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Best Cineam Camera that sees in the dark

Robert Daniel Martin

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I'm a huge fan of the Panavision DXL2 RED Monstro DSMC2 and or the Sony Venice version but I'll need to shoot a number of sequences at night with only practicals. Generally speaking-- I'm referring to a cinema camera with the ability of handling extreme circumstances. (No Canon's!)


So what is the predecessor Thomson VIPER FilmStream Camera? -- the camera they used on Collateral

Or I should say, "What is now the best low light camera on the market that is able to similarly see into the dark, shoots at least 4K, and has a 4:3 anamorphic x2 squeeze mode?


Some sort of Phantom or newer Viper? Or perhaps the Venice or Monstro DSMC2 can already do the job?


Please advise

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Most practical units will blow out past 100 IRE at 800 ISO. So if you're looking for a camera that's more sensitive than that, just realize you'll have to be able to adjust all those practicals in the frame with lower wattage bulbs and or ND gels so that they look realistic. Car headlights look like helicopter search lights at 2000ISO for example. So you have to gel the hell out of everything.


And if youre practicals are things like candles or torches, they will look unnaturally hot past 500 ISO in most cases. This is why imho I'm not in favor of super sensitive cameras for night shooting. Unless you're on a beach and really trying to use moonlight. In that case Canon has some kind of special high ISO camera for that.


When Collateral Damage came out there wasn't a lot of choices and sensors weren't nearly as good as they are now. Everything is pretty clean at 800 these days.

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The Pansonic Varicam35 has a 5000 ISO mode that is fairly clean. I think the Sony Venice has something similar?


Large sensor cameras tend to have less noise due to physically larger photosites (not all though). And high pixel-count cameras might not have less noise but when you have a lot of pixel resolution, you can apply noise reduction without as much of a hit on resolution, plus you have the benefits of downsampling if ending up on a lower pixel resolution master.


The Viper wasn't particular clean, noise-wise. The Fincher movies that used it did extensive (and expensive) post noise-reduction processing at Lowry Digital.

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  • 4 weeks later...

If you like the Sony VENICE and already shooting with it, then go for that!

Otherwise the Panasonic Varicam S35 or Varicam LT.

RED Gemini is another if you're a RED fanboy.

For a C cam / Crash Cam / ultra low budget: then the Panasonic GH5S (not GH5, the newer GH5S!), Kinfinity Terra 4K, or the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (again, not the original one, but the newer one) are all epic ones for low light.

Edited by David Peterson
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