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Fuji H.265 vs Blackmagic Pocket 4K ProRes 422


Andrew Reid
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I am about to start a big comparison between the Blackmagic Pocket 4K ProRes and H.265 on the Fuji cameras.

Let's see who comes out on top.

If it is the Fuji then maybe we can stop caring so much about our 7 year wait for ProRes on Japanese cameras.

I have wished for so long that they'd do some form of Apple ProRes internally... surely a nice company like Apple would license if asked. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (original) cost what, $1k? So it can't be that expensive to license ProRes!

And RAW is great but not practical for most.

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Nice, looking forward to this. 

As with many things in Cameraland though, it totally depends on personal situation and workflow, and there's more to it that the end result. I wouldn't feel comfortable handing a client h265 files, there are too many things to go wrong, and could result in me losing out on the next job. One of my main clients still cut on Premiere 2017. 🤯

I can give anyone a ProRes file and they can play it back smoothly on full quality and there's no issue. Then I can bake in a LUT if they need it ready to go, or supply LOG footage and a LUT along with it so they can choose.

With that said, for personal project with no time constraints, I really like the files out of my Fuji, it looks lovely and they're very flexible.

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I have H265 footage from my Drone and its a pain to playback and grade in DaVinci Resolve.  With BRAW, thumbnails load quickly, smoother playback even after grade, less likely to crash when working with the files.  

When you're working multiple large projects on a deadline, codec isn't so much about image quality as it is about an easy time in the editing suite.

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Back when I did a ProRes vs H265 comparison, the only person to actually take a guess pointed out that the ProRes version had significant artifacts compared to H265. So in terms of plain quality, H265 can do very well with most scenes. It broke down a little bit more vs. ProRes HQ on a scene with extreme artifacting--even at very high bitrates, H265 couldn't get to ProRes HQ levels, though it did look favorable compared to ProRes 422 to me.

Of course, actual camera footage will vary, so looking forward to your tests. Another test of just the codecs can be done on a Z Cam, which shoots 10 bit H265 and and flavor or Prores, internally.

While H265 is harder on the PC, I actually have very little trouble editing it. I'm editing 4K IPB Fuji H265 in a project at the moment. I'm even doing motion tracking and VFX in Fusion, directly on the timeline, plus color grading. I'm not really having any issues with a GTX 1080, Ryzen 3600, 32GB ram. It's not buttery smooth, but it's not holding me back at all for the edit or VFX. The color page is very slow if I have clip thumbnails enabled and am using groups, I guess because every change re-renders all the thumbnails for each clip in the group. Seems like a place Blackmagic could optimize Resolve with some simple tweaks. So I just turn off clip thumbnails and then it's fast again.

So yeah, while ProRes is easier to work with and definitely has better compatibility when working with others, H265 isn't bad at all.

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3 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

comparison between the Blackmagic Pocket 4K ProRes and H.265 on the Fuji cameras.

Let's see who comes out on top.

If it is the Fuji then maybe we can stop caring so much about our 7 year wait for ProRes on Japanese cameras.

I have wished for so long that they'd do some form of Apple ProRes internally... surely a nice company like Apple would license if asked. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (original) cost what, $1k? So it can't be that expensive to license ProRes!

And RAW is great but not practical for most.

All good points. Maybe the lack of ProRes on Japanese *mirrorless* cameras is a storage issue coupled with lack of design priority on higher-end video features. They have little SD-type cards which cannot hold enough data, esp at the high rate needed. I think you'd need UHS-II which are relatively small and expensive. The BMPCC4k sends data out USB-C so a Samsung T5 can record that at up to 500 MB/sec. The little mirrorless cameras could theoretically do that but (as a class) they just aren't as video-centric. The S1H has USB-C data output, is video-centric, but it doesn't do ProRes encoding. Why not?

It also doesn't explain why larger higher-end cameras like the Canon C-series, Sony FS-series and EVA-1 don't have a ProRes option. Maybe it's because their data processing is based on ASICs and they don't have the general-purpose CPU horsepower to encode ProRes. I think Blackmagic cameras all use FPGAs which burn a lot more power but can be field-programmed for almost anything, in fact that's how they added BRAW. But the DJI Inspire 2's X5S camera has a ProRes option, so I can't explain that.

For a little mirrorless camera, it's not that big a deal -- those can do external ProRes recording via HDMI to Atomos. Even given in-camera ProRes encoding, they'd likely need a USB-C-connected SSD to store that. Many people would use at least an external 5" monitor, which means you'd have two cable-connected external devices. A Ninja V is both a monitor and an external ProRes recorder - just one device.

So in hindsight it seems the only user group benefiting from internal ProRes on a small camera would be those not using an external monitor, and they'd likely need external SSD storage due to the data rate of 4k ProRes.

 

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ProRes is factually a derivative of MPEG-2, that's why it's so light on CPUs. It compensates its old codec technology through high bitrates, thus the generally good quality.

h264 and h265 will always be better than ProRes at the same bitrates, provided that a decent codec implementation (with high profile and 10bit color depth) is being used.

