The State Of Play

21
Jul
2011
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Shooting with Gh2

Here I am lying in bed at 1:30 in the morning. I am supposed to be in Italy, but a stupid old back injury badly flared up 24 hours ago meaning I was unable to fly. I feel bad letting down the students I was going to teach, but it is out of my hands.

Anyway, I can use that extra time that I now have to catch up on posts that I have been wanting to write but not had the chance to write. This is one of them.

“The state of play”

We are currently in the biggest state of flux camera wise that I have easily seen in the 5 years I have been freelancing, and of course much longer than that.

I would say that one of the first cameras to come along and change the industry, for better or worse, was the PD150. It gave broadcasters the ability to give cameras with pretty good quality to producers to go out and shoot stuff. It was the beginning of the age of the shooting/ producer/ director. The DVX100 to a lesser degree affected the market, mainly because it was the first affordable camera to give us 24p, and the indie film-making crowd was ecstatic. That was back in 2002. 9 years ago…and you know what? That camera is still bloody good today!

Where have we gone since then? Well the Sony Z1 gave us an affordable HD camera via the HDV format, and that became a de-factor camera for PD shooters. I saw it a lot on some of the broadcast series I shot. I would craft beautiful shots in the 5 days I was allotted for a show, and any pick-ups would be shot by the producer director on Z1s. Heart-breaking…and you know what, it has got worse! The advent of the very lovely – but only 1/3″ chip – Canon XF300 has meant professional cameramen are not even being used at all for a lot of broadcast TV shows in England. Producers are shooting them with these cameras. Really sad. People I know who have been shooting series for years have lost the contracts. This has felt like it has been on the cards for a while. Doesn’t make it any more palatable. Broadcast TV is in a very bad place right now. I am not talking about drama, but factual TV. Drama has never looked better. Check out things like Luther or The Shadow Line on BBC for example, the latter being shot on RED.

OK…so that is one side of the industry. Not looking so good for the jobbing cameraman. But there are still many people looking to get into shooting for a living, just not necessarily broadcast, and the whole which-camera question has never been more confusing… at least the prices have plummeted so much that, if you make the wrong decision, it’s not money down the drain.

Let’s take a fictional person. We are going to call this person Fred. Fred is 23. Just out of college. Maybe he went to film school, maybe he is changing jobs…it doesn’t matter.

Fred wants to set up a little company and make videos for a living. Ideally he sees himself making commercials, music videos and maybe one day even a feature film. But for now, he is happy to do corporates, weddings, anything to pay the bills and get experience. He is not interested in broadcast TV. He is after web content initially and then will go from there.

Fred represents a very large proportion of people I come into contact with. Lots of dreams, not sure how to get there. But he has ambition, talent and a little bit of money to start off with.

A camera is not the huge investment it once was. This business plan a few years ago would have been insane. First off, the internet market was simply not there, and secondly, cameras were not that cheap and certainly didn’t offer the quality we have on cameras now.

Let’s look at the options that Fred has…and this is where we see the huge state of flux we are in. It’s not insurmountable, as the camera options are for the most part relatively affordable, so if you buy something and it becomes defunct/ superseded, your investment will not be totally wasted as I mentioned a little earlier.

Before I go any further, the one thing I will say is your investment should always be in glass. Lenses that will be portable across different cameras. Currently, Nikon mount lenses are the most portable due to their manual aperture control on the lens body (G series lenses are not, but adaptors easily fix this as the apertures are not electronic). Canons will get better with the introduction of Birger’s mounts, but until they are out it’s simply Nikon lenses. My favourites being Zeiss ZF lenses.

But, Fred wants to buy a camera. He doesn’t want to rent. He wants to be an owner. So what does he buy? Now that is tricky…

Now the Canon 5DmkII revolutionised everything. It gave us a unique camera – a stills camera that shoots video with an incredible sensor. A FULL FRAME STILLS SENSOR that shoots video. Remarkable. It’s not been bettered by any camera in almost 3 years for aesthetic. No full frame video camera exists that shoots full HD other than that 5DmkII. Now every Canon that has come out since then has been an incremental improvement. As far as I am concerned, we are still on generation ONE of Canon DSLRs that shoot video. We still have the hideous line skipping, the bad rolling shutter, the aliasing and moire from hell. We still have no headphone jack, no proper control over audio…the list goes on. But we put up with them, because we love the image. But it really is time for generation 2. Canon simply needs to bring out a 5DmkII replacement soon. There is competition now, and it’s not from other stills manufacturers. More on that in a bit.

Nikon…what on earth is going on with Nikon? They bring out the first DSLR with Video, the D90, which sucked. They finally bring out a manual control camera, the very expensive D3s with astounding low light capability but only 720 24p. Then they bring out the D7000 with no metering, no 25p in full HD and a low bit rate. Shame, as the image is actually rather nice despite this. But still no full HD  full frame video DSLR. Why? I am losing patience with Nikon! Fred is not even looking at them!

Panasonic….Now Panasonic I believe are actually on generation 2. Their Gh1 was nice but awful in low light and had a terrible bit rate. The Gh2 was a massive improvement. Audio meters on screen. Native 24p with 24mb/s, good in low light. Still no headphone jack and no 25p, but a huge step up from the Gh1. Much needs to be improved on it, and a lot of that is being done by the hacker Vitaly . But that is not a solution. We shouldn’t have to have hackers make these camera work to their full potential. They should do that out of the box.

So that’s the stills boys. Canon, the market leader, needs to up their game soon or they will loose ground. I adore my Canons. Shooting with them is the most freeing experience of my life, but how long will we put up with their shortcomings, when for not that much more money, you can get something which fixes most of these issues, and even the little consumer camera the GH2 betters it in many ways?

