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How does buying a new camera affect you creatively?


Oliver Daniel
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On today's shoot, one of the band members in the music video pointed out the GH3's we were using. He said "If you had GH4's instead, what impact would that have on the shoot?"

I'm a firm believer in spending time and investing with other tools more than the camera, such as lighting. Lighting and camera composition/movement are much more powerful & creative tools than the newest, jazziest camera with an amazing spec sheet. Such the issue with the enthusiast market is that those who want to shoot forget the craft past the flashy cameras.

Thoughts arose when discussing today how the shoot would be affected creatively if we had 2 A7R II's instead of the GH3's. Would we potentially do better and make a more effective video, not even having tried the camera? Possibly. Possibly not.

The reason for these thoughts is because we are upgrading all areas of my business in effort to keep up to date, but most importantly - have the tools to inspire better creative decisions with more reliability, quality, speed and impact. All to charge a higher price for a steadily improving end product. 

As said earlier, I'm more prone to investing into lighting, post and camera movement stuff. We do want to change the smaller cameras now, so we can deliver more diverse creative options in the image aesthetic. I do have quite enough lighting now to make an iPhone video look quite dazzling and "get away with it". ;)

Some of us out there will actually buy every little camera (and very little to no lighting) with internal 4k, and wonder later what that purpose is for - since technically it's a similar tool in a different body than all the others. Having more cameras doesn't do anything for your creativity, it bamboozles it. Or maybe you have a richer, more diverse palette. More options. A camera should be a palette of your creativity, and delivers your ideas for others to see on the most effective way possible. So apart from being technical about it, I've been thinking how buying a new camera, in any shape of form will influence me creativily and thus help deliver my goals of improving overall craft and making a higher profit, for higher value art. For instance, if I never rented the FS7 regularly and instead filmed the sequences intended for slow motion in 1080p 50fps on the GH3... would I be a less attractive proposition for clients? How much impact does the camera have on actual ideas and quality of the craft, thus effecting your professional worth? 

I don't want this topic to be about me. These are just a small part of my general daily thoughts in order to spark some interesting conversation between members on this colourful forum about the topic. 

Does a new camera affect your creativity? If so, how? If not, why not? And what is it worth? 

 

 

 

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That's actually quite impressive that a band member knew about a GH4. I talk to photographers all of the time who don't have a clue about Panasonic. To your point I agree. The only reason I upgrade is if it makes my job easier working the camera. I'd say we're at that point this year where tech is good enough to "just do it".

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I think it is the pairing of cameras and lenses that change the palette. For instance, when I shoot with my NEX paired with Minolta MD lenses, the images have an inherent 70's horror movie look... Something akin to Let's Scare Jessica to Death. Very little post coloring is needed. So for a quick look in a pinch, that is an option. Believe it or not, even my Pentax Q7, paired with vintage Cosmicar TV lenses gives me a very specific look, right out of camera. It's not for everything, but if I want to get to a quick 16mm analog look, I'll put my little Q7 on my rig. 

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INT. 1970's bar, with health endangering cigarette smoke

Kubrick - "So if we shot Super 35mm instead of Super 16mm, would anything change?"

1970's forum user "Hell no, don't bother with the camera, it's all about content! Content is king! Creativity is king! BLAH BLAH

Kubrick - "Oh shit. Better cancel that order with NASA for the F0.78 lenses then! And I will no longer be needing those candles"

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Heck, I bought my FD Adapter on Sunday on the Fleamarket and my 28mm FD from a Ebay guy, personal pickup of course.

So tech is important! No lens means no film, no camera means no film, right! Or like Steven Spielberg stated: "my filmmaking really began with technology. It began through technology, not through telling stories, because my 8mm movie camera was the way into whatever I decided to do..."

For instance the troubles with weak batteries, that is something I would love to cure by buying GH4, just like I changed the nasty ergonomy of my panny 20mm into

some nice grip onto my 28mm FD. By the way, the look is totally different too.

If it wouldnt have been for Andrew´s GH2 videos from the Far East I discovered in 2012 I might not have been started video again since my SVHS(C:) times

more than 15 years ago. But it is great to have the images from within to turn inside out and G6 is starting to giving me that pleasure.

 

So yes, new camera (with oh so old HD technology:) affected my outlook and aspiration totally! BTW, did I forget to say, Panny G6 is a great camera?:)

 

Cheers and thanks for contributing so much, Andrew and you cool cats outthere!

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And in the reverse Andrew, they shot Ex Machina with really really old Anamorphic lenses.  So mining the past can be just as important as looking for the latest and greatest.

And I think the decision to use old lomo lenses as you did in the past is just as interesting as using the newest camera tech which sometimes is too sharp or too perfect.  

That's why I like the Arri Ultra Prime lenses over Arri Master Primes - because they are flawed - they have falloff - they render faces nicer to me.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

My gear actually does inspire me to create. Sometimes the resolution of a camera makes me create and shoot a piece, the vintage feel of an old m42 lens makes me shoot another. 

I consider myself to have a collector's affection to gear as well as my work created by that gear. Nothing wrong with that, I hope!

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1970's forum user "Hell no, don't bother with the camera, it's all about content! Content is king! Creativity is king! BLAH BLAH

This isn't intended as a "Content Is King" debate. I'm more interested in how purchasing a camera affects a persons creative decisions. It affects mine certainly. 

If anything has to be said though, it's better to have an idea and no camera, than actually have a camera with no idea at all. 

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INT. 1970's bar, with health endangering cigarette smoke

Kubrick - "So if we shot Super 35mm instead of Super 16mm, would anything change?"

1970's forum user "Hell no, don't bother with the camera, it's all about content! Content is king! Creativity is king! BLAH BLAH

Kubrick - "Oh shit. Better cancel that order with NASA for the F0.78 lenses then! And I will no longer be needing those candles"

​This isn't the same or even a similar argument. Kubrick used super fast lenses to deliver on a creative idea on how he wanted to stage the scene. The question is more like:

Kubrick - 'If I shoot Fuji stock over Kodak, will anything change?'

Forum user - 'Do tests man, but remember that in the grand scheme of things, which stock you use isn't the biggest concern'

Kubrick - 'Alright, well at least I know if they don't have enough Fuji stock for my film, I can use some Kodak stock and it won't matter so much'
 


In fact the debate/chat these days is more like this:

 

Filmmaker: 'If I use Kodak Vision2 stock instead of Vision3, am I going to be missing anything..?'

Forum user 1: 'Man, Vision2 is so old now, you can't even get grain structure anywhere near that of Vision3. I made the switch to Vision3 not long ago and I would never go back to Vision2'

Forum user 2: 'I don't like the colors in Vision3, they're so different to Vision2. I know Vision3 supposedly gives you more dynamic range and better grain structure, but I like the colors so much better in Vision2. I know some people can work with Vision3, but I think for the majority of people, Vision3 is way too hard to get good colors out of'

Forum user 3: What happened to Fuji? I used to shoot Fuji stock all the time, but they haven't brought out a stock I've liked in so long. I'm using Vision3, but would happily jump back to Fuji stock if they ever came out with anything I was interested in using.

Forum user 4: 'I don't understand the fuss - all the stocks mentioned give you great images - just go out and shoot on what's easiest and cheapest for you to afford. No-one in the cinema is going to be nitpicking whether or not you used Vision2 or Vision3. Yes, there are differences between them, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not that big a deal

Filmmaker: 'I'm so confused'

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Some of my best work was on a 600D. My C100 videos got a little more attention on vimeo..but they're just camera nerds pixel peeping. But I think my 600D was when I used to be passionate about ideas.

I had a brief period of time with the RED Epic, and used it on a few shoots. It came from the rental house at large discount. It was offered, so I thought, why not? 

The crew was tiny, so a lot of time and focus was going into operation the RED Epic effectively. Some were under the illusion these would be the best videos ever, given our Hollywood package. 

The finished results were pretty good. Image quality was a lot better than usual. But the videos were a little boring, and missing that fluidity, experimentation and energy of previous videos. Creativity was right down, but image quality was high! In a nutshell, the GH3 videos were much better overall. Just less perfect looking. 

With a lot more time and budget, of course we could learn the RED Epic and have enough confidence to give creativity its fair share. Point being... ultimately... What really is the point of shooting on the "Big New" if you don't put ideas + creativity first? Is it best to invest in every new camera/gadget that gets released, or is it better to invest that time and money into your skills and craft? Obviously to me it would be the latter, although you could argue the two can go together. 

