The ultimate cinema camera buyer’s guide for 2012

Exciting time to be shopping for a camera. I’ve been following the market for the last several years and this is the second tipping point.

The DSLR revolution changed Internet/indie film forever. That was 4 years ago. Now we have affordable cameras that not only look good on the Internet but also on the big screen… not to mention affordable ultra-slow mo. (120fps on the gopro hero 2 and up to 900 fps on the sony fs700)

This is my breakdown of all the top contenders, organized from the cheapest to the most expensive. The grade given to each camera is based on how well it performs in comparison to other similarly priced cameras.

Also sorry that the lower end camera market doesn’t supply dynamic range info in their specs. This is absolutely unacceptable, especially as more and more serious productions utilize the cheap/compact cameras.

Seriously, latitude is probably the most important thing to to know when buying a cinema camera. That and resolution.

One last note- if the camera has an * next to its name it simply means the camera has not been released. Those are judged purely by the specs provided.

 

Gopro Hero 2

30fps 1080p, 48fps 960p, 60fps 720p, 120 fps 480p (standard def)
Latitude- not found but supposed to be medium-low compared to the other beasts on this list

I’ve used both the gopro 1 and 2 and the improvement with the latest generation is really inspiring. This is a company that listened to their customers and it shows in all the new features including 120fps, floating body, 2x sharper glass, and a 2x faster image processor. I wouldn’t shoot a feature film or even a short film entirely on the gopro unless it was a montage of surfing or a vacation. The lens is just too wide but take advantage of the small form factor like these guys did to fly their gopro to outer space.

My grade: A (for action sports/aerial photography)
F (as a cinema camera. Different purposes, different cameras)

Pros: Ultra wide angle so stabilization is pretty easy. Strap this thing on the next time you go sky diving, wakeboarding, surfing, snowboarding, mud sliding, bull fighting, etc etc
Cons: Ultra wide angle distorts the image to give a fisheye look.
Sony Nex5n

24/30/60 fps at 1080p
12.7 EV which should be 8-9 stops of latitude (if you actually know please tell me!)

This one is insane. It’s so small it fits in your pocket but packs the power of a DSLR and even better than the 60D/GH2 in some aspects including 60fps at 1080p. (The GH2 is 1080i which isn’t as high quality as opposed to 1080p)

Here’s an image of this camera with a Leica lens attached-

My grade: A-
Pros: Smallest/lightest camera here. 1080p at 60fps.
Cons: Latitude is poor, you have a smaller window of proper lighting otherwise highlights will be blown out, shadows crushed etc etc. The Sony mount isn’t as versatile as Canon. Make sure your lenses are compatible.

Canon 60D/t3i

1080p 24/30fps 720p 60fps
Latitude- 8 stops (average)

We shot the below film with the mark 2 and 60D. I can’t remember which shots were the 60D but the mark 2 has noticeably better image quality but also is much more expensive. I love my 60D but it is ultimately an entry level camera with serious compromises such as the inability to connect professional grade audio via XLR. There is however product a that supposedly does this; but I have not tested it myself but there’s a good review here.  (This does not work well with the 7D but with all the other canon DSLRs it should be good with some tweaking) But hey you can always do it the old fashioned way and record audio separately and match up in post. I’m currently using the tascam DR-40 and rode NTG 3 set up and am loving it. In-depth review coming soon.

My grade: C
Pros: This is a extremely flexible camera with great picture styles available for download and/or customization. Also this being Canon, nearly any lens in the world can be adapted or already has an adapter for sale. Also this is dirt cheap compared to what else is out there.
Cons: No clean hdmi out, the image quality and latitude are probably the lowest out of all the cameras on this list but I’ve been using this for over 3 years now with great results.

Panasonic GH2

24/30fps at 1080p and 60fps at 1080i
Latitude- 10? (could not find an answer to this so it’s a guess)

The below trailer was shot 100% on the GH2 and we interviewed the director for more in-depth information. I’ve never shot with the GH2 but have seriously considered buying based on all the praise it has received from top people in the industry. If you do get this camera don’t forget to hack it for increased performance.

My grade: A

Pros: You can’t beat the performance this camera offers at such a low price.

