Several new mirrorless cameras have been released or announced in recent weeks, including the new Pocket Cinema Camera 4K from Blackmagic, the EOS R from Canon and the XT3 from Fuji. All three cameras are currently clearly of interest to many filmmakers, so I wanted to split my two cents down on them.
I've been working like crazy on mine in the last month feature Movie Projects and a number of commercials and have not yet taken any test shots with these cameras. However, I've done some testing with Blackmagic's new RAW codec and will post the results here on the blog this week.
With regard to the new releases from BMD, Canon and Fuji, I will only outline my first impressions below. I will endeavor to track articles related to each camera in the future. So if you would like to see this please let me know!
New cameras are constantly being announced and released, but I wanted to highlight these three specific cameras together because they have some things in common. They have the same price, are in some ways in direct competition with each other and have all gotten a lot of attention from filmmakers.
So without further ado, here are my thoughts on everyone …
In no particular order –
BLACKMAGIC POCKET CINEMA CAMERA 4K – $ 1295
I'm sure some of you know I'm a fan of Blackmagic. I have been taking pictures with their cameras for years and have even shot mine feature last year on the URSA Mini 4.6K… I have always respected that BMD strives to close gaps in the low-budget camera market that none of the other camera brands seem to know anything about. The latest update of the Pocket Camera is no different.
If you think about it – which other camera on the market can compete directly with the new Pocket Camera 4K?
Just check out the specs, all of which you can get for $ 1295.
- 4/3 "HDR sensor
- Record DCI 4K 4096 x 2160 at up to 60 fps
- Dual native ISO to 25,600
- 5 "touchscreen display
- Active Micro Four Thirds lens mount
- Record up to 120 fps Windowed HD
- CFast 2.0 and SD / UHS-II card slots
- External recording via USB type C.
- 13-stop dynamic range, 3D LUT support
- Contains the DaVinci Resolve Studio license
This is a fully functional cinema camera that costs less than most mid-range DSLRs and offers some incredibly innovative features – namely, Dual Native ISO. The design of the camera is actually pretty chic as well, since it looks like a DSLR but works like a movie camera. It's really the best of both worlds when you're shooting in guerrilla style. It's not as elegant as some of Blackmagic's other cameras, but it seems to prefer the shape to what I like.
It has a 4/3-inch sensor, but will surely be used with speed boosters to achieve a super 35mm field of view. Or even without the speed booster, the 4/3-inch sensor size still creates beautiful images with a nice shallow depth of field.
So which other camera really competes with it? There are many other great options in this price range, but none that offer that combination of quality and functionality. Recording with a Blackmagic camera is much more similar to recording with Arri / RED than with a DSLR / mirrorless camera, but is cheap at the consumer level. There is not much to complain about there.
If I criticized the camera, I would miss the Super 16mm sensor size. Most will probably disagree with me here (and I can understand why!), But I love the Super 16mm look. That makes the Pocket Camera and the Micro Cinema Camera so great for me, and as strange as that may sound, I almost preferred a smaller sensor on the camera. I never thought I would say that!
In any case, I am extremely optimistic about this camera and imagine that it will find a home in many independent short films and functions on a budget. I actually have to take pictures with the camera before I share my thoughts on image quality (it's pretty hard to say based on the test clips out there), but I'll try to track this down soon.
CANON EOS R. – $ 2299
You have to applaud Canon for showing up, even if they're late for the party … But their long overdue entry into the professional mirrorless market is really too little, too late.
I have spoken extensively about Canon as a whole in the past and have often referred to its strongest features – reliability and color science. Although they lag far behind Sony and Panasonic in terms of features and general innovations, their cameras can still deliver solid images and do so reliably … And I'm sure the EOS R will follow suit.
However, this is Canon's first new camera of this type and will feature a completely new lens mount (RF). I'm just not convinced that these features will force everyone to make this switch –
- 30.3 MP full frame CMOS sensor
- UHD 4K30 video; C-Log & 10-bit HDMI output
- Dual pixel CMOS AF, 5655 AF points
- 3.69m electronic OLED viewfinder
- 3.15 "2.1 m point swiveling touchscreen LCD
- Extended ISO 50-102400, 8 fps recording
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, SD UHS-II card slot
- New RF lens mount
Probably the biggest complaint people have with this camera is the 1.8x crop factor when shooting in 4K (there is a 1.6x crop in HD). That alone will be enough to reject many die-hard full-frame shooters … But even for those who can live with the crop factor, why would they want to switch to this camera?
