High ISO-C200-EVA-URSA-MP

In this test I set the C200 & EVA to ISO 2500 and the Ursa mini pro to 1600 (its highest ISO)

I then took the rushes into Resolve in ACES cct and adjusted offset and black level only to match them.

It’s interesting how good both the EVA, noted for its high ISO capabilities, and the C200 are when pushed. Unfortunately the Ursa can’t keep up in this comparison.

C200-EVA-UrsaMP I’m going to duck and cover now

This has proved to be a much harder evaluation than I expected.

Normally it’s a very straightforward assessment of clear and defined responses. Where do they clip? What colours distort? How does the colour change with exposure? How much noise at various underexposure levels and so on.

This time it’s purely personal, how do they feel? How easy are they to use? How robust are they?

I was going to do this as a 3 stage evaluations, I’ve already posted the technical shoot material and I had intended to post general material that I’d shot but whats the point? There’s a ton of this kind of stuff on the web. So…

My overall impression of the images is that they’re all very good but there are caveats.

I’m going to split the results into categories.

1  Record formats

Canon C200 records in C-RAW Lite which is a variable compression ratio RAW codes of between 3:1 and 5:. It varies the compression ratio based on content and motion.
Canon provide software to translate this RAW material into various formats if you can’t work with the C-RAW. The range of output formats and options is good, ProRes 444, DPX 10 & 16 bit and EXR, colour gamut of Cinema, 2020, P3 & BT.709, Gamma of CLog2, Clog3, BT.709, Wide, DCI.
This is a little odd as the only gamma available in the ACES IDT is CLog3 and surely that’s a case for CLog2 if there ever was one!

EVA records in, at best, H264 150 Mbps, this is not a professional level codec as far as I’m concerned, this is a format that belongs in HDSLR’s and “prosumer” kit. They are promising 400 Mbps and RAW but when?
This is a killer for me. Right now this camera is out of the running because of this.

Ursa MP records in RAW to CDNG in uncompressed 3:1 & 4:1 compression as well as all formats of  ProRes from  4444 XQ downwards. CDNG works really well in Resolve but can be a little harder to get the best out of in some other software.

The winner in this category is marginally the Ursa MP but it’s only a hair ahead of the C200, the EVA has fallen and is struggling to get up here.

2 Overall feel and build

There are major differences here and they will probably have a major effect on which camera you prefer.
They split into 2 categories, traditional and well, I’m not sure what to call it 🙂

The Ursa MP fits into the traditional category, kitted out with the shoulder mount and the V/F it feels and operates pretty much as any docco camera that I’ve used in the last 40 years. There is a clear line from 16mm to Betacam to HDCam to Varicam to Amira. If you are used to using a camera like this then the UMP will feel “right” everything is where it should be and it all just falls into place.
It’s built like a brick shithouse and will take a huge amount of abuse and just keep on going.
The biggest downside is weight,  (camera departments seems to be filling up with wimps at the moment ) and battery life. Having said that it’s lighter than the other cameras I’ve mentioned in the lineage and it’s less power hungry. It’s only in comparison with the mini generation that it feels heavy and power hungry.
I also found the Cfast slots a bit difficult to get cards into correctly.

The C200 and the EVA are very similar on first impression but as you spend time with them you start to find the differences.
They’re very small differences, the Canon is a little heavier but it feels more substantial, the doors over the card slots are more robust, the V/F is better mounted (more about all the V/F’s later) it’s all very small stuff but I think the Canon feels overall a more expensive camera and it is, about $100 more 🙂

3 Autofocus

Well there’s a clear winner here, the C200 is way better than either of the others both of which tend to hunt. I tested with new lenses and also with 12 year old lenses.

