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5D Mark III or Blackmagic Cinema Camera?


Andrew Reid
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or even edited C300 footage let alone actually shot with a C300?




Right so you have a C300.
I can't own every camera out there and like most of us have to make informed decisions. I followed the Canon C300 very closely on it's launch and really liked the short films made to sell it. The resolution colour and low light were all great. We were all expecting it to be reasonably priced and in the end it was sold as a professional camera unaffordable for the indie film makers who had built it up. The camera uses a 4K engine and states this is what gives it it's magic for amazing results with an emphasis on skin tones and low light.

However the camera is 4.2.2 with an 8 bit workflow and if you believe the hype about the 4k engine magic then it should perform better than an alexa which only uses 2k. The camera gave the best picture at the time as there was nothing much for it to compete against.

The camera is a lovely machine in use and gives a great picture. However since then the BMC has come along and trounced its specs to the level of an Alexa. The BMC opens up what the C300 has been deliberatly crippled with.

Anyone who understands cameras will realise why the BMC specs mean a better picture. Thats not to say you couldn't make a feature with the C300 and beautiful pictures but in the right hands the BMC is a much better tool.
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I'd be quite interested to see what Phil Bloom has to say on it. My guess is if he is something like me it would be along the lines of if you can do without a large sensor and prepared to work you can get cinema quality images at a knockdown price.

He might also say his C300 is easier and more user friendly to use with a proper sized sensor that unless you are making somthing for the big screen he wouldn't swap out his C300 for a BMC. BUT would be buying a BMC to replace his lost scarlet and for high quality work and until it can be replaced with something as good with a preferable 4k workflow.

At least that's what I would do.

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FWIW, I played around with some of the J. Brawley footage & my jaw hit the floor. In terms of grading, it doesn't take a lot of effort to get great results. All that dynamic range makes this a "killer app" IMO.

Not really looking forward to the workflow, however... and all that proxy conversion. It will be a pain in the ass. However, my primary work is Music Video, so for that application, the BMC makes sense. For live concerts, however, I'll be sticking with my pair of hacked GH2's.

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Just out of curiosity, have you ever graded C300 footage?



or even edited C300 footage let alone actually shot with a C300?



Right so you have a C300.



Great comeback Mark.

People need to realise there is such a thing as the internet. You don't have to physically put a card into an C300 and physically copy the files onto your laptop to make an informed judgement on the image quality.
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For a lot of us the cost of BMD not only includes the wide lens and power solution, but a whole new computer workstation. My Mac isnt that old, but it's old enough that it doesn't have Thunderbolt. Sure you have an option of what mode to shoot in, but only if you have a computer capable of processing the RAW files, otherwise you have a ProRes cam.
So add up those items, and I'm left asking myself, am I better off with the BMD and everything I need to make it work or am I better off spending the same money on a FS700?
And while the BMD camera appears to have excellent resolution, so do my GH2's and most of my work is for the web so my clients will probably never see the difference after web compression.
These are the main reasons why I'm not jumping on the bandwagon...yet.

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For a lot of us the cost of BMD not only includes the wide lens and power solution, but a whole new computer workstation. My Mac isnt that old, but it's old enough that it doesn't have Thunderbolt.



You don't need Thunderbolt to edit BMD files. Just import the footage from the SSD.
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I'm really excited to get my hands on a BMC and feel what it's like to shoot handheld with it. For me a cameras handheld ergonomics come a very close second to image quality. When operating I much prefer physical buttons and switches to a touch screen controls (basing this off of the RED). I need to be able to make adjustments without lowering the camera from my shoulder or having to look at a screen. This is because the majority of what I shoot is handheld and on the fly. I'm interested to see if it's possible to rig the BMC in a way that makes accessing the touch screen easier and more natural then my experience on the EPIC and SCARLET.


Even if I can rig in a way that makes the ergonomics work for the documentary, run and gun television work, and lifestyle projects I shoot I don't see the BMC being the best choice. For obvious reasons like weather proofing, built in ND's, Storage, Post production budgets, etc..I'm a bit spoiled because I've been shoot professionally for a while and can pretty much select the best camera on a job by job basis and the production will rent it.

The BMC is incredibly interesting to me for more controlled "cinema" applications. I'm so incredibly happy that BM has come out with this camera and I have nothing but positive praise for them! Even if I shoot with the BMC and decide that it isn't the camera for me I will still be incredibly happy that they've brought this camera to the market. It can't help but create competition and innovation (just like the RED ONE did).

