The Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K is a truly affordable cinema camera with impressive specs that houses Blackmagic’s newest sensor. When it was announced last year, Blackmagic Design once again won many filmmakers over. Now that the camera has started shipping, there are many positive, but also some negative voices. Let’s take a look at the guts of the 4K vs 4.6K Blackmagic URSA Mini cinema camera in our lab. Comparison: Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K vs 4.6K On the outside these two cameras look identical. Inside the body they probably also share most of the same innards. What really differentiates one from the other is mostly the sensor as far as we can tell. The 4K sensor on the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K is the same that was used on the large URSA camera and on the Blackmagic Production Camera. The new 4.6K sensor is 15% larger and similar in size to the ARRI Alexa and Canon C300 mark II sensors. We will focus on testing several aspects of sensor performance and evaluate the image quality. To make this review fair, we will also throw the popular Sony FS7 into the mix as an additional reference camera. A look at the Specs Specs-wise these cameras are virtually identical. Both shoot up to 60fps in 4K. The main difference lies in their maximum resolution and sensor size. The fact that these cameras shoot in all flavours of the Apple ProRes codec, as well cinemaDNG RAW is their big plus. It is, in fact, an aspect where all Blackmagic cameras have an advantage over most other low-cost cinema cameras on the market. Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K Max Resolution: 4K (4000 x 2160) Max Framerate 4K: 60fps Max Framerate HD: 60fps Log Gamma: Film Log Sensor: Aps-C (21.12 x 11.88 mm) Mount: Canon EF or PL Codec Bitrate 4K: up to ProRes 444 XQ – 312.5 MB/s Price: About $3000 Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K Max Resolution: 4.6K (4608 x 2592) Max Framerate 4K: 60fps Max Framerate HD: 120fps (windowed) Log Gamma: Film Log Sensor: Super35 (25.34 x 14.25 mm) Mount: Canon EF or PL Codec Bitrate 4K: up to ProRes 444 XQ – 312.5 MB/s Price: About $5000 Dynamic Range A good dynamic range rating allows us to capture a larger range of shadows and highlights in high-contrast scenes, an important property when it comes to comparing the URSA Mini 4K vs 4.6K and one where a main difference will become apparent. We’re testing with a DSC labs XYLA-21 transmissive test chart. For our dynamic range tests we use the Zeiss 50mm Cp2 macro lens (more on how we test HERE). Our software measured about 12 stops of usable dynamic range on the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K (RAW). This is very similar to the rating of the a7S II and C300 mark II. [Update:] How we tested: We measured dynamic range using uncompressed RAW with an ISO of both 800 and 1600. We decoded the files in DaVinci Resolve 12.5 with BMD Film 4.6K Gamma applied. We also tested dynamic range with Apple ProRes 422 HQ and had the same results. Here’s a screenshot of the dynamic range of a few popular cameras compared. In comparison to the URSA Mini 4.6K, our software measured about 8.5 stops of usable dynamic range on the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K (RAW). The Sony FS7 reaches 12.5 stops. For each camera there are different reasons why the dynamic range is limited. The Sony FS7 image seems to become unstable in the lower stops due to processing. There is noise reduction which cancels out noise, but it’s also apparent that we quickly loose detail in the darker areas. The URSA Mini 4K simply doesn’t capture as much dynamic range as the other cameras. The URSA Mini 4.6K would have potential for more stops of range, but noise becomes stronger in the dark areas. Unfortunately there is a lot of pattern noise there, more than on the 4K, which makes darker areas of the image less usable. Here is a shot of the darker steps (11, 12, 13 and 14). Step 13 and 14 were not counted as valid range by our software, because there is too much noise. See the same image with raised gamma for better viewing below. Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K – Pattern Noise in Dynamic Range Step 11, 12, 13 and 14. Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K – Pattern Noise with raised Gamma ISO? The Blackmagic URSA Mini cameras are not strong when it comes to low light performance. In comparison, the FS7 has a greater range in terms of ISO. On the URSA Mini 4K there are only three settings: 200, 400, and 800. The URSA Mini 4.6K goes up to ISO 1600. In our tests we found that there is little difference in image quality when comparing all of the ISO speeds available on a single camera. It might seem so at first because the image gets brighter with higher ISOs, but in reality the lower ISO speeds merely cut off the image video range. In other words, the same image only gets coded differently at different ISO speeds, seemingly without any difference in processing whatsoever. That’s why we recommend to use the full video range in ProRes, in order to get the best color gradations. This can be achieved by using ISO 400 or 800 on the URSA Mini 4K and ISO 800 or 1600 on the URSA Mini 4.6K. When exposing your image, though, make sure that you do not underexpose the image, as it will look brighter with the higher ISO setting (800 on 4K and 1600 on 4.6K). If you want the best quality, overexpose your image so you don’t get the noise from the darker areas into your shot, but be careful about highlight clipping. The lower ISO speeds (200 and 400 on the 4.6K) should be avoided. [Update:] In order to get the most range out of our footage, Blackmagic recommends rating the cameras at their native ISO, which is 400 on the 4K, and 800 on the 4.6K, and then processing the RAW files using the latest version of DaVinci Resolve with BMD Film 4K and BMD Film 4.6K Gamma applied to the RAW decode. In RAW mode, ISO can be selected during the decoding process. We found that a setting of ISO 800 gives you the best starting point to grade. Image Quality In terms of image quality, the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K and 4.6K are highly regarded due to their codecs. The following images were taken from URSA Mini RAW files, the Sony FS7 with its native codec and the Fuji XT-2 mirrorless camera with an external recorder: 100% crops (except the 4.6K downscaled to 4K) What we can clearly see here is that the Sony FS7 and Fujifilm X-T2 have a cleaner image when it comes to fine details. The URSA Mini 4.6K and 4K, on the other hand, show a little bit of a moire pattern on fine lines due to aliasing. The resolution of the Sony FS7 UHD image seems similar to that of the URSA 4.6K RAW image downscaled to 4K in terms of how much detail they resolve. When we compare the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K vs 4.6K we see that the URSA Mini 4.6K resolves more detail than the 4K. The same is true when we compare a recording in 4K resolution on the URSA Mini 4.6K, to a 4.6K image on the same camera. But image quality is not a thing that is black and white. Here you can see how the different cameras treat a natural object, as opposed to test chart stars: Contrast on all images above has been adjustedfor a rough match. Interestingly the image coming from the Sony FS7 seem much softer. Add some sharpening to the FS7 image, though, and you will find that the image gets much closer to the way the URSA Mini images look. In conclusion, I would say that the codec of the FS7 is its weakest point, but the image looks cleaner than the one from the URSA Mini 4K and 4.6K. All in all, the URSA Mini 4K and 4.6K have a similar looking image, though the 4K wanders off into a slight green tint while the 4.6K looks more magenta. There is a certain amount of noise in the shadow areas on both cameras, and the image is slightly sharpened in-camera. But the look is very natural and colours are quite neutral. [UPDATE:] Here is a version of only the Sony FS7 image, graded and sharpened to match the URSA Mini processed RAW images above. Here you can see that the detail is very similar, but also how the codec easily falls apart on some portions of the image. The image is more stable and ready to grade on the URSA Mini’s: Sony FS7 image graded and post sharpened to match the URSA Mini 4.6K Rolling Shutter Some cameras, like the Sony a7S II, suffer from a severe rolling shutter effect, a phenomenon also referred to as “jello”. Unfortunately, the rolling shutter that we see on most CMOS sensor cameras is also present on the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K and Sony FS7. As we can see, the rolling shutter on the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K is identical to the one we found on the Sony FS7. 11ms is an OK rating when it comes to rolling shutter. On most mirrorless cameras the effect is more severe. The Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K however gets the best rating, as it has a global shutter sensor that does not suffer from the rolling shutter effect at all. RAW vs ProRes When comparing the codecs on the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K vs 4.6K we found that ProRes generally gives us exceptional results. RAW is a very nice option and should in theory extends bit depth of your files to give you finer gradations. We did not test this. Dynamic range is not increased when using RAW, however. [Update:] We have compared gradations on a RAW and ProRes file and we can confirm that RAW increases the bit depth. So if you want the best filmic look for heavy color grading, we recommend to use the RAW option on this camera. Conclusion It was truly interesting to take a closer look at the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K