4 Built in V/F & menus

The UrsaMP is the winner for display here it has a larger and clearer display and a wonderful menu structure that is really clear and simple to use. However, the range of movement is very limited and obstructs the dial you need to use to adjust iris. It doesn’t fold out past 90 degrees from the camera body and this can make it awkward to see the screen and the on-body controls you are trying to alter.
The EVA is in a better position than the Ursa but the mount is not as solid as it needs to be and also has the 90 degree limitation. The supplied V/F hood was collapsing when I got it and I had to remove it. It would have been a good addition if it had worked.
There are 2 menu structures, one accessed by pressing the menu button which takes you to a what I can only describe as a traditional Sony type menu, I hate it. Pressing home turns the entire V/F into an Alexa like menu which is a joy to use even though the touchscreen is a tad reluctant to respond at times.
The C200 is in the same position as the EVA but is much more rigid, it also fold 180 degrees to go flat to the camera body. It’s much easier to adjust things on a tripod with the screen at about 120 degrees.
Menu display buttons and the joystick for adjusting everything is on the V/F and it takes a bit of getting used to. There’s also a function button and joystick at the back of the camera that controls the main settings that you’re likely to need.

The C200 is a clear loser in the menu competition.

5 Workflow

The C200 works fine in Resolve and Prelight as does the EVA, the Ursa MP is a little limited in Prelight but that’s an issue between BMD and Filmlight…
I had no problems working with any of the cameras other than needing to go through an extra software stage if I wanted to use the Canon in CLog2!! However, that software stage also gave me the option of going straight to 16 bit EXR and I love that.
I’m sure that there are data wimps out there who will complain about raw from both the C200 and Ursa MP, grow a pair!

6 Conclusions

In the end it comes down to what kind of camera do you want?

If you want a traditional workhorse that produces great images and will integrate into a conventional workflow easily and that has TC, genlock etc then the clear winner is the Ursa Mini Pro.

If you want a lighter camera for drone work or observational type documentaries and all kinds of lighter more personal work then the C200 edges ahead of the EVA. The clear differential here is recording capability and autofocus.
If you want to shoot observational quick moving type jobs then good AF is essential.
There are issues with the C200, no T/C and no Genlock limits what it can be used for but that’s probably just a market segment thing from Canon. Also why no CLog2 from monitoring out?

There’s also the question of lens mounts,  The Ursa MP is user interchangeable and takes just about anything, the obvious main choices being EF & PL, the C200 can be changed  from EF to PL at a Canon service centre. The EVA is EF only.

So, you pays your money and you take your choices…

C200-EVA-UrsaMP-First files for evaluation

OK, I’ll be doing this evaluation in stages.

  1. This post which includes links to RAW or Highest quality possible QT files from each camera of resolution and various colour charts.
    All cameras are in the same position with the same lens and lit with a Fill-Lite 200
    All cameras were auto white balanced on the Abel-Cine resolution chart. Focus was first on auto and then checked manually on a Convergent Design Odyssey with focus assist activated. I was also feeding the images to an Eizo CG318 4K monitor.
  2. I’ll post location footage shot with the cameras in various situations these will be web compressed at 4K
  3. I’ll post my unvarnished opinions of the cameras and whether I’d use them and if so what for!

The test files are here bear in mind that they’re camera originals and therefore very large files.

 

Lower priced professional cameras are bloody good!

This is a preliminary comment on cameras at about $6K-$7.5K

This is purely personal and is on no way meant to be objective, unlike the CML evaluations which have no personality involved and are purely objective.

I’ve had the Ursa Mini-Pro the longest and have only shot the CML evaluations with the C200, I’m waiting for a Panasonic EVA. I rejected the FS7 during the evaluations because I hated the way it felt and its menus. I did say that this was not objective!

The more I look at the images from the UMP & C200 the more impressed I am. I’m shooting both RAW and with a small amount of compression, in the case of the UMP 3:1 and the Canon is variable between 3:1 to 5:1 depending on the subject/action.

I really like them both and the EVA is going to have a fight on its hands to be better, or even as good!

I wouldn’t hesitate to use either of these cameras for professional work. The images from both are great, the C200 has slightly better colour, the greens & yellows are purer and to me more accurate but it’s not a big thing and easily adjustable in Resolve.

