Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Video Cameras Shootout

Imaging Resource, EOSHD: Filmamking services company Zacuto arranged a shootout for nine HD video cameras ranging from iPhone 4s to video-enabled DSLRs and mirrorless four-thirds to high-end professional cameras from Sony, ARRI and Red. Each camera was placed in the hands of a talented cinematographer, and presented with a controlled scene. The basic lighting setup could be adjusted, and the resulting video color-graded to achieve the desired look. The results were presented to an audience of filmmakers, including Francis Ford Coppola, allowing them to blindly select their favorite. Their selections are quite surprising, not necessarily giving advantage to the most expensive cameras. That is, in skilled hands iPhone 4s can compete with Sony FS100 or Canon C300:

Camera A – Sony F3 – Nancy Schreiber ASC
Camera B – Panasonic GH2 – Colt Seaman
Camera C – Red Epic – Ryan Walters
Camera D – Apple iPhone 4S - Michael Koerbel
Camera E – Canon C300 – Polly Morgan
Camera F – Arri Alexa – Rodney Charters
Camera G – Canon 7D – Michael Negrin ASC
Camera H – Sony F65 – Sony Approved Cinematographer
Camera I – Sony FS100 – Den Lennie & Mick Jones


  1. If you look at the presentation video, it is clear that there were limitations in each case for example DR on iphone, noise on some others etc. So they had to bump up the light by 16x into the room to shoot with an iphone -- this would be impractical on a real movie shoot. So I do not think it is an apples to apples comparison. :-)

  2. True. Actually EOSHD link in the post talks about iPhone limitations too:

    "We’re talking about a *telephone* whose flaw is to lack dynamic range and shallow depth of field because of a sensor that is sized down to match the razor edge of the iPhone’s profile. No great technological shame in that, rather quite the opposite. The iPhone still trumps the 7D in the resolution stakes, and doesn’t suffer from as much moire or aliasing. I only wish visionary Steve Jobs was still alive to see the results as he’d be proud."

  3. Not only the iphone: the GH2 also needed a lot of fill, since its DR is way lower than that of the other cameras (including the 7D).
    The third episode of the series will come out in a couple of weeks, and will show the same-lighting tests.

  4. Lighting requirements aside (and considering pixel size, hardly surprising) it is impressive that 16 people thought the imagery from the iPhone was their favorite, even if was just 2%. I own a 4S and have been quite happy with the camera with the exception of DR, which is pretty poor. (C'mon Apple, the DR is in the sensor, why can't you get it in the output image?)

    1. We should take this 2% with a grain of salt knowing that more than 2% of population has some form of vision deficiency ;)

  5. The pro have simply confirmed that the amateurs and semi-pro was telling for the last two years, Panasonic GH2 is a decent video-camera. Considering that the sensor + image processors of the recent digital cameras are not so different, the best camera is the one that handles the best, or (to put it in a computer jargon) has the best user interface.

    1. I expect the pro-GH2 sentiment to die down a bit when the 3rd episode is released in a couple of weeks: the first two have played to all the advantages of the GH2 (incredibly sharp and clean images), while hiding its biggest flaw (less-than-stellar dynamic range: )


All comments are moderated to avoid spam and personal attacks.