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Blind skin tone comparison


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This video was shared on the CML list and a poll was conducted too.  The poll has closed now (I just saw this today) but it's still interesting.

The 8 cameras are (in no particular order): 

  • The Arri Amira,
  • Red Raven
  • Ursa Mini Pro (G1)
  • Sony FS7
  • Panasonic EVA1
  • Panasonic GH5s
  • Kinefinity Terra 4K
  • Canon C200

Here's the video - the answers and poll results are in the comments.



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Here's my blind opinion.

In order of preference, best to worst: G, C, D/E/F, B, H, A

A. the only "bad color" to me, way too red/pink

B: Maybe a touch more saturation would make it perfect, but he looks a bit too pale and dead

C. Pretty good. The only reason it's behind G is it's lacking a touch of richness

D. Highlights are ugly. Not bad, though.

E. Could use more contrast. It might also be slightly out of focus? His lips don't stand out from the other skin enough.

F. Highlights are ugly. I think it's just overexposed a little. Also kinda soft, maybe out of focus. Not enough richness, really.

G. This one's good. Nice, rich color, not too much red/pink. This and C and the only ones that look really well exposed.

H. Possibly overexposed, but it's just ugly. Pink lips and white skin.

Overall, I think G is good, the rest are kinda ok but mainly just overexposed a teeny bit for my taste, and A is not good.

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@kye - thanks for sharing this!

I did it blind and I put the Arri Amira last so it shows what I know.  I think G the USRA was the best over all especially when it came to how it held the key.  At first, I picked the Kinefinity Terra 4K first, but upon further review it became my number 2 choice.

I'm looking forward to someone doing the GH5S, Pocket 4k, Z CAM E2, Kinefinity Terra 4K test.  It seems like Kinefinity is in a league by itself when it comes to image processing from the Dual ISO sensors these camera's m4/3 cameras are using.

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I agree with @fuzzynormal in that while there are differences, they aren't huge, and if you really were shooting with the 'worst' of this bunch, the files would be good enough to push and pull around in post.

The email thread on CML was titled "Budget camera skin tone shootout" because at the level that those guys are operating, these are all budget cameras(!).  In that sense, the fact that none of them are really that bad speaks more to their ability to select good quality cameras rather than anything about the camera market, although the idea that there are no more bad cameras is certainly pretty solid.

I've played around with skin tones enough to know that with a couple of very simple adjustments you can balance them across pink/yellow, and with a single Hue vs Hue curve you can even compress the Hue variation to push pinks towards yellow and yellows towards pinks to get more consistency and things in the sweet spot, so even if you're looking at a very saturated and contrasty rec709 output from a cheap and excitable DSLR there are simple solutions to make a serious improvement to the skin tones.

On a personal note I find tests such as this quite reassuring, because I picked G as the best, with the other ones I liked also rating highly in the poll.  In a sense it confirms that my perception is pretty good, considering I agree with a bunch of professional cinematographers :) 

I may not be great at colour grading but at least I know that I like what others like and if I keep practicing then I'll get better because if I do something right then I'll know it when I see it.

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