This brings us onto Sony and Panasonic’s video cameras. Specifically, the AF100 and the FS100 and to a lesser extent the F3. I say that because, yes, the F3 is a superior camera, but it’s in a totally different price bracket and way out of Fred’s budget.

You see, Fred was budgeting for around £2000-£3000 for the camera. That would have meant a 5DmkII and maybe a T2i as a B camera. But what if he upped his budget and went for a FS100 or an AF100? You solve the moire, aliasing and sound issues, which is a big deal. Worth the extra couple of thousand? Fred isn’t sure. He wants the full frame of the Canon 5DmkII still, but the FS100 super 35mm chip is tempting him with its amazing low light and no line skipping. It’s a different aesthetic, but it’s more of a film aesthetic anyway, and think of all that time he can save with sound! Same thing with the AF100. He likes the aesthetic even less, but it’s cheaper. It does all the frame rates and has ND. Wow and it’s pretty cheap!

That’s where this state of flux is. These two cameras are very tempting….although they still need LOADS of accessories. They need a rig, a Zacuto EVF and of course the basics, tripod, sound, lights etc etc…so not cheap.

Fred needs a camera today, and the way things are he is probably going to play it safe. He is most likely going to buy a Canon 60D, which is actually my second favourite Canon after the 5DmkII, and some Zeiss or Nikon lenses to future proof himself. Sensible. The 60D shoots great video, although it has more issues than the GH2. But he wants a good stills function, and the stills out of the 60D are superior to the GH2′s. He is going to stick with Canon, because that is the look he likes the most out of the DSLRs. He also wants to see how things pan out over the next 6 months, and after all he is shooting for the web, and DSLR stuff looks great not just on the web but on the big screen – trust me, it does! One golden rule to obey here is if you can earn money with a camera today, don’t put off buying one in the hope that something better is going to come out “at some point”. That “at some point” could end up being years, not months. Fred has made the right choice – he bought a cheaper camera and is going with glass he can use if he changes his mind and moves cameras.

Whether we see anything from Canon in six months I have no idea. But what I am seeing is that people who have bought Canons and have paid them off are moving up to the FS, as it solves most of their issues. Although they are having lens issues, waiting for that Birger mount!

This is what Canon needs to do with their generation 2, and it needs to be done soon. No line skipping. No moire, no aliasing, a headphone jack. Live, adjustable audio meters on screen. A much better codec. How about the 50mb/s 422 XF codec from their camcorders? That would be pretty sweet! Clean HDMI would be a nice bonus. I don’t expect SDI/ XLR or any video sockets like that, as it’s a stills camera first and foremost. But to keep that low budget indie crowd they need to bring out generation 2, soon. These are not crazy fantasy demands that should be held back for a Canon large chip video camera. Keep 10-bit, sdi, xlr, full hd overcrank etc for that. All we want in a DSLR is no image issues, a nicer codec, better handling of audio and better HDMI. Not that much really!

There are a lot of people looking at these relatively affordable large chip camcorders, having fallen in love with that look with DSLRs, and want to have an easier life….Personally I still adore the form factor of DSLRs, and of course my love affair with timelapse is not over, and DSLRs are the kings of timelapse. These camcorders just don’t cut the mustard for that. I also still shoot a lot on my GH2, as it’s so damn small and the image is just so stunning. I want my Canons to get better, especially my 5DmkII!! We haven’t seen the best of what DSLRs can give us yet – as I said, Canon is still on generation 1. I just really want them to hurry up!

The flux won’t go on forever.

 

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Comments

  1. Phil Arntz says:

    I can actually identify myself quite nicely with this article! Just a bit younger than “Fred”.

    It is really quite interesting what the future will bring!

    Good post! Love your blog btw!!!

    1. Losalnos says:

      Aww man, I was thinking “I’m Fred…only a bit older.” GODDAMN YOU FATHER TIME!!!

  2. aria says:

    This article is DEAD ON! It’s extremely frustrating to watch the industry dance around the target when it’s obvious to all what is needed. I must say that I still have faith that there’s going to be a massive shift from a product released this year. it doesn’t have to be perfect nor a killer of these companies high end products. Just a cam that fits the needs of the HUGE market out there for an affordable cam that meets the needs of a vast class of users. This article speaks for me and the many thousands like me out there trying to cobble together a solution but hitting dead ends created by the camera makers themselves who are attempting to block us from finding a way to get the functions we need. HDMI crippling and other various tricks. I have hope tho that something is right around the corner.

  3. Pete Smith says:

    Surprised you’d go for the 60d in that scenario.

    Considering we’re not looking at broadcast work so the lack of 25p on the GH2 doesn’t matter (though I expect that would come soon with the GH2 hack), the GH2 is superiour to the Canons in virtually every aspect (DR, sharpness, aliasing, moire), with the exception of a marginally smaller sensor.

    Why anyone hasn’t put a headphone jack on a DSLR yet (even a small 2.5mm one would do) is beyond me!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Not me…it’s Fred. Canon is the market leader. He wants a 5DmkII and this is closest he wants to get. Hedging his bets.

      I love my GH2 but I know the aesthetic is totally different. You need killer lenses like the Voigtlander .95 to get that look. Also the stills on the Gh2 suck compared to the 60D.

  4. Phil Hinton says:

    Nice write up Philip. I am at the stage of flux right now and have just sold my Canon 7D. I hadn’t bought much glass for it so I was not that tied in with the Canon. I loved the 7D and the form factor but I only ever used it for personal stuff, never the paid work I do, for that I used an HVX201E with P2. Plus our video content is usually on the run at trade shows, press events and so on, so I always needed good reliable sound which I got with the HVX, without the added workflow of audio capture with the 7D. But I have always wanted to add a little more creative shooting to our content that the 7D might have offered if it was more video and sound focussed.

