A couple-weeks back, I uploaded a video from one of our wonderful 2015 wedding projects and as I was writing the accompanying copy I mentioned that this was a project in which we’d captured some of our very-favorite footage of any we’ve shot so far. It was, as the title suggests: point and shoot!
It was, as I wrote, the perfect combination of conditions. We stopped to take photos on a hillside and, as the couple (lovely Andrew and Erin) walked amongst the wind-dancing scrub I looked at the images I was getting through the viewfinder and couldn’t stop smiling! Above us was a late-autumn sun that bathed-us in warm, watery light and belayed the chill of the breeze about us. Never was the phrase point-and-shoot more apt; I truly felt as if there was nothing I could do to spoil the video that I was shooting…
… so when I was looking at it again yesterday I gave it a little thought. If I had been in those same conditions the very-first day I gave serious thought to shooting video, could I have shot the same video? If not, why?
The answer, of course, is no.
Well, good question! For a number of reasons.
My skill-level? Years of experience working in my favor? My gear?
All of these things.
I am undoubtedly more skilled. Years of shooting and learning on the job has seen to that. For the first couple of years, I shot on pretty basic gear and had to make the best of it.
I don’t have the first footage I ever shot but I remember what it looked like (pretty gross!) but I still have the camera it was shot on, however and keep it as a last-ditch/bad weather backup and knock-about stills camera; It’s a Canon 600d (or Rebel T3i in the USA) loaded with Magic Lantern and usually partnered with a vintage Pentax prime lens. I learned on this camera, earned money with it, built the foundations of a business with it and owe it much but it’s really showing its limitations these days.
There’s a commonly-held adage around video circles: ‘The best camera is the one that you have’… which is a nice thought, and true to a point, but when you are charging people money for your labor it’s frustrating to spend half of your creative energy trying to cover up the deficiencies of your gear.
For that reason and others, we upgraded.. but only so far. Our 2015 weddings, for example, we chiefly used a c100 mk.1 and an a7s mk.1. They are a pretty good combo; versatile cameras with their own strengths and weaknesses which, while made by different companies, are quite well-matched when it comes to post-production
The results are great. More than sufficient for our wedding business… and yet the march of time conspires to render them almost ‘obsolete’! Thus does the march of desire, we crave newer, better, more pixels. The c100 mk.1 in particular is particularly venerable in early 2016…. and yet! The video above is shot with it. Tell me that isn’t beautiful footage. The a7s has also been superseded by a mk. 2 which is of course, better; it shoots 4k for one.
The thing is, our clients are usually not knowledgable about this stuff. They don’t care. I’m sure there is the odd exception but mostly they couldn’t give a crap about 4k at this point. What the absolutely ARE though, is discerning. They can tell a quality product and they know they can get it. Just because it’s 4k, it doesn’t mean that it’s better.
That said, I’ve been wrestling with all of this. I know that I’ll start shooting EVERYTHING in 4k at some point but when is that? Is it this summer? Next year? Honestly, when we do commercial projects above a certain size, we just hire cameras in because it makes much more sense that way for us, rather than owning $35,000+ cameras. What, though, do I need to own?
There a wealth of information out there. The internet has many answers but just as many follow-up questions that aren’t always answered conclusively. Everyone has their own opinion and many of those opinions speak from experience.
So. What’s the point of all this? The answer to the first question above: I couldn’t have shot that footage when I first started filming. HOWEVER, if I had handed 2012 rookie me the same gear I shot it on in 2015, I would have got close; in fact, I think the the c100 Mk.1 was actually released at that point.
The march of time and technology rolls on but a great image is still a great image, despite formate to a great extent. There are too many variables to be right, to always have the perfect camera for the perfect situation.
Have I answered any questions here? Probably not. Enjoy the footage. I’ll keep wrestling!