I did my best to tune into the season finale of "House, M.D." last night on Fox, famously shot entirely with Canon 5D Mark IIs. I didn't watch the whole show—"Antiques Roadshow" was on another channel, and I kept changing over to that and forgetting what I was supposed to be watching.
I also know very little about cinematography. But the episode seemed a success. What I saw seemed very atmospheric, with lots of selective focus, and a general sense of not being very sharp, vivid, or saturated—doubtless artistic choices on the part of the director and cinematographer. I did have a weird experience of having my attention shift back and forth from the dramatic action to the visual look of the cinematography; I found I couldn't concentrate on the visuals very well—I kept involuntarily switching over into "seeing" only what was happening in the story.
Anyone else catch it? I'd be interested to hear more informed opinions than mine, both from viewers and from people involved in video production.
Meanwhile, check out this advertisement for a film called "Butterfly Crush" being screened today and yesterday at the Cannes Film Festival. It says, "Shot on a Canon 5D Mark II, the only HD camera with a 35mm sensor plate [sic], giving brilliant images, and screening in Blu-ray. See what is possible at the indie end of the new technology."
(Thanks to Andrew Golding)
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Kevin Schoenmakers: "For those—like me—who didn't see it, here is a teaser of the episode that gives an idea of the image quality. I'm impressed."
Featured Comment by Geoff Wittig: "Is it just me?
"I don't find D-SLR video even remotely interesting. I own a Canon 5D-II, and I couldn't even tell you how to use its video function. I bought it for the (still!) image quality. I love the simple beauty of a perfectly captured moment in time rendered as an excellent print. Video just leaves me cold. Sure, I can recognize the artistry some folks have in that direction. I love to watch movies. But it's a completely different art form, one that just doesn't push my buttons like photography does.
"About 20 years ago there was a witty discussion in (I think) the dearly departed Modern Photography magazine about the first generation of affordable video cams recording on VHS tape. It noted that a decent entry level video camera was just about the same price as a decent SLR with flash and two zoom lenses, and mused that the video camera was likely to siphon off SLR sales. As I recall, that is exactly what happened. I believe that (film) SLR sales peaked in the early 1980s and were then hammered by the onslaught of video, until the arrival of DSLR's revived their fortunes.
"Maybe history will repeat; my wife loves shooting little video clips with her tiny Canon digital zoom point 'n' shoot. I really do wonder if video capture will gradually gobble up much of the audience for DSLR type cameras, leaving us once more in a neglected niche with legacy hardware and a glacial rate of improvement."
Featured Comment by J Castro: "I've been a photographer all my life, a pro for a few years decades ago, and I produce film and video for a living. When I first heard about the video capabilities of the new DSLRs I thought it was an absurd idea, just another marketing gimmick, like the camera that shoots when the sitter smiles or the one that can recognize 20 faces and shoot when all of them have their eyes open. Who would use a DSLR, with that form factor, to shoot video, when you can use cameras designed just for video?
"Well, I for one...I have rented a 5D Mark II to shoot a documentary a few weeks ago, and I must say I am so impressed that I am planning to buy one straight away and just for that. The quality is so fabulous it just puts it, and what you shoot with it, in a different league. Selective focus is important, as shallow depth of field, but it's the general aspect of the images what wins me. Closer to traditional 35mm cinematography.
"I have used many different video cameras. The 5D Mark II is cheaper than the cheapest among them and does things impossible to achieve with any of them. It's a bit more difficult to operate than some low-end video cameras, but a much better tool.
"And it seems you can do the same with the cheaper EOS 550D/Rebel T2i.
"The form factor is no longer an issue, as there are plenty of accessories developed to solve this (Zacuto, etc.) and some companies are even dismantling the mirror box and adapting the body to allow use with traditional cine lenses with Arri PL mount.
"It's just a matter of time before you'll read that some major 'Terminator' or 'Star Wars' type movie is being shot with these. And if it does not happen, it would be because pros do not like to be seen fumbling on amateur toys on a big movie set. Bad for their image!
"Too bad I am a Pentax fan with a large inventory of lenses...maybe I should try an K/Eos adapter, or, who knows, maybe an upcoming Pentax full-frame body will do also video."
Featured Comment by Andre: "Some manufacturers have announced plans to produce video cameras based on their DSLR or EVIL (electronic viewfinder, interchangeable lens) lens mounts. Those products may end up quashing the DSLR-as-video-camera pro market as they'll retain the same lens and sensor benefits but in a body that's better suited for video.
"That said, I expect the stills/video combo-cams are here to stay for the consumer and prosumer markets. For people like me who would otherwise be toting around both a DSLR and an HD video camera on our travels, having both capabilities in one piece of equipment is a real boon. I've traded in my old DSLR and camcorder for a Panasonic GH1, and the reduction in weight to lug around is much appreciated. There are a few drawbacks, like having to carry around several ND filters to be able to use wide apertures in bright sunlight for video, but overall it's a big win for me."