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dbp

I hate big cameras

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A rant. I mostly shoot on DSLRs for my work. Got a big yesterday with a Sony FS7, big ass tripod, monitor, the works. Ohhhh fancy stuff by my standards!

But here's the thing. It drove me nuts. Moving, positioning, getting shots was so damned cumbersome. Shot some Broll of a guy on a sailboat.

I garauntee I could've gotten way more and frankly, way better and more interesting content with my trusty GH4 and gimbal. Blah blah specs, I don't care. Footage would've been nicer and more interesting to 100%  of audiences.

I know there'll be some "back in my day, cameras weighed 1000lbs" folks who will scoff, but you know what? Fuck large camera systems. Fuck them. 

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I don't think a big camera is a problem if you have a big crew. With a second AC to carry everything and swap batteries, set up monitor, etc. and a first to pull focus and hit record and set up camera settings, and a DIT to handle cards, all you have to do is operate, or not even that if you have an operator, especially for steadicam shots, jib shots, etc. where you'd traditionally have even more crew and definitely get a better result than from the gimbal you're using yourself (no offense).

Under those circumstances, why not go for the FS7 or something? The image quality will be better. I suppose you need to plan a bit more to manage crew efficiently, but that's in the job description: "director" of photography. With a crew that size, you can manage a bigger camera better than as a lone gun with a dSLR, at least if you're a good DP, and get the benefits of a better image, too.

But without the crew, I'd take whatever the cheapest option was that delivers adequate image quality, probably a dSLR or mirrorless camera, maybe even using autofocus or image stabilization at times. But that's because I'm not a real DP.

A bad carpenter blames his tools. I wouldn't blame the camera for being big, it just needs more people to operate it. But in this case a good carpenter might be five people each getting paid $500-$1000/day. So I hear your point, but it all depends what you're working on and what the budget is. 

Fwiw, I shoot with a medium/small mirrorless camera and get better results with it than when I operated or DPed on shoots with an Alexa. But I didn't do a great job on those shoots (nor have the resources I needed) and I'd just like to hope that with experience and access to a full crew that would change. But it probably won't for me since I'm a hobbyist.

This doesn't reflect poorly on you or on me, I don't think, at least not necessarily. (It reflects poorly on me that I can't operate an Alexa well, but I never said you couldn't.) I've seen some extremely high end content (award winning major national campaigns) shot by lone wolf directors and DPs on 5Ds. And that stuff is breathtaking. They were working under circumstances where they didn't have access to a full crew, but rather wanted more time to wait on the right light etc. or in remote locations, and they made the right compromise. 

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@HockeyFan12I've  mentioned in the past I love hearing your perspective, so I would like to better understand where your at this time around. 

Even if Arri is completely wrong about the amira being a single op cam, and sony, canon, panasonic, bm, red designed their roughly$5k-$20k lineup for the wrong demographic as I believe the above post infers, (ie needing a largish crew to truly reap any benefits image wise from any cam purpose built for motion capture, and maybe not even then) , I think the thing to keep in mind is the specific look, texture, or feel that each camera system imparts to an image no?  These unique, inherent qualities are subjectively deemed either beneficial or undesirable to an image.  

My point being, every prudent individual with a vested interest, subjectively talented or not, will use the most efficient, practical tool for the application if at all possible.  The op, in his opinion, was using the incorrect tool. Even if he's completey correct, is he in a position to make that judgement?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Use the minimum equipment required to get what you need.

If I'm going to carry around something that weighs a lot, costs a lot, is complicated to use, is fragile, etc. then it better be worth it.

My XC10 / Rode VMP+ / Gorillapod 5K rig is way too large, but is the minimum size to get the footage I want.  My upgrade path goes from small and cheap to larger and more expensive, but every 'upgrade' was only justified by the previous setup being used in the field and found lacking in an aspect that I cared about enough to spend money on.

My ultimate camera would be a 16K RAW flying 360degree camera with 22 stops of DR and was invisible with infinite battery life.  Anything less ergonomic than that had better bloody earn it.

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Big camera on sticks, small camera on sticks. Doesn't make much difference in my experience. Same thing on a dolly. Handheld, sure, although I'll take a good FS7 shoulder setup to holding a properly rigged camera out in front of me all day. Gimbal...sure, a small camera is the ideal tool there. But gimbal shots are massively overused these days, and don't necessarily guarantee more interesting shots. In fact, I find many people I work with use camera movement much more effectively when stepping up to a larger camera, because it forces them to think harder about how and why they're moving the camera. And also because shoulder/handheld stuff has a nicer look due to the added inertia--a more professional handheld aesthetic, if you will. 

