Camera Testing – a four way comparison


I’m in very early pre-production for a new TV series.

I was keen to compare the Sony F-55 against the Alexa as this new show will probably feature a lot of on camera flashes, always a problem for rolling shutters like that found on the Alexa.  The global shutter of the F55 should take care of that issue, and the smaller size and apparently very wide colour gamut are also interesting.

I was also interested in testing their 4K RAW recording as well, so I set up a bit of a dynamic range test to compare them.  I also threw a 4K and 2.5K Blackmagic camera into the mix.

The first thing I did was find some skin tone so thanks to my camera department volunteer  Dane Howell for stepping in at the last minute.

The test was done at Panavision Sydney and was thrown together at the last minute so I had to scrape things together.  I would have preferred to do this at daylight colour temperature as most sensors get the most DR at around 5000K. As it was I metered the CT at 2870K.

Lens wise I used the new Panavision V series Primos for all the cameras.  The 40mm for the Alexa, F55 and 4K Blackmagic with the 27mm for the smaller sensored 2.5K bmcc.

I had a grey card along with a skin tone reference card ( both are Fotowand charts from friend Anders at The DOP Shop) plus an X-Rite passport.

Behind dane I set up a piece of poly with a 100w Dedo set to rake along it’s length.  I do this as a way of creating an exposure “ramp” that goes from near white to clipping.  It usually means I can compare the clipping point and it’s easy to pick what is and isn’t clipped.  This clipping point will also shift along the poly as I open the exposure or close it down.

In the deep background I tried to have something that was true black and near black.  Theres another piece of poly down there with some black stripes of tape on it.  It’s barely reflecting back some light and next to is close to true black (in the shade)

I basically assumed the native ISO of the camera was what the manufactured recommend and started off with that as the “Zero” point.  I then went up in half stop increments and down in half stop increments.  So you have + and – 3 stops either side of the manufacture recommended ISO.  You can extrapolate your own ideas about how to expose these cameras from looking and comparing.

So I lit Dane to be 102 Footcandles.  This gives us T 8 @ 800 ISO @ 25 FPS 180 Deg shutter for the Alexa and the BMCC 2.5K

For the F55 the base exposure for zero was T 8 2/3 while the 4K blackmagic was T 5.6.

So if you want access to these files, I’ll need you to leave me an email address in the comments field to invite you with.  I’m using Just Cloud and after uploading them all up there, I’ve now learned that I can’t publicly share a file over 50MB !  There are close to 40GB of files so I’m not uploading them all again to another server !

If you’re worried about spam just substitute the @ for “at”

Make sure you post back your findings too !


DR test

About johnbrawley

Director Of Photography striving to create compelling images
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191 Responses to Camera Testing – a four way comparison

  1. Josiah says:

    John, would love to take a look. Thanks for posting this for the rest of us. josiah AT

  2. RAPHEAL says:

    John, would love to take a look. Thanks for posting this for the rest of us RaphealAtl678 AT

  3. Anthony says:

    Great article. I love the “100w Dedo set to rake along it’s length” test. I am also grateful for your detailed lighting plans. Great work and passion. Where did you source the case for the grey and skin tone cards?

  4. Ron coker says:

    John, Thanks for posting. Most interesting.

  5. Robert Pitman says:

    Thank you for giving people access to your tests.

    robert.pitman AT

  6. Peter Mooney says:

    Peter Mooney

  7. Yes please John, much appreciated! iain •

  8. Pingback: Blackmagic Production Camera 4K Tested against the Sony F55, F35, Arri Alexa, BMCC and Canon 5D Mark III | wolfcrow

  9. Aaron Medick says:

    Hi John,
    I’d like to take a look at your test.


  10. Hi John,
    I would love to take a look at the files.


    Thank you

  11. Greg Greenhaw says:

    Hey john can your forward one to me?

  12. Dmitriy says:

    Hey John!
    Thanks for that testing, interested in results.


  13. Patrick says:

    Thanks for making this available. My email is patrick(at)

  14. Pablo Sánchez says:

    Would love to see the results, thanks.

    pablinski at

  15. Ryan Jones says:

    Hi John.

