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Ed_David

The Rise of Camera Agnosticism and the End to Drooling Over Non-Existent Toys

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From my blog, eddavid.tumblr.com

 

On a recent thread on an unnamed camera nerd user-board, a user, I will call "Johnny-Five," wrote a beautiful little message about how brand loyalty doesn't work in the world of cinematography.

At the end of the day, you have a camera, lenses, and accessories, and grip and lighting and sound and they all come from different companies, from different countries.

Your lights can be German, American, French - all different brands and you mix them together and they work great just as you can mix HMI with fluorescent with tungsten fresnels.  Same with your lenses or monitors - on some jobs I use English lenses and on some German or Japanese lenses.  I don't look at brands, I look at how good something is.

"Johnny-five" got flogged on the board.  "What? How can you say that?  I love my company - it's my family."  This is because these nerds have spent thousands of dollars and hours of time on their camera toys.  Thousands of dollars investing in products.  And they don't want to hear this.  Imagine if someone told you that your car or your house could have been made differently.  You don't want to hear it.  You just spent a lot of money so don't tell me the windows can be switched out with better windows.  No thank you.

But it's important to hear.  And hence why rental houses are so important in cinematography.  Because not every camera or light or lens is the right one for each job. These companies own a variety - and they are prepared for how it all changes.  Ten years ago Zeiss Standard speed lenses and other uncoated vintage glass were not as desired, but now with super sharp sensors, they rent like hot-cakes.  Who would have known back then?

Now part two.  Everyone is drooling about two new cameras - one is named a "weapon" -  the other a "mini".  Both cameras don't exist.  Well the mini is a prototype.  But why drool until that camera exists?

The same thing happened a few years ago with a few screengrabs of a camera named after a fictional mythic creature - which I will call the "Lockness Monster."  It was promised to have 16 stops of dynamic range and beautiful new color and make it the greatest camera ever made. 

I drooled.  "This is it," I mumbled to myself as I typed on internet camera nerd forums.  But it wasn't.  

It had low light issues and the color isn't that much different than the original camera. 

But the biggest problem with the Lockness Monster is the same thing that plagued that camera company since they switched to a smaller body - the fan. 

It's loud - it's on really loudly when you rehearse takes.  This is when you need intense concentration to think - to light, to block, to work with actors.  You don't need a giant fan on.  When you shoot a long beautiful interview at minute 20 it gets loud - really loud - and it's over - the moment.  And you can't focus and concentrate because it's blowing in your ears.  Who would thought the thing that makes me the most upset is a minor issue that probably could have somehow been solved?

The Lockness Monster's fan may be better once the Weapon comes out - but for me, I don't care right now because it doesn't exist.  

I rather just keep my money and buy an older camera on ebay and figure out how to make it good.  It's a lot cheaper to not be an early adopter.  To let other people figure out the quirks.  

Because at the end of the day, any camera that can shoot log - you can make it look good with the right composition, angles, creativity, and grading.  Some will look better, but at the end of the day, it's not how good something looks - it's whether there is a good story, good acting, and if you have something to say.  Cinematography is always secondary to story.  So please weapon, fix that fan noise.

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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

Two words: liquid nitrogen. No more noise, cool & sexy 'fog', and they can sell their own brand in a can (dewar). For super high frame rates you can switch to liquid helium, to get the sensor down near absolute zero. Liquid helium gets the sensor so cold it can then actually hit 16 stops of DR. This is achieved by running the sensor in Quantum qubit mode ;).

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Two words: liquid nitrogen. No more noise, cool & sexy 'fog', and they can sell their own brand in a can (dewar). For super high frame rates you can switch to liquid helium, to get the sensor down near absolute zero. Liquid helium gets the sensor so cold it can then actually hit 16 stops of DR. This is achieved by running the sensor in Quantum qubit mode ?.

​haha so good.  Preordering my Alexa mini asap.

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at the end of the day, it's not how good something looks - it's whether there is a good story, good acting, and if you have something to say. 

Excellent point.

​This is why there will always be noise on the internet with many people and their gear.  

Those that have "something to say" actually go out, spend their time doing it, and don't really worry too much about online forums.

However, those of us, like me, that get by doing decent but somewhat unimaginative work (I'm a corporate video guy) like to chat about their stuff because we're invested into it as a way to inflate our capabilities.  For example: If I win the lottery then go out and purchase an Alexa... Well, I can then be superior to my peers because I've suddenly acquired a bit of kit that allows me to be 1 or 2 steps of dynamic range better than you!  Haha!  I'm better!  I have the best thing!  Hooray!  Of course, that viewpoint is mostly nonsense.  But, I do have a device that potentially increases my ability.  Will I, with my limited abilities, exploit that in an effective way?  I'd like to think so, but I would not.  Not really.