I recently shot a music video that absolutely relied heavily on the FS7's capabilities. Without it, the video would have suffered. The FS7 was a creative choice to deliver an idea. We shot in 1080p XAVC-L. In this instance, the 4k didn't matter at all. We'd just have too much data to handle, take time away from being creative and miss the deadline. 

 

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Right on Oliver.

I use the Red Dragon and Alexa a lot - and it's really no different than any other camera ever made.  Expose right, get good frames, use good lighting - and it will look good.  It's strengths are more minor- highlight handling, skintone rendition, post workflow, frames per second capability, audio, timecode, etc - but renting a 80k camera isn't immediately going to make your stuff that much better than figuring out how to work best with a camera system and try to overcome its flaws.

About to release a film shot on the Red One MX that through coloring no one will notice if it was shot on the red dragon or alexa or anything - it's just a matter of really figuring out how to color and light and compose - that's the biggest thing.  

 

With that said, it has nice motion, something you can't get with the rolling shutter of the nx1 unless you experiment with shooting in 1080p mode - and so its important to learn the ins and outs of any camera.  I wouldn't shoot a film on the nx1 unless I want to be quick and sneaky - but I would use it for crash cam shots and I have tons of times. 

That's the importance of knowing where a tool fits into your arsenal.

Like I just bought a DJI Phantom 3 which I'll use on jobs where we can't afford a real drone rig.  Because I know its strengths and weaknesses.  That's all it comes down to.

Now onto obsessing over the next new camera - it's not that useful - because until the camera comes out - who cares?  Unless you are saving up for the next camera - then I guess it matters.  But there are so many other things to buy that won't go bad after 5 years like a tripod or c stands or some lights or a lens.  And gear fetishing is a long, endless game - time that could be better spent on other things.

But as long as you know that forums like this are mostly for procrastination then you're good.

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Excitement for new technology can certainly manifest into creativity.  I'm pretty sure we've all experienced it.  You can do a lot of fun NEW creative things with light  (if you know how) using something like an A7s.  You wouldn't have that particular opportunity until that camera was released.  But let's also not lose sight of the fact that you can still do a lot of fun creative things with light (if you know how) using something like a GH1. 

I do think buying a new camera will also highly motivate you to shoot stuff if you're a camera geek and enjoy fiddling with knobs, just like getting arbitrary shots, and worry more about the best IQ than story.  If that's you, then great.  The camera/lens manufacturers are going to keep your playpen stocked with great toys.  Pull out your camera charts while you're at it.

The reality is, and we all know it, some people clamor for the latest and greatest, acquire it, and then don't really do a heck of a lot with it... random motion picture city shots backed by a music cut from some indy band is fine and dandy if that gets you going.  Congratulations.  You'll be able to do that all over again when the next new camera goes on sale. And again.  And again.

Just talking for myself --I'm kind of over the technology arms race.  I'm concentrating on making stuff for clients/myself and using whatever tools I have access to within my budget to solve my problems; real or imagined.  I'm grateful that clean flexible imaging tools are cheap and easy to get and use.  I don't want for great IQ anymore.  It has arrived.  I do want for a deeper skill set at impactful cinema, and the ability to nurture my creativity in other regards --not necessarily associated with cameras.

But, if you have a job where you're tasked with comparing and reviewing the more and more subtle nuances that exist between new cameras, then by all means, do that.  Nothing wrong with it.  Do it.  Make it work for you.

There you go.  Thoughts from a somewhat hypocritical corporate video guy served with more than a few grains of salt.  Got my daily procrastination all taken care of.  Now, back to work... Once I check out M43rumors....

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Agree totally Ed (or Banned User). 

We had a meeting based on gear today. Overall we strongly agreed that lighting was our key investment. The idea was to make most of our lights operational by battery power, using some Lupolux LED flood/spotlights, Scorpion Lights and good ol' reflectors. The purpose of this is so we can light anywhere we want, not lose precious time over spiderwebs of cables and boost creative possibilities. Technology is here and we can do it. If I didn't think it would boost creativity I wouldn't bother. 

