Thursday, July 28, 2011

Do Camera Tests Influence Buying Decisions: The Great Camera ShootOut 2011: Part 2

Zacuto has posted the second part of The Great Camera Shootout 2011, an exhaustive comparison of "large sensor" cameras. In this year's test they compared a number of high-end cameras including the Sony F35, RED OME MX, ARRI Alexa, Panasonic AG-AF100 and Sony PMW-F3, as well as a few Canon and Nikon DSLRs.

This second episode looks at "Sensors and Sensitivity," including tests for low light sensitivity and sharpness. They also do some comparisons of the quality of uncompressed vs compressed images for those cameras that have the option of sending out an uncompressed signal. Note that in those situations, the difference you see is probably due to the different color space used (the uncompressed is either 4:4:4 or 4:2:2, while most compressed formats use 4:2:0.)

Philip Bloom offers his thoughts on the test, noting that:
For the vast majority [...] the cameras we are watching in this documentary are just fantasy anyway and something we just aspire to!!
As with nearly any test like this, no matter how seemingly exhaustive, it always seems like something gets left out that you wish was included. Philip would like to have seen the GH2, I'd have liked to see the Sony NEX-FS100 (the latter was released too late to be included.)

I was particularly intrigued by the tests which highlighted the limitations of the DSLRs; yet I have to remind myself that I see stunning results produced with these cameras. Knowing how to use them is perhaps more important than just looking at the specs.


click to see the difference in detail in the dress

Yet watching this camera test reminded me of El Skid's recent article: "What Camera Should You Buy Next? Stick or Twist?" at Wide Open Camera, where he evaluates the options for a new camera after his Canon 5D Mark II was stolen. He looks at the PMW-F3, AF101, Ikonoscop Acam D3, NEX-FS100, and thinks about the possibilities of waiting for a 5D Mark III or the RED Scarlet/ EPIC-S.

He looks at the pros and cons of each, but there's three other important drivers of his ultimate decision: he needs a camera now, he has a "stack of Canon lenses, a bunch of support gear, and everything else I need", and he needs a  "camera that can shoot stills and video." Those factors alone immediately suggest that "none of the above" will be the final choice!

Ultimately, other factors; familiarity, money, existing accessories, money, availability, money, end up influencing our decisions more than the tangible properties of the cameras.

Zacuto: The Great Camera Shootout 2011: SCCE ~ Episode Two
PhilipBloom: The Great Camera Shootout Part 2: Sensors & Sensitivity….Check it out and my thoughts…
WideOpenCamera: What Camera Should You Buy Next? Stick or Twist?
NotesOnVideo: The Great Camera Shootout 2011

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