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Sony, BM Design, or Canon?


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Posted (edited)

What in your opinion is a good camera (and 'camera system') to use for pro level video? I'm looking for something that will work well for promotional videos/documentaries and short films for mainly online consumption for paying clients. Possibly some wedding videography too, and who knows, why rule out commercial/broadcast material. I'd prefer a camera that potentially would be providing footage useable and acceptable just about anywhere and for any purpose. But I'm not looking for something for feature film production, or that requires a crew.

I'm looking for something well-suited to a single operator, so great autofocus and even image stabilisation if possible. Image stabilisation could be in-camera, or by use of a gimbal (I guess gimbal means a smaller DSLR camera). I'd prefer not to have to apply IS in post but I don't rule this out if everything else with the camera fits my requirements well.

It seems to me that there are two or three main possibilities: Sony, Blackmagic Design, or Canon. At the moment I tend to favour getting a Sony camera, such as an fx6 if one can be obtained at some point in the future.

Not being too much the perfectionist when it comes to the digital image, as long as it 'looks very nice' and it's acceptable to paying clients anywhere and just about everywhere, I'd be happy with that. I would be entirely fine with a camera that provides 'perfectly fine' footage straight out of the camera and doesn't need any post work such as color grading. So would this suggest that Sony might be the best camera to go with?

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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I'd prefer a camera that potentially would be providing footage useable and acceptable just about anywhere and for any purpose... bot being too much the perfectionist when it comes to the digital image, as long as it 'looks very nice' and it's acceptable to paying clients anywhere and just about everywhere, I'd be happy with that. I would be entirely fine with a camera that provides 'perfectly fine' footage straight out of the camera and doesn't need any post work such as color grading

These days, more or less anything will do that, from a video-capable stills camera to a Venice 2. I have a Fujifilm X-H2S stills camera here right now, on demo, which will shoot 6.2K ProRes to internal storage with decent dynamic range. If that's not enough for almost any purpose, I'm not sure what is.

As such, usability, ergonomics and other practicalities quickly become the deciding factor. You need to demo some things and shoot short projects on them and figure out what you personally like.

Phil

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Phil. The Fujifilm X-H2S looks interesting.

Your point about demoing things and trying them out is well taken. I've found a camera equipment rental business now that is happy to work with me, so I will be renting things like the Sony A7s III and the Fx6 to get a feel for what I like and need. The proprietor said yesterday when I was in there that the lighter DSLR cameras are sometimes a little bit more tricky to get steady footage with because they're so light. But he made the point that all cameras have benefits and quirks and you pick what you need.

My main question is really: what is the camera system that will provide great images for the least time and work in post. I was under the impression from what I've read at cinematography.com that Sony performed well in this regard. Is this no longer the case and are all the camera makes about level with great footage straight from camera?

Things can change quickly with the digital equipment scene. The shop I was at yesterday is in favour of Sony cameras. They're not so keen on Canon or BM.

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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I think the best if you going right to rec709/2020 is going to be the canons. Sony is better in low light and I prefer they're ergonomics but slog can be.....a thing. 

Bm is really nice to look at but quality control, robustness of build, and matching are a bit of concern.

I think of them all, the canon might not be the most revolutionary, but it's a robust system. I would personally reach for a Sony because I'm much prefer the ergonomics; and that's about it. 

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I think I will just start out with Sony and see how I go. They do have BM and Canon gear too but Sony so far appeals to me. Possibly one reason is that the cameras just for a start look like movie cameras. The Canon and BM cameras look like still cameras to me (unless talking about the A7s).

I forgot to mention that the Sony Fx6 has what Sony call Cinetone which is a baked-in formula I think that converts log footage to something that looks great straight from camera. Coming from a film background this appeals to me. I don't want to be forever sitting at a computer doing grading and otherwise tweaking the images.

Don't be afraid to comment, people out there. I need all the advice I can get. Anyone out there convinced that BM or Canon is better is some ways? Or Fujifilm? I don't have any brand loyalty. I could go in any direction at the moment.

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17 hours ago, Jon O'Brien said:

I don't want to be forever sitting at a computer doing grading and otherwise tweaking the images.

I wouldn't either. The Fujis do have film emulation, too, and apparently they do it well. I personally don't like the fake film look which is sadly prominent in photography, but there are some genuinely nice LUTs which are not exaggerated and which add a little bit of spice to the image.