But, man, I'd be emotionally invested into that potential.  It would affect my perception of my capability --of my value to my profession.  And that value defines my self-worth as a person.

It's not just cameras, it's kind of anything materialistic, really.  

The thing that comes to my mind is car enthusiasts that build hot rods with all the materials they can afford, but couldn't drive around a race track to save their lives.

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Excellent point.

​This is why there will always be noise on the internet with many people and their gear.  

Those that have "something to say" actually go out, spend their time doing it, and don't really worry too much about online forums.

However, those of us, like me, that get by doing decent but somewhat unimaginative work (I'm a corporate video guy) like to chat about their stuff because we're invested into it as a way to inflate our capabilities.  For example: If I win the lottery then go out and purchase an Alexa... Well, I can then be superior to my peers because I've suddenly acquired a bit of kit that allows me to be 1 or 2 steps of dynamic range better than you!  Haha!  I'm better!  I have the best thing!  Hooray!  Of course, that viewpoint is mostly nonsense.  But, I do have a device that potentially increases my ability.  Will I, with my limited abilities, exploit that in an effective way?  I'd like to think so, but I would not.  Not really.

But, man, I'd be emotionally invested into that potential.  It would affect my perception of my capability --of my value to my profession.  And that value defines my self-worth as a person.

It's not just cameras, it's kind of anything materialistic, really.  

The thing that comes to my mind is car enthusiasts that build hot rods with all the materials they can afford, but couldn't drive around a race track to save their lives.

​I agree - the problem with Red also is they built a closed-set community of yes men around their devices. No other company in filmmaking has ever done that.  Communication and information about products should not be fostered by the company itself - it should be a free-range exchange of information.  It would be different if their product was the absolute best but no product is ever the absolute best.  All products have flaws.  And the user with their experiences can help each other become better at that product, not foster in this mentality of adoration.  I have the same exact issue with another tech company that I am using right now to type this message on. 

 

Also other name ideas than Red Weapon:  "Red Paint" "Red Nonviolent Weapon" "Red Blue" "Red Flag" "Red Fan is Fixed"

 

 

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excellent points, G'men.

 

Another aspect, which deserves a closer look imho by an insider are the profit margins for middlemen.

Product A is well known and trusted, but has only a profit margin of say some 7,5%.

The rival B is a newcomer, has some technical gimmicks, is a little bit cheaper but gives a profit of 20%.

Which one gets boosted in the internet?

 

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excellent points, G'men.

 

Another aspect, which deserves a closer look imho by an insider are the profit margins for middlemen.

Product A is well known and trusted, but has only a profit margin of say some 7,5%.

The rival B is a newcomer, has some technical gimmicks, is a little bit cheaper but gives a profit of 20%.

Which one gets boosted in the internet?

 

​I think Convergent Design and SmallHD and Atmos and Filmconvert are companies that are the little that still do great work - don't divide everyone.  The big guys have more R&D - more resources - but all can live and work together.  

 

I just think Red's Warlike mentality is not really at home in the camera nerd community.  We are all nerds.  The cool kids do other things with their free time.

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"Red Fan is Fixed"

 

 

​Gold :) 

As to the gear thing, acquiring new gear give me less and less excuses to create bad content. I also just love tech. We are at the point every camera is so good you cannot blame the camera anymore. Right now I made a rule for myself that I cannot buy a new camera until I have a proper lighting kit, I hope I can hold myself to that.

It should be a rule for every camera owner, no buying the next camera until you at least earn the cost of your current camera back.

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I think it's reflective of the difference between do-ers and wanna do-ers. Those that are out there getting paid and shooting great stuff, great stories, working with professional crew... They're the ones who choose cameras based on each specific project. Who use an Alexa on one project, and RED on another. Then maybe film on another. And maybe a C500 asa B-cam.

The camera that looks right and works the best for the project. They have good relationships with other key crew (i.e. Gaffers and Key Grips) who they call upon for help, and good relationships with rental houses where they get there cameras and other accessories from. They're professionals.

Then there's those who are 'wanna doers' who spend all day on ain internet forum talking about what they'd do if they had the money/ability to shoot on such cameras.

These are the people who are 'hobby' filmmakers - who buy the best gear they can afford, sell themselves as an owner-operator to get work, and are threatened by anyone who says that the camera sustem they have spent thousands on isn't perfect.

It's perfectly acceptable to be a hobby filmmaker - I just wish that the masses who get overzealous would calm down and take a reality pill

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I never ever understand why a lot of hobbyists online base their opinion of a camera on some Vimeo test footage where good lighting wasn't used. 

