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EDIT: PART 1 is now live! I decided to break it down into two parts as it’s too damn long! I will start editing part 2 tomorrow, it will be up within the week hopefully. 

I would like to have included the Scarlet but as I didn’t know anyone in the UK with one and the unfortunate behaviour of the minority who feel it’s OK to be as nasty as possible, it is not included. Sorry! Am sure the next Zacuto shootout will include it!

Huge thanks to Paul Joy of PaulJoy.com, Suresh Kara of Documovie.co.uk, Joel Conder of JoelConder.com and Suresh Kara.

Also thanks to Nick Millen of Canon UK for supplying the C300 for my full review which you can see here. 

Remember this shootout and it’s results are to be taken with a pinch of salt. Real world, unscientific, lots of variables. Never base a camera purchase on things like this. Research in loads of places and try and get your hands on one!

Kind of hypocritical to say this as this whole shootout is about it, remember pixel peeping will make you go blind and give you hairy palms!! Shoot with the camera you have/can afford! There is a lot more to filmmaking than pixel peeping! :)

I have not been paid to do this, it was done because I wanted to see this and I am sure you did too. If you want to thank me for all the hard work I have done in making this :) then please consider donating to the “Make a wish” foundation who grant magical wishes to children with life threatening diseases. Such a wonderful charity, even more so at this time of year. This is the UK one but feel free to donate to your local one!

Picture profiles used:

Sony NEX5N, Flat PP

AF100 RANGE PP

C300 C-LOG

GH2 Driftwood Hack nostalgia and dialed down

5Dmk2 Marvels Advance

7D Marvels Advance

FS100 G-LOG A

F3 AB-RANGE

F3 S-Log

Nikon D7000 Flat

So interesting results from Part 1. Bang for buck the clear winner was the Gh2 with the Driftwood hack but this is purely on resolution. The F3/ C300 are damn close to each other and the FS100 not far behind. Part 2 moves onto skin tones and low light where the camcorders come into their own. I also take a look at how well each of the internal codecs hold up to colour correction and grading.

Orignal Post:

Tomorrow for shits and giggles myself, Paul Joy, Joel Condor, Sarah Estela and Suresh Kara will be pitting various cameras against each other in yet another one of my “legendary” real world shootouts!

The reason this has come about is Canon UK have kindly loaned me a pre-production C300 for a week. I will be doing a full on review and taking it over to France to Mont St Michel to shoot with it there. Just one of my beauty pieces. But a great challenge, as much of it will be at night so let’s see how good this low light is! There will be an accompanying on-camera and written review!

In the meantime I wanted to get this done as I myself want to see this, and I am sure many of you will too!

So what cameras will we be using tomorrow? Here they are!

Why these cameras? Well they are mine so it’s easy for starters.

C300 of course as it’s the catalyst for this test, F3 (with and without Slog) as this is the best camera in its class, the FS100 as it’s the budget F3, the AF101. DSLR wise, the 7D for a change rather than the 5DmkII as it has a similar size sensor to Super 35mm, the Gh2 with AVCinta Driftwood hack and the NEX5N. I had to draw the line at which cameras to do with just a short winter’s day to do it in. The 7D may not be the best low light Canon DSLR (that is the 1Dmkiv) or be full frame (5dmk2) but it generally represents the quality of the Canons pretty well!

EDIT:

For the resolution test I used the 7D, GH2, NEX5N, D7000, FS100, AF101, F3, C300

For the skin tones test I used the 5Dmk2, 7D, GH2, AF101, NEX5N, D7000, FS100, F3, C300

For the low light I used the 5Dmk2, 7D. Gh2, NEX5N, FS100, AF101, F3, C300 (we forgot to do the D7000! Sorry!)

 

So this will be an evolving post, so do check back especially if you are on RSS as it doesn’t update!

