Comparison of high-end camera video performance

Started Nov 20, 2012 | Discussions thread
caterpillar Veteran Member • Posts: 6,343
Re: Comparison of high-end camera video performance

Cy Cheze wrote:

A. Reid and Rudi of Slashcam have collaborated on an interesting test of six moderately expensive to pricey (but not plutocratic) cameras:

  • Blackmagic Cinema Camera (retail)
  • Panasonic GH3 (pre-production v0.5)
  • Panasonic GH2 (hacked)
  • Sony FS100
  • Canon 5D Mark III
  • Sony NEX VG-900 (full frame E-mount camcorder)

The comparisons are quite objective and there is not much to quibble about, except possibly that the compressed versions look nearly the same on a small screen. The frame grabs give some idea of what one sees in the HQ versions.

The Blackmagic device might appeal to cinephiles prepared to invest in external recording devices, high-end lenses, and use entirely separate audio recording hardware. Large, uncompressed files might be "no problem" if your work is devoted to short ads with complex content, and if you invest in the requisite supplementary hardware. However, neither the BMC nor the FS100 have the form factor nor the all-in-one traits suitable to someone who does not shoot video often in structured scenes that use a tripod.

Thus, if one measures in terms of price, portability, and quality, the results favor the GH2. The GH3 is no worse, true, but it costs more and is not leagues ahead of the GH2 in terms of quality, or so it appears.

The VG900 results are disappointing: low (looks SD) resolution, moiré, sub-par DR, noise. Flawed adaptability of non-Sony lenses is also an issue.

Fellow (poor but proud!) paupers might have liked to see some <$1,000 cameras included in the test. Might it be possible to get nearly the same bang for a lot less buck? Anyway, Reid thought the VG900 looked worse than the NEX7, whose video some think is not quite as good as the NEX5n, which some dare say is no better than the RX100, which beats the old HX9V or new LX7 by a nose only in the dark. So, by none-too-wild deduction, maybe one does not need to spend a fortune on cameras, even though to be rich certainly helps in other respects.


I am not surprised with the results. And even if the NEX, Oly, Panasonic's at U$1,000 or less are used, I think we'd find that it's closer than many think.

What I wonder all the time in these fora is why people want the "best" or demand of it when the rest of the value chain isn't there to support it. People ask of the "best" camera, or output, or sd card, but then again, nobody really bothers to mention what they intend to use it for. Or what they have or willing to go to store, process, and view the output of the "best" they want.

In another thread,  a poster asked which camera has a "clean" HDMI output. Another worries about which is the fastest SD card. I am not saying we should not demand better equipment or better performance. What I am saying is getting the proper performance for the job/task or objective, with the expected output, budget, and capability of the editor to do it. Why would one ask for the "best" camera when one limits it at U$500? Or one wants the best camera with great video but will use it in rough situations? Another wants the best camera with hdmi to do multicam but failed to mention if he has the equipment to store, process, edit the file, or if he is willing to go that route as the expenses will surely mount beyond having just those cameras. He probably isn't also aware that he has to deal with sound recording, storing, syncing, editing as well.

In short, many here have unrealistic expectations. In fact, many think it is the hardware that is the solution. Maybe my standards are low, but I do operate within the bounds of my knowledge (which I can extend by reading, learning, experimenting), budget, time, and willingness to go a certain direction in video.  Even if I won the lotto or some big money in a powerball lottery, I wouldn't necessarily buy the most expensive gear and other ancialliary equipment that is needed to make it work. I am always goal oriented and I factor in other variables in making a decision.

This year, my Panasonic V700 videocam arrived. I know its limitations, its strengths, and what I intend to use it for. I just shot some low-mid end events with it, and my clients don't know any better if I had used more expensive gear. And that v700 can go in spots that a large camera can't. I can afford to get a VG20 or some other U$2,000-3,000 camera, but I think these are overkill for what I want to do. I could spread that amount to 2-3 cameras and get similar results. But then again, why get 2-3 cameras when I can do only with one?

That is why I think there is no "best" camera or gear. What is "best" is what will do what you want done within the ff standards:

- your existing equipment or what you intend to get to get the job done

- other side gear or software you need to get it done (lights, mics, software, computer, storage, etc).

- your budget

- your abilities (to shoot, edit,etc)

- time you are willing to work on it.

- the other people or skilled manpower you need to get it done.

- one's own physical, psychological, and mental well being

Many ignore these issues as if they contribute to the final output or the success of the project, task or goal. Without factoring these variables, the reality of what is needed to get things done is lost. Quite amazingly, many of the things we want done can be done even with the simplest equipment. There is equipment that is "just right" and "good enough" for our goals. The V700 is such a camera for me. Appropriate tools for the job or goal. Many here, however, seem to think of grand studio productions when all they intend to really have is shoot soccer kids, or some a play, or some modest project. I am not knocking people for getting expensive gear. It's their money. But to be ignorant of other cost of producing the output that one wants should be put in the proper perspective. This is what happens one wants "the best" gear.

The next video camera for me, will be the RX100. I thought about the NEX 5n or 5R or 6, but then again, I will go for the RX100 based on my own checklist. Are there other cameras better than it? Sure there are. But sometimes "good enough" is really the "best" solution. And surely, the RX100 is the bst for what I had in mind.

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