So the question is whether 400 Mbit/s h265 (in the case of the Fuji XT-4) for 4K/25p video is visually as good as ProRes HQ at 737 Mbit/s for the same resolution and frame rate... 

 

EDIT: The real issue with h264 and h265 are not the codecs themselves, but that manufacturers - treating them as consumer codecs - bake all kinds of overdone image processing (aggressive denoising, artificial sharpening, pushed contrasts) into material recorded with them. ProRes, being conversely treated as a "pro" codec, doesn't get those over-processed images. This is why we think that ProRes is better...

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11 minutes ago, rawshooter said:

ProRes is factually a derivative of MPEG-2, that's why it's so light on CPUs. It compensates its old codec technology through high bitrates, thus the generally good quality.

h264 and h265 will always be better than ProRes at the same bitrates, provided that a decent codec implementation (with high profile and 10bit color depth) is being used.

So the question is whether 400 Mbit/s h265 (in the case of the Fuji XT-4) for 4K/25p video is visually as good as ProRes HQ at 737 Mbit/s for the same resolution and frame rate... 

 

EDIT: The real issue with h264 and h265 are not the codecs themselves, but that manufacturers - treating them as consumer codecs - bake all kinds of overdone image processing (aggressive denoising, artificial sharpening, pushed contrasts) into material recorded with them. ProRes, being conversely treated as a "pro" codec, doesn't get those over-processed images. This is why we think that ProRes is better...

 

11 minutes ago, rawshooter said:

So the question is whether 400 Mbit/s h265 (in the case of the Fuji XT-4) for 4K/25p video is visually as good as ProRes HQ at 737 Mbit/s for the same resolution and frame rate...

On the post-production side, the problem I see is poor or inconsistent NLE performance on the compressed codecs. The 400 mbps HEVC from Fuji is a good example of that -- on a 10-core Vega 64 iMac Pro running FCPX 10.4.8 or Premiere 14.3.0 it is almost impossible to edit. Likewise Sony XAVC-S and XAVC-L, also Panasonic's 10-bit 400 mbps 4:2:2 All-I H264. Resolve Studio 16.2.3 is a bit better on some of those but even it struggles. Of course you can transcode to ProRes but then why not just use ProRes acquisition via Atomos. 

The problem is there are many different flavors of HEVC and H264, and the currently-available hardware accelerations (Quick Sync, NVENC/NVDEC, UVD/VCE) are in many different versions, each with unique limitations. 

On the acquisition side it's nice to have a high quality Long GOP or compressed All-I codec - it fits on a little card, data offload rate is very high due to compression, archiving is easy due to smaller file size, etc. But it eventually must be edited and that's the problem.

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4 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

ProRes 422 LT is quite light in terms of file sizes. Not bad quality either.

I actually like LT a lot, did so even with the first Pocket Camera.

As long as you expolse it the right way, it still offers more than enough grading capabilities in post. At least for what I need. Great for longer interviews and or concerts as well.

Looking forward to your comparison.

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Why not compare ProRes and H.265 from the T-X3 from the same shoot with a Ninja V. That would be interesting. Hell, if I had the time I'd do it. I've been using ProRes 422 as my editing files out of the Ninja, because they don't lag the workflow at all and recording H.265 or H.264 files as backups. Or test ProRes from the X-T3/Ninja vs the Pocket 4.

I know some folks don't like a recording monitor because of the bulk it adds, but I'm soooo sold. The ability to record backups to camera, the monitoring tools like false color, the ability to move the screen to any angle I need, and a much bigger, brighter screen to actually see what I'm framing, the cheap storage medium and unlimited recording times, put these features together and they well outweigh any inconvenience. 

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44 minutes ago, heart0less said:

Many people here praise the footage coming out from Panasonic S1, especially the 10 bit h265 422 LongGOP @150mbps

Is there any chance you could include it in the comparison, as well, @Andrew Reid?

Yes OK.

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In my experience any 10-bit 4:2:2 that is competently implemented with sufficient bitrate for the resolution is excellent. ProRes just has a benefit of being easy on the computer.

I don’t see much difference from 150Mbps AVC and 400Mbps AVC All-I on Panasonic cameras. The All-I has subjectively better motion, but it’s so slight I only use it in the edge cases.

I don’t see much difference between 400Mbps ALl-I and ProRes or ProRes HQ unless you are just pushing sliders all over the place, especially the white balance. Just get it right, or close to right, in camera like you should.

Having said all of that, I would still like to see a mirrorless camera that records internally to ProRes flavors if only to speed up workflow.

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I think Intel supports 10 bit 4:2:2 decoding, but I have AMD so I'm not sure. @gt3rs was the one who started our attempts at smooth playback with 4:2:2 files, and I'm not sure if they found anything else about CPU decoding. Fwiw, I don't see any options in Resolve for CPU decoding on my Ryzen 3600, so if it has any they aren't implemented in Resolve.

Edit: actually, I did try 1Dx3 4:2:2 files on an 8th gen Intel i7 processor. With QuickSync enabled, the files didn't even show up, and with QuickSync disabled they played at ~10fps. So either Intel doesn't support 4:2:2 on that processor, or Resolve doesn't implement it.

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