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Andrew Reid

Next generation cinema camera battle - who will win?

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In the last few weeks the already large number of options for filmmakers have been shaken up. Current cameras all seem to fall into different niches.

There are the depth of field specialists – 5D Mark III and D800 with full frame sensors. There are the resolution and raw codec specialists the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera and Red Scarlet. There’s the slow mo specialist the Sony FS700 and my personal favourite all-rounders the GH2 and FS100 which just keep getting better with firmware updates (the FS100 is now a world cam with latest one from Sony).

What happens next will be a fascinating fight. EOSHD rounds up the contenders.

[url="http://www.eoshd.com/content/7845/next-generation-cinema-camera-battle-wholl-win/"]Read full article[/url]

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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
I only see the BM and FS700 as viable contenders.

Canon have lost the plot IMO. The 5D mk3 is a huge disappointment and it's clear BM are targeting Mk2 owners with the BMC, and fair play to them since if Canon won't cannibalise their own market, then Canon's competitors will. 15k for the 1, no thanks, and who wants a C300 when you can get a FS700 for less.

RED never seem to get their act together so I've discounted them, plus I just don't like their whole dismissive attitude to the little guys and never have.

Panasonic seem slow to respond going off the affection they still seem to have for the AF100 but who knows, hopefully they can bring something competitive to the table, but ultimately I see Sony and BMC in the lead here, still things can change quickly;)

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Why do we need to find a winner? The winners are us, having different choices is a great thing.
No two filmmakers need or like the same camera, so this is all good, it's not like we need to elect a winner and ditch everything else, is it?

Also, how would Canon releasing a 2k raw DSLR for $6k clear their name when BMD's camera costs half the money?

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I just hope the GH3 handles low light and noise like never before with a newly improved Venus engine that can give similar compression to their AVC Pro line. with an amazing new sensor from Lumix even 8-bit 4:2:2 would be great.  Panasonic introduced their new Micro P2 line which imo seems like any SDXC with the Panny sticker.  obviously cards continue to push bandwidth and speeds.  duhh of course the SD format is cheaper to manufacture than existing P2 cards...that's literally their justification. 

they should have rolled out Micro P2 earlier for the sake of the AF100 or at least make it AVC Intra100 like the rest of their high HPX line.  10-bit 4:2:2 would have been so nice for the AF100. 

we should expect at least a compact varicam the same way Sony introduced their lower end CineAlta F3.  Panasonic better shape up their shit man seriously

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For me, I think it's going to be the FS-700. I had about $7K saved up for a Canon, but now it's going to Sony (and what's a few extra $K when the specs are so amazing).

The FS-700 and Black Magic have so many people excited because they offer something magical for the price point.

Where's Canon? If the huge amount of negativity towards Canon on the internet is any indication, their Cinema division is going to tank before it actually ever took off. Who wants to pay those prices? Outrageous.

I will say that the 1D-C is the laziest camera I've ever seen. You think for $15K they would at least put it in a different body with a flip screen and some video features like peaking! WTF?

Meanwhile, people are singing the praises of Sony and BM.

See what happens when you introduce something revolutionary? People will love you.

I'm actually hoping that the when the 4K portion of the FS-700 comes to light, that there is a 4K Pro-Res option. The idea of true 4K RAW (what Sony is currently thinking) that requires 1Terabyte of storage per 1 hour is frightening. That's just too much space. So hopefully they will offer a 4K Pro-Res option or some kind of compressed RAW like what RED is doing.

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"Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera won’t just be a tiny niche of indie filmmakers – they will be stills photographers, camcorder users, DSLR owners, students, artists, freelancers, [b]journalists[/b], small production studios and even some of the bigger ones, [b]broadcasters[/b], [b]wedding videographers[/b]"

Not with that short battery life. The BMCC will be a good indie film camera but it's not the end all be all. We need to stop with that attitude. Documentaries etc, a FS700 or C300 will be the better choice.

It depends on your need. The 1DC may be a better choice for some (you said people said it's not that much better than the 5D's image, yet I keep hearing people being blown away by the image :/). This isn't something that can be simply stated for everyone. There is no winner other than consumers. Some will like the way a certain camera renders color etc better than another. The point is we have a choice.

Again people are jumping on the BMCC train too fast without evaluating their needs and how it'll perform in different conditions.