Cons: It’s micro 3/4s so it’s possible some of your lenses won’t have an adapter that fits. Check before buying!

Sony Nex 7

24/30/60 fps at 1080p
13.4 EV so that’s about 9-10 stops of latitude? The only confirmed fact is that it has more dynamic range than its little brother, the nex 5n.

Here is a great comparison chart that shows precisely what is better and what isn’t between the nex 5n and nex 7. Study it and if one of the camera’s spec sheet nails your needs down then go make beautiful films. Oh and the body here is slightly bigger so if you have abnormally large hands you might want to steer clear of the nex 5 and demo the nex 7 before buying. (most places like amazon.com should have a 30 day refund window)

I’ve chosen an aerial video for the sample because this camera is even more hot in the quadrocopter community due to its size.

My grade: A
Pros: Powerful, compact, and sexy.
Cons: It isn’t on the same level of the mark 2/GH2 and beyond in terms of image quality. But it’s close.

If trying to decide between the nex 5n or 7 you should check out this handy comparison guide.

Sub-1.5k price range conclusion:
The best image quality in this crop is undoubtedly the GH2. The smallest one is the Nex 5. The most well rounded in terms of image quality and price is the Nex 7. So study the specs and see which camera is your fit. If you don’t care about size and just want the best performance for this budget then go with the GH2 but if having the camera fit in your pocket appeals to you then the nex 5n/7 are excellent choices for that plus aerial cinematography :)

Oh and don’t forget the GH2 does 60fps at 1080i not 1080p… in general 1080p is much better than 1080i so keep that in mind when buying because if ultra crisp slow motion is what you need/want get the nex.

The rebel/60d? Outdated. Don’t buy, wait until the next generation if you really want a canon.

Canon mark II

24/30 fps at 1080p (no 60fps supported at all)
11.2 stops of latitude (source, however there are reports that it’s around 12 stops with techi color cine profile)

This was the camera that started the DSLR revolution and also my first ‘real’ filmmaking tool. The price went down recently with the release of the mark 3 and to this day many professional tv and film productions are using this small DSLR as their main camera or B cam. For Lovers Only was shot entirely on the 5D mark 2. I watched it on my laptop and it looked great although it was black and white so that’s not exactly a fair representation of the camera.

My grade: A-
Pros: This camera held the crown for almost three years. The mark ii may have been bested by blackmagic but not by anything below the current price except maybe the GH2 or Nex5n/7 but both have different strengths.
Cons: No 60fps or clean hdmi out and rolling shutter/moire/aliasing just like every other canon DSLR (except for mark III and 1D c) The GH2 has these issues too but not as noticeable.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera*

24/30 fps at 2.5kp or 1080p
13 stops of latitude

This is the dark horse that might have changed everything… again. At the price of 3k it’s unheard of to get 2.5k resolution with 13 stops of latitude. The next closest thing in terms of resolution is the digital bolex but as of the time of writing it only records 2k raw while this camera is capable of recording both 2.5k or straight to a compressed pro res format. In theory it doesn’t make sense, why would you compromise quality in the first place? Well as seen with the success of the arri alexa people would rather have 44 minutes of pro res on one card as opposed to 11 minutes raw eating up all the memory. Pro res is basically HD and a extremely good format to work off.

I spoke with blackmagic reps and asked what how much minutes of 2.5k raw I could fit on a 120gb solid state drive, he said about 12 minutes but about its 40 minutes if compressed directly to pro res.

Blackmagic’s camera records 12 bit internally but there’s no word on if it’s 4:4:2 or 4:4:4 It can output 4:2:2 10 bit color via hdmi. The sensor size is close to micro 4/3s so it’s similar to 35mm.

Oh and this camera has the best meta data logging I’ve ever seen. Really simple to use.