Two frame grabs from the C300 below, one from the hacked GH2

The outdoor shots we had on C-Log gamma curve but the not the most neutral profile. This was accidental but it still looks good. For the shots after that it was on C-Log but cinema locked which gives it a flatter image. Sharpness and resolution where not affected.

 

C300

Gh2 Driftwood Hack 70mb/s

 

Skintone test…which camera is which?! Please ignore the web compression of the JPEG…just look at the skin tones…Lens was a Nikon 80-200mm F2.8

Remember these are NOT graded. Once graded, I could make them match pretty damn close…Which ones do you prefer and can you guess which is which?!

EDIT: Someone in the comments got in right!

Sony NEX5N, Flat PP

AF100 AB-RANGE PP

C300 C-LOG

GH2 Driftwood Hack nostalgia and dialed down

5Dmk2 Marvels Advance

7D Marvels Advance

FS100 G-LOG A

F3 AB-RANGE

F3 S-Log

Nikon D7000 Flat

 

Number 1

 

Number 2

 

Number 3

 

Number 4

 

Number 5

 

Number 6

 

Number 7

 

Number 8

 

Number 9

 

Number 10

 

 

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Comments

  1. Brian says:

    simply. thanks. that was a generous exercise.

  2. Hey! And what about the soon to come out Nikon D4?
    Quite nice…. But expensive… But for sure worth a review then – Looking forward to
    phillips opinion! Probably won’t be possible to look at, at the London workshop in February since it’ to soon i assume..

  3. Thanks for Part 2 Philip. Great to see these cameras pushed!

  4. Dan Brazda says:

    Thanks for the test Phillip. Very “real world” informative as always. Even though I’ve heard rave reviews about the FS100 in low light your test really showed it more than anything I’ve seen so far- pretty amazing for a camera at that price point.

  5. This is fantastic, thanks Philip!!!

    A question on ISO: It’s hard to tell in “log” mode, but seems to me that ISO 6400 with the F3 looks similar in light capturing as C300 at 12,800. Can you check luminance values in Premiere and see if this seems right?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      yep in S-Log for sure. It’s a lot brighter and those ISO values are too conservative. Abel Cine rated them a stop higher

  6. Stuart Dennis says:

    Very informative. One thing though – on the 5D low light test it looks like you may have a dead pixel (or something),it appears to be half way down on the right hand side of the frame? I might be wrong.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      most likely. Got a fair few of them!

  7. Jiri Vrozina says:

    Sony f3 with S-log looked good but C300 with good internal codec should be the best Camera to make money with. No cables, external boxes and works with all Canon MOUNT lenses without any dodgy adapters.
    Expect Sony F4 soon.

    1. Alex Penton says:

      The “best Camera to make money with” is the camera that best suits your needs and budget.

      1. Jiri Vrozina says:

        Exactly.
        If You make little money you buy little camera :-)

    2. “Best Camera” is still a relative observation and personal decision….

  8. Lee says:

    i really enjoyed both, the FS100 is impressive in low light.

    I think I will make the switch to Marvels Cine, didn’t even know there was an alternative to the Technicolor one

  9. Mike says:

    Philip the FS100 the G-Log is that a paid firmware upgrade?

  10. morgan says:

    fab work…thanks!!! I’m going with the gh2 and will make sure I have some light.

    What monitor do you use on the camera???…Marshall?

    thanks

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Thanks. TV Logic 5.6″

  11. Nice review! Although splitscreen comparison of the footage would help me compare a lot!

    Nice to see the Canon C300 has the best codec!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Thanks!

      Problem was too many cameras to split screen!

  12. I’m dong a 360 here. After years of looking at DV, DVCPro, HDV, and XDCAm I thought AVCHD was the cat’s pajamas and I said I was done with MPEG2! But after watching this I am not so much disappointed but having to rethink my bias. Does any one on this forum work with AVCIntra who can attest to how well it holds up to grading. It’d be nice if Panasonic brought this codec down into their next line of cameras.

