Just because the latest single-sensor digital camcorders allow you to shoot with available light does not mean you should shoot with available light. However, the importance of being able to should not be overstated. To that end, John Brawley put together a great practical test utilizing six different cameras in the same setting, in order to evaluate which format would work best for a forthcoming feature to be shot mostly on Parisian streets at night. The cameras/formats were Aaton 35mm, Aaton Super 16mm, ARRI ALEXA, RED ONE MX, Canon 1D Mark IV DSLR, and the Sony F3. Here's the video of the test, which is refreshingly devoid of test charts and instead focuses on the devices as storytelling instruments:

For more details on what you're seeing, here's John on the test shoot:

We made a definite choice to NOT edit them exactly the same way, but to favour each edit to be the best it could be with the available material. This extended to the grade. Instead of trying to match everything to one camera, we simply tried to make each camera look the best it could... Now, as an extra challenge, I’ve only identified the cameras by a letter code. So you’ll watch all 6 sequences and then your challenge is to try to pick which camera is which. After the 6 sequences, I’ve put selected shots from each camera back to back so you can more readily make a direct comparisons. I’ve also then done a 200% blow up on a selected shot, and the theory with this was to try to show how the resolution (or lack of resolution) stands up in a cinema environment.

More details on John's blog below, where he makes the all-important distinction of this test being for emotional as opposed to scientific reasons. To me, this the best test I've seen in recent memory thanks to its focus on storytelling -- it's about resonance, not resolution. Which camera's images did you respond to most?

Link: John Brawley - Available light tests are finally online

[via ProVideo Coalition]