Thursday, March 25, 2010

More Thoughts on the Great Camera Shootout - part I

I wrote up some initial thoughts on the Great Camera Shootout last night, but having slept on it, I thought I'd take another stab at it, as a few more observations/thoughts/wishes occurred to me:

Standard Disclaimer
Firstly, I think it's a tremendous effort and I'm really glad they did it. Any comments I make here aren't meant to detract from the overall value of the piece. Yes, it could have been shorter, they could have added other cameras, they could have done this, they could have done that, yada, yada, yada, it doesn't matter. It is still a great experiment and my hat's off to them for getting it done! Thanks guys.

And now, having said that...

More Cameras
I'm sure everyone will be suggesting cameras they wished were included. Why not a RED? Why not a...? You can't do everything. But I personally wish they'd done a "traditional" video camera - like the Sony EX1 or the Panasonic AG-HVX200A - just to round things out.

There's a lot of people out there shooting with those kinds of cameras, thinking of switching, and it would make for a good comparison. Sure, these are expensive cameras, but when you kit up a 5D with lens, rig and monitor, it starts to add up too:

HD DLSR Rig Video Camera
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Sony EX1R
Redrock "Captain Stubling" rig
Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 ZE
Zeiss Telephoto 85mm f/1.4 ZE
Marshall V-LCD70XP-HDMI-CM 7" LCD Field Monitor *

* I included an external monitor for the DSLR - but not for the EX-1 - because I really think you need an external monitor with the DSLR, whereas I think you can get by quite nicely without one with the EX-1. I also didn't include the cost of media (the EX-1 SxS cards are much more expensive than the 5D's Compact Flash.) Similarly, you could buy cheaper lenses, and maybe a cheaper rig; but it's awfully easy to spend a lot more than that on a rig and lenses.

Actual clips
Those of us watching the program didn't get to see the clips on the big screen (or even the smaller big screen!) but it would be great if Zacuto could post some of the clips in a high quality format so we can see the results on our own equipment. Even actual stills would be useful.

Canon is really serious about this
It was interesting that Canon was the only company that sent a representative. I don't think that says negative things about Panasonic and Nikon (who only had one camera each in the shoot out) so much as what it says about Canon's interest in the DSLR video scene.

The Panasonic DMC-GH1 did well
This wasn't really a surprise as Philip Bloom has been saying positive things about that camera for some time now. I handled one briefly for the first time this past weekend at the Panasonic 3D Tour show, and was quite intrigued by the camera. It's smaller than the Canon's, the viewer finder is LCD so it's active while shooting, and even better, the LCD panel on the back swings out and around, which makes it much more useful for monitoring. It also maintains auto focus while shooting, and at just around $1,200, if you're thinking of getting into DSLR video, it's a serious competitor to the Canon T2i.

On the other hand, it only shoots at 24fps in 1080, and the kit 14-140 lens isn't very fast and is hopeless for zooming (it was extremely sticky and jumpy, making it impossible to do anything approaching a zoom.)

Another factor, if you're considering the T2i vs the GH1, is that if you get a T2i and buy good, full-frame lenses for it, you can later move those on to a 5D (or whatever it's replacement is.)

Resolution Tests
I'm really looking forward to part 2 and the resolution tests. I'm particularly interested to hear what some of the film people think of any aliasing issues with the digital cameras.

When is Part 2
Speaking of which, when is part 2 being posted? I can't wait!

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