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Otago

Evaluating Cameras

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I've been looking at footage from various cameras, straight out of the camera if I can find it, and was curious about how other people evaluate cameras. 

I can see differences between them; resolution, dynamic range and colours. I can rank them in order of which image looks better to me ( in a subjective way ) and I can rank ergonomic and technical features that I want or need. I can push the footage to see where it breaks and how it looks after compressing for delivery. 

What I'm curious about is where is the point that it is good enough and anymore isn't necessary for you ?

I think I know where my point is, it's somewhere around a C100, C300, F3 for features and image quality. I want the built in NDs and XLRs and I need the robustness of them and the image quality holds up to the little grading that I do and when it's compressed down higher resolution or bitrates don't jump out at me as being better, but I'm not pushing anything hard and my delivery is heavily compressed.

Where is your point of adequacy and why is it there ? Is there ever a point where you will say that you don't need anymore ? 

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

tbh, the good 'ol Canon 5DII was good enough for me.  Ultimately, when I'm looking to get a shot it comes down to exposure and lighting anyway, if I'm pushing and pulling too much in post something went wrong when shooting the image. 

I'd love for a hybrid camera to have built in ND, but I've learned to adapt around it.  I record audio out-board with a simple wireless mic system and small recorder.  No issues there.  

My favorite hybrid cameras so far were the Lumix GX7 and EM5II.  As you can tell, I'm pretty modest about things.  I own the GH5 and use it alot, but it has a lot of features I don't bother with --and I feel like I overspent on it, based on MY needs.  For instance,  I'd shoot again with a GX7 in a heartbeat.  Could probably buy one used for under $200.

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A7s was/is my all time favourite.    Just using its ungraded internal full HD and that is/was probably overkill for me.     That camera is dead now and I can not afford anything decent so I am using an even older baby Nex 3n (point and shoot camera with interchangeable lenses but a still nice APSC sensor)...and I do not even use the largest size in that preferring to use the 1440x1080 straight from the camera.    I should say i mainly just record the odd song while shooting stills at pub and club gigs and festivals.     Other cameras I have had and liked include the original A7 (video was ok for me though the A7s is much better) and the above mentioned Panasonic GX7 though its video max of ISO 3200 was a bit low for my needs..   

Nex 3N mounted to my ancient 300 2.8 Tamron adaptall (with a Nikon adaptall, Nikon to Canon adapter and Canon to Sony E adapter....I hope to try and use it for a song or two today but without a viewfinder might have to keep it to stills.   

P1030258.jpg

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For me it’s a balancing act amongst all the different aspects of the camera: ergonomics, weight, size, battery life, AF (or lack of), IBIS (or lack of), codecs, frame rates, ISO performance  recording media, lens mount, weather sealing, affordability, etc. I literally charted out all my needs for a camera based on this list and tried to find the perfect camera to fit it all. Obviously no such camera exists so I took the necessary compromises and weighed what was most important to me. The camera that accomplishes the majority of my goals is the Panasonic GH5. 
 

Everything is a compromise though no matter what. For me, ease of operation and ease of workflow trump all. Hence the GH5 is my favorite camera even over my BMPCC4K. 
 

Jobs vary though. Sometimes the Pocket 4K is my A cam and the GH5 is B cam. Sometimes it’s the opposite.

 

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12 hours ago, Otago said:

I've been looking at footage from various cameras, straight out of the camera if I can find it, and was curious about how other people evaluate cameras. 

I can see differences between them; resolution, dynamic range and colours. I can rank them in order of which image looks better to me ( in a subjective way ) and I can rank ergonomic and technical features that I want or need. I can push the footage to see where it breaks and how it looks after compressing for delivery. 

What I'm curious about is where is the point that it is good enough and anymore isn't necessary for you ?

I think I know where my point is, it's somewhere around a C100, C300, F3 for features and image quality. I want the built in NDs and XLRs and I need the robustness of them and the image quality holds up to the little grading that I do and when it's compressed down higher resolution or bitrates don't jump out at me as being better, but I'm not pushing anything hard and my delivery is heavily compressed.

Where is your point of adequacy and why is it there ? Is there ever a point where you will say that you don't need anymore ? 