    So, this week I bought a Panasonic GH-2, a Voitlander 25mm and 14-42mm for B camera and the new work camera is a AG-AF101E with a 14-140mm included. I now have the means to add that creativity to shots, have pro audio, a camera body that is very much like the HVX it replaces and a great little B camera. This will suit my workflow and at the same time let me experiment with interviews and still run and gun at trade shows. So, compared to even a year ago, the choices available to those of us doing paid work and personal projects have a greater choice of tool to use. The addition of the new Sony’s also extends that choice and I can only see things growing from here.

    My only concern (working with consumer electronics companies closely in my day to day job)is your comment about Canon adding features on their video cameras to the DSLRs. Looking at it from the business model point of view, I don;t think that will happen as it would likely take business away from the video camera and Pro depts. They will want to still have a difference between the products and most companies out there do that deliberately, no matter what the enthusiast market is telling them. I hope Canon move things on again with their next generation but I just don’t see them adding anything that will impact on other areas of their business.

    Anyway, great blog and I enjoy keeping up with your work and advice. Keep up the good work and I hope your back problem clears up soon.

    1. Richard says:

      I know that every filmmaker, videographer and their mother want the extra features… so Canon would be really stupid if they kept the boundaries between the two departments. Look at what Sony’s doing with the FS100 and the F3 – bigger sensors and changeable lenses. So it’s not a matter of if these companies can protect the old (video vs photography), they will either have to embrace the new – or die.

  5. Miguel Carrera says:

    This is almost surreal, I’m 23 y/o, finished college last year, working through my first job (tv post-production) but dreaming of opening a small film company to shoot commercials and music videos, or if all else fails, weddings and such… I just bought my first DSLR last month, a T2i since I couldn’t afford anything better, but like you said, I’ve got lots of passion for what I do and believe I can achieve my dreams!

  6. Bill says:

    Nice parable Philip. Pretty much sums it up. Interesting that your young Fred would choose a ‘generation 1′ 60D over a moire-free ‘generation 2′ GH2 ;-)

    Hope your back gets better soon!

    Cheers,

    Bill

  7. GraemeH says:

    The reason you won’t get more than one or two of your requests (headphone jack and audio meters perhaps) in the “generation two” Canon DSLRs is that they won’t allow their DSLRs to cannibalize the sales of their more expensive camcorders. It happens in many areas of business, not just electronics. If they made a 5dmk3 with a good codec, proper re-sampling for reducing the sensor data down to a 2k image without issues, we’d be happy but nobody would buy their camcorders. Video shooters don’t make up enough of a percentage of their DSLR buyers to have much sway.

    1. Anthony Elliott says:

      Precisely. The AF100 and FS-100 are effectively special limited editions, in a way. They are built for a niche market (compared to the SLR stills photographer market) and hence the price is 4x – 8x that of an SLR. Otherwise I think I’d go for one of those as a ‘proper’ video camera rather than the 600D.

      It’d be great if the 5D MkIII shipped with a small hardware expansion slot, and Canon sold an extra module that slots in underneath providing XLR and SDI ports. That way the stills photographers can’t complain that their cameras are being turned into camcorders, and the video users get the hardware they need to keep their sanity.

      1. disuye says:

        +1 on the expansion slot concept.

        Make the mk3 the same as the mk2 but better software & codecs … put a bunch of professional i/o on a an expensive external chassis (clips on like a battery grip or something).

        The combined pricing could happily exceed any of the regular Canon video cameras and I doubt either Canon or the punters would complain.

    2. MART says:

      GraemeH i disagree.

      1. think about the reason for the videofunktion. it´s an industryrequest to be able to save lots of money by getting pictures and videos from the same guy for broadcasting. and freelancers need to make both for a living

      2. think about the market – people want highqualityhybrids (specially the huge consumersegment) and if the marketleaders don´t deliver, they won´t stay markedleaders. it´s 2011 and we can choose! how big is the chance for a gentlemans agreement against the market? do you know a cellphone manufacturer that survived, because he listened to customers that where saying “i just wan´t to make calls with my cellphone”? photoonlynerds have laica

      3. think about the prestige. filmmakers might be a relatively(!) small group, but the loudest out there. if we say a brand sucks and doesn´t fitt the needs, it will drop sales on every product.

      4. think about the artform – photography is dead – who cares?

      5. a company is not one happy family. the camcorderguys and the dslr-developers arent the same people and simply just care about there stuff.

      6. the improvement of the videofunktion will not harm the photofunction, it will enhance it – less noise – less rolling shutter – more sensitivity – more fps and it might stop the unloved megapixelrising

      7. canon could save money with better codecs, because they have there own. (we might get an improved mpegbased codec)

      the real reasons for the actual situations are technical. heat – space (filesize) –
      datarates.

      we won´t get 2k (some people even talk aboput 4k – nuts?). we don´t even have real hd. we might get real hd with generation 2, but even the f3 just has hd. 2k is also pointless. no need and no market (because we don´t talk about cinema! internet and tv won´t support it)

      we won´t get hd on 60 fps or more fps because of heatissues.

      microphone jack? possible, but i don´t think – they might enable it with the usb-port (like with magic lantern)

      we will get better codec – based on mpeg i guess – i see a chance for the ability for external recording, because they could keep a low price for consumers and please the needs of enthusiasts

      and like always: less noise – less rolling shutter – better, articulating display

      my thoughts

  8. Jon Chema says:

    Phil, I want a Canon 5dm3 for stills as well. I LOVE the 5dmii but bought a 7D over it simply because of more video options at the time (before the 5d firmware update) and also because of the AUTO FOCUS. The 5dmii AF is pretty bad when you compare it to the 1d or 7d. I really hope they improve it in the mark3! Other than that though I’d take the color and “look” of the 5d anyway. Its an incredible camera and theres no wonder its Canon’s #1 seller!

