Veri vs. Alta
I just had a very interesting experience. We shot some spots a few weeks ago using a Sony AltaCine. We later decided to shoot some more spots in the same location and we got in a VeriCam for those. So there it is: same location; same lighting conditions; different cameras.
And the verdict is: VeriCam. VeriCam. VeriCam.
The picture looks terrific. The camera is a joy to work with. And I can't for the life of me see why anyone would pay so much more for the Sony. The Sony is very demanding. Backfocus is always a concern. You can’t overexpose anything (you’re supposed to underexpose then bring it back up in post…go ahead and tell that to the client frowning at the monitor) The VeriCam is a well thought out camera; easily customizable; and gives a beautiful picture. (I just don't why it doesn't output the 4:3 crop-marks to the monitor).
As nice as it looks though, in my humble opinion, both cameras still lacked the softness I shoot for in film. I had the detail all the way down, yet it looked like the look I used to get when the film colorist used to have the enhancement cranked up to their normal level (I later started having them turn it way down.)
Still, a very impressive camera, and given some time to really become familiar with it’s capabilities, I’m sure it’s a Sony-killer.
You just had the VariCam experience. One of most common statements that I get is how the color looks so much better than the Sony camera. there really is a difference.
Also, as you can see from a recent post by the resident VariCam expert, Leo, there are still undiscovered bonuses waiting out there.
That's what makes horse races! Some people will prefer the Varicam and others the Cine Alta. I think it can safely be said that both have their place in the HD realm.
As far as "can't overexpose" with the Cine Alta, this is just not the case. If you turn off the DCC, which is the auto knee circuit, and open the iris the exposure will go to the clip level, which itself is adjustible. The admonition not to overexpose is to prevent loss of detail in the highlights, but if that's not a problem for you go ahead and do so. This like scores of other adjustments and settings are available for your use in customizing the look on both cameras!
Backfocus is not a concern with the F900 depending on what rental house you received the gear from.
Of all the HD film rental houses I have used gear from by far Clairmont camera in Hollywood has the best and most reliable lens mount.
In my humble opinion based on using their gear you don't have to worry about Backfocus anymore.
Regarding the 4:3 crop marks most of the Sony HD monitor can overlay a 4:3 safe area. You just need to find the proper menu to display it.
Neither the Sony or Panasonic camera have the softness often mistaken for resolution of film. If you really desire a film look and are willing to pay for it by all means shoot film or maybe check out the Viper.
Currently one of the reasons the F900 is the primary HD camera chosen is the availability and already established post production infrastructure which Sony is years ahead of Panasonic. In addition take a look at the major rental houses who have invested in HD and you find that they have selected the F900 as their flagship HD gear. The 27F is a great camera for owner operators who don't have the money to burn on the F900.
I recently finished working on a SAAB spot (on the air now) in which the Clairmont camera f900 system was used. The majority of the spot was shot in 35mm, lost of high speed 100-300fps footage along with HDCAM 24P material that was rear projected some off tape and some live.
The varicam was not even a choice even with it variable frame rate capability as only motion picture film offers real high speed motion capture that currently cannot be matched both in terms of resolution, dynamic range, colorimetry and temporal feel and look by any HD camcorder today.
It was great to work on a project where the best of both mediums (35mm film and 24P HDCAM) were combined to gain the best each format has to offer.