John Brawley got to test out a early model of this camera and captured the below clip-

My grade: A (judging on specs only, very few demo videos exist)
Pros: Blackmagic has never made a camera before so they can set the ultra low price point with mind-blowing specs, there’s no self-cannibalization. Canon won’t be able to give us a 2.5k dslr for $3k because the mark 3 costs $3.5k and only outputs 1080p… however there is a first time for everything.
Cons: This looks like a polaroid camera…. If this was a beauty contest Red and Arri would have the top spot and this camera in last place. Also it shoots raw but you cannot change the iso in post like you can with Red. Oh and there’s no digital zoom or 60fps. The camera does have built in focus peak so that’s one way to do it but people like me prefer the digital zoom for checking focus.
On the side: We don’t really know how well the low light performs. This camera has not shipped yet.

Nikon D800

24/30fps 1080p and 60fps 720p
12 stops of latitude (my own estimation, if you know contact me)

In a strange twist of fate, Nikon delivered what canon fanboys have been begging for: clean hdmi out.

By using a external recorder you can capture uncompressed footage right off the sensor so that’s a big quality increase but don’t forget that external recorders are expensive. Compared to the 5d mark 3 there’s not much different except in strengths. The 5d mark III has better low light performance but as for image quality there’s nothing conclusive enough to determine a true winner. For more in depth info check out the wonderful anaylsis over at nofilmschool.com

My grade: B+
Pros: Clean hdmi out, different crop/zoom modes, full frame, headphone jack, zoom/focus button thankfully stayed on left side, and cheaper than 5d mark iii.
Cons: 36 megapixel sensor makes for amazing pictures but hurts video quality and ISO. Nikon mount isn’t as popular as canon mount. (plenty of adapters out there though)

Digital Bolex*

Price- $3,300 (estimated price for fall)
24/30 fps at 2k or 1080p and 60fps at 720p
12 stops of latitude

This was the first real upset in the filmmaking community, before this came along the cheapest camera with a 2k option was the Red Scarlet which is much more pricey at about $14k. (The Scarlet can also shoot 4k though) With a 32gb card you can expect about 8-10 minutes of RAW recording before it is full. This puppy comes with XLR ports and is 12 bit 4:4:4!

Not to mention it has the slick retro look. Finally one important note is that the sensor is CCD not CMOS so it has absolutely zero rolling shutter.

My only real gripe is the 2.6x crop factor and 16mm sensor. This means that putting a 50mm on this transforms it into a 130mm :/ And the 16mm sensor size will double depth of field for all of your glass. It’s a good and bad thing, as always, it depends on the shot. Personally I prefer 35mm sensor size since it reflects real film much more.

My grade: A- (judging from specs alone)
Pros: 12 bit 4:4:4, 2k resolution, CCD sensor, retro look, and XLR ports.
Cons: 16mm sensor, 2.6x crop, this is a untested camera, not sure how well it will fit on tripods because of the handle, and I have no idea if it will actually make the august 2012 release.

Canon 5d mark III

24/30 fps 1080p 60fps 720p (ALL- compression codec)
12 stops of latitude (my own estimation, if you know contact me)

People were waiting for the mark 3 as if it was a long-awaited prophet. Everyone was asking for clean hdmi out but canon decided to give us something else… that is better in some aspects. The new ALL-I compression basically gives you the huge quality increase you would get with hdmi out/external recorder but all in camera. I’ve tested it myself and it really is a significant increase in resolution, clarity but above all the latitude is the biggest improvement. I could see more shadows and not worry about blown highlights.

Below is a montage of various shots I got with the mark 3. We have a short film shot entirely on this camera being released sometime soon. (once the soundtrack is done)

My grade: B+
Pros: Looks way better, less aliasing/moire/rolling shutter but it’s still there. Headphone/mic jack finally included. The new viewfinder is ultra crisp and beautiful. Latitude is phenomenal.
Cons: 60fps is only 720p not 1080p (gh2/nex5n/7 all can but costs ⅓ the price) No clean hdmi out, digital zoom button moved from right side to left side. Very frustrating. And $3.5k is even more than the blackmagic which has real audio output options and better resolution. However blackmagic only has 30fps so keep that in mind.