The main advantage of a mirrorless camera is its size. And the EOS R in combination with a full frame lens (and / or an adapter for EF) is not a small camera at all. So if it doesn't add value to the design, important features (like internal stabilization) are missing and you'll have to adapt to a completely new lens mount.
Canon cameras are often not very useful for filmmakers, but they survive because they still work well for photographers (and are popular with photographers). But even then I wonder how many still photographers want to switch to this system? If I only took still pictures, I would prefer NOT to have a mirrorless camera. I like the analog feeling of looking directly through the lens with the mirror, and many photographers too … In many ways, this camera feels like in no man's land.
The EOS R is not a camera that I want to invest in personally, and I doubt that many others will. We can all get more camera for less money almost anywhere until more features are added with firmware updates or the $ 2299 price tag comes down, I just can't see this camera taking off.
FUJI XT3 – $ 1499
I don't know if anyone could have expected how quickly Fuji would rise to the top of the mirrorless game … that includes me, and I've been shooting with Fuji cameras for years!
Photographers have always loved Fuji's cameras because they offer so much Color science – arguably the best of all camera manufacturers out there. Just look at how Classic chrome The film simulation mode has reached cult status at this point. But just like Fuji did with photographers, the latest models made the brand a viable option for filmmakers.
In the past few years they have made 180 and cameras like that XT2 (which I own) and the XH1, which both filmmakers finally offered this amazing Fuji look, with a camera body that was fully functional for video recording. This path continued with the release of Fuji's XT3.
Here are the specifications –
- 26.1 MP APS-C X-Trans BSI CMOS 4 sensor
- UHD 4K60 video
- F-log gamma
- 10-bit H265
- 0.75 x 3.69 m point OLED finder
- 3.0 "1.04 m point tiltable LCD touchscreen
- Extended ISO 80-51200, 30 fps recording
- Weatherproof body made of magnesium alloy
This is effectively a fully updated XT2. It has a new sensor, an internal F-protocol and an apparently excellent auto focus – although I wouldn't use this function myself.
The biggest highlight for me is the ability to include 10-bit files in H265 files. Unlike traditional H264 files, H265 is more likely to require transcoding in the mail, but offers superior picture quality with the same file size. I hope we'll see ProRes or compressed RAW in DSLRs / mirrorless cameras like this one day, but H265 is a great alternative right now.
Although the XT3 offers almost all of Fuji's latest features, it is clear that the XH1 is still the flagship of its line. This is most evident in the lack of internal stabilization on the XT3 … This is not a deal breaker for me as I don't really use IBIS (I would rather use a shoulder rig), but if you need IBIS the XH line can be the right way.
I have to imagine that the XT3 will be very difficult to ignore for filmmakers, even for those who have never really brought Fuji to mind. After all, it is a digital super 35mm film camera with the best color science on the market and an elegant, retro-inspired housing. For filmmakers who choose their cameras based on image quality and design, the XT3 may be the way to go.
In addition, Fuji is the only brand that really understands how to bring out promotional material. For the release of this camera, they worked with Matthew Libatique – one of the best working cameramen ever – to shoot and shoot a short film with the XT3. This is exactly what filmmakers want to see when assessing the potential choice of camera, and I hope the other brands will take note of it and follow suit!
Who are they for?
I may have my personal preferences and prejudices, but at the end of the day, all three of these cameras are used by filmmakers. It always depends on the subjective taste and personal needs.
If the story is an indication of this, I would imagine that the Blackmagic Pocket Camera 4K will be a great success for filmmakers and small production companies. I am sure that these will appear everywhere and we will see a lot of short films, corporate spots and maybe occasional feature films.
The Canon EOS R is everyone's guess … I can see some diehard Canon fans giving it a chance, and maybe like many other Canon cameras it will exceed expectations. Despite the current competition on the market, I cannot imagine someone running away from Sony or Panasonic for an EOS R.
The XT3, however, is a different story. While people generally seem to be happy with their Sony A7 cameras or Lumix GH cameras, Fuji may have enough to convince some filmmakers to jump ship. Those who switch from Sony will switch from poor color science to the best, and anyone who jumps from Panasonic can enjoy the same wonderful picture quality while benefiting from the larger Super 35mm sensor.
Of the three cameras, the Pocket Cam and XT3 are clearly the most exciting for me, and the XT3 is likely to disrupt the stronghold that Panasonic and Sony had in the mirrorless market.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.
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Noam Kroll is an award-winning filmmaker from Los Angeles and founder of the boutique production house Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television and in various publications around the world. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!