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Cinematographic look: 5D3, MosaicFilter, GH2, or FS100


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Hi, I have to decide which camera is better for an indie feature.

I need mainly two things: "cinematographic look" (and narrow DOF) and low-light ability. Filming will be make of long still "pictorial" takes based on indoor natural low-light only (even in evening). My first choice was 5D3 for it's low-light performance, but many guys say that it isn't a good choice for video, and that GH2 is a better choice because it's more detailed and without moire. I like the detailed GH2, but it's a bit noisy in low-light, and mainly I'm asking if GH2 detailed image has that cinematographic look I'm searching for, if it is a better "cine" choice than 5D3 or 5D2+MosaicFilter.

So, what is your advice for "cine" look (and narrow DOF) + low-light performance?

1. 5D2+VAF(MosaicFilter)+MagicLantern?

2. 5D3?

3. D800+VAF(MosaicFilter)+Shuttle2?

4. GH2+hackedFirmware?

5. FS100+Shuttle2?
6. Waiting for new GH3?

Thx

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The 5D2 and VAF is a good budget choice unless you need to shoot wider than 28mm, then your corners go soft.

The FS100 is a low light king and better value for money than the $3500 5D3. You are looking at $4000 for one used. You won't need the Shuttle unless you're doing a lot of fast camera work - action sequences and jerky handheld stuff. Internal codec is very good. D800 with the Mosaic filter will be nicer than a 5D3 image wise, but again you risk the blurry corners at wide angle.

If you can wait for the GH3 it is sounding very nice on paper. Launch is mid-September at Photokina. But on shelves? I am not sure. Could be as late as November.

GH2 for the price is unbelievably good.

But you should think as carefully about your choice of lenses for a cinematic look as about the camera. Anamorphic lenses make more of a difference. All the cameras above have strikingly different lenses available for them which give a cinematic look. Research into it. I've done a lot of lens research for the GH2 as that has been my primary camera for the last 2 years, all that is in my book. The full frame cameras and FS100 - well that depends more on your budget since the camera eats into what you could be spending on very nice lenses for the GH2.

If you have to build your lens collection from scratch go for the GH2 no question about it. The money you save, put towards good glass, makes more difference than those camera bodies towards overall cinema feel.
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Wow, that's a lot of options! FS100 is a complete a solution if you can spend the money.

Low light and shallow dof means perhaps 5Dii with filter and Magic Lantern is a good choice for cheap. Then get a fast 50mm manual old prime for cheap unique look.

I don't have experience with all in this list, but the closest I've used are 5D2, 550D and FS700 (similar to FS100). GH2 costs very little and people have done a lot with it with regard to lenses, which are really important.

5Diii is probably a bit expensive for what it does.
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haha looks like we replied at the same time with pretty much the same opinion!

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Thanks for your replies. If I correctly understand your advices,
1. for low-light and shallow DOF the best choice is FS100 (having money)
2. for low-light and shallow DOF the cheap best choice is 5D2 + VAF + MagicLantern (28mm to tele)
3. GH2 is a great and cheap camera but needs light and can't give shallow DOF
4. 5D3's "softness" isn't "cinematographic" at all!
Is it all correct?

Now, about "cinematographic look" lenses, which is your advice? I think that all my takes will be based on tripod (as I said, long still takes) or steadi (the talent is walking on the street and I follow her remaining at her shoulders for close-up) so probably I don't need stabilized lenses. The maximum wide take will be a surface of 2,5m at a distance of 2m, so a 28mm lens on a 36mm sensor. For low-light performance and "cine" look I think probably primes only with fixed aperture (f/1,4 to f/2). But I also need a lens for close-up (all-screen face, all-screen hands, etc.)
So an idea of lenses-bag could be:
1. for 5D2:
-Samyang 35mm f/1,4
-Canon 50mm f/1,4
-Samyang 85mm f/1,4
-Canon 200mm f/2,8L -OR- Canon MACRO 100mm f/2,8L (for close-up?)
2. for GH2:
-Olympus Zuiko 12mm f/2 ED
-Leica 25mm f/1,4 DG Summilux
-Leica 45mm f/2,8 MACRO DG
-Olympus Zuiko 75mm f/1,8 ED (for close up thanks to the crop factor?)
3. for FS100:
-Samyang 24mm f/1,4
-Samyang 35mm f/1,4
-Sony-a 50mm f/1,4
-Samyang 85mm f/1,4 (for close-up?)
So, any advice about this lenses-gear? And do you think the lenses I marked for close-up are sufficient for the kind of close-up I described above?

