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In depth test - 5D Mark III and 7D Raw vs Blackmagic Pocket vs GH3


Andrew Reid
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Back when DSLRs hit the streets, the pro camera crowd were moaning about ergonomics and usability over image quality.

 

I find it funny how the GH3 crowd is taking that stance now against the RAW cameras. The pendulum is swinging back the other way?

 

I enjoyed the test. It's a happy medium between charts and random scenes. Charts are very objective, but they don't say a whole lot about the "look" of a camera, which is what my clients care about. They've never once refused payment because my camera only resolved 800 lines instead of the competing camera's 850. Not trying to disparage technical tests. I'm very interested in them, but they have their limitations. 

 

Just as bad is people showing random videos and declaring a camera superior because of it. That wedding video looks great, but it's also a pretty easy softball for a camera to record. The setting is interesting, and the lighting/contrast looks pretty easy. I suspect most cameras would look pretty good there.

 

I have an HMC150. Shot at magic hour, I bet it would beat out the BMPCC in unfavorable conditions. It's nice to see how cameras compare shooting the same scene. Particularly if there's a scene that's challenging. We've gotten to the point where most cameras look nice in an easy setting. Its the hard ones that truly separate them. 

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None of the work flows we're talking about are acceptable for a Broadcast News shooting camera. For what you're doing, behind the scenes, short clips for web content PR kind of stuff, any camera will do.

 

Not necessarily. Its less behind-the-scenes and more documentary. There need to be some production value- in fact, part of how I get jobs like these is that my run-and-gun stuff looked better and more dramatic than most people using small-chip cameras or Canon DSLR's with their messy image problems. They want the stuff to look pro-level, but I'm not going to need to do heavy film grading or anything like that.

You say none of the workflows are acceptable, and I point to the GH3. That camera does a great job out of the box, no RAW workflow or anything like that, and its the only option out of the cameras mentioned in this test that I think would work for those in the same boat as me. 

 

But there are others to consider as well- such as the G6, D5200 (especially since you can externally record 4:2:2 when necessary), and the new GX7 is stealthy with that new articulating viewfinder (not LCD, VIEWFINDER!) while offering similar colors to a GH3 in body... there's a whole market of folks who want high quality images for events, weddings, PR pieces, etc. We want the highest quality images possible without mucking up the workflow with RAW grading. And I don't see any reason this isn't possible and shouldn't be discussed. Somebody back me up here!

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Good comparo Andrew. Thanks. Overall, the GH3 is the best camera esp for Hybrid shooters.
As I have said many times before, if Panasonic delivered some some 'gap filling' features and talked to Sony about a DX/APS-C or even a Super35 sensor rather than the annoying M43 in there; I'd be all over the GH.
DR on BMPCC looked really good . Real world production workflows just don't accomodate RAw or even 4K IMHO.
C'mon Panasonic.... GH5!

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Real world production workflows just don't accomodate RAw or even 4K IMHO.

 

 

Yet another person talking in absolutes. "Real world production workflows just don't accommodate Raw or even 4K" is a statement not an opinion, you can't say that then end with IMHO, the two contradict each other. But more to my point, what makes you think production workflows can't accommodate RAW, again my company uses RAW when filming for advertisement. We use Reds, Alexa's and many more set ups, mostly BMCC. of course, people doing corporate videos, music videos and free lance work for small businesses aren't going to need raw, but there are many productions workflows out there, you can't simple say real world production doesn't use a particular workflow. 

 

There is a place for RAW in workflows, even if not everybody here uses it. 

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Yet another person talking in absolutes. "Real world production workflows just don't accommodate Raw or even 4K" is a statement not an opinion, you can't say that then end with IMHO, the two contradict each other. But more to my point, what makes you think production workflows can't accommodate RAW, again my company uses RAW when filming for advertisement. We use Reds, Alexa's and many more set ups, mostly BMCC. of course, people doing corporate videos, music videos and free lance work for small businesses aren't going to need raw, but there are many productions workflows out there, you can't simple say real world production doesn't use a particular workflow. 

 

There is a place for RAW in workflows, even if not everybody here uses it. 

Agreed. Now, can we move on and get a shootout for the non-RAW workflow folks?? Pretty please?? :D

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Matt, you, like every new person to photography/video, think always in finished images, usually jpegs.  Consumer cameras (photo or video) take an image with a sensor and compress it down to manageable file size, both for photo and video.  Welcome to a world of confusion and pain :)

 

The larger the sensor, the better low light performance because the sensor pixels are larger and the light has to bend less.  

 

The better the processing/compression of an image (in camera software) the better the low light appearance.  

