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Which cameras have the most pleasing grain structure?


QuickHitRecord
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This is clearly a subjective question. To me, pleasing grain structure is well-defined, tight/small noise with no fixed patterns and as little green and magenta as possible. But please share your observations, even if your criteria for pleasing grain/noise is different.

For me, I'm really liking what I'm seeing from the Red One MX. Unsurprisingly, none of my other recent or current cameras (C70, C200, EOS-R, 5Diii with ML Raw, G85, or EM10iii) comes close. It meets all of my criteria for pleasing noise/grain. But I'm also curious if there's anything smaller that does well in this area.

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R6 has pretty filmic luma noise compared to other R series. C70 has been proven in underexposed tests to not only have a much lower noise floor (thanks to DGO sensor) but also a more filmic noise with no horizontal patterns and low chroma noise which immediately scream digital. Fuji XT series I also found the noise pleasing.

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Oh man, the Red One. I learned to operate with it, and while it was sometimes quite a bitch to work with, no question how amazing it was for digital. Truly groundbreaking. Saved up to buy the Scarlet as a wet hire, switched to Blackmagic and Canon for more commercial work, and now I'm back on Red because they priced it right. 

If you're into the Red One, you already know the answer. Komodo. 6K 16-bit redcode raw and global shutter will give you the most detailed, color-rich, film-like moving image. 

While this forum is centered more around hybrid, consumer cameras, discussions lean almost 99% video. Probably because what people want are accessible cinema cameras. Well, we've never gotten a pro cinema camera within reach until the Komodo.

 

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1 hour ago, independent said:

Oh man, the Red One. I learned to operate with it, and while it was sometimes quite a bitch to work with, no question how amazing it was for digital. Truly groundbreaking. Saved up to buy the Scarlet as a wet hire, switched to Blackmagic and Canon for more commercial work, and now I'm back on Red because they priced it right. 

If you're into the Red One, you already know the answer. Komodo. 6K 16-bit redcode raw and global shutter will give you the most detailed, color-rich, film-like moving image. 

While this forum is centered more around hybrid, consumer cameras, discussions lean almost 99% video. Probably because what people want are accessible cinema cameras. Well, we've never gotten a pro cinema camera within reach until the Komodo.

 

Is there any Komodo raw footage available online? Would love to take a look at it. 

I've always liked the Alexa's grain pattern but it has obviously issues with rolling shutter the Komodo doesn't. Not so much for the feeling of the motion (except for whip pans) more for camera flashes and the like. 

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The Alexa obviously is great. Great underexposed, pleasant noise pattern. RED Komodo is really nice as well, as long as you are blackshaded. Though I think there is a bit more color cast when underexposed.

 

2 hours ago, HockeyFan12 said:

Is there any Komodo raw footage available online? Would love to take a look at it. 

I've always liked the Alexa's grain pattern but it has obviously issues with rolling shutter the Komodo doesn't. Not so much for the feeling of the motion (except for whip pans) more for camera flashes and the like. 

Yeah there may be something about rolling shutter that makes motion feel organic. Its so minimal on the Alexa, barely even noticeable when whip panning on longer lenses. The motion on the Komodo feels less organic, maybe global shutter is too perfect? or maybe the global shutter has nothing to do with the "feel" of the motion.

Of course you can't beat global shutter if you are shooting camera strobe lights.

RED's do tend to be nice underexposed. Noise gets heavy but they retain so much info so it doesn't looked crushed like cheaper cameras. Though the color does certainly shift, the OLPF you have in can help(depending what model you have?). Gets confusing with all the different models. I kind of like the Komodo maybe more then all their other models. It's not ARRI tho....

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2 hours ago, HockeyFan12 said:

Is there any Komodo raw footage available online? Would love to take a look at it. 

I've always liked the Alexa's grain pattern but it has obviously issues with rolling shutter the Komodo doesn't. Not so much for the feeling of the motion (except for whip pans) more for camera flashes and the like. 

There's one file from the Komodo on REDs sample footage page..  https://www.red.com/sample-r3d-files

Download links in description of this video:

I'm sure there will be others around, just google "red komodo download footage" and see what's out there.

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1 hour ago, TomTheDP said:

The Alexa obviously is great. Great underexposed, pleasant noise pattern. RED Komodo is really nice as well, as long as you are blackshaded. Though I think there is a bit more color cast when underexposed.

 

Yeah there may be something about rolling shutter that makes motion feel organic. Its so minimal on the Alexa, barely even noticeable when whip panning on longer lenses. The motion on the Komodo feels less organic, maybe global shutter is too perfect? or maybe the global shutter has nothing to do with the "feel" of the motion.

Of course you can't beat global shutter if you are shooting camera strobe lights.

RED's do tend to be nice underexposed. Noise gets heavy but they retain so much info so it doesn't looked crushed like cheaper cameras. Though the color does certainly shift, the OLPF you have in can help(depending what model you have?). Gets confusing with all the different models. I kind of like the Komodo maybe more then all their other models. It's not ARRI tho....

How's the highlight dynamic range on the Komodo compared with S1H or C200 etc.

The Komodo footage looks really really good to me. I like slightly softer footage so I like the 4K crop.

I've heard about setting the shutter speed to 1/40th instead of 1/48th and underexposing and then pushing Red footage to get a more "organic" look.

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1 hour ago, HockeyFan12 said:

How's the highlight dynamic range on the Komodo compared with S1H or C200 etc.

