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Andrew Reid

The art of downgrading

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I have been thinking about this lately as well. It seems that the more gear that we acquire, the fewer personal projects we take on. Lately, for me, the idea of only owning three primes is suddenly very appealing. And for all of the thousands of dollars that we pour into shoulder rigs, monitors, follow focuses, etc, shooting with a stripped-down camera is extremely freeing. The pressure of creation is off, and the limitations become exciting.

Taking this a step further, I have been thinking a lot about taking on what I'm calling the "1450 Challenge": for my next personal shoot, all camera dept. gear (including lenses) must fit into one Pelican 1450 case. 

Also, I agree on your point about computers. As an experiment, I recently sat down at the dining room table with a notebook (a paper one!) and a ball-point pen. I scribbled an outline for a feature film that I have been wanting to write and got more done in four hours than I had in the last four months while sitting at my computer. And then as soon as I went back to type the whole thing out in Celtx, the process slowed right back down.

Less is more.

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One of the best things you've written, Andrew. 

I had a brief, month or two long stint with the A7r and A7s. Loved the image quality, but usability just killed my creativity and ability to work quickly. Mirrorless fanboys will clamor on about how sophisticated the system is now, but the fact of the matter is that my t2i still has better autofocus performance, and is a much simpler camera to operate. 

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As a corollary I've always been partial to minimizing my field equipment.  I don't know why exactly.  While many colleagues seem happy packing their van with portabrace bags upon portabrace bags I feel content with one leather satchel and a monopod.  Finding the best naturalistic light seems more fun than building a grid in the field, but again that's just personal preference and obviously only works for certain productions...so those are the types of productions I tend to do.

The limitations of moving forward with the lack of stuff in the field is something I like; been that way since my film 16mm and video tube cam days.

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Great little article, Andrew. Less is more, and your concise writing reflected your subject. Nice.

For some reason I'm desperate not to mention any particular camera in this reply, but we kind of have all the specs we need in modern cameras. Just need to find the one that fits us now.

Your writing has been stronger as of late from a flow / page-turning perspective btw. Nice work!

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Hey Andrew, great article! I've been reading a lot lately about this topic as I find it a very inspiring idea that actually makes a lot of sense to me. Instead of getting the latest and greatest new toy every time, I've decided that I'd like to stick with a basic kit that just works for me and get the most out of that. My opinion is that camera's are basically just tools. And while there's something to say for needing the right tool for the job, I think that working with what you have makes you a lot more creative. After all it's about the photographer / filmmaker and his vision to make great pictures. It's not about a piece of metal and glass that can flawlessly shoot test charts. For photography pretty much all camera's nowadays are good enough to make a fairly decent picture. So unless you have clients that expect, or rather demand, you to show up with a medium format camera or the latest 5D, going back to basics sounds like a much better idea to me. You get to be more creative. Also you get to keep a lot of money in your pocket that you can now spend on cool stuff like traveling, or buying nice and inspiring photo books! And it saves your back from lugging around with loads of gear. I read a story about a guy that was too afraid to shoot pictures, because it would mean he'd have to leave his heavy suitcase packed with expensive gear unattended. That was an eye-opener for me. I wouldn't want to become like that guy.

Happy shooting! :-)

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Having shot something like 90+ short films with a Canon 70D over the past 18 months. I can honestly say that every single time a film is viewed. The person viewing it throws up. Without fail. Because the footage is so bad.

*sighs*

I joke of course. And don't want this to be a 70D fanboy post. But aren't we past the point of punishing lower end cameras because they don't shoot like an Alexa? I'm fortunate enough to use a variety of cameras across the range in my daily work. But choose the 70D for many projects because it suits my way of working best. 

For an article reflecting on technology and getting back to basics, it sure ended on a note that was kinda up its own ass. The implication being getting back to basics is fine for stills. But don't think about shooting video on anything less then an FS7? Doesn't that undermine the entire article?

I read the other day the darling film of this years Sundance was shot on three iPhone 5's. Aren't we past the point of technological arrogance when it comes to creating works of art? They're all just tools, after all.

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I've been feeling the urge to take out my old drawing desk and work out my projects by hand as far as its possible before going into cad/bim.

When going for a trip im trying to just go with 3 primes, the ideal thing for me would be only one prime 70mm 2.8 on a 6x7 sensor rangefinder/mirrorless.

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Bought a Panasonic LX100 about 3 months ago. I've been taking it EVERYWHERE and shooting stills and video that I wouldn't have taken the lens cap off the 5D Mark III.

Can't remember having this much fun shooting! More importantly . . . taking risks with the smaller camera. Isn't that what being creative is about?

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

It's the difference between Canon simple UI vs. Nikon complicated UI vs. Sony's broken UI. Too many buttons, little menus inside hidden menus packing hundreds of ''features'' and not organised cleanly, not even in colour. It's also the difference between iOS vs Android. Canon & apple approach is neat, functional, pleasing and FAST.

I just wish both companies have other major let-downs compared to the competition, like the 70D's video quality and iOS restrictiveness! 
 

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I also gave this subject a lot of thought, especially aber I had bought in 10 years ( 10 years ago) 7 cameras and ALL were outdated shortly after! Payed enough dues as unpaid beta tester! I do like reds update structure, this should the role model on a planet with limited resources anyway. Downsizing can also mean fixing things, but believe me trying to keep a 21 year old car alive sucks up more time than I dare to admit. Rewatched recently the Zacuto 2012 revenge shootout: Bottomline STORYTELLING. Despite that, Gearheadness is a projection of corse but also a protection! I talked to a DP lately who admited that had had in a certain chip-size, lens combination only 60% of the shots in focus. I pay respect for him to admit that!

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I'm someone who needs closure. On practically every subject, however small it may be. With my perfectionism I'm extremely involved in everything I do. I've only been into photography and later filming/videography for a little more than a year and I have to admit, as much as I love the stellar results you can get with the latest technology and expertise of it: it's killing me. I'm more of a stone age guy. The world is changing so swiftly nowadays, I can't adjust to it properly  (and I don't want to, either). For me the only form of creativity I can fully respect (as much as I love all the great, imaginative movies out there, be it from Fritz Lang, Buñuel or even Dupieux nowadays) is writing, because you create everything by yourself and don't have to rely on tools. Everytime I hear statements like 'know your craft', 'know your tools' and stuff like that I can't help but think 'well, sure, if your creativity is not sufficient, you surely need tools and crafts'. But luckily enough I will be gone in a few years, decades or whatever and no one will be talking about me. Which I can live with perfectly, because I don't care about it really, at least all the time I'm lucid and my judgment isn't clouded by corporeal needs. Because, imho, next to technology, one of the great creativity killers is sociability.

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