Calm down people. If NAB showed me anything, it showed me that buying a new camera may not be smart because they're coming out so fast. People's GH2, T2i, 5Ds, aren't rendered useless because a new camera is announced.

I see the filmmaking community quickly turning into the mobile smartphone community. Always wanting the "best" and in turn they barely use their phones because they keep switching and "upgrading". As soon as they get a phone a new one comes out and suddenly their current phone isn't good enough.

Need to get back to telling stories and getting jobs done.

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I think Shawn hit the nail on the head. The Blackmagic does not look like a camera you'll be able to use in the field or for many documentary applications, It certainly does not look rugged enough and the power and memory situation I think would make it very difficult to use for some conditions. It's amazing invention though and I'm sure for a lot of applications will kick the ass of the more expensive Canon's.

I've got myself a 5D Mk3 and to be honest I'm fed up of hearing how 'disappointing' a camera it is. It's amazing. I'm cutting together a doc with 7D, 5D Mk2 and 5D Mk3 footage that I've shot and the difference is staggering. Sharpen the Mk3 footage a little and it absolutely sings, the 720p slow motion looks amazing (light years ahead of the 7D). I've watched it on some massive TVs and it really kicks on to a new level, grades beautifully, incredibly cinematic and that lovely full-frame look. That being said even the 7D and 550D footage in the same film looks great (in the right situations with the right lenses!).

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As for who will win, definitely the Black Magic. That price point will kick the others into touch. Looks amazing for the price and capabilities. If the image is half decent and the workflow not too killer on lower end machines we could be about to see the true democratisation of 'film' quality cinema cameras.

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And the winner is...

Arrri Alexa. It's the most demanded camera for Film, TV drama and Commercials by a LOOOOONG mile. While other manufacturers were building hype on specs and promises and whatnot, Arri understood the most important features were: a solid camera for the CURRENT neccesities, a simple and fast workflow and first-class customer support.

On the other side of the spectrum:

-DSLR: the Nikon D800+Ninja2 as the best option, with Broadcast-approved image quality
-Low cost Video: FS700 (alone or with additional Samurai) as the lower cost all-terrain camera
-Low end Broadcast: a tie between the C300 and the F3. The F3 with slog+Samurai/Pix240 kills the C300 for drama

Up from that it it's all alexa. period. RED needs to adress the reputation of faulty cameras, create a worldwide distribution chain and provide 24/7 support by telephone. Until that happens, RED will only be for amateurs.

Sony's 65 will compete with the Alexa and surely will get a piece of the Pro pie. BMD camera will be an experiment for now and by v2.0 with an S35 sensor next year it will make all manufacturers nervous. Canon's 1D-C will be a flop unless it reduces its price to $8k and the C500 is only a prototype at this moment, so we won't see it before 2013.

The 5D3 will be handicapped by its higher price and by not having a clean HDMI out, thus the D800 will eat this segment for the most advanced users.

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[quote author=jindrich link=topic=631.msg4621#msg4621 date=1335284468]
And the winner is...

Arrri Alexa. It's the most demanded camera for Film, TV drama and Commercials by a LOOOOONG mile. While other manufacturers were building hype on specs and promises and whatnot, Arri understood the most important features were: a solid camera for the CURRENT neccesities, a simple and fast workflow and first-class customer support.

On the other side of the spectrum:

-DSLR: the Nikon D800+Ninja2 as the best option, with Broadcast-approved image quality
-Low cost Video: FS700 (alone or with additional Samurai) as the lower cost all-terrain camera
-Low end Broadcast: a tie between the C300 and the F3. The F3 with slog+Samurai/Pix240 kills the C300 for drama

Up from that it it's all alexa. period. RED needs to adress the reputation of faulty cameras, create a worldwide distribution chain and provide 24/7 support by telephone. Until that happens, RED will only be for amateurs.

Sony's 65 will compete with the Alexa and surely will get a piece of the Pro pie. BMD camera will be an experiment for now and by v2.0 with an S35 sensor next year it will make all manufacturers nervous. Canon's 1D-C will be a flop unless it reduces its price to $8k and the C500 is only a prototype at this moment, so we won't see it before 2013.

The 5D3 will be handicapped by its higher price and by not having a clean HDMI out, thus the D800 will eat this segment for the most advanced users.
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From what I've seen D800 is plagued with moire and its so call clean HDMI improvement are very minor. Low light is not a patch on the 5DIII and post processing the 5DIII yield a lot more detail and DR. Nikon is still behind Canon in dSLR video quality, any advance user with some clue will not be buying a D800 with an external recorder.

