2011 Zacuto's great camera shootout Part 1

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 One. Link is stated below.


Based upon the success of my previous post entitled ' Zacuto's great camera shootout Part 2', I've gone ahead to create this post on my thoughts of the Part 1 version of this 3-part webseries. Thanks to all of you who have read it, agreed or disagreed with me. I hope with this post, i'll get some useful feedbacks on this article that I am going to write(since this post has comments enabled on it).

Without further ado...on to the article then.

As you all know, I'm writing this article after the Part 2 version. Why? well...it could be said that part 1 has more or less satisfied me. As far as dslrs go, I don't have an issue with the way dslrs performed in this webisode. So, for the sake of writing this new article for my readers, I viewed and re-viewed the video a few times with more scrutiny(hopefully i'd find a bone to pick).

Lesson learnt. I still couldn't find anything which made me re-think the usefulness of dslrs. The first episode of the series tests the dynamic range of the cameras and the usable exposure latitude for each camera. So the prestigious SCCE team carried out a:
1) Dynamic range analysis( using a dynamic range test chart the team in conjuntion with a few other devices, can determine the  dynamic range of the camera between the 'just-before-clipping' of the highlights and the 'just-above-noise level' of the shadows. The range of usable exposure latitude are those ranges in the middle of these two aforementioned 'dynamic checkpoints')
dynamic range test chart: 'just-before-clipping' to 'just-above-noise level'

The number of usable 'circles' indicate the dynamic range latitude
DSLR results(with Arri Alexa as reference)
Just in case you needed to know how film prevailed
Here's the results from all the cameras

2) Under Exposure Test( A scene was intentionally underexposed. The character that was the test subject in the scene is underexposed 4.5 stops under base exposure which is the other subject to the left of frame)

Felt the 7D did a much better job
...and the Nikon D7000 did even better according to my eyes
With reference to the RED ONE

With reference to the RED ONE
With reference to the RED ONE
Basically, what you would want to look at is the separation between background and the lady in the shadows and separation between coat and dress of the lady. In the better cameras, one could discern the differences between the background: Coat: Dress.

...compared to this
I think that our beloved film stocks took a huge hit in this underexposure test. =[ Uh Oh!
"Shadow detail in the film...[pause]which would only get worse once you started duping it." -Calvin Gardiner, ACS Cinematographer
I think he summed it up there. The expression on his face...priceless.

3) Over exposure Test: This was a test designed to gauge how the cameras can hold on to the highlight details of the overexposed areas in the scene. The hotspot situated on the window is 7.5 stops above base exposure, which is the lady to the left of frame right beside the mirror. Oh and I need to mention that the whole window is 5.5 stops over base exposure. The main emphasis is on the window. On a sidenote, I noticed how Nancy Schreiber was in charge of the design of the over exposure test compared to Matt Siegel, who designed the under exposure test. Yeah, i tend to overindulge sometimes;P

I liked how 7D still manages to include the details of the tree branches in the window
With the Alexa as a reference

With the Alexa as a reference
This is how the Canon's matched up against one another
So...here's the exposure latitude results from all of the cameras.
Pretty good guide as to what your next camera is 'gonna be right?;P
In summary, I'd just like to echo what most of the cinematographers say. That's, if you're a good cinematographer, the instrument that you use to produce your image doesn't matter. In essence, even if the camera is lacking in shadow or highlight capture, remember: You can change where your base exposure lies so that you capture maximum details no matter what your scenes are as the whole latitude will shift with your base exposure.
"Yeah, I mean you know video cameras don't handle highlights very well that are blown out. And, if you consider how that was shot, they chose a midpoint so that everywhere started with a midpoint. You can go seven stops into the shadows with the F3, you can't go over very much. So if you'd set your midpoint father down on the slider, Then, I think if you expose for your highlights which is generally what you do in your video...you expose for your highlights and grade up."  -Den Lennie, F-stop Academy
As far as my concern for dslrs are concerned, the latitude and dynamic range for the price I paid were justified and were even better than my expectations(look at 7D's overexposure test!).

Now, I just need to buy an external audio recorder, microphone, data field recorder, rigs, zacuto z-finder to truly make it a basic video camera minus the shallow DOF. ;P


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