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 MX, BMPC4K, GH4, 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.
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