Which Cameras Will Stand Out in a Blind 'Pepsi Challenge?' Details on Zacuto's Next Camera Shootout

With all of the new cameras announced in the past few months, wouldn't it be great to have a scientific comparison of them all side-by-side? Specifications matter less than the images they produce, after all, and Zacuto's Great Camera Shootout has always been the go-to source for this. However, for last year's shootout there were a number of cameras not yet ready: the RED EPIC, RED SCARLET-X, Sony F3 S-Log, Sony F65, Canon C300, and Canon 1D-X. If you haven't already seen the 2011 shootout, it's a must-watch, and it's included in full below. Plus, here's an exclusive first word on the next shootout -- which will have some interesting twists -- straight from Zacuto's Steve Weiss:

The next shootout will include all of the new cameras like the Sony F65, RED Scarlet, RED Epic, ARRI Alexa, Canon C300, and new DSLRs. We will have over 25 screenings in our booth at NAB and each viewer will receive a viewing card to pick [the footage of] their three favorite cameras: the cameras will be numbered, not labeled. We will surprise them with the ones they actually liked, not knowing what is what. We will also have screenings around the world. Each camera will be shot by a specialist for that camera. They will be allowed to alter the lighting slightly to make their camera look the best it possibly can which of course is what you would do in real life. The final three part series, “Revenge of The Great Camera Shootout” will premiere on the web in June and this time we are going to try something new. It will be available right away for bloggers to embed on their own site.

It will be interesting to see this "blind taste test" -- thus the Pepsi Challenge reference -- format at work. Picking favorite cameras based on their images alone could definitely surprise some people, I think. Then again, to properly compare the cameras, folks are going to want to see it with a key, too -- which I expect is what the web release is for. Previously, Zacuto had restricted their series to their own site (initially), but it should receive even more exposure next year by going live everywhere at once.

Now that some time has passed and the 2011 shootout is freely embedabble, here are the three episodes, which compare 35mm film (Kodak 5213 and 5219 stock), the Arri Alexa, RED ONE M-X, Weisscam HS-2, Phantom Flex, Sony F35, Sony F3, Panasonic AF100, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 1D Mark IV and Nikon D7000. I even make a cameo in episode two:

Oh, and Zacuto also won an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Interview/Discussion Programming for their web series, FilmFellas (they also won one for the 2010 edition of the camera shootout):

Congratulations to Zacuto -- it's nice to see a web series taking on the "traditional" TV shows and winning.

DISCLOSURE: Zacuto is a NFS sponsor.

Your Comment


I can't wait for this yipeeee!

November 23, 2011 at 8:04AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


How have I never heard of these tests before!?!?!

But Im goin back to the 2010 DSLR tests as Im not quite in the big leagues yet....

November 23, 2011 at 8:31AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Really hope they can include a hacked GH2 in there

November 23, 2011 at 8:36AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


i hope they will be shooting all intra , otherwise it would not be test i want to see

November 23, 2011 at 9:34AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

matus amrich

amen. maybe not because i think its an equal contender, but just to shame the big dogs by getting 90% of the way there for 99% less dough.

November 23, 2011 at 1:51PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


This looks like a great idea. Unfortunately we won't be able to play along at home due to the huge uncompressed file sizes it would take.

November 23, 2011 at 9:18AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Alec Sprinkle

You can really see the difference on the web. Plus we will have some way to download it in a high rez format for viewing at home.

November 23, 2011 at 9:31AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Really great idea to hide the identities of each camera.

November 23, 2011 at 9:55AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


The latest Shootout made me laugh. One cinematographer JUSTIN RAINE said that "there's nothing you can do" to color correct with dslr footage... I guess I haven't been color correcting my TECHNICOLOR PICTURESTYLE footage for the last couple of months, maybe I DO need to go to film school.

Hey Raine! You don't even have an IMDB page! My girlfriend has an IMDB page along with EVERYONE else! TAKE THAT RAINE!!! I gotta stop going to this site at 2am geez....


November 24, 2011 at 12:08AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


If the dont test the GOP1 Hacked GH2 in this mix Im gonna punch someone.

