The Sony Alpha a6300 is a new pocket-sized mirrorless camera that has some serious video potential on a budget. Johnnie reviewed the camera a few days ago and earlier today Nino published a lowlight test video. We’re currently looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the camera in our test lab and have decided to compare the Sony a6300 vs. Sony a7S II. For less than $1,000, we definitely weren’t sure what to expect from this camera. For the price range, decent 4K recording and an acceptable low light performance would have been great. However, numerous reviewers—ourselves included—have actually found that the Sony a6300 is performing brilliantly; in fact, it plays in the realm of cameras like the a7S II! Comparison: Sony a6300 vs. Sony a7S II Of course, no camera is without its flaws. That’s why we decided it is time to take a look at what the tradeoffs are when choosing to use the a6300, in an attempt to get an idea of just how good it is. For that, we needed a comparison point. Time for an exclusive a6300 vs. Sony a7S II article! Dynamic Range An often overlooked and a difficult attribute to quantify, I’ve decided to start by looking at the dynamic ranges at play in the a6300 vs. Sony a7S II debate. More often than not, we find that this is where many camera sensors fail to amaze—after all, a good dynamic range rating allows us to capture more shadows and highlights in hgh-contrast scenes. We’re testing with a DSC labs XYLA-21 transmissive test chart (more on how we test HERE). Our software measured about 11 stops on the Sony a6300, compared to about 12 stops on the Sony a7S II. Above you can observe the two shots subjectively. 11 stops is a good rating for a camera. Most professional cinema cameras nowadays get between 10-13 stops in our tests. Additionally, we see that the two cameras have very different noise characteristics. The Sony a6300 was shot at iso 800 (native) and there a stronger base noise than on the very clean A7S II. In this a6300 vs. Sony a7S II test, it is apparent just how clean the A7s II is, giving it the edge over the a6300. [Update:] However, the noise at base ISO on the Sony a6300 is no reason for concern. You should simply know, that you have less room for pushing the dark areas during grading. Another point to note is that, unlike the A7S II, the Sony a6300 has no difference in dynamic range between S-log2 and S-log3. However, the a6300 uses an 8-bit codec so we’d recommend avoiding S-log3 altogether; use S-log2. Lowlight and Noise Before we go any further, I have top say that we were very impressed during this stage of the test. So far, the a7S II is the camera which has shown the best low light capabilities of any camera that we have tested—and the Sony a6300 gets surprisingly close! The shots below are 100% crops from a dark area in our subjective test chart. We can see that both cameras retain detail at high ISOs. While the Sony a6300 is a bit grainy and has some minimal noise reduction artefacts, there is actually very little noise in the traditional sense—especially when the price is taken into consideration! Left: Sony a6300 Slog 2 | Right: Sony a7S II Slog 3 It seems as though there is intense noise reduction going on in the Sony a6300. Maybe this is how they managed to get such good lowlight results with this camera, even though the super35mm sensor used is much smaller than the Sony a7S II full-frame sensor and should be much more noisy. When we look at a moving image, the noise reminds me of the results of temporal noise reduction, which can be found in software like DaVinci Resolve. This algorithm calculates the difference in noise between adjacent frames. I’m not saying this is what’s happening here, but lowlight images show a kind of unnaturally slow moving noise, which might be an issue for some. Overall the lowlight behaviour is really impressive on this camera. It gets close to the performance of the Sony a7S II, though at ISO 25600 the Sony a7S II clearly retains more detail than the Sony a6300. Keep in mind that due to the sensor size you can use a Metabones Speed Booster and a full-frame lens with the Sony a6300 and win another stop in lowlight. This is what Nino did during his Sony a6300 lowlight test. Image Quality Here is a blown up shot of a tube test chart. On this chart fine lines get closer and closer together. This way we can see when aliasing kicks in or, in other words, when detail can no longer be correctly resolved on the vertical axis. What we see is that the Sony a6300 resolves similar fine detail as the Sony a7S II. The Sony FS7 obviously produces a cleaner image in terms of aliasing but that is to be expected. Codec Compression Artefacts on the Sony a7S II What we also noticed in this chart, however, is that the codec compression on the Sony a6300 is much better than on the Sony a7S II which eventually leads to a much cleaner image on the a6300 (look at