While most people who have pre-ordered the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K back in April are still waiting to receive their production unit in the mail, several lucky early adopters like Sareesh Sudhakaran of Wolfcrow already had the chance to get their hands on a pre-production model and do some thorough initial testing.
In this particular case, Sudhakaran decided to find out how does the BMPCC 4K stack up against the GH5 in terms of low-light performance and high ISO capabilities as the filmmaker shares his insights and conclusions alongside the captured test footage in the video below.
First and foremost, it’s worth noting that the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K was recording to CinemaDNG Lossless Film while using the Panasonic 25mm F/1.4. The Panasonic GH5, on the other hand, captured 10-bit 4:2:2 video internally using V-Log L.
The ISO tests began at the lowest value possible with the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, which in this case was ISO 100. As expected, the image produced by the BMPCC 4K between ISOs 100-640 is pretty clean with minimal noise present in the frame. The dynamic range also seems to hold up through the shots, with the highlights from the candle being adequately retained across the board.
At ISO 800 and ISO 1000, however, noise does become more present specifically in the shadow areas of the image. Interestingly enough, Sudhakaran states that at ISO 1250 you should get less noise with the BMPCC 4K when compared to 800 and 1000 increments.
He even recommends to shoot at the suggested ISO and use ND filters to control the exposure if you want to minimize the grainy noise and get overall better results.
Further, at ISO 2500, the quality of the footage continues to degrade as the colors of the skin tones begin to take on a less-attractive hue. This color shift is strongly emphasized at ISO 3200 and 6400 where image degradation is even more apparent, making the footage almost unusable.
Going even higher to ISO 12800 and 25600, you’ll find no use from the video you’ve captured – unless you want to film with these settings on purpose or just for testing.
All in all, both rivals seem to perform comparably, however, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K produces slightly better-looking footage. In fact, while the dynamic range may be similar on both cameras, the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K deals with highlights slightly better than the GH5.
Furthermore, the skin tones and overall colors on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K turn out to be more consistent across most ISOs, while the GH5 exhibits an off-putting green tint to the image that’s clearly noticeable at ISO 6400 and beyond.
Based on the tests above, it is safe to say that the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is certainly a camera worthy of its hype that is also capable of producing some decent low light footage at higher ISOs. In case you want to figure out how does the BMPCC 4K holds up against a high-end cinema camera like the ARRI ALEXA XT, check out our previous article on the topic here.
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