  9. Fabrício says:

    So even with fred had the budget for the 5d, do u think he should hold it now, go for a b camera like 60d and wait untill the ende of the year?

    asking this because a 5d is on my cart at b&H waiting for the guts to proceed..

    thanks for the help

  10. Taylor says:

    Good piece. It follows most of my thought pattern. I bought the T2i and have added some accessories. I have used to shoot great greenscreen and comando shooting 2.5 miles down in a mine.
    I bought it because if I ever have a camera failure (and shit does happen) I can pop into a connivence store and get another body and be back in business ASAP. The shortcomings are few…and if you know post, you can hop over most of them.
    I am very excited about this Very liberating time in filmmaking an image acquisition.

    Keep up the great work Phil and I hope your hemorrhoids clear up.

  11. Uncle Bob says:

    Phillip,

    Well said….

    I’d like to be a fly on the wall listening to all the logic and strategy from these developers.

    Bottom line is that the technology exists to make a great camera/camera’s that solve the important issues. The question (as you pose it) is what the hell are they waiting for? Even in the ten thousand dollar range, why they can’t put together a package that brings it all together? I know that they want to sell more cameras and I guess that they think that if they put together a perfect package, then they won’t be able to string us along. But that is short sighted, there is so much that could be added. I believe that there is going to be another generation of tv sets or monitors that are 4k-5k that will make 2k look crappy. Then we will all want cameras that can deliver. They are sitting on the technology and the roll out is way, way too slow.

    One thing that has been a huge pleasure and a very big surprise for me, is that fact that so many lenses can be used with adapters. I wasn’t expecting this, was expecting for the camera makers to somehow make it impossible to interchange lenses with different camera systems so that you would constantly have to be upgrading and buying glass.

    Come on guys, give it up…. at least give us what you can, what you are capable of in the 1080 world before it goes 4k-5k

  12. Niklas says:

    Your article, as always, was very interesting – thanks for putting in all the work.

    One comment: (Before I start I should add that in real life I’m a management consultant and just dabble in filming)

    I often hear people say Canon needs to do this or that – in my experience this is not how things are done in a large corporation. I briefly looked for a Canon org chart, couldn’t find one but would still bet that cameras and camcorders are organized in two divisions, probably dating back from the days when cameras still used film. And quite likely this division goes all the way up to the board.

    My personal interpretation of the last few years would be that at some point camera guy looked at his DSLRs and realized that they contain everything one needs to shoot movies. However, he also realized that video guy would start screaming if he actually build in those features everyone wants to have (24p,25p …) Perhaps he was cautious, perhaps video guy already smelled a rat, at any rate the 5d was deliberately realized with a feature set crippled enough to calm the waves. Any yet tempting enough to create a buzz so that a few months later camera guy could look the board in the eye and say “Hey, I didn’t want to eat into my colleagues business – it just happened. And now the market demands it.” And then we got the 5d update.

    Now ironically Canon has most to lose in the next step, since they are strong both in the photo & video sector. Panasonic is video with a bit of photo, Sony is the same. I’m pretty sure the head of the photo division knows what we want, but if the feature list you gave above appears, it means he also won the power struggle against video guy.

    What surprises me is that Nikon is so lame. Perhaps because they’re less electronically apt than Canon who have a broader product base, silicon of their own, … but Nikon would really be in a position to challenge since they have nothing to lose and everything to win.

    Regarding your list of alternatives I would even add the small Canon Canon camcorders, perhaps even a G10. Sure, it has different aesthetics but it’s so easy to use in comparison, contains a mic in.

    At any rate, exciting times. Since I shoot Canon anyway I would of course like your wishlist from above to come true.

    1. disuye says:

      Or the photo department could start selling sensors & lens mounts to the video department … and they start working together like one company?! :)

  13. Nick says:

    Wow! this article couldn’t have come at a better time! That is exactly my current situation.

    I’m 28, shooting on a hacked GH1 with Leica R Lenses, and I’ve started to get paid video work (mainly web, but also an upcoming 30sec commercial to be shown on a cinema screen at a film festival).

    I want to upgrade my camera and can’t decide between a 5DmkII or the FS100, or waiting for 5DmkIII (or its replacement). I’m having such a hard time deciding, I don’t know what to do! any suggestions?

    Great article! (as always)

    Hope your back is feeling better!

  14. Mattia says:

    Wait a minute!! I’m @work and I’ve not still read all the post but, are planning to visit Italy?? Where??! There’s any possibility to met? Pleeeeeaasee!!!!

  15. Trull says:

    I’m 22y/o try to build a small rig with LED lights and my own recording device to be a one man film crew. My hesitation to spend any money right now on a camera is that I know as soon as I do, Canon will announce a MKIII or something juicy like that…. Times are tough and people don’t have the money to spend knowing a newer model is needed and immanent.

    The number of filmmakers that are switching to DSLR is unbelievable, especially the ones in film schools and and doing independent work. If Canon ignores filmmakers and persons shooting video, they will lose out on a huge corner of the market. I’m giving them 3 more months before I get a 5D… Don’t screw me Canon!

  16. Mattia Santino Merli says:

    Now I red all, great post but you have forgot a player, the VG10. I know that is a NeX5 repackage BUT it has a viewfinder, great mic, handle and AF AND Stabilisation while filming!