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Hi Andrew,

I'm a long-time listener, first-time caller, as they say. I just firstly wanted to say how much I appreciate your work. I hope you get some good discounts!

Just wanted to mention that I just went to the Bradford Film Festival and saw my 5Dii film "Trading Licks" on an IMAX SCREEN!!! last night. It was a salutary experience.

I should preface what I'm saying by pointing out that it was projected off Digibeta (which I think is only 1000 lines - correct me if I'm wrong)and we may have made mistakes in post bouncing between FCP Premiere and Resolve - having said that it looked ABSOLUTELY FINE!!!

The banding was there - which we had picked up in the grade - some noise, although not in the blacks. Sharpness was NOT AN ISSUE - yes there are no cityscapes or wides of trees in the film - but sharpness is relative. It still looked pretty filmic. Skin texture and eye-lashes were sharp.

If I could share the lessons learned  - it would be that the hand-held didn't work so well, and that I could have shot more wides. But seriously - all this talk of 4K and RAW...The important thing is to get the camera on a slider or legs, whenever possible, and shoot wides. I'm definately getting the 5D3 after this experience.

In my single days - i once read a dating book which suggested turning the lights down low - as pupils will dilate- tricking the date into thinking she is in love! This is why large sensors work. If Clooney or Johannson were shot on the Black-Magic their careers would be over... we go to the cinema to dream, not see things too clearly.

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[quote author=Simco123 link=topic=631.msg4624#msg4624 date=1335295155]
From what I've seen D800 is plagued with moire and its so call clean HDMI improvement are very minor. Low light is not a patch on the 5DIII and post processing the 5DIII yield a lot more detail and DR. Nikon is still behind Canon in dSLR video quality, any advance user with some clue will not be buying a D800 with an external recorder.
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Have you tried the D800? From all the possible video modes, if setup correctly in 24-25-30p and FF mode (exclusively), it produces a better image than the 5D3, with better DR and more resolution. It does have a bit of moire, yes, but it will be gone with the Mosaic filter, which is already in development. When paired with the Ninja2, again properly setup, the image quality improves VERY noticeably, without the chroma noise, blotching artifacts and all the other DSLR issues pros complain about. Resolution improves as well.

With the advantage of a HDMI out, the Ninja2 not only turns the D800 into a Broadcast 8bit 4:2:2 50-220Mbps ProRes/DVxHD camera, but it also gives it a very convenient external Hi-Res TFT (with an own viewfinder in the works), with peaking, zebras and false color. The included (pre-post) I/O point marking is the icing on the cake. All for less than a 5D3 with a Zacuto EVF.
Add a SoundDevices MixPre-D to that and you have a killer setup for under €4,5k, for both photos and pro video, with pre-edited timecoded video files with proper audio in the right format, ready to edit out of the SSD. This saves A TON of time in post.

The 5D3 is a very nice camera, if only a bit overpriced, but Canon has decided to cripple it to protect its new EOS cinema line, which is understandable.

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Amazing how people get carried away forgetting to realize one very simple fact. DSLRs are stills cameras with a video function. The only reason it took over the part of video world is because video world sucked. Thanks to 5d mk2 and series of dslrs, video industry got the wake up call.

Since then, we're seeing true video cams doing true video things. That means we're bound to go back to where we were before, though dslrs do and will offer usable video functionality.

I understand the disappointment but come on...we're talking about stills cameras here. Canon and Nikon aren't going down because it can't compete with true video cams. Nikon did good regardless of total ignorance from video market. Look at GH2 that's been praised over and over. Such great stills camera that offers superb video function didn't save Panasonic stills camera division at all. As told by Panny staff himself, it's just a niche market.

Sometimes, I think I should start rating video cams for their stills functionality for video people to understand.
Oh, Red Epic's AF systems sucks, it doesn't offer dozens and dozens of cross type AF. Its light meter isn't linked to AF points, its tracking sucks, megapixel is too low...etc. Now, How does that sound?

