Comparisons are fun, even more when they're for expensive cameras. As I've said before, we try to look at all sorts of different topics from around the film industry, and we are not just going to look at DIY options like the hacked GH2. Shane Hurlbut, who runs a fantastic and informative blog himself, was recently shooting a promo for HBO's Game of Thrones. He decided to shoot the Canon C300 alongside the Arri Alexa for the promo. Shane came up with some interesting results.
First, here's the promo, which only uses a few clips from the interviews for this particular spot:
Here is the comparison which does not have any audio (probably for rights reasons):
Shane gives a great summary, so I'm not going to step on his toes and try to counter anything he's saying. They are both amazing cameras, it feels like it has been said by me and by others over and over again, but they are both digital cinema quality cameras (assuming 1080p is your final output - and yes 1080p can be digital cinema because the F35 and Genesis have been major Hollywood cameras for a long time now). You should be able to get results with the C300 on par with the Alexa, and if you didn't know which camera was which, it would be difficult to guess - much different than mixing digital cinema footage and DSLRs.
As far as my subjective gut feeling, the Alexa footage feels like film and the Canon C300 feels more digital. What do I mean by that exactly? The Alexa footage has better highlight roll-off, and it seems like the Canon blows out a little quicker. We know that the Alexa has higher dynamic range than the C300, and it shows. This is what the other $50,000 is going towards, that and ProRes 4:4:4:4 12-bit (as well as RAW for a few more dollars). It shows, there's another layer of detail compared to the C300, it's not necessarily something you see (of course you can if you really look), but something you can feel. Dynamic range is much less noticeable than resolution - it's something you're going to feel rather than see most of the time, since blown highlights are often in the background.
It is pretty amazing how well the C300 compares - and that sort of comparison is only going to get more interesting as newer cameras are released and technology gets cheaper. It won't be too long when a $60,000 camera and a $5,000 camera are indistinguishable, even on a cinema screen. That is when the true revolution will come full circle - when anyone can buy a camera that will have the same quality as a camera that's ten times as expensive. It's not going to make your story better, but the camera is not going to be the limiting factor in any production going forward.
[via Hurlbut Visuals]