Panasonic AF-100

24/30/60 fps 1080p or 1080i
10 stops of latitude (estimated)

This one has been around for a while and many were expecting the 2nd generation to be revealed at NAB. The AF-100 was one of the first professional interchangeable prosumer camera and remains one of the most popular. Basically everything about this camera is great except that it currently can’t be hacked to output the higher bit rate like the GH2. This creates a dilemma because the GH2 costs 3 times less however bear in mind that the AF-100 has professional features non-existent on the GH2 such as XLR inputs, timecode, built in ND filters, etc etc

I wouldn’t dare call the Panasonic AF-100 a ‘bad’ camera but resolution-wise the other cheaper competitors have the edge but feature-wise this is the cheapest camera on this list to have XLR inputs and built in ND filter. So this camera is a winner for corporate/documentary/videography work. You could use an external audio recorder and put ND filters directly onto your lenses and run with the GH2 but if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of matching audio up or buying ND filters to fit all your different lenses then the AF-100 might be better for you.

My grade: B
Pros: Metalogging, built in ND filters, headphone jack, short flange distance of 4/3 mount allows for nearly any lenses including pl mount, and 60fps 1080p is certainly nice.
Cons: Not as hackable as GH2 so lower bit rate and AVCD codec can be a hassle to work with.

Sony FS100

24/30/60fps 1080p and 1080i
12 stops of latitude (estimated by DPs)

This camera packs alot of horsepower for its size. It has all the features the AF-100 has except for built in ND filters. For some reason Sony chose not to include this feature so if getting this camera, make sure you pick up ND filters for each lenses you plan on using. Oh and its a true 35mm sensor, not the 4/3 chip under the hood of the AF-100.

Oh and the kicker? It can output uncompressed 4:4:4 via hdmi. This would be truly amazing if it was 10 bit color space but unfortunately it’s only 8 bit color space so I’m not sure what the real advantage is here.

However… the one thing that truly shines here is low light performance. The image below is a comparison of the 5d mark 3 and FS100 in low light. (with shadows dramatically lifted) I would read the rest of the analysis by EoS HD.



My grade: A-
Pros: This is basically a DSLR with professional features. Great color depth/skin tones.
Cons: No built in ND filters, 8 bit color only, and the body is a bit more on the plastic side rather than sturdy. Viewfinder on top rather than side of camera.

Mid-price range concluding thoughts:

First of all, ask yourself what features really matter to you. I can’t decide on which camera is the best buy in this category because they are too diverse in features.

The best pick for a easy workflow and professional features? The SonyF100 or Blackmagic
Best resolution? Blackmagic with 2.5k hd
Most professional features? Af-100 (sadly the only one with ND filter in this price range)
Best low light? Sony FS100
Best latitude? Mark 3
If you can wait, this price range is a good one to watch. Who knows what the next AF-100 will bring? We also don’t know how good blackmagic/bolex actually is until we have raw files to work with and reviews from seasoned pros.

Sony FS700*

24/30 fps at 1080p but 4k with external recorder…. up to 250fps 1080p and up to 960fps at reduced resolution.
12 stops of latitude (educated guess based on FS100)

Red was the only camera to have more than 120fps at full HD besides the phantom. Now Sony has finally joined the race and delivers 250fps at full HD. The scarlet can output 120fps, the epic outputs up to 300fps. The phantom has 600fps but hey the phantom and epic are both over $30k, this bad boy is estimated to cost only $8k

What about other features? Let’s try 4k (with a yet to be released external recorder), 3 different internal ND filters, the ability to record directly to pro res much like arri and blackmagic, two xlr ports, 99 picture style profiles, and (supposedly) the same low light performance the FS100 offers.

My grade: A
Pros: You get a lot of horsepower for the price and not only that but also most professional features.
Cons: 4:2:2 8 bit output only, confirmed by sony reps. That is until the external recorder by sony comes out with 4k recording and 12 bit raw color space.
On the side: It scares me that we don’t know the price or release date of this recorder. It could be 8k or 800 bucks.

KineRaw S35*

Price- expected to be around $8,000
24/30fps 2k raw
12 stops of latitude in CinemaDNG recording according to reps.

Another dark horse here. This was one of the first company toying with the idea of 2k raw for under $10k. Price is still unconfirmed but supposed to fall in the sub $10k range.

I’ve spoken with the reps and the CinemaDNG format is indeed 4:4:4 12 bit color so this could potentially become the cheapest camera on this list to have true 4:4:4. Next cheapest is the F3 with the S-Log update. They should have samples soon but no idea on release date.