the number “25” above). The Sony a7S II image falls apart and doesn’t resolve contrast details very well. Images like the one above look mushy and clouded due to some problem in the compression algorithm of the camera. The Sony a6300 doesn’t have this problem and is the winner in the a6300 vs. Sony a7S II comparison in this regard. One thing to note though is that there is a slight in-camera sharpening on the Sony a6300 even though “detail” was set all the way to the lowest number and there is a slight magenta tint in all shots. Rolling Shutter As mentioned in our initial review, unfortunately the rolling shutter effect (also referred to as “jello”) is quite terrible on the Sony a6300. In fact, with a readout speed of about 34 milliseconds from top to bottom, it is the most severe rolling shutter we have ever measured on a camera! Even worse than the Samsung NX1’s 30ms. In comparison, the Sony a7S II has about 25 milliseconds and the Sony FS7 has 14. Less is better. HD Images and Slow Motion 100% crop | Image Resolution in Full HD Sadly, this is another point where the Sony a6300 fails. The camera can shoot in full HD resolution, but the image is very soft and dirty in terms of aliasing. The Sony a7S II is much closer to the quality of the original a7S. The Sony a6300 can shoot slow motion up to 120fps in full HD. A crop of about 80% of the sensor is used in this mode. Unfortunately, the quality is almost identical to the one observed in HD mode at normal recording speeds—and in both modes, low light performance isn’t great. Sony a6300 vs. Sony a7S II Conclusion All in all, the Sony a6300 is a truly surprising camera. Who would have thought that a budget camera would perform so well when compared to the quality of the highly recommended Sony A7S II? When we compare the Sony a6300 vs. Sony a7S II, we see that the latter has slightly better quality in terms of dynamic range and low light capabilities, but the Sony a6300 certainly excels when it comes to fine image details and sharpness. Only the rolling shutter of this camera is below expectations and the HD quality is, for all intents and purposes, not recommended which makes the camera less suited for broadcast use. Overall, we’d say: Stay away from this camera if you are looking for a good HD mode and if you do lots of fast handheld shots, as the rolling shutter may become too apparent. Besides those two points, if you are looking for a camera that shoots great 4K with a quality that matches the Sony a7S II, at a much lower price-point and the form-factor of a small pocket camera, then the a6300 is a great pick. In combination with a Metabones Speed Booster, this is probably the best affordable 4K camera on the market right now—highly recommended! [UPDATE:] Note that we have not tested NTSC 30p mode. Other testers report that in 30p the camera will crop the image and give you more noise and worse lowlight performance, but better rolling shutter. If you require 30p we recommend you test the camera before you buy.Read more
After Leica first entered the video market last year, the Leica SL is their second attempt at a 4K camera that is aimed at filmmakers. But is this camera ready for primetime filmmaking? Just like many other cinema cameras currently on the market we have assessed its qualities in our test lab and in this part 2 of our Leica SL review we will show you how it performed. The Leica SL raised our hopes when it was introduced last October. A camera with Leica’s reputation in photography, that shoots 4K and outputs 10-bit 4:2:2 video with slow motion in HD at up to 120 frames per second. Nice. The 10 bit option is just what we’re missing on other mirrorless cameras currently available. It seems only the price of the Leica SL sours the mood. In this lab test we found some reasons for concern on the Leica SL, but there are also good things to say. The organic image quality of this camera stands out, while lowlight performance and dynamic range could be improved. Check out our real world Leica SL Review Part 1 HERE For this test we used the latest available firmware (V1.2) and the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm F/2.8-4.0 lens. Note: We were not able to use the Zeiss 50mm CP2 T/2.1 makro lens, which we have used to test the other cameras mentioned in this article. At the time of the review there was no compatible adapter available by Leica. Due to the nature of this particular test, the influence on the verdicts of this variation is minor, but must be noted. Dynamic Range Let’s start with dynamic range. A very important attribute of a camera sensor that is often overlooked and hard to measure. More often than not we find that this is where many camera sensors fail to amaze. The Leica SL is no exception. We’re testing with a DSC labs XYLA-21 transmissive test chart (More on how we test HERE). In the chart above you can see the performance of the different