In a world of brand names, it’s easy to get lost in some biased opinions. Many of us have them and we do not even realize it, that’s until someone or something comes smashing through our mind like a brick through a window and puts us in front of definite unbiased truth. But how often does that happen?
Not often enough, we should say. That’s especially true for the filmmaking world as it’s not so much different than many other fanboy-esque debates, such as the Apple vs Windows controversy. Now in such a scenario, a blind test is always refreshing since it allows us to reset from what we know and judge with our own eyes (pun intended!) while making up our minds.
With that out of the way, the guys from TheBuffNerds have been setting up this test with footage from a RED Helium 8K and Pocket 6K cameras. Now, the big question is can you spot the difference between the two?
All in all, it’s nice to have this kind of comparison since in such a scenario we have two very different brands. On the one hand, RED is very well known in the filmmaking world with a history that goes down a decade and that has been a staple in big-budget productions for a few years now.
On the other hand, Blackmagic Design has surfaced in the camera world just recently, aside from the fact the Australian company has been in the business for quite a while.
That’s not all: since the price difference is so huge, you would rightly expect that the RED camera will always have the high ground and be the one with better picture quality. After all, the one rival is in the $3K ballpark, whereas the other goes above and beyond the $30K mark.
So, is it so wrong to expect a camera to do better than one that costs ten times less? Maybe, or maybe not. Either way, having side-by-side footage without the labels of the cameras can lead to some unexpected surprises.
The first shot, with the talent in the sun, is quite easy to decode. The better skin tones and generally smoother highlights rolloff in the B image are screaming RED camera right off the bat. The picture from the A camera, the Pocket 6K is a little bit too contrasty and generally harsh. It’s an easy win for RED here.
In the second shot, we have again a clear winner. The image from camera A has much more dynamic range. You can see how sharp and defined the image is in the overexposed background, yet camera B has burnt highlights with much more overexposed sky. Did you go for RED as camera A? You’re right, that was the right one.
The pattern keeps repeating. The LUT used to convert the footage seems to be predictable in the results: the A camera is much more compressed and harsh in the color smoothness, and the B camera comes out as a winner. Should you place a bet what would be your choice? B cam as RED? Right again.
Overall, it seems like there is a reason for all the extra cash one needs to shell out to get into the RED’s ecosystem. It’s true that the LUT used was not very forgiving for the Pocket 6K, but as said in other circumstances, the simple fact that the BMPCC 6K holds up against the RED Helium 8K is a testament to the excellent work done by the engineers at Blackmagic Design.
Being able to craft a camera that can compete with a camera considered as an industry standard that costs ten times more is no joke and should be recognized as a great achievement. The flexibility of raw in a sub-3K camera is something no one would have believed possible a few years ago, and for that, a big shout out to the guys from down under.