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GH2 holding its ground with Epic
  • Hey guys, just thought you'd like to see some spots we shot on a Red Epic with a $40,000 Arri Alura 15.5 - 45mm lens and a GH2 with the Sanity 5 patch and a $100 Canon 85mm FD SSC prime lens. These are fairly low res files for web delivery but the high res footage looked great too. Here are the four spots:

    http://www.nixhealth.com/home/reform

    The Epic was used for the wide and medium shots, the GH2 was used for the CU cutaways on the face and hands. I think the footage cuts very well. 'Just goes to show that you don't need to spend $100K on a camera package to get very nice results.

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  • Also. The wide dynamic range (flat profile) is not commonly used in the final grade of a motion picture. The out coming picture (DR) from the gh2 is quite close to something we expect after CC in most cases. That's why I thnk that the gh2 got a perfect balance between DR and 8-bit. The downfall is that you need to get it just right on set while doing lightning. Getting a great result from the gh2 is in most cases more challenging than with a higher bit/raw camera like the scarlet. But it can be done, because we know that the gh2 have great IQ and can compete.

  • @ronmen All I meant was that gap in output resolution between the Alexa and Epic was greater than that number implied, so that's why I gave the others as well. A lot of us (myself included) are outputting to 1080P so resolution is often not the primary concern if it can do that well. I just wanted the numbers as clear as possible in case people started quoted this thread. :)

    I think that Red Epic sales are down because of Scarlet giving so much of what people want as does the BMDCC and the FS-700 at the low end Between those, you can typically pick the combination of features you want for less, unless you want 5K slow-mo, etc. And (like you said) the effective marketing of the Alexa and the entrance of the F65. Of course, the other part is that they already have sold a lot of Red cameras and so many of the people that want one, have one.

    I loved shooting with a combination of the GH2 and Scarlet earlier this year.

  • the footage cuts very well

    Yes, indeed. Let it be noted in the GH2 Compatibility Guide*:

    • A-Cam: RED Epic
    • B-Cam: GH2 Sanity 5 patch
    • Genre: Studio Interview
    • Delivery: Web FLV, SD
    • Shot Type: Skin Tones, CU Hands
    • Inter-cut-ability rating: 8/10
    • (*Future GH2 Compatibility Guide)!
  • @thepalalias

    I don't believe there was anything I said in my comments that was misleading. The point was that the Alexa has a smaller sensor than the Red Epic when used at full resolution - that is a fact. What I said about image quality was stated as my opinion. The rest of it is observation - of what's happening in the commercial market among the people I have the good fortune to work with, and an attempt at one possible explanation as to why Red sales have been down lately - as was expressed by another forum poster. I never made the case that the Alexa was technically superior.

    I really think we should all just go out and shoot more. Pixel peeping doesn't feed the soul or pay the mortgage.

  • @ronmen That comment about the sensor resolution is somewhat misleading - that's like saying the GH2 has a 5K sensor: it's not the resolution being saved in any of the video modes.

    The Alexa is being consistently advertised as outputting a maximum of 2880x2160 (4:3) or 2880x1620 (16:9) in ArriRAW. http://www.arri.com/camera/digital_cameras/workflow/working_with_arriraw/arriraw/format.html

    The situation is fairly complicated as to what camera is "best" in a given situation. Keep in mind that the Alexa doesn't just compete with the RED Epic, it also competes with the Scarlet and BMDCC (which undercut it in price) and the Sony F65 (and possibly soon with whatever they are announcing shortly).

    There are many things I really like about the Alexa footage I have seen, but there is none of the cameras where I would say "this one is always better". The Alexa can't do the EPIC's combination of resolutions and frame rates but it bests the EPIC in dynamic range (unless HDRX is used, which is a more complicated subject). And based on the very limited tests I've seen (which should not be taken as gospel) the F65 bests both in native dynamic range. The upcoming C500 is no slouch either - less dynamic range on paper, but a great highlight roll-off.

