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Saturday, June 06, 2015

Film Grain Vs Video Noise

This may be my first post in a while related to work things and making images or sound, but its worthwhile. In tests done by KODAK of all sources. The PDF I grabbed this from can be had by clicking on the image above or http://learn.usa.canon.com/app/pdfs/white_papers/White_Paper_sensitometric.pdf where its about 2/3's of the way through. In the tests kodak did, they wanted to equate film grain to video noise in some meaningful way. So suprise of suprises just how noisy film is. 5245 ( replaced by newer stocks which have better grain characteristics ) ISO 50 was the video equivalent 26db of gain or ISO 12,800 on the canon C series cameras. Look at where one of the most commonly shot films stocks is at ISO 500. 

In my personal and more subjective view, its probably not quite that far apart and I'd be tempted to place to place film at more ISO 5000 on the C cameras, simply taking into account newer film emulsions. However it also ends any argument of 35mm film having these crazy resolutions I heard people arguing - 4K to 6K because the grain structure itself simply obliterates. My personal experience when doing film transfers is that 35mm, ISO 250 was my pref in film speeds was around 1920  or 2K in resolution depending on processing, exposure and glass.  

Why am I bringing this up ? well because I'm  upping my game and bought a C300 this week. Thats right, I sort of cross graded in cameras. Mainly it was because of network approval. Even though the C100 makes the same image, and when you go to an external recorder its the same compression - better than either the 24mb h.264 or 50mbit Mpeg2.  In fact I plan to do very interesting test - I'm going to shoot both cameras side by side using the internal codecs and the ninja. My expectation is that the internal codecs are going to be very close in image quality and artifacts simply taking into mind that h.264 is roughly 2X more efficient than Mpeg2. In fact the Mpeg2 signal is probably a bit _more_ compressed because its 4:2:2 instead of 4:2:0 meaning its compressing that extra color info harder. So it will be an interesting test.

Of course I do plan on doing the C300 mk2 upgrade down the road too... 15 stops of dynamic range plus all the other improvements in the camera means it should have a decent long work life ahead of itself. I've only worked on one show so far that was shooting 4K. It looked great but so far there just isn't much demand for 4K for most projects. However I fully expect that to change over the next year. When I've had conversations with non-production people about 4K, they been interested in it. So the demand is there, its just a matter of time before it takes off.