The recent publication of CineD’s Venice 2 lab tests has created quite a stir and many have asked what my view on this is. You can see the entire test here: https://www.cined.com/sony-venice-2-lab-test-rolling-shutter-dynamic-range-and-latitude/
I have not done any formal dynamic range testing with Venice 2 myself, but I have shot with it several times. I have also shot with most of Sony’s recent cameras including the original Venice, many different Red cameras and Arri ALexa’s.
Whenever I shot with Venice 2 the dynamic range has always impressed me. I have been able to pull lots of detail out of the deepest shadows without any issue, no nasty noise artefacts, no coloured blotches. When I shot the “London Vistas” video in London at night using available light I found the cameras noise floor to be very low, allowing me to get deep shadow textures without issue. The cameras highlight handling has also always impressed me and every time I’ve used Venice 2 I have been delighted with the dynamic range it delivers, it is up there with the Arri Alexa. From my real world shooting experience Venice 2 delivers more DR than my FX9 or FX6 and it delivers it in a very pleasing way. The way the far highlights and deep shadows behave is beautiful.
I would also point out that there are many great examples of deep shadow details and textures that are colour blotch free in Rob Hardy’s “Venizia” short film.
I would point out that CineD noted that the Venice 2 as the delivered the second highest dynamic range result they have seen in their lab when they recorded using the internal 4K ProRes recordings. Venice 2 comes in just 0.3 stops behind the Alexa in this mode in the CineD tests. CineD have put this down to downsampling from 8K plus the use of additional internal noise reduction. While DCT codecs like ProRes do normally incorporate some degree of NR, I doubt that Sony are doing any significant NR in camera as this tends to degrade the image in other areas. So I find the discrepancy between the results they are seeing between the 16 it X-OCN and the 10 bit ProResHQ very intriguing and it makes me wonder if something else is going on. Downsampling from 8K will certainly help lower the noise a little, but I feel that there is something odd with the X-OCN results, one thing I note is a very raised pedestal on the waveform of the X-OCN, which is somewhat odd, the bit depth should help separate the noise from the useable signal. A camera either has a dynamic range or it doesn’t, only rarely does NR make a significant difference as the sensor analog to digital converters tend to be the one of the main limiting factors. My own real world experience is that Venice 2 when shooting X-OCN has more useable DR than almost every other camera I have used.
Bottom line is – don’t go by the test, try the camera for yourself as I am quite sure you will find, like me, that one thing Venice 2 does not lack is dynamic range. I will try to do my own formal tests as soon as possible.