  17. Danny Cooke says:

    I’m pretty much ‘Fred’ in year 2. I Went with a Canon 7D and made quite a few shorts and several documentaries with it so I have certainly made my money back on my initial investment..I am getting quite a bit of interest locally and now people all around the UK are starting to inquire. For this reason I feel that I need to take step 2 and invest in a ‘pro’ camera such as the EPIC-S when it’s released. I feel that this will open up a lot more opportunities to work on bigger projects.

  18. Jim says:

    Bang on the money sir – though I would suggest Canon have almost let the horse bolt out of the field…I run a 5D for wide lenses and a AF101 for anything over 70mm, with a hacked GH1, GH2 in between.
    Fred should buy cheap and as you say put the cash in glass ( though it won’t be Canon’s for obvious reasons ).
    As in the mirrorless world it appears the big two will not enter a market unless its established and proven.
    However the 5D does deserve a lifetime achievement award – the r & d on that must be 5 years old now ! Can anyone think of a consumer electronic product with a longer shelf life ?!

  19. Eric says:

    Hi Philip,

    I also have a passion for film and photography.
    I’ve been following your posts for well over a year and a half.

    Reading this article brought a few thoughts to my mind.
    Considering the situation you’ve described, it seems to me that the logical solution would be to purchase a Panasonic AF100 and a Canon 60D with a couple of reasonably priced lenses.
    A photographer, even if working alone at an event, must have discrete motion and stills cameras. Gotta cover both ends, and be prepared for anything your subjects request.

    There’s also the added cost of:
    1. A good-performing computer with a good LCD.
    2. A professional video editing software, like Adobe PP CS5.5
    3. Terabytes of storage. Any photographer knows that HD video and RAW stills consume lots of space, so one must have plenty of storage space. One also must keep a backup of a video project for at least a couple of months, before he can erase it.
    4. A bit of advertising to get the business going.

    All that cost is probably the bare minimum these days.

  20. Matt Davis says:

    Following on from Graeme’s post, I’m wondering if Canon will do an ‘FCP-X’ – with a chance to upgrade the 5dMk2, they decide to ‘re-engineer’ the concept of what DSLR-shooters want and come up with something like a VG10.

  21. victor michael says:

    back about a year ago i bought a gh1 after reading a review on your site and watching a few videos you made with it. Since then i have purchased the 7-14 wide angle, 20mm pancake, and i have the stock lens, i also picked up a few older nikon f mount lenses and use the Voigtlander F mount adapter. So that is about all i invested into the gh1 to this point, i want to try to get a more cinematic look to videos i create, so i was curious as to what you would recommend as a upgrade path to a new camera. I was thinking of the gh2, but at the same time everyone else i know uses canon’s. They all tell me to switch to either a 7d or a 5d mark ii. I know there are adapters out there that i can purchase so i can still use my nikon glass, at the end of the day, i would prob end up keeping my gh1 and lenses, cause it is what got me into filming and photography. But as far as moving forward what would you recommend as a upgrade a gh2, 7d or 5d mark ii.

    Below is a video i made with my gh1 and the nikon glass, just to give an idea of the look and feel of my currents videos, it’s not the greatest i still have much to learn

    http://vimeo.com/22787816

    and aside from all that you rock, your videos inspired me to get into filmmaking

  22. JardaBar says:

    Yes, we can’t wait, so sorry Canon, but I have to switch to Sony. :(

  23. Ove Ellemark says:

    Spot on Philip! Great post!

  24. Phil Hoyt says:

    Crazy, I am 22 years old and starting a simular company! FRED STOLE MY IDEA! I own a T2i, I rent almost all my gear though. Getting my hands on the AF100 soon!

  25. digitalchipmunk says:

    Enjoyed that post. As I am pretty much Fred…except I’m 45….ahem.
    And have come through the PD150/ Z1 /Z5 for TV / web at the BBC route and now want to jump head first into the lovely world of DSLR video which blows the competition away…on the web anyway. I’ve just bought a 60D too and heading down the “Fred” route you mention above with regard to content. It’s the age old question of be content with what’s out there or try to future proof at all costs.
    My main conern is the lenses….with only about £1000 left to spend (I already have the kit lens for what it’s worth) I’d prefer to buy used higher quality than new cheaper alternatives. But being a relative amateur to the world of stills photography I’m not armed with the knowledge “plugin” which aids buying second hand lenses. So far I’m looking at wide-ish and as fast as my budegt can allow.
    Just can’t wait to get started…mistakes along the way I’m sure….but the end product of these cameras are worth the hassle (I hope).
    Any pointers or thoughts welcome.
    Fred, 45.

  26. Guy says:

    …I owned a Canon 60D for 3 months, then bought a Panasonic GH-2 and said good-bye to the Canon. ( video from the Canon sucks in a big way compared to the GH-2 )

    Also, I used to think the stills on the GH-2 sucked, until I started to shoot only RAW format, which changes things in a huge way. Yes, the 60D is still a better stills camera, but switch to RAW format and the difference pretty much goes away.

  27. Rob Imbs says:

    Nice late night rant and recap, I get the impression that you want a 5DMIII, you may have said that once or twice in your post ;)

  28. josh says:

    If you are just starting out, is the cinematic camcorder / dslr approach even the right road to go down? don’t get me wrong i love the pictures that come out of these cams, and love using dslr’s in the right situation (ie, in a controlled environment, or on jobs where you can afford to take more time to set up your shots) however i still make 90 percent of my income using the second camera you mention in the article, the 9 year old Panasonic DVX100! (well the 5 year old dvx100b but still…) yes it’s SD, and tape based, but most clients don’t care, as long as they get a decent video for their money they’re happy.

    in the early stages, i would argue that the ergonomics and flexibility of a camera are more important than the images it produces, as you will most likely be taking on wide variety of uncontrolled and unglamorous jobs to pay the bills, (weddings, gigs, events etc) where having a camera that’s easy and fast to use is a real advantage, ie, xlrs, audio meters, nd’s, decent, non menu based controls, and a proper video zoom lens that holds focus.

    if i was fred today with 2 or 3 grand to spend, i reckon something like a 2nd hand panasonic hpx170, sony z7 or an ex1 would be a wise choice.

