Tuesday, November 6, 2007

HD Camera Smackdown!

I e-mailed a friend of mine that I'm going to the HD Expo's Sony F23/Band Pro camera demo tomorrow night, and he snapped. He started ranting and raving about how the F23 is obsolete before it's even been released, that it's a "cheap Genesis knockoff," not even good enough to lick the boots of the Panavision Genesis (or the Arri D-20 for that matter), yadda yadda yadda. I sent back my counter argument, and then figured, hey, somebody else might want to see this, too, in case they're on the fence about the latest HD-shooting fanciness out there. My e-mail to my friend is reproduced below (except for the personal bits); please tell me if I have any of the info wrong/outdated, and I'll adjust things accordingly.


To address your F23 rant, though: I don't think the debate is quite so cut-and-dried. The Genesis actually uses a big chunk of Sony imaging technology, so rather than the F23 being a 'cheap Genesis knockoff,' it's more like a different branch from the same tree. And although the Genesis does have an impressively-sized chip, it still (as far as I know) translates into the same ho-hum 1080 resolution. Mainly, it was developed to be usable with Panavision lenses, which is definitely terrific, but I don't think this makes the Genesis an inherently superior camera to all others. Most others, yes, but not all. Now, if it could use Cooke S4s, I might change my tune....

As for the D-20, it would be mind-bendingly magnificent, outstripping all others (even the Genesis), except for one teensy problem -- all the good stuff is only available in 'data' mode, which is still unavailable! I mean, come ON! Nice idea, but I'll reserve my confetti and party hat for next year, when the data mode will presumably be fully operational and the D-20 can show us its full range. Until then, pbthfthfthft. And that's the technical term, I believe.

For my money, it's the the Dalsa Origin which currently kicks the most ass -- depending on how you capture, it has what I like to call 'hyper HD' resolution, plus it uses 16-bit instead of everybody else's 12-bit approach, so it has a latitude of about 12 stops. W00t!

I suspect the RED camera is a whole lotta hype, but I'll hold my judgment until it's fully rolled out (with all accessories, widely available etc.) tested by lots of people and reviewed accordingly.

As for the F23, it has full 4:4:4, and the highest rez is the blah de blah 1080 (snore), but get this: it has 14-bit capture, which definitely makes me curious about its latitude. I fully intend to badger the Band Pro folks on this, as well as about lenses/depth of field/variable frame rate (I'm not so hopeful about that last one), we'll see what happens.

In case you haven't seen this, I strongly recommend the downloadable chart at http://www.hdcompare.com/Cameras.htm. It doesn't mention the D-20's belated 'upgrade' next year, but it's otherwise pretty impressively comprehensive.

. . . .

Geekily yours,


Ladies and gentlemen, the smackdown has commenced. If you'd like the join the fray, e-mail/comment away!

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