Put Your Eyes to the Test: Can You Tell the Difference Between Today's Top Cinema Cameras?
Let's take a walk down memory lane. Remember two years ago, when Zacuto and Kessler put together what might be considered the most epic camera shootout ever conceived?
I sure do, but not because of the results or any one camera being superior to the others, but because it drove home the point that we live in an era where any camera — from the iPhone 5 to the Sony F65 — can produce professional results as long as the person behind the lens knows what they're doing. With that said, digital cinema technology has come a long way since the 2012 shootout. RED released the DRAGON sensor into the wild. Sony released the F5 and F55. Canon, the C500. Multiple new mirrorless cameras have come along. Oh, and the folks at Blackmagic managed to churn out a few cameras as well. For that reason, it's time to take a step back and see how all of our best modern cameras compare to one another aesthetically once their images have been graded.
Let's take a look at today's contestants and the recording formats used for each camera:
- ARRI Alexa - ArriRaw
- RED Dragon - R3D 6K
- RED Epic - R3D 4K
- Kineraw Mini - CinemaDNG 2K
- Sony F55 - MXF 4K
- Sony FS700 + Odyssey 7Q - CinemaDNG 4K
- Canon C500 + AJA KiPro Quad - ProRes 4444 4K
- Canon 1DC - MOV 4K
- Canon 5D Mark III (with Magic Lantern) - CinemaDNG
- Blackmagic Production Camera - ProRes 4K
- Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (represented twice with a PL adapter and a Metabones Speed Boster adapter) - CinemaDNG
- Lumix GH4 - MOV 4K
Like the 2012 Zacuto shootout, all of these shots have been subjectively graded (and grain has been added) in order to make the most out of each image, thus making it even more difficult to tell which is which. Each shot is labelled with a number from 1-13. I recommend grabbing pen and paper, jotting down each camera in the test, then trying to put the appropriate shot numbers next to each camera. You might have to watch it two or three times, or pause on each shot, because they don't last long enough to look at them critically. Anyhow, here's the video:
Do you have your selections? Here are the answers:
Now that you've seen which cameras are which, it's time to take a look at a test that could be classified as a bit more helpful than those subjectively graded comparison videos. In this next video, you get to see not only the ungraded footage from each of the cameras in this test, but also how each camera handles overexposure and underexposure:
So there you have it, a basic test of today's most advanced digital cinema cameras. Did you guys get the correct answers? Are tests like these even relevant anymore now that most every camera on the market is capable of fantastic results?