Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is the new way the old way?

This week let's think back to the good old days....the days when TV news shooters carried film cameras, mags of film, and separate audio recorders. 

Probably no one alive then wants to recall those days warmly.  But after having several conversations lately with people about "the new revolution" in video, I am transported back to those olden days of yore. 

Nearly every young producer or hotshot shooter today is haranguing me about shooting video with a still camera like the Canon 7D or the Mark Series.  Now, I will grant you, the large imager and beautiful Canon glass makes some very pretty pictures.  Just take a look at this clip, forwarded to me by another friend who is pushing me to adopt the "new" way of shooting:

Stunning depth of field...beautiful latitude, beautiful sensitivity.   You will get no argument from me that this device produces some truly impressive images. 

But please, stop telling me this is a "new" way to shoot.  It's not.  It's reverting back to 1967, when I was busy playing in my playpen, but when most shooters lived with film mags and audio recorders.

This "new" way of shooting requires several compromises.  The first compromise is shooting a highly compressed HD file to a compact flash card.  Depending on the compression you choose and the size of your card, you might only get about 15 to 20 minutes on a single CF card.

Sound like a mag of film to anyone?

The second compromise is the audio recording.  Although you can record audio on some of these devices, it is generally mono using a mini-pin connector.  So most pros use an outboard sound recorder like a Zoom or similar device. 

Sound like using an old Nagra?

And most pros recommend using prime lenses, so the ability to shoot on the fly in a variety of situations is compromised. 

Sound like an old turret lens to anyone?

Now, don't get me wrong.  I am not sitting around saying this new technology is a bad thing.  In fact, I absolutely love the images I've seen from these cameras.  But between the issues above, and many more (like the rolling shutter problem because of the CMOS chips used in these cameras), I just don't feel like it's the right moment to make a switch. But there is no doubt in my mind that the moment is coming. Soon.

But until then, don't tell me about this being a "new" way to work.  In fact, this is just about as desirable a way to work today as it would be for me to dig out my old plumbicon tube camera and portapack recorder.  Call me when the large imager is in the right form factor.


  1. I have been considering the "new way" however after the research I did I came to the same conclusion wait for the the video cameras on the horizon with a 2/3 chip

  2. Canton Film Festival has an entire block of films dedicated to Super 8 next week at the Canton Palace Theatre.

    An 1/8 stereo pin has NEVER been an acceptable conduit for serious audio..... ever.

  3. I wonder is there a lot of new blood that thinks this way at Lynna Lai's station?