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23 hours ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

I wouldn't either. The Fujis do have film emulation, too, and apparently they do it well. I personally don't like the fake film look which is sadly prominent in photography, but there are some genuinely nice LUTs which are not exaggerated and which add a little bit of spice to the image.

Well, I didn't know that and that's very interesting for sure. I will check Fuji out more carefully now. I much prefer the look of real film too but if there can be a little bit of imperfection of the right sort added to 'pristine' or clinical digital footage that looks good to me I'm all for it. The other day I did some filming at the beach with a phone, with big waves rolling into the rocks, fading red sunset strips of glowing sky in the background ... you get the picture. There was so little light the image came out looking very grainy. I actually love the look of that image - though it is being viewed on a tiny phone screen. It looks like grainy 16mm on the phone.

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3 hours ago, Jon O'Brien said:

The other day I did some filming at the beach with a phone, with big waves rolling into the rocks, fading red sunset strips of glowing sky in the background ... you get the picture. There was so little light the image came out looking very grainy. I actually love the look of that image - though it is being viewed on a tiny phone screen. It looks like grainy 16mm on the phone.

Some digital cameras do have very nice noise patterns. Some definitely do not!

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IBIS is a big problem because it never works as intended and the imagers have to be sub-standard in some way, either overheating due to the lack of a direct heatsink or simply small size. We've had nothing but problems with our R5 in terms of IBIS and overheating. Fuji and Panasonic solved these issues by having smaller imagers. Nothing wrong with that, but for sure not going to get the same results. 

I really like BM's color science, but I have to say they're behind the build quality. The R5 is a way better built camera, with a horrible and useless menu system. 

For me, I think today the best all-around camera is the Sony FX9. I'm not a Sony fan at all, but that camera does everything and it works great. Sure it's only 4k, but I think if you're doing doc stuff mostly, that's fine. I think they can be found used if you look around, I've seen a few on Facebook. There maybe a MKII coming out as well, so the MKI's will probably be sold. Outside of the FX series cameras, the C300MKIII is a great option as well, just not shoulder mount like the FX9, which I think is critical. 

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IBIS is a main sticking point with me at the moment. It would make life so much easier if you can just slide the camera off the tripod and carry the camera around for some smooth handheld shots for a bit, then put it back on the tripod. With the FX6 you could put it on a gimbal but you'd have to take off the handle, which means no audio and you've got to get if off the gimbal and put it all back together again when you want to go back to tripod shots. Oh the pain (just joking). Doctor Smith from Lost in Space used to say that.

The Canon C70 was looking very attractive to me because of its IBIS capabilities. It looks so easy and convenient to use. That's a major factor in my life at the moment. I want to use easy to use equipment as much as possible.

BM just doesn't have much appeal to me. It's neck and neck with Sony and Canon at the moment.

Anyone out there used the Canon C70. Or 300 mark iii? What do you think?

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But another factor I already mentioned earlier is the look of digital video cameras. If you want to get paid something decent for what you do, videographers are starting to mention an obvious aspect amongst themselves: you want to look professional. Turn up to a shoot with a tiny little Sony A7sIII which looks like a baby still camera and the client is often thinking: um, you want me to pay you how much? ... and you're shooting on that little toy? It's an important factor. Turn up with a Sony Fx6 or FS7 or similar and it looks like a professional piece of equipment and really looks impressive. Film cameras already achieve that aspect immediately (as long as everyone already understands that the technology is a bit ancient - and is supposed to be - that's part of the attraction). My dad used to say always look the part, if someone is paying you.

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Used both. Get the 300. The c70 is fine, but it really isn't worth the price and the lack of sdi is very annoying. I don't hate it, but it isn't what I would grab for anything but the smallest of gigs 

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22 minutes ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

That is so true. It sounds superficial, but it's still true.

It's kept mattebox makers in business for years! Wanna look pro; put on a mattebox! And a few antenna here and there. They don't even need to do anything.

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On 7/6/2022 at 10:02 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

IBIS is a big problem because it never works as intended and the imagers have to be sub-standard in some way

The IBIS in my FX3 performs fantastic.  And there's no reason to believe there *must* be a sacrifice in sensor quality to have good IBIS

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The Canon C300iii seems to have a much better system for IS than the FX6 when used in conjunction with an optical stabilizing lens. The C300iii does it all in-camera but the fx6 needs to be stabilized in post for the most effective IS. The C300iii is more expensive however. But the thing is, is IS even needed much of the time? Maybe not. That's why you really have to rent the gear and try it out and see what it is you need.