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[quote author=5DGH link=topic=631.msg4628#msg4628 date=1335298496]

I understand the disappointment but come on...we're talking about stills cameras here. Canon and Nikon aren't going down because it can't compete with true video cams. Nikon did good regardless of total ignorance from video market. Look at GH2 that's [url=http://www.best-toaster-oven.com/toaster-ovens-our-top-picks/]best toaster oven[/url] been praised over and over. Such great stills camera that offers superb video function didn't save Panasonic stills camera division at all. As told by Panny staff himself, it's just a niche market.


[/quote]

Totally agree, Canon and Nikon are still best at what they were first intended to do : photography.

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I think Sony are going to lose out big time to BMC.

4k is not relevent to consumers. What will they use 4k for? The equipment and workflow is expensive and the consumers are being led there like sheep to a pen by the big corporations leaving no other road to go. With a promise of 4k 8bit and likely limited latitude with all the crippling that goes into making sure consumer 4k is well away from professional gear.

BMC on the other hand offer professional equipment in 1080  that is current technology maxed out. Equivelent to an Arri Cmon who in there right mind is going to be led by the big corporations by the nose down towards their marketing strategy 4k heaven. 4k is overkill for consumers. 1080 is a pro format and the real picture quality comes from its latitude and 12 bit and uncompressed workflow.

The Sony FS700 compared to a BMC is the same as a fiat to a porsche at the moment and If IF they make a 4k recorder CHEAP enough for consumer you can bet in some way it will be crippled or the workflow to expensive or both.

It should be that BMC clean up at every single level from £3000 to £50,000. Why? Because it can plain beat the lot. The sensor is big enough for DOF creativity if you can use lenses like zeiss superspeeds that hopefully will work and can adapt some of the 4/3 lenses. The super35 and 4/3 sensors are not like the old film versions of 16mm and 35mm. They both record the same level of detail

The next big thing may very well be the digital bolex if it means all the 16mm lenses can be used.

I think the world has moved on and the big corporations haven't. They had an opportunity and they blew it. Now they can either catch up and give consumers the good stuff Or they will disappear.

That's business. What goes around comes around.

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5DGH hit the mark. We clearly get a little over-exasperated when it comes to developing technology and it's allowances. The BlackMagic Camera is fantastic, but I highly doubt it can compete with Nikon or Canon in the stills department.. and after all, why should it? it's designed for the novice and low-budget filmmaker - not photographer - but it still isn't designed to take on the prestigious front offered by the big names. Regardless, we're asking these photo companies to supply us with the professional video qualifications in their photo-prioritized devices. Yes, there is reason to acknowledge the success of the 5dmkII and what it has done for bridging the photo and video world, let alone opening it to a new wave of ambitious videographers that is continuously growing. Nonetheless, where do we stand to assume these companies will cripple in any facet by ignoring our demands? Are we even acknowledging the amount of money Canon makes off their lens product line alone? I'm sure they could stop selling anything video related, and they'd still be retaining a massive profit margin not far from what they make now. BlackMagic will clean up where these companies fail to jump on board, but BlackMagic's margin of income success will probably cater to the use of their software, such that when customers move in to the professional field, they can take their understanding of Resolve and BM's other hardware with them, while leaving the introductory camera behind making way for big-league equipment.

For any aspiring dslr filmmaker, when the opportunity comes to shoot a high-budget music video, commercial, documentary, or movie, there is a very good chance they're going to rent such cameras as the Arri Alexa, Red Epic, Sony F65, or C500 (whenever that is released) because they can simply afford to do so. It also plays into a much more presentable and professional atmosphere, which despite the illogical reasoning, is still to be warranted. So why should Nikon or Canon, or anyone else for that matter, care to try and give you the big-boy features when there are a handful of those high end cameras with those features confidently sold to rental houses? The last thing i'm sure they want to do is hand out features of their intended-rental products that have lower production numbers to their higher-volume production models, only keeping people from bothering with the rentals. Their is an understanding and methodology to the film industry that I doubt will change all too soon with this in mind. Furthermore, let's say Canon did decide to update the 5dmkIII with c-log gamma, 1080p 10-bit 4:4:4 uncompressed 24/25/30/50/60fps, 12-bit CinemaDNG RAW at 2k, and features similar to what magic lantern have provided.. that would be fantastic for us, but awful for rental businesses as everyone would likely at least own one or two of these and never really have a reason to rent anything but cameras that could handle 4k.

