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XL2 or XL-H1


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#1 George Ebersole

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 06:38 PM

So, I'm writing for games, but I'm still looking to shoot some small YouTubish projects, and I'm thinking a Canon with interchangeable lenses is the way to go.

 

But do I go XL2 SD prosumer or XL-H1 with HD capability?

 

I'm just shooting a couple of people out in the forest.  Nothing special.  Kind of a talking thing ... maybe a little action, not much.  One person might be wearing white, the other person brown gray.  Both fair skinned.

 

Any thoughts?


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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 08:26 PM

Umm... why? Are you just looking for something ultra cheap?

Youtube today is 4k compatible. So people expect quality.
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#3 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 09:38 PM

What's your budget? I'd certainly go HD, there's no reason to shoot standard def nowadays. Depending on your budget, there may be better options. I'd be looking at a used Canon C100, personally.
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#4 George Ebersole

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 11:36 PM

Umm... why? Are you just looking for something ultra cheap?

Youtube today is 4k compatible. So people expect quality.

 

I guess that was my real question.  Is 480 enough, or do I go all out for 720+?  The Sample footage I saw from both cameras seemed ... compatible with one another, though the's more variance in shutter speed with the XL-H1.

 

As you can tell, I've been out of circulation for a while.


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#5 George Ebersole

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 11:39 PM

What's your budget? I'd certainly go HD, there's no reason to shoot standard def nowadays. Depending on your budget, there may be better options. I'd be looking at a used Canon C100, personally.

 

Eh, no real budget as such, but I don't want to spend more than a couple thousand, or maybe $3k at most.  I want to do it on the cheap, but get as much quality as I can for my dollar without splurging tens of thousands on a studio camera.   I hadn't thought of a C100.  I'll check it out.

 

Thanks for the replies.


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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 11:44 PM

for $3K you can buy a used $4K camera.....

or a brand new Sony A7sII on sale... and get a DSLR and a camera at once.


While I will say there are still reasons for SD, anymore it's getting hard to sell people on "only" shooting "hd" resolution.


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#7 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 01:10 AM

Do they even still make SD camera's like the XL2? Even consumer $100 camcorders can shoot HD nativity, so I'm unsure why anyone would want to shoot SD resolutions in today's marketplace. If you have only even $1,000 to spend, a GH4 will shoot full Cinema 4K. If you have $3,000 to spend I'd look at the URSA MINI from Blackmagic design. Some might suggest the $1,000 Blackmagic Pocket Camera, but I frankly find it's odd super-16 sensor and low 1080p resolution as limiting factors. Some say the image looks pretty good in RAW, but I can make my GH4 look just as good as 99% of RAW footage if shot in a controlled environment. The smallish sensor makes getting shallow DOF harder, and there are basically no native lenses for it (all will have a crop factor, unless you can find a PL mount Super-16 film lens with a PL adapter for the camera). The fact that it shoots only 1080p natively also means that even though it claims 12-bit RAW, and should in theory possess 4:4:4 colors - it is not mathematically possible in the real world, do to de-bayering.

 

I can shoot my GH4 at Cinema 4K resolution, and then down-rez is post to 2k resolution, and will have a true 4:4:4 color space, something no native sensor can accomplish. It might still be 8-bit, but shooting 4k with a Shogun (extra $1,000) will net you 10-bit 4:4:4 when down-rezed in post. THIS one reason alone is why I think the GH4 is the best performer in the sub-$4,000 price range. Short of some of the higher-end Blackmagic Design cameras like the URSA, no camera in that price range (other than GH4) can shoot true Cinema 4K, meaning that you're dealing with Ultra-HD - which will not natively down-rez to 2k in post to get a 4:4:4 from it. It'll down-rez to 1080p, which is fine for DVD and other home media delivery, but will require an uo-scaling to deliver a DCP.

 

Another GH4 advantage: The $100 v-log update will get you to roughly 12-13 stops of DR, though you'll need to pair it with a Shogun at 10-bit to get the most from v-log.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 23 April 2016 - 01:21 AM.

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#8 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 01:49 AM

As an additional note:

You can get a GH4 used for around $1,000.... The new Atomos Ninja FLAME for $1,300.... v-log update for $100.00, and you'd have a pretty nice setup with a GH4 that could deliver anything natively up to Cinema 4k (10-bit, 4:2:2 DNxHR, 12 stops DR, etc.). Throw on a speedbooster and pair with a good S35/APS-C lens, and you'd have quite the little workhorse... Though once you add on the things together you are approaching the cost of a Ursa mini. Though one problem with the URSA mini is it's fixed pattern noise which is still not cured, and carried over from the production camera (which uses the same 4k sensor). The new Ursa Mini 4.6K sensors are suppose to be good, but those prices start at $5,000. They claimed the 1.9 production camera update fixed most of the fixed pattern noise, though I know people who personally still experience it. 


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 23 April 2016 - 01:52 AM.

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#9 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 03:19 AM

As you can tell, I've been out of circulation for a while.


Ohh! Well! Now that's starting to make more sense.