    Love to have a look at the results, blog at

    Curious though which camera you’re now planning on using for the show?


  16. joe leih says:

    Hi John, Joe Leih joeleih AT thanks!

  17. marco adesso says:

    hi John,
    really pleased to have a look thanks so much
    marco.adesso at

  18. Alex says:

    Looking forward to it. Thanks for posting. alex AT

  19. John says:

    jstalker AT creativebaymedia DOT com

    Thanks John

  20. Thanks John
    peter.chamberlain AT

  21. Tom David says:

    Thanks John, would love to take a look
    tmd AT

  22. Sam phibbs says:

    Sorry just realised I double posted!

  23. Louis Kreusel says:

    Thanks for sharing this John. Would like to see it too.
    louis at days-end . com

  24. Graeme says:

    Hi John, love to take a look
    x1 at

  25. riccardocovino says:

    Thanks for this cool test!
    riccardocovino at

  26. jpilgry says:

    You should never pass up the opportunity to learn more about the nature of the cameras you’re using! I would love to see this test.

    jpilgrim4499 at

    Thanks John! And thank you for all of your great posts both on your blog and on the blackmagic forums!

  27. Campbell says:

    Thanks John would love to take a butchers.
    hynam.smith AT


  28. Daniel Lobo says:

    Hi, I’d like to see the results. Thanks for posting this. daniel.lobo at

  29. JPetit says:


    I really want to see that! Thanks for doing this 🙂

    jpetit5 AT

  30. Alberto says:

    Hi john,
    can I have the link for the footage? Thank you so much
    albe.morlin AT

  31. Thanks for doing the test. I’d love to see the files. I just ordered the Blackmagic 4K, and am hoping it came out of your gauntlet looking okay!

  32. Joao Manuel Andrade says:

    Hi John I would like to take a look at your tests too.


  33. Kai K says:

    John, may I please take a look at your test. Thank you for your this, and other helpful posts.

    kai-kool ( a t )

  34. Esat Ozceylan says:

    Hi John,

    I also would like to take a look at your tests.


  35. Hi John, thank you for sharing the footage. Your posts are always a good insight and inspiration for me. Greetings from Germany.

    patric at

  36. Kjeld says:

    Thanks for this John.
    I would like to see the footage

  37. I’d love to see your tests. Starting a feature soon and trying to see if the F55 intercuts well with the BMCC.

  38. N.A. says:

    Hope I’m not too late! I’d love to take a look at them as well: jbcam(at)
    Thanks a lot!

  39. Brian Hallett says:

    I’d love to see your footage.

  40. Matt says:

    Thank you very much for taking the time to out together these test. Would love to look at what you found!

    matthew.mayotte at

    Cheers (from San Francisco)!


  41. Lucy says:

    Hello (at)

    Thank you so much! Love your posts.

  42. Leon says:

    Hi John,
    Woul like to take a look . Thanks
    grinleon at

  43. Hortkind says:


  44. jpsendall says:

    Just logging to ask if I may have the link to the test and thank you very much by the way. Shooting a a very low budget feature soon and need to show the producers the tests.

  45. jpsendall says:

    Oops. Forgot to say jpsendall (at)

  46. MM TOP says:

    Have mercy.
    A pow, pow, pow, pow, a pow.

  47. Sean James says:

    Hi John,

    I’d appreciate if you could send me the footage, here’s my email address.

    sean (at) pathwaypictures . co . uk


  48. Yoav Tal says:

    Would like to take a look.

  49. Norman says:

    Would love to see the files. norman at

  50. Shane Farr says:

    Thank you!

    shane.farr AT

  51. michael G says:

    Thanks for testing, would like to see the files.

  52. Al Hillmann says:

    Many thanks! Please let me have a look.

  53. matt at mcgeedigitalmedia dot com

  54. Mike says:

    I would love to see them. Thanks. mlschaertl(at)

  55. Anghel Decca says:

    I’m very interested to see the files.

