, noise, aliasing issues, and sensor size, it clearly beats out the Blackmagic cameras which are the only competitiors for RAW video at this price point. For hobbyists or independent shooters whose needs are accommodated by this camera's ability, it'll be a very attractive alternative to other offerings.

May 14, 2013

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Blah

I guess I'm in the minority of those who think that the ALL-I/IPB video quality that comes standard with the camera is more than "good enough" for the majority of creative applications. I mean other than visual effects, RAW just seems unnecessary for most kinds of work. Is RAW a lot easier to color grad/correct than ProRes,DNxHD, H264, or AVCHD? Sure, but it's not like it's impossible to grade those formats and if the shots are done right it won't need much grading or color correction to begin with.

Video production enthusiasts/professionals maybe able to spot the slight extra bit of dynamic range or detail, but audience/clients simply wont because their attention is more on content. I kinda think we've become at bit spoiled by technical specs and slight differences in IQ with these camera for the past couple of years, when in the bigger picture we're just splitting hairs.

Two years ago I couldn't have imagined a camera that performed as well in low light conditions that the 5DIII does and that's huge for folks who are out in the field and don't have control of lighting. I would never even consider putting my GH2 (great as it is) in the lighting conditions that the 5DIII can handle with ease. Hack or no hack 5D Mark 3 is a great camera for both photo AND video.

May 14, 2013

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jorden

Raw is a little easier to grade than ProRes, but either are much better than anything else. It's a combination of a lightly compressed (or uncompressed) stream, 10-bit or 12-bit color instead of 8-bit, and dynamic range too.

The low compression means you don't see blockiness/softening from H.264 or worse.
The increased bit depth means you can grade without seeing any banding.
If you shoot a darker figure person in front of a brighter background, you can rescue the shot with high dynamic range, and you can't without.

ProRes is a lot easier to deal with in post than Raw — just copy the files and throw them in a timeline.

May 15, 2013

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The 5D Mark 3 is 2750 $ on amazon.com.

May 14, 2013

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Frederik O.

Pre ordered the BMPC but now I'm torn, that image, that range, that price, that sensitivity jaw dropping

if they can write a audio file from the microphone into that mix im going to get very tempted

May 14, 2013

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Chris Lambert

now ML must do this with the C100

May 14, 2013

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SVSmedia

They've said they won't touch the EOS cinema line or the 1D series - so it's not even worth talking about.

May 14, 2013

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

Joe, you got to mention it a full frame camera.

May 14, 2013

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MEgaman

How does this change http://nofilmschool.com/2012/10/why-dslrs-are-no-match-for-blackmagic-ci...? If I'm reading this right, the hack turns an 8 bit 5D Mark III into a 14 bit camera...somehow?

May 14, 2013

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Andrew

Somehow? The hack by passes the H.264 encoder and gets you a raw feed off the sensor. So the camera so no longer an 8 bit video camera. however, there is a world of difference from h.264 and raw in terms of post processing. Raw is going to require much more time and memory.

May 14, 2013

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dustatron

Would it be possible to bypass the H.264 encoder but still output something sensible to an external recorder via HDMI? I guess it would still have to be debayered at some point. Would that rule out getting these resolution and dynamic range benefits in a friendly Prores 422 form on an Atomos Samurai?

May 14, 2013

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I think the Joe has a love for the 5DM3. If you look at the detail in the background of some of the videos, the 5DM3 falls apart. Very muddy. On the segment with the pathway in the center...you can clearly see that the 5DM3 turns the center back tree green. That is not on par the the BMC.

May 14, 2013

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Brian

I don't own either camera, but whatever mud you're seeing (which I don't) is post compression. These are both RAW cameras. The green on the tree in the Mark III video looks like a lens flare.

May 14, 2013

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

I still think the 5D3's image isn't quite at the same level as the bmcc, and keep in mind the bmcc is 2.5k so they really arent the same thing

May 14, 2013

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Derek

And the 5D3 is a 4K-capable sensor (pehaps even more?). Andrew Reid says he managed to record up to 3k on his tests, btw.

