Sharp 8K Camera Low Light Test

The brand new Sharp 8K camera has set the filmmaking community buzzing with questions like – how detailed does the 8K really look? How is the dynamic range? What are the other important specs? Does Sharp still make cameras?

As the camera makes its way into the hands of reviewers many of these questions will be answered beyond the spec sheet but a big one is the low light performance. So, let’s figure that out right away with Dave Altizer at Kinotika.

According to the basic, real-world tests done in this video, the Sharp seems to perform in quite a similar manner to other Micro 4/3s cameras like the Panasonic GH5. The image looks nice and clean up to ISO 1600 and 3200 and anything above that starts to become noisy. This seems fair enough and quite encouraging given that the Sharp is still in prototype, who knows what improvements will be made before this camera goes to market.

The noise does raise a fundamental question. To process a denoising filter on 8K footage would be a mammoth computing task, as would any other editing. Computers have only recently caught up to the point of working comfortably with 4k footage. Are we really going to put them through this again?

Sharp ISO 1250

Sharp ISO 1250

How does it match up to its larger sensor competitors? Again, pretty much as expected. The Sony cameras, in particular, have the Sharp beat on ISO performance and the larger sensor is gathering more total light. Break out your crop factor maths to understand the effect of the smaller sensor on the field of view and how that relates to your lens’ f-stop.

It strikes me that the ISO performance of the Sharp is not the key selling point, which is clearly the 8K resolution. The pictures in this youtube video and the full quality files, that are available for download, are impressive.

Sharp ISO 1600

Sharp ISO 1600

The conceptual questions about the need for 8K are rather moot by this point. Consumers will always want more resolution and camera companies will continue to push the resolutions high to create and then meet that demand. The technical questions are more pressing and the camera manufacturers that best address them will find themselves pushing forward.

Will the camera overheat? Aside from the resolution how are the other specs of the camera, I.e. frame-rates, bit depth, colour sampling? How are the ergonomics and usability features within the camera?

Here are some of those answers:

  • 8K internal recording, to an SD card at 24, 25 and 30fps.
  • H.265 codec
  • 8bit & 4:2:0 colour – apparently 10 bit is coming soon.
  • 4K and 1080 will both record up to 60fps, but that’s as good as the frame gets.
  • It is a new Sharp 4/3’s sensor that is not in any other cameras.
  • No IBIS.
  • It has a nice big touch screen, uses Canon LP batteries, has a mini XLR input (I really like mini XLR) and looks pretty stylish.
  • A log profile is still to be added to the software but has been promised.
Dave - Happy trying the Sharp

Dave – Happy trying the Sharp

After many years of producing stills format video cameras, it would seem reasonable to think that the bugs should surely have been worked out.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and consumers are often left scratching their heads when new cameras are released with large crops in higher resolutions, screens with only one pivot axis, a quality reduction is slow motion… and the list goes on.

Sharp shooting in Low Light

Sharp shooting in Low Light

I like that Sharp is putting this 8K prototype out there, not because I am keen to buy one but because I hope it puts the other manufacturers on notice.

The Panasonic GH5’s and Sony A7 ranges have been incredibly popular and Canon’s mirrorless EOS is also now finding a niche. However, it is dangerous to rest on your laurels so I hope that every new development results in improvements in the industry as a whole.

Fuji, Blackmagic, Nikon and others all other compelling features, perhaps Sharp will join this group with their new camera offering?

[source: Kinotika]

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