 

So it's possible that a badly processed image from a full-frame, might not be as good as perfectly processed image of a small sensor camera (though usually that isn't the case).

 

If you don't compress the original image, or save more information when you do so,  it's possible to get better low-light results later on.  In fact, it's possible to do a lot of things--but at the expense of faster cards, cameras, PCs. etc.

 

In short, I wouldn't be surprised if the BMPCC gives better low light performance than a 5D3 in H.264 mode because the (small sensor) BMPCC is saving all the sensor information (RAW), and the (full-frame) 5D3 is throwing a lot of it out to stay within certain file-size/bandwidth requirements.  However, the 5D3 in RAW mode would probably do better than the BMPCC.

 

Hope that helps.

Maxotics, thanks for your reply.

 

In the nicest possible way, what makes you think I'm new to video/photography? As it happens I'm not. There's some stuff I know, some stuff I understand less.

 

One thing I don't know a great deal about is how processing affects low light performance, but looking at Andrew's 7D ML footage I don't think whether it's RAW or not has a whole lot to do with it! Furthermore, the last time I checked the main advantage of larger pixels has a lot more to do with a lower interference(noise)-to-colour-information ratio than it has to do with what angle the light is hitting them at. 

 

Thank you though - replying to you has aided me in answering my own question. The BMPCC is native 1080: not being a stills camera it doesn't have to downsample from a much higher pixel count, therefore its individual pixels can be relatively chunky (low noise to info ratio). I assume this is the main factor in its good low light performance. If anyone who genuinely understands the science behind the low light performance of the Pocket cares to confirm this I'd be grateful - my understanding of this stuff is admittedly very limited.

 

Of course this realisation comes with the caveat that my initial optimism about the future low-light performance of MFT sensors may be unfounded.

 

But I feel a bit silly for asking the question in the first place - I forget sometimes that we're all shooting with bastardised stills cameras. For me this is potentially the biggest positive of the rumoured Panasonic GH4k - that the gap between the native resolution of a hybrid cam's sensor and it's video output resolution will be closed a little. Other than that I'd have much rather seen Pro Res, IBIS and - dare I say it - a larger sensor.

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The BMPCC is native 1080: not being a stills camera it doesn't have to downsample from a much higher pixel count, therefore its individual pixels can be relatively chunky (low noise to info ratio). I assume this is the main factor in its good low light performance. If anyone who genuinely understands the science behind the low light performance of the Pocket cares to confirm this I'd be grateful - my understanding of this stuff is admittedly very limited.

 

In theory, yes. A sensor that size with only 2 megapixels should have a favourable signal-to-noise-ratio.

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Can we get a D5200 vs G6 vs GH3 vs whatever shootout? A non-RAW test, if you will. 

 

 

 


That's a really great idea. There's so much focus on RAW and DR at the moment, but those of us who aren't just about ultimate filmic-look replication can feel a little neglected.

 

I love this site and I'm continually impressed by what Andrew does here, but I do sometimes wonder if the level of time, technical hoop-jumping and non-camera hardware requirements for RAW shooting (at least at the present time) verges on being non-inclusive.

 

"One of the guiding principals of EOSHD is that nobody should be blocked from practicing their art and executing their talent as a cinematographer or filmmaker due to the cost of equipment. All the equipment I recommend on the blog has to be accessible for nearly everyone."

 

Time is money, as they say.

 

Had I the time, patience and money, I would undoubtedly be shooting RAW all the time, but regrettably I have very little of any of those things, so I'm feeling a bit left out. *Sob*

 

 


 

 

 

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I think when it comes down to it, the poor little pocket cam is like the underdog in a boxing competition.  It's like Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV. Ivan Drago Aka the 5DM3 is all like "I must break you", then you got Apollo Creed Aka GH3, being all flashy thinking he stands a chance against Drago, But Drago brings out the RAW guns and beats the GH3 to death with them. Then Rocky is like, I'm going to beat Drago, Drago is like pffft, no way, then he realises, oh no Rocky might actually stand a chance.

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So much confusion needs rules on what it is you are trying to define.

1) Absolute picture quality and ability to grade. That will be the Black magic and the canon raw. Cinema
2) Run n gun with a lower dynamic range and picture that needs little grading. TV/Internet use.
3) My option would be cinema use so the choice is narrowed to the BMPC or the Canon. The BMPC is more than half the price includes prores resolve DNG files and is not hacked. The canon is full frame (Nice)but hacked.
Fairly obvious using a hacked camera carries risks that no professional would dare take.