I shoot in difficult situations and demand a lot from a camera in terms of DR and ability to recover things and push it around in post.  My strategy is to buy the camera that covers my needs and shootings style best and just make do.  Every camera will always be a compromise in some way, so you just have to choose which things you compromise.

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Panasonic GH3.

More than good enough. I use a GH5 now for work, but I still can't bring myself to sell the GH3 (not that anyone would buy it). Great HD, battery life still solid, built like a tank. Paired with my Voigtlander 25mm (itself battered and scratched to shit) it has a special voodoo.

 

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What I'm curious about is where is the point that it is good enough and anymore isn't necessary for you ?

 

For me, it’s Fuji XT3 internally, Eterna, 4K 50p.

I don’t want or need any more.

I have tried Flog & HLG but neither have given me anything quantifiably ‘more’ but just increase workload.

So the pinnacle is right there for me...but with one massive caveat and that is no IBIS meaning I have to work off a monopod.

Stick it in the XH1 body and there is my ‘dream’ camera right there. The End.

Bring on the 50mm f1 in 2020 and wow.

But as mentioned above, until then, compromise plays a part. So close, but not quite my Camera Conspiracies ‘perfect camera’ just yet...

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FS700 (with Shogun Inferno)

Have been using one since 2014. Rigged up for shoulder-use, nicely balanced with the inferno on the back and a Kinotehnik EVF. 10-bit is a must for me for broadcast work (HD). I do some action sports so I need the slow-mo capabilities. 4K is good for commercial stuff but for 4K a good edit codec is essential. (Hence why I still prefer FS700 + Inferno over just bare FS5) I don't want to be screwing around with proxies or transcoding in 2019. Unlike 10+ years ago when it was pretty much standard to charge for a day or more just for tape ingests, clients today won't accept being billed for transcoding time if your camera is not edit-friendly.

I told my self I won't upgrade until something comes along that offers internal 10-bit all Intra up to 4K120p and under 10,000 AUD fully kitted out. The UMP G2 pretty much ticks all the boxes but, once I add the VF, rig, media, etc it lands at around 12,000. So I'm just waiting until the price drops a bit or some used ones start hitting the market.

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I should add that the current megapixel race bores me to tears as does talk of 6k, never mind 8k.

Horses for courses and all that, but for me, 24/25mp for stills and 4k (or even 1080 actually) is more than good enough for my work and I'd rather focus on getting the most out of that, unless actually forced to upgrade.

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9 hours ago, MrSMW said:

 tried Flog & HLG but neither have given me anything quantifiably ‘more’ but just increase workload.

Amen to that.  I often wonder if chasing an extra half-step or so of Dynamic-Range is some sort of exercise in technical masochism among shooters rather than an actual sensible decision.

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As a hobbyist who mostly take videos in vacations - It seems to me that a perfect camera would be one I can take with me everywhere (so DSLR-size at max, not a C700), and is capable enough to produce content with long-lasting appeal. It should work well for stills and video. If I ever decide to shoot a documentary about a subject I care for - it should also work well for that purpose. I want a jack of all trades.

Now, what is a 'long-lasting appeal' to me? 

  • Photos I took with a 5D Mk2 (and a 1D MK4) about 10 years ago - still look amazing to me. The original RAW files hold enough information to impress me today (as a guy that uses mostly M43 equipment).
  • Videos I took with my GH1, mostly aren't. The limits of the GH1 were known to me at the time of purchase, but coming from an HV20 - it was still a very good upgrade - and the GH1 has been a great camera for vacations and general usage.

If I can find a camera today, that can do in video (dynamic range and noise-wise) what a FF DSLR could do with stills a good few years ago - I'll be happy. It would be the perfect camera for me, and I will not feel the need to participate in the upgrade-race for a good few years to come. The problem is that I don't believe such a camera (within the limits of a 4K USD budget, and the aforementioned size) exist yet - a Panasonic S1H and a the 6K Blackmagic seems to be candidates (well, the later not really for stills)  - but I haven't yet seen enough footage to fully convince me yet.

(and yes, I've been humming to myself the intro to "Camera Conspiracies" YouTube channel while writing this message)

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5 hours ago, fuzzynormal said:

Amen to that.  I often wonder if chasing an extra half-step or so of Dynamic-Range is some sort of exercise in technical masochism among shooters rather than an actual sensible decision.