in comparison to the URSA Mini 4K camera. We saw that the dynamic range of the URSA Mini 4.6K is similar to the FS7. It is a vast improvement over the URSA Mini 4K, which really lacked behind on this point. On the other hand, the URSA Mini 4K has a global shutter sensor and thus doesn’t suffer from rolling shutter effect at all. In terms of image quality, the URSA Mini 4.6K delivers a really nice image with balanced colors and a natural look. The URSA Mini 4K clearly comes from the same family of sensors, but has a slight green tint. There is slight aliasing on both the 4K and 4.6K when we compare it to the FS7, though, and noise kicks in quickly if you are not careful. Both cameras are no lowlight wonders, but there is an improvement on the 4.6K. [UPDATE:] Also, the 4.6K can shoot up to 120fps in windowed HD. The most striking argument for the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K is clearly its dynamic range. It also has a sensor 20% larger in size and an extra of 0.6K in resolution, which most will deem marginal in a world of 4K, UHD or HD delivery. If dynamic range is important to you, then the URSA Mini 4K probably does not have what you want. But besides this point, both these cameras are very similar. In our opinion, for those shooting in studios, there is no good reason to upgrade to the 4.6K at this time. Everyone else will probably welcome the extra filmic quality the URSA Mini 4.6K can achieve. Would I consider shooting on the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K? Absolutely yes. With its high bit depth and natural looking image it will deliver high quality 4K with a high codec quality. There are other good and comparable cameras, but when it comes to film aesthetics and if you put quality control issues aside, then there is not much that will take you this far at the low pricepoint of the 4.6K. What is your experience with the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K vs 4.6K? Let us know your opinion in the comments.Read more
The Fujifilm X-T2 mirrorless camera is quickly becoming a candidate as the new gold standard in affordable 4K video. But will it be replacing the famous Sony a7S II as the best mirrorless video camera for cinematic shooting? Fujifilm X-T2 – Best Mirrorless Video Quality? Video shooters live in good times. Every few months, a new video shooting mirrorless camera rocks the market and gives us better cinema-like quality and features. Last year, the Sony a7S II quickly became the best mirrorless video camera you could get, with a nice 4K image, numerous useful video features and impressive lowlight performance. Just two weeks ago, the Panasonic GH5 was announced and raised the bar once more with its specs, offering internal 4:2:2 10bit in 4K, though this camera will only see the light of day in 2017. For now, the Fujifilm X-T2 has landed on our desk and stands a serious contender against the Sony a7s II as the new gold standard. Let’s take a look. We recently tested the Fujifilm X-T2 in a documentary style situation (check out our review). Few people expected that this camera would be quite so interesting for both photographers as well as video shooters. This is only Fujifilm’s first attempt at implementing 4K video into one of their mirrorless cameras, yet they got a lot of things right, and even since our review some new features have been implemented via a firmware update: Now you can get extended dynamic range (H-2, S-2) when recording internally. Comparison: Fujifilm X-T2 vs. Sony a7S II Both the Fujfilm X-T2 as well as the Sony a7S II are designed as mirror-less cameras in a photo body. The Fujifilm X-T2 has the Fuji X-Mount and houses an APS-C sized sensor. The Sony a7S II has the Sony E-mount and houses a full-frame sensor. There are fans for both sensor sizes, but in terms of the lens-mount, there are only a few adapters for Fuji right now, while there are many options for Sony E. This could change in the future, if user interest for Fuji X-Mount adapters rises. In our cinema5D Test Lab we have tested and compared many cameras. In this review we will take a closer look at how the Fujifilm X-T2 sensor performs in comparison to the one in the Sony a7S II. Fujifilm X-T2: Max Resolution: 4K UHD Max Framerate 4K: 29.97fps Max Framerate HD: 59.94 Log Gamma: F Log Sensor: Aps-C Mount: Fuji X Codec Bitrate 4K: 105mbit Price: About $1600 Sony a7S II: Max Resolution: 4K UHD Max Framerate 4K: 29.97fps Max Framerate HD: 120fps Log Gamma: Slog2 & Slog3 Sensor: Full-Frame Mount: Sony E Codec Bitrate: 95mbit Price: About $3000 Use the Fujifilm X-T2 with “F Log” The Fujifilm X-T2 has some unique properties, most notably “F Log”, Fujifilm’s very own log gamma setting that creates the most neutral and natural image with the highest dynamic range. Unlike the Sony a7S II which records Slog 2 (or Slog 3) internally, Fujifilm has restricted F Log