One last thing: the Shuttle2. Admin, you say that I won't need the Shuttle unless I'm doing a lot of action sequences and jerky handheld stuff. Well, as I said I'll use only tripod and steadi. But surely I'll use color-correction (SpeedGrade or DaVinci) and perhaps having the 10bit Uncompressed files out of the Shuttle (even if from the 8bit-only FS100's HDMI) should make the difference, isn't it? (I could use the compressed files from the FS100 as proxy, and the Uncompressed files as native.) What do you think about it?
Thx

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Posted · Report post

You are wrong about the GH2 not providing shallow DOF... there are lenses available with extremely shallow DOF if you want it (f/0.95), and shooting in low light is absolutely possible if done with care....

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I just watched these GH2 videos last night that blew me away. they were shot by forum member [url="http://www.eoshd.com/comments/user/13810-francisco-rios/"]Francisco Ríos[/url]. This video has some really nice shallow depth of field:

https://vimeo.com/42675666

It's kind of long but the quality and cinematic feel are great.
however, This one has an amazingly cinematic feel too and shows off how good GH2 anamorphic can look:

https://vimeo.com/37669389

As far as low light goes, I can't seem to find this one specific video that I saw on Vimeo that shows low light comparisons between three cameras and the GH2 did really well. Maybe someone else can elaborate more on this but, from what I've seen the GH2 has a lot more latitude in the darks so theoretically if you shoot low light, could you just shoot with a low ISO and put it back up in post?

Not trying to push the GH2 but just saying, from what I've seen, it looks like the best option really.

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I ditched Canon and jumped on the GH2 bandwagon a few months ago. At first I was very pleased, especially with the legacy glass options that it afforded me. But the GH2 (or at least my GH2) often has color banding in the gradients as can be found in smooth bokeh or the sky. It's not in every shot (maybe 1 in 10), and YouTube and Vimeo compressions will cause this as well so most web videos end up with it anyway. But it has been ruining the party for me lately. If the GH3 improves on nothing else, I hope that it resolves this issue. At this point, I would not recommend the GH2.

I have also shot with the 5D Mark III. You can get a nice cinematic image out of it. But it's pricey for what you get.

I'd wait until Photokina in September. They will be announcing some new cameras that should be better than what we have now.

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Thanks for your replies guys!

[quote name='kirk' timestamp='1346433270' post='17039']
there are lenses available with extremely shallow DOF if you want it (f/0.95), and shooting in low light is absolutely possible if done with care....
[/quote]
Well, 800$-camera with a 10K$-lens? Perhaps! But f/0,95 is out budget for me ;). Anyway, what do you exactly mean with «low light [...] done with care»? Without light panels, evening or indoor natural light only is always critical - I think - for low-light nuances (not just a bright candle in a black field). And I've seen [url="http://vimeo.com/42091083"]THIS TEST[/url] with GH2 vs FS100 vs 5D3: 5D3 wins low-light test but the image is a bit soft, GH2 is noisy during changes of light, FS100 is in the middle for low-light performance but the image is more defined than 5D3.

[quote name='QuickHitRecord' timestamp='1346448326' post='17045']
I have also shot with the 5D Mark III. You can get a nice cinematic image out of it. But it's pricey for what you get.
[/quote]
I agree: perhaps - up to now - the choice could be between FS100 or 5D2+VAF. But if both the cameras (GH2 and 5D3) were priced equal - theorically - which one would you prefer QuickHitRecord?

[quote name='galenb' timestamp='1346441226' post='17044']
This one has an amazingly cinematic feel too and shows off how good GH2 anamorphic can look
[/quote]
I know almost nothing about anamorphic lenses, but it seems a great solution for cine look. I've read that there are anamorphic lenses or anamorphic adaptors. Which lenses or adapters do you advice to me, and where is it possible to buy them? Vignetting issues or definition's loss?
Thx

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[quote][color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]But if both the cameras (GH2 and 5D3) were priced equal - theorically - which one would you prefer QuickHitRecord?[/font][/color][/quote]

Priced equally? I may catch hell for this on these boards, but I'd go with the 5Diii. It is not a camera that I am excited about, but it is pretty stable. No banding (that I have seen), better low-light, built-in headphone jack. The fewer camera quirks and shortcomings, the more attention that I can pay to actually shooting.