cameras. The Leica only reaches a bit more than 9 usable stops of dynamic range between ISO 50 and ISO 400, while ISO 400 is slightly lower than 9 stops. (Avoid ISO 200 if possible, slight sensor pattern) The way the camera processes the image is very very strange. The log file here looks unlike anything we’ve seen and it is necessary to overexpose in order to get your image in a “safe place”, as from a certain point in your mid-tones noise appears with sensor patterns and then the image very quickly drops into pitch black. A very unnatural looking log gamma. In practice this means it’s very hard to expose correctly with this camera. When your scene has too much contrast you will very easily over or underexpose and if you make a mistake your shots can easily be ruined. We even had troubles to expose a normal test chart. Leica needs to address the way the image is processed. Something seems wrong here. ISO and Noise As mentioned above there is a lot of noise in the dark areas on recordings from this camera. This wouldn’t be so bad was the dynamic range not so limited, as this means your dark areas start where the mid tones start on other cameras. ISO 400 is as high as you should go on this camera at any time. The reason for this is that starting with ISO 800 a very strange looking noise reduction kicks in that cannot be disabled. You will not want this kind of noise reduction in your shots as it ruins any detail in mid tones and dark areas. This also needs to be addressed by Leica. Leica SL – Automatic Noise Reduction at ISO 800 External 10 bit? According to the press release in Ultra-HD (3840×2160) resolution the camera outputs 10bit 4:2:2 via HDMI. Indeed we could record an image at this size to the Atomos Shogun. The upside here is that before rec is triggered (when the camera is on standby) the automatic noise reduction, mentioned above, does not kick in yet, so you get images above ISO 400 without the horrible noise reduction. The dynamic range did not increase on external recordings. Also we did not notice a significant increase in video quality on the external HDMI feed vs. the internal 100mbit H.264 8bit recording. We were not able to test wether there is a true increase in bitrate. There are some hardly noticeable compression artefacts on the internal recording, but the video looks identical, also during heavy grading. Image Quality Yes, there’s also something positive to say. At the right ISO speeds and contrast, image quality of the Leica SL is superb. The noise looks very organic, the compression is significantly better than on the Sony a7S II and the true 4K (24fps only) image looks stunning and clean. 400% crop: Horizontal Resolution / Detail (Red Line is where resolution tops out) The chart above is a comparison of horizontal resolution. The Leica SL was shot at 4K, all other cameras at UHD resolution. When we see this image at its original size we notice the following: The Leica SL produces the most natural looking and clean image, no aliasing is visible, very natural looking noise. The Sony FS7 has more detail and less noise, but also produces some unnatural aliasing. The Leica SL is on par in terms of detail / resolution with the Samsung NX1 and Sony a7S II. The Sony a7S II image looks least clean (lots of compression artefacts and some aliasing) You should know, that this is really pixel peeping here with a 400% crop. You will not notice a resolution difference when played back at 1080p. But one thing is for sure: The clean image of the Leica SL stands out and reminds us of how the Arri AMIRA captures light (see image below, 300% crop, contrast slightly matched), but the colours seem less accurate (notice the red). Rolling Shutter Rolling shutter behaviour on the Leica SL is about 22ms which is very similar to most other mirrorless and DSLR cameras, a bit better than the Sony a7S II, but significantly worse than the Sony FS7 for example. Conclusion This camera is very interesting. Personally I was at first very put off by the limited dynamic range and weird automatic noise reduction starting at ISO 800. But the organic, clean images the camera can produce in the right shooting environment and the well compressed video files are something to note and will have a significant impact on the look of your films. When Johnnie shot his nice Leica SL Review Video I could see him struggle to get the camera working with the dynamic range and ISO limitations, but I could also see his positive surprise when he saw how nice the footage had turned out. We all thought that there was clearly a more neutral and organic feel to it than on a Sony a7S II for example. This lab test confirms those observations. There are many things speaking against this camera. Not only the limited dynamic range and bad lowlight performance, but also the high price and closed off Leica eco system are a problem. Once proper adapters for a wide range of lenses become available and if the price goes down, this camera could become a serious alternative to some other large sensor video systems, especially on shoots with controlled lighting. We’re looking forward to the next Leica and possible firmware updates. Thank you LEICA STORE WIEN for supplying the camera and lens.Read more