    1. Or a t3i, H4N, and a nice tripod ;).

  29. This was a great read Philip, thanks for writing this. I can very much relate to Fred. I’m 23, recently purchased the 5D MKii, got my Zacuto EVF, My Zoom H4N, Some shotgun mics, lapels, tripods, POS lighting (but it works), and i’ve got a business partner to help me out.
    I can very much relate to Fred in this article. Thanks again for writing it.
    It appears as if I have loads of work to do then…
    I really do hope I have what it takes to make something of myself and my company (Anything Media Group)
    Cheers mate!

  30. Matt says:

    What annoys me the most is that Canon don’t address some of these issues in their firmware.
    For example why can the 60D not crop whilst filming like the T3i? They both have the same DIGIC 4 unit. Perhaps I’m wrong about that one.
    It seems like they are keeping good features exclusive to certain cameras, as if they are making their cameras less accessible so that more people will buy them. Hello oxymoron!?

    Although I must admit, this problem is apparant across most Camera manufacturers.

  31. Tim says:

    Not the first time I feel like you saved me a lot of headache. Thanks so much!

  32. Jeremy Earl says:

    As mainly a food photographer, the world of commercial videography is till very new and to be honest from the outside it all looks so shiny and rosy over there in videographer world so articles like this help to shed light on the business side of the industry that I don’t see.

    Yes the nikons have their shortcomings but when canon came out they did too so I say hold on Fred , nikon might just get it’s stuff together by this Augusts new camera announcement. The reduced rolling shutter in the d7000 and 20 minute clip length are enough to keep nikons head above water for now but I agree without live metering and more frame rate options it will be impractical to shoot video with nikon alone.

    Although to be honest it’s kind of nice being in the ultra exclusive nikon hd dslr shooter club :-)

  33. Mike says:

    EF Mount Video Camera [CR1]

    http://www.canonrumors.com/2011/07/ef-mount-video-camera-cr1/

    I do not know I might still take a GH2 over a Canon just so I never have to deal with moire issues.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Canonrumors.com Mike? :)

      Well there will be a Canon Video camera with APS-C chip at some point. That is a given. Price point…who knows?!

    2. Al Hill says:

      Yes, the rumors floating around here in Los Angeles are that Canon is looking large sensor, high codec (prores), camera to compete with the likes of the F3, Epic and Alexa. Which, makes a great deal of sense when you think about it. Why put a professional system into a SLR body. Why do I have to buy another viewfinder to use the SONY F3 properly. And don’t get me started about the ergonomics of the FS100.

      So the rumor (and it’s definitely a rumor) for here in Los Angeles, is Alexa/EPIC class Canon due to debut before the end of the year. But then again what do we know about film & tv in Los Angeles. Well, a lot, actually. Apparently we used to be the filming capital of the world. Not so much, lately…

  34. aria says:

    Right now the closest I think we’d get to an Arri Alexa is to get Canon to bring out the MkIII. We all know they could easily make the needed changes to the camera to make it capable of stunningly good video. I love what Sony is doing with the F3 and FS100 and I think Pany would have a great camera in the AF100 with a sensor tweak. Still the most affordable option for great video would be an updated MkIII, so in essence that’s the camera everyone is waiting for.

    Improved processing, codec and 1080/60p would be my dream. Don’t necessarily need the Headphone jack :) I mean it’s still going to have to be a modular setup with the 5D, so adding separate sound is not a deal breaker.

    Canon has to at least match the competition in terms of use for video like the GH2. Sony is going to probably make a ton of noise with the new A77 and NEX VG20!!! Canon may find themselves pushed out if they don’t respond soon.

  35. Richard says:

    Get yourself a good chiropractor for your back mate.

    I agree that I would have expected the next DSLR upgrade to have hit the market by now. As soon as there is a videocamera that can give you a 5D image for a couple of grand it’s all over.

    The great thing about the 5D is that you’ve got a stills camera for life. It really doesn’t get much better than that…

  36. Aaron says:

    From what I understand, the “video” market for the Canon DSLRs is very small in comparison to the “photography” market. Canon is aiming to please the photographers first and foremost is what I can gather.
    Also I heard Gale Tattersall saying Canon has so many people in their company that an idea has to go through, in order to make it to a final stage, which could take FOREVER.
    I believe as long as Canon can keep the “video” upgrades to a decent production cost they’ll make it happen. Otherwise it will just alienate the photographers.
    Just my two cents.

  37. Murray says:

    To make matters even more interesting, the [long overdue] Red Scarlet should be released within the same time frame as the Canon 5DM3 [don't laugh].

    Latest data (from Red): $6K (ish), trying to be released Fall 2011, includes quality fixed lens (I know, but it’s supposed to be good), Red compression, 3K resolution, touch screen large LCD viewfinder and a clever built in wireless remote.

    Once you gear up a 5D with the same features, the price is similar.

    It’s going to be a very interesting next 6 months.

    1. I will be very impressed if the Scarlet ever gets released ;).

      1. kunal says:

        Add 3 years onto any date RED gives you… EVER :P

        1. First and foremost – I love the quality of a RED, especially the EPIC. But what strikes me most about RED is Jim Jannard’s signature on RedUser.net:

          “Everything in life changes… including our camera specs and delivery dates…”

          Follow by:

          “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone with a bad attitude.”

