When arriving on shoots, often we find that people are surprised when they see our camera gear. We film mainly on a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera, but people still think of these devices as being primarily a photographer’s tool. However, DSLR’S have long been able to shoot HD film. Nikon, the company that released the very first DSLR stills camera back in 1999, were also the first company to release a DSLR camera that had the ability to shoot video as well as stills (the D90, in 2008). This release marked the beginning of the digital revolution – one month after the introduction of the D90, Canon announced the Canon 5D Mark II, the first DSLR with full HD capabilities. What’s more, it had the ability to produce professional standard HD films. These developments meant that professional videography was no longer the sole proprietary of a select few – HD film was readily available to anyone and everyone – but those trained and with a directors vision can really get the most out of them (like the STANDBY crew!)
One of the greatest assets of these cameras is their versatility. They have been used for a wide range of jobs, ranging from student/home made projects, all the way through to television shows and commercials (the season 6 finale of ‘House’ was shot entirely on a 5D Mark II). One of the main reasons is size – they are small, lightweight and compact, meaning that they are easy to use and manoeuvre; this makes them a much desirable choice than bulky, heavy duty broadcast cameras. As a cameraman, your back thanks you for this!!
Another asset is the shallow depth of field that can be achieved by attaching lenses with a wide aperture to the camera body, thereby creating an image where the focal point is accentuated, and everything around is blurred. This blurring is commonly referred to as the bokeh. Examples of it can be seen in most of our work (we love a bit of bokeh here at STANDBY!), such as our ‘Feel Good Essentials – Highlights’ film: www.vimeo.com/37962802. This blurred aesthetic gives the image a creamy, dream-like appearance and focuses the viewer’s eye to a very specific part of the image (the part that is in focus). As filmmakers, it’s another tool we wield to help give our films a distinctive look.
Camera technology is constantly adapting and evolving. What is fresh and ground breaking one day is old news the next. Today the camera market isn’t so much growing as it is bursting at the seams – there is more available for filmmakers to choose from than ever before! With all of these advances in cameras, 1080p has been usurped by 4K resolution as the most desired format to shoot in (STANDBY are excited to be moving into this field very soon)! This has come to be known as the great camera conundrum, as people desperately search around for the best camera for their money, spoilt for choice. This extends beyond DSLR’s and into the video camera market, where advancements have led to smaller, more streamlined models (that are much more agreeable on the backs of cameramen)!
Long may the digital revolution continue!