Z Cam E2 Low Light, High DR Example with a Slow Lens - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 8 Old 09-11-2019, 11:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Z Cam E2 Low Light, High DR Example with a Slow Lens


Shot in Zlog2 (there is a LUT). The lens is the 12-100mm F4, so not a fast lens. This was shot using a 1/60th shutter (4K30P), so no blurring of motion to get more light. Bright screens in a dim setting are the challenges. I do not know why this Apple store is so dim; to fit in with the the rest of GCT I suppose.

Nothing done in post but play around with curves to choose how much shadow and how much screen (without big blowouts) to be able to show within the limits of REC709 - the camera has many more stops than this video can show
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post #2 of 8 Old 09-11-2019, 01:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinema5d
As things are currently, I do not see an advantage of ZRAW over ProRes for the Z CAM E2, and for the following reasons I cannot recommend using ZRAW:
File sizes are about 50% bigger than the corresponding highest quality settings for the BMPCC 4K, BRAW 3:1 constant bitrate (and you have the option to use up to 12:1 for even smaller file sizes in BRAW).
I honestly can’t see a difference to the great ProRes options that the Z CAM E2 offers as well.
Workflow is cumbersome because you have to use the standalone ZRAW VideoSuite (which is currently only available for Windows 10 computers) and do a conversion step before you can use the files in your standard editing software
The ZRAW VideoSuite offers a lot of options to color correct and exposure correct your footage but does not offer a video playback (only frame preview) – which makes it difficult to see the effect of e.g. DeNoise settings on the image
In stark contrast to all the shortfalls above, stands the strong competition from Blackmagic RAW: File sizes are comparatively small (with a lot of options to further reduce them while retaining the 12 bit raw character of the image), the workflow in DaVinci Resolve is super easy and even 6K BRAW filesrun smoothly on my 2014 Laptop …
There are many reasons for passing on the Z CAM E2 in favor of BMD P6K.
E2 is noisy when underexposed with abundant fixed pattern noise
E2 does not have hand holdable ergonomics without accessories
E2 does not have a credible viewer, it is the size of a postage stamp
E2 uses an ineffective RAW format that eats up space and is no better than ProRes
E2 has a cumbersome raw workflow that requires a conversion step
E2 has no raw video playback

I don't need another M43 body, already have two
I do need a S35 body with EF mount for the many EF lenses I have.
I don't need 120 fps 4K, already have it in the F55.

I like the direction Z Cam seems headed, but none of my pro peers use it, I will get paid work from BMD P6K. If I wanted a camera that infringed copyrighted images, property and logos and clandestine video of people who don't know they are being used for YouTube video, then the Z Cam has been well represented here.


HDR Colorist and Conversions
INTO THE CAVE OF WONDERS
Directed by MANUEL BENITO DE VALLE Produced by PEDRO PABLO FIGUEROA
Cast MANUEL ANGEL REINA, CLAUDIA GARROTE
LOVETHEFRAME STORIES, SOUNDTRACKS AND FILMS
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post #3 of 8 Old 09-11-2019, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Roper View Post
There are many reasons for passing on the Z CAM E2 in favor of BMD P6K.
E2 is noisy when underexposed with abundant fixed pattern noise
E2 does not have hand holdable ergonomics without accessories
E2 does not have a credible viewer, it is the size of a postage stamp
E2 uses an ineffective RAW format that eats up space and is no better than ProRes
E2 has a cumbersome raw workflow that requires a conversion step
E2 has no raw video playback

I don't need another M43 body, already have two
I do need a S35 body with EF mount for the many EF lenses I have.
I don't need 120 fps 4K, already have it in the F55.

I like the direction Z Cam seems headed, but none of my pro peers use it, I will get paid work from BMD P6K. If I wanted a camera that infringed copyrighted images, property and logos and clandestine video of people who don't know they are being used for YouTube video, then the Z Cam has been well represented here.
Some of what you say is ok, some of it is petty and offensive. I'll ignore those parts and respond to the camera stuff. I think we all see that this is just tit for tat anyway.

