What Are the Key Performance Differences Between Lower-End and Higher-End Video Cameras?

This video does not try to show that you can shoot everything Hollywood does with a low-end video-recording device. It is a honest comparison, pointing out the reason why high-end cameras cost more.

We've seen many videos where DSLRs or smartphones are used in par with an expensive cinema camera, asking you to tell which is which. As the author of that video cleverly points out, it's very important what is in front of your lens. He shoots in a controlled indoors environment as well as outside and while it's hard to quickly tell which camera is which, the more scientific tests show the superiority of the high-end cinema camera and why feature films use such expensive devices in their works.

The video shows footage from Panasonic GH5, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K, and an ARRI Alexa. While you can have great results from any of these cameras, it's imperative to mention the requirement for consistency of the image overall quality throughout various lighting situations. Because of that, the Alexa won the competition, showing consistent skin tones, color hues, and dynamic range in underexposed, overexposed, and normally exposed situations. The other two cameras performed well, but mostly when the lighting conditions were good for their sensors.

You can shoot a feature on a cheaper camera, but you must be aware of its weak points and try to avoid such lighting situations. The expensive cameras, such as the ARRI in this example, can handle a greater variety of scenarios, and for that reason, they are preferred on high-budget productions.

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2 Comments

Josh Leavitt's picture

I think it's remarkable how well the $1,300 Blackmagic PC 4k stacks up against the $50k ARRI Alexa considering the price gap. Blackmagic is really opening the doors to new videographers and independent film-makers. But I'm sure all of us dream of owning an ARRI 65 and a collection of the ARRI Prime DNA series lenses.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Today we have the opportunity to enjoy almost an ARRI-like look with affordable cinema cameras. I haven't tried the Xeen lenses yet, but they seem to perform quite well too.