So for 13 stops 12 Bit RAW lossless compression and 10 bit 4.2.2 prores that is not hacked and resolve I think it is clear the Pocket is the camera that will give the best bangs for the buck if image is your priority.
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I think when it comes down to it, the poor little pocket cam is like the underdog in a boxing competition.  It's like Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV. Ivan Drago Aka the 5DM3 is all like "I must break you", then you got Apollo Creed Aka GH3, being all flashy thinking he stands a chance against Drago, But Drago brings out the RAW guns and beats the GH3 to death with them. Then Rocky is like, I'm going to beat Drago, Drago is like pffft, no way, then he realises, oh no Rocky might actually stand a chance.

 

Short film 'Choices'. The hopeful junior filmmaker imagines a battle of the top low budget camera toys, filmed in stop-motion-like animation, using AAEs puppet tool. Dialogs from Rocky? Boxring represented by Andrews table? The Pocket beats the GH3 and the 7D to pieces. The 5D says: 'We won, it's over.' The Pocket answers: 'It ain't over til it's over' - and kicks the 5D over the edge. It falls with the Wilhelms scream, hits the ground and falls apart. The filmmaker takes the Pocket and smiles, the Pocket smiles back. They leave, iris fade-out, THE END. Must find a better ending. 

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Short film 'Choices'. The hopeful junior filmmaker imagines a battle of the top low budget camera toys, filmed in stop-motion-like animation, using AAEs puppet tool. Dialogs from Rocky? Boxring represented by Andrews table? The Pocket beats the GH3 and the 7D to pieces. The 5D says: 'We won, it's over.' The Pocket answers: 'It ain't over til it's over' - and kicks the 5D over the edge. It falls with the Wilhelms scream, hits the ground and falls apart. The filmmaker takes the Pocket and smiles, the Pocket smiles back. They leave, iris fade-out, THE END. Must find a better ending. 

Haha, I like it. Good story

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I think when it comes down to it, the poor little pocket cam is like the underdog in a boxing competition.  It's like Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV. Ivan Drago Aka the 5DM3 is all like "I must break you", then you got Apollo Creed Aka GH3, being all flashy thinking he stands a chance against Drago, But Drago brings out the RAW guns and beats the GH3 to death with them. Then Rocky is like, I'm going to beat Drago, Drago is like pffft, no way, then he realises, oh no Rocky might actually stand a chance.


This is just a great metaphor. Lmao..
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This article as many shoot out reviews do, has evoked many fan boy comments, it's almost like a comment section from IGN on the Xbox One vs PS4 debate.  it's clear that a lot of people on here aren't really being objective. The GH3 users are here to convince everyone and themselves that GH3 is king, even though it isn't. The GH3 produces a nice image and it's easy to use = best camera. I don't think so.

5DM3 is a fantastic camera and RAW makes it a beast, but again, is it the best RAW cinema camera? possibly but you also have to remember Magic lantern is not canon, if Magic lantern were to stop doing what they're doing, it would all be over. Which leads me onto my next point, it's a hack, so paid Jobs are something you most likely would never use it on. And before people start saying you would never use RAW on a paid job anyway? says who, you? a lot of people here seem to speak in absolutes. I work on paid Jobs and use RAW, but I do it with a BMCC. The workflow is a lot easier than converting the RAW files from canon DSLRs. Also it's not hacked, the software works with the hardware and it was intended to from the get go. I

 

I've been a DSLR shooter for years, Before that if I wanted the cinematic look, I had to set up a rail system with a 35mm adaptor from Redrock Micro with the Sony EX3 . What we can do now, it's mind blowing.

 

Again A lot of users here seem to be speaking in absolutes, like my way is the only way and what i'm saying is true because i've used X Y and Z camera therefore I know better. GH3 users saying the GH3 is the best because it's just as cinematic and it's so easy to set up and use with minimal accessories. What has ease of use have to do with the final image? 

 

I'm a narrative and advertisement film maker, we use blackmagic because despite their flaws, they work well and the final image is great, for people saying the 5DM3 blows it away in low light, I work in a stuido and we have lights, I thinnk huge sensors have made people lazy, not using lights because the sensor can cope in low light. I never shoot anything that doesn't have a proper lighting. We also have 5DM3 on set but we don't use them for filming in raw because it's paid. Why use RAW, you don't need it you say? we do because we do a lot of green screen work, I'm also a visual effects artist, anyone who is will know that working with 8 bit 4:2:0 DSLR footage will know it's terrible for keying, and before people say, I can key DSLR footage and it looks great, let me tell you, there is a big difference between, it looks ok, and something that looks professional.