You might ask yourself, "Yeah, so, maybe times need to change and the industry needs to mold itself to being more accommodating" ....and it will, i'm sure.. but only when YOU put in the effort to make that change. YOU need to develop the technology and construct / produce / manufacture / market the device. We have no place to demand these companies to make these changes for us, it's entirely in their hands, and its companies like BM who are stepping forward with a reason in mind. I have a feeling that reason isn't to make tons of money on a camera they know other companies are failing to develop. For all we know, this camera might not be bringing any income in, but rather just be a huge marketing ploy for the software. Think of it like a band selling a cd.. why buy the cd when you can download it for free online.. but when it's offered with a shirt or jacket you find interesting enough to buy, you've effectively bought the cd while it was coupled in with the cost of the jacket/shirt. There might be smaller profit margin there, but it got you to buy what you could have otherwise downloaded for free. 

The FS700 clearly sounds more impressive than the F3, yet still costs 4-5k less.. and Sony says that the F3 is still better, such that they crippled the features on the FS700 not to beat out the F3.. but why wouldn't they just engulf their own camera and take everyone by storm with the FS700, given its features and price point? Clearly there are probably only a handful of consumers who bought the F3 compared to the FS100.. why not cater to that larger audience? Well, because as stated before, its a niche market, and the rental game / professional field is far more rewarding both by reputation and financial gain to these companies over making a handful of ambitious videographers happy. The same argument can be had for why ANYONE would want to buy a Lamborghini or Ferrari when a new Toyota will suffice just fine.. it comes down to pretentiousness, financial affordability, reputation, and what is presumed to be socially accepted as "professional." Why ask Ferrari to create a car with all the features of their high end line in the price range of a Toyota? You could argue that they would make so much more money, when in fact, they might even make less, while undermining their name to the customers that sustained their successful profit margin to begin with.

Let's not soon forget the sheer amount of memory and hard drive space that is required for professional codecs and features. In order to shoot a feature or documentary, you may find yourself needing to spend far more than you could reasonably have anticipated to afford anyways.

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"Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera won’t just be a tiny niche of indie filmmakers – they will be stills photographers, camcorder users, DSLR owners, students, artists, freelancers, journalists, small production studios and even some of the bigger ones, broadcasters, wedding videographers"

Oh no...Here comes EOSHD stretching reality again. No stills photographers would use Blackmagic Cinema Camera unless one is in a crazy desperate situation. It's an amazing video camera but it's a POS stills camera at best.

DSLR owners? Very a few dslr owners who have been using dslrs for video work would use it. Don't forget dslr market is huge and video people in it only make up tiny portion.

Journalists? Most of them would rather use dslrs with decent video capability than video camera with POS stills ability. Remember this whole 5d mk2 revolution began due to the demands from journalists who needed to capture simple video footage.

Wedding videographers? No. Wedding videography is where shallow DOF look rules. No matter how good GH2 was over all the other dslrs, almost nobody used it due to its narrow DOF (though you could kind of overcome it by using a few lenses, such narrow set of lenses.)

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Rather than think about cameras, we should think about market segments and production types.

There's Social, Web, Corporate, Commercials, Broadcast (ENG, EFP and docos), high-end Drama and Movies.

Each of this categories require a different type of camera, and even if all  could be shot with the same one, the sort of required crews, resources and budgets are so far apart that it makes the chosen camera irrelevant.

If BMD made an ALEXA for $1k, you still wouldn't be able to shoot a Lancome commercial, a TV drama like "Sherlock", or a proper Movie, because those are $100k/day productions. I've been there and I can tell you.
High-end cameras from Sony and ARRI are more than safe.

The battle will present on the base segments, down from Social, up to low-end Commercials/Broadcast, where Canon, Nikon, RED, Panasonic, JVC, Sony… etc, and BMD as a new player, will fight to get a prominent place.

The DSLR revolution, along with the Desktop-editing revolution, shown us you could get up to those levels of quality (low-end Commercials/Broadcast), with just a $3k camera and cheap lenses, which until before was unheard of. For the first time you could own all the tools because they were so cheap (well, except for HMIs).
Another very awkward concept in this field was also introduced: owning rather than renting.

There won't be a single winner, because there are too many segments in video production and as many different price points, for all those that believe in buying rather than renting: $3K, $5k, $8k, $10k, $15k, $20k.

$20k being an HD S35 camera, with S-Log, EOS-to-PL, 60p, XLRs, NDs, and added 10bit 444 recorder, can somebody build, distribute and support on a world level a similar one for much less?

Not unless Apple gets in.

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