In the beginning I looked at DSLR cameras as a cheap way for filmmakers to make their productions look good. I blasted some for the shaky, out of focus, almost hipster-like look to their videos. Kind of like this one:
It’s actually a great video, great story line and edited together well, but there was something I hated about that look. Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m loving it not because it’s become popular, but because there are ebbs and flows to style in the industry. Those who do not adapt and constantly change the way they shoot are destined to fall behind.
So last year, we were mulling over the idea of buying a new camera in addition to the Nikon D5100 and Panasonic HVX200a we had in our stable. Eric and I started to realize that the video we were pumping out of our main camera, the HVX, wasn’t getting the quality and versatility we were getting even out of the D5100. We did some research, looked at all the available options out there and nailed it down to 2 options.
The RED Scarlet-X and the, gasp, Canon 5D.
We were leaning to the RED Scarlet, because let’s be honest, it would be some kind of sexy to shoot RED. But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum…we both felt a ground swell of momentum going towards the Canon 5D. This was for a few reasons…price, versatility and practicality.
We could afford the RED Scarlet, but for us to get it shooting the price tag went from $10,000 to about $20,000, and that was a pretty minimal setup. We asked ourselves could we achieve the same look and results out of the $3000 Canon 5D vs. the Scarlet? The answer was yes. We lost some options…like 4K shooting ability, 120FPS slow motion and editing in RAW, but did we really need those things? Out of the gate, no…and if we were working on a project that required something RED could achieve, we would rent. Fair enough…here comes the 5D.
The one thing I had to get over was the perception clients have when you show up with a 5D. It’s small, compact and looks like a still camera, not the big honking HVX or Sony cams. On our first test shoot, we took some beer and sexily poured it into a glass. In the extremely low light conditions, it performed like a star. We had some noise in the video, but couple it with Red Giant’s DeNoiser software it was almost negligible. We started out with some legacy lenses that Eric owned, but upgraded to a 24-70mm L-Series lens and that made a tremendous difference.
The kicker…when the clients saw the videos we’d produced with the 5D, they loved them. Absolutely thought they looked like a million bucks. We achieved great depth of field, clear visuals in lower light and the ability to shoot some really cool things on the fly. What’s more, we added the ZOOM H4N to get solve our audio and haven’t look back. It’s a great setup now. I love shooting with it, and I understand it.
I’ll post some test footage soon.