*no video yet

Grade: A-
Pros: All the basic features you need except for internal ND/more than 30 fps. 4:4:4 raw uncompressed.
Cons: Only goes up to 30fps, no idea on release date or pricing. Also low light has not been tested.

Sony F3

24/30fps and 60fps 720p
13.5 stops of latitude (s-log 4:4:4 mode) 12 stops in normal mode

The big deal about this one? The ability to record 4:4:4 uncompressed 10 bit via dual-link HD-SDI. The workflow to achieve this is kind of tricky and expensive but as you can see from this post, it’s worth it to get 4:4:4 if doing serious color grading and/or matte work. Before you had to pony up a few grand for the S-Log update but now it ships free of charge which makes this camera a real powerhouse.

People are calling this camera baby alexa because the image quality is extremely filmic. Low light performance is on par with the C300 and other top contenders. And with S-log activated and outputting 4:4:4 to a external drive changes the latitude from 12 to 13.5 which is basically the 2nd highest out of all the cameras on this list and that’s a big deal considering the fact that the arri alexa costs about $90k.

My grade: A
Pros: This is one of the top cameras in terms of low light, latitude, and detail. And the cheapest one in its class.
Cons: 60fps is only 720p unless you use a external recorder with dual-link SDI then you can get 1080p 60fps apparently.
On the side: The F3 with Slog used to cost around 18k but now Sony has decided to include S-log free to make this a direct competitor to the Scarlet and C300

Red Scarlet

Price- 16k for the canon mount kit. 
24/25 fps at 4k, 120fps at 1k
13 stops of latitude

This is a extremely polarizing camera and company. I’m not a red fanboy, I’m a fan of great cameras and recognize the strengths/weakness of the camera no matter what brand.

With that said: the scarlet and epic absolutely sucks in low light. Now this is only from comparing the other cameras on this list… most real film cameras have terrible low light. RED makes professional cameras so low light performance is low on their priorities. Why do we need good low light performance when we have professional studio lighting?

Everything else besides low light? Breathtaking.

Correct if I’m wrong but right now the Scarlet is the only camera besides the Epic/One that can shoot 4k. RED has always been the king of resolution since they released the RED One in 2007.

My grade: A-
Pros: 4k raw recording, sexy body, EF or PL mount options, and only $12k
Cons: No direct XLR in, need an adapter… files are monstrously big and there’s currently no option to record directly into prores. Also there’s no internal ND filter. Battery/record times are pretty low because of the horsepower this camera brings to the table. So if you’re doing a documentary I’d steer away from this camera. Unless you are willing to pony up serious money for a pack of cards/hard drives/batteries. Plus low light performance is seriously lacking compared to the C300 or F3. (supposed to improve with dragon sensor update but that’s not happening until 2013 for the Scarlet)

Canon C300

24/30fps at 1080p (downscaled from 4k internally) 1-60fps 720p
12 stops of latitude

This is basically the 5d mark 3 but with internal ND filters, 4k sensor downscaling to 1080p, timecode, xlr inputs, and other random professional features. Like the Scarlet it does not have the option to record directly to prores. Also this is limited to 8 bit 4:2:2. (it’s recorded 4:4:4 internally but that doesn’t really count for much since the final file is compressed to 4:2:2)

I think this is a wonderful camera for documentary style shoots because of the long recording times, battery life, small form factor and incredible low light performance.

As a cinema camera? I think there are better options, the Scarlet can go up to 440mbps while this one tops out at 50mbps, the C300 can only record 1080p while the Scarlet goes up to 4k.

Most feature films are ‘only’ 1080p though. So keep that in mind… still I wouldn’t recommend this camera unless you’re shooting ALOT of footage because the C500 is right around the corner and addresses most of the flaws here. (it has 4:4:4 12 bit outputs in 2k, plus 120fps)

My grade: B
Pros: Long battery life, internal ND filter, timecode, XLR inputs, EoS mount, and powerful low light performance.
Cons: 4:2:2, 1080p limit, 50mbps, and it’s only 60fps and at a laughable 720p. Plus it’s pricey.
On the side: The C500 is supposed to address every one of these cons. (besides the price)

Sub $20k price range thoughts

I’m not including the Kineraw S35 in this analysis because it’s untested so until then here’s my thoughts on the rest-

Best overall- Sony F3
Low light? Check. Long record/battery life? Check. Great latitude? Check. Price? Checkmate.

