Flavors of ProRes

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James McDonagh

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Flavors of ProRes

PostSat Feb 03, 2018 12:45 am


URSA Mini Pro user here.

I was just wondering, what do all you professional videographers shoot on for your jobs? Seeing as RAW is overkill for most productions, what flavour of ProRes do you shoot on and why? Is it simply a case that the highest version of ProRes (XQ) is simply the best quality prores that can be delivered and that's why? Also, define "better quality" when it comes to the codec? I ask this because I haven't been able to find out any comparisons online.

Yours sincerely,
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Re: Flavors of ProRes

PostSat Feb 03, 2018 6:38 am

I shot a test of all flavors of ProRes using the same detailed scene a while back. It doesn’t take long at all and you’ll see the differences yourself if you chose a scene with a lot of detail and variation. Generally people shoot the best quality they can within any limitations or constraints if they have that choice.

444 XQ 12bit is the best quality but is very demanding on the camera and in post in terms of storage. It shows the best details and colour.

444 12bit is almost as good with less storage requirements. Shoot that if you can.

422 HQ 10bit is likely the most commonly used ProRes and used to be the best option available prior to the URSA family. It’s now perhaps the best compromise between quality and storage.

If you are very constrained by space the other 422 flavors are an option but each one will show less detail than the previous step. Colour can still be quite good.

James, you can run your own test and know what you prefer in a given situation. Pixel peeping will reveal differences, but with motion video, it can be hard to see problems unless you have side-by-side comparisons.

I usually shoot one of the 12bit options when I want ProRes. Normally shoot one of the raw options though for greater flexibility in post. Raw 3:1 best tradeoff of storage and quality. Others may not agree, but I like shooting with the best quality options that fit my storage capacity (512 GB) and the total duration of the clips.

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Vess Stoytchev

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Re: Flavors of ProRes

PostSat Feb 03, 2018 11:04 am

Great answer from rick.lang! :)

I was also wondering about the visual difference so i made a 5 second shot from a tripod an all ProRes types. From Pxy to XQ the difference in file size was 10 times. I'll post a sample pic at 200% crop.

Chose your prores depending on what you are shooting. Ex: With my colleague we'll shoot a static interview in a few days. Interior with lighting and 422 HQ will be fine. Mainly because of 10 bit and it will be on air. We recently shot a work process for a drilling company. It's basically a day of documentary style. The end video is for internet use only, for their web site and social media. So I export to h264 8bit. We have 2 ssd 256gb and went for 422 as it perfectly fits the need.

I think the lower quality is ok if you expose your material. Of course better quality is preferable but so is a competent cinematographer. And for a little laugh - i would prefer if some people gave me ProRes pxy instead of those ugly mp4 shot on an mirrorless alpha. :)

not the best comparison, but the loss in detail is visible. :)
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Robert Niessner

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Re: Flavors of ProRes

PostSat Feb 03, 2018 1:47 pm

I have to say that ProRes Proxy IMHO looks worse than 12 Mbit HD MPEG2.

My own comparison tests from 2014:
Klick the preview of the full image to open high resolution PNG in new tab.












Robert Niessner
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Jeremy Liguori

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Re: Flavors of ProRes

PostSat Feb 03, 2018 4:37 pm

Lots of good info here, one thing I would add is that you have to consider how much processing you'll be doing to the footage in post. Comparing the different versions for visual differences out of the camera is important, but depending on the scene you may not see a difference between, for example, 422 and 422 HQ. However, when you go to grade that footage, you'll get better results and have more flexibility with the 10 bit 422 HQ.

Personally I find that shooting RAW 4:1 is the best compromise, and I don't find it that much of a hassle to deal with. It actually takes less space than ProRes 444, and you get the added benefits of RAW processing. Additionally because it's RAW, the compression is happening before it's debayered, meaning that you still get 12 bit 444.

Amer Shanabli

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Re: Flavors of ProRes

PostMon Feb 05, 2018 12:48 pm

Hi all,

On my UMP4.6K i don't see color differences if i shoot on ProRes 422 HQ vs ProRes 444 XQ vs RAW Uncompress, even if i exagerate with saturation...the differences is : ProRes 422 XQ is a little bit sharper than ProRes 422 HQ, and RAW Uncompress is a little bit sharper than ProRes 444 XQ, but same colors.

It is normal?
10 bit depth color = 12 bit depth ? i don't think so...

UMP4.6K deliver true 12 bit depth color?
ProRes 444 XQ on UMP4.6K have 12 bit depth color?


1. ProRes 422 HQ.jpg
ProRes 422 HQ - Saturation +100
1. ProRes 422 HQ.jpg (449.75 KiB) Viewed 586 times

2. ProRes 444 XQ.jpg
ProRes 444 XQ - Saturation +100
2. ProRes 444 XQ.jpg (464.79 KiB) Viewed 586 times

3. RAW Uncompress.jpg
RAW Uncompress - Saturation +100
3. RAW Uncompress.jpg (490.59 KiB) Viewed 586 times

Stu Aitken

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Re: Flavors of ProRes

PostMon Feb 05, 2018 2:48 pm

10 bit, 12 bit even 8 bit can all potentially display the same overall range of colour

where they differ is in how much resolution there is to describe that range - in the case of colour this generally boils down to how much graduation there can be between any given values

at some point the resolution is 'enough' and adding more bits doesn't necessarily make a lot of difference (especially when the results end up getting shown on a 8 bit display anyway) .Our vision has far less colour acuity anyway compared to tonal values (hence why colour compression like 422 or 420 is a thing)

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