Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Camera video performance comparisons

It occurred to me that I've used a number of cameras* for video and that it could be interesting to do a small comparison and some analysis of their video performance. So, without further ado, here we go.

I did my first real attempt at making a video in the beginning of 2011 with the Canon EOS 60D. The Canon EOS 60D was a very mixed affair for me. The ergonomics were great and the image quality often excellent, but sometimes the issues with back and front focus affected the image quality too much. Looking back at some pictures, the noise level is a bit higher than what you would expect from a APS-C camera. The video quality wasn't really as good as I had hoped: I felt the actual resolution was rather far from the nominal 1920x1080 of Full HD, something that was very obvious when pulling out still images from the video stream.

The move from an EOS system to a m43 system was a real winner for still photography (fhe fun factor, lack of back/front focus issues and light weight), but the video quality went down.

I liked the m43 format and again became more interested in video, and therefore aquired a Panasonic GH2, which was considered an excellent camera for video. With the hacked firmware the image quality was indeed great.

At the end of 2012 I became caught up in the GoPro Hero 3 Back Edition hype, like so many others, and snagged one of the first ones arriving to stores in Finland. I didn't use it much, since I found that I didn't like the POV angle much and the strong fisheye distortions really irritated me. Additionally, I found it rather clumsy to use and the form factor only suitable for the chest harness. I eventually sold it. Below is a short test video with it.

I still liked idea of having the possibility to do videos in bad weather, which the Panasonic GH2 definitely cannot handle, and bought a waterproof Panasonic FT4 cheap, after having seen the videos made by Joe. It turned out that the still image quality was rather lacking in less than perfect light, but the video quality was actually quite ok.

The Panasonic GH2, while being an excellent camera for video, never had the real fun factor for still photography for me, so when Rajala Camera cut the price on the Olympus EM-5, I came to buy one. It is an excellent and fun camera for still photography, but I didn't expect much from the video capabilities, due to the lacking PAL frame rates and the poor codec and low bitrates. I was pleasantly surprised after I made a little test video. It will certainly be usable for at least some glide camera stuff, because of its excellent image stabilizer.

The above videos do naturally not tell everything. Vimeo and YouTube do degrade the videos, and especially the GH2 is better with a higher bitrate (Vimeo gives maybe 10-15 Mbps, while the hacked GH2 records in 50-70 Mbps). Still, this might be of some interest to someone.

* Yes, I know, this is a lot of cameras, but I've sold the ones I don't use and generally have bought them on sale.

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