  13. Haider Rizvi says:

    The color grading looked pretty good in all the skin tests. How would you compare colorista with some of the other color correction programs like davinchi lite, apple color or color finesse? Which one will give the best look with the least effort and training?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      I used Colorista II and it’s pretty easy. I have had no training. Never used the other ones. I like its total integration within the NLE. it’s 20% off with the code bloom20 at checkout at redgiantsoftware.com

  14. Haider Rizvi says:

    I enjoyed this test very much. Thank you for making it. Will you still make an epilogue with the resolution test of the GH2 at 720p 60 and the low light test with the nikon d7000?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      i will do some bits but not the low light as the set up was so specific…but only if I get time!

  15. Can you post the answers to what picture was made by which camera? Makes for easy comparison!

  16. Shiva Reddy says:

    I felt C300 was little disappointing in 1600 ISO over F3, but picked well after 6000 ISO.

    thank u for your time on this test.

  17. Thanks everyone for your hard work making this piece.
    Very informative and really enjoyed this.
    Thanks!!!

  18. Thanks for putting in your time and expertise – very illuminating!

  19. Bill Busby says:

    Excellent… informative and entertaining as always, Philip. Cheers

  20. Fantastic reviews and good to see how well some of the more “expensive” cameras do in such extreme low light.

    I know a lot of people might be thinking that such a test might be a killer to deliberately bury the prosumer level / DSLR’s but I think it just goes to re-enforce a few (perhaps obvious) things such as:

    A) Understanding the right gear for the type of work
    B) Knowing the limitations of your present camera, so you can work around them, or at the very least prepare.
    C) How f#*king awesome a time it is to be in the industry with cameras able to shoot in such stupidly low light to begin with…. Just try doing that last test with film…!!!

    It is a good argument for hiring gear if you know you’re likely to be pushing the boundaries…

    I must say was really surprised with how well the FS100 held up in the low light too and great to see C300 in unbiased action… also really appreciate your insights into the workflow side of codec for post as that’s an often “glossed over” topic, but a huge deal when you don’t have loads of time… and when time is money.

    Have spent the past week on set here in Melbourne with a RED one for a feature, and you’d be amazed at how many of the crew had seen your latest two part review! It was great great fuel for discussion to say the least…. especially when we had to break and wait from overheating issues.. (it was very hot conditions though)… Not all of us agreed (with each other) but it made for some interesting conversations!

    $$ does not always = outcome as there is so much more to what we do than just point and shoot…

    All in all I really appreciate the effort you’ve gone into putting these reviews together…

  21. Eric says:

    Thanks Philip (and crew) for doing these informative tests.
    I love the Sony FS100′s footage, especially considering its price point.

    I Hope to win the FS100 in that Sony competition you published a few weeks ago. By the way – when will you be announcing the winner?

  22. Part 2 is very nice and informative. Well done.

  23. DPC says:

    Philip, thanks for doing that. Just what I wanted to see!
    Concerning part 2: on a recent job in very low light I opted for the GH2 over the 5D MK II because the smaller sensor gives greater depth of focus. I could shoot at lower ISO with the lens wider open.

  24. Gerard Botha says:

    Brilliant!! Us folks in the rental company enjoy it thoroughly, unfortunately due to red tape and insurance we can not hire out hacked cameras!

  25. Tim says:

    Thanks, and good job Bloom. I have a 5n, and I’ve tweaked the settings to try and flatten it out. What is this Flat PP you’re using? Is there a file like the marvel PP you can download, or just some sweatspot settings? Rock On!

    1. Tim says:

      Did I say sweat? LOL

  26. Now we are all really lost…
    Please advise , what is your choice ?

  27. Philip, just wondering if you know of any hacks that specifically improve on the GH2′s low light performance as opposed to just improving bitrate etc. I know the two are obviously related, and taking advantage of B frames etc, just curious as there are now quite a few hacks out there…

  28. Mookie says:

    Would prefer to have seen the GH2 perform better at low light levels… But really at such a low prices you almost need to think of DSLRs as interchangeable lenses for the right occasions, rather than as a single system decision. So for me, perhaps the GH2 deeper focus daylight shots for less moire / aliasing, as well as situations where you need to externally monitor + the 5D for shallower and more fanciful stuff, as well as lower light situations.