May 14, 2013

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Jay

but how much is stable? gh2 could do a lot of things but it also crashes depending on whats happening in the scene, RAW might be fine but I really don't think 4k or even 3k are going to happen

May 14, 2013

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Derek

@Brian, I'm fairly certain that is lens flare... Look at how it flashes in and out with the breeze changing the incoming light.

May 14, 2013

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the bmcc is still probably going to win out for video, for all of the usability plusses (and more) mentioned in the article. Plus, when the speed booster for m4/3 comes out, it'll help with low-light and crop factor. Yet to see how the camera hardware and ML firmware hold up with continuous use.

however in my opinion the 5d still wins as overall camera, for its ergonomics and stills capabilities.

May 14, 2013

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5d3 user

Exactly. The fact that we are even talking about Mark III video vs. BMCC video is enough to show you that Mark III wins the overall. Mark III vs. BMCC stills isn't even a discussion. So if you weigh stills into this at all the winner is quite clear. If you don't, it's at least a discussion now.

May 14, 2013

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Luke, do you see yourself shooting with it on paid gig?

May 14, 2013

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I'm under the impression that the 5D's shots are somehow more "dimensional" - am I the only one here?

May 14, 2013

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pask

The the much larger sensor at play. better DOF

May 14, 2013

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nigel Thompson

I think this is absolutely fantastic for people who already own the 5diii, or are just thinking about getting into RAW workflows. I think for the more pro users out there who will be making their living off their equipment, the blackmagic cameras will be the better bet - simply for things like professional connections, SSD media, and reliability. (If ML breaks, that's tough - if your BM camera breaks, there's an entire company out there to help you out).

I know for me - I was always comfortable using ML on DSLR's in professional settings. I think for this hack, though, I'll be sticking with BM for low budget RAW projects. I feel like this hack is going to shorten the life span of the camera with such heavy use.

May 14, 2013

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alex

I feel the same way. If you own a 5D this is great. BMCC/BMCC4k is the more convenient and has ProRes.

The margin is narrow now, but I think the BMCC is still the more video/film friendly camera.

This is exciting, but I feel like people may be getting carried away when they say there is no need for the BMCC. Just a little bit carried away.

May 14, 2013

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Anyone who thinks about getting a BMCC can seriously think about getting a mk3 instead. Even if it were better, there is one simple fact: you will never get 14 or even 10 bit over the HDMI, so you have to record internally on CF since SD is not an option.
One of those 64GB Lexar 1000x cards goes for around the same price as a 512GB SSD. Even if those prices should magically drop you will only get 12 minutes on your 64 GB card! That's it!
So if you are that one special person who only films 1-minute videos in dark alleyways, the mk3 might just be for you. Anyone else who is doing films forget about it.
And if you are doing documentary work ... 1st the full sensor size will bite you in the rear and 2nd with the BMCC at least you've got the option to use ProRes or DNxHD. With the mk3 you have to go back to H.264 with its bad resolution and dynamic range.
(DITs have no fun juggling 10 cards on set and it's even less fun needing one just for that reason)

May 14, 2013

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Nico

Should be "can't seriously think about getting a mk3 instead" of course ...

May 14, 2013

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Nico

Having just spent some time pixel-peeping the DNG frame grabs from over at Cinema5D, I have to say that as exciting a development as this is, I'm still keeping my preorder in for a Blackmagic camera. Even with a cheaper lens on the Blackmagic compared to the 5D for this test, the Blackmagic beat it by a long shot for detail, most noticeable in the leaves and on the face of that rock.

The only benefit I can see to the 5D is that it's a really good still camera too. For some people, that's important enough that they'll go with that camera. For me, it isn't.

The BM4KPC has the advantage of significantly better detail, global shutter, an easier workflow, SSD recording, in-camera ProRes, and ostensibly better stability and reliability, to name a few. It also comes with Resolve, which alone is worth the extra $500 to me.

Ideally, I'd have a BM4KPC as my main camera, and a 5D mark III RAW as a B-cam and still camera with me on jobs. Until I can afford that, though, I'll be sticking to just Blackmagic.

