FS100 vs BMCC

Blackmagic Cinema Camera vs Sony FS100 in Low Light – who wins?

by planetmatt7 Comments

One of the main arguments against the Blackmagic Cinema Camera (BMCC) has been that it will not be good in low light. A smaller sensor coupled with a max ISO of 1600 paints the picture pretty clear. However, what people fail to realize is that when shooting RAW with a capable large dynamic range sensor, you can recover a lot of shadow detail superbly. Something a codec on a DSLR would squash into big blocks.

Frank Glencairn Blackmagic Cinema Camera video

In this video from Frank Glencairn, he pits the BMCC against the Sony FS100. Be sure to go to Vimeo and download this file as you will see it in the highest original quality:

Frank Glencairn says

This is what Frank said about his filming:

I used a Samyang 35mm f1.4 at f2.8 and a Heliopan IR/UV filter. Lighting was the oil lamp on the table, an oil lamp about 8 ft away on the wall and a garden torch in the background. Changing the ISO on raw, doesn’t make any difference, it`s just metadata (that`s the reason I just used 800 ISO), but makes a difference while ProRes recording. Of course I could have gone way higher with the ISO on the FS100, but why compare ISO 16000 to ISO 800?…The grading was done pretty rudimentary. If I had used masks and secondary grading, I could have get even more out of it.

Here is a still image for comparison between the two (click on the image for a larger file):

FS100 vs BMCC

FS100 vs BMCC

Of-course the FS100 is going to be the king of low light with an ISO capability beyond 16,000, but here, we see that the BMCC does extremely well.

The RAW is where it is at

I personally believe the ProRes footage was graded too yellowish and was not WB correctly. In the above image, you can see that the BMCC has a s16 film look to it, the skin tone is not smeary or plasticy (the model's blush on her cheeks renders more deeply than with the FS100). Also, the lamp has great highlight roll-offs and does not turn into a glob of glowing yellow as with the FS100. The BMCC image is much sharper as well.

What do you guys think?

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


  1. thank you for this. I was dying for some samples like this. GREAT STUFF!!! Give us More!!! :) :)

  2. Thanks for the test Frank. I’m glad I have the FS100, although I’m still trying to adjust to the 1.5x crop factor. It still is the low light king. The 2x+ crop factor of the BMCC is the deal breaker for me. I like the RAW option though. I just with they’d make a full frame camera (like the 5d II) that has clean SDI out and XLR audio inputs. I’m not quite sure why this is so hard to do? Anyway, thanks again Frank. Your contribution to the FS100 has been a great help!

  3. The BMCC side appears to be enlarged more than the FS100 side in the photo, so how is that supposed to be a fair comparison?

  4. Pingback: Blackmagic Cinema Camera vs Sony FS100 | Inovarte Broadcast Blog

Leave a Comment