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9 hours ago, Dan Finlayson said:

The IBIS in my FX3 performs fantastic.  And there's no reason to believe there *must* be a sacrifice in sensor quality to have good IBIS

Huh? The FX3 is 10MP. So yea, it is "limited". 

Also, when you have a 5 axis IBIS, you are actually distorting the image. I've done some comprehensive testing on this with several cameras that have IBIS, before buying our R5, which was a mistake. 

It's far better to do what BMD does, which is have a gyro in the camera and simply stabilize in post. Resolve can do it in real-time using the gyro data from the camera. Pretty good trick AND it will stabilize huge movement changes rather than limited ones with the IBIS, it also won't ever distort. 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Jon O'Brien said:

The Canon C300iii seems to have a much better system for IS than the FX6 when used in conjunction with an optical stabilizing lens.

Yep, the in-lens systems are great. However... the FX6 is a shoulder camera. So there is FAR less need to stabilize. I like the C300MKIII, I think it's a very good camera. The body shape however, ruins it. If they had made it the same size as the FX6/FX9, that would have been incredible. Far more usable in my opinion. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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The C300MKIII and FX6 (smaller in dimensions than the FX9) are both non-shoulder mount designs but can be rigged out for shoulder mount by for instance Zacuto accessories. I think the FX9 looks great but I picked one up in the rental shop the other day and it's very big. Very expensive too. Something smaller seems more my thing.

But how do you best grade and edit Sony footage? I'm starting to get a feel for Davinci Resolve but I don't know yet if you can apply the IS in post for the Sony FX6 (recorded as metadata during filming) with Sony's Catalyst Browse and then grade and edit using Davinci Resolve.

The Canon 300MKIII does look a bit clunky and big. It's a slightly unusual shape. The FX9 is long and sleek and well-suited to putting on the shoulder. The FX6 is just a small box shape with a big top handle that you can't really take off if you still want audio.

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Actually it's sounding like post IS using Catalyst Browse isn't really a professional option. You have to alter the shutter speed to much faster. This seems to be more of an amateur video type feature.

What do you think?

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Some further thoughts. The in-camera IS with the Canon is so good in conjunction with lens stabilization that shoulder mount probably isn't needed (unless this is the way you prefer to hold the camera). I think I'd prefer just to hand hold with the camera held in front of me. If steadicam-like smoothness is required for some shots the C300 can be mounted on a gimbal with the IS still in operation. On the gimbal the Canon can still make full use of audio. With the FX6 the problem is that you really need to take the top handle off which cancels out the audio (except for a low-quality audio). However external audio can be used with the FX6 in such situations.

Actually the Canon is looking more appealing the more I look into it.

Does anyone know much about the Ursa Mini cameras? What are they like for IS?

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Adrian, I didn't know that.

From the excellent camera reviews on youtube, some interesting facts are beginning to emerge regarding the Sony FX6 and Canon C300mkiii cameras. The Sony would appear to have the better auto focus capability, and I think it might have slightly better internal ND ability. However, the Canon has a much more effective IBIS solution. The FX6 as mentioned above is limited to lens-only IS.

I do like the Sony. It's smaller, lighter, and costs a bit less. Maybe use it with a monopod to get around the IS limitations.

I wonder, what's going to be more important to me: autofocus, or IS. Ah, how I miss the simplicity of film, where you are basically constrained to do what can be done by the limitations of the medium (if they're limitations). There's less choice with real film in some ways.

Finally, perhaps the choice comes down to which 'look' you like best: the footage that comes out of the Canon, compared to the Sony.

 

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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On 7/10/2022 at 7:51 AM, Tyler Purcell said:

Huh? The FX3 is 10MP. So yea, it is "limited".

This is a straw man.  The sensor isn't 10mb *because* it has IBIS.  There's a whole host of other factors.

The FX3 also has a gyro that can be utilized by Catalyst to stabilize in post.  Not as convenient as doing it right in Resolve but it has both options.

IBIS is a wonderful tool for the right job, results in minimal distortion on focal lengths in the normal-telephoto range, and shouldn't be regarded as an automatic anchor around the neck of sensor technology

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