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
With just a month to go before the EPIC sensor upgrades begin, the first real world images from the RED EPIC DRAGON have been released. Mark Toia, a REDUser member was fortunate enough to get his hands on one of the first EPIC DRAGON cameras, and has released the above video. Mark reports that he’s received no input from Jim and the RED team, and that this test is completely impartial, and more of less straight out of the camera. Words from Mark: “Jim and Jarred have not pressured me in anyway (surprisingly enough) which was great… if there is a problem or it did not meet my expectations, then I decided I would share good and bad… So I’m glad they left me alone and a credit to them for trusting me…This is as basic a test as you can get, so there are no manipulated images… nothing went to Resolve or any other grading program other than RCX (REDCINE-X) No colour keying, no noise reduction, no nothing… This is as basic as it gets, straight out of the camera then into RCX for a very basic curve which was applied to a RED LOG film setting”Read more
Andrew Reid made this nice lowlight capability comparison between the new Canon 5D mark III, last year’s lowlight wonder the Sony FS100 and the all-time classic Panasonic GH2 camera. Three test scenes shot in dark rooms at a ex-factory building in the east of Berlin. Minimal lighting – in scene 1, pearly strip light, scene 2 is iPhone torch, scene 3 is a reflection of petrol station lights in a mirror. Lenses – Leica R 35 2.8,50 F2,90 2.8 (apart from scene 2 which is Samyang 24mm F1.4 on both cameras) The 5D Mark III used here is modified. The OLPF (anti-aliasing filter) and IR-cut filter is removed for a resolution increase bringing it closer to the Sony FS100 and Panasonic GH2. No sharpening in post required. Sharpening in-camera was turned off. All footage direct from card, no grading. Edited in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6. 1st scene is to test noise and resolution. 2nd scene is to test ISO 12,800 performance. 3rd scene is to test handling of highlight and noise in the lows via EOSHDRead more
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