Cinema Camera Mega Test 2017 – 4K Review

Cinema Camera Mega Test 2017 – 4K Review

About the Mega Test

With so many great cinema cameras on the market, at a wide range of prices, It can sometimes be tough to decide which one is the best choice to buy, as an owner operator or rent for a project. We had the opportunity to get 6 popular cameras together to do some basic testing. This was an opportunity to get an idea of some of their strengths and weaknesses shooting in 4k (UHD).  

Cameras Tested

RED Epic Dragon

RAW 3:1
ISO 2000

Sony F5

CineEI S-GAMUT3/SLOG-3
ISO 2000

Sony FS7

CineEI S-GAMUT3/SLOG-3
ISO 2000

Sony FS5

S-GAMUT3Cine/SLOG-3
ISO 2000

URSA Mini 4.6K

(pre black shading 4.2 update)
RAW 3:1
ISO 800

Canon C300 MK1

REC709
ISO 800

Let me start with one caveat. This in not a shoot-out to prove which is the overall best camera. Our goal here is to give you a little insight with regard to color, exposure response, and grading.  There are so many other subjective factors like price, ergonomics, post workflow, compatibility, etc, that go into choosing a camera. We just couldn’t address everything in this project.

Given the time we had available with all the cameras and our free studio space, we decided to limit our test to an exposure stress test. The RED and URSA Mini were recorded in RAW 3:1. All of the Sony cameras used SLog-3. The Canon was shot in Standard REC709 (we initially were not planning to include the Canon after our C300 MK2 got booked on a job.) Each camera was set to it’s “base ISO” and recorded at several stops over and under proper exposure. We used a grey card, in camera exposure tools, and our professional judgment to determine the best exposure for each camera.

Overexposure

All the cameras in this test performed extremely well. They easily recovering from as much as 4 stops of overexposure to render a pleasing image. It was not much of a surprise to see that the Sony F5 and FS7 were almost identical in this test. They both were able to recover from almost 6-stops of exposure while maintaining reasonably good detail in the skin tone of our fair skinned model (Claudia). The C300 performed much better than any of us expected, considering that it’s an HD camera that had to be up-rezed to 4K (UHD).

Underexposure

I know there are all sorts of ways to maximize the low light capability of each of these cameras. Without jumping thru too many hoops, we wanted to see how far under proper exposure they could go and still manage to render a usable image.  At 2 stops under, just about all of the cameras rendered an image that we all agreed was useable, after some basic primary adjustments in Davinci Resolve.  When pushed to 4 stops under, the Sony F5 rendered the most “usable” image. I’m sure that we would have gotten better results from the RED using the Low Light Optimized OLPF (optical low-pass filter). Similarly, the Sony cameras would have benefited from a switch from SLog-3 to one of the Hypergammas, like HG3. (Of course, we could have just bumped the gain, but what fun is that.)

The Grade

Colorist Eric McClainAll the footage was shipped out to Eric McClain (Digital Pix: Motion Picture Imaging) to be graded in Davinci Resolve. There is a lot that can be done in Resolve to make all these cameras really shine. Eric chose to limit this test to a single primary grade – opting to get each camera to clean and neutral looking baseline.

We’re working on a video that covers the entire grading process and will be posting it soon. As a quick overview, it turns out that the RED was the easiest of the group work with. This is much improved from its past reputation of having a difficult and lengthy post workflow. The Sony F5 and FS7 the next easiest to color correct. They required virtually identical tweaks to render a neutral baseline image. The URSA Mini required the most manipulation to get a neutral image. In the end, the result is one of the most pleasing (IMHO).

Conclusion

Really the conclusion is up to you. Take a look at the video. Watch in 4k on a decent monitor and keep in mind what’s important for your style of work.  I hope this gives you a better understanding of the capabilities of these 6 cameras.