Also, big cameras just have more going for them. Comprehensive I/O, better image quality, more features, higher frame rates, beefier codecs, etc. More space means better cooling, more ports, bigger processors, etc.

I'm not saying a big camera is always the ideal tool, but the vast majority of the time it's not what's holding you back.

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51 minutes ago, TheRenaissanceMan said:

the vast majority of the time it's not what's holding you back.

Depends on film-making style.  If you're talking traditional film-making then I agree, but those at the more guerrilla end of film-making (such as those shooting travel or filming family) size makes a huge difference.

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3 minutes ago, kye said:

Depends on film-making style.  If you're talking traditional film-making then I agree, but those at the more guerrilla end of film-making (such as those shooting travel or filming family) size makes a huge difference.

I would argue that that type of shooting is more videography, as you're not really making a film there in the traditional sense. But sure, for no-budget travel or recording family memories, it's nice to have a smaller camera.

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13 hours ago, dbp said:

A rant. I mostly shoot on DSLRs for my work. Got a big yesterday with a Sony FS7, big ass tripod, monitor, the works. Ohhhh fancy stuff by my standards!

But here's the thing. It drove me nuts. Moving, positioning, getting shots was so damned cumbersome. Shot some Broll of a guy on a sailboat.

I garauntee I could've gotten way more and frankly, way better and more interesting content with my trusty GH4 and gimbal. Blah blah specs, I don't care. Footage would've been nicer and more interesting to 100%  of audiences.

I know there'll be some "back in my day, cameras weighed 1000lbs" folks who will scoff, but you know what? Fuck large camera systems. Fuck them. 

I've been using FS700 / F55 / FS7 / FS5 + Atomos for years, but I started to feel your pain too, and I've only shot on mirrorless cameras since. I have no plans to buy a larger camera in future. 

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I'm one of those guys that shoots exclusively with small cameras, but builds them up to frankenrig levels when the job calls for it. There are benefits to both sides, no doubt. 

Side note: you can always slip a small camera in your big camera's bag when the job calls for it :grin:

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7 hours ago, TheRenaissanceMan said:

I would argue that that type of shooting is more videography, as you're not really making a film there in the traditional sense. But sure, for no-budget travel or recording family memories, it's nice to have a smaller camera.

You may well be right - is there a clear and agreed difference between 'film' and 'video'?  If there is I'm curious, but if not then I would question about what value there is in excluding one style of animated images with sound from another type of animated images with sound :)

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To each his own, I guess.  I recently sold my A7sii and 25-135 power zoom lens and purchased a DVX200.  I'm happy with the change.  I missed the form factor and ease of a dedicated camcorder. I no longer worry about whether I have the correct lens for a job or having to purchase more.  Besides, many DSLR or mirrorless camera rigs can be pretty bulky.  For example, a caged A7sii with the pz lens and an xlr-k2m audio adapter isn't much smaller  or lighter than a DVX200.

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On 4/25/2018 at 7:09 PM, sam said:

@HockeyFan12I've  mentioned in the past I love hearing your perspective, so I would like to better understand where your at this time around. 

Even if Arri is completely wrong about the amira being a single op cam, and sony, canon, panasonic, bm, red designed their roughly$5k-$20k lineup for the wrong demographic as I believe the above post infers, (ie needing a largish crew to truly reap any benefits image wise from any cam purpose built for motion capture, and maybe not even then) , I think the thing to keep in mind is the specific look, texture, or feel that each camera system imparts to an image no?  These unique, inherent qualities are subjectively deemed either beneficial or undesirable to an image.  

My point being, every prudent individual with a vested interest, subjectively talented or not, will use the most efficient, practical tool for the application if at all possible.  The op, in his opinion, was using the incorrect tool. Even if he's completey correct, is he in a position to make that judgement?

I'm up my own ass here to some extent. I was in a weird mood.

This quote says it better:

On 4/25/2018 at 7:11 PM, kye said:

Use the minimum equipment required to get what you need.

But I'd add–don't use equipment you don't have the crew to support.

I haven’t used the Amira personally. It looks appropriate for a smaller crew, but not dSLR level by any means. I've never seen one used for a documentary, but I know they're popular with "indie" crews, particularly on smaller professional sets like Twin Peaks: The Return that a more "guerrilla" approach. I bet Kubrick would use one with a skeleton crew.

I find the Alexa Mini and Red to be inappropriate for a one man band, despite the small size. Too much to rig and maintain. The C300 and C100 (popular with Vice shooters) and even the FS7 are borderline. I could see them being used by wedding shooters or news journalists. 

But if your aim is to get gimbal/steadicam-type shots, as it seems the goal is here, then certainly an FS7 rig requires a bigger crew than you'd need for a GH5: ideally a steadicam op to fly the bigger camera all day and a wireless FF system for focus, and a monitor for you, the DP. And then you have enough batteries involved you want a second AC. So I stand by that. But you'd also get way better results with that crew than with a gimbal.