          So basically, you have the right to pay them a huge amount of money for a camera that you don’t know when it will be delivered, but when you start to ask questions, they might simply refuse service for having a bad attitude!? Also, I’ve heard that if you want to sell your RED camera, you *have* to send it back in for service first. Things that make me go hmmmmm…

  38. jamesbenet says:

    Great post,

    This is what should be done but I highly doubt Canon will step up to the plate and deliver. There might be small improvements to Moire and Aliasing but I hardly think they will be fixed or approach the GH2 in that respect.

    Canon has Stills shooting as priority #1, video falls probably way down the list and they wont sacrifice stills in order to put a low pass filter in front that is strong enough to eliminate video artifacts.

    The Canon XF 4:2:2 codec would be ideal and it is just a tad more storage than the current H.264 with enormous benefits. I still think they will reserve that for the video line, I don’t see Canon handing us that golden opportunity for now.

    If they were smart they would add an internal video only low-pass with ND to aid in all of this. It would be ideal. This could also be made in special lenses with an extra switch AF/MF IS ON/OFF and now ND LP ON/OFF They could resell all of the lenses and make a killing there.

    For those that haven’t tried the GH2 I can assure you that the video quality is so superior to the Canon solution that you would be pleasantly surprised by the lack of artifacts. The Hack helps but it is already a great camera out of the box. My GH2 Work has been on Discovery HD, SKY HD, History Channel HD, MTV, CBS HD, NBC HD and FOX HD. With good shooting parameters you can easily achieve impressive IQ on this camera. The best part is using the Canon Lenses on it, you don’t have to spend on glass if you don’t want to.

    For stills as Philip says the GH2 sucks compared to any Canon SLR, even in RAW the GH2 has too much noise and lack of DR. It can’t hold a candle to my 7D for stills.

    Lets hope Canon steps up to the plate and delivers, the good part about all of this is that the competition is not standing still and it will force change and features eventually. We all win in the end.

    As a back sufferer from heavy equipment too I feel your pain Philip, get well soon!

    1. Johnnie says:

      Unfortunately the GH2 without 25p is useless for the European broadcast market, otherwise I would have bought is yesterday…

      Thanks.

      Johhnie

    2. son_of_sizemore says:

      James, to aid the curious, are there any examples of your broadcast work using the gh2 online(clips etc)? There seems to be some confusion over what broadcast companies will accept in terms of bitrate, but it would seem these major companies are okay with it (or are you converting somehow?)
      cheers in advance :)

  39. Dimitrios says:

    On the Panasonic side I found out an interesting tidbit of information from Jan C.. She said that the Video and Photo groups are entirely different, as if they were two different companies, They never talk to each other or know what each other is doing. I wonder if that holds true for canon as well.

    1. Much the same. I’ve been told that they only used to meet at the company X-Mas party once a year… hopefully that has now changed. There are enough signals in the market which tells them they should.

      1. Johnnie says:

        It goes even farther. At Canon, the development group for the different cameras hardly talk to each other.

  40. Dan Kanes says:

    Red Epic FTW.

    1. Frank Bach says:

      Yeh…

      Like the minimum +50k you need are not a problem.

    2. Philip Bloom says:

      The EPIC is an amazing camera but expensive and not the right camera for everyone or every job!

  41. Gene Sung says:

    Philip, you hit it right on the head. Canon need to do SOMETHING soon. People are so tired of their old tech. I have a bunch of Canon glass and I would consider switching to Sony if the Berger mount works as it should. As for the Panasonics, the aesthetics (colors, DOF) are a bit different than what I like. I wish that Panny just went with a 1.6x crop factor, then I think the cameras would have a bit more Pro market appeal.

    The Canon were great 3 years ago, but now they are so dated. I’m glad you wrote this Philip, because all of us can complain all we want, but your voice carries much more weight than ours does.

    And also Philip, why don’t you just admit to us that you actually have the Top Secret production version of 5D3. Hehe :) Just tell them to release it soon.

  42. Frank Bach says:

    Would you say that as a beginner – without any material for his portfolio – it would be a good idea to do some unpaid work for real “clients” (3 or 4 projects) and approach people with offers like that?
    Because I also see a lot of people doing “concept commercials” etc. without any real purpose other than showing their skills.
    And there are a few possibilities here for me to produces some stuff, even though I know I would never get paid for it. But I would like to do it.

    Finally I decided to buy the 60D with two initial lenses, but I already see myself regretting this decision with the RED Scarlet coming out soon, the 5D Mark III, etc. …

    Any other advice on how to get into making actually money with this kind of stuff? Journal-Ads for Weddings, etc.?

    (Btw. right now I am working all kinds of jobs just to raise money, but I hate it… I just hate it… which is a good motivation for this.)

    1. My biggest advice for a person in your position is shoot, shoot, and shoot some more! Get your work out there to be seen. The more you shoot, the more work that will fall into your lap! (You will be surprised!) In regards to regretting your purchase, there is no need to. You now have the tools to start making money. Waiting to purchase what ‘may’ come will not make you money now.

      Doing a couple free jobs is okay but pick your companies strategically. Pick ones that may lead to future opportunities. I like to believe that you are only as good as your last project so give it your all! Think of it as an interview for a future job!

      1. Frank Bach says:

        Well, yeh. Good to hear that, thanks.

