The Sony Alpha a6300 is creating quite a stir – Johnnie already posted his mini documentary film shot with the entry-level mirrorless camera from Sony, and we are working on a series of further lab tests with the camera to see its strengths and weaknesses. From the specs, the camera sounds almost too good to be true: 4K internal in XAVC S on an APS-C sized sensor for below $1,000. That’s about one third of the price of the popular low-light beast, the Sony a7S II. The low-light test shoot setup Many people who saw our first review asked how it performs in low light, particularly compared to the Sony a7S II. On a rainy miserable dark rainy winter night here in Vienna, I decided to put together a versatile yet unusual handheld setup that would make the camera as light sensitive as possible. With a Metabones Speed Booster E-EF and a Canon EF L 70-200mm IS II f/2.8 zoom lens, I was out shooting a few test shots in the city center at an effective f/2.0 (gaining one additional stop of light with the Speed Booster). The base ISO of this camera is 800, but I used ISOs between mostly 3200 and 25,600 and to my surprise, the low light capability of the camera is exceptional. I didn’t do a comparison to the a7S II but it’s very very clean up all the way to 25,600 ISO. Sony a6300 with Metabones Speed Booster and the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 Having the ability to use a Speed Booster on the Sony a6300 is a great gain because of its APS-C sized sensor, making the footage effectively look like it’s been shot on a full frame 35mm camera sensor, and adding over a stop of sensitivity. I decided to go handheld purely for practical reasons and this was not shot to win any beauty contests – I was trying to see harsh contrasts and deep shadows combined with bright lights at night, to stretch the sensor’s abilities. Please scroll down to watch an ungraded version of the UHD clip – you can also download it on Vimeo and have a play with yourself. (It’s encoded with 40MBit in H.264.) Noise reduction works differently Details of this will be highlighted in our upcoming lab tests, but we observed that the internal noise reduction of the camera seems to be working a little differently, calculating the difference between frames – which results in some ghosting with fast movement. This might be down to inferior processing power in the camera compared to the Sony a7S II. Ungraded version of the footage: Music from Music Bed: Paperchaser – The World We Made. If you find our reviews useful, please support us by buying through our links to B&H or CVP below this post. This gives us a tiny commission and keeps us going. Keeping this site running is never-ending hard work!Read more
We talked to Canon about their new 4 Million ISO camera, which goes by the melodious name of ME20F-SH, here at IBC 2015 in Amsterdam. It’s the first time the camera is being shown in real life. It has a very compact cubic form factor, which makes it very versatile for all sorts of applications, and it can be fully controlled remotely. It’s only 1080p with a Full Frame 35mm sensor, but at 19 microns, the pixels are very large, which makes them very light sensitive. The camera can shoot at up to 4,560,000 ISO and is definitely targeted at very specialist applications like nighttime wildlife shooting – which also justifies the price point of roughly $30K. It doesn’t have external recording but outputs via SDI and HDMI, 4:2:2 8-bit. Canon also says that it’s only available for a very select range of customers. It’s an unfair comparison because it’s targeted at a very different audience, but the Sony A7s (and the newly announced A7sII) cameras are about three stops less light sensitive. The footage that popped up on the Canon Japan website from the ME20F-SH shows a range of applications. Unfortunately it’s heavily compressed and therefore there is compression interference, but it still it looks clean until around 50,000 ISO as far as we can tell. However, this camera is something for wildlife filmmakers. From a personal perspective as a wildlife filmmaker, I once filmed Ethiopian hedgehogs in Qatar. Our main focus was to capture the moment the hedgehog gives birth, something that no one has ever been able to do, due to hedgehogs being prone to disturbance and causing infanticide after birth. The project took over 3 months, as we had to build a burrow out of fibre glass, specially designed to fit a camera and placed the burrow underground. We used fibre optical lights that ran into the burrow to light it up enough for the camera to see something. Over 3 months, we increased the light-level from complete darkness to a very little light-level, in order to habituate the hedgehog to its home. If we had the Canon Me20F-SH and its amazing low-light capabilities, we could have cut this time by at least a third if not more, not only saving us the amount of time to monitor the hedgehog’s behaviour, but also cutting production costs significantly.Read more
UPDATE (November 28): Canon pulled the update described below quickly after C300 owners discovered a weird color shift in their color balance. They have now released an updated version of that firmware update. Here are the facts: The new C300 firmware is now [November 28] available for download. CLICK HERE to download.Read more
Canon recently announced that they would release a major firmware upgrade for the popular C series line of their cameras (Canon C100 / C300 / C500) which would (among other things – read our detailed article here -) would unlock higher ISO values of up to ISO 80,000. So far, the camera topped out at a whopping ISO 20000. IBC 2013 – Canon C series High ISO from cinema5D on Vimeo. I have snuck a CF card into a Canon C500 on Canon’s IBC 2013 booth, where they have set up a dark room to demonstrate the high ISO’s. Of course they are hard to judge on the small screen and with Vimeo compression, so please head over to the Vimeo page and download the original ProRes footage via the Vimeo download link. Personally, I think this can be useful in extreme circumstances for documentary purposes, but of course these high ISO’s come at a price of highly noisy images – although it has to be said that the noise pattern is surprisingly even compared to the noise pattern we have gotten used to from older DSLR models. And that also means that it can be de-noised more easily (to a degree). In the end, it comes down to either getting a shot or not getting it at all. In the 2012 short film “Homophobia”, I have shot one scene at ISO 12,500 and even 20,000 on the Canon C300 simply because the daylight was disappearing quickly and there was no way we could reshoot the winter scene in the snow on another day, let alone light it to make it look like tusk. The scene shot at ISO 20,000 is around 09:00 in the short film – check it out, it’s come out remarkably clean after minor de-noising, and it really doesn’t stick out. With the bare eye it was almost impossible to see where you were walking, the camera already saw more with ISO 20,000. So it will be interesting to see where people will successfully use the ISO 80,000 … Here’s another test by SilvaStreet showing the ISO performance of the C100: https://vimeo.com/Read more
If anything the new Canon 5D mark III has created a lot of debate. Some call it a “massive failure“, others “the best camera you can spend $3,500 on“. What is true? We’ve had a 5D mark III for testing and having worked with HDSLR from the start I’d like to point out the most important plusses and minuses of the camera in this short review.Read more
This is a comparison of image detail between the new Canon 5D mark III, 7D and RED Scarlet-X @4K and @2K This test turned out pretty interesting: When comparing the image detail of Canon 5D mark III to RED Scarlet-X footage @ 2K mode, the 5D mark III matches and almost outperforms the Scarlet-X. (recorded 2K, scaled down to match HD)Read more
It’s Canon 5D mark III time! Here’s a quick comparison between the Canon 5D mark II and mark III at high ISO levels. This was the test setup:Read more
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