Here is the skinny. When still cameras started moving towards digital, many manufacturers felt it would be nice to include movie recording as well. It took a few years, but now almost every still camera shoots video and some of them shoot pretty darn good video. So if you walk into a camera shop, you can buy sub $600 still and video cameras, which aren't too bad. The still cameras will have interchangeable lenses and for a few hundred more, you can buy a video-only camera that also has interchangeable lenses.

There are two basic resolutions; 1920x1080 (which is 1.75:1 aspect ratio version of 2k) and 3840x2160 (which is the 1.75:1 aspect ratio of 4k) Since movie theaters are 1.85:1 aspect ratio's natively and broadcast/VOD/BluRay aspect ratio is 1.75:1, that's why you hear of 2k and 4k resolutions. In reality, they are nearly identical to the "consumer" versions; HD 1080p and UHD 2160p

Today we use CMOS imagers in almost all cameras. They are a grid of photosensitive diodes which generate a small electric charge when hit with light. This data is then pulsed to an imaging processor. The key thing to understand about CMOS is that it's a B&W technology, it has no inherent color. In the past with CCD, most cameras had 3 imagers, each one with a color filter in front of them. However, CMOS imagers are more efficient, smaller (don't need 3 of them) and have far better dynamic range. How CMOS get's its color is through a filter which placed on the imager itself that tells certain pixels what color they are to receive. The end result will be a perfect RGB signal, which is referred to as 4:4:4. The lowest acceptable quality for deliverable is 4:2:2, which zooms up on the imager for the blue and red channels. So you will see aliasing on the image when the blue and red channels meet one another since they are HALF the resolution of the green channel. 4:2:2 is the lowest compression acceptable for broadcast deliverables and all commercial cameras shoot in this format OR better.

Bit depth is another issue and it's the defining factor when it comes to dynamic range. You've probably heard of dynamic range from your past experiences, but it's defined by the variance between the highs and lows within a single exposure. So if you can imagine a chart, one side is white, the other side is black, the lower the bit depth the more steps you will see in that image. The higher the bit depth, those steps will basically disappear and you'll see a perfect white to black image with no steps. Broadcast deliverable standard is 10 bit, which is the lowest quality acceptable in the industry today.

Camera manufacturers have many choices when they make cameras, but all of them want to keep the cost down. They have to still compete with one another, so most of the cameras on the market are "feature rich". They have very small form factors, slow mo, high resolution, wi-fi, bluetooth, big fancy display, high ASA, etc. As a consequence of the feature set, they have to run a light weight processor so the battery doesn't die and they don't have to run a big heat sync. This limits what the cameras are capable of doing in a pretty substantial way. Today, the vast majority of sub $1000 cameras record 8 bit 4:2:0 color space. Yes, there is a ZERO for the RED channel, so you can imagine how much information is missing in that image. This is the same quality as youtube, vimeo and even BluRay. However, for a "camera original" you really want better quality, yet for sub $1000 there isn't much. These cameras also record highly compressed files using a format called MPEG Long GOP. This format takes one still image very 14 frames. It then only records the difference between the 13 remaining frames. It works great for static shots and still life, it doesn't work great for high motion material and anything where the lighting and exposure isn't perfect.

The other way to keep cost down, is to strip the camera of all it's features. Get rid of the fancy display, ditch the slow-mo and remove all bells and whistles. Unfortunately, there is only one camera manufacturer building sub $1000 cameras like that, it's Blackmagic Designs. You know, the guys who use to make video cards, well they make cameras today. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera is the same form factor of an iPhone 5 yet it delivers cinema-grade images using a very powerful 12 bit 4:4:4 processing system, which delivers uncompressed RAW capture or several flavors of 10 bit 4:2:2 ProRes. If you don't know about Pro Res, it's become the industry standard for post production and now cameras shoot with it. Pro Res compression uses wavelet technology, which is similar to JPEG. It compresses each frame individually and is 99% lossless. The only downside to the Pocket Cinema camera is that it's a small imager, just standard 1080p. However, it's a super small camera, so you get best of both worlds.

There are a dozen really powerful sub $1k cameras, each of them have their pro's and con's. However, if your budget is $3k, you should be buying a $1k camera and spending $2k on lenses and accessories. Most of the modern still glass today is all electronic, so it's very hard to do repeat focus and manual aperture. This is where older still glass or modern cine glass comes into play. There are three companies making very nice modern cine glass; Rokinon, GL Optics and Veydra. Prices for new glass range from $350 - $3000 per lens. Used however, you can find some smoking deals. Also, there is nothing wrong with some classic still glass, a lot of people use Nikon primes and zooms because there is a huge collection of non-electronic glass out there, fro multiple brands. In today's world, glass is everything because the cameras (imagers) are so good and crisp, the quality of the glass shows through much more then with DV or even HDV.

So this begs the question... what to buy! Well, it's really up to exactly what you wanna do and what quality you're looking for. This post was designed to educate about what's changed in technology, but there are many choices you have to make. Is quality more important then features? Is critical audio necessary? Can you get away with a camcorder like a Panasonic AF100A? These are subjects that should be thought about before making a decision. I've been a shooter for over two decades and I do most of my shooting with a pair of Blackmagic Pocket cameras. I'm working on my third documentary feature shot almost exclusively with them and I personally love them for the size, portability, recording format and quality. Sure, they don't have slow mo or 4k, but I don't need those features. I'm very happy with my results and I just love being able to manipulate so much in post production, it's great. There are many other cameras like it in the $3k range used, but if your budget is $3k... it's gonna be hard to get a camera like it WITH GLASS for $3k. So the sky's the limit! I suggest google searching and seeing what's out there. Read reviews, and understand the formatting they use before purchasing.