The style of working with them is very different, the UMP is fitted with the shoulder mount and the V/F. It’s quite heavy in todays terms and light compared to what I’m used to 🙂
To get it to function comfortably on my shoulder I’ve had to move the top handle as far forward as I can and the shoulder mount as far back as it’ll go, but then I’m a pretty big bloke. It balances well with a V Lock battery on the back and a small lens on the front.
The battery life is good but not nearly as good as the C200.
This camera works really well used in the way that I’ve used cameras for the last 45 years or so. It’s a progression from the 16mm cameras to Betacam’s and the F900 and Varicam 2700 to Amira. It feels like a “real” camera and functions like one as well. Anyone used to using a camera like these will feel right at home.

The C200 is much lighter and is really best used with the touch screen V/F and held in one hand. It’s a very different way of working from “traditional” cameras but it can work really well. With IS in lenses and AF facial tracking you have a whole new world to explore. I’ll post more about this in a month when I have had a chance to shoot in more practical situations. Initial reaction is that battery life is outstanding and the camera feels very light.

In terms of dynamic range they both start to get a bit noisy for me at 2 stops under and clearly hold highlights at 3.5 stops over with the C200 having a slight edge in the highlights and the UMP a slight edge in the shadows.
They also both feel solid and professional with the UMP feeling like a solid brick shithouse, in the best possible taste! This is a camera that will take a hammering.

They both work well in preset colour mode and load into Resolve with the standard IDT’s and no correction resulting in good images, as usual I’d suggest reducing the contrast setting to around .85.

My only complaint about the UMP so far is that the extension handle is too short but as it uses a standard rosette I just replaced it with one of the extensions from my ET Mantis shoulder mount and its now perfect.

I’m testing with various AF stills lenses and the C200 is noticeably quicker to focus, the UMP has a tendency to hunt with older lenses.

I’m struggling to find anything bad to say about either of them.

A complete comparison with images and illustrations of the UMP, C200 & EVA will follow.

Autofocus to IMAX!

I wrote a while back about shooting an entire movie with autofocus..

Autofocus for an entire movie

On Saturday I saw the results projected and not just projected but on an IMAX screen!
This film was never intended to be seen this size, we knew we were shooting for TV screens.
I was sitting in the front row, not by choice but I had to be there so that I could quickly take part in the Q&A afterwards.

So, did it work?
Well yes, no more soft shots than any other movie I’ve seen on the large screen recently. In other words not a lot at all.

The entire movie was shot either with autofocus and face recognition or controlled via a tablet with simple finger presses.
We learned how to quickly switch between modes while we were shooting and also what we could do during a shot.
The one thing we thought was missing that would have helped a lot was a couple of preset positions that we could load as escape positions. Preset so that if the face recognition lost track during a fast move towards camera we had emergency goto’s in the most important positions. Happily Canon have now added this facility.

I said at the time that I probably wouldn’t do a movie like this again, having looked at the results on an IMAX screen I now think that this is the future.
At present you are limited in your choice of lenses and camera.  Canon are moving in this direction faster than others. I can see how they could, if they wanted, interface the /i info from say Cookes to the cameras internal software and an external focus motor and so enable this for any lenses with /i.

As we move to bigger and bigger sensors we need to look very closely at this kind of technology.
There are other solutions out there but they are all expensive and somewhat complicated.
This was very very simple, even a cinematographer could operate it!

More files to peruse on your smartphone!

Digital Cinema Cameras Full resolution EXR files

These are links to ZIP folders of one EXR frame per exposure +/- 4 stops

The EXR’s were generated by the manufacturers own software, with the exception of the Varicam which was done in Resolve as they don’t have their own software.

They are VERY large files. Most are in ACEScc space, if not it’s because the manufacturers didn’t specify anything other than ACES so the may be linear or log.

ARRI Alexa SXT

Blackmagic Ursa Mini-Pro

Canon C200

Canon C300-2 & Odyssey

Canon C700 4.5K

RED Dragon

RED Helium 7K

RED Scarlet

Sony F5

Sony F55

Sony F65

Varicam LT & Odyssey

Varicam Pure

I’d recommend that you view these on your smartphone, it’s only 10.5GB in all and each file is at least 50MB but hey! your smartphone will easily cope with that!

If you do that you’ll see that there is absolutely no reason to get one of these cameras, your DSLR is way better and your iPhone better still.

Actually, I’m thinking of doing a similar test with some DSLR’s, I’d rather eat my own leg but I feel I have to do it just to prove a point.