to external recorders. Why did Fujifilm decide to do that? We actually talked to Jun Watanabe from Fujifilm about this recently, and it seems that they are open to implementing internal F Log should user interest be there (see the whole interview here). Considering that the Fujifilm X-T2 comes at half the price of the Sony a7S II, and how beautiful the X-T2 image is (more on that later), it’s still quite a valid option to connect a $1300 external recorder (eg: Atomos Ninja Flame) to it, in order to get that nice 4:2:2 8bit F Log image in 4K. The Fujifilm XT-2 has a micro hdmi connection to output F Log in 4K to external recorders. Back at the editing desk you will notice that the XT-2 has the same problems when it comes to external recording as the Sony a7S II in Slog2 gamma. In practice, this means you will lose 1 stop of dynamic range unless you find a way to turn those video levels into their proper values. This can be done with our Slog FIX LUT either during recording or in post with no quality loss (Get it here). Flip out lcd monitor on the Fujifilm XT-2 If you use this camera for internal recording only, the X-T2 also offers some very nice film simulations (picture profiles) and still has very good image quality. But if you are dependent on a Log gamma for your post workflow, you will need an external recorder. We hope Fujfilm will include internal F Log in a future firmware update. Dynamic Range A good dynamic range rating allows us to capture a larger range of shadows and highlights in high-contrast scenes. An important property when it comes to evaluating the best mirrorless video camera. We’re testing with a DSC labs XYLA-21 transmissive test chart. For this review we used the Fujifilm 56mm F/1.2 lens instead of the Zeiss 50mm Cp2 macro (more on how we test HERE). Our software measured about 12 stops of usable dynamic range on the Fujifilm X-T2. This is very similar to the rating of the Sony a7S II and Canon C300 mark II. Here’s a screenshot of the dynamic range of a few popular cameras compared. Usable Dynamic Range (SNR 1/0.5) – Blacks adjusted in the chart above for your convenience. 12 stops is very a good rating for a cinema camera. Many videographers today praise the Canon C300 mark II for its dynamic range qualities and when we take a closer look, the Fujifilm X-T2 isn’t far behind. High end cinematic productions still use the Arri ALEXA, as it outperforms all other cameras we have tested with its 14 stops of usable range. Image Quality This is where the Fujifilm X-T2 blows away most other cameras we have tested. The image of the X-T2 is very homogenous, clean and has a high resolution that dissolves lots of detail with a nice filmic grain. In the shot below you can see that the Fujfilm XT-2 offers slightly more detail than the Sony a7S II and seems to have better aliasing properties than both the Canon C300 mark II and Panasonic VariCam 35: Image resolution. 100% crops from 4K images In the star graphic above, the a7S II and X-T2 look very similar. However, when you compare the image detail of other shots of the X-T2 vs a7S II (see below), you quickly see that the Fujifilm X-T2 always produces cleaner and more accurate shots: Image detail. 100% crops from 4K images In practice, of course most users will downscale their images to HD, and for this purpose all mentioned cameras perform admirably. Still, the kind of quality you get out of the Fujfilm X-T2 is impressive and leaves even our beloved Sony a7SII behind. This is also true for internal recordings and certainly makes the XT-2 one of the best mirrorless video camera when it comes to image quality in 4K. The only comparable camera in this field is the wonderful Sony a6300 (see our test here). the a6300 however has strong weaknesses in other areas. Despite the lack of internal F Log, as mentioned earlier, the Fujifilm X-T2 comes with a variety of film simulating picture profiles in-camera. This is a very nice feature that we haven’t seen on any other camera yet. Others do offer “video picture profiles”, but none of them simulate filmic colors and contrast. Here are two different film simulations, recorded internally (105mbit H.264): Fujifilm X-T2 colors. 