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Which cameras have the most pleasing grain structure?


QuickHitRecord
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EOSHD Pro Color 5 for Sony cameras EOSHD Z LOG for Nikon CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Black Magic Pocket for sure. Komodo feels good. Canon cinema cameras have a ton of noise reduction and lack the texture of those two cameras for sure. 

Film is the absolute best though. No contest. The amount of life even a static shot has when shooting 16mm is unbelievable. The perfect amount of grain, detail, and color.

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18 minutes ago, BenEricson said:

Film is the absolute best though. No contest. The amount of life even a static shot has when shooting 16mm is unbelievable. The perfect amount of grain, detail, and color.

I love film too, though certain stocks are too grainy for me. Now that it's finally back in stock after months of waiting, I just bought my first roll of 250D. Now I need to find something worthy of $150+ for 2.5 minutes (and it's a test roll, since it will be my first time using my new Kodak K100).

From other tests I've seen, 250D is the ultimate, perfect grain character.

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On 2/18/2022 at 2:03 AM, Django said:

and in run & gun situations you sometimes just have to make hard choices, protect highlights or blow them out to preserve some shadow info. 

+1 on that.

Also, sometimes you're pushing the ISO in ways you'd prefer not to.  Some of the nicest shots I've got of the kids is when they're on their phones and the available light is so low that they're basically being exclusively lit by their phone.  That's not a native 100 situation, at least on the single native ISO sensors!

On 2/18/2022 at 4:56 AM, M_Williams said:

It's not just about recoverability or exposure errors or whatever.

HOW dynamic range is allocated is intrinsically part of that "film" look, as well as highlight roll-off. You don't get smooth highlight roll-off if most of your dynamic range is bunched up in the shadows.

It's relatively typical for colourists (and film-emulation packages like FilmConvert and Dehancer) to apply grain to some parts of the image more than others.  IIRC they apply more to the mids and almost none to the highlights and shadows, as I think that emulates the grain from a negative/positive film process, where the roll-offs lessen the strength of the grain.  Don't quote me on that logic, but it sounds right.

13 hours ago, M_Williams said:

Yes the Komodo does have built-in highlight recovery that uses other color channels to reconstruct clipped data, exactly like Da Vinci.

If I understand the math properly you can get basically the same effect by desaturating the brightest highlights on your image.  

I contemplated writing a DCTL plugin for Resolve to recover highlights on non-RAW footage (as you can't use the option in the RAW panel) and over the course of figuring out the logic this was where I got to.

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8 hours ago, QuickHitRecord said:

I love film too, though certain stocks are too grainy for me. Now that it's finally back in stock after months of waiting, I just bought my first roll of 250D. Now I need to find something worthy of $150+ for 2.5 minutes (and it's a test roll, since it will be my first time using my new Kodak K100).

From other tests I've seen, 250D is the ultimate, perfect grain character.

Yeah, it’s crazy. I brought 10 rolls of 250d right when BH stocked it. (I have the notifications on.) They emailed me the next day saying they could only send me 4. 

I agree with you on the 250d. 50d is almost too clean but has its place for sure. 250d is just so nice.

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@NikkorYes, the SRW 9000, which comes in two versions one with three 2/3 ccd sensors and one with the Super 35 CCD sensor from the F35. I once had a chance to buy one in Germany for 2500EUR but I let that rare opportunity pass. It had all boards installed, including the 444 board.

The Sony PMW F55 has a Super 35 CCD. There was or is one on sale on ebay UK for 5500EUR.

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3 hours ago, Nikkor said:

Are there any large sensor cameras with ccd chips that record video beside the f35?

There aren't that many. Off the top of my head:

  • Sony F35 - Super35
  • Sony SRW-9000PL - Super35
  • Sony Genesis - Super35
  • Digital Bolex D16 - Super16
  • Ikonoskop A-Cam dII - Super16

And then you get into 2/3" CCDs, and there are a ton of those. Here's a good place to look for the Sony models. On the Panasonic side, there were the HPX and Varicam bodies. Toshiba, JVC, and Ikegami also had 2/3 CCD cameras, but they were mostly standard definition.

There were a handful of 1/2" CCD camcorders, mostly from Sony as I recall.

1/3" CCD sensors were mostly found in fixed zoom lens cameras like the HVX200, FX1, Z1U, DVX100, Canon XL/XH cameras, and some of the JVC GY cameras. But 1/3 sensors are pretty small.

Compared to today's mirrorless cameras, these cameras were mostly very large and meant to be operated on shoulder or tripods. The smallest and most manageable of the bunch was the Digital Bolex, which now goes for around $7K used.

The Sony F55 is a MOS sensor with global shutter, not a CCD camera.

If you'd like to have a small CCD camera to try out, I'd recommend the diminutive and inexpensive Lumix FZ47 (FZ48 in the UK). It's fixed lens and can't record in 24P or 25P, but it does shoot in 1080P and the 1/2.3" sensor is larger than any of the 1/3" cameras. And the image stabilization is surprisingly good, which is useful for the ~600mm equivalent zoom. Here's some footage I shot:

I personally love the camera, but I wouldn't say that the grain is good at all. If you freeze-frame the footage, you'll see a ton of temporal ghosting and macroblocking. But in motion, it's one of my favorites.

And here are some of my photos with it (JPEG only, the camera does not shoot RAW): https://distanceandelevation.com/blog/2021/8/9/bandontoportorford

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