Personal comments on the 2018 CML camera evaluations

I want to stress that these are purely personal impressions and that you should check out the raw files at  https:/cmltests.net  and also get your hands on a camera to see how it feels for you before making any decisions.
When we were shooting we used an Odyssey and a Canon 24″ monitor to see what we were doing.

In all cases the EI mentioned is what was required to give a “correct” & neutral picture in Resolve with no tweaking. Highlight response is the point where the small grey square within the white square on the CML chart disappears.  Shadow level is where I find the noise to be unacceptable beyond this point.

Alexa Mini: Ours came with open gate and raw licenses and an Amira V/F, it fired up quickly and had very clear and easy menus.

I would rate this camera at an EI of 1000 with a highlight latiude of 5 stops but the shadows only give 2 stops. I’d set the camera too EI 800 and my meter to EI 320-400 to get the best compromise between highlights and noise. DR beyond the charts is 7 stops.
Note:- Bear in mind that yellow clips a little before any other colour.

BMD Ursa MP: We didn’t have the V/F for this and used the swing out monitor that is built in, it fired up quickly and had a very clear and easy to use menu.

I would rate this camera at EI 800 with a highlight latitude of 3.5 stops and a shadow level of 2 stops. I’d set the camera to EI 800 and my meter to EI 500 to get the best results from this camera. DR beyond charts is 5.5 stops.
Note: Yellow again clips earlier than other colours.

Canon C200: We used the touch screen V/F that comes with the camera, it fired up quickly but the menus do take some getting used to! There’s a lot there but it’s not all easy to find.

I would rate this camera at EI 800 with a highlight latitude of 3.5 stops and shadows of 2.5 stops.
I’d set the camera to EI 800 and my meter to EI 500 to get the best results from this camera. DR is 6 stops beyond the charts.
Note: Once again yellow clips earlier than other colours.

Canon C700 FF 6K to 4K in camera: We had the full V/F on this and it’s a lovely one 🙂 the menu system was a little easier to use. Recording to XF-AVC internally was easy but recording the RAW output to 6K and 4K relied on using an external Codex recorder which results in a camera that is too big and ungainly to use. No issues with startup time. We had all the usual issues licensing the Codex reader, it shouldn’t be this hard. I think Canon really missed a trick here by not releasing a FF camera that included the raw recording from the C200.

I would rate the camera at EI 500 with a highlight latitude of 3.5 stops and shadows of 3.5 stops.
DR is 7 stops beyond the charts.
I’d set the camera to 800 and my meter to 500 to get the best from this camera.
Note: Again yellow clips early.

Fuji X-H1: I’m not going to comment on the V/F, it’s a DSLR…same for the menus 🙂 lots of them but if you’re a DSLR user they make sense! we used flog recording at 200Mbps the best it can do and although I’m not impressed with the amount of sharpening and NR that was present in the standard setting it is possible to reduce these considerably and I’m experimenting with this at the moment.

I would rate this camera at EI 1000 with a highlight latitude of 3 stops and shadow limit of 2 stops (see notes). DR 5 stops beyond the charts.
I’d set the camera to 800 and my meter to 500 to get the best from this camera.
Note: this camera clips hard in the yellow and red well below the 3 stop point so be careful.

Kinefinity Mavo: it fires up pretty quickly but some of the menus are very confusing, separate settings for EI and ISO?? It’s not ready for general consumption yet, they need to get their post workflow sorted. When they do it could be a very good camera.

I would rate the camera at EI 800 with a highlight latitude of 4 stops, I’m not sure what the shadow latitude is because of post issues but it looks like it could be very good indeed.
Note: I haven’t been able to do a full and good assessment of this camera or the Terra because of the post workflow issues.

Kodak 5219: Checking on a few things about the scans before I post but by far the best highlight latitude of anything we tested, about 6 stops, but that’s where our tests ran out, it could be more. I’d rate it at EI 320 to get the best from it but that’s what I’ve found with all film stocks. They respond well to 2/3rds over.

Panasonic Varicam:  I asked for a Pure and got a V35 with a Codex recorder added to the back, nightmare of a huge ungainly camera, the Pure solves this. A clear and sensible menu system. Once again the Codex system proved difficult. It may be wonderful with a specialist DIT but for an ordinary DP it’s a pain.

I’d rate this camera at EI 800 with a highlight limit of 4 stops and shadows of 2 stops. Thats 6 stops beyond the chart DR.
I’d set the camera at 800 and my meter at 400 to get the best from this camera.

Panasonic EVA: We recorded this on an Inferno in ProRes raw so you’re going to have to wait! what we can see looks good but what we see that is bad could be due to the post process.

RED Gemini: We used this camera with the 5″ V/F mounted on the front and it was easy to use and setup.
I’d rate this camera at EI 800 with highlight latitude of 3.5 stops and shadow latitude of 3 stops. That’s 6.5 stops beyond the charts DR.
I’d set both the camera and my meter at EI 800 to get the best from this camera
Note: The red chip  at 25% clips as a hard orange at half a stop below maximum latitude so be careful with reds with this camera, overall I really like it.

RED Monstro: We had to stop for lunch to black shade this camera, it is very much the RED camera look that I don’t like.
I would rate the camera at EI 500 and highlights clip at 2.5 stops with shadows going at minus 2.5 stops.
That gives 5 stops beyond the DR of the charts.
Note: Reds and Yellow clip hard at plus 2 stops so the overall latitude is really 4.5 stops unless you’re very careful. I’ve had people say I could get better results in RedCine but this is a test on a level playing field.

Sony Venice: It fires up quickly, changes modes quickly, has an easy menu, is compact and balanced.
I’d rate this camera at EI 400 with a latitude in the highlights of 4 stops and 2.5 in the shadows.
this is 6.5 stops beyond the DR of the charts.
I’d rate both the camera and my meter at EI 400 to get the best from this camera.
Note: The highlights clip slowly and smoothly and the colour is not that “Sony Look” it also has the most consistent colour across the exposure range.

Finally, check out the raw files if you care about images http://cmltests.net/Digital-Cinematography-Camera-Evaluations-2018.html

What do I want in a camera?

Not a lot actually.

I want to be able to use it without a caravan of kit and crew.

I want to be able to take it out of the box and be able to shoot within 5 seconds.

I want preset colour temperatures to be accurate.

I want the indicated ISO to be accurate.

I want a camera that has a simple recording system that doesn’t require contacting the NSA or GCHQ to get my rushes!

I want a camera that doesn’t veer from magenta to green or vice versa with exposure.

I want a camera that doesn’t do weird things at the extremities of exposure at either end of the scale

I want to load it into a post program and get good images without having to fiddle around.

ACEScct should do this, if the camera is good it will give me a “correct” image at between 22 and 28 on the offset dial in Resolve.

That shouldn’t be hard.

The only problem is that with a few exceptions it seems to be bloody near impossible!

Price has no reflection on the issues.

I find myself getting more and more angry with manufacturers who keep on making the same mistakes year after year.

I’m pausing the camera evaluations to go off on my bike and cycle along canal sides through beautiful countryside and watch ducks and swans and storks and geese and wildlife generally.