I agree that ZRAW is pretty worthless, but it is not required. With the camera you purchased you have to use RAW to get anything exceptional out of it. ZRAW is not necessary for any frame rate/resolution combo on the Z Cam. You and the people you quote do not fully understand what is going on with ZRAW - it has no in-camera noise reduction relative to other codecs. As a consequence there is more detail compared to the other codecs but more noise out of the camera. At the end of the day, the in-camera noise-reduction is superb (which ZRAW bypasses) and I agree that ZRAW is not worth much. But ZRAW noise if you underexpose by four or five stops (which is what those guys you posted are talking about) - only an idiot would shoot that way, and I am not sure why anyone would focus on that. It is a fact, but really? Anyway, I do not need to shoot ZRAW with the Z Cam and I won't use it. I tried it once, and posted the result here. Mostly I just post video examples, usually not engaging in hyperbole. I don't think I ever said anything about ZRAW, though the ZRAW example I posted looks perfectly fine, because it was actually exposed properly.

Note that the video posted to start this thread was not shot in ZRAW, so this focus by you on ZRAW is gratuitous. Again, I think ZRAW is superfluous on the Z Cam, but for your camera RAW is required for what you want to do with it. No choice.

All of my videos were shot handheld using the "postage-size" LCD. I have no problem focusing or framing with it - I use and see waveform, peaking, magnification, everything I need is just a lens and the camera, that's it. Inconspicuous as a GH camera and less conspicuous than the BM cameras. I don't need glasses, so maybe only I can shoot with this camera without rigging it up. But, I can and do shoot handheld with it as well as with any camera with a good-OIS lens. You may not like my videos, but what you dislike has nothing to do with camera limitations, which is what is relevant here. Indeed, perhaps you should refrain from going down the route of commenting on content in an equipment forum. Do you comment on Philip Bloom's videos of people as "clandestine" videos? I refrain from calling professionally-lit videos of people talking in a chair or on a stage as hack videos.

No one is criticizing you for choosing the BM camera, or criticizing your extensive knowledge of videography. The BM camera is exactly right for your limited purpose, and your fine lens collection. As long as you shoot slowly moving people you do not need a camera with a decent rolling shutter performance or frame rates higher than 30.

The posted video starting this thread was about lowlight, and you can see it does well. I liked the low-light Vegas video you posted from the BM camera too; it is also a good low-light performer. Just as an antidote to the ugly and misleading picture with noise you posted in this thread, here is again the night video shot with the low-cost Z Cam:


Low-light performance from the Z Cam is one of its strengths. Btw, this "clandestine" video was included by Z Cam in their collection of videos showing off their cameras.

Last edited by markr041; 09-11-2019 at 04:18 PM.
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post #4 of 8 Old 09-12-2019, 12:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markr041 View Post
With the camera you purchased you have to use RAW to get anything exceptional out of it.
What missing feature in Prores would stand in the way of exceptionalism for you? Personally, I *want* to shoot BRAW. You can select a BRAW bitrate that's the same or lower than Prores and do it at 6K. It's a key feature but if I have to settle for Prores it's no great loss. I can shoot 4K DCI from the full sensor at 60 fps in any flavor of Prores. I can shoot 5.7K at 60 fps in BRAW at a lower bitrate than Prores. I can shoot 2.8K in BRAW at 120 fps at a lower bit rate and better quality than h.265 420 on the E2. I don't see anything limiting about that.

Quote:
You and the people you quote do not fully understand what is going on with ZRAW - it has no in-camera noise reduction relative to other codecs.
Yes we do. I read the rebuttal from Zhang and Loo. And so does Cinema5D. They posted it after all.

Quote:
But ZRAW noise if you underexpose by four or five stops (which is what those guys you posted are talking about) - only an idiot would shoot that way, and I am not sure why anyone would focus on that.
Because it is a real world stress test. You shoot that way in your night scenes already. There are 5 stops of under exposure in the shadows. I don't even regard those as low light because the scene is filled with street lamps, store front lighting, neon signs, automobile headlamps to name a few. Try shooting a wedding dance hall when they turn the lights down to see what low light is really like, candles may be the only illumination.

Quote:
Again, I think ZRAW is superfluous on the Z Cam, but for your camera RAW is required for what you want to do with it. No choice.
Already covered that, nonsense.

This is worth a look:

From This:


To This


That is remarkable.

This, not so much.


And BTW, I didn't post these, I linked them.

HDR Colorist and Conversions
INTO THE CAVE OF WONDERS
Directed by MANUEL BENITO DE VALLE Produced by PEDRO PABLO FIGUEROA
Cast MANUEL ANGEL REINA, CLAUDIA GARROTE
LOVETHEFRAME STORIES, SOUNDTRACKS AND FILMS
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post #5 of 8 Old 09-12-2019, 01:26 AM - Thread Starter
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A dark shadow area is not "underexposed." It is dark. No one in their right mind except a Youtube reviewer looking for subs would try to make an unlit dark area look like daylight by pushing up the luma in post. Similarly, a candlelit scene is certainly dark, and if the video reproduces the site as dark, specifically restricted to what the human eye can see (which is very little), it is not underexposed.

