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2014 HD Video Camera Round Up

In this article I’m going to give you my picks on the most relevant and groundbreaking cameras available in the fall of 2014. The list includes cameras up to approx. $4,000 in price, and is focused first and foremost on HD video performance. Most of these cameras will do still photographs to varying degrees, but this comparison is really centered on how the camera perform in shooting HD video. The criteria we’re using to rank the best video cameras available in Fall 2014 includes the following considerations:

  • Overall Video Image Quality
  • Relevance in Today’s Market
  • Recording Formats & Frame Rates
  • Affordability / Value
  • Form Factor and Ease of Use
  • Low Light / Native ISO
  • Audio Recording
  • Adaptability
  • Manufacturer Support
  • Construction & Durability
  • Overall (Average) Score

In order to keep the number of cameras listed reasonable, we’ve imposed a limit of no more than eight camera models per single manufacturer. We’ve also chosen to only include cameras which can capture video at FHD, or 1920 x 1080 resolution, or higher. Additionally, we would only consider cameras which offer 24p and higher frame rates. 24 (or 23.976) progressive frames per second is one of the most important frame rates for filmmakers, so it was a must for the camera to be considered here. Finally, we would only consider cameras that are shipping right now, as of September 1st, 2014.

The list of relevant cameras to include in this article covers the majority of all options discussed in the high end prosumer and intermediate professional video range. Oftentimes, people are attempting to find the best path to upgrade from an existing video camera and have specific models in mind, or want to know the best options under $X amount of money. This list hopes to provide a semi-comprehensive source of all relevant video cameras to consider for under $4k in the Fall of 2014. This is an incredibly exciting time to be involved with independent video production. There are digital capture tools available to us today for under $1,500 that even well founded Hollywood films did not have 15 years ago.

In creating this article I hope to provide something that doesn’t yet exist: a full, comprehensive list of picks on the most relevant HD video cameras available in Fall 2014. The list of cameras will be ranked based on it’s value from the needs of the serious indie filmmaker and professional video content creator. This list will be updated though December of 2014 in the event any major camera models are released before NAB in April 2015.

The cameras included (ABC Order):

  • Black Magic Cinema Camera
  • Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera
  • Black Magic Production Camera
  • Blackmagic Design Studio Camera HD / 4K
  • Canon T3i
  • Canon T5i
  • Canon 7D
  • Canon 5D MII
  • Canon 5D MIII
  • Canon C100
  • Canon XF300
  • GoPro Hero 3+ Black
  • GoPro Hero 3+ Silver
  • GoPro Hero 3+ White
  • Digital Bolex D16
  • Kinefinity KineMINI 4K
  • Nikon D3300
  • Nikon D5300
  • Nikon D7100
  • Nikon D610
  • Nikon D810
  • Panasonic Lumix G6
  • Panasonic Lumix GH3
  • Panasonic Lumix GH4
  • Panasonic AF-101
  • Panasonic HMC 150
  • Sony FS100
  • Sony A7s
  • Sony FDR-AX100
  • Sony A5100
  • Sony NEX 5t
  • Sony A6000
  • Red One Camera 4K Camcorder

There are a few cameras included here that are over the $4,000 mark, however they were included if they offered a particularly strong value and still fell around $5,000 total. None of the cameras listed here have a new, body only, listing price that exceeds $5,999. I felt it necessary to include these options as they offer significant value and are still well within the lower budget range of new HD video cameras.

With all that out of the way, let’s get right into it.

BlackMagic Cinema Camera
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera 2.5K broke a lot of barriers when it was released in — of 2012. High at the top of the list is it’s ability to record 12-bit RAW video at a resolution of 2432 x 1366 pixels (2.5K). The BMCC also offers ProRes and DNxHD at 1920 x 1080 formats, allowing you to record compressed video for longer times to high speed SSD media. Despite the incredible potential and game changing price point for 12 bit RAW and ProRes codecs, the BMCC still has a number of shortcomings. These include an unusually sized sensor, which is larger than Super16, yet smaller than M4/3, leaving it with a significant crop over APS-C, Super35 or full frame options. Professional audio inputs are also lacking as BlackMagic opted for 1/4″ balanced TRS inputs as opposed to industry standard balanced XLRs. Many customers also seemed to have issues with the company’s management of post-sales support and firmware updates, as well as their ability to keep deadlines. However, the still relatively new BlackMagic line is certainly a welcome and disruptive force in the world of low cost cinema cameras.