100% crops from 4K images As you can see image quality is just as impressive for internal recordings as it is when recording external 4K with an Atomos Ninja Assasin, like we did, or any other external 4K recorder. And HD Quality? Image quality in HD is not as impressive as in 4K mode. It is comparable to the Sony a7S II, but unfortunately there is also a lot of aliasing which creates lots of moire artefacts in contrasty image areas. The Sony a7S II performs better there and also offers 120fps, while the X-T2 only reaches 60fps. Below is a shot of the star chart and sieve comparing HD on both cameras: 100% crops of HD image Best Settings for Video on the Fujifilm X-T2 Fujifilm X-T2 Settings Menu Accessible via the “Q” button. Sharpness Sharpness should always be set to -4. Otherwise artificial sharpening is added in-camera and gives you a video-ish look. If needed, you can also add sharpness in post. H-Tone and S-Tone These two settings add a smooth highlight and shadow rolloff and increase the dynamic range of your image when set to -2 and -2. This was recently enabled via a new firmware update. Film Simulation There are several film simulation settings available for in-camera looks. Try them. We liked their “Ns” setting best. All other settings (besides “white balance” which you set as needed) should be left untouched for best results. You should always shoot in 4K and downsample as needed later on, to get the best results. Rolling Shutter The Sony a7S II suffered from severe rolling shutter effect, a phenomenon also referred to as “jello”. Unfortunately, the rolling shutter that we see on most CMOS sensor video cameras is also present on the Fujifilm X-T2, but in comparison it is less pronounced than on the a7S II. Lowlight The Sony a7S II is an absolute miracle when it comes to lowlight performance. In comparison, the Fujifilm can’t reach the same high ISO’s but holds up well until ISO 3200, which is not bad in comparison to other mirrorless video cameras. Unfortunately, beyond that the X-T2 should be used with caution, because there is heavy and visible noise reduction going on that does not even look nice when downsampled to HD. We wish it could be disabled. The following shot compares the Fujifilm X-T2 in F Log (ISO 800) and Sony a7S II in Slog 2 (ISO 1600) at both their base ISO’s and then at higher ISO’s. 100% crop from 4K image The a7S II retains image detail much better up until high ISO’s. This is especially visible in motion. Conclusion If you thought the Fujifilm X-T2 is just another ordinary attempt by a stills manufacturer to implement video as an additional selling point, then you were wrong. This small mirrorless camera shows us how image detail and an organic in-camera look is supposed to be executed and in our opinion brings it into the class of best mirrorless video cameras. The 4K (UHD) image from the Fujfilm X-T2 is nicer and cleaner than that of the Sony a7S II, and outperforms our favourite low cost 4K camera in the rolling shutter test while achieving the same dynamic range rating of 12 usable stops. When it comes to HD quality and frame rates, internal log recording and lowlight, the Sony a7S II still has the upper hand. Considering the availability of E-mount adapters for Sony, available accessories (like the Sony XLR-K2M audio module) and the compatibility of the Slog 2 gamma, the a7S II currently remains our camera of choice and holds the position of best mirrorless video camera. For those interested in the built-in film simulation, outstanding stills camera performance and superb image quality at half the price of the a7S II, the Fujfilm X-T2 should be a clear winner. Whichever you choose, both are outstanding cameras that leave most competition behind. Only the Sony a6300 is another camera you should look at if the budget is tight (see our a6300 review here). We hope this review helped you. Please consider getting your gear from one of our recommended retailers and let us know your thoughts in the comments.Read more
The Canon 1D X mark II is Canon’s latest flagship DSLR and it also shoots video. We were curious to find out how good its 4K capabilities really are: after all, it shoots up to 60p in full resolution. Johnnie reviewed the camera a few days ago, and here’s our Canon 1D X mark II vs. Canon 1D C lab test. It is Canon’s first official “photo camera” that shoots 4K video. The company has been quite reluctant to offer high quality video in their photo products since they separated the professional cinema video segment a few years ago. Ever since then, we have seen Canon’s cinema line cameras like the Canon C300 mark II popping up at very high prices, making many entry level enthusiasts switch to Sony. Comparison: Canon 1D X Mark II vs. Canon 1D C From the outside these two cameras look very much alike, and basically all buttons are in the same position. You might wonder: why does the 1D C (“C” as in Cinema Line) have the same layout as the 1D X (a stills camera). But this article is about the X, a photo camera that might, yet again, take the place of a video camera. On its own, we know by now that the Canon 1D X mark II produces some very nice 4K video. But how good is it really? With the 1D C as a benchmark, let’s put it to the test. We will also throw the popular Sony a7S II into the mix as a second reference. Dynamic Range This is an attribute that is often overlooked, and that is difficult to measure properly. A good dynamic range rating allows us to capture more shadows and highlights in high-contrast scenes. We’re testing with a DSC labs XYLA-21 transmissive test chart and the Zeiss 