May 14, 2013

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Sangye

Another advantage to the 5D would be significantly better lowlight performance. But when is that important? For me, lowlight performance only really matters on documentary type work, and I would never take a 5D RAW to a documentary shoot. ProRes bitrates are a hard enough pill to swallow. Uncompressed RAW from the 5D is pretty unmanageable for anything except very tightly controlled shoots. The argument could be made that you shoot 5D in RAW for tightly controlled shoots, and go back to h.264 for more freeform documentary type projects. But I really hate h.264. I never want to go back to it. If the ML team can enable wider dynamic range Motion JPEG on the 5D that's already a big step up, but I'd still prefer ProRes or compressed RAW, and take the hit in lowlight performance.

May 14, 2013

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Sangye

Wow, a sensible post.

May 14, 2013

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Space Captain

I think that's understating the 5D's image. BMCC is still wonderful but it has a serious competitor here.

Some of the extra perceived detail in the BMCC's 2.5K raw comes from false detail. The 1080p on the 5D is much cleaner, and less noisy.

A good comparison would be to upscale the 5D's raw to 2.5K size and compare on a 2.5K display. I expect a bit more sharpness from the BMCC but is it worth it when the trade off is some false detail and more noise?

2.5K resolution is great and 5D3's full frame likely to top out at 1080p, but the 1:1 crop mode could yet reach it's full potential and give us nearly 4K from a Super 35mm sized area with a very fast card. The 5D3's DMA memory in the camera does 700MB/s! That is faster than any SSD and not a bottleneck.

By the way, you can get the 5D Mark 3 on amazon.com for 2750 $.

May 14, 2013

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Fred

Also, please clarify what "false detail" you're referring to in the BMCC. I've never heard of or seen any false detail in that camera, unlike DSLRs which have in-camera sharpening. What you're saying is misinformation at best.

May 14, 2013

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Sangye

Please inform youself.

Look at the false color artifacting on the pebbles in the path up the middle:

http://nofilmschool.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/cinema5D_5D_Mark_iii_...

Those artifacts come out clearly on test chart shots, including the one Andrew from EOSHD posted back at the beginning of the BMCC hysteria, comparing it to the Red Epic.

Look at the test and see how the BMCC renders the boxes with false colour streaks and how false it resolves the individual lines. Here is the link: http://www.eoshd.com/content/9635/red-epic-versus-blackmagic-cinema-came...

Conclusion from EOSHD: "This problem occurs because the 2.5K sensor does not quite have the resolution to provide each red, green and blue photosite with enough information about detail, such as a fine line which only covers a red photosite, and not the blue for example. "

Please inform yourself and google other test that indicate those problems.

May 15, 2013

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Fred

If you like a tiny(relative to full frame) sensor, moire and aliasing, terrible form-factor, limited internal battery, poor touch control and a hard-to-see lcd screen, the choice is clear, go with the BMC. The slight increase in resolution is moot when there's moire all over the place. Also, in lowlight the BMC stands zero chance up against the 5D3.

May 14, 2013

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Fred

Fred, I was talking about the Production Camera, which does not have a tiny sensor relative to "full frame". It's Super-35, which is the gold standard of filmmaking. The 5D is the oddball by filmmaking conventions, being incompatible with most cine glass. The BMCC does not have a tiny sensor, either. It's nicely situated between Super-35 and Super-16, both of which have beautiful aesthetics. Even the Pocket Camera doesn't have a tiny sensor, in my opinion. Super-16 is a very nice format, and far better for documentary work and certain styles of narrative work, in my opinion, than Super-35 let alone "full frame". To answer your other points, moire and aliasing are present on the BMCC, but not terrible. The form factor is not suited for handheld work, true. Neither is any other true cinema camera I can think of - Epic, Alexa, F65, etc. The internal battery is not a problem for me, as I use external batteries anyway. The LCD screen is no less hard to see than any DSLR I've worked with, and I like to use an EVF anyway. Lowlight is the major upside for the 5D, but again, lowlight to me is only important for documentary work, and for those projects I would never consider uncompressed RAW at 7Mb per frame. ProRes is about as high bitrate as I care to go when shooting documentaries.

Just to reiterate, this is an exciting development. When I can afford it I'd love to roll with a BM4K as my main camera and a hacked 5D RAW as a b-camera for DOF shots and stills. Until then, I really don't see this as better than the BM4K, BMCC, or even BMPCC for my purposes.

May 14, 2013

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Sangye

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