I recently got very interested in the RAW capabilities of the 5D MKIII hack as a possible upgrade path from my trusty hacked GH2 / GH1 combo. Hence, I asked my friend Peter Hainzl (have a look at his RAW videos) to come over for a quick testshot during lunchbreak. As my hacked GH's are fantastic all around cameras, tack sharp, almost moire free and perfect for shooting as they are out of the box (without additional rigs / whatever) but lacking a bit in the dynamic range and lowlight department, plus the limitation of 8 bit 4:2:0 color space I was wondering if the 5D MKIII would fit my bill.
I am mostly interested in landscape / nature / people, hence I chose a very high dynamic range landscape scenario for this quick test - shadows from trees and bushes vs. sun - illuminated clouds in the skies.
Hence, time for pixel - peeping (yes, about every 2 years is OK for me ;-)).

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Setup: GH2 with Voigtlaender 25mm f0.95 at f2, LCW vari - ND, smooth film mode (-2,-2,0,-2) mounted on top of 5DMKIII with Canon 50mm f1.4 set to f=4 (to get similar DOF characteristics to Voigty at f=2) with Heliopan Fader ND. Both at 1080p23.976. Same scene recorded with both cams. You will notice a slightly wider field of view on the GH2, as it has a crop of about 1.86 to the 5D MKIII.

Workflow: RAW images debayered in Adobe After Effects CS6 with Adobe camera raw, saved as composition. Imported AE composition in Premiere Pro CS6, sequence set to max. bit depth. Rendered 1080p file as 25mbits/s H264 file for vimeo upload.

- sharpness / resolution detail especially in shadows of RAW 5D MKIII better than GH2
- better dynamic range, especially in highlights, better details in shadows BUT surprisingly not so much more. In this scene I expected blown out skies with the GH2 (see first scene), but surprisingly could pull back a lot of the highlights as well as the shadows
- Shadow noise is severe for both cams, could be improved with 5DMKIII by exposing more to the right, as there was still room in highlights
- in general much cleaner image, nicer gradations with RAW 5DMKIII - not very surprising as we are talking 8bit 4:2:0 vs. 14bit 4:4:4

In summary I am very happy I did this first quick test, as it revealed a lot to me - I am mainly interested in internet distribution of my films. And for this purpose the images are NOT lightyears apart. Of course the image is lovely lovely lovely on the 5D. But for travelling, it is also much much bulkier and the screen is fixed which is difficult for my filming style. With careful exposure on the GH2 you can still get decent pictures. Next thing I will try is the blackmagic pocket cinema camera. I ordered it on the first day, so lets see if I get it sooner or later. I am still interested in raw, as the image manipulation possibilities (color grading, exposure, ...) on the raw files are sensational.

Download the source file and have fun!

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