But the fact remains, they aren't priced anywhere near the same and I do have high hopes for the GH3.
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[quote name='ilariobiraghi' timestamp='1346554416' post='17129']
Well, 800$-camera with a 10K$-lens? Perhaps! But f/0,95 is out budget for me ;). Anyway, what do you exactly mean with «low light [...] done with care»? Without light panels, evening or indoor natural light only is always critical - I think - for low-light nuances (not just a bright candle in a black field).
Thx
[/quote]

10K$?? 1000 $ is more like it... I'd rather spend money on lenses than cameras, actually. The GH2 plus a f/0.95 is still way cheaper than the 5DIII. I love my heavy Zuiko 4/3ds 11-22mm like a baby.

By done with care I simply mean choosing the right picture mode and exposing carefully using the histogram. Here are two 1600 ISO shots at f/2.8, first with the rather noisy Nostalgic setting, the second with the Vibrant setting, which works best for me in low light. Both places were so dark that it was difficult to se the buttons on the camera... No Neat noise removal.

[media]http://vimeo.com/47927412[/media]

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If the GH2 was priced equally as the 5dIII, i would certainly go for the 5d. But for the price of the 5d you are way better off with a fs100(add a little cash on it), the d800 or wait for either the black magic cinema camera,the gh3 or sony alpha 99.

But i would always choose the gh2 with a good lens park over the 5dIII with shitty lenses.

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[quote name='Mirrorkisser' timestamp='1346586792' post='17155']
or wait for either the black magic cinema camera,the gh3 or sony alpha 99.
[/quote]
Blackmagic Cinema Camera is a strange phenomenon for me: 12bit DNG-RAW is perfect for color-correction, but the sensor is smaller than 4/3, so critical in low-light with high ISO, tele-cropped, no shallow DOF... I don't understand the "sense" of this camera.

[quote name='Mirrorkisser' timestamp='1346586792' post='17155']
But i would always choose the gh2 with a good lens park over the 5dIII with shitty lenses.
[/quote]
Guys, which is your advice for a fast primes-only bag (4 or 5 primes)? Also anamorphic or normal+adepter?

[quote name='Mirrorkisser' timestamp='1346586792' post='17155']
If the GH2 was priced equally as the 5dIII, i would certainly go for the 5d.
[/quote]
So don't you agree that 5D3 is "softer" than GH2? Is it just a matter of money?

And... 5D2-VAF vs D800-VAF?
Thx

P. S.
[quote name='QuickHitRecord' timestamp='1346557931' post='17132']
I do have high hopes for the GH3.
[/quote]
...me too ;)

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The 5d is a lot softer than the gh2, some like it, a lot dont.

Canon FD glass is a very good value for money deal. 35mm f2, 50mm 1.4, 85mm 1.8, for a wideangle the pana 14mm 2.5 is a cheap buy.

Andrew recommends some good lenses in his book about the gh2. But if you take the time to google you will find them, too.

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Hello Everyone... Happy Holidays!

I have many cameras, which includes the Panasonic GH2.

The GH2 has a much bigger sensor than the old guard standard pro video cameras (1/2" - 2/3" - etc) and the DOF can easily be manipulated.

I use all kinds of lenses but right now I have been using several Canon and Fujinon 2/3" B4 lenses and I haven't taken my Fujinon off my one GH2 in a long time.  It's very versatile in that it's a zoom so I can use it for effect with the (very precise) electronic control, or manually.  Of course I also use it on a dolly and just set the focal length where I need it.  It has a constant aperture so you can set it and forget it, or because it is stepless you can change it while you shoot (I never do).  I'm selling one of them on eBay, but here is a YouTube video that shows some of it's capabilities:   http://youtu.be/H9oCL8eol0g

I am a super freak when it comes to noise so I ran extensive tests because I thought the GH2 was a bit noisy for my taste (low light).  I shot a video under a 1 candle light and it came out great, but was a little noisy in a spectrum of exposure (not in the super blacks where I would expect, but in a lighter exposed area).  This of course doesn't happen in film (we shoot film as well and where that poses other challenges, digital artifacts and noise aren't one of them).

So I took a Nikon D7000, a Canon T4i (I think it was) and the GH2 and ran some side-by-side tests.  Long story short, the GH2 had far less noise out of the bunch.  I then scoured the net and downloaded all of the test from AF-100s, FS100s and others and found that the GH2 held it's own.

Now considering that the FS100 (and 700) have larger sensors, you would think that you would get a more shallow DOF... well yes, but not enough to make me drool.  In fact you can get very shallow DOF with the GH2 if you use the tool correctly (focal length and distance to subject is key as well as Fstop).

One important note is that the GH2 is geared heavily toward video, which makes it a better choice for video work than the DSLRs.