I hope this has been informative! Ask more questions if you want.
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#10 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 04:19 AM

Some might suggest the $1,000 Blackmagic Pocket Camera, but I frankly find it's odd super-16 sensor and low 1080p resolution as limiting factors.


Those are awesome factors. Who wants to deal with 4k media? Nobody... and since 1080p is the "industry standard" for deliverables, it kinda makes sense to shoot with it. Small imager means you only use the center of the glass, which you may not know, is the sweet spot. That's where the image is the most clear, the further out you get from the center, the more distortion you get. Commercial/professional glass focal lengths are a fixed measurement that have zero impact on the imager size. Most everyone uses S35mm glass on S16mm size imagers and film cameras for that matter. It's up to the cinematographer to know what a 50mm lens looks like on S16 vs S35. Yes, it's hard to get shallow depth of field, but it's not impossible.
 

Some say the image looks pretty good in RAW, but I can make my GH4 look just as good as 99% of RAW footage if shot in a controlled environment.


RAW is another world. Once you debayer in camera and bake in the limited color space of Rec 709, you can compress the color space all you want into that Rec 709 image, it will never look anywhere near actual RAW. Not only is the raw 12 bit 4:4:4 with lossless compression, but it does the debayer in DaVinci. So you have much more information to work with color wise. All of the aliasing nonsense you get with in camera debayer 4:2:2, is all gone. The colors no longer bleed, they are crisp and the 12 bit color space delivers an ACTUAL 12 stops of dynamic range, not a made-up number.
 

I can shoot my GH4 at Cinema 4K resolution, and then down-rez is post to 2k resolution, and will have a true 4:4:4 color space, something no native sensor can accomplish.


The GH4 shoots 8 bit 4:2:0, that's the recording format. That's what you will be stuck coloring with. Sure, technically you can scale it down to 2k, but you still have the same limitations in color space. You don't magically gain color space, you would simply be reducing the aliasing lines between the channels. Plus, I don't think you can get anything out of that red channel, it's missing so much data, you'll be lucky to get 4:4:2 out of it.

Ohh and you're wrong about a native imager not getting 4:4:4. You don't need very many extra/spare pixels to achieve that. Red, Arri and Blackmagic have been doing it from inception.
 

Short of some of the higher-end Blackmagic Design cameras like the URSA, no camera in that price range (other than GH4) can shoot true Cinema 4K, meaning that you're dealing with Ultra-HD - which will not natively down-rez to 2k in post to get a 4:4:4 from it. It'll down-rez to 1080p, which is fine for DVD and other home media delivery, but will require an uo-scaling to deliver a DCP.


The blackmagic URSA mini's aren't anywhere near the price tag of the GH4. To do an URSA mini package properly, you're looking at between $6 - $8k depending on which body you buy. The GH4 and A7SII kinda stand alone in the world of pocket-sized 4k cameras. I wouldn't consider either one "cinema" by any stretch of the imagination. The closest thing for the price to an actual cinema camera is the Pocket camera.

Also, the whole idea of shooting 4k, scaling down to 2k and stuff, what a pain. Far better to link original camera media in your editing software, edit the show, import to DaVinci for color and export from DaVinci a final colored piece in the native camera resolution and format.
 

You can get a GH4 used for around $1,000.... The new Atomos Ninja FLAME for $1,300.... v-log update for $100.00, and you'd have a pretty nice setup with a GH4 that could deliver anything natively up to Cinema 4k (10-bit, 4:2:2 DNxHR, 12 stops DR, etc.


Again, trying to solve camera problems with upgrades, what a joke. It just shows what a toy the GH4 is, you can't even record with it properly unless you add outboard gear. Now you need to have a shoulder rig to mount the stupid Ninja to, cables running from the camera to the recorder and you're STILL only capturing 10 bit 4:2:2, which is again, the lowest acceptable quality for broadcast. All of that money spent because somehow you NEED 4k... for what?

Give me 1080p 12 bit RAW any day of the week over 4k 8 bit 4:2:0 Long GOP MPEG.

You should really rent a decent cinema camera and learn what it's like to use one. The experience is polar opposite to the GH4, which I've used... I've colored... and I've bitched and moaned about it's worthless results. Great toy to play with when bored, but not a serious camera. Far better to buy a more standard 1080p camcorder and save the money for something else.
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#11 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 05:46 AM

Those are awesome factors. Who wants to deal with 4k media? Nobody... and since 1080p is the "industry standard" for deliverables, it kinda makes sense to shoot with it. 

 

 

Well, why do we need any 4K camera's then? Why bother shooting on a Red or any other cinema camera that claims 4k or 5k capabilities? 1080p is not the 'standard' for deliverable in Cinema, 2k is. 2k is larger than 1080p. In order to get a 2k image from a 1080p image, you either need to upscale or add black bars. That is a 'work-around' if you ask me, to a problem that we already have the solution for. And 1080p may be standard in broadcast and home video, but Netflix and Amazon are now calling for 4k delivery for originals, and many other places will start soon. 

 

The GH4 shoots 8 bit 4:2:0, that's the recording format. That's what you will be stuck coloring with. Sure, technically you can scale it down to 2k, but you still have the same limitations in color space. You don't magically gain color space, you would simply be reducing the aliasing lines between the channels. Plus, I don't think you can get anything out of that red channel, it's missing so much data, you'll be lucky to get 4:4:2 out of it.

Ohh and you're wrong about a native imager not getting 4:4:4. You don't need very many extra/spare pixels to achieve that. Red, Arri and Blackmagic have been doing it from inception.

 

Yes, internally the GH4 records 4:2:0 8-bit in a highly compressed MPEG format. I never said the GH4 was ready out of the box for professional work, either. Once you pair it with a Flame, you can record Cinema 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 in Avid DNxHR HQ format, which is worlds away from MPEG. You're still under $2,400 for that setup right there. 

 

Oh, and are you going to tell me that the Blackmagic Pocket, with a true 1920x1080 pixel set, can somehow produce a true 4:4:4 image? Sure, some sensors can do it, but to my knowledge the pocket sensor cannot. Therefore, you cannot get true 4:4:4 from a pocket camera.

 

 

The blackmagic URSA mini's aren't anywhere near the price tag of the GH4. To do an URSA mini package properly, you're looking at between $6 - $8k depending on which body you buy. The GH4 and A7SII kinda stand alone in the world of pocket-sized 4k cameras. I wouldn't consider either one "cinema" by any stretch of the imagination. The closest thing for the price to an actual cinema camera is the Pocket camera.

 

The base mini is $2,995 I believe. Technically, you need only outfit it with a EF lens, battery, and recording media.

 

And what exactly makes the Pocket a 'cinema' camera? I have always wondered this... The resolution is too low for cinema, since cinema is 2k and not 1080p. The pocket 'cinema' camera is a selling title made up from Blackmagic in an attempt to lure people to buy the camera. The GH4 is as much a cinema camera as the pocket is. With the GH4 in v-log recorded externally, I can get a 12 stop dynamic range (only 1 less stop than the pocket), and have a more cinematic sized sensor. 10-bit vs 12-bit is NOT that big of a difference to count. 

 

Also, the whole idea of shooting 4k, scaling down to 2k and stuff, what a pain. Far better to link original camera media in your editing software, edit the show, import to DaVinci for color and export from DaVinci a final colored piece in the native camera resolution and format.

 

A pain? seriously? So between the GH4 and the Pocket shot at Log, what exactly makes the down-scaling of 4k to 2k any more difficult? Since the pocket footage will have to go into resolve in the first place to get a descent grade from the log, neither workflow is more difficult than the other. It's literally 5 mouse clicks to down-convert 4k to 2k.

 

And I cannot speak for exporting to other systems. I use Resolve for editing, color, and output. I use Fusion 8 for VFX, which round-trips with Resolve like Premiere does with AE. I use Protools for audio. So in my case (as it should be in anyone's case who want's to), I simply set my project timeline at 2k or 1080p and resolve handles said down-conversion immediately when placing the clip on the timeline. The only other professional editor inho capable of editing professionally is Media Composer. Premiere is a joke of an editor, as is after effects. If you want true VFX composing, check out Fusion. With Resolve 12.5, it now does more editing tricks then Premiere does. 

 

Again, trying to solve camera problems with upgrades, what a joke. It just shows what a toy the GH4 is, you can't even record with it properly unless you add outboard gear. Now you need to have a shoulder rig to mount the stupid Ninja to, cables running from the camera to the recorder and you're STILL only capturing 10 bit 4:2:2, which is again, the lowest acceptable quality for broadcast. All of that money spent because somehow you NEED 4k... for what?

Give me 1080p 12 bit RAW any day of the week over 4k 8 bit 4:2:0 Long GOP MPEG.

 

And exactly what camera can you record with out of the box that is a true 'cinema' camera? The pocket can record, yes - but if you wan't audio you'll need an external solution for that. Any other pricier camera will require more 'outboard' crap than a 7" recorder, trust me. Have you ever seen the accessories list to get a RED body working? I have. That is the nature of professional filmmaking. We ADD things to the camera's to make them work how we need. 

 

You should really rent a decent cinema camera and learn what it's like to use one. The experience is polar opposite to the GH4, which I've used... I've colored... and I've bitched and moaned about it's worthless results. Great toy to play with when bored, but not a serious camera. Far better to buy a more standard 1080p camcorder and save the money for something else.

 

I owned a pocket for 9 months and sold it. The thing was atrocious. Blew through batteries like nothing, shut down on me twice during recording, went through 4 different card brands before I found one that would record RAW, etc, etc. Then trying to play those RAW log clips back was a nightmare. I have an 8-core, 64GB ram, 390x PC system, on a raid array for in and out, and I could not get a smooth playback at 1/4 resolution. Talk about 4k being a nightmare. And if you're not shooting RAW log with the pocket camera, you're not using it to whatever little potential it has. 

 

It's also worth noting that for the pocket to be such a cinema camera, why has nothing been shot on it released in cinemas? If you ask me, adding the tag 'cinema camera' to it was Blackmagic's way of causing filmmakers to swoon over the camera. 

 

You see, I'll conclude by saying this. And it's really the most important aspect anyway: It does not matter what you shoot on. 28 days later was shot on an XL2 and received wide release. Paranormal Activity was shot on handy-cams and received wide release. Stat wars was shot on 2/3" CCD's at 8-bit 4:2:2 and, well... The point is, no one gives two chicken legs what you shot the damn thing on. Part of this whole problem arises from filmmakers themselves, who see themselves as the 'inspectors'. They claim they can tell a GH4 from a RED, and any other number of things... But you know what, we don't make movies for other filmmakers to pixel peep at. We make films for the enjoyment of the general public. The general public does not even know what dynamic range means, let alone tell rather it was shot at 4k or 4.6k or 5k. By the time that image reaches the audience, it's already been through so many different color corrections and processing that such differences are hardly visible. A good DP knows how to properly expose for a DSLR vs a RED, so as not to blow things out. So in a properly shot DSLR film, you would not see any DR issues.

 

And really, this is the part that infuriates me the most. People will come on forums all day and brag about how 13 stops is better than 12 and how a 4.6k sensor is better than a 4k sensor, and how a Chrozel matte box is better than red rock, and on and on it goes. Little do they seem to know that Joe audience members could give a crap. Instead, new filmmakers come here and see discussions that one must shoot on an Alexa to have a properly looking film, and then get discouraged from making a movie because they don't have the money to rent or buy one. Same way with budgets, like in our other argument. You say that you need hundreds of thousands of dollars to make a proper feature and anyone who tries with anything less is just a kid having fun with his toy camera. This is ignoring the fact that many films have been released on budget lower than $100k, some much, much lower!

 

In fact, it's arguments like this that turned me off of filmmaking for so long. I was a member of this forum since way back probably 10 years ago... All I heard was how you needed millions to make a movie, so I said 'oh well, I won't then'. Back then, one might well have made that argument and it have been fairly valid. Today, when camera's are available for $1,000 that once would have cost $200,000 - we should not be having this discussion at all. The digital revolution was suppose to make filmmaking more accessible. Instead, we are still arguing over which high priced camera system is the one needed to achieve any success. It's just plain out absurd.

 

A GH4 is perfectly capable of making an image that can play on a cinema screen. The only reason you don't see it is because films that are released in cinema's have such a large budget that renting an Alexa for a few weeks is hardly a dent. It's not because the GH4 is not capable of doing it. 

 

Here is an idea: Go buy a camera and shoot something with it. Chances are, not matter what kind of camera it is, you won't be successful at it. That is the reality of filmmaking. 


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 23 April 2016 - 05:57 AM.

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#12 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 06:07 AM

I'm not sure why you insist on 4k for what is termed as small YouTube projects, when most broadcast TV is HD. 4k may be an ideal (assuming larger screens), but not essential and adds issues to the post production requirements


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#13 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 06:13 AM

I'm not sure why you insist on 4k for what is termed as small YouTube projects, when most broadcast TV is HD. 4k may be an ideal (assuming larger screens), but not essential and adds issues to the post production requirements

 

Well, the GH4 is perfectly capable of shooting 1080p if that is needed. I'm simply saying the GH4 is a well rounded camera that can do pretty much anything you need, natively from SD to 4K - and it won't break your bank account doing it. It's a camera that will allow you to grow over time as needs increase, without needing to buy a whole new camera next year when you want to experiment with 4k. 

 

In fact, if YouTube projects is the ultimate goal, then the GH4 is literally perfect, because it is so flexible, and because the 8-bit 4:2:0 recording will not be that much of a dealbreaker. It appears that Tyler would suggest something like the Pocket camera, which requires a whole separate grading workflow to get a usable image, and then tells me my 4k-2k workflow is difficult and time consuming.

 

And actually, YouTube does accept 4K, and in some cases it might just help your videos get seen more. Many people who bought these 4k sets are looking for 4k content, which is hard to find. If you notice, pioneers are usually the ones who glean the most success from things.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 23 April 2016 - 06:17 AM.

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#14 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 09:05 AM

The GH4 shoots 8 bit 4:2:0, that's the recording format. That's what you will be stuck coloring with. Sure, technically you can scale it down to 2k, but you still have the same limitations in color space. You don't magically gain color space, you would simply be reducing the aliasing lines between the channels. Plus, I don't think you can get anything out of that red channel, it's missing so much data, you'll be lucky to get 4:4:2 out of it.

 

Tyler, do you have actual experience in this area? I do, and I can tell you, it is not as simple as what you're making it out to be. Not anywhere close, actually. I can see where your theory of 'it's only squashing down the pixels and things' is coming from, but it throws out everything we know about pixel science.