 

I think people are downplaying a lot of what blackmagic does, Take the pocket cinema camera which I own (FAN BOY TALKING), It's under $1000 and shoots Prores 422 and will soon Shoot 12bit RAW CinemaDNG. No other camera does that, The GH3 is a lot easier to use and it produces fanastic images, it's also got a great view finder and it's files are smaller and easier to manage, guess what, I don't care about any of that stuff, I and my clients care about the end image, not how I got there, just what it is. The GH3 does not produce better images, I don't care what you say, it just doesn't. For me colour grading matters a lot, and RAW enables me to push it much further than any non hacked DSLR, the GH3 crumbles if you push it too much in the grading department. Even the pocket cams prores grades beautifully without RAW.

 

I thought I would just give a different perspective, I wasn't going to comment but I seen too many GH3 users saying why the GH3 is good enough and overall a better camera when you factor in it's easy of use. Like that's all that matters. I read someone saying in regards to Dynamic range, there was only a little difference between the 5D and the BMPCC, i'm sorry but I can tell a huge difference. 

 

I know i'll probably get shot down but i'm sorry I think a lot of people are missing the point, which is the end image. For run and gunners, yeah the GH3 is the way to go. For me, at the moment Blackmagic is my brand, expecting good things from the 4K version.

 

Where do i start!?

 

I started off using Sony cameras around 20years ago when I worked as a corporate shooter. Betacam, BetaSP, Digibeta....I suppose I was a Sony fanboy because they had the best cameras and formats back then. I then worked as a camera assistant (high budget) and operator (lower budget) on music videos and promos all shot on 35mm. The cameras we went for 90% of the time were Arri 435 & 535's. So I guess I was an Arri fanboy? Then the 5D came out and for my own personal use (and a lot of paid work) I used the 5DII so I guess I became a Canon fanboy? Nine months ago I used a GH3 on a shoot and was sold on one. Went out and bought one a week later. I guess that makes me a Panasonic fanboy now? Or, do I just choose the tool that I feel is right for the job regardless of brand? I am not a 'fanboy' here defending Panasonic to justify my purchase.

 

I good camera is more than just the end image. What if the camera you were using hindered your ability to capture that image in the first place?

The BM cameras may be great for narrative where you can do retake after retake but imagine shooting something that needed to be captured first time with no second chances and then your card being full because the camera gives no indication how much remaining time or space the card has? Your end image doesn't exist, no amount of DR or bit depth will get back that shot you missed. Going back 20years I can't remember a camera that didn't give the operator any visual indication of remaining media. You could, I suppose, ask the interviewee to re-say that last response to the question but how unprofessional does that make you look in front of them and your producer?

 

I find it amazing how new technology makes people forget their art. VFX aside, an 8bit camera can generate fantastic images if you know what your doing. All of a sudden everyone wants RAW so that they don't have to white balance, can get sloppy on exposure etc. Yes, RAW has it's place but many of the productions I work on don't want me to hand over RAW files.

 

The BMPCC is almost a fantastic camera, if BM can fix a few of its querks as well as reliability then it would be a cheap camera to complement the GH3.

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I see 2 groups here really. Guys that favor the maximum image quality from these cameras, and the guys that need a quick turnaround.
I haven't looked hard into the pocket because I have it's bigger brother... However if i were a run and gun operator that needed a high quality
Image without the raw workflow ass pain, doesn't the pocket offer a Rec. 709 (video) mode as well? Most work I've done for web distribution, broadcast, podcast, etc, was 1080i 60i (30p). (I don't know how you boys do it in pal land).

I guess my point is coming from the 8-bit limitation of the non-raw suggestions here. For $1000 you have a 10 bit option with a top notch codec
and 13 stops of DR if you want it. It also looks like it has better lowlight than it's 2.5k sibling. (Wtf?...). For run and gun, I'd probably still shoot
In film mode and add a LUT like Captain Hook's in post. Maybe 30 seconds of tweaking from there if you know what you're doing, and you have
a gorgeous, balanced shot in a great codec you can export to whatever. I'd assume if you're working, you'd rather have more room to fix a mistake if you had to in post.

Other than over cranking, even for run & gun it just seems like the pocket cam would still be the way to go for versatility. Especially being in the same price range as these 8 bit options.

Edit - For the love of God, this is just my attempt at a logical suggestion & my personal preference (even being a bmcc owner) - is the 5D3 raw. Please don't hit me with "fan boy." This isn't Star Wars, they're cameras.
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You say none of the workflows are acceptable, and I point to the GH3. 

 

I think my stance is that if the GH3 is now considered a convenient pro workflow, something is wrong. Nor is it a good run and gun camera. It's lousy in documentary situations.  GH3 footage is so hit or miss I think half the battle are the conditions you shoot in, and less to do with the operator/magician at this point.