I'm thrilled to live in a time when we have so many amazing cameras

I think DSLR's will still have a place in the market because of their size, photo capabilities, simplicity, not to mention price (the GH2 or the 5D II with the mosaic filter are still very much valid choices on a budget).

Cheers to having so many wonderful options!

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Raw gives you extra latitude but it doesn't save your images if you can't shoot worth a damn. You still need to expose and light but you guys don't know how to light so the whole "exposing" stuff goes over the heads. I've seen plenty of shoots by different DOP's going to waste for different reasons and RAW has never got anyone out of those "I exposed badly" sorts of situations. It helps grading, white balance and keeps the tonalities in check but that's about it.



All of these articles are like weird "fanboy" stuff where you guys concoct the imaginary wonder cam that makes everything look great by itself. You still need to learn to shoot. If you can't match cameras without raw, you can't match them with it.




I agree to a certain portion of your statement, but if you cant shoot "good enough" how would that help if you used a 5D? Or a t2i? The advantage of BMC is that if something is off you can try to fix it more easily since it is RAW compared to canon's codec. I do agree that if you aren't "good enough" then some shots while probably look terrible, I also dont agree with the tone and attitude you put in your statement. Everyone is still learning, even the professionals.
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I have two 5D3's; my primary goal is fast production and minimum file size and storage, with minimum time in post (shoot close to desired look). Many times I also shoot stills when shooting video on location.

My comments in bold, below. What you gain by choosing the Blackmagic: At which point I need higher quality than the 5D3, I'll be looking at renting a C300 (or purchasing if it makes sense for the project(s)), Sony FS700 or similar, latest Panasonic large sensor, etc. That is, high quality with an excellent long GOP codec. For something bigger budget, Arri Alexa or F65 (possibly Red if reliable); perhaps BMC in that case as B-cam(s). My requirements won't be the same as everyone else's. Different cameras for different jobs...

[*]Stills [*]Wide angle faster than F2.8 [*]Full frame rendering of your lenses [*]Usable ISO 12,800 [*]Very small files which can be edited in real-time. [*]No need to transcode. [*]Fantastic audio when using a high-quality preamp. [*]Excellent handling for solo- handheld, and run & gun. [*]Incognito video recording. [*]420 recording sufficient for material destined for internet, TV, and Blu-ray. [*]Relatively low noise until very high ISO's: remaining noise cleans up well with Neat Video. Shooting a band in near darkness at F4 is possible with ISO 12800 and Neat Video. Faster lenses allow even more light (while narrowing DOF, sometimes desired).




[*]Raw codec: massive files and a great deal of cumulative time to process. [*]Double the resolution (1000+ lines vs 600 lines): so far no chart posted for BMC. I read the posted charts at 800+ line pairs before extinction for the 5D3. I will interpret the BMC using the same criteria once an ISO 12233 chart is posted (obscure German blog link posted in this site did not include a chart, nor could I find "600" written anywhere on the page via search). [*]13 stop dynamic range: valid point. [*]12 bit colour: valid point, though more tests needed to see how much of those bits carry useful information vs. noise. [*]4-2-2 sampling: helpful for theatrical releases, not as helpful for material destined for 420 such as the internet, Blu-ray, and TV. Might help with green/bluescreen, however 5D3 material keys fine in my tests. [*]HD-SDI: helpful for pro monitoring or external recording (not an advantage for my needs). [*]Robust 1/4 audio jacks: we need to do tests to determine the quality of the preamp. 5D3 preamp at +1 gain works great with external preamp (many of which are small and can be mounted on the camera). 5D3 also includes headphone monitoring (available on BMC?). [*]Da Vinci Resolve (it comes in the box): excellent software worth ~$1000 by itself. For my current needs, too much work vs. editing everything in real-time from within Premiere CS6. A "Resolve" plugin for CS6 would be interesting. [*]Significantly larger screen and easier focussing: valid point, however I have gotten pretty good taking advantage of my nearsightedness using the 5D3 screen without an eyepiece. [*]Peaking and one touch focus assist: valid points (5D3 will get peaking with ML at some point (I don't use ML, though)). [*]ProRes recording option: will reduce file footprint however ProRes files are still massive. I prefer efficient long GOP codecs: modern quality is fantastic. C300 50Mbit/s quality is stellar (some folks claim long GOP is detectable by eye vs. ALL-I- let's do a controlled study :). All content on Blu-ray, TV, and internet is long GOP). More likely user's computer(s) too slow to decode long GOP fast enough, causing stuttering.