50mm Cp2 macro (more on how we test HERE). Our software measured about 11 stops of usable dynamic range on the Canon 1D X mark II. This is very similar to the rating of the Canon 1D C, and just under the 12 stops of the Sony a7S II. You can observe the two Canon shots side by side in the image below. Dynamic Range of Canon 1D X mark II vs Canon 1D C 11 stops is a good rating for a camera. Most professional cinema cameras nowadays get between 10-13 stops in our tests. For example, the Canon C300 mark II is a camera that, in addition to us pointing out the horizontal strip that appears on overexposed portions of images, we rated at about 12 stops of usable dynamic range. This is about 2 stops weaker than the Arri ALEXA, which we rated at about 14 stops, as does the manufacturer. Lowlight Directly related to dynamic range is lowlight performance. The Canon 1D C performs quite well in that regard, and we could see that the Canon 1D X mark II did not keep up at the same ISO speeds. However, if you look at the image above, you will see that in order to film the test chart the Canon 1D C had to be set to F/5.6, while the 1D X mark II needed F/11.0. In other words, the ISO rating is in favour of the 1D X mark II. Everything taken into consideration I would say the lowlight performance is quite similar. The Canon 1D X mark II should be used with caution beyond ISO 6400 and produces a bit more colour noise than the 1D C. Image is 1 stop underexposed, to see the difference The image above is about 1 stop underexposed. Notice how the different ISOs give us more or less the same results. This might also be due to the picture profile I used. I used C log on the Canon 1D C, which Canon decided to leave out of the 1D X mark II. In order to get a good flat image for better colour grading, I installed the Technicolor Cinestyle on the 1DX. Lowlight performance is very similar, but the 1D C seems to have a slight edge over the 1D X. In comparison, the Sony a7S II has better lowlight performance. Image Quality Here is a blown-up shot of a tube test chart, in which the fine lines get closer and closer together to show when aliasing kicks in. In other words, it serves to analyse the point where sensors can no longer resolve detail correctly on the vertical and horizontal axis. What we see is that the Canon 1DX mark II resolves similar fine detail as the Canon 1D C, possibly slightly better and is also very close to the Sony aS7 II. In terms of compression, the Canon cameras are much better than the Sony. The Sony a6300 would be more in line with Canon in terms of compression artefacts. Unfortunately, the HD mode of the Canon 1D X mark II is really disappointing. Aliasing is strong and the image is very soft. It can hardly be considered an HD image and is barely suitable for an old tube television. The Canon 1D C, on the other hand had a S35 crop mode that delivered a very nice HD image. There is not much more to be said: the image of the 1D X and 1D C look very much alike. But with a proper Cfast card, the Canon 1D X mark II supports up to 60p 4K video, which probably makes it the only usable DSLR capable of 4K video in 50p or 60p. Other cameras that support higher frame rates are the Sony FS7 or Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K. The 60p video of the 1D X has no quality loss over normal frame rates. Rolling Shutter The Canon 1D C suffered from a very severe rolling shutter effect (A phenomenon also referred to as “jello”). Fortunately, the Canon 1D X mark II performs better here. Twice as good, in fact, making the 1D X mark II’s 14ms of rolling shutter performance one of the best among 4K DSLRs, alongside the Panasonic GH4. Canon 1D X Mark II vs. Canon 1D C: Conclusion If you thought that the Canon 1D X mark II was Canon’s next big failure in terms of video, then you would be wrong. With a beautiful image, good quality codec, good lowlight performance and good rolling shutter performance, as well as 50p and 60p video modes in 4K and good autofocus, the 1D X mark II is surely a camera to consider for the video and film enthusiast. However, if you thought the Canon 1D X mark II was the next step in video evolution after the Canon 1D C, then you’d be disappointed. It looks as though the video features of the 1D C have been carried over to the 1D X mark II, the valuable log gamma was left behind and HD mode is now useless (Why, Canon, why???). At the end of the day there is little difference between the two cameras. In summary, the Canon 1D X mark II is a good video shooting camera and considering its current price tag of $6000, it is certainly more affordable than the 1D C priced at $8000. So if you want 60p video at 4K, or good rolling shutter performance with overall great image quality in an APS-C sensor (crop of the camera’s full-frame sensor), then this camera might be worth the money. Photographers who are also into video will certainly appreciate the Canon 1D X mark II. However if you just want a great 4K camera, then those $6000 might be better spent elsewhere. Maybe on a more ergonomic, video oriented camera that also offers HD, or even the Sony a6300 (review here), which can get you to 4K wonderland for under $1000. For more on the 1DX check out: Johnnie’s hands-on Canon 1DX 2 reviewRead more