  56. David Antoniuk says:

    Would love to see your results
    dantoniuk at

  57. ProfChuck says:

    I have been doing a lot of video of amateur rocket tests. I am shooting 1080P and am thinking of going 4K. What are your thoughts regarding studio vs field cameras. Lighting is not a problem but I would like to shoot some in high frame rate.
    Also, please send me a copy of your report.

    • johnbrawley says:

      Hi. it’s not really a report. It’s the raw footage. You can download it and make up your own mind about the cameras performance. I’ve sent you a link anyway. The BM cameras aren’t known for high frame rates. The 4K camera can only do 30 FPS.


  58. richardhawkins1(at)

    Thanks for sharing your results John and I would luv to take a gander at the footage. Im interested as to the latitude of the BMCC 4k see where that falls.

  59. Jim Ritscher says:

    Thank you for this. jritscher at

  60. David Schwartz says:

    Thanks for posting this up. I’d love a look.
    d.a.schwartz at

  61. Ralph Brown says:

    I would like to see the comparison especially for Alexa and Black magic offerings.
    As the Alexa will be similar to the new Amira guessing the test will still have relevance.
    I am developing a new project and this info would help with some of the decisions.
    Recent project is available at:

  62. If you don’t mind, I also would like to take a look at them. Thanks!

  63. A very well-constructed test. I hope that someday someone does a similar comparison including the Red Epic equipped with both the Mysterium-X and the Dragon sensors. Please send the test. I will be looking forward to your comments after you have had a chance to evaluate your results and made your conclusions. stereoscope3d(at)

  64. Samuel Wilson says:

    Awesome work! Thanks for helping me decide what to use! Can’t wait to check out full rez images to compare!

  65. Hans Linssen says:

    Hi John, thanks for testing and I like to see your results.

  66. Please send a link.

    Thanks for doing this test. Very appreciated.

  67. Adam Arad says:

    Hey John first off thanks for all the great post I would love to see the footage really looking into one of the Blackmagic cameras. Thanks!

  68. wsf57 says:

    Thank you for taking the time to test these cameras and post the files.
    I would love to take a look at them.

  69. Sounds likes a great test. Please send a copy of the results. Thanks!

  70. Colin says:

    Thank you in advance! I’m excited to see the results.

  71. Mark Preston says:

    Thanks for taking the time to do the testing. I know what it takes to do it.

    Mark Preston
    Preston Photo Inc.

  72. greg le duc says:

    Thanks for sharing. I would like to see how they compare. greg (at) D.P.
    local 600 & soc. Heading to NAB 2014, so this will be great to discuss at the show.

  73. Cindy Yu says:

    Thanks very much!

  74. NFS says:


    Thanks for this offer – most kind of you. If you are still going, can you send them to me as well? l.l.anderson at Thanks so much.

  75. Another guy from South America interested in taking a look at your test. Thanks.

  76. Tom Sullivan says:

    Thanks for an unbiased test.

  77. Frank says:

    Would love to see the 4k to 2.5k comparison. Thank you.
    Frank.Engineering AT

  78. Michael Luda says:

    Thanks for your offer…

    Michael, Germany

  79. Hello John and thanks for making this test available to all of us.

    Our engineering department did a 4K test with the Sony F55 this past Thursday (3 days ago). I would love to give them access to the files of yours.

    Thanks in advance and best regards,

    Clarke L Smith
    The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
    New York – USA

  80. Larry McConkey says:

    I would love to see your test. Please send me a link. Which camera did you decide on and why?

  81. Donald Flynn says:

    I’d like to see the results of your comparison.

    Thank you.

  82. Colin Mayo says:

    Thank you for this test! I’m excited to see the results

  83. Harry Kemp says:

    Would love to check out the files John!


  84. Ergin Ozturk says:

    Hi John,
    can i look at your test?

  85. Uli Plank says:

    My I ask to the test files? uliplank at


  86. Thanks for your diligence. I would love to see your test results as well.

  87. Tim Sorel says:

    Thank you for doing this.

