XAVC S vs Prores: Resolution, Dynamic Range and Noise

In this lesson we’ll compare the quality of the internal XAVC S codec against Prores HQ, Prores 422 and Prores LT to understand when to choose which. I’ll only be focusing on 1080p.

What do I mean by ‘quality’? Here are three things we’re going to test:

  • Resolution, noise and dynamic range
  • Grading stress test
  • Chroma key stress test with motion

In this part we’ll study resolution, dynamic range and noise. I’m going to be comparing XAVC S with Prores HQ, 422 and LT, so we know where each one stands. We’ll be testing all of the above codecs at 24p in a custom white balanced setup (3100K) for the following picture profiles:

  • Rec. 709 in 709 Matrix
  • Cine1 in Cinema
  • S-Log2 in S-Gamut

Some notes:

  • DSC Labs OneShot Middle Grey was used for base exposure (0.0). It was at 1/50s, ISO 5000 at f/8
  • +3 Exposure was f/2.8, everything else as-is
  • -3 exposure was ISO 640 at f/8 for Rec. 709 and Cine1, and for S-Log2 it was ISO 4000, f/11 with an ND 0.6 (2 stops) filter.
  • In the scene, the area in the drawer (darkest) is 6 stops under
  • In the scene, the bulb is 5 stops over.
  • The scene easily has a dynamic range of 12 stops or more.
  • Even though I have tested 422 and LT, I am not including them here because it makes no difference visually.

Rec. 709 in 709 Matrix

Here’s how the Shogun compares with XAVC S in Rec. 709 (click to enlarge):

Rec709Comparison

Bottom line, there is no difference. You can use the Shogun exactly as you would use the A7s for exposure, as far as Rec. 709 is concerned.

Cine1 in Cinema

Here’s how the Shogun compares with XAVC S in Cine 1 (all Cine modes apply) (click to enlarge):

Cine1Comparison

Bottom line, there is no difference. You can use the Shogun exactly as you would use the A7s for exposure, as far as Cine modes are concerned.

S-Log2 in S-Gamut

The Shogun behaves normally. Earlier, I was seeing problems because I used Color Finesse, which is the problem, really. To know more, please read my detailed explanation in the Atomos Shogun Review.

I have deleted my earlier tests since they are irrelevant.

Bottom line, you can use the Wolfcrow system with the Shogun as well.

Results and Takeaways

  • Resolution and noise are similar between internal XAVC S and Prores
  • In all picture profiles, dynamic range is similar for XAVC S and Prores

Of course, this does not mean Prores doesn’t have its uses, which we’ll see in the next lesson.