Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Shootout: Panasonic GH3 Quicktime vs Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera ProRes

Here's a short side-by-side handheld comparison of the two cameras shot on Waikiki beach a couple of months ago. This was my first attempt at color grading, but I did my best to match Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera ProRes Film Log to the Panasonic GH3's Quicktime "Vivid" color setting using Sony Vegas Platinum 12 for color correction (since my computer won't download Resolve - grrr).

The first shot in each sequence is with the GH3.  Lenses are the Olympus 11-22mm f/2.8-3.5 for 4/3 (with the Panasonic MA1 adapter) and the Panasonic 14-140mm f/4.0-5.8 OIS (for the shot of the boat only).

I matched the focal lengths of the two cameras by zooming in a little more with the GH3. I used an Opteka 77mm Variable ND to control my aperture (sadly, this filter is discontinued - I now recommend the $14 BestDealUSA Fader ND).

Both cameras were set to record at 1080/30p. No sharpening in this version.

Bottom line - both cameras are keepers for different reasons. As an all-in-one still/video camera, I would take the GH3 over any of its current hybrid competitors.

The Canon 5D Mark III is heavy, expensive, has a fixed LCD and, as with all DSLRs, has no video viewfinder - while the fixed lens, limited codec options and 30 minute clip length limit on the Sony RX10 are too confining (at least for me).

As for the Pocket Cam - it is a cinema camera, not a hybrid camera, so still/video shooters are back to carrying two cameras.  Not optimum. And its other limitations are well known (see the Bloom and Dugdale reviews, among others) - but I'm willing to put up with these challenges because there isn't anything else in this price range with the amount of flexibility this camera provides in post.

I could have colored these images however I liked, and not lost any discernible detail. The camera records an amazing amount of information on a little SD card. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed it. Pushing the 50mbps GH3 image around the way I manipulated the 233mbps from the BMPCC would have washed out the highlights and brought visible noise out in the shadows.  There is also a lot of room for sharpening the image in post.

That said, all the dynamic range in the world won't help if the images are unwatchable. You see a lot of horribly shaky video from this camera, and Panasonic OIS doesn't seem to help. Personally, I would never try to handhold the Pocket Cinema Camera without strapping some kind of grip or handle on it. But that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on a rig or a stabilizer. With an inexpensive pistol grip and a poor man's loupe, the BMPCC can be handheld pretty steadily.

If you are a narrative, experimental, music video, enthusiast or doc shooter who wants more control over the "look" of your images in post and are wiling to put some time in to get it, the Pocket Cinema Camera is for you.

If all of this post-processing stuff bores you and you don't need RAW - but you do want multiple high bit rate codecs and the flexibility of changing lenses to get your favorite "bokeh" - you should get a GH3.

If all you want to do is pull the camera out of the bag, shoot, and get great camera-processed images - buy the RX10.

Note: I have an RX10 reserved for rental from borrowlenses on December 28th.  Over that weekend, I will compare it to GH3 AVCHD and Quicktime and BMPCC ProRes (with the rush of the holidays, I haven't had the time to deal with RAW yet - looks like it's going to mean buying a new computer - doh!).

It will probably take me a few weeks, but I will post the results as soon as I can.  Please follow me here, on G+, on YouTube and on Vimeo so you don't miss it.

As always, even if you don't need a camera right now, please shop with our other sponsors, Adorama, Amazon, BorrowLenses, CoolLCD, DigitalRev, uBid, Vimeo, the the Warner Brothers Shop and others whose display ads you see in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these blog posts coming.  Thanks so much!

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