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From Camcorders to DSLRs and Back Again

At the risk of dating myself, I'll reveal that when I went to school to learn media arts, I shot on a full size beta camera with a huge battery belt, and used linear editing to produce all my projects. When linear editing and digital cameras became prevalent, I embraced them and had a true appreciation for the advantages and disadvantages they brought to the table. But there was never any idea of going back to the way things were. The creative freedom of non-linear editing, and the reduced size and increased battery life of the newer cameras was more than enough to offset the pitfalls of emerging technologies.

With the explosion of video capabilities on DSLR cameras, I was thrust reluctantly into a new way of shooting. The lure of the elusive shallow depth of field shots that were so tough to get with my traditional camcorder slowly but surely led me away from the traditional camcorder. I had changed a standard zoom lens to a wide angle zoom lens on my old Canon XLII, but that was the extent of my experience with interchangeable lenses. The small DSLR form factor, and lack of motorized zoom limited my shooting options, and I found myself sticking with pans, tilts, and static shots, rather than going handheld. It completely changed the way I shot video. I got used to adjusting ISO, shutter speed, and exposure to get my shots, without the aid of a built in ND filter, which had me feeling more like a photographer, and less like a videographer. After all I was used to using one dial to adjust my exposure, and always taught to avoid using gain whenever possible.

But I never imagined I would fall in love with traditional video cameras again. With the recent explosion of interchangeable lens camcorders with large sensors, I remembered that I didn't switch to DSLR's because I hated camcorders, I just wanted the option to get those shallow depth of field shots with a great contrast ratio, even in low light. I've found that getting back the traditional camcorder controls and features has opened up my shooting options again. It's a great time to be a videographer, because the new trends in our industry mean less trade-offs and concessions that we have to make. And in the end, our creativity will be the limiting factor, rather than our equipment.

 

Blog Tags:  DSLR Camcorder sensor
October 15th, 2012

Comments

What a great article. It kind of shows the difference between the two fields, because they are two different fields. a Videographer vs. Cinematographer. Videographer has only been in existance since...well based on the tech you used, you where of that first generation id say. Of the avant-garde so to speak. So the traditional camcorder you use, is a completly differnt tool then what a cinematographer would use. His tools dateing back to over a hundret years ago. Cinematagrophy is essentially a moveing image photographer. Which has completly different needs then that of a videographer. What you shoot, how you shoot, all judge the equipment you need. I personally love my DSLR over the old video cameras I used in college only 2 years ago. But thats because all I use my cam for is production stills, and video for narrative films. So the limits of the DSLR have no bareing on my needs. Where an expereinced Videographer deffintly needs more.

 

It is so great to hear that Camcorder manufaturers are adopting the DSLR features. DSLRs need to start getting more camcorder featuers in my opinion too. The market should be well rounded, giving the full range of great features on both fronts. So that both cinematographers and videographers have access to them.

rbsolutions3@gmail.com's picture

 

Your article invoked a number of paths I took in deciding my approach to new camera technology.

In my experience dating back to 1966 when I shot my first training film, I used an 8mm film camera I bought used for $100. I resisted the thought of a new camera when Super 8mm film came out. Then they added sound which meant I needed a new camera. I resisted buying a 16mm film camera because I had to buy a Bolex with a three lens turret, a real challenge after a basic comfort in a Point and Shoot mentality. My resistance waned in three weeks and I bought. Next I bought a Sony Beta Cam with the Recorder Pac because it looked cool when doing a shoot on the street and the ‘cut and glue or sticky tabs’ were no more. Then I resisted the switch to 8mm Sony camcorders. Not long after came my Pro HI 8mm video Sony. I resisted earlier the whole VHS-SVHS-SVHSC program and won. Then I was pressured into the digital age and nonlinear editing by my fellow videographers. I had to keep up with the Wisbinski’s.

And now that I’ve used my Sony HD Pro video camera for a few years I will probably resist the DSLR’s for another few weeks. The only tech battle I have ever won was the soon’, I’ll buy it next week.

But like the last forty-six years I will resist change and buy the new tech. The challenge of learning new things is a greater force then the resistance of change.