    Any truth to the rumors that there will be a GH3 model out by the middle of the year?

  29. Thanks so much for going to the trouble of sharing such a valuable, unique and informative real world evaluation of these cameras.
    Looking at your test scene which appeared to be focused close to infinity and with reasonably deep depth of field, made me wonder how a smaller sensor camera would compare in very similar circumstances.
    So I went out and compared my 5DMKII with EF 24-105 f4 L lens and (Mosaic Eng. AA filter installed) against my Canon HF G10. Apparently the G10 shares the same sensor and lens as your XA10 which in turn shares those same specs as your XF105.
    When shooting deep depth of field shots at infinity on the 5DMKII, like the test scene you chose at Richmond Lock and like many of your shots in your wonderful St. Michael’s Mount film, the Canon HF G10 smoked the 5DMKII for resolution and not by a small amount. The G10 displayed a significantly better resolved image without looking sharpened – and the G10 and XA10 are not known to have the best resolution in their class.
    As wide, deep depth of field shots are the Canon DSLR’s weak point even with an AA filter and contrast and sharpening turned up a notch, I’m finding it a good idea to carry my HF G10 for those wide deep depth of field establishing shots to compliment the 5DMKII’s other talents.

    1. Mookie says:

      Timothy, I would say that what you’re reinforces my perspective from what I just posted: that (relatively) inexpensive second cameras really need to be considered almost as though they were second lenses. There are definitely weaknesses with the 5D that would keep me from utilizing it exclusively for something other than a tone poem, like a narrative feature or high concept short. That said, I would love to use the 5D for artistic flourishes within such projects that would utilize its talents well… I’ll have to look into the HF G10, thanks.

      1. DPC says:

        @Mookie and @Timothy: that’s exactly the conclusion I’m coming to. With two Canon DSLRs and a GH2 available to me, I’m very seriously considering the G 10 because there are shots I just can’t get at the moment.

  30. shawn wytch says:

    3-5-9 seem to look the best to me

  31. shawn wytch says:

    i have a canon t2i 550d looking to upgrade should i go with a sony nex vg20 or should i just go with a gh2? this is something im needing to know soon if anyone knows. also if you know a good stablizer for these also a good cheap tripod that has a bowl for video. im really looking to get the jello effect out my shots. i may pay a little more for a good tripod that will take out alot of that jello effect

  32. gus almonte says:

    Hey Philip, I had a question about the resolution test and the fs100. In the video, you said you didn’t use an external ND filter because it would affect the resolution on the fs100. Did you use the internal ND filters on the C300, AF100 and the F3? If so, the resolution on the FS100 may be even worse than in the video depending on the filter used. Would the heliopan be the best option if you need as much resolution as possible then? Thanks!

    btw, I LOVE the C300-great review, but my range is more the $4k-$6k, maybe even $7k, so I’m primarily looking at the FS100. Maybe I’ll get the C300 in about 5 years or so…

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      yes internal filters used. they are very sharp…

  33. justinflux says:

    Hey Philip
    Good coverage, low light test was great.
    What lens/cam combo did you use on your piece to cam bits with the chrissy lights in the background?
    Good field of view
    I’m guessing 5D & Zeiss 35mm 1.4?

    Cheers

    Justin

  34. brake says:

    Hi Phillip

    My first post here, great blog and great comparison! Thanks!

    Can you please let me know which microphone was used on the “interviewing” camera (sony ex1?) for the outdoors section? And was the audio recorded externally or on camera?

    I assume it was the same as the indoors setup too.

    I’m looking at buying a microphone soon and I like the sound of that one.

    Thanks champ!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      the mic was a sony uwp wireless outside and an ECM 77 INSIDE

      P