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A $50 Camera vs. a $50,000 Camera


Ever wondered why the expensive cinema cameras cost what they do? In this featherweight vs. heavyweight comparison, Sam and Niko put a $50 Sony HDR-CX405 camcorder to the test against a RED Epic Dragon 6K cinema camera worth about $50,000.

It’s no surprise: the RED wins. But this 15-minute video is interesting because it shows exactly what you’re paying for when you opt for an expensive film camera like the RED units.

The differences are really obvious when comparing the resolution of the two cameras. Take a look at this wide scene of some building rooftops:

Just zoom in on that air vent and you can see drastic differences:

Sony HD Camera (left) vs. RED 6K camera (right)

With the RED camera, you can still see all of the individual bars in the ventilation fan’s cover, whereas with the $50 camera it has turned into a mush.

The situation with colors is similar:

Sony (left) vs. RED (right)

On the left, the Sony camera has blended the colors into one at contrasting edges. The Sony is encoding the colors poorly, but the color resolution shown with the RED separates all of the brown and blue parts of the scene properly.

Color detail recorded is insanely high on the RED. It’s shooting in 16-bit, meaning it’s recording color using 65,000 values. The Sony? At 8-bit only, that’s just 256 values.

During a stress test, by increasing the contrast of footage as much as possible, the comparison shows just how “neat” the detail and color remain in the sky of the scene shot on the RED camera.

It’s reasons like these that make filmmakers buy such expensive camera kits. Check out the full video above to see all of the comparisons, including how compression and color accuracy will affect a shot.

(via Sam and Niko via ISO 1200)

P.S. Earlier this year, we shared a comparison of an iPhone 7 Plus versus an $82,000 Arri Alexa.

Image credits: Video and still frames by Sam and Niko