Derek Allen

Derek Allen

Cinematographer / Editor

Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson

Cinematographer / VFX

Chris Downing

Chris Downing

Video & Sound

Eric McClain

Eric McClain

Colorist

Should Xiaomi Yi 4k Be Your Next Action Cam

Should Xiaomi Yi 4k Be Your Next Action Cam

For years, GoPro, the company that essentially invented the action cam, has dominated the market.  Their latest release, the Hero 5 Black and the Hero 5 Session are testaments to that dominance.  But in recent years, GoPro has been suffering as a business. The long-awaited Karma drone which ultimately had to be recalled because of power instability and the November 2016 announcement of 200+ layoffs has me wondering just how long GoPro is going to continue it’s top dog status.

One contender is the $200 Xiaomi Yi 4K. It’s a feature rich alternative to the Hero 5 Black in many ways, but how well does it stack up in real world use. This video from AuthenTech puts the Xiaomi Yi up against the GoPro Hero 5 Black and the Hero 5 Session. Check it out and see if the Yi 4k is right for you.

Xiaomi Yi 4K Features:

  • Records 4K/30fps (60mbps),
  • 1080p/120fps,
  • 720p/240fps video
  • 12MP photos using a
  • 155° wide-angle lens with F2.8 aperture
  • Built-in 2.19″ LCD touchscreen with 640 x 360 high resolution
  • Sony IMX377 Image Sensor
  • 7 layers of glass lenses
  • Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) 
  • Rechargeable 1400mAh high capacity 4.4V lithium-ion battery
  • Records up to 120 minutes of 4K/30fps video with a single charge.
  • Built-in Bluetooth and high-speed 5GHz/2.4GHz Wi-Fi support for wireless remote control and the YI Action App for instant photo and video editing
Insta360 Pro is an 8K 360-degree virtual reality camera | $3000

Insta360 Pro is an 8K 360-degree virtual reality camera | $3000

China’s Insta360 has announced its 8K professional virtual reality camera, the Insta360 Pro, to raise the bar for 360-degree VR films.

The company made the announcement at CES 2017, the big tech trade show in Las Vegas this week. The 8K-resolution Insta360 Pro camera is designed for shooting 360 films that can be displayed with virtual reality headsets.

The standalone camera can capture 3D images and videos and is also suitable for livestreaming. It is aimed at professional photo and video creators, as well as non-professionals who demand excellence from the camera they use to pursue their creative visions.
Insta360 Pro uses six independent high-definition lenses. It captures 60-megapixel 360-degree 3D stills and supports both HDR and RAW formats to bring out levels of detail and low-light performance unprecedented in a 360-degree camera of this size.

When recording 4K video, the camera supports up to 100 frames per second. In addition, the VR time-lapse mode adds a new dimension to videos, and the live preview function allows users to get the best angle before shooting.

Insta360 uses real-time image stitching technology and offers both H.264 and H.265 video compression, which substantially improves video quality at the same bit rate.

Source: Insta360 Pro is an 8K 360-degree virtual reality camera | VentureBeat | AR/VR | by Dean Takahashi

DJI Mavic Pro Review For Filmmakers

DJI Mavic Pro Review For Filmmakers

Day One Review

Is the tiny and inexpensive DJI MavicPro up to the demands of serious filmmakers? Brandon Washington’s Day 1 review of this petite, but powerful drone shows what you can expect from the Mavic Pro, right out of the box.

Timelapse Photography Has Taken To The Sky

Timelapse Photography Has Taken To The Sky

About a year and a half ago I [Brian Bloss] got the idea to combine passion for time-lapse with my passion for aerial cinematography. When I started I had no idea what I was doing and what was possible. I have been waiting to release this until its perfect. I realized its never going to be as perfect as I want it to be. There were many challenges along the way and I learned allot. I know many people will ask how? I am not ready to dive into that quite yet. I am looking forward to doing to doing more lapses with higher wealth SLRs and the new generation of drones. This was shot with the DJI Phantom 3 Pro and the Phantom 4. I look forward to hearing what you think.