I can't think of any situation where going through all the pain of an upgrade would be worth it for half a stop of DR!!  DR matters to me, but I do wonder what would be a significant enough bump to make me think about it.. :) 

1 hour ago, ItzhakW said:

If I can find a camera today, that can do in video (dynamic range and noise-wise) what a FF DSLR could do with stills a good few years ago - I'll be happy.

This is an easy statement to make, but from a technical perspective that's a pretty big ask!

I know what you mean, and I agree, but very high bit-depth RAW 24MP stills is a pretty high standard - not to mention the bitrates that go with that 😂😂😂

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12 hours ago, fuzzynormal said:

Amen to that.  I often wonder if chasing an extra half-step or so of Dynamic-Range is some sort of exercise in technical masochism among shooters rather than an actual sensible decision.

I think for some, it’s worth it.

I think it depends on the level of ‘seriousness’ of your production and the amount of time you have to spend.

For professionals, amount of time vs costs/return.

For me (Pro) it is very much the latter, ie, for what I charge, I can either produce some at X level for Y cost, but if I produce it to a level above X, then I need to either charge more (and risk booking less) or it comes out of my time.

Like many, I have been chasing the next thing that will take my work to another level and part of that equation is the kit, but as above, with the current set up, in 2019, I finally have it and get to use it.

It was never GAS, simply want/need and for most, that day should be now.

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14 hours ago, kye said:

can't think of any situation where going through all the pain of an upgrade would be worth it for half a stop of DR

Suffering through the infinite level of tweaks you can do in post to try and exploit the maximum DR out of a sensor is what I'm referencing.

I personally don't have the patience for it. 

But yeah, hardware wise, I'd certainly upgrade to an Alexa for some of my work if I could.

 

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Interesting replies! I note that there are compromises for some people and some people are content with what they are currently shooting with. 

If you are satisfied then how did you come to that conclusion ? I am curious about how you know that you don't need anymore, because I know what I am happy with but I am finding it difficult to express how I came to that conclusion. 

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1 hour ago, Otago said:

Interesting replies! I note that there are compromises for some people and some people are content with what they are currently shooting with. 

If you are satisfied then how did you come to that conclusion ? I am curious about how you know that you don't need anymore, because I know what I am happy with but I am finding it difficult to express how I came to that conclusion. 

I think satisfaction levels are about comparing what you have to what you want.  I think everyone probably always wants more, but it's about priorities.  Do I want a camera the size of a GoPro Hero 5 Session, lenses that perform like Zeiss Master Primes, output files that look like an ARRI 65, and the whole thing to cost $100 with free shipping?  Yes.  But the point is that all that happens in the context of all the rest of what we're doing when we shoot.  

I think most real shooters are concerned with the total package of what they deliver, and if the camera isn't in the top 5 issues that are holding us back then we're not focused on it, and if asked we'll say we're satisfied.

Everyone wants more, we just differ by how much we want it.

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1 hour ago, IronFilm said:


I feel like you need to throw in a few more adapters there between the lens and the camera!
 

not sure if your being flippant or not. However i can say i have done something similar with mounting the tokina 28-70 to bmp4k via a viltrox speedbooster.Basically i have a nikon to ef mount which connects to the ef to mft speedbooster onto the bmp4k. something weird seems to happen, like its being really compressed. Range of focus is much reduced. It seems to go from full focus to minimum focus in only a few degrees of movement there is still plenty of turn left on the lens. It was late in the day when i had a brief play with it. Without the speed booster the lens works as expected. i am presuming that  the tokina may not be compatible with the speed booster, i have to do some more testing to be sure first.

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On 10/25/2019 at 4:51 PM, IronFilm said:


I feel like you need to throw in a few more adapters there between the lens and the camera!
 

The reason is that Canon EF Adaptalls are not original and just something that has come along later and I already had a heap of others (I might get one at some point) and I use the lens on both a Canon DSLR as well as the little Sony so easier to just leave the Nikon adaptall with the EF adapter (which is just a thin metal ring and a pain to take off anyway).

Shot with the Little Sony and 300 2.8 (I did get a couple of partial videos that were enough for me to want to try again but not enough to show).

DSC02498.jpg

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