 

For starters, a 4k image, recorded at 4:2:0 contains the SAME color information as a 2k image recorded at 4:4:4. If we kept the 4k at 4k, obviously we can't 'create' anything from thin air. However, when you reduce the 4k to 2k, you are not just ;shrinking' the image - you are combining all the color information from the 4k into a compressed 2k. This is simply scientific fact on color science, and most anyone who knows about this stuff will back that up fully. So yes, a 4k 4:2:0 image, super-sampled to 2k WILL IN FACT give you true 4:4:4 color space. This is not a disputed fact at all. Of course, it probably will not help with bit depth at all, since you CANNOT really 'create' more shades of color, no matter how much you try. So that super-sampled 2k 4:4:4 will still be 8-bit (even if you throw it in a 10-bit wrapper), but that does not change the fact that colors DO convert to 4:4:4. There is some debate scientifically about rather the down-sampled image is something along the lines of 9-bit'ish or so, but I don't really buy it.

SO, YES, IT IS A FACT that if you shoot at 4k 4:2:0 8-bit and do an even super-sample, you WILL end up with true 2k 4:4:4 8-bit. This is not in dispute. The 'bit' part might be, but that is for another argument.

NOW, for those who might attempt this: a word of warning. Simply 'shrinking' down the 4k to 2k will not give you the extra information. Most programs, when you throw a 4k on a 2k timeline, it throws away the excess color information that it doesn't need. If you drop a 4k file on a 2k timeline in premiere, you will get a 2k 4:2:0 version of that file. The super-sampling has to be done in a select few programs that keep at least 10-bit 4:4:4 color across the board - the two I know of are After Effects and Davinci Resolve. I do not believe Media Encoder will do it, either.

 

I do not know the steps in AE, but in resolve, one must do the following:

 

1. Open a new resolve project.

2. Change the timeline resolution to 2k or 1080p, depending on rather your original footage is C4K or UHD.

3. Drop your clip onto the 2k/1080 timeline.

4. No need to mess with aspect ratios. C4K and 2K are both 1.85:1 and UHD and 1080p are both 16:9, they will scale perfectly.

5. Go to the deliver tab, and select the following settings:

        Format: Quicktime

        Codec: DNxHR 444 10-bit

        Aspect: ensure your ratios match.

6. Add to render Q and render.

 

By the way, while you're in Resolve doing this, you can throw a Film Convert or MB film on the clip prior to exporting, just to give it that sort of 'shot on film look' if you desire.

 

Boom, done. Your exported file is now a 2k 4:4:4 8-bit file in a 10-bit wrapper.

 

Now, you CAN get true 10-bit though if you originate your GH4 footage on a Flame or Ninja, which records 10-bit natively. You'll also enjoy an even cleaner image, since it originates the footage in DNxHR. If you do this, just follow the same steps as above, and you'll have a 2k 4:4:4 10-bit file.

 

I'd also highly suggest using a Flame or Ninja recorder if you use the VLOG on the GH4 - since 10-bits will take better advantage of the rolloff and additional 2 stops of DR.

 

Oh, and just one final note: The Pocket Cinema Camera only captures 13-stops in RAW. In Prores (which many shoot in), you're looking at 12 - same as the GH4 recorded in VLOG. 

 

---

Here is a nice video that better explains the science behind color super-sampling. 3:45 is the part that explains it. His information is wrong about how easy it is achieve it though, he assums that just dropping a 4k in a 2k timeline will do it, which it will not - as I explained above.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 23 April 2016 - 09:19 AM.

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#15 JD Hartman

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 09:16 AM

For a project like the OP's, why would you buy a camera body instead of just renting for the duration of the project?


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#16 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 09:23 AM

Well, he said he was looking to shoot some small youtubish projects, so that assumes he means more than one over a period of time. Renting a camera everytime you do this would get cost prohibitive. A GH4 with a 14-45 kit lens will cost you $1,100 used. To rent a GH4 with a lens, you'd probably be looking at at least $300 a weekend. Therefore, if you ever intend to shoot more than 3 projects, it's cheaper to buy.

 

Renting is fine if you are only planning on a select few projects over a period of years (like feature films), and you don't want to invest in a camera to only use once, or you cannot afford to buy the best camera... When you're doing many projects, renting becomes way too expensive. Renting can also be too expensive if your single project spans over a period of time. A GH4 cost around $1,000 to rent for 4 weeks, yet you can buy it for that same price... Even if he is talking about one project, a XL2 is nowhere near as good as a GH4, so therefore my advice still applies. 

 

For YouTube, he need not worry about a Flame or Ninja or even SpeedBoosters or anything more than a good kit lens, like the 14-45. Nor would he even need to worry about 4k-2k, that was simply to education Tyler on the super-sampling. 

 

Also, given that his intended is Youtube.... Renting a camera for that seems overkill to me. 


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 23 April 2016 - 09:30 AM.

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#17 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 01:05 PM

Well, why do we need any 4K camera's then?


4k exists because: "If you make it, they will buy it"

Bigger is always better anyway right?

How about Super 16? Low ASA stocks are only roughly 2.5k worth of information, yet a good S16 product looks better then MOST digital cinema. What's that all about?
 

Oh, and are you going to tell me that the Blackmagic Pocket, with a true 1920x1080 pixel set, can somehow produce a true 4:4:4 image? Sure, some sensors can do it, but to my knowledge the pocket sensor cannot. Therefore, you cannot get true 4:4:4 from a pocket camera.


Each pixel has 1 red, 1 green and 1 blue photosite behind it in RGB RAW mode, according to Blackmagic design's chief technology specialist.
 

