Sub-£3K Camera Shootout: Red One MX vs. BMPC 4K vs. Panasonic GH4 vs. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera vs. Canon 5D MKIII Raw

If you are wondering what are your available options when it comes to cameras in the sub-3K price range, the following unscientific camera test might give you some clues. The UK-based filmmaker Ollan Colardy recently put the Red One MXBMPC4KGH4, BMPCC, Canon 5D MK III along with the Braun Nizo 801 Super 8 camera side by side to showcase what’s available to shooters under the £3000/$3000 mark. The lighting was the same for all cameras as well as some mild colour correction tweaks were applied to each camera footage – exposure, saturation, contrast and curves included. According to Ollan these cameras all look pretty similar(except for the Braun Nizo Super 8 Camera). The differences, though, can be seen in how each camera handles highlights and how it renders skin tones. Try to find the other differences on your own in the video below.

The Sub-£3K Camera Shootout from olan collardy on Vimeo.

Even though being a camera for more than a decade, the Red One MX seems still to be a feasible option even in 2016 as it produces life-like images, has a pleasing highlight roll-off and yields a decent dynamic range. The camera is relatively heavy, though, especially considering the form factor of the rest of the cameras included in the test. According to Olan, the BMPC4K could be intercut with the RED quite easily, whereas the Canon 5D III Raw probably would involve a lot more work in post.


The GH4, on the other hand, stood surprisingly well despite getting constant complaints from users for its low light performance. The greenish cast and the unnatural look of skin tones are still a serious flow, though, as well as the limited dynamic range when using some of the built-in picture profiles. The 10-bit video feed to an external recorder and the paid V-Log upgrade should resolve some of those issues, but still it’s something you should keep in mind.


The BMPCC camera also surprised me in a way. I guess it’s because Olan wasn’t able to nail down the optimal exposure during testing. A quick tip – never judge your exposure on the BMPCC by only using the flat image on its built-in LCD. Ultimately, if you decide to go the celluloid route, picking a used Braun Nizo 801 SUPER 8 camera for just a couple of hundreds of pounds/dollars could be a viable option, especially if you are a fan of archive footage look or Super 8 format in particular.


So, here there are – six cameras that currently should set you back less than 3K. Probably, it would be nice to see how the Sony A7SII, for instance, would perform next to those behemoths, but if you already have some suggestions feel free to share your insights in the comment section below.

[source: Olan Collardy]

Order Links:

Red One MX 4K Digital Cinema Camera (Body Only; Used)

Blackmagic Design Production Camera 4K (EF Mount)

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera

Lumix DMC-GH4 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only)

Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR Camera (Body Only)

Sony Alpha a7S II Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only)

Braun Nizo 801 Macro Silver TOP OF THE LINE Super 8mm

Claim your copy of DAVINCI RESOLVE 14 - SIMPLIFIED COURSE with 50% off! Get Instant Access for $99!

  • tyger11

    You definitely want to use an external monitor with the BMPCC. SmallHD makes their 500 and 700 series monitors (which do not record), which are pricey but well worth it.

  • JB

    Just the fact the GH4 can intercut with a Red One says a lot. And while you can say the GH4 doesn’t do well in low light, it can hang with any of the other cameras on this list. The only reason the lowlight performance of the GH4 ever comes up is because the A7S came out at the same time and so they’re invariably linked. But the GH4 is actually a low light trooper. You just can’t shoot in the dark. As for the “greenish cast” this sounds like something accidentally ported over from a Sony a7 series forum. I love the GH4 colors and skin tone you can get out of V-Log even if the only grading you do is add the Arri Log-C to Rec-709 lumetri lut. The key I’ve found to good color on the GH4 (especially if you’re not recording 10-bit externally) is to manually white balance. As someone who knows all my own light kits really well I was in the habit of just putting in the Kelvins myself. But I’ve discovered that that never ever quite looks right. Go old school by holding up a gray card under your light sources and doing a real white-balance and you’re whole life in the grading suite will improve.

    • Good point on the WB that actually applies to most cameras – you can set the Kelvin but that won’t take into account and G/M shifts, whereas going the grey card route will.

      I’m a GH4 user myself, but I’m actually blown away by the difference in the highlight handling between it and the Red – but I guess that’s really only to be expected.

    • Jason Waterz

      bro! have you got any links to your work? especially gh4 ones? im looking to invest from reading your post im swaying to the gh4 !

  • Eno

    The last camera (the Braun Nizo with super 8 Kodak film) looks the best! :))

  • It would be nice to include a6300 from Sony, because the image quality is amazing and its 1000$.