As far as the FS100, that larger sensor size is great and it's a great camera (I might be purchasing one soon) but along with the minor benefit that you get with the "super 35mm" sensor, comes some drawbacks.  Your lens choices are severely restricted as compared to the GH2.  For instance you can't use the 2/3" lenses (GH2 requires the use of a 2X teleconverter (built in to my lenses)) except with the 2X teleconverter and at a long focal length (I believe at 90mm or longer) or you get vignetting.  Now you have les lens choices and many of them are in the higher price range than available for the GH2.

The Nikon D800 is a great 32MegaPixel camera, but here you go again using way more expensive lenses, and there are issues when it comes to shooting video.  Again, it is not a video camera so it is lacking professional video features.  It can only shoot clips 30 min or less in length, and the codec options are limited, just to mention 2.

The new GH3 has way more recording (codec) options and can shoot at high bit rates!

Now I know this next statement is going to bring the haters out so please don't... this is just my opinion based on my personal, extensive testing, and if you don't like my results, please be civil.

Don't hack the GH2 if you don't like noise!!!  Every one of my tests prove that hacking increases the noise, period!  Some moderately (unacceptable to me) and some severe, but more noise for sure.  Some claim that the hacks provide better results when shooting fast moving scenes, I didn't notice that in my tests, but my main emphasis was on noise and I did little testing with fast movements (other than the occasional swish pan, I don't do any sports type shooting, so it's not a factor to me).

Now the GH3 addresses the higher bitrate issue (more storage required for a small benefit when it comes to green screen and color grading) and I know that the engineers at Panasonic will deliver a stable product.   Don’t forget that the GH2 hack might provide a way to add more bits to the mix, but it’s still just 4:2:0.

My company uses a wide range of gear and the expensive stuff can deliver performance that under $5K cams can only hint at (even though they're getting closer) but you get what you pay for, and I use these less expensive cams for my personal use as well as in the field on lower budget projects, but for the money you can't go wrong... and the GH2 and GH3 have to be the best choice on a budget.

Anyway, that's my take on it.

Happy New Year All!

Anthony
 

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Don't hack the GH2 if you don't like noise!!!  Every one of my tests prove that hacking increases the noise, period!  Some moderately (unacceptable to me) and some severe, but more noise for sure.  Some claim that the hacks provide better results when shooting fast moving scenes, I didn't notice that in my tests, but my main emphasis was on noise and I did little testing with fast movements (other than the occasional swish pan, I don't do any sports type shooting, so it's not a factor to me).
 

 

are you aware of the iso bug with the gh2? from the hacks i've tried, noise pretty much remains the same as stock (driftwood's GOPstoppa and sedna patches) with the exception of maybe his canis majoris patch. but with that one the noise is much finer and more natural looking. you may gain a bit of noise, but you get rid of a lot of macroblocking in high detail/motion areas versus the standard bitrates, not to mention some that make it an AVCHD-INTRA codec. there are pluses and minuses to hacking, no doubt, but from my experience, it's definitely worth it.

 

why do people equate shallow depth of field with a 'cinematic look'? yes, it's important, but there's a lot more to it that just having everything out of focus except for a teeny tiny focal plane. you can get shallow DOF with the panasonic 14-42mm kit lens @ f3.5, and even 5.6. you don't need a huge sensor or a gaping aperature..

 

and just curious, is your project going to be in color? check out some of the footage of a hacked gh2 at 12800 iso in black and white. it's pretty astonishing

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Hey north carolina,

 

My tests were conclusive when it comes to noise; all hacks induced more noise than the stock firmware.  As you stated, some of the hacks changed the characteristics of the noise, but non reduced the noise over the stock firmware, and all increased the noise to a varying degree.

 

On the macroblocking, I have heard a lot about the improvements of the hacks over the firmware, but have not tested for that specifically and have not seen any tests on the net that have proven it to me so far, so I'll have to take your word for it.

 

All in all, if you have great content and your crew knows what their doing, I doubt that any audience will be able to see anything but a great story.  For us, that are making purchase decisions, it's obviously an issue to explore prior to shelling out the bucks.

 

I totally agree with you as far as DOF goes.

 

BTW  I must also state that these cameras all seem to have different characteristics from one to the other... maybe Panasonic needs to tighten their quality control.  My GH2 doesn't have the ISO bug at all.  Nor does it have banding issues, and the moiré is better than on most cameras that I've used, very acceptable.

 

I guess this is why we should take all of these tests and reviews with a grain of salt, what is great on one GH2 may be awful on another.