 

You can shoot beautiful video with a cell phone given the right circumstances, so I'm not putting down the ability of GH3 users to create work so nice few people can discern or care what it was shot on, but let's be honest, the workflow is far from ideal, and requires transcoding to a flimsy format.

 

Ultimately, if you put interesting action in front of any of these cameras, in optimal lighting conditions, they will get decent images. Add action, sound, shifting light, limited practicals on set, and really all the conditions that make up a real shooting situation, where you're shooting scripted or goal oriented documentation - and that's another story. Give yourself a deadline to complete the work, and that's really another story.

 

I do agree with you about comparing some more non-RAW based cameras, like the Nikon. I'm very interested in seeing more of thee cameras you mentioned. 

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I think my stance is that if the GH3 is now considered a convenient pro workflow, something is wrong. 

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWdd6_ZxX8c[/media]

 

...

but the workflow is far from ideal, and requires transcoding. 

 

Transcoding? Who is transcoding AVCHD footage?! Are you one of those Final Cut fanboys who assumes everyone else is also using it?

Any *other* modern editor (Edius, Premiere, Vegas, etc) lets you drag clips right off the memory card into a timeline and start editing. AVCHD, even at higher bitrates, cut like butter on platforms designed to handle it properly. It couldn't be any easier! To get some perspective, it wasn't too long ago that we were all shooting on DV tape and had to log footage in real time before even starting the editing process. The workflow here is FAR more efficient, pop in the card and go to town. Couldn't be any simpler! The only extra steps involved being the occasional stitching together of spanned files from long recording, and running plural eyes for external audio (I've been guilty of using the camera's audio input when traveling light, though!). Otherwise, the post process is a major step forward from the DV tape and P2 cards of yesteryear.  Ready to start cutting in less time than it took back then.

Meanwhile, I moved on from ENG cameras to Canon DSLRs and finally Panasonics. After using GH2's for both narrative and event work for quite some time, I can comfortably say the workflow has become second nature. The GH3 will only make that EASIER, since the audio monitoring option means I can rely more on the camera's built in audio rather than an external recorder. Combine that with a good constant aperture lens and OIS (which even throws in the occasional autofocus when helpful) and I really can't imagine a much simpler workflow! 

 

That being said, the fact that the GH3 can offer such a great workflow for the deadline projects and still be considered part of this shootout speaks volumes for its versatility. I'm half way to buying one after this conversation! But I can't help but wonder how similar cameras fare- Does the G6 have comparable DR? And the D5200? What about the RX7? And the Sonys? We want a non-Raw shootout!!

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I think the problem is so many people think that if you remind folks that you can get a great image out of a 8-bit camera, that means we are saying one is better than the other. Not the case. For me, I just wanted to remind people that in the end - a camera is a tool - and while the BMPCC has more DR and a better codec - the camera doesnt make the filmmaker. (And I'm speaking from as a filmmaker).

 

Personally, I feel like we can't get wrapped up in the gear envy consumerism that has increased expotentially over the last few years. I've worked with alot of gear and equipment that might have provided great features but at the sacrifice of other key options. For me, I'll wait and see what comes out of the Pocket Cam over the next year.

 

Everyone has their opinion. From my experience, Magic Lantern RAW is awesome. Produces beautiful clean image, but to really take advantage of it, you need to get the 5D Mark III. And the files are very large. Even for narrative short films like I do on a small scale - this would be highly expensive: hard-drives, CF cards, and the time to process such data on a massive scale. I'm an Executive Producer for a Discovery TV Show and to shoot in RAW at the amount of footage we capture during an 10 hour day would be rediculous. We'd have to have to expand our building to just accommodate the harddrive-farm.

 

Pocket Cam has a beautiful film-like image. And I'll probably end up purchasing one if it can stand the test of time. While it has a wider dynamic range and in a 10bit ProRes file - it comes at the cost of a lack of audio meters, a lack of a hot-shoe mount, a lack of anykind of weather resistant design, the lack of a full white-balance control, equipped with a viewscreen that reflects everything, equipped with a firmware that doesn't allow you to control your iris (without a ND filter), and riddled with SD card compatibility issues. Definitely not something I would want to buy on a run and gun shooting like I do for a living or even for narrative when every minute you are spending money on cast and crew. I'd like to know the tool that I use is going to work. Not randomly drop frames or not even read a card.

 

Additionally, I would hate to spend that 'easy' $1k and then Blackmagic devalue the product next year at NAB like they did with it's big-brother.

 

I'd also like to just say that everything you watch on the internet, either Vimeo, Netflix, Youtube, DVD, and most HDTV's are in 8-Bit. 
 

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