2011 Zacuto's great camera shootout Part 2

Disclaimer Note: I do not own all the pictures below. They are screenshots which I took from the video; Zacuto's Great Camera Shootout 2011 Episode Two. Link is stated below.


There's one thing that bugs me with the newest instalment of this years' Zacuto great camera shootout. DSLRs aren't performing that well. Sadly, I think it can be owed to the h.264 native compression instilled in those cameras. I don't know for the life of me why external data recorders aren't used to capture uncompressed DSLR footage through hd-sdi, but then again, Canon has had issues working with the aforementioned data recorders(some say it is deliberate). That's not to say, it cannot work with other external data recorders right? I could be wrong=[

Sensitivity, Sharpness and Compression. These are the three things put up for evaluation amongst the 12 cameras; Sony f35, Arri Alexa, Red One, Sony F3, Panasonic AF-100, 35mm film(kodak stocks 5219 & 5213), Phantom Flex, Weisscam HS-2, Canon 1D Mark IV, 5D Mark II, 7D and Nikon D7000.

Sensitivity of the cameras are measured by the signal to noise ratio. Basically, it measures the threshold of a camera to contain signal in the darker areas as compared to how much noise there is. DSLRs and the other video cameras have inbuilt 'noise reduction' which basically reduces noise by sacrificing pixels with noise, making the video somewhat lose it's resolution. This results in 'non-sharp, blocky images'. The video cameras handled it well, with it's quality still clear and pristine whilst the DSLRs looks soft despite not looking grainy. Uh Oh! have we all been tricked?
This looks softer...as compared to...

Not jumping to the gun yet, I decided to skip forward to the next test; Sharpness. Oh...I liked how Matt Siegel refered to his Siemen's Star as a 'siemen's star on steroids'. Ahaha. Totally cracked me up(nerd joke). But nevermind...on to it then. Well, as expected, the video cameras had a hard time on this test with the Red One as the only victor in the race between all the video cameras. Film performed the best also(not surprised). I find the moire-ing of the DSLRs especially appalling. Not a good idea to have your talent stand infront of a brick wall thousand miles away on a wide shot ey? unless someone wants to have weird shapes on the brick wall=] As if to add salt to wound, The SCCE team took a still dslr picture of the siemen's star against the video dslr snapshot of the siemen's star. The result, because of compression, video looked softer.

Siemen Star on steroids~Lmao!

Performed better than 5D, but still...

Speaking of which; the last point of the video is....Tadaaa!: Compression. Well...let's just say I didn't expect dslrs to perform here. Most compression codecs as we know, compress video information to minimize space by sacrificing their color subsampling. This results in 4:4:4, 4:2:2 & 4:2:0(amongst many other compression methods). The images below showed how the dslrs performed. You could see green patches on a somewhat pristine color. Yucks!(Sony F35 is the reference)

Nice ey? Just proves to show that Nikon has a slight advantage over Canon in color capability. And it also proves the theory that if you squeeze in 18mp into a 1.6x crop factor, something is bound to go wrong(instead of 12mp for a 1.5x crop for Nikon). Bottomline is that DSLRs can only take us so far, the rest is up to you. Most people might say that it doesnt matter to the audiences who watch the films, but let me clarify this; All these audiences are moving to Blu Ray or HD DVD, whatever artifacting that is shot with the camera will be seen when you're playing it back in the Blu Ray/HD DVD resolutions. It cannot be ignored!

Besides, DSLRs weren't made for filmmaking in the first place. Geez. But i'll never forsake my 60D yet as it is a great personal camera to use for mobile experimentation. I'm scared though, that one day, I can't use it anymore to do some corporate/ wedding events anymore. That's when it'll just be for taking photos :'[


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