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What's the sharpest?
  • Hello! I want a camera capable to shoot video at focal distance range of <20 mm to >300 mm + macro, (multiple lenses), have decent DR and lowlight performance and resolution of > 800 lines for 1080p (more is better). Any other aspect is of secondary importance. Though less money is better, since I got bills to pay ) What are my options? Any alternatives to BMCC? ) What body would suit me better for under 1000$? 2000$? 3000$? I would appreciate any advice.

  • 13 Replies sorted by
  • @GMaximus These questions are far more complicated than most people realize when they first ask them, so I will try to provide my personal take on it.

    All the cameras will give you a different balance of these. For video dynamic range at under $4,000, there is no competition to the BMCC. If dynamic range is less important, the Panasonic GH2 is one of the best options currently available.

    Several new cameras were announced at Photkina 2012 recently so the question is more complicated now than a month ago. But for under $1,000, there is no interchangeable lens camera with the video resolution of the GH2.

    Note: I am not saying that these are the only criteria by which to judge a camera, of course.

  • Could someone kindly provide a link to some "commonly approved" GH2 video resolution tests?

  • There are not a lot of "commonly approved" ones, but here is one of the most recent by one of the settings authors. It is a good demonstration of how different matrices affect the resolution (with the new one he mentioned there being intentionally less sharp).

    For a more informal look at resolution, compare the different cameras in Part 3 of the recent Zacuto shootout by downloading the file and throwing the unprocessed ones into your NLE.

    Or take a look at Bloom's Christmas shootout (which featured the GH2 vs FS100 vs C300 etc. in regards to resolution). Note that in that test the lighting was constantly changing etc. so it really is only a good test for resolution.

  • Thank you! I wish there were comparable tests for NEXes etcetera.

  • Sharpness is kind of an illusion, you want good IQ which is a balance of color, sharpness, microtextures, DR, low or even noise, absence of moiree, artifacting, haloing and so on. The GH2 is very sharp--with the right lens, like the Olly 45mm, but consider the other issues as well. Anyway, you can't go wrong for the price, and the GH1 is a bargain for low ISO if you can find one. The GH2 has some minor issues, like color, so maybe wait for the GH3--must have better color--or snap it up at a great price. After all, you can make a great vid with it and that is what matters. I also like the Canon XA10, but no interchangeable lenses, and not quite as sharp. But great image and amazing macro built in to the lens, plus zebras, peaking, FF, etc.

  • GoPro announced a 4k action cam at 400$. 4k picture on a fullhd screen should render razor sharp, and even 2.7k would make a great difference. All 1080 cameras are soft on a 1080 screen. I guess the thing i want is there, in shooting beyond 2k.

  • I'm a tech head rather than a shooter but from peeping images the C300 looks like the sharpest and cleanest 1080p image I have seen. The GH2 comes close to the C300 at a MUCH cheaper price.

    Sharpness can be an illusion and different subject matter can uncover or hide a camera or a lense's deficiencies. Lucky for you the subject matter you describe falls right into the GH2 comfort zone. If you have control of the light (and this is important now matter what camera you choose) and are using the right lens for the job you will capture images of amazing clarity using the GH2.

  • Aren´t you asking this question a bit backwards?

    What if you start by downloading footage from ALL 0.5-10k usd (or just the ones that are within your budget) cameras that MIGHT fit your needs and see which image appeals the most to you. By asking for "sharpness" or "above 800lpi" you enter very much into subjective territory and it´s a question of others people´s subjective views rather than your own when you pose the question like that.. You can easily find camcorders that are very "sharp" and has one lens to cover all your needs as stated above, but somehow I don´t think that is what you want?

  • I keep it simple for me, make a shot in photo mode, then in video, look at both on 2k screen and make a univocal judgement. I want my videos to look exactly like my photos. As i perceive it now, it is only achievable when the video resolution is more than screen res. Ultimately, 2 times more, i.e. it shoulda be 4k (8mpix). BTW, why do you guys call lw/ph subjective?

  • @GMaximus No online media as far as I know is doing consistant lw/ph measurements that allow you to compare camera with camera for video performance. Every now and then you might find that someone has done a one off comparison for their academic studies but it is only a one off test. Google all you want but expect disappointment if you go on a quest to find definitive data.

    Even for still photography (where it is easier to make measurements) almost every site adds a disclaimer to their reviews to say that; Shooting charts is not shooting 'X'. Where X is the subject matter you the reader and shooter are principally interested in.

    Just because you seem like someone who wants some bedtime reading I will direct you to the venerable researchers of the BBC who are camera nerds through and through and write good reports. In three minutes I found these links so you can probably do better if you are "motivated".

  • @GMaximus Read about the research of Otto Schade. MTF (or lw/ph, if you like) is only one factor going into perceived sharpness, it's not the best measurement for what a human will see when looking at your pictures. Unfortunately, it's the only one which can be measured easily.

    OTOH, you are right about oversampling. There are different means for that, like the non-debayered decoding of the C300 or Bayer sensors with more photocells than you need for the final resolution like RED or Sony F65. The GH2 doesn't fall into this category. It has more photocells than needed for HDTV, but they are not fully decodec when filming, it's juts lacking the computing power for that.

  • If oversampling is what you want, then the only affordable choice you have, really, is the BMD cam. Or, stick to time-lapses for a photo feel.

    With that said, your way of comparing is not necessarily productive – and this is mainly due to the fact that in most delivery formats people will not know if you´ve shot it on a gh2 or a red (if you´ve done well). An excess of artifacts will for sure show, though, unless you downscale to sd quality..

    Find a video image you like. Downscale 1080p video to 720p for oversampling effect, if the BMD is too expensive.

  • The BMD is not really oversampling, it has just enough photocells for a good de-bayering algorithm to get you pristine HD. If you want photographic quality, shell out muchos dollares and also get a 4K projector ;-)