The Komodo footage looks really really good to me. I like slightly softer footage so I like the 4K crop.

I've heard about setting the shutter speed to 1/40th instead of 1/48th and underexposing and then pushing Red footage to get a more "organic" look.

The Komodo has pretty terrible highlight latitude. It's definitely a camera that's better to underexpose than overexpose. I think CineD found it was good with 7 stops of underexposure but only 1 stop over. It's quite extreme and the main reason I don't care for the camera. Exceptional highlight latitude is a hallmark of film (as in, actual film).

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Pocket 4K in Cinema DNG was up there, before they nurfed it. I still have my original firmware!

Would have thought the finest grain award goes to URSA 12K.

I also liked 5D Mark II ML RAW in 2K. Very digital Bolex like at ISO 1600 especially with a black and white grade. 5D Mark III was a bit too smooth by comparison to the older one.

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20 hours ago, Django said:

R6 has pretty filmic luma noise compared to other R series. C70 has been proven in underexposed tests to not only have a much lower noise floor (thanks to DGO sensor) but also a more filmic noise with no horizontal patterns and low chroma noise which immediately scream digital. Fuji XT series I also found the noise pleasing.

I haven't gotten my hands on an R6 yet (and may not, due to overheating), but I saw a side-by-side comparison with the older EOS-R and the grain was MUCH nicer.

And the C70 has the best noise/grain of any Canon I've used. I am very pleased with the noise up to ISO 800. At 1600, I can start to see just the faintest hit of vertical FPN. But 800 is plenty. And it's much better than the C200, which had horizontal FPN even at ISO 200 when shooting in CRL.

12 hours ago, independent said:

If you're into the Red One, you already know the answer. Komodo. 6K 16-bit redcode raw and global shutter will give you the most detailed, color-rich, film-like moving image. 

I had a shoot with a Komodo and my R1MX last Fall. I really liked the Komodo for the most part. I wish I'd had it for longer so that I could have compared the two cameras, but the grain seemed very pleasing and well-controlled.

But there's still something unique about the original MX that I didn't see in the Komodo. And it only cost me $3K for a complete build with batteries and media.

9 hours ago, TomTheDP said:

The Alexa obviously is great. Great underexposed, pleasant noise pattern.

Yes, the Alexa is very good in this regard.

4 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

Pocket 4K in Cinema DNG was up there, before they nurfed it. I still have my original firmware!

Interesting. I'll have to look into this further. I did a shoot with the 6K and remember it being a bit too noisy for my taste. But Blackmagic is all over the map. The BMPC was the worst I have ever seen. The BMMCC was pretty decent.

It seems like pleasing grain is an often unsung benefit of higher-end cinema cameras, though I am secretly hoping that someone will tip me off to a consumer-level sleeper.

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5 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

I also liked 5D Mark II ML RAW in 2K. Very digital Bolex like at ISO 1600 especially with a black and white grade. 5D Mark III was a bit too smooth by comparison to the older one.

My 5Diii with ML Raw suffers from dancing green and magenta blocks. It's unchanged between ISOs 100 and 400, so I always shoot at 400. When I'm not pixel peeping or trying to bring up the shadows too much, I'm always happy with the overall image. I haven't used a 5Dii yet but I really liked some of the 50D stuff I was seeing back in the day.

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1 hour ago, QuickHitRecord said:

And the C70 has the best noise/grain of any Canon I've used. I am very pleased with the noise up to ISO 800. At 1600, I can start to see just the faintest hit of vertical FPN. But 800 is plenty. And it's much better than the C200, which had horizontal FPN even at ISO 200 when shooting in CRL.

From all the ISO tests I've watched, C70 seems really clean up to 6400. There is noise but haven't noticed vertical FPN. 

In any case I always try and stay close to base ISO, and expose to protect highlights so clean shadows is what I'm after and C70's DGO sensor is perfect for this type of exposing.

You can see on this test how pleasing the noise is at 4 stops underexposed compared to R5C & A7S3 that have nasty digital vertical FPN:

 

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Most pleasing grain ( / noise) on a digital camera?

Definitely the SONY F35

also
Panavision Genesis
Ikonoscop a cam dII
Arri Alexa

(If you are interested. I might be tempted to sell my F35 for the right price. It’s sitting on the shelf as most of my work now is photography based.)

 

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14 hours ago, M_Williams said:

The Komodo has pretty terrible highlight latitude. It's definitely a camera that's better to underexpose than overexpose. I think CineD found it was good with 7 stops of underexposure but only 1 stop over. It's quite extreme and the main reason I don't care for the camera. Exceptional highlight latitude is a hallmark of film (as in, actual film).

Protecting the highlights is something you should do for every digital video camera. What kind of extreme situations or incompetent DP would make such gross exposure errors? Latitude matters much less than dynamic range and highlight roll-off, where the Komodo leads significantly. 

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That is fine if you are in some super controlled environment but that is not always reality. Significant, hmm maybe not always.

The old "if it can go to shit it probably will" apply pretty big time to Cine Photography. Video is so damn complex it is nearly impossible to do in any reliable sense.

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Sure in a studio environment on a tripod, run n gun, moving from scene to scene, changing lens quickly. Try doing sports, running around shooting your 3 year old son outdoors not so easy.

That is the reason you Should shoot raw so you Can recover mistakes, but if you don't have the ability to recover than not the best tool to be using. The Komodo does not sound like the best overall option then. Who wants to worry about having to do perfect exposures all the time.

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