Best slow-mo- Sony F700
The only camera on par/better than this beast in terms of fps is the RED epic or Phantom. Both cost over $30k. Case closed.

Best cinema camera- RED scarlet
This is the only 4k ready camera in this price range and the only one that allows you to change the ISO in post. Also the images this camera produces are absolutely cinematic. There’s just a price to pay… short record times, short battery life, large files, and poor low light.

Best documentary camera- Canon C300
The Sony F700 and F3 comes pretty damn close if not on the same level. The F700 is supposed to have auto-focus if using sony glass so I guess some people will find that useful but personally I’ve always done it by hand and always will.

I want to get the Sony F3 for the 4:4:4 and plethora of features it offers but… I’m shooting action sports often so the 250fps that the Fs700 offers me is much too tempting to pass up. I’m not doing green screen or matte work so I can live without the 4:4:4 compression. The biggest compromise I’m making by picking the Fs700 over the others is most likely latitude. The scarlet and s-log F3 both have 13.5 stops… the estimated latitude of the Fs700 is about 12 stops.

But the Fs700 can be upgraded to 4k down the road so it might gain 4:4:4/more stops of latitude. (we can only hope)

I’ll be doing a in depth review of this camera as soon it’s out.

Red Epic

Price- 35k for brain only and 48k for the gunner kit.
13 stops of latitude but up to 18 stops with HDRX
1-120 fps 5k and up to 300fps in 2k

This is the same camera being used to shoot the Hobbit and Avatar 2.

It would be easier to break down what this camera can’t do compared to the ARRI/F65. (both cost twice as much) First of all the dynamic range falls somewhere around 13 stops which isn’t on the same level of ARRI/F65 which both have 14 stops. (kings of latitude)

Secondly the Epic is lacking in battery/record time performance compared to the other two however that’s the price of generating 5k 16 bit 4:4:4 raw files. (The F65 generates 4k from a 8k sensor and ARRI is limited to 2k) The epic has always been king of resolution and looks to hold that title for another couple years with the introduction of the dragon sensor upgrade option. Available later this year and only $6k for the Epic. It’s supposed to give better low light and 15+ stops of dynamic range. If they deliver on that promise then this $46k camera will have more resolution AND latitude than the other $80k cameras.

That’s the beauty of RED. Upgradability and flexibility.

Below is a short I shot the first time I used the RED epic.


My grade: A-
Pros: There’s nothing below or above this price point that offers 5k resolution. People will argue that resolution isn’t as important as RED paints it but I’ve had personal experience with every resolution level and can safely say that latitude and resolution are both the biggest factor in image quality.
Cons: Poor low light performance, currently no direct to pro res option but coming out in a module soon, dynamic range is ‘only’ 2nd best… until dragon that is.

Arri Alexa

Price- $90,000 for the starter kit.
14 stops of latitude
1-60fps 2k and 120fps in 1080p pro res

The Alexa is considered by several prominent DPs in Hollywood as the #1 digital camera today. They might be right. Quantum of Solace, Drive, Hugo and Game of Thrones were shot entirely on the Alexa. This camera was the king of latitude until the F65 came along and now they both share the title.

Obviously the Alexa can output 4:4:4 and even do 444 pro res internally so you can simply pop the card out and start editing. (With RED you need to transcode the R3D files to pro res or edit natively in Premiere)

There’s a few uncool things about this camera though, it shoots up to 2k, only up to 120fps in 1080p, and the price tag puts this in rental territory for most people… that is if you can even afford the rental.