Of course, if the client didn't ask for gimbal shots, then why are you seeking to deliver them? If all they want is tripod shots, then yeah.... no need. Gimbal shots are not inherently better, and if they aren't asked for, they're almost certainly less desirable. I have not seen much, if any, really good gimbal footage. I'd prefer sticks almost every time, but that's just my opinion.

Where I do disagree with you is that some producers will push a certain camera like they have more faith in it than they do in the DP. So that is annoying... I've been working with more F55 footage lately because streaming services are demanding 4k deliverables and it's dumb. 3.2k Alexa footage looks better. But the F55 looks really good, too, so whatever.

For me personally, I just don't care that much about image quality, but I care a bit about how you can move the camera and a LOT about how fast you can move. I feel I can appreciate the Alexa when I watch the Revenant in theaters. I can appreciate the ease of use of a C100 or 5D when I have one on set. I guess? So for me I agree with the original poster's comments on my own sets, but my own sets are just YouTube videos and fun stuff. But for a professional client, if they didn't ask for gimbal shots, then why does it matter if you can get them or not?

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2 hours ago, HockeyFan12 said:

streaming services are demanding 4k deliverables and it's dumb. 3.2k Alexa footage looks better. But the F55 looks really good, too, so whatever.

For me personally, I just don't care that much about image quality,

I think this quote says it best. Especially the last sentence.

 Yeah maybe it should be more about the media than the medium.  

But I guess thats up to those spending the money.    

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10 hours ago, sam said:

I think this quote says it best. Especially the last sentence.  

Heh, yeah it really does. I know that a lot of members of this board will only shoot 4k 10 bit, and I get it, that's the same as Netflix wants, so there must have been some subjective research done to show that it's substantively a lot better. Maybe everyone else here has  better eyesight than me and I'm on the wrong board. (Likely.)

(Fwiw, I do think for HDR the 15 stop 4k 10 bit spec is spot on. But I'm not shooting HDR...)

But I go on Vimeo and watch amateur videos and there isn't this sudden night and day difference once the GH5 or C200 hit. Even on Netflix (I don't have the 4k option on my account), I can't always tell what was acquired and finished at 2k and what's an original and finished at 4k 10 bit. Everything looks about the same to my untrained eye past a certain point. When it was the GH2 vs the 7D I saw a huge difference. The Alexa made a huge difference over the Red MX. And I've always loved the look of film and can spot it every time, but technically it's softer than most 1080p video, so that's just taste there, nothing to do with image quality but rather aesthetics. 

So maybe it's not that I don't care that much about image quality, I'm just blind to it. Time to get glasses maybe, or maybe brush up on technical comparisons, I guess. When I zoom in or pixel peep of course I can see the differences, but those seem to pale in comparison to aesthetic differences or just a good story. Probably just me.

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7 hours ago, HockeyFan12 said:

Heh, yeah it really does. I know that a lot of members of this board will only shoot 4k 10 bit, and I get it, that's the same as Netflix wants, so there must have been some subjective research done to show that it's substantively a lot better. Maybe everyone else here has  better eyesight than me and I'm on the wrong board. (Likely.)

(Fwiw, I do think for HDR the 15 stop 4k 10 bit spec is spot on. But I'm not shooting HDR...)

But I go on Vimeo and watch amateur videos and there isn't this sudden night and day difference once the GH5 or C200 hit. Even on Netflix (I don't have the 4k option on my account), I can't always tell what was acquired and finished at 2k and what's an original and finished at 4k 10 bit. Everything looks about the same to my untrained eye past a certain point. When it was the GH2 vs the 7D I saw a huge difference. The Alexa made a huge difference over the Red MX. And I've always loved the look of film and can spot it every time, but technically it's softer than most 1080p video, so that's just taste there, nothing to do with image quality but rather aesthetics. 

So maybe it's not that I don't care that much about image quality, I'm just blind to it. Time to get glasses maybe, or maybe brush up on technical comparisons, I guess. When I zoom in or pixel peep of course I can see the differences, but those seem to pale in comparison to aesthetic differences or just a good story. Probably just me.

I agree too.  Any difference between 4K and high-quality 1080 capture pales when you're watching something and the quality of the content takes over.  To a certain extent IQ is one of those things that just has to be 'good enough' not to get in the way of the story.

I went 4K because I was interested in pulling out still frames and printing them as pictures - treating video like a 8MP 25fps continuous burst mode if you like.  If I was just shooting video I would be outputting in 1080 and wouldn't be ruling out 1080 cameras that have high quality outputs.

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