We’ve been quite busy at cinema5D reviewing the new Sony A7RII (see our field review here and preliminary lab test here). The successor to the famous Sony A7S has left us impressed, but many are asking if it can provide the same legendary lowlight capabilities. Here’s our Sony A7RII vs A7S Lowlight Review, so we’re about to find out. How good is the Sony A7RII in Lowlight As a small camera with a large sensor that shoots 4K (UHD) internally the Sony A7RII is already an amazing piece of gear. Dialling up the ISO we notice that it’s quite capable to shoot even in lowlight environments. However the question is how good it really is, so we don’t get caught by surprise with unusable footage after we come back from a shoot. Many people think that there’s a way to put a number on a camera’s performance, but multiple tests and reviews have showed us otherwise: Camera sensors are complex and inconsistent depending on the way they are used, so we need to learn and experience the camera’s performance in order to use it correctly. It certainly helps to compare a sensor to a reference to get a better perspective. This is where the Sony A7s in an obvious choice. It is one of the most lowlight sensitive cameras we know and has a lot in common with the new A7RII. With its high ISO rating the Sony A7s was (and still is) a perfect tool for documentary style cameramen. The Test: A7RII vs A7S For this test we used two identical Zeiss Loxia 50mm F/2 (Sony E-mount) lenses on the Sony A7RII and Sony A7s and filmed our test chart at the same time. For the purpose of the test we zoomed into lowlight critical areas of the frame. 400% on the Sony A7s’s HD footage and 200% on the A7RII’s 4K (UHD). On first sight it might appear as though the noise floor is similar, but in our video above you can upon close inspection see that the A7s retains better detail throughout. At around ISO 8,000 the Sony A7RII shadow areas get more and more washed out and some detail is lost. Noise performance is still good and in many situations the footage beyond ISO 10,000 and even up to 25,600 might still be usable for you, but look out for those washed out dark areas. The Sony A7s in comparison holds a very clean image all the way up to ISO 25,600. Noise gets severe beyond that point, but detail is retained quite well in comparison to other cameras, which makes it such an impressive lowlight tool. If you want to be on the safe side you should be careful not to expose beyond ISO 6,400 on the new Sony A7RII, but if your final output is HD and web content you might find that even ISO 25,600 is possible without too much noise on the Sony A7RII. The fact of the matter is that you should make your own tests, find out and get a feeling for how far you can and want to push your footage to get the images look the way you like. Sony A7RII Full Frame Mode? One thing we already noticed last friday was the tremendous difference in lowlight performance between Crop Mode and Full Frame Mode on the new Sony A7RII. Below you can see the last 4 steps of dynamic range on both Crop Mode (super35) as well as Full Frame Mode at ISO 6400. You can also observe this in the video above. [Update]: The fact that the Sony A7RII delivers good results at a super35 sensor size is great news and actually quite a big thing. Bror Svensson reminded us that this is the ideal scenario to use the new Metabones Speedbooster ULTRA that can increase the lowlight capabilities by another stop with a manual full-frame lens. Conclusion The Sony A7RII is good in terms of lowlight and certainly very good in comparison to many other 4K cameras out there. The noise floor of the Sony A7RII vs A7s seems similar, but the footage is cleaner on the Sony A7s. In terms of detail the Sony A7s can retain usable quality up into high ISO’s while the Sony A7RII lacks detail much sooner. We start to notice this in the shadow areas around 6,400-10,000 ISO. Shadow areas get washed out and become less usable even on an HD downconversion that we compare to the Sony A7s original as seen in the video above. According to our observations it seems as though the Sony A7s is the better lowlight camera by a few stops. Picture quality in lowlight is more consistent up into the high ISO’s in comparison to the new Sony A7RII. Download the source file at Vimeo to make your own observations: LINK Please consider getting your camera and gear through this link. Thank you Music by themusicbed.com Skywide – City StreetsRead more
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