My grade: A for image quality but D- for price
Pros: Insane dynamic range, beautiful skin tones/contrast, direct to prores option, and 12 bit 4:4:4
Cons: Obviously the steep price but also the fact that it can’t shoot beyond 2k isn’t a big deal today because most theaters can’t project more than 2k but down the road… 4k and beyond will become the standard format so the RED/F65 are much more future proof in this aspect and the quality is arguably better at higher resolutions but it really depends on how the camera processes the information because bigger isn’t always better and can cripple the camera itself. (as seen with the 36 megapixel sensor on the D800 hindering low light performance) Finally, downsampling 4k footage to 2k footage looks better than 2k shot on 2k and now Sony has taken that concept to the next level….
On the side: Arri just released the ARRI M which share the exact same specs as the Alexa except that it has a small front ‘brain’ that is tethered to the body. Allowing for more versatile shots and such.

Sony F65

Price- $100,000 MSRP but might be able to find one for $70,000 if you’re lucky
14 stops of latitude
24/30fps 4k (downscaled from 8k sensor) 1-60fps 2k 120fps 1k

So what if I told you a camera had the resolution of a RED and the latitude of an ARRI? Sounds too good to be true?

Wait, that’s not all, what about a 8k sensor? Yup it’s the first of its kind, a 8k sensor under the hood and downsampled to 4k for ultimate picture quality. This camera is the F65 and has just been released. M night is currently shooting his next feature with this camera and said, “I couldn’t be any happier with the F65, which is amazing since I’m a ‘film guy’ and I thought I’d die a ‘film guy.”

If this camera has the skin tones, low light and picture quality of the alexa then it’s technically better than the alexa in every single spec. Kind of scary given that they both cost about the same.

The red epic technically still has more resolution and frame rates. But we can’t really judge picture quality unless these two are put side by side and projected onto the big screen in 4k. But thankfully other folks will be doing that in a camera showdown on June 4th.

My grade: A+ as a camera but the price gets a D+
Pros: “True 4k”, 1st place in latitude, 4:4:4, and pretty much every feature you can think of except for 120+ fps.
Cons: The body is the biggest one here, and so is the price.

Top tier price range thoughts-

These are the cameras that people love to debate about, especially the ARRI vs the RED.

I’ve given you all the facts so it should be clear that no one is right. The Epic and Alexa both have different strengths and weakness. Pick the camera best suited for the job. It is that simple.

However… the Sony F65 is the newest entry in this small crowd and it had the benefit of watching both contenders succeed and fail. What they’ve done is build off the strengths of both cameras to make a super camera. But hey it’s all specs so who knows until we have real world tests.

I also think that Sony and ARRI will need to lower their price especially when the dragon sensor comes out. Latitude and low light is really the only thing holding the Epic back and the sensor is supposed to increase both features beyond the specs of the ARRI or F65.

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8 comments on “The ultimate cinema camera buyer’s guide for 2012

  1. Pingback: Phillip Bloom reviews/compares the Canon 5dmark3, Nikon D4, and Nikon D800 | Art Of The Story

  2. Pingback: Sony FS700 review/footage | Art Of The Story

  3. Lukin on said:

    Ho hou!!! Just found my Sony NEX-5n vid here. I am glad you like it. I can only recommend that tiny beast

  4. Austin on said:

    Lukin, great video! Keep them coming :)

  5. Alexander on said:

    SONY NEX F700:
    “Cons: 4:2:2 8 bit output only, confirmed by sony reps. That is until the external recorder by sony comes out with 4k recording and 12 bit raw color space.”

    Do you mean, when Sony releases a external recorder for 4K, the F700 will not output in 4:2:2? Or what exactly do you mean?
    And how “future-secured” is the F700? Is it a camera that will be on the top for a long time?

    Btw great article.

    - Alex, Denmark

  6. Austin on said:

    Hey Alexander,

    Sony has confirmed that once the external recorder is out you can upgrade the 4:2:2 recording to 4:4:4 but it’s still in 8 bit rather than 10 bit or the 12 bit raw color space. More info on this can be found here-

    http://www.xdcam-user.com/2012/04/nex-fs700-8-bit-video-but-12-bit-raw-in-4k-23-lenses-using-center-crop/

    I would say the Fs700 is one of the most ‘future proof’ camera out there at the moment because of all the features it offers. This camera is going to be around for quite some time.

  7. Pingback: In depth review of the mammoth Sony F65 | Art Of The Story

  8. Movie Reviews And Ratings on said:

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