 

Cheers... Anthony

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I'm not sure I'd recommend a 5D2+AA filter over a 5D3.
The 5D3 is way cheper than the $3500 it used to cost. These days you can get a new one for $2600. A 5D2 + filter will cost around $2100 these days, but I'm not sure what you save is worth it. The filter has quite a few limitations and the 5D3 is a better camera overall, not only because of the better aliasing.

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questech

 

The GH2 doesn't have high levels of noise with the hacks? You will have to give more information about your tests like what ISO you used. The GH2 has higher noise levels over 500asa I personally try never to go above the lowest setting and use fast lenses instead. I've never had a problem with noise or the need to degrain as long as I stick to low ISO levels.

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Hello,

 

The term "high levels of noise" which is yours not mine, is both subjective and relative within my discussion.  I did run a series of highly controlled tests, and my results are relative to my standard of acceptable quality, which may be higher than yours.

 

I ran the tests at every ISO available on my camera (hacked and stock firmware) and the results were the same across the board; the hacks induced more noise than the unhacked firmware at every ISO setting.

 

So my statement "Don't hack the GH2 if you don't like noise!!!" still stands but let me qualify it.  In most settings, noise isn’t an issue with the GH2 if you're doing anything like sports or action work where you have a lot of movement... you can't really see the noise when the camera is moving, and if your subject is moving, the audience will be focusing on that rather than trying to see how clean the image is.  Now that's just one example of how the brain makes you see what you expect to see.  This is a phenomenon that I learned, not in film school, but when I got my pilots license in 1989.  We have a blind spot in each eye where there is absolutely no image for us to see.  Our brain fills in those spots with what it thinks should be there, it is totally not really there, but we think that we're seeing what is actually before us.  That's important if you're flying an airplane, an oncoming plane could be in that blind spot and you would never know it.

 

Now if you're shooting a low lit dramatic scene with no camera or subject movement, the noise could be distracting because it would be the only thing moving in the scene  :-)

 

Again it's relative, but if you hate noise and are sensitive to it like me, and it’s important to your shoot (like the last one I described) don't hack your GH2.

 

Also, I've watched a lot of video in a critical fashion, and some way more expensive cameras have just as much noise than the GH2, so maybe I'm picky.

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

questech

 

The GH2 doesn't have high levels of noise with the hacks? You will have to give more information about your tests like what ISO you used. The GH2 has higher noise levels over 500asa I personally try never to go above the lowest setting and use fast lenses instead. I've never had a problem with noise or the need to degrain as long as I stick to low ISO levels.

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questech: i don't doubt there's more noise, but for me, the gains in other areas are worth it. and for the most part, in well lit scenes at mid to low iso's, the difference to the average person is negligible. for doing comparison shopping though, for the price range i don't think you can go wrong with the gh2. especially now that the gh3 is out and gh2 prices are dropping

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This was shot with the 5d

 

https://vimeo.com/55403443

 

Absolutely astounding. Doesn't get more cinematic than that. It's awesome how people in the Reduser forum were fooled into thinking it was film until the colourist herself confirmed that it was 5d.

 

http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?92063-quot-Sleepwalking-In-The-Rift-quot-Anyone-Know-What-This-Was-Shot-On

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This is a great example that equipment is probably the least factor in the mix.  Any of these great cameras we speak about here could get the same results; it's the director and the production team, and the great actors and settings that support a great story (script) that makes a work truly cinematic.

 

If you substituted a GH2, an AF100, FS100, BlackMagicCam, Red... the average audience would never be able to tell the difference (unless blowing it up on a gigantic screen of course) because they would be to enthralled with the action and the beautiful scenery and the story.

 

Now if you took the best operator and a great 35mm film camera and put him in a grey/beige training room with no light other than the overhead fluorescents and limited space to move the camera and he had to shoot a very boring speaker describing a very dry, overly technical issue that the audience doesn't care about... and it will look like @#$%*&

 

This is a beautiful piece!

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[quote name="hmcindie" post="24313" time="1357140069"]This was shot with the 5d   [url=https://vimeo.com/55403443]https://vimeo.com/55403443[/url]   Absolutely astounding. Doesn't get more cinematic than that. It's awesome how people in the Reduser forum were fooled into thinking it was film until the colourist herself confirmed that it was 5d.   [url=http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?92063-quot-Sleepwalking-In-The-Rift-quot-Anyone-Know-What-This-Was-Shot-On]http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?92063-quot-Sleepwalking-In-The-Rift-quot-Anyone-Know-What-This-Was-Shot-On[/url][/quote] That's pretty crazy pulling DR like that in that last shot on a 5D, lol. ML hdr?

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