“…Even the best DP would not be able to produce their best work when shooting with a tool that isn’t conducive to their project.”
With the market for digital cinema cameras constantly expanding, there is always a new update or entirely new system touting some element that makes it supreme over the rest of the market. An expansive log system, dynamic range to die for, supercharged low-light performance, the list goes on.
Many factors go into the selection of a camera, and LA-based filmmaker Noam Kroll recently shared his personal process in selecting his camera when heading into a shoot.
Every camera has their shortcomings. REDs have high dynamic range, but poor low-light performance. The C300 and A7s have high low-light performance, but lack internal 4K recording (or any 4K at all in the C300’s case). The important thing to do is first assess the needs of your director and the look of your locations before making your selections.
Kroll reviewed the GH4 upon its release and gave a detailed synopsis on his time testing the camera.
My Personal Take
As cinematographers and directors of photography, it’s not uncommon to get caught-up in beautiful images captured with a certain camera or lens package, and want it to be a part of your next project. After all, it’s your job to take a creative direction and bring the technical elements of shooting and lighting it as best you can to the table.
But every table is different. Some shoots have little-to-no permitting and require guerrilla tactics, so those camera tests you performed three months ago with the aid of your G&E team and 2 Ton grip package aren’t well applied.
Out goes your desired ALEXA package, in comes something that can be shot run-and-gun.
The beautiful thing about today’s competitive market is that there are well-performing options for even low-budget shoots to suit most needs. RAW recording, low-light clarity, high frame rates and higher pixel counts are no longer feature-exclusive qualities. A single camera, battery, card or lens can be rented or purchased just as easily as an entire package, and on short notice in many major markets.
Let it never be forgotten that even with the sharpest lens ever built, you won’t take advantage of it without a skilled 1st AC. With the most perfectly balanced fluid head on the sturdiest tripod, you won’t have desirable framing without a skilled operator.
Even with dynamic range and ISO performance that took decades to achieve, your images will be nothing memorable if your director of photography and colorist don’t understand the value of light and shadow. The equipment is only as powerful as the operator is knowledgeable.
A post by Harry Aaron – a Florida based DP and photographer. See his work here.
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