November 25, 2011 at 8:28AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Perry Wilson

Real cinematographers get commercial jobs and shoot on projects, not do silly tests that no one bothers about.

November 25, 2011 at 11:45AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


And real men don't eat quiche.

November 25, 2011 at 2:46PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

You voted '-1'.

Kazuo, I respectfully disagree. Real cinematographers also shoot tests before using new equipment on an important paying job like a commercial or a feature. It's important to see how a camera reacts under different conditions. Can't afford to have bad surprises on a clients "nickel." I would also note that the cinematographers who conducted the Zacuto shootout are quite respected in their fields.

November 25, 2011 at 5:42PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


They aren't. The "big name" cinematographers they usually trot out for these things are the opposite. Big name cinematographers are shooting films and commercials.

May 6, 2012 at 12:10PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Nick s

We shoot tests all the time, dun get me wrong, whole batteries of them but only in relation to jobs on hand. Tests are meant for you to find the most appropriate tools for the job, not simply test cameras as if you were hosting a food talk show looking for the best bang for your buck.

All tests work on assumptions, and in this case, the parameters have been set according to Zacuto's own agenda {we lesser mortals can only sit on the sidelines, twiddle out thumbs and guess what they are ). There are many questions that I am sure many in the industry watching hv asked about the tests. Why are some cameras selected while not others? What are the selection criteria? Why does Canon have an unequal share of representation? (3 DSLR cams of essentially the same technology? You got to be kidding) Why are some cameras not included?

So what if they have now won an Emmy? Does it have real implications for camera makers, who having taken note of the stiff competition strive to make better cams? What does all this rigmarole mean for the sincere end user?

November 25, 2011 at 7:50PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


What, seriously? This test is such a valuable resource, and they gathered pretty much all the leading video cameras and DSLRs. I'm not sure how you can criticize them for putting out this (free) series. I suppose the Panasonic GH2 could've been included... other than that I can't think of a possible omission.

November 26, 2011 at 11:11AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Ryan Koo

Silicon imaging, Thomson Grass Valley, GH2

It's not free Koo : ) These pp won't waste their precious time with doing charity

November 27, 2011 at 8:22AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I love these tests although I don´t see the point in some tests...Why on earth do I raise the ISO if I still have aperture? I tested myself and most of the cameras around today have excellent S/N ratio if you work between 1.4-2.8 at a "normal" ISO i.e. not going above 800. I don´t need to see daylight where there is night...I want to see what my eyes see...and almost every camera out there today does it with the right glass. I think it can be a 7D, GH2 or Alexa...if you shoot good subjects, cameras are not the reason not to do great movies. Even the iphone has its own niche... I live from making movies and I don´t use any camera in Particular... I have to use them ALL.

November 27, 2011 at 5:04PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Augusto Alves d...

Not everyone shoots the same way you do. Sometimes you *want* an outrageous amount of noise to confer a particular feeling, emotion or w/e. Different scenarios call for different techniques. Each camera has it's strong points, and tests like this are invaluable as a reference.

November 27, 2011 at 8:23PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


To answer your question, "Why on earth do I raise the ISO if I still have aperture?" Perhaps to have more subjects in focus :)). There are times you need exactly that. I would want to see them pushing a little beyond ISO 1600 in these tests. I am a 5d mark ii owner, and I can assure you, if the scene is lit properly, you have no problem at ISO 3200 or even ISO 4000. But I am not a Hollywood cinematographer, I might not know as much as they know :)). Also, I don't know if cinema cameras have that high ISO. If someone reading this knows, I would appreciate if you share with us.

November 28, 2011 at 4:30AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I don't get why you're so upset about this? They did an extensive camera test for whatever reasons they had, and they show us the results for free.

If you'd like a different test with different cameras: make that test and post the results!
If you don't like this test: don't look at it!

November 28, 2011 at 2:40AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Forgot the mother of all cameras. Panavision Genesis

November 27, 2011 at 8:25AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


There was the Dalsa Origin, but it's now defunct.

November 27, 2011 at 8:30AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM