Philip Bloom Compares 5DMKII, FS100, AF100, and F3

When I was at NAB…the highlight of the convention was looking at my next possible camera.  (And dinner at AquaKnox in the Venetian…but I’ll save that for another blog post) What I found out is that I am crazy about the new FS100 and was glad to see something that (finally!) came out that has the following points which are most important to me for my next kit camera:

  1. Exceeds the image quality of the 5dMkII, in terms of dynamic range, resolution, and low-light.  (The AF100 does not exceed the 5d in any of these points…took me 45 seconds at NAB to see this)
  2. Was relatively affordable compared to DSLRs.  (The F3 is 13-18k…whoa)
  3. Was small like a DSLR.  (No other camera is small!)
  4. Returned features to a camera that I have had to work-around in the past 1.5 years while using my 5dMkII.

I also couldn’t tell much difference between the FS100 and F3 while playing with them at NAB, shooting their mock location set and playing with the settings…which even further solidified my FS100 crush.  But I still wondered…why is the F3 about 3 times the cost of the FS100?  I mean the images are similar…they use the exact same imaging sensor…why would anyone want to shell out the additional $$ for the F3 for cryin out loud?  Even the preview I saw of the Zacuto Shootout (to be released in June) didn’t answer that or have comparisons for me as the FS100 wasn’t around when they shot this.

Well, Philip Bloom released a comparison video shoot that FINALLY shows these cameras in a REAL WORLD comparison.  No charts and graphs, thank God.  I mean, if I went off charts and graphs only, I would have dropped my 5d off a high cliff somewhere in the Nevada desert.  So here’s the video:

AF100 vs F3 vs FS100 Part 1: The Real World from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

I had a little trouble comparing the footage because they’re so far apart in the timeline and it was hard to scroll the Vimeo player back and forth to switch from one cam to another.  So I’ve taken the liberty of taking screenshots of the comparisons of all four cameras for you to download and compare yourselves.  Keep in mind these are grabs from the 720p video as Philip didn’t create it in a 1080p project.  I don’t really know why…but I still think you can tell the differences quite well.

Picasa SlideshowPicasa Web AlbumsFullscreen

So you wanna hear my take?  Too bad…here it is anyway!   🙂

  1. It is clear the SONY F3 has a superior image.  Finally a video comparison that shows what 15k can buy.  It is NOT just like the FS100.  The detail is much clearer, and the dynamic range seems optimized and very…dare I say…filmic.  Check out the camera’s zoomed in shot under the bridge.  You can see the detail in the waves…the other cameras show not detail whatsoever.  The dynamic range is impressive…barely blows out any highlights while maintaining shadow detail.  This is also the only camera the offers an S-LOG option for maximum latitude in post for color grading.  The only problem is price.  For this camera, PL lenses,
  2. The SONY FS100 seems to be the best bank for your buck.  Clearly has more detail than the 5dMkII, can maintain shadow detail and not blow out highlights better than the AF100, and just has a nice sharp image without having that video-ey fake sharpness look.
  3. The 5dMkII has fantastic dynamic range but sadly lacking in detail.  I know Philip shoots with sharpness all the way down…which to me seems to blur the image and mess with the compression.  I found in my tests that a setting of 2 is the camera’s sweet spot.  But I STILL don’t think it would look as sharp at the FS100 and F3.  This camera however will remain in my kit.  I still think it has alot to offer…mainly because it’s so stinkin’ cheap and (oh yeah) it happens to take some of the best still pictures on the planet.  The main downside of this camera to me is the codec.  Even the new Technicolor profile can’t get past this major caveat.  The compressed codec does not allow for alot of pushing in terms of color grading in post.
  4. The AF100 doesn’t quite measure up to any of these other cameras as far as the 4 points I listed above, except for maybe price.  First, I don’t really understand why they created something called a micro 4/3 sensor.  Why they didn’t just go for  APS-C like a 7d or F3 or FS100 or something that’s been around for decade like Super 35mm is beyond me.  This created too much focal distance for each lens and also minimizes depth of field.  This also throws dynamic range out the window…as you can see in the footage the AF100 blows out highlights in every shot.  The camera also seems to have some detail…but it looks artificial and video-ey like Panasonic took their soft/fuzzy HVX200 look and added sharpening to it.  This camera just doesn’t work for me.

So there you have it.  It looks like the FS100,  the best value for the camera, will be a part of my arsenal this summer, with my trusty 5dMkII in hand as a “B” cam and also stills cam.  I usually get my hands on these cameras before I purchase, and I’ll be able to do an informal 5d vs. FS100 shootout.


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