Camera Shootout: BMCC, Canon 5D and Canon C300

Recently, I was asked to do a quick, no-budget shoot for a client. It was a pilot piece, so he didn’t want to spend any money, but see if we could deliver a good, quality product. I love a good challenge.

We needed to shoot a multi-camera setup for a band playing a song in a darkened setting. And, I only had access to my three cameras — my new Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera, my Canon 5D Mark iii and my high-end Canon C300.

The challenge was how to match these three, very different cameras. I knew the two Canon’s could be matched relatively closely, but the BMPCC was a bit different. It didn’t have a Canon EOD picture style. Yes, it has a raw option, but even then, that would require a substantial amount of post work to match it to the Canon styles.


One of my DPs was telling me about a new plug in called FilmConvert. He was telling me about how it takes digital video and makes it look like film. While I thought that was interesting, I knew there were tons of plug ins and post production tools that could do that. So what.

But, I downloaded the plug in and thought I would try it out. Here’s what he didn’t tell me. This powerful plug-in was actually designed to work with specific cameras and their visual settings to setup a baseline for the film conversion. In other words, before it converts the digital image to film, it takes the camera and its setting, and starts from a common look. That was very interesting!

In theory, that means I could shoot with any camera and make sure I used a setting supported by FilmConvert, and then I could match all the looks even across different cameras.

The Camera Test

Time to test it. I had about 20 minutes that Saturday morning before the shoot to see if I could match three different cameras. So, I started by setting up each camera based on what was supported in FilmConvert. I first set the white balance to match each of the three cameras. Then, I set the ISO to 200 for each one as well since I was shooting outside. Then, using the BMPCC EF Metabones Speed Booster adaptor, I was able to shoot all three cameras with a Canon EF 50mm f1.4 lens.

The one thing I had to do was make sure each of the cameras were setup to capture the image in a way that FilmConvert could use as a baseline. For the BMPCC, I shot ProRez in Film mode. For the Canon C300, I shot using the Canon Log mode. The Canon 5D was a bit more challenging, since it didn’t have a film setting. So, I downloaded a couple “filmic” picture styles, and ended up using the Marvels DSLR film picture style, which was supported in FilmConvert.

The Comparison

Below is the short video test I shot with the three cameras, and using FilmConvert to try and match the cameras.

  • CAM A is the Canon 5D
  • CAM B is the BMPCC
  • CAM C is the C300

You’ll notice that the BMPCC is slightly over exposed. That’s because the speed booster really boosted the light, and I didn’t adjust accordingly. But, overall, I was completely amazed at how closely I was able to match these three cameras. Very impressed with FilmConvert.


  1. Hey a couple geeky items to note… The BMPCC native ISO is 800 and I rarely, rarely ever change it from that. I would always use ND to control the exposure outside, not ISO. Also, when shooting on a Canon DSLR you should stick with the “odd” ISO settings… 160, 320, 640, etc. – don’t use 200, 400, etc. Why? I’m no engineer, but those setting introduce noise and can lead to that crosshatch pattern in shadows (usually in low light).

    I realize you’re just testing the cameras and trying to match them, but these are good things to keep in mind when actually doing real shoots. :)

  2. I didn’t realize the BMPCC native ISO was 800. I know the Canon C300 native ISO is 850. Good to know!

    And, I’ve also heard that about the Canon DSRL ISO settings, to use that multiple of 160s for less noise.

    Since I only had a few minutes to run the test, maybe I’ll try to do a more exhaustive test with a couple more cameras.

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