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I have two 5D3's; my primary goal is fast production and minimum file size and storage, with minimum time in post (shoot close to desired look). Many times I also shoot stills when shooting video on location.

  • No need to transcode.
  • Fantastic audio when using a high-quality preamp.
  • Excellent handling for solo- handheld, and run & gun.
  • Incognito video recording.
  • 420 recording sufficient for material destined for internet, TV, and Blu-ray.
  • Relatively low noise until very high ISO's: remaining noise cleans up well with Neat Video. Shooting a band in near darkness at F4 is possible with ISO 12800 and Neat Video. Faster lenses allow even more light (while narrowing DOF, sometimes desired).



Well that is true of many a DSLR, not just the 5D Mark III. So what is the unique selling point? Full frame sensor, yes. But look to the future and what Sony are bringing out. Also arguably the D800 is superior in a lot of ways. More detail in the shadows in raw stills, more resolution in both modes, and far nicer build, more tactile and better HDMI output.

I don't hate the 5D Mark III but it just isn't good enough for video.

Really, trust me, 1280x720 which is the REAL resolution of 1080p on the 5D Mark III is no match for 2400x1350 on the Blackmagic camera. Those larger files size give you a better image, who doesn't want that?

Also it only takes 30 minutes to transcode a bunch of raw files to H.264 if you need the reduced files sizes and native editing workflow. I am sure in most projects you can find an extra 30 minutes.
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[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]I'm really excited to get my hands on a BMC and feel what it's like to shoot handheld with it. For me a cameras handheld ergonomics come a very close second to image quality. When operating I much prefer physical buttons and switches to a touch screen controls (basing this off of the RED). I need to be able to make adjustments without lowering the camera from my shoulder or having to look at a screen. This is because the majority of what I shoot is handheld and on the fly. I'm interested to see if it's possible to rig the BMC in a way that makes accessing the touch screen easier and more natural then my experience on the EPIC and SCARLET. [/font]




[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]Even if I can rig in a way that makes the ergonomics work for the documentary, run and gun television work, and lifestyle projects I shoot I don't see the BMC being the best choice. For obvious reasons like weather proofing, built in ND's, Storage, Post production budgets, etc..I'm a bit spoiled because I've been shoot professionally for a while and can pretty much select the best camera on a job by job basis and the production will rent it. [/font]



[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]The BMC is incredibly interesting to me for more controlled "cinema" applications. I'm so incredibly happy that BM has come out with this camera and I have nothing but positive praise for them! Even if I shoot with the BMC and decide that it isn't the camera for me I will still be incredibly happy that they've brought this camera to the market. It can't help but create competition and innovation (just like the RED ONE did). [/font]



[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]I'm thrilled to live in a time when we have so many amazing cameras[/font]



[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]I think DSLR's will still have a place in the market because of their size, photo capabilities, simplicity, not to mention price (the GH2 or the 5D II with the mosaic filter are still very much valid choices on a budget).[/font]



Cheers to having so many wonderful options!




YES! Totally agree, and im totally jealous that you can get your hands on such amazing cameras :D
My biggest issue when it comes to handling is that the BMC doesnt have as many real buttons and its doesnt fit nicely enough in your hands from the look of it, you're guna need some kind of rig. I really hoped that it would have a flip out and rotatable screen, getting those hard to reach places will also be a pain without it. But I can understand why they did have it, makes it more cost effective. Im still really interested in it non the less, its guna be very eye opening in the coming months.
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Really, trust me, 1280x720 which is the REAL resolution of 1080p on the 5D Mark III is no match for 2400x1350 on the Blackmagic camera. Those larger files size give you a better image, who doesn't want that?




Sorry, Andrew, I need to see a line chart. You are quoting 600 lines for the 5D3 and 1000+ for the BMC with no objective evidence (posting a link without an ISO 12233 line chart isn't helpful). Mathematically, we need 3.8K samples for 1920 pixels without aliasing. The BMC only provides 2.5K samples, or 1250 pixels without aliasing. However, in practice extinction of details happens later. Thus, a line chart for both cameras will allow a direct comparison of actual performance.


Also it only takes 30 minutes to transcode a bunch of raw files to H.264 if you need the reduced files sizes and native editing workflow. I am sure in most projects you can find an extra 30 minutes.




