Initial test with Pocket Camera

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Frazer Bradshaw

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Initial test with Pocket Camera

PostFri Sep 06, 2013 5:43 pm

Hi all,

I wanted to share an initial test I did with the Pocket camera (a couple weeks ago, now) against my Epic. Mostly I was testing for inter-cut-ability for a doc I'm shooting at the moment, so these have been graded for matching. General impression is quite good, but certainly not with the nuance in skin tone rendition of the Epic (I wasn't expecting to get an ideal match to the Epic, of course).

My main complaint is that there appears to be sharpening that, for me, is most unwelcome. It's painfully clear in the sharpness chart and not quite as painfully clear in my daughter's hair and chin line.

It also occurred to me that what appears to be sharpening, may be a lack of OLPF (optical low pass filter, for anyone who isn't familiar with the abbreviation). I'd love to hear any comment from someone at BMD about which it is, and if it's sharpening, if it might be turned off in latter firmware upgrades. If sharpening, I assume (hope) that it won't be present in the RAW, but RAW means different things to different manufacturers. If OLPF, then I'm afraid I'll be testing some light diffusion filters.

This test doesn't account for any of the highlight issues that have been widely observed (and my camera does exibit the orb effect.

This is a JPG, but it compares very favorably to the uncompressed version. This is a 1:1 crop from 1920x1080 ProResHQ (in the case of the Epic, rendered from 4K RAW).

Image

Cheers,
Frazer Bradshaw
DP Oakland, CA (but currently in Rome)
Frazer Bradshaw
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Oakland, CA
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slvs

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Re: Initial test with Pocket Camera

PostFri Sep 06, 2013 5:53 pm

Fairly certain the BMPCC uses a ~2K sensor, so there's no need for an OLPF since there isn't much (if any) down-sampling from the sensor..
Sam Johnson
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rick.lang

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Re: Initial test with Pocket Camera

PostFri Sep 06, 2013 7:35 pm

frazer wrote:Hi all,

I wanted to share an initial test I did with the Pocket camera (a couple weeks ago, now) against my Epic. Mostly I was testing for inter-cut-ability for a doc I'm shooting at the moment, so these have been graded for matching. General impression is quite good, but certainly not with the nuance in skin tone rendition of the Epic (I wasn't expecting to get an ideal match to the Epic, of course).

My main complaint is that there appears to be sharpening that, for me, is most unwelcome. It's painfully clear in the sharpness chart and not quite as painfully clear in my daughter's hair and chin line.

It also occurred to me that what appears to be sharpening, may be a lack of OLPF.. If sharpening, I assume (hope) that it won't be present in the RAW, but RAW means different things to different manufacturers. If OLPF, then I'm afraid I'll be testing some light diffusion filters...

This is a JPG, but it compares very favorably to the uncompressed version. This is a 1:1 crop from 1920x1080 ProResHQ (in the case of the Epic, rendered from 4K RAW)...

Frazer Bradshaw
DP Oakland, CA (but currently in Rome)


Lovely model! That image of her from the Epic looks very nice.

It is a feature of all BMD cameras that they do not include an OLPF. The images are generally sharper then comparing to cameras with an OLPF given the same lenses are used and so on. The trade off is that the BMD cameras can exhibit more aliasing and moiré.

Frazer, you are comparing an image from Epic raw to ProRes in the BMPCC using different lenses. You didn't mention if the ProRes was untouched ProRes Film (log) or ProRes Video. In any case, you will see subtle improvements in skin tone when using the BMPCC raw images. There are some videos out there that compare BMCC raw and ProRes Film and ProRes Video. Since the sensors are very similar in terms of the applied colour science, they would give you some idea of what to expect from BMPCC raw which you likely would want to film with if intercutting footage with the Epic. I wonder if you will want to try the unreleased BMPC4K as well when you can.

Hopefully BMPCC mathematically lossless compressed raw will be available shortly as it is expected to be in the next firmware update.

Rick Lang
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Frazer Bradshaw

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Re: Initial test with Pocket Camera

PostFri Sep 06, 2013 8:45 pm

Rick, thanks for the response and info, re: no OLPF. Seems unfortunate, but probably one of the ways that the cameras stay as cheap as they are.

Re: the need for an OLPF, I don't make any claim to having a lot of insight into the workings of OLPFs, but it's my understanding that they aren't related to down-sampling, but rather to preventing aliasing, which is not inherently related to native resolution vs resampled resolution. Essentially, that an OLPF diffuses slightly to avoid dramatic contrast from one pixel to the next, which causes aliasing (long ago, I shot a Varicam vs S16 test, and while the Varicam looked much sharper, it's ability to capture very fine detail was far outstripped by S16 because of the necessity to employ OLP Filtration to avoid aliasing). Certainly, correct me if I am misguided in my understanding.