The Blackmagic URSA Mini cropped up too. The Director mentioned he wants to reduce the "video look" to minimal amounts in all videos we produce, and was really enthusiastic about "organic film" looks. He said "Clients want that edgy, grounded vibe these days... I want to soak our style in pure cinema aesthetics going forward". Of course, the URSA Mini (on paper) would be an ideal tool to get closer to this creative decision. It would be a lot harder to make that possible on a GH3/4. Not impossible, but much more challenging. But we will still try and accomplish this even if the Blackmagic Ursa Mini didn't exist and we downgraded to 550ds. Sod moire, might as well give it a go!

I'm an ideas man really. I pickup whatever tool I have in the bag and do my absolute best with it. I'm also patient with technology. Certainly not a GAS patient. But if I see something that I really think will compliment the style and ideas of future projects (like the BM Ursa Mini and battery powered lights) I'll click pre-order and live on cheap instant noodles for a month or two. 

 

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To me it has always been a matter of comfort. Albeit I haven't used that many cameras (still sort of new to the game) and only do small gigs for family and miscellaneous projects (not for much pay). I use a 700D/T5i and I find the ease of use to be benefitial when on set. I've tried borrowing a friends a7s multiple times but I end up focusing more on the camera than on the creative side. With the canon I'm able to start shooting instantly because that's what I'm most comfortable with.

The flaws (moire, noise, etc.) never really bother me whilst I'm recording but it gets annoying after a while watching it repeatedly in post, which is why I keep considering an upgrade. But at the end of the day it does the job that needs to be done. although I will probably replace my 700D as soon as possible to feel better about myself when editing/daydreamining shots :P It will probably be a great motivational boost too.

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I´am not a native english speaker, but I try to formulate my thoughts understandable:)

 

I think the opinions about this topic are diverse as people are.

Here on the forum, some people earn their money with shooting commercials, documentaries, feature films... some shooting weddings on a high or lower professionell level... some shooting their own film ideas with low or no budget... and so on... and some just testing their cameras (like me:). momentarily.

 

All that is ok. Even the simply passion for camera gear.

But it seems to me, that it´s simply important to know what you want!

For upcoming filmmakers - their interest in camera gear could lead to procrastination, but not necessarily, when they are focused in what they want.

 

For example, I had a deep aversion to Video Cameras (before the 5d is coming out).

(I start with S-8, become more and more passionate for film over 16mm to 35mm and made my first short with own 35mm Camera and Lomo anamorphic lenses:).

That says nothing about the overall quality of the film, but it looks great and of course; much better as when I shot it with Mini DV:) - thanks to my passion for film gear.

And then came the 5d.

Since then, I´am very clear in my vision: create images exactly to my liking. With a low budget...

 

I´am very thankful to Andrew and his Blog here - for give me an overview what happens on the market!

Therefore I discovered the GH2 as a much better camera than the 5d (with H264) and bought it.

A big deal!

 

It´s perfectly ok, to search for a tool which fits exactly to my needs.

But as I said, it´s just as important to focussing what I want - and do it!:)

 

So, thanks Ed, for the keyword `procrastination`, it is the right one in this context:)

And thanks Oliver for the interesting topic... there would be so much more to say about...

 

 

 

PS: since 2 years I´am back to the 5dmkII - with ML raw (thanks EOSHD for the informations).

A 6 years old camera and I would like to stay with it, for a longer time...:)

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True creative people will deliver better results with better gear than they will with inferior gear.  However limited equipment and resources will direct a creative person into thinking out of the box and as a result magic can and often happens.  One skilled person will use a single lens and get more variety from that one lens than a gearhead with 20 lenses can ever get.

Creative people work with what they have, then they get to the point where gear isn't a factor since it's just rented on the production company's budget.  Non creative people who like the idea of being creative use their limited equipment as a reason for their lack of productivity, they make NOTHING, and consume more and more gear thinking it might help in their success,  2 years later they give up and start a family and work a job they hate.  Then they die without leaving a trace of their existence.

 

You may be at the point where your work demands better dynamic range, capability to use better lenses than those for m4/3 etc in order to stand up against competitors at the same level, with the same level clients who might be shooting on higher end equipment.  The higher end equipment might not improve your creativity but might add to your overall output, boost your confidence, speed up efficiency etc.  It might also bankrupt you, cause money issues and affect your happiness and thus harm your creativity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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