Zacuto Single Chip Camera Evaluation – Episode 2 (DSLRs fail)

July 31st, 2011

Zacuto Single Chip Camera Evaluation - Episode 2

Zacuto Single Chip Camera Evaluation - scceAfter the really really enjoyable first episode of the Zacuto SCCE they have finally released the second of three episodes. Once again I cannot stress enough that if you’re a camera person you really shouldn’t miss the chance to see this beautifully edited piece of well done camera comparison!

It is not only revealing to see how digital cinema (and analog film for that matter) cameras compare, and to hear industry professionals speak about their observations, but also a great great opportunity to learn about very imporant aspects of cinematpgraphy like signal to noise ratio, resolution, compression that is very elegantly explained in these tests.

Episode 2, “Sensors & Sensitivity” of the three part series continues with tests covering sensitivity, resolution, compression and the relationship between them.

It is striking to see how bad DSLRs performed in this par of the comparison. While they had some good performance in the dynamic range part of the last episode, this time around they fail hard and show their weaknesses.

Not only does moire go crazy as we all very well know, but most importantly the images are literally destroyed at times by the line skipping characteristics of the current HDSLR sensors and their unhealthy compression pipeline.

Here’s a list of all the cameras that were compared:
– Arri Alexa
– Sony F-35
– Sony F3
– Canon 5D Mark II
– Canon 7D
– Canon 1D Mark IV
– Nikon D7000
– Weisscam HS-2
– Phantom Flex
– Panasonic AG-AF100
– RED ONE M-X
– 35mm Kodak 5213 and 5219 film

Here are some quotes I felt were important:

“(…) shocking in a way to see how the stills cameras don’t work at all (…)”

“(…) wow, I thought the Canon would be more on than that (…)”

“(…) this isn’t a test that advocates for one camera over another (…) you might have one camera that works really well for one situation and another camera might not (…)”

“(…) as the budget changes we’ve had to (…) use the Canon’s cause we had to (…) seeing, especially the AF100 (…) and how it compared to the F3 and how they compare to the bigger cameras, that was the biggest surprise (…) a new option that we could do (…) that’s bringing the quality back up.”

There’s one more episode coming out in August. Stay tuned!

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