When you make any claims about image quality differences at hfr between cameras you are just talking through your hat. You have not shot with any Z Cam. Perhaps you can post a link to a comparison video? Say, 120p videos shot from the z's and the bm's. Less talk, less frame grabs and more video.

Despite the tone, this discussion is useful.
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post #6 of 8 Old 09-12-2019, 02:47 AM
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Mark, your posts are directly critical of Tom's posts and use agressive language directed against him, such as "you are just talking through your hat". They use words including "petty", "offensive", "hyperbole", and "gratuitous" directed against him or his writing. Conversely, while one of Tom's posts is critical of ZCam, I couldn't find any language directed against you or your posts. (Please correct me if I missed it.) IMO, criticizing a member's posts in such a negative manner has a more material and adverse effect on the tone of the discussion here than criticizing a product/company that does not participate in our forum. Hopefully any disagreements you have with Tom on the merits can be expressed in a less confrontational way, using less inflammatory language. Let's all work to treat each other with respect, and keep the discussion positive.
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post #7 of 8 Old 09-12-2019, 08:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markr041 View Post
A dark shadow area is not "underexposed." It is dark. No one in their right mind except a Youtube reviewer looking for subs would try to make an unlit dark area look like daylight by pushing up the luma in post. Similarly, a candlelit scene is certainly dark, and if the video reproduces the site as dark, specifically restricted to what the human eye can see (which is very little), it is not underexposed.

When you make any claims about image quality differences at hfr between cameras you are just talking through your hat. You have not shot with any Z Cam. Perhaps you can post a link to a comparison video? Say, 120p videos shot from the z's and the bm's. Less talk, less frame grabs and more video.

Despite the tone, this discussion is useful.
Clients pay to record images of their family, friends and loved ones. The mission is not to just copy dark areas as they were. The human eye is almost always more sensitive to detail in dark areas than a camera. A camera light may be used but the more lights you add to a scene that didn't have them, the more you lose the mood so obviously you want to balance what is minimally necessary.

The night scenes from the Z CAM are unremarkable because the scenes everywhere you look are lit with practicals. In director's terms practicals are the actual working lights in the scene, can be household lamps, street lamps, store fronts, a tv, candles, Christmas lights etc.

Have you ever been on set of a Hollywood night scene where they film those inky blacks yet manage to keep all those facial details and noise free shadows? They start with truckloads of high intensity HMI that floods the entire scene, more than you would ever see used. Then, they add even *more* light to the faces with keylights, 4-7 stops worth. After all this, they drop the exposure in post by 7 stops or more such that all the intended shadow areas become inky black, and faces become murky but remain detailed and devoid of noise. Pushing and pulling in post are not just cinematic manipulations done by YouTuber idiots "out of their right minds." An abundance of exposure latitude is a featured advantage of the cinema camera the director has in his toolset; the ability to cycle up and down within the exposure range without color shifts or provoking episodic noise. Unfortunately, the E2 is severely lacking in this regard as can be seen from the Cinema5D latitude tests. As they noted, no amount of noise reduction can fix stripes of fixed pattern noise or color swings.

HDR Colorist and Conversions
INTO THE CAVE OF WONDERS
Directed by MANUEL BENITO DE VALLE Produced by PEDRO PABLO FIGUEROA
Cast MANUEL ANGEL REINA, CLAUDIA GARROTE
LOVETHEFRAME STORIES, SOUNDTRACKS AND FILMS
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post #8 of 8 Old 09-12-2019, 09:52 AM
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For most low lit scenes (and we can see that definition varies by user) that we mere mortals typically encounter, most of today’s high quality cameras are capable of providing satisfactory or better than satisfactory results. Sure you can always find cameras that are capable of x-additional stops of exposure latitude, but for the overwhelming majority of situations enthusiasts encounter (not shooting paid work such as low lit wedding ceremonies), the cameras we normally discuss in these pages, are usually capable of fine results.

Sometimes the cameras with some of the best exposure latitude may have other problems such as ergonomic issues, lens mont issues or usability issues many of us simply don’t want to deal with. It’s nice to have actual fun when shooting too!

Perspective is good.
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