Yes, I did shoot with different lenses, as I needed matching fields of view. I could have shot with a single zoom at two different focal lengths, but that's still not effectively the same lens. But ultimately, this was a test to see how well I could match the cameras given my real world selection of lenses in the two different formats, not an attempt to be objective or scientific.

The Pocket camera was in "film", not video gamma. The contrast was increased a bit to make a more "viewable" image (easier for my clients to view); again, this was a matching test for my real world purposes, not a strictly objective one, by any standards.

The Pocket camera got my attention because of it's size and the ability to use S16 lenses (which I have more than a few of, dating back to my Aaton package). Owning an Epic, I can't see a lot of reason why I'll want to make use of the 4K camera, and to be quite honest, I find the form factor of the two larger BMCC models to be baffling at best and an insult to me as a camera operator, at worst. I built a custom shoulder rig to completely redefine the form factor of the Pocket camera, though I imagine the size and form factor (that it doesn't look like it's of any interest) will serve me well, sooner or later. I feel like I'm constantly trying to re-engineer contemporary form factors (or lack there of) back to something akin to my Aaton.

Cheers,
Frazer Bradshaw
DP, Oakland CA by way of Rome
Frazer Bradshaw
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Mac Jaeger

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Re: Initial test with Pocket Camera

PostFri Sep 06, 2013 8:48 pm

The comparison isn't quite fair, because the way of downsampling the 4k material to 1080 greatly influences the sharpness of the resulting image.
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Kristian Lam

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Re: Initial test with Pocket Camera

PostFri Sep 06, 2013 10:34 pm

frazer wrote:It also occurred to me that what appears to be sharpening, may be a lack of OLPF (optical low pass filter, for anyone who isn't familiar with the abbreviation). I'd love to hear any comment from someone at BMD about which it is, and if it's sharpening, if it might be turned off in latter firmware upgrades. If sharpening, I assume (hope) that it won't be present in the RAW, but RAW means different things to different manufacturers. If OLPF, then I'm afraid I'll be testing some light diffusion filters.


Hi,

There is no in-camera sharpening but there is also no OLPF in the camera.

In RAW, there are options to tweak sharpening depending on the application you use to debayer the RAW file.
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rick.lang

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Re: Initial test with Pocket Camera

PostFri Sep 06, 2013 11:23 pm

frazer wrote:Rick, thanks for the response and info, re: no OLPF. Seems unfortunate, but probably one of the ways that the cameras stay as cheap as they are.

Re: the need for an OLPF, I don't make any claim to having a lot of insight into the workings of OLPFs, but it's my understanding that they aren't related to down-sampling, but rather to preventing aliasing, which is not inherently related to native resolution vs resampled resolution. Essentially, that an OLPF diffuses slightly to avoid dramatic contrast from one pixel to the next, which causes aliasing (long ago, I shot a Varicam vs S16 test, and while the Varicam looked much sharper, it's ability to capture very fine detail was far outstripped by S16 because of the necessity to employ OLP Filtration to avoid aliasing). Certainly, correct me if I am misguided in my understanding...

The Pocket camera got my attention because of it's size and the ability to use S16 lenses (which I have more than a few of, dating back to my Aaton package). Owning an Epic, I can't see a lot of reason why I'll want to make use of the 4K camera, and to be quite honest, I find the form factor of the two larger BMCC models to be baffling at best and an insult to me as a camera operator, at worst. I built a custom shoulder rig to completely redefine the form factor of the Pocket camera, though I imagine the size and form factor (that it doesn't look like it's of any interest) will serve me well, sooner or later. I feel like I'm constantly trying to re-engineer contemporary form factors (or lack there of) back to something akin to my Aaton.

Cheers,
Frazer Bradshaw
DP, Oakland CA by way of Rome


Frazer, thank you for your response. Your understanding re an OLPF seems fine to me, I agree. Just one clarification though on the rationale for not having included an OLPF in any BMD camera. It is a design future to provide a sharper image as stated by Grant Petty, not left off to save money. I suppose one can soften the BMD image with added filters or in post when desired, especially for some beauty shots and that sort of scene where you don't want to reveal the depths of every wrinkle, etc.

Since you own an Epic, I understand why you aren't interested testing how well you can integrate UHD footage from the BMPC4K. Although it could make a possible B-cam to the Epic when you want another camera!

The BMPC4K does have an unusual sensor size for those used to shooting modern Super 35 format, but the sensor is very close to the size of the original Academy 35mm film format which as you know is smaller than S35. Too bad BMD Marketing has closer to label it a S35 sensor on their website, but I'm told other companies like Sony have also taken liberties in describing their sensors as S35 so not without precedent.

Regarding Aaton, you must have felt some sadness with the loss of the Penelope. That was an amazing camera.

All the best,
Rick Lang
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Frazer Bradshaw

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Re: Initial test with Pocket Camera

PostSat Sep 07, 2013 6:24 am

Kristian, thanks for the clarification and info. I'm looking forward to see what RAW will do for me.