And what exactly makes the Pocket a 'cinema' camera?


- It has a 16 bit image processing system and 12 bit uncompressed RAW recording for full-dynamic range capture.
- Actual 12 stops of latitude recorded to card, unlike Panasonic who measures the imagers capabilities.
- Over-all soft/smooth image with Alexa-like, super soft highlight clipping.
- Film-like color science (copied from the Alexa)
- Has industry standard controls (Precise variable kelvin control, shutter angle and ASA)
 

The resolution is too low for cinema, since cinema is 2k and not 1080p.


Cinema is 1.85:1 (2048x1080) and internet, television, BluRay is 1.75:1 (1920x1080)

To present 1.85:1 on the internet, television or BluRay, you are putting black bars at the top and bottom. Thus your image is slightly smaller then your display device.

To present 1.75:1 on the internet, television or BluRay, the image is presented 1:1, filling the screen of your display device.

What's funny is that digital cinema projectors, use the same 1.75:1 aspect ratio imagers our home electronics use. So they actually crop slightly for 2k, 4k 1.85:1 presentations. So theaters have no problem projecting 1920x1080, they just don't want to because they'd have to change the screen matte. This is why everyone upscales 1920x1080 material to fit into the 2k 1.85:1 frame for theatrical release. It has nothing to do with technology, it has to do with theaters being lazy.

Mind you, nobody is going to notice the 128 missing pixels when you're 20 feet or more away. Again, I've had theatrical runs of two movies I shot in 1080p and they looked pretty good on the big screen, better then I expected.
 

The GH4 is as much a cinema camera as the pocket is. With the GH4 in v-log recorded externally, I can get a 12 stop dynamic range


Panasonic doesn't have cinema color science, it has "video" color science. This is the biggest problem with it, the images always steer towards being cold. The imager also has harsh highlight clipping issues, when it clips, it can actually tear the image. The camera has a 10 bit processing system and bakes in REC709 both internally and externally. So even when you make the image flat using V-log, you still don't have the dynamic range necessary to expand to 12 stops of latitude. Yes, it's better with an external recorder, but not great.
 

10-bit vs 12-bit is NOT that big of a difference to count.


It's true, the difference between 10 bit and 12 bit isn't that big when you don't have 12 bit capabilities. When you DO have 12 bit capabilities, the difference is night and day, especially in the coloring suite. One other thing to note DCP is a 12 bit format.
 

Since the pocket footage will have to go into resolve in the first place to get a descent grade from the log, neither workflow is more difficult than the other.


Blackmagic have done a fantastic job with the compatibility of Cinema DNG, which is what their cameras use. Premiere and Final Cut X can use the Cinema DNG natively. For Avid (what I use) we simply use DaVinci, select the folder we wish to transcode and it spits out Avid MXF or Pro Res. I've converted full 64gb cards in less then 10 minutes on my bay. So it's SUPER fast to convert because there is no scaling going on, it's a simple 1:1 conversion with a LUT applied.

For my personal shoots which are mostly for internet use, I work in 10 bit Pro Res 4:2:2 HQ. It's a 220Mbps codec which is 99% lossless and has a wider dynamic range then standard Rec709 codec's like Long GOP MPEG. So I shoot with a LOG output or "film" mode, edit using the Pro Res LOG footage with no grading. When done, I will grade the whole show and export a final from DaVinci. I don't do any scaling and my final output is 1 generation off my camera original. I also don't use "looks" of any kind on my stuff. I color everything by hand to match what the camera looks like natively. I have used film "looks" to fix shoots that used substandard cameras, but for the pocket camera, it's unnecessary. A good multi-layer grade will look fine.

In terms of Audio, I do my mixing with Avid. It uses the same rtas plugin suite as Pro Tools and it allows me to tweak my final mix as I edit. It's one of the reasons I continue to use Avid, the audio portion is WICKED powerful and all the effects are real time.
 

The pocket can record, yes - but if you wan't audio you'll need an external solution for that.


I record 90% of my audio using the 1/8" input of the pocket camera. I have a Sennheiser wireless lav kit which screws onto the top of the camera. Yes, the pocket camera has very noisy preamp, but unless you're doing an absolutely silent scene, you will never notice them. The rare occasions I need more then 1 mic and/or critical noiseless recording, I have a Zoom 4 channel recorder that screws into the top of the camera. I will then run the 1/8" stereo out from the Zoom into the pocket camera and have one mic on left channel and one on right channel. If for some reason the noise floor is too high, I will grab the audio from the Zoom to compensate. If you have more then two people mic'ed and audio becomes more critical, it's time for a sound guy. However, I always give the sound guy my wireless transmitter and they will send me a mixdown that will plug directly into the pocket camera. This way I've got good audio on my editing suite without having to sync anything. I generally only sync what I need, maybe one or two lines of dialog that I need separate.

If I use someone else to mix my audio, I will use pluraleyes on the finished shots and hand the mixer an OMF file of all the audio used, synched to the clips. This way, when they import into Pro Tools, everything will be lined up with 60 second handles. It's a great trick to save time in prepping for post AND doesn't really take much time in the back end to prep. Why sync 300 clips, most of which you won't use, when you can sync just the clips you need when finished with the project.
 

