Professional video cameras used to matter because they were the only way to get what you needed.
The line between DSLRs and professional video cameras is blurring all the time. The EPIC is a good example, it’s smaller than the RED ONE, it’s more akin to a Hasselblad medium format camera than the cherished notion of an EX1 of F3 style video camera.
I believe that the AF100 and F3’s form factor represents the past not the future, and that this kind of camera won’t be around in another 5 years. There is a lot of talk about professionals abandoning DSLRs for ‘real cameras’ with big rectangular bodies and the F3’s handling – it’s absolutely not going to happen and let me tell you why.
Where DSLRs fit in is that they’re helping to establish a new form factor which will stick around long after the AF100 shaped ‘real video camera’ has been consigned to history.
The rigs are an essential part of this smaller package. Small camera bodies are undoubtably an advantage but they’re not a complete deal without the rig to hook it up to various filmmaker’s different needs.
This new-found flexibility (and reduction in weight & bulk) is a huge advantage over the old form-factor. We’re seeing a move away from the traditional form factor of video cameras onto something much more adaptable, and right now DSLRs are pioneering that.
I can see the top rig manufacturers having a very rosy future indeed. No longer is the handling and ergonomics of the camera dictated to the end-user by Canon or Sony. A customisable rig is where video is heading, and Canon just make the imaging box. It makes sense for Canon et al. too because they can offer their own adaptable configurations of Canon branded rigs (after someone else has shone a light on the market, of course!)
The quicker to use and the less cumbersome a rig is, the larger it’s chance of success. It also has to be well balanced and adaptable on the fly without being too complex.
There are still times when a rig isn’t needed, and a camera body has everything you require, for example when you’re using a tripod – but the rule goes that if you move a new generation video camera, you need the customisable handling and support, which rigs offer much more of compared to the old form factor of a top handle and fixed lens with zoom, optical stabiliser and EVF.
What is the difference between a professional video camera like the AF100 and a DSLR like the GH2 when it’s on a DitoGear slider? Well, the GH2 is better because it’s smaller and lighter.
It’s a brave new world – I say to people that think DSLRs are a flash in the pan and that everybody is going to go back to ‘real video cameras’ with handles… forget it!