As to the question of "fair" in regards to 4K vs HD: I'd argue that it certainly is fair. A camera must be judged by it's capacities. it does me no good to cripple one camera to be fair to another. I was comparing my real world use of the two tools, and if I wanted to shoot 2K on the Epic, then I'd not bother with the Pocket.

Rick, well, I get that sharp is good, but I don't think any manufacturers are employing OLPFs to lessen sharpness, rather to avoid moire and aliasing. Surely, jagged edges in hair and elsewhere is rarely desirable. My understanding is that OLPFs are a difficult and nuanced thing to properly execute well, and that combined with the nasty artifacting of not having one, makes it hard for me to imagine that BMD isn't employing one for aesthetic reason (but I have met with some strange aesthetic reasoning in my day ;-)

I'm not particularly concerned with the 4K camera's sensor size (yes, you are quite right that "Super 35" used to describe sensors is about as useful as "spicy" to describe food ;-) but rather what I take to be a complete disregard for the ergonomics and form factor. I can't find anything about the form factor that makes a shred of sense to me; not the shape, not the orientation of the shape, not the size, not the orientation of the screen nor it's placement, not the placement of the connectors, etc. It is painfully clear that it's form factor was not designed by anyone with professional experience as a cinematographer (and if I'm wrong about that, I'd love to hear justifications by the designers).

Yes, I lament the failure of Penelope :-( It seems that the issues BMD has had with sensors are minor compared to the ones that Aaton experienced. But as you may have heard, Aaton are now working on a small lightweight documentary digital camera, and I can hardly wait! :-)

Cheers,
Frazer
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Re: Initial test with Pocket Camera

PostSat Sep 07, 2013 7:15 am

frazer wrote:Kristian, thanks for the clarification and info. I'm looking forward to see what RAW will do for me.

As to the question of "fair" in regards to 4K vs HD: I'd argue that it certainly is fair. A camera must be judged by it's capacities. it does me no good to cripple one camera to be fair to another. I was comparing my real world use of the two tools, and if I wanted to shoot 2K on the Epic, then I'd not bother with the Pocket.

Rick, well, I get that sharp is good, but I don't think any manufacturers are employing OLPFs to lessen sharpness, rather to avoid moire and aliasing. Surely, jagged edges in hair and elsewhere is rarely desirable. My understanding is that OLPFs are a difficult and nuanced thing to properly execute well, and that combined with the nasty artifacting of not having one, makes it hard for me to imagine that BMD isn't employing one for aesthetic reason (but I have met with some strange aesthetic reasoning in my day ;-)

I'm not particularly concerned with the 4K camera's sensor size (yes, you are quite right that "Super 35" used to describe sensors is about as useful as "spicy" to describe food ;-) but rather what I take to be a complete disregard for the ergonomics and form factor. I can't find anything about the form factor that makes a shred of sense to me; not the shape, not the orientation of the shape, not the size, not the orientation of the screen nor it's placement, not the placement of the connectors, etc. It is painfully clear that it's form factor was not designed by anyone with professional experience as a cinematographer (and if I'm wrong about that, I'd love to hear justifications by the designers).

Yes, I lament the failure of Penelope :-( It seems that the issues BMD has had with sensors are minor compared to the ones that Aaton experienced. But as you may have heard, Aaton are now working on a small lightweight documentary digital camera, and I can hardly wait! :-)

Cheers,
Frazer


Very eloquently said, all of it, you have made me and maybe a few other a little nervous, but you did skip over one huge factor between an Epic and a BMD camera, Pocket or other wise...
(and completely excluding the Production camera, although you mention it's s35 sensor and 4K ability) is price, now I know this may have no bearing on many (professional working DP's) pocket book, But as a general rule I gauge a camera by what it can, or can not do for me by it's retail price, I always have and always will, Rent a RED EPIC when a production/producer demands it, it is by far my favored decision when the budget allows for such things, but as an Independent film maker (Sounds Cliché I know) I want my budget as tightly woven and evenly balanced as possible
or for a better term, better spent on what is needed to achieve the end result.

I must admit your simple screen grabs show off the Epic and that is expected (or should be) but I agree that not using or having the same lenses for comparison is just not going to settle any arguments around here that's for sure, I have been shooting with RED's since the RED ONE,
But now and more, and more lately I find my clients not wanting or needing the cost of a RED Epic, Scarlet or even a RED ONE Rental, they are choosing a 5D MKII, or a Canon C100,or C300 even at a higher rental rate, anyway blah, blah blah!

My point is we can all be, and will be Film Makers shooting at 2.5k or 4K RAW without it costing us a fortune for the camera, gear and accessories...that is another story, and we all know this is a given expense for a BMD camera, and depends on your own personal gear fixation :D
But in the end it is many thousands less than owning a RED EPIC!
And honestly I believe a Cinema, or Production camera will probably get me more work in the long run due to the production costs and overall image quality from a BMD camera compared to a red budget.

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