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Revenge of the Great Zacuto Shootout Part 1 - Review

Andrew Reid

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Above: one of my favourite scenes from the episode, click it to enlarge to 1080p, the colour on this shot is ‘early Technicolor’ and ‘Hitchcockian’. But I am not 100% sure which camera was used to shoot it (although I have a gut feeling!) – and that tells you a lot about how evenly matched cameras like the FS100 and GH2 are with much more expensive offerings (if viewed at 1080p)

If you haven’t already I advise you to watch the episode before reading this and draw your own conclusions first. If you have seen the full screening please do not reveal the results on the comments forum.

[url="http://www.zacuto.com/shootout-revenge-2012/revenge-great-camera-shootout-part-one"]Watch episode 1 here![/url]

The Zacuto Shootout is like a torch light in the dark for many aspiring, young filmmakers and it is useful – not to mention fascinating and enjoyable – to see these incredible tools fight for the best image. Now the Revenge series has added people into the mix it is even more interesting and educational.

[url="http://www.eoshd.com/content/8227/revenge-of-the-great-zacuto-shootout-part-1-review/"]Read full article[/url]

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I'm not sure how to evaluate the cameras - because you're not when you look at each scene - you're evaluating the  Cinematographer.  The only conclusion I can draw is that they all look OK.  But would curious to know which shots took the longest to set up and used the most light.  (Sure you can use a $700 camera but if it takes 3x the time and light to get a result then your savings are gone).

Also curious why its graded so dark.  This is a daylight scene - late afternoon by the angle of the "sun" - light streaming through the window.  The table lamps would not contribute significant amounts of light compared to the sun.  OUtside: its daytime, inside: evening.

I would've liked to have seen the set lit realistically, one take with NO additional lighting, and THEN let te DPs do their thing.
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I would really love to see them do a GH2 stock vs. hacked comparison. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills, I just don’t see it, yet everyone is talking about it. Just this afternoon I did some more test shots myself. On tripod, all manual set, studio lighting to take away any variables and make every shot exactly identical, stock vs. 88mbit iframe. I just don’t see it. Not at 1080p, not at 200% zoom. I tried high dynamic shots, shots with movement, boosting shadows in post to see if I find more detail in the hacked version..Only if I compare 24L stock (!) to 88mbit hacked I notice the difference in grain/noise in shadows. Almost as if it has more noise reduction on it. But it doesn’t seem to affect a loss in detail (tiny printed letters in my test shot).

I guess it doesn’t really matter since I’m not shooting for the big screen anyway and only have clients who want web material. But you obviously want to get the most out of what your camera can bring and it’s frustrating to see a huge filesize increase without really seeing any visual difference. I’d love to know in which situations it makes a difference and see them explain the data.
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I totally agree with your comment about there (usually) being a difference between writers, directors, and the cinematographer. The 30 minute docco came across as sadly lacking the former two. The un-ending naming of people they thought were great cameramen was utterly non-entertaining for me. The video seems low res? I'd like to be able to download a bigger version but the link to the actual vimeo site seems not working. Comparing everything at "sort of" 720 is a bit meh. The Red forum seems a bit het up by it.

But here is the main question. They go on about how wonderful they are for 25 minutes... and then have the video and audio out of sync...? I can't imagine a more embarrassing situation really.

Also the last part is going to be 3 months old when they finally finish it surely?
The old guy trying to be cool and swearing at the start just made him look silly.
One part I did like was the Aussie guy and his accent.
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Camera C is by far the best from all of them, and I think the crew could've pushed the middle sunstreak a bit more.  Why?  Clipping or Peaking isn't that bad if done right.  It's a given you're going to get a little highlight burn on a cream colored house in daylight which is totally fine because the dynamic range from C will still maintain detail even in the farthest blue sky/cloud background and not affect foreground, so just a tad bit more intensity.  C has the most believable light in middle ground to background.  The reason why the black girl is set to step out is to see the light intensity on her skin tone.  A little bit more burst and it would've been perfect and more warmer in the middle streak of light. 

Finally the foreground for the main characters has the best lighting from "a" side window and matching for REAR real daylight lighting.  That is the most important challenge from all the test is to match FOREGROUND, MIDGROUND, & BG.  Camera C's direction for lighting and camera advantage is just spot on. 

The black clothing was a funny challenge too...and debatable for such a scene if you're fighting black detail.  it's not really a Jules Winnfield or Vincent Vega scenario, but anyway this camera definitely renders the most detail, so if the story requires fashion couture textures and details for a black outfit it's definitely a camera to use for such a scene.

H comes second imo, but lost to foreground lighting to C.  i wasn't impressed with the color temperature from the opposite side of their faces from the "supposed" window out of frame. it seemed unnecessary.  compared to C, B & D has nasty compression and the colorist was trying to hard on the foreground.  for instance foreground lightning shouldn't seem akward to midground or background.  a lot of these camera tests seems like the foreground has morphed into a cave with separation to background or midground, so it looks fake, or rather poor lighting.  the challenge is to not look like a set.  that's lighting technique. 

C has the best balance overall. 
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[quote author=sfrancis928 link=topic=853.msg6172#msg6172 date=1339905618]
[quote author=ipcmlr link=topic=853.msg6169#msg6169 date=1339901892]
I'm guessing gh2 is camera B!

Haha really? I wouldn't bet on it!
I wouldn't bet on not betting on that - I was at the screening in London and I know which is which ;)

"Bare in mind that on a 4K projector, the Epic and Sony F65 would run away with it" - watching it on the 2K projector it's true that the F65 stood out as superb but the C300, Alexa, Epic and GH2 were all really really close. Of course they would be, given that they all used a £50k lens and 90 mins of Baselight time.  If you have access to those tools, you can make any camera look stunning.
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[quote author=gethin link=topic=853.msg6166#msg6166 date=1339895996]
would curious to know which shots took the longest to set up and used the most light.  (Sure you can use a $700 camera but if it takes 3x the time and light to get a result then your savings are gone).


Very good point - the relight time on most was around 90 mins - except for the Alexa, who's relight time was precisely zero.  That's a confident DOP right there!
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Personally really enjoyed the video, very different from their last shoot out but still good. I agree with all comments about testing, probably more based on the person than the camera, but its still interesting.
I really couldnt set them apart to say what I thought was what, most of them were on a similar par from the 720 version, strange how you can't watch it on Vimeo yet alone download it.
I did list my favourites as B, F & H, with C and G behind them though so looking forward to seeing the results.

Think its a real testament to how camera technology is evolving and how price brackets are converging now.

I did really want to see the GH2 put the tests the cameras had last time though.
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Looking again, I think B is the GH2. The Epic or C300 is C because the highlights are yellow and that is a complaint I've heard about those cameras before. (It means the channels clip at different times, so if your green channel clips before your red and blue you will get a purple tint in the highlights, which quite a few cameras had here).
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Wow, WTF is with the cheesy melodramatic music during the interviews?  All those DPs and no one knows how to soundtrack?

Why did they all choose to underexpose the action? Just to get the detail out of window?  I thought they all looked kinda bad( i viewed it on a crappy laptop monitor). I guess C and B were the best for me.  They should have included film too. 
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hi there
I think camera D is from small sensor  -- likely iphone , there's no focus pull.
camera G is perhaps the worst -- may be from 7D

i always shoot with multi cameras and mix many brands
i notice that all look "ok" on 32inch LCD viewing at about 1meter away.
the distance i barely see the pixel structure.

i m not sure the scale of big theatre? size of screen? and the best viewing distance?
i always use simple measure of width of my palm.

from Bangkok
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