On the other hand, maybe I’m wrong, maybe a $2K camera is really as good as a $60K one. If you believe that I’ve got this bridge you may want to buy…

Oh and just in case… load these files into Resolve with it set to ACEScc and 4K DCI, then set the input to ACEScc and the output to 709, don’t crop the image, move around it using the positioning controls in color.

This will let you look at the full beauty, or horror, of each file.

Yes, they all pretty much capture it all, well, a couple of horrors at the top end but you’ll find those for yourself. Now, look at the lower exposures and ask yourself how much noise and colour shift you can live with. You now have the USABLE dynamic range. Strangely enough it’s not always what it appears to be or what manufacturers say it is.

 

Results of camera evaluations

Well, I’ve uploaded QT files of all the cameras in HD and all the ones shot RAW in UHD as well.

They can be downloaded in their full unaltered by Vimeo form as well.

So how are people viewing them?

So far 606 total idiots have viewed them on their smartphones!

Unsurprisingly the Ursa Mini-Pro and the Canon C200 are the most popular however they also have the highest number of not completed viewings.

People viewing the evaluations via CML watch the videos to the end and tend to watch them at higher resolutions and download the original files far more than people going in directly to Vimeo or via other sites.

Why start viewing a camera evaluation if you’re going to give up after the first few exposures? one camera I can understand, you didn’t realise what was involved but the same person doing this on camera after camera? what kind of person does this, certainly not anyone who knows anything about cinematography. Anyway, WTF are you doing viewing them on a smartphone?

I will still go ahead and upload some EXR’s for the people who understand what their doing, precious few though it is!

Camera evaluations start

We are about to start a new round of camera evaluations using a new standardised system that will allow future tests of cameras in identical conditions.

The cameras included this time are:-

Arri Alexa Classic recording to both internal QT and external raw

Arri Alex Mini

Arri Alexa SXT recording to Codex

Arri Amira

BMD Ursa Min Pro

Canon C200

Canon C300-2 recording to both XF-AVC and external raw

Canon C700 recording to both XF-AVC and Codex

Panasonic Varicam LT recording both internally and external raw

Panasonic Pure recording to Codex

RED Weapon Helium

RED Scarlet

Sony FS7 recording internally and external raw

Sony F5

Sony F55

Sony F65

We had hoped to include the Panavision Millennium and Alexa 65 but the first is in the process of being updated and the second is just too busy in the limited quantities that are available. Both are scheduled to be included in further evaluations later this year.

The Nokia OXO will also be included partly in the “normal” tests and partly to live stream the tests for those who have nothing better to do than watch live streams of camera tests!!

Lights are from BB&S and the lens being used for all except the C200 is the Fuji 4.7 * 18 T2. We will be marking up the in-shot idents with the focal length used to produce an image size that matches “S35” with 50mm as the base focal length.

With a schedule of 4 cameras per day we will be much more relaxed than in previous evaluations and paying a lot more attention to detail.

All camera settings will be published with the results We will also transcode all the rushes into 16 bit EXR files in ACES using the manufacturers software wherever possible. If there is no manufacturers software we will use Resolve. I will also be using Prelight onset to grab frames from the monitoring output of the cameras as part of a very different test 🙂

Results will be published towards the end of July.

 

Autofocus for an entire movie?

Another movie with Dominic Brunt and he agreed to me using the Canon C300-2 with stills lenses for the entire film.

Although I had an AC he spent a lot of his time watching me try to focus pull using a Samsung Tablet!

I wanted to do it myself just to see how difficult it was and what the major pitfalls were.

It was a hell of a learning experience but I’d do it again, maybe with a few small changes like taking my own router just for the camera WiFi, using frequency scanners more often and killing anyone who decided to use any form of wireless transmission without clearing it with the camera crew first!

The main lesson is that the newer a lens is the better it copes, well that’s a shock!

Seriously, in a lot of situations the lens just couldn’t focus fast enough, actors running at camera in very low light was a serious issue.

Anyway, lots more here… http://www.cinematography.net/Canon%20C300-2%20Digital%20Assisted%20Focus%20on%20a%20Movie%20%20.html