Zacuto USA goes to great lengths to compare nine HD video cameras in The Revenge Of The Great Camera Shootout 2012. With all the footage shot and judged, the camera most favoured by many accomplished filmmakers — including Francis Ford Coppola — was a huge surprise.
The showdown was a sequel to the Great Camera Shootout of 2010 and 2011, which focused on raw technical performance of cameras from Canon, Sony, Panasonic, RED and others. This year, rather than straight pixel-peeping, Zacuto paired each camera with a professional cinematographer and a pre-staged scene.
The contenders included a wide range of cameras, ranging from the $US65,000 Sony F65, right down to the iPhone 4. Audiences of filmmakers around the world were shown each camera's results, the names of each camera remaining a mystery. The most favoured machine, to the shock of many, turned out to be the $US700 Panasonic GH2 micro four-thirds camera.
It's impressive that a consumer camera could stand up to professional cinema rigs, but there is a great degree of subjectivity at play here. The skill and decisions of each cinematographer definitely played a key role, as did the personal preferences of those voting.
My personal reaction after watching the blind comparison was that the GH2 shot had sort of a clinical, plastic feel to it. I most favoured what turned out to be the RED Epic. But whatever you are drawn to, a test like this is an amazing testament to the capability of the tools available to today's budding filmmakers.