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Canon HDSLR's and Film


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#1 Hal Smith

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 01:21 PM

It's becoming apparent that the professionals shooting with the Canon DSLR's who are producing the best work with them are those who have a lot of film experience.

The discipline of shooting film teaches one to check gear out, test, and then expose and frame properly on the set. In general you have to accept that you're not going to know for absolute certain how good your footage is until you see some dailies. Since the Canons have limited monitoring capability on-set the cinematographers (and AC's) who are shooting great work with them seem to be the ones who know how to focus, meter, light, compose, check out gear, etc. with film cameras. The Canons have very demanding exposure windows due to using 8-bit MPEG4 compression and the "fixing it in post" possibilities are limited as a result. I've read some horror stories of just how much time (and money) it takes to fix so-so Canon footage after the fact.

My point is: When you shoot film you learn skills that will transfer nicely to what is happening today in the digital world. I've got a 7D and have been working overtime transferring what I know about shooting color reversal to the 7D. I worry about color temp, exposure, what picture quality and ISO settings (similar in effect to different film emulsions) to use, etc. One thing I love about my camera is its IS lenses, I get great shots from moving vehicles with no need for any stabilization gear other than making certain the camera is securely held in place and has some minimal vibration padding.
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#2 Oliver Christoph Kochs

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 04:06 PM

Hal, I have been a great fan since the 5D2 came out in Nov. 2008. Since Canons last firmware upgrade for the 5D2 it is just an amazing camera if you set it right. Most of the Video DPs i know still fiddle around with their P+S pro35 adaptors delivering lesser quality than a 5D or 7D but the company i work for demands it. If you have good lighting skills (and that's probably what you mean by "film experience") it's just incredible what you can squeeze out of these cams. Personally I can deal very good with its compression limitations but the rolling shutter sometimes really is a pain. For me it still is the best system i can grab - just not very much for handheld and whip pans. I do like the Fig-Rig for stabilization, it allows me to pull focus with a bowden while shooting etc...

I second most if not everything Rodney Charters states in THIS INTERVIEW about Canon and shooting VDSLRs.
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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 04:49 PM

Actually they don't have that demanding an exposure window, at least in my experience. They have pretty good dynamic range.

Fixing in post due to compression is a factor, but not the same factor as exposure.

P


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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 11:40 PM

It's becoming apparent that the professionals shooting with the Canon DSLR's who are producing the best work with them are those who have a lot of film experience.



ANY camera technology in the hands of an experienced qualified professional can look quite good no matter the limitations/parameters. There have been a lot of "hacks" out there who "shoot film" but would likely whine and moan about what other technologies can't do, so those people wouldn't bother even attempting to make electronic acquisition look as good as it can.

I've seen some excellent images from a few Cameramen already who primarily are experienced in video and HD. No, DSLR isn't a "point and shoot," but neither is any camera really, if you're out to achieve specific results. Contrary to popular belief, those of us who shoot mostly "video" don't just turn the camera on and hit the button. Some do, sure. But not all, and the same can be said for a lot of "film guys."

:)
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#5 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 12:26 AM

It's becoming apparent that the professionals shooting with the Canon DSLR's who are producing the best work with them are those who have a lot of film experience.



I dunno, I have seen a lot of complete film / or digital video noobs (some by their own account) make the damned things sing. Of course, as Brian Dyzak argues, "ANY camera technology in the hands of an experienced qualified professional can look quite good no matter the limitations/parameters. "

But I still think that DSLRs, much like RED, give people who have never shot film the tools to shoot projects that, if shot on film, would make them look like complete noobs. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose.

What I would like to see is all of these new "digital cinematographers" shoot a project on film just like they pick up a DSLR or RED and shoot a movie digitally. That'd make for some interesting results.

If I were a producer hiring a (digital) cinematographer, I'd prefer to hire someone with range and experience in a variety of formats, not just one or the other.
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#6 Hal Smith

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 11:47 AM

ANY camera technology in the hands of an experienced qualified professional can look quite good no matter the limitations/parameters....to make electronic acquisition look as good as it can.

I've seen some excellent images from a few Cameramen already who primarily are experienced in video and HD......Contrary to popular belief, those of us who shoot mostly "video" don't just turn the camera on and hit the button. Some do, sure. But not all, and the same can be said for a lot of "film guys."


I agree that there certainly are video pros who are every bit as thorough in approaching their work as the "film guys". I too have run across a couple of film shooters who were about as prepared as a teenager with a miniDV shooting his buddies in the back yard. One cost the production a ton of money fixing things later. The other probably is bragging about how great he is to this day, completely oblivious to the fact that it was his AC, gaffer, and grip that really brought the film in. They just didn't have their eye on the viewfinder when film was rolling. I propose a new title for such people...Cinemaframer.
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#7 Dal Neitzel

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 02:03 AM

Actually they don't have that demanding an exposure window, at least in my experience. They have pretty good dynamic range.



I tend to agree with Phil. I just purchased a 7D in May and tested it for few days before I actually used it on a shoot. I was very impressed with the exposure latitude and what could be corrected in post. I had no issues correcting from 2 stops over and 2 under. Its important that there are no whites that are blown out in the over-exposed footage. Of course we really are not messing with H264. At that point, its ProRes. I guess it depends on what you're comparing it to and what results you consider acceptable. Its not RedRaw.
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#8 Jason Hinkle (RIP)

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 03:15 AM

I think professional film and video experience are both equally helpful to get great results from a DSLR. As is experience with still photography. None of them transfer perfectly, but they all share a lot of the same fundamentals.
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