  88. darrenlew says:

    john, it’s nice to see you here and at the forefront of this testing. i’ve been following you for years, ever since i started shooting. you won’t remember this but you once sent me an AATON XTRprod t-shirt. i believe you were a fellow AATON owner.

    would you mind sending the test? i’m super curious.


  89. Eric says:

    Great article and lighting scheme for the test. A great real world look at these fine cameras.
    I would certainly appreciate seeing the test results as I am also considering using the Sony F55
    on an upcoming shoot.

    Thank you John!

  90. Travis Jones says:

    A little late but hopefully you get the message:

  91. Michael Matheny says:

    I would also like to look at your test footage

  92. Robert Cetti says:

    Thanks for the test. I would like to see the results. cetti(AT)

  93. Hi John, im way late about signing up here but i’d love to take a look, currently deliberating between sony or arri camera for a short film and was recently impressed with the f5.
    jessscotthunter at gmail dot com

  94. Alex Mendez says:

    John, would love to take a look. This would be great to explain students in my cinematography class. Thanks for posting this my address is ajmendez AT

  95. Kathy Buxton says:

    John, I would love to see your test results. We are also in the early stages of pre-production for a show and looking at cameras.

  96. Abby Levine says:

    Would also like to have a look. Thanks

  97. Claudio Piovesana says:

    Hi John,
    really interesting test, I am curious to take a look.

  98. Vic Harris says:

    victor_b_harris at

    Thanks for the tests John.

  99. Abobakr says:

    thank you for doing this.. it would be a privilege to be able see your tests

    a.m.alshiblie at gmail

  100. Excellent test that answer my own questions. Dowload links please.

    Rls (at)

  101. andrew says:

    would love to take a look as well, andrew at dustoftheground dot com

  102. Glen Hurd says:

    Wow John. What a great service! Just got myself an F35, and would like to use your work as a base-line. sandboxllc at

  103. John,

    Excited to take a look at your results. Thanks for putting in the time and effort in doing this. Jderango at


    Johnny Derango

  104. Josh Quigley says:

    Hi John, I would love to take a look at your tests as well. Better late then never! infoatjoshquigleyphotodotcom

  105. Good morning. I apologize but I didn’t get around to the link until today and it must have expired. Could you please re-send? Thank you.

  106. Hi John,
    We just bought the Black Magic 4k. I’m curious to see how it compares to the other cameras. Please send the files my way. Thanks in advance.

  107. Andy Sommer says:

    I have a F55, but I love the Alexa skin tones and try to match them.
    I would be grateful to get access to your files.
    Thank you very much
    Paris / mail:

  108. Love to see this footage! Thanks!
    Trying to decide whether to return the BMCC 4k or not.

    • Tom Sullivan says:

      John: I sign up to see your test, but have not seen any file as of enough. Did I miss a link to see them. Tom Sullivan

  109. Hey! Thanks in advance

  110. If this is still available could I get the test files please? glenn(at)

  111. Please send results of the test.

  112. Pingback: Sony F-55…so close… | johnbrawley

  113. Chilimbwe Washington says:

    If the service is back up or if there is another place you could point me to, I would appreciate it. chilimbwe.washington(at) Thank you.

  114. Hi John, Thank you for sharing! I would really appreciate to look at it. My address is:

  115. Patrick Acum says:

    Hi John, hope I haven’t missed the boat on this, please could you send a link?

  116. Theo Pretorius says:

    Hi John, Thanks for sharing, my address

  117. John, please send the files to
    Thanks very much!

  118. Jim brown says:

    Thank you for sharing! I would really appreciate to look at it:

  119. stereoscope3d says:

    A very well-designed test. Between your detailed text and your excellent drawing, I can’t think of anything that I would want to ask. Please send to me at:

  120. tzachi avital says:

    hope it is still there can u send it to me too please

  121. Pingback: Blackmagic Production Camera 4K Tested against the Sony F55, F35, Arri Alexa, BMCC and Canon 5D Mark III - wolfcrow

  122. Miguel Hontou Beisso says:

    John, what a great, well thought out test. I would love to have a look at the files to make a call between an Alexa and the F55. Thanks for this work and effort you put out for the rest of us!

    bichomuerto AT

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