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).
Disclosure: Blackmagic is a No Film School advertiser.