"Wow! Cool shot! But of course it is, you've got a RED you lucky thing...what lens? "
You may have heard something similar before, and it does get frustrating. We spend hours, days, long nights, weeks away from our loved ones and years dedicating ourselves to the craft of photography (motion or stills) only to be summed up in a few seconds by the brand or logo on the side of our camera, which mind you, had nothing to do with luck - that logo cost a lot of money and required a lot of hard work to attain ;) Fortunately, I actually do think that most people, even the ones who say things like the quote above, DO know that the camera is only a part of the equation. "Wow, this food tastes delicious! You must have a really good oven..." Seems to expose the flaws of such a compliment even better, but you get my point ;)
I was a bit tricky when I posted these tests. Firstly, I knew that the Sony A7s had only just been released, which mind you, already has a reputation for being a low-light, full frame pocket sized monster. So I used words to describe this video that aligned with the strengths of the new Sony. I basically played on the hype that new camera's seem to get these days, and that's the point of this article.
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II Lens: Canon Kit Lens 24-105 f4 L Light: Overcast daylight, Flames Exposure: F4, 1/50th, 1250ISO
With a new camera/sensor being released every 6 months or less, it makes sense that companies push their product like there's no tomorrow - boasting new features like cleaner images, super sensitive sensors, higher dynamic range, amazing colour rendition, better resolution, etc, etc. The problem is, people seem to be getting carried away with the hype! Hype'd specs (or even actual specs) are NOT what makes nice images.
I was originally going to shoot this test with my RED Scarlet-X, but lately I've been playing with Magic Lantern (much love to you guys!!!) and the 5D Mark II. Being mindful of the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the 5DII, using this super hack, I've been getting some really, REALLY nice results. The workflow is SLOW, but the video quality is astonishing. I also revel in the fact that my 9yr old DSLR camera in some ways out-performs my RED. But I'll get into that later. For now, I just want you look at these test videos and think about how little the camera has to do with the shot. Actually, if you could imagine that these images were captured by the new Dragon sensor, or the new Sony A7s, how much would you want that camera? I mean look at the skin tones, the sharpness, how clean those blacks are at 1250iso (don't visit reduser if you don't want to talk about noise issues and the dragon), and look how much detail is in those flames! Could it be possible these clips were actually shot with a 5D Mark II through the 24-105 wide open (which has been through absolute hell)?? Absolutely.
Now days, the camera and the lens are not so important. Understanding light, contrast, exposure, composition and what is achievable in post is what really matters.
"Everyone who has a DSLR thinks they're a cinematographer" is the cynical sentence flooding blogs and forums of late, and let's face it, that's not entirely wrong. A more accurate one might be "Anyone with a DSLR can be a cinematographer, because now they have a powerful tool to learn with".
I was looking at purchasing the Panasonic GH4 to replace my trusty 5DII, but I've been holding back because I think I'd miss RAW too much, and the full frame. Maybe the next gen of DSLR's will offer something nicer? Meanwhile, I've been spending money on OTHER THINGS that I cannot wait to experiment with...blog post for that coming soon :)