Sometimes I feel the geekiness of camera tech overshadows an understanding of using light effectively, and therefore creates some kind of laziness to the prospect of actually using a light source at all. How many people can admit they have bought more camera bodies they can chew, instead of investing in a decent set of lights that will last a decade?  

The improvement in image won't come from the camera, it will come from your understanding of shaping light and composition to portray emotions and messages in the story. Choosing the right camera is part of that understanding. 

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From my blog, eddavid.tumblr.com

 

 It's a lot cheaper to not be an early adopter.  To let other people figure out the quirks.  

That's why they call it "bleeding edge"!!! To be in the first batch is bleeding time/money expensive... ;-DD

RED started the paying "beta tester program" in the business and it has probably worked for them. Their marketing is good. I remember reading a lot of people thinking they could buy a RED and Francis Ford Coppola would knock on their door to rent it!!!

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So reduser just deleted all my posts because of my thoughts that brand loyalty is bad for film making - and also that reduser is bad for red.  The moderator told me that posting on reduser is like coming into red's living room and talking poorly about Red's wife.  They are so crazy there.  But it's good because spending all day on a message board is a waste of time.

Part of what is great about EOSHD is we can praise or trash talk any camera, lens, light, or anything and no one seems to care too much.  They are all just tools and objects - sure someone might get mad if you make fun of their brand new car but really - this isn't about cars it's about a thing that records footage to tell stories.  Like do you think people got upset if you made fun of their typewriter back in the day?  No, you talk about what their typewriter writes.  

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Like do you think people got upset if you made fun of their typewriter back in the day?  No, you talk about what their typewriter writes.  

​I wouldn't be so sure about that.

It's also very funny how in the "weapon" subforum this guy called Phil plays cat and mouse with grown man who are about to spend several thousand dollars on their product and probably will have to rebuy expensive accesories. Showing pictures of buttons and logos with cheesy design of a thing called weapon reminds me of my 12 years old brother getting excited about new skins for counterstrike.

I recently had to laugh very hard after reading this comment on another website:

"Dad what's that thing in the closet?" "Nothing son, that's just my Epic Fail..."

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​I wouldn't be so sure about that.

It's also very funny how in the "weapon" subforum this guy called Phil plays cat and mouse with grown man who are about to spend several thousand dollars on their product and probably will have to rebuy expensive accesories. Showing pictures of buttons and logos with cheesy design of a thing called weapon reminds me of my 12 years old brother getting excited about new skins for counterstrike.

I recently had to laugh very hard after reading this comment on another website:

​the "Red Fail" - the newest camera from Red.  Coming soon.  No prototype yet but please upgrade and pay $10k - it will be worth it, I swear.  Higher frame rates even though for 94% of what you do you only need slo mo at around 48 FPS and the current camera can go already up to 180 FPS or the FS7 can do this for only 7 grand.

10 stops of dynamic range when detail comes out of shadows.  320 ISO.  Gets grainy past 640 iso.  Very very loud fan between takes.  Awkward button placement.  Only one hd-sdi out.  Weird motion cadence during slow motion.    Comes with embarrassing cult-like message board groupies who have over 6000 posts - and do lots of "yes that's great" posts.  Run by CEO who personally calls out cinematographers on his "farewell" message board.  Embarrassing logo that would be at home at a yuppie biker-themed restaurant in the midwest.  New president  of company is former message board admin.

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From my blog, eddavid.tumblr.com

 

"Johnny-five" got flogged on the board.  "What? How can you say that?  I love my company - it's my family."  This is because these nerds have spent thousands of dollars and hours of time on their camera toys.  Thousands of dollars investing in products.  And they don't want to hear this.  Imagine if someone told you that your car or your house could have been made differently.  You don't want to hear it.  You just spent a lot of money so don't tell me the windows can be switched out with better windows.  No thank you.

 

​Keep in mind with the hybrid camera phenomenon you are getting a lot of people coming over from stills photography.  In stills photography you buy a system...  not a camera.  You buy into a Canon system or a Nikon system... then you stick with it.  It is cost prohibitive to switch back and forth.  So if someone is a serious hybrid shooter and does 80% stills it still makes sense to stick with one system.  Everyone has to figure out for themselves where to draw the line.

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I have never seen in the past 7 years a photography use a red to shoot both stills and video.  Not once.  And I've worked with some really incredible photographers.

​I am no expert but I don't think Red makes hybrid cameras.   I don't use Red products and Red isn't a big topic around here so I can't really shed much light on them.

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