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Nikon D4 / D800 Unacceptable for Broadcast, BBC Says

Following controversial claims made by Nikon Australia regarding the suitability of the Nikon D4 and D800 to professional television programme-making, The PhoBlographer contacted the European Broadcasting Union and Andy Quested, the Head of Technology for BBC HD and 3D. Originally, the Australian My Nikon Life website had claimed that “both models have become the first DSLR cameras to pass the very elaborate European Broadcasting Union (EBU) test, commonly referred to as the BBC Test.” After the Wolfcrow blog pointed out that the D800 had basically failed the test, Nikon Australia changed the text of its article to focus solely on the D4. However, in his reply to The PhoBlographer, Andy Quested starkly concluded that “neither camera is acceptable for HD programmes for any of the UK broadcasters,” citing “sparse” sound facilities, “coloured spatial aliasing”, “very limited controls… in video mode” and sub-par [video] resolution as the main reasons. On a more positive note, Mr Quested praised the D4’s low noise levels and wide dynamic range as potential assets to videographers, but these apparently weren’t enough to change his overall verdict.

To us, this appears to be a bit of an interpretation issue. While the D800 report clearly states that “[t]his camera cannot be recommended for serious programme-making,” the European Broadcasting Union’s conclusions on the D4 are not quite so clear cut. (Both reports were written by Alan Roberts, HDTV and colour science consultant at the EBU.)

Sources: The PhoBlographer and PetaPixel via 1001 Noisy Cameras

If you’re more interested in how these DSLRs perform as “traditional” stills cameras, make sure to read our own Nikon D4 and Nikon D800 reviews!

Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012

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Reader Comments

  1. I am curious of knowing which modern cameras are instead accepted in these standards. Any link to a list or something? Thanks.

    Emopunk at 12:47pm on Thursday, October 11, 2012

  2. Emopunk,

    Some professional camcorders have received approval, see e.g. here: http://www.photographyblog.com/news/bbc_approves_canon_xf305_xf300_for_hd_production/

    So far, no DSLR camera has been found acceptable for broadcast by the EBU (unless we share Nikon Australia's interpretation of Mr Roberts's Nikon D4 report, of course).

    The Canon EOS C300, which does take SLR lenses, has been approved - see http://www.photographyblog.com/news/canon_eos_c300_receives_bbc_approval/ - but it's not an SLR camera, either.

    Zoltan Arva-Toth at 04:39pm on Thursday, October 11, 2012

  3. All DSLR's *suck* for video. I'm a broadcast online editor and our shop was in love with the 5D until they saw how terrible it looks on a real monitor. Aliasing is the worst side-effect, but (unless it's perfectly exposed) the overall image is just flaky. Lack of a sufficient bit rate doesn't help.

    I'd rather use footage from a Canon XA10 over the 5D.

    Ron I at 05:22pm on Friday, October 12, 2012

  4. If only the BBC was as picky about programme content...

    DeltaV at 10:53pm on Saturday, October 13, 2012

  5. I know for a fact that at least one episode of House M.D. was shot using Canon EOS 5D II. And it was successfully shown on television. What's the problem with this camera that European broadcasters dislike so much? Or is it another case of "buy Japanese - sell America" (Europe in this case)?

    BlackBox at 08:10am on Sunday, October 14, 2012

  6. @BlackBox

    Did you see how much work went into that House episode to make it work? Despite that, the episode was novelty at best.

    A very experienced DOP (who's intimately familiar with the limitations of the 5D) can shoot brilliant images. But that DOP is maybe 1 in 10. The image has no latitude and plenty of defects (aliasing, moire) which gets compounded when further compressing for broadcast.

    Ron I at 04:51pm on Sunday, October 14, 2012

  7. @BlackBox - not entirely true either. It was part only and for the effect

    Andy Quested at 09:38pm on Sunday, October 14, 2012

  8. @Ron I

    Actually, according to the union rules, the DOP can't even touch the camera. He (or she) can't even look through the viewfinder of the camera. It's the cameraman's, not DOP's job. :-) Isn't Hollywood FUN! :-)

    BlackBox at 01:00pm on Monday, October 15, 2012

  9. That's weird! It looks like a part of a black marketing technologies...

    Roman (canon user) at 08:20am on Wednesday, October 17, 2012

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