That time adds up in terms of production time and cost. Extra complexity also increases the chance for a mistake (sometimes due to software / OS bugs).

My thoughts are the BMC camera is a dream tool for those wanting to learn extended post skills. I would prefer to get something higher end which simultaneously improves quality and maintains or reduces production time (true pro audio built in, NDs, image stabilizer, etc.). Again, my personal preferences.
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I have no problem with your personal preferences.

But I feel you could do with using your eyes a bit more and brain a bit less.

There's no way the 5D3 comes close to the Blackmagic in terms of resolution. I don't need to see a chart to see that. Slashcam based in Berlin are one of the most reputable professional review sites in Europe and if they say it has 600 lines then why would I doubt them?

I'm planning to do a chart test with Falk Lumo of the 5D3 and GH2, but due to being so busy have not yet printed the charts. Charts do act as proof. In the meantime, your eyes and ears are just as accurate.

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I have no problem with your personal preferences.



But I feel you could do with using your eyes a bit more and brain a bit less.



There's no way the 5D3 comes close to the Blackmagic in terms of resolution. I don't need to see a chart to see that. Slashcam based in Berlin are one of the most reputable professional review sites in Europe and if they say it has 600 lines then why would I doubt them?



I'm planning to do a chart test with Falk Lumo of the 5D3 and GH2, but due to being so busy have not yet printed the charts. Charts do act as proof. In the meantime, your eyes and ears are just as accurate.




I think you're over simplifying the situation. I don't think anyone will argue (at least once we see charts) that you won't get a sharper image, a more grade-able image, and more dynamic range with the BMC vs any of the available DSLR's. However there are a lot of really valid reasons to shoot on a DSLR instead of the BMC. I plan to most likely purchase a BMC (unless the KineRaw proves to tick more of my boxes) but I'm sure I'll still shoot projects on my 5D mark II that I feel fit the ergonomics and "look" of the that camera. Much like how I continued to use an HVX200A with a 35mm adaptor for certain projects after DSLR's took over that segment/price range of the market.

I basically look at camera's as film stocks. Every camera has a unique look that goes far beyond it's specs. It comes down to the ways in which the camera's sensors render color, highlights, skin tones etc.. This is why on paper the RED EPIC seems superior to the Arri Alexa yet the Alexa continues to get used on lot's of feature films, commercials, etc.. (supposedly WAY more than the RED)

It's because some Cinematographers, Directors, and Producers prefer the look (and ergonomics and workflow) of the Alexa to RED.

It's like instead of choosing between Fuji or Kodak or 5218 stock vs 5213 stock we're now deciding between cameras.
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For video use - the only thing that would make me pick the 5D Mark III is if I'd constantly would need to shoot in very low lit situations.

Having the control of color and dynamic range that you can get with the RAW workflow of the BMC would be a major plus, in combination with the sharp non-blurry 2.5k image. As previously stated, it's great to be able to pick RAW or 4:2:2 depending on needs for a project.

Personally I went for the Nikon D800 for a few reasons: 1) I do stills and film, so BMC wouldn't be the best suited option, 2) the low-light performance is enough for my needs - I rather have a sharper image and better dynamic range than better low-light performance and not as much resolution. Also, I already had a set of Nikon lenses. Another thing I like with the D800 is that the 36 Mpixel sensor makes for a really fine-grained noise that I like.

Personally I come from an analog stills photography background, so being able to shoot 1080p at ISO 800-1600 seems like plenty compared to film. Having that background, one of my golden rules is: not mattering what I do - there will always be something limiting the tool I'm working with, so if I end up in a low-light situation I can find ways to solve the problem, be it with a different style, angle, different fill lighting etc. That said, resolution is one of those aspects that it's harder to work around.

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This is a camera for the guys that've never had the chance to work with high end features. You could still buy one of these for the price of an Alexa day rate. It looks to have everything it needs to stay afloat for future advances, i.e. firmware updates. The sensor's cooled, there's enough processing power to push those raw images, the chassis is aluminum for the heat, thunderbolt, etc. i almost venture to say, if Apple had made a cinema camera, the BMC bares a striking resemblence to an Apple product, lol.. A consumer Alexa, per se'...

As far as its weaknesses, every camera has its weaknesses. You shoot around them. I think for the market this camera's aimed at, there will be a lot less to "work around". I want freedom and i think that's what you pay for. I don't want to can a shot because of my cameras shitty codec.

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