    But the BMDCC and Scarlet get you a lot of the way there (and a big DR improvement over the GH2) for much, much less. Part of the reason the Alexa gets used so much is not a question of technological superiority but one of reputation, support and familiarity of workflow. You can see RED working to address the last one in part with the Meizler module.

    Things are competitive. Every camera (Alexa included) is facing a ton of competition and more is on the way.

    @vicharris @ronmen Keep in mind that the Alexa has a softening filter built-in. If you add one to your workflow on another camera without it, it becomes more "forgiving" to the talent as well. Of course each of the cameras has their own highlight roll-off curve and the Alexa one is quite pleasing - though I would love to see how it compares to the C500 which has also been beautiful in the things I've seen so far.

  • @Rambo

    All is clean now.

  • My respect for RED went up by an order of magnitude when I saw their recent announcement of a monochrome Epic-M sensor. Black and white cinema making a comeback - imagine that! Even if it doesn't really catch on (and to be realistic I doubt it will), you've got to hand it to them for making such a risky R&D investment.

    That having been said, I do agree that the Alexa has a much more pleasing picture than the Epic, and that the C300 and the BMCC have much more pleasing images than the Scarlet.

  • +1 @ronmen The last few commercials I've been on have all used Alexa cameras. Some used film too but those are on Arri cameras too. The past 2 network 1 hour shows have used em too. Like you said, it's just a more pleasing picture to look at and it's a little more gentle on the talent ;-)

    The last commercial I worked on that shot on film was using a C300 as a third camera.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev

    What I'm seeing a lot in the commercial world is that DPs are gravitating much more toward using the Alexa lately. Even though it is only a 3.5K sensor, it produces a superior image in every way compared to any of the Red cameras - in my opinion. The additional $30K you would have to pay for the Alexa package over the Epic is not a major issue for a busy rental house or production company. They can recoup that difference in 17 rental days. So on the high end people are moving toward the Alexa, on the low end, people are moving toward the C300.

  • Well, I suppose RED is nearing saturation of their specific market. And then the BMCC is around the corner…

    Others might be waiting for the Dragon to see if it really is that great before jumping on the RED train,

  • @ronmen

    Yeah it's more contrasty (baked in look), but I think you did a very good job joining the two forces in any case. Some plases color balance was a bit of, but nothing to spend time on.

  • @Rambo

    Yep, sales of REDs suck lately.

    But but comments really deliver, it looks like collective dementia.

  • why on earth was sanity 5 used instead of sedna or another higher bit patch?

    Because you don't need ridiculously high bit rates to realize the GH2's potential. Go here for proof.

    http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/comment/93366#Comment_93366

    This is a comparison of Sanity 5 vs lossless HDMI capture.

  • @fix

    The GH2 is definitely more crunchy. As good as it is, it really can't compete in terms of latitude with the Epic. 'Definitely saved some production dollars :-)

    I'm very happy with the FD lenses.

  • @GravitateMediaGroup

    Yeah - spanning and reliability were prime concerns for this client.

  • @virgilr Just do it! You'll love the Tamron.

  • @GravitateMediaGroup After watching the spots.. Do you really think it would matter to use a higher bit patch? I think they did a wise choice. Web flick, controlled light, low motion and probably long interview.. It's a given if you ask me. This really show the benefitt with all the patches that is made by the talented guys in this forum.. A high GOP patch is spot on at this kind of gig.

  • why on earth was sanity 5 used instead of sedna or another higher bit patch?

  • That's awesome, actually- I have a tamron sp2 90mm that I can't wait to try soon- too many lens choices from my Pentax bag. The footage worked so well- I would have pushed in a tad more fill light (or looked into lets say the Intravenus patch by Driftwood for a bit flatter profile) but wow- smart work @ronmen!

  • Viewed on a ipad. You can tell that the gh2 is a tad more contrasty, but man, the gh2 intercut fine. I would go so far and say that a couple of shots looks better than the Epic on this one. Smart use of the gh2, the close ups makes it hard to spot but gives it a hugh benefit production wise IMO. Save you guys an extra epic in there.

  • Those were well put together spots. Thanks for sharing.