It seems that the guys from The Slanted Lens continue to test a lot of the cameras these days. This time it’s the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro G2 against the Canon C200. It’s a battle of low-cost cine cameras. Someone could object that they are not so low cost after all, so if not low cost, at least we can say that we are dwelling in the small indie production realm.
Both rivals have a lot of features useful to small indie crews, plus they are light and easy to handle when compared to other cameras that share a similar user base. What will be the verdict? It’s tough to predict, unlike other comparisons where we had cameras with a price point that was over 35K apart, this time both go in the sub-10K price range. So, let’s cut to the chase and go straight for it.
On paper, the URSA Mini Pro G2 has quite some advantages over the rival Canon C200. It has a variety of codecs (and frame rates and sizes combinations) that make for a multitude of use-cases, while the C200 has only two options – Canon Raw Light and 8-bit H.264. But we know that on-paper specs are not everything, so let’s head down for the image comparison and let’s start with the picture quality.
The first thing that jumps out of the image is the (well known) poor performance of the Blackmagic’s sensors on the green side of things. The C200 has a beautiful rendition of the greens and the shadows, but the URSA responds to the blow with an uppercut made of blue and yellow tones.
Overall, in bright sun, the images are comparable: at a first glance, you may even confuse them for shots from the same camera. The colors on the C200 with the exception of the aforementioned greens seem a little bit muted and dull, while the URSA G2 feels vibrant and rich.
In a mixed light environment, we unexpectedly there’s a sudden drop in the C200 quality. It feels like a brownish tint is all over the place, while the URSA, in return, has a very faithful and pleasant rendition of colors. Highlights fall off nicely, and the mixed lighting does not seem to be impervious to the sensor.
We’re closing in, the cameras fell the ropes on their back as more punches fly from one to the other: it’s time to test the dynamic range. The scenario offers a talent in the shade with a sunny background. Right since the first shot, we see the C200 starting slow while leaving headspace to the URSA Mini Pro.
The concrete we see in the back is, in fact, not sharp and clear. There is a sudden inversion as the C200 keeps image quality at the same level while raising the EV stops. The URSA instead lowers it’s quality each step we go ahead: a red tint appears again in the skin tones, but there is no clipping. This result is quite surprising, as at the beginning it seemed to pre-announce a completely different result.
It must be noted, though, that in the last step at +5EV the Canon drops down suddenly, compensating for the distance the G2 had when dropped out of the ring: that was more or less a couple of rounds ago, as the image beyond the +2EV is almost unusable.
In a similar scenario, the Slanted Lens team tests the opposite side of illumination. By lowering the exposure, we can see similar behavior from the sensors.
There’s a steady progression in the C200 while the G2 drops constantly and acquires a magenta tint. The C200 seems immune to these tints, it just had a very low bluish cast in the previous test, but here almost nothing is visible.
While the lights go off and the attending people storm out, the final result of this match sees the C200 winning. It’s not a life-long achievement so things may change down the road: overall it’s the better choice, a full and a complete revision of the G2 could change the game, but that would be time for another comparison.
As for today, the similar prices, the better ergonomics as well as the options in codecs and cards make the C200 a better all-rounder and docs camera, while other aspects can be easily overcome. So, what do you think? Is the C200 the right camera for you?