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A question of (film) look


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#1 Daniel McKleinfeld

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 01:31 PM

Hi everyone!

I'm a director, about to start shooting on my next film, and was hoping the wise minds here might, if not resolve our questions, at least point them in a direction.

I've been using the Panasonic AG-DVX100, a camera I loved for it's film-like look. You can see a sample of how I was using it at

But for my next production, I think I'm going to have to leave it behind. First, shooting HD is no longer optional. Second, I've gotten frustrated with the DVX100's low-light performance, particularly how quickly contrast gets out of control when shooting outdoors. I used it for a documentary recently, and discovered that in direct sunlight, I could either blow out everything in the light, or blacken everything in shadow, but not much in between.

So I'm currently comparing the Panasonic AG-HVX200A, the Sony EX 1, or the Canon XL H1. I've seen a number of comparisons here, but most of them seemed aimed at news programming, where film look wasn't a consideration.

So I wanted to see what people's thoughts were. My goals are:

-I'd like to shoot in 720p, rather than 1080i, as I think progressive-scan looks much better for narrative film (interlacing is too hyper-real)

-I'd like the smoothest Final Cut integration possible. I hope to have an editor on set editing dailies as we shoot, so not having to do codec conversion would be a real plus

-I know one should make video its own medium, but... the closer it is to looking like well-shot 35mm, the happier I am

So does anyone have any thoughts on the cameras I'm considering, or cameras I should consider? I'm in NYC, so going to B&H and trying them out is my next move. But any advice would be very welcome.

Thanks!
Daniel
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#2 Paul Bruening

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 03:29 PM

Digital (video) will always have those latitude issues that you mentioned (trouble with highs and lows). Though some you test might do better than what you're used to. On the whole, none of them will quite get as good as film in that department and a few others. The current technology just can't do it. Sorry. If you really hanker for a film look, shoot film.

By the way, I'm still drooling at the mouth for a Canon XLH1s. But, more so, if they'd just figure out a solution to the rolling shutter thing on their DSLRs I'd prefer to go with a 5D or 7D. If you are going to stay digital. Think real hard about a 7D.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 04:11 PM

I quite like the EX1 and it's larger sensors (than the others) help a lot in low-light. Rolling shutter is something to keep in mind, and integration is fine in FCP once you install the needed plugings. true 1080p chips are also nice in the ex line. But, it isn't film and I don't find any digital video/cinema quite up to par (though I do like the images I'm seeing from the D21).
I'd highly recommend renting each of the cameras you're thinking of buying first and shooting some tests with them then going with the one which suits you best.It might cost a few hundred dollars, but when looking at an investment of a few thousand, quite worth it.
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#4 Thomas James

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 08:42 PM

Ironically some film shooters strive for that high definition video look. IMAX's answer to competition from high definition video was a film called "Momentum" Which was filmed using the IMAX HD format. Later this IMAX format was discontinued because it was too expensive to deliver.
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#5 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 04:00 PM

The current technology just can't do it. Sorry. If you really hanker for a film look, shoot film.


Exactly.
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#6 Daniel McKleinfeld

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 11:43 AM

Thanks very much for your tips, everyone! Shooting film would be great, but oy, the post costs!

I should restate my question in a way that's a little less inane, though... With the Panasonic AG-DVX100, the softness of the image was more than made up for by the rich colors. So I'm wondering how the next generation compares in that regard. But I understand this is a subjective call, and I should just try 'em out for myself.

But on FCP integration and light contrast---what's people's experience been there?
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#7 Paul Bruening

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 01:25 PM

7D. Nikon lenses. Really.
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#8 Jason Hinkle (RIP)

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 02:30 AM

7D. Nikon lenses. Really.


I actually use Nikons on my Canon 7D simply because that's what I already own, but from what I understand everybody was originally doing that because there wasn't certain manual control in video mode? I have one Canon lens and it seems like I still have manual control, so I'm wondering if it's still necessary to use Nikons with the latest firmware?

It is fun being able to use my old lenses on a new HD camera though!
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#9 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 02:58 AM

I actually use Nikons on my Canon 7D simply because that's what I already own, but from what I understand everybody was originally doing that because there wasn't certain manual control in video mode? I have one Canon lens and it seems like I still have manual control, so I'm wondering if it's still necessary to use Nikons with the latest firmware?

The 7D always had manual exposure in video mode. The 5D didn't when it first came out, but that was fixed last year with a firmware update. So you can use any lens you want on both now and still have manual exposure.
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