Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
John D

Best Camera for High Contrast Stage Lighting Conditions

Recommended Posts

I am looking for advice on cameras that will shoot in theatrical lighting situations (dance and physical theater productions).  It is quite common to have sidelight, downlight (including down spotlights) or backlight with very little "fill" lighting from the front in dance productions.  The use of these angles of light creates beautiful shadows and makes the dancers' bodies look more 3-dimensional but also makes for a very high contrast image in video terms.  In other words, when you expose for skin tones, you blow out certain areas of light and you lose all shadow detail.  The result is that it is extremely hard to get a good recording of what the dance actually looked like in live performance.  

 

I have a hope that getting a camera with a higher amount of dynamic range (bmpcc perhaps) will help with this issue.  If anyone has any advice I'd really appreciate it.  I have $3000 to spend, though I might be able to get approval for more if the right combination of lenses and camera is a bit higher.  I have some good MFT lenses that I use with my GH2 but have access to some nikon and canon glass as well, so I'm flexible in terms of what sensor/mount situation would be best.  I know NAB is just around the corner but just thought I'd get some thoughts on this question - hoping some of the experts will weigh in on this one.  

 

Thanks!

 

John 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Blackmagic line immediately jumps to mind as the cheapest option. You are right in that dynamic range will be your friend in that scenario.

 

Canon C100 maybe? A bit out of your range, but good dynamic range/overall image and very friendly to long recording times. 

 

I think some of the newer Nikon DSLRs (5300, 7100) also have pretty decent dynamic range as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you already have good MFT glass then the BMPCC is perfect (compared to others) for that application.   The only thing that really bothers me about the BMPCC is the moire that appears in DNGs when the image is too bright and sharp.  I doubt that will be an issue with what you want to shoot.  On the plus side, in low-light RAW based cameras become grainy, H.264 cameras become blotchy.  When you shoot with any of the cameras above you'll get a nice, smooth image.  But your blacks will be crushed.  To see the difference in images lease look at these two shots I too with a H.264 and RAW based camera

 

http://maxotics.com/?p=146

 

The BMPCC also need the fastest SD cards, plan about $50 per 32GB at current rates.  Not a good camera to shoot long-form stuff; that is, leave camera on for an hour.  In general, any RAW based camera will require at least 4 times the money, time, effort, etc.  Out of the box, the video from a GH3 is, say, 10 times better than the image from the BMPCC.  And it will stay that way unless you put 10 times the effort into the RAW based video.  However, if you do that, then the BMPCC will end up 10x better than the GH3.  All depends on what trade-offs you want to with your time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to both of you for your responses.  

 

@Maxotics: I really appreciate the information you supplied in your blog and your comments regarding the amount of work RAW will take to look better.  I have a GH2 already and a decent canon "video" camera so I feel like I can produce decent compressed images at this point.  It's having the OPTION to produce something really beautiful and more truly representative of the light/color detail in performance footage that is interesting to me.  My hope is that Black Magic (or someone else) will come out with some variant of the BMPCC at NAB that will give it a clearer edge for my use.  They are already offering so much for so little that I'm basically sold - RAW for $1k is crazy, but add 60fps and a slightly larger sensor and it would be off the charts.  

 

Thanks again!  I'll let you know which way I go and how it turns out.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're considering DSLR's, I think the 5D MkIII has probably the best low light and dynamic range (better than the Nikon's) under $3000. 

 

That may change very quickly though, as soon as the GH4 becomes available : dynamic range seems to be better than any other DSLR so far, it has 60 fps, log styles which allow to shoot even flatter and it's approx. $1000 cheaper than a 5D MkIII.   Also, with the GH4 comes a much more manageable workflow and reasonable filesizes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John D, are you talking about renting or buying? If you have 3.000$ per project, there are many cameras you could rent (Alexa included)

I don't have much experience with BM cameras, but it seems to me they may not be the best option to record 90 minute-long events. The same could be said about pretty much any DSLR... Not only they have recording limits (that you can circumvent) but also they get way too hot and stop working.

 

Events are usually recorded with TV cameras (small sensor, that is). Grass Valley are supeb, though you could have a very acceptable quality with more affordable XDCAM or P2 cameras. Dynamic range is on par with DSLRs (11.5 stops or so), but without the shallow depth of field. Cameras such as high end Panasonic P2s or Sony EX3, EX1 are still over 3.000€ (maybe cheaper used, since they are discontinued), but the daily rental rate goes for about 200$/day or less. They already have a very versatile and decent lens (the EX3 is lens-interchangeable, the P2s not usually) and a very reliable, edit-friendly recording format. Just think about 90 minutes * 2 cameras = 180 minutes of rushes in RAW or even Pro-res HQ: mostly unmanageable... Unless you are planning a live multicam, be very aware of file sizes! The cameras I mentioned are available used all over the net.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...