I owned a pocket for 9 months and sold it. The thing was atrocious.


The battery issue is one of those things you have to learn about. Once you figure out a good workflow, it's not a problem anymore. The batteries are $12 dollars and if you start recording and let the camera run, they will last the length of an entire card at Pro Res HQ resolution (42 min). If you're constantly starting, stopping and turning the camera on and off, the battery will stop working. On bigger shows where you need the camera to be on for long periods of time during the day, run external power. There are many inexpensive solutions for shoulder rigs which work great.

In terms of the cards, yea the camera isn't a toy, it records at a high bitrate. No other camera on the market allows you to record RAW or Pro Res HQ onto standard SD cards. It's by far the cheapest route to go, considering the bigger cameras all run CFAST or SSD's, both of which are tremendously expensive. The standard 95MBps, 64gb SD cards are always on sale at Amazon for $48.00.

I have a Mac Pro Tower with double Xeon 5400's and Harpertown chipset, which is around 8 years old. It's an 8 core 2.8ghz machine with 12gb of ram, NVidia 680 4gb video card, AJA Kona card and Red Rocket. I have a tiny it of internal raided storage (around 4gb) and I use external drives for most of my clients projects.

I can playback Red Code @ 4k no problem. I can playback Pro Res XQ 4k no problem. I can playback cinema DNG 4k and from my pocket camera, no problem either. Heck, I'm doing a very complex Red rendering job right now using firewire drives which are very slow and I'm still up at around 30fps converting 4k to 2k, with 4 nodes and two mattes per shot.

Clearly it's time for a mac? LOL :)
 

SO, YES, IT IS A FACT that if you shoot at 4k 4:2:0 8-bit and do an even super-sample, you WILL end up with true 2k 4:4:4 8-bit. This is not in dispute. The 'bit' part might be, but that is for another argument.


I understand how it works. I just don't believe you can extrapolate enough red data to fill in the gaps. There will always be substantially less Cr information then Y and Cb channels.
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#18 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 02:08 PM

Hey George,

For under $3k you can definitely get a used C100. Personally, I think it's the best bang for your buck. It may not look like much on paper, but it's a brilliant all-around camera and I use it for corporate, doc, and low budget narrative all the time. Some of the benefits:

Super35 size sensor with EF mount
Very good dynamic range with soft highlight roll-off
Professional picture style adjustments (knee, gamma, pedestal, matrix)
Excellent color
Excellent low-light performance up to 20,000 ISO
Very little rolling shutter
Very little moire and aliasing
Very clean native 850 ISO
Built in ND filter wheel
Built in XLRs for audio with proper manual settings
Built in monitor with waveform/vectorscope
Good ergonomics for run-and-gun (think Canon Scoopic or Bolex vs shoulder mounted)
Batteries last forever
SD cards last forever
Parallel dual recording for safety or series recording for long continuous durations
Intervalometer
Really fast usable autofocus with EF lenses
Reliable build and firmware

The only things it doesn't do is overcranking or 4K. It's 1920x1080 24p, 30p or 1280x720 60i. And it is 4:2:0 8bit limited. However, you can always attach an HDMI recorder and get Prores 4:2:2 out of it if you want. Not really necessary unless you'll be doing a lot of heavy grading afterward. In my opinion, it's a hell of a camera for the price. I'd still shoot with it any day, which I can't really say for the GH4, Blackmagic Pocket, or A7S as I find each to have too many compromises.

Good lenses to pair with: Canon 17-55 f2.8, 24-105 f4 IS, 70-200 f2.8 L IS, old still photo primes from Nikon, Pentax, Contax Zeiss, Leica R, Zeiss ZE, any cinema EF lens. I put my Canon Compact Cinema Zooms on them frequently, as well as Contax and Pentax glass with Leitax adapters.
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#19 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 02:50 PM

P.S.

I would recommend attaching your own monitor or EVF to the camera. The little flip monitor on the back isn't great for focus. I usually attach my Cineroid viewfinder with a top cheese plate from Small Rig or Wooden Camera and a Wooden Camera EVF mount.

Here's how I'm rigging it up for full studio style shooting:

image.jpeg


And in the smaller run-and-gun mode:

image.jpeg
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#20 George Ebersole

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 03:37 PM

Okay, thanks for the replies.  I'm still reading through the responses and getting caught up on jargon.  CCDs are out, CMOSes are in.  Speed boosters "suck in" more light for cameras with limited apartures.  And, since most digital stills now shoot video, it looks like everyone's talking F stops instead of T stops.

 

Okay.

 

Lots of options.

 

The reason I chose the Canon prosumer in my opening post as because of the EOS lens options.  But it looks like PL mounts are now standard, so whatever lens an old 16mm could use, you can now slap onto a DSLR or more recent prosumer camera.

 

I'm not too concerned about scaling.  It's just getting uploaded to the net on a single channel.  If some promoter wants a hard copy ... well, he can come make one himself.

 

More stuff to learn and to get caught up on.  Well, at least the days of one Fujinon lens on an Iki are over.  But man ... talk about a tech explosion in the field.  Wow.  I am almost feeling overwhelmed, but I'll get through it.

 

Again, thanks.  I've got to finish reading all of your replies.


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