Specifications 

Sensor Resolution 2432 x 1366
Raw Resolution 12-bit RAW files recorded at 2432 x 1366
Shooting Resolutions 2.5K RAW at 2432 x 1366.
ProRes and DNxHD at 1920 x 1080
Frame Rates 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p
Sensor Size Actual: 16.64 x 14.04 mm
Active: 15.6 x 8.8 mm
Dynamic Range 13 stops
Focus Focus button turns on peaking
Iris Control Iris button automatically adjusts the lens iris settings so no pixel is clipped
Lens Mount EF and ZE mount compatible with electronic iris control
Screen Size: 5″ with 800 x 480 resolution
Type: Integrated LCD capacitive touchscreen
Metadata Automatic camera data and user data such as shot number, filenames and keywords
Controls Onscreen touch menus
Physical buttons for recording and transport control
Microphone Integrated mono microphone
Speaker Integrated mono speaker
Connections SDI Video Output: 1 x 10-bit HD-SDI 4:2:2 with choice of Film or Video Dynamic Range
Analog Audio Input: 2 x 1/4″ TRS balanced phone switchable between microphone and line levels
Analog Audio Output: 1 x 3.5 mm TRS stereo mini headphone
SDI Audio Output: 4 channels in HD-SDI
Remote Control: 1 x 2.5 mm LANC for Record Start/Stop, Iris Control and Focus Control
Computer Interface: Thunderbolt port for capture of RAW video and audio, USB 2.0 mini B port for software updates and configuration
External Power: 12V-30V DC port for external battery power or use included 12V AC adapter
Storage Type: Removable 2.5″ SSD
Format: Mac OS Extended format (SSDs can be formatted on any Mac or use Mediafour MacDrive [not included] on a Windows PC)
Rates: 5 MB/frame in RAW 2.5K fits about 30 minutes of 24p video on a 256 GB solid state disk – compressed HD formats fit more than 5 times the amount of RAW video
Uncompressed Recording Format: RAW 2.5K CinemaDNG
Compressed Recording Format: Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD. All compressed recording in 1920×1080 10-bit YUV with choice of Film or Video dynamic range
Standards SDI Compliance: SMPTE 292M
SDI Audio Sampling: 24-bit/48 kHz
Mounting 3 x 1/4″ thread mounting points on top of camera
1 x 1/4″ thread tripod mount with locator pin
Power Integrated Lithium-ion Polymer rechargeable battery
12~30 VDC port for external battery power or use included 12 VAC adapter
Battery Life: Approximately 90 minutes
Charge Time: Approximately 2 hours when not in use
Dimensions 6.5 x 4.5 x 5″ (166 x 114 x 126 mm) 1
Weight 3.8 lb (1.7 kg)



Video Samples:

https://vimeo.com/76493511
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMJ2UJI4onI
https://vimeo.com/75085713
https://vimeo.com/48956550


Online Reviews:

http://gizmodo.com/blackmagic-cinema-camera-review-sacrifices-for-superio-511667627
http://www.videomaker.com/article/15514-blackmagic-cinema-camera-review
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/video/hands-reviews/hands-review-blackmagic-design-cinema-camera
http://philipbloom.net/2012/09/05/bmd/

Overall Video Image Quality: 8.5
Relevance in Today’s Market: 8
Recording Formats & Frame Rates: 7
Affordability / Value: 8
Form Factor and Ease of Use: 6.5
Low Light / Native ISO: 4.5
Audio Recording: 5
Adaptability: 8
Manufacturer Support: 3.5
Construction & Durability: 7
Overall (Average) Score: 6.7


BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera
MSRP: $995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

Quick on the heels of the BMCC, BlackMagic announced the release of the Pocket Cinema Camera at the NAB 2013 show. Delivering the same 12 Bit RAW and ProRes as the BMCC, the Pocket Camera weighed in at only 13 oz., making it true to it’s form as a “pocket” cinema camera. Sensor size is again rather small, at Super16mm format and has a 2.88x crop factor. Staying with a M4/3 mount, the BMPCC remains a very versatile tool and is very adaptable to almost all other lens mounts. With the news of Metabones releasing their new BMPCC specific Speedbooster EF to M4/3 for the BM cameras, you now have a camera that can shoot 12-bit RAW and has a 1.75x crop on all your favorite Canon glass, for the price of about $1,700.

Overall Video Image Quality: 8.5
Relevance in Today’s Market: 9
Recording Formats & Frame Rates: 7
Affordability / Value: 9
Form Factor and Ease of Use: 8
Low Light / Native ISO: 4
Audio Recording: 5
Adaptability: 8
Manufacturer Support: 4
Construction & Durability: 7

Overall (Average) Score: 6.6


BlackMagic Production Camera 4K
MSRP: $2,995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Production Camera 4K sees BlackMagic continue their steady development of new products, this time with UHD 4K resolutions, a Super35 sized sensor and global shutter leading the specs. With the same recording formats as their previous cameras, we’d have liked to seen an option for 1080 60p or higher, but all frame rates are maxed at 30fps for progressive frames (it does shoot 1080 60i).


Blackmagic Design Studio Camera HD / 4K
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Canon T3i / 600D
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera broke a lot of barriers


Canon T5i / 750D
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Canon 7D
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Canon 5D Mark II
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Canon 5D Mark III
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera



Canon C100
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Canon XF300
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera



GoPro Hero 3+ Black

MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


GoPro Hero 3+ Silver
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera



GoPro Hero 3+ White
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Digital Bolex D16
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera



Kinifinity KINIMINI 4K

MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


GoPro Hero 3+ White
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera



Nikon D3300

MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera



Nikon D5300

MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera



Nikon D7100
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera



Nikon D610
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera



Nikon D810
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera



Panasonic Lumix G6
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Panasonic Lumix GH3
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera



Panasonic Lumix GH4
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Panasonic AF100
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Panasonic HMC150
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Sony FS100
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Sony A7s
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Sony FDR-AX100
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera



Sony A5100
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Sony NEX 5t
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Sony A6000
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera


Red One 4k Camcorder
MSRP: $1995
Release Date: 2012
DxO Score: —

The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera