Film is not Moving Photography

October 10, 2008
 | 
2 min read

Wired has a piece up about the new breed of DSLRs with the ability to shoot HD video. Now, the main objective of the piece is to point out that new chip designs have lead to this ability, but I take issue with comments like this:

"The single biggest difference between still photography and a movie, aside from motion, is lens choice and depth of field," says Vincent Laforet, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who is part of a Canon marketing program, "Explorers of Light."

Okay, first of all, I'm not sure that Laforet is aware that professional film cameras, including digital cameras like the Red One, do have the ability to changes lenses and offer a shallow depth of field as well. Later:

Laforet predicts that this low-light sensitivity will lead moviemakers to dispense with expensive, bulky, and obtrusive lighting equipment, shooting their movies entirely with available light.

Documentary, maybe. But as a professional photographer, I would think Laforet would know that light use is not simply utilitarian, only to expose the shot. Light can and should be an artistic choice. This alone means the "expensive, bulky, and obtrusive lighting equipment" isn't going anywhere any time soon.

Laforet is correctin one area: these cameras will be a great asset to news photographers who can now get snippets of video.

Now, call me elitist ((Listen, I recognize that the democratization of technology is generally A Good Thing™, but it also leads to an ever decreasing signal-to-noise ratio.)), but while I am excited to see the potential of these new DSLRs unlocked by the tallented people who use them, these cameras will not turn photographers into cinematographers or filmmakers. Just as having Photoshop does not turn one into a designer. They need to realize film (both documentary and narrative) is not simply moving photography. There's story. There's sound ((Please, use a good microphone! I'm glad to see the Canon 5D Mark II add an external mix jack, the lack of one on the Nikon D90 is sad.)). There's pacing.

My predictions: at first, we will see a lot of beautiful moving photography. Then, once people get over that, we will begin to see the true potential of these cameras. But just remember: if the content isn't there, it doesn't matter how pretty the image is, it will still be boring ((I do sound like an elitist, don't I?)).

Tagged: canon · dslr · hd · nikon · red · video · wired
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