We’ve been testing the new mirrorless Sony alpha a7 and Sony alpha a7R cameras that come with very promising new features dedication to video. Here’s a quick and dirty resolution comparison of the video function between these two and our all time favourite the Canon 5D mark III. When you watch the video you can clearly see the differences between the cameras. Some initially thought the higher resolution of the a7R versus the a7 would increase the video quality. This is true, but the test reveals that this difference is ever so tiny that it can hardly be noticed. When compared to the 5D mark III on the other hand we can see that the aliasing and moiré of the a7 as well as the a7R is pretty severe, probably similar to that of Canon DSLR’s like the 7D or TxI line. On the left you can see the rig I used to make an accurate rolling shutter comparison. This revealed that the rolling shutter on the 5D mark III is much stronger than on the a7’s. Is this a good thing? Yes it is. But the rolling shutter seems to be something most people take less severe as an argument against a camera. The settings on both a7’s were the “Neutral” picture profile with everything turned down to -3. The same goes for the 5D mark III which had the “Neutral” picture profile and contrast/saturation/sharpness all the way down to 0. There was no grading applied except for the last shot. What I found really great about the Sony a7 was its oled viewfinder. This thing is truly amazing. I wish more cameras had this kind of technology implemented, or the A7’s had a cleaner image. In terms of functionality it’s not a bad camera by Sony. For more info check out Johnnie Behiri’s review. Song kindly provided by themusicbed Windmills – Creating Something BeautifulRead more
B&H offers a very interesting deal on the Canon EOS 7D body that expires today. Regardless of the meaning of this huge sale here’s a chance to get a new 7D at a very affordable price. Why this deal is interesting even though the new & cheaper EOS T4i/650D (Review here: LINK) offers some better features and the identical feature: Because Canon announced a significant firmware update for the 7D that will bring manual audio during recording. Scheduled for August: LINK And because Mosaic Engineering released their anti aliasing filter that impressed us and shows that the 7D still has balls. Review here: LINK Canon 7D for $1345 (only today) at B&HRead more
Mirrors are not the only thing an HDSLR shooter doesn’t need. Here’s a reason to think differently about depth of field. You can download the file and watch it in full quality. Over the last months Johnnie Behiri used the Nikon’s new flagship HDSLR, the D4, to shoot this image video about the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. While some few shots were done on other HDSLR’s the majority came from the D4 and in particular from the D4’s 2.7x crop mode. What is that mode? It only uses a 1920×1080 pixels crop of the sensor. The result is much more depth of field (less blurry background) but also a very crisp, moire and aliasing free image.Read more
Here’s some more test footage from the new Canon 650D by Johnnie Behiri. Unfortunately no other word on the clean hdmi out he revealed this week. From the vimeo page: The camera is very easy and pleasant to use. Picture quality is identical to the more expensive (but older) 7D. The real news with this camera (beside the AF which I was not able to test) is the clean HDMI output, a first ever in any Canon VDSLR. It is yet to be seen if in the final camera firmware it will be 100% usable and functional. You can DOWNLOAD the source file here. -No color correction -Editing software, Premiere CS2 with Cineform engine On a sidenote: The new 40mm f2.8 STM (video autofocus) pancake lens is now available: LINKRead more
Remember when we first heard about the Mosaic Engineering anti-aliasing / anti-moiré filter for 5D mark II in August of 2011? What a great invention that would solve our biggest problem with HDSLR. Now that the 5D mark III is out, healed from moiré problems, people have a good reason to upgrade, but then there’s the issue with the price: The 5D mark III is $3500, hefty for many HDSLR shooters. How good that the guys over at Mosaic Engineering have now officially started selling their filter for the 7D: The VAF-7D. This upgrade will set you back by $325, but put you into the aliasing and moiré free realm of the mark III. Versions for the Nikon D800, T2i/T3i and 60D are in production. LINK: Mosaic Engineering StoreRead more
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