        But what then? With a small (but nice) pool of reference work, what is the next step?
        My guess is that a lot of people in this industry get (high-class) clients by word-of-mouth. Or they get recommended by people they worked with.
        And right now I live in an area that doesn’t have a lot of good contact-opportunities.
        Could be a good thing to be in a place where there a not a lot of people that do what you do. But it also means that creating relationships is very difficult. (No HDSLR meet ups (or workshops) for me…)

        I just don’t want to spend all this money and not be able to return the investment – or shoot wedding videos until the end of days…

        1. The internet/social-media is one powerful beast ;)

      2. Great advice, Preston & welcome to the blog!

    2. Murray says:

      Generally speaking,

      People tend to get opportunities that are similar to what’s in their portfolio. Nobody believes you can do anything other than that (generally true).

      SO

      If you fill your portfolio with stuff you don’t like, you’re only gonna do more of it. That’s the reason people do clientless projects–they want to proove they can do the stuff they’re interested in doing.

  43. EnglishJon says:

    After being pulled into a lake with a brand new 7D, literally days after they were released, i had the camera at Kiwi Camera Repair in Orlando FL. So he opened it up and got it all back working, but at the same time we got to look inside the mind of the Canon engineers for a while…. we were blown away!

    Even compared to the inside of the best Nikon’s, the Canon was just genius inside, and in front of me was amazing evidence of what was possible. So i agree completely that Canon are the market leaders when it comes to not only DSLR video, but DSLR construction and evolution!

    The FS is SUCH a tasty idea right now, but its like buying something from apple – the second you do there is always something else that comes along. I want the MKIII more than anything right now, and we already know its not going to be a perfect camera, but imagine if they improve on that image :)

    Awesome post Mr Bloom! Great to read what goes on in that camera filled brain of yours!

  44. Josh says:

    Let me guess: your sacroiliac joint/sacrum blew up? Been there. Sucks!

    The “Black Swan” for the film establishment will come maybe in the form of some rich guy selling his sun glass company – looking at a new industry to reinvent – then doing it forcefully.

    It’s the “Innovator’s Dilemma” – when do you shoot the sacred product cow? When in the business for decades (Arri, Canon etc) you have too many masters to please.

    Upstarts see opportunity and take it while the incumbents sit in endless meetings. The 5DII was inadvertent innovation – the Epic/GH2/V25mmF.95 are very focused efforts to disrupt.

    As the cost of technology and barriers to access for 5K quality equipment continues – so will the prices for the content produced by them.

  45. ed says:

    Fred should also realize that shallow DOF is a great tool, but not the end all when deciding on a camera. Too much shallow DOF looks un-natural, and it is in danger of becoming overused. If he is just starting out he may be better off getting a proper video camera with scopes, zebras, adjustable levels, NDs, and pro audio inputs. Unless he wants one of those “DSLR Franken-Rigs” growing out of his shoulder. The HD-SLR is a powerful tool with a wonderful image- but you forgo so many other proper tools if you focus on just its DOF (pun intended).

  46. ed says:

    I hoped Nikon would make the best of its position on the market and having no business strategy constraints (not to give people a second generation DSLR camcoders in moderate pricing as it will kill some of the expensive camcoders business) will bring the change. Nikon wake up, I am sure there is still a lot o money to be made!

  47. Gene Sung says:

    I agree with English John. I could go with the Sony FS, but really what I want is a FULL FRAME video camera like the 5D3. Full frame just has such a unique look.

    Hopefully the next 5D3 will have crop modes (1.6x and 3x). That would make it super insane. As Philip mentioned, the fixes to the 5D3 aren’t that huge — better codec, no moire, no aliasing, 60p, etc. Leave the major jump to the Camcorder and just release the 5D3 already. If Canon is reading this, many of your customers have really lost faith in the company with all the non-fixes in the subsequent cameras after the 5D2. PLEASE do something soon.

    I think the main thing Canon has going for it is the lenses. Sure the GH2 can use any lens, but Canon has some amazing, fast, constant aperture, IS zooms that are just incredible. The 17-55 f2.8, the 100mm Macro and ESPECIALLY the 70-200 III f2.8 are lenses that I just cannot live without. They just give the image such a nice, filmic look with great colors and DOF. Canon has the aesthetic dialed much more so than Panasonic (although I do really like the Sony FS look), they just need to fix the technical aspect.

    1. Pete Smith says:

      Arguably the GH2 also has panfocal, fixed aperture C-mount zooms + primes going for it; about as close to ‘cine’ as you can get. All of which are completely unmountable on Canons; the Canon lenes will all adapt to M4/3.

  48. Wow- good article Philip. Looks like a lot of people identify with Fred (myself included)

    This is a bit wordy, but I don’t often put in my two cents so here it goes…

    I’m 22, $80,000 in film school debt and living on ten dollars an hour with a 50-60 hr. work week. I moved back home after graduating and currently live with my dad.

    All that has changed. A couple days ago, I had an interview for a company that was looking to start a media production venture. I showed them a few videos and gave them my resume. After 5 minutes of relatively light hearted chat, I was offered a full-time job with benefits. I also get to go shopping for production goodies. Hello AF100!

    After 50-60 videos, 5 short scripts, 2 feature scripts, learning dozens of programs (FCP, After Effects, Motion, Photoshop, etc.) and hundreds of sleepless nights, I can breathe easy… for now.

    What I’ve learned over the past 4 years is that the days of concentrating on a specific production element are over unless you’re at the top. In film school, I was taught to focus on something and stick to it. In the field however, I learned just the opposite.

    The new breed of filmmakers are the Neill Blomkamps and Joseph Kosinskis of the world. There will always be positions for people who concentrate on a specific crew position, but they are fast disappearing.

    My advice: learn everything that you can. Watch movies, read blogs, learn new programs and always be looking to shoot something. Network! I am so grateful for information from people like Vincent Laforet, Andrew Kramer, Chase Jarvis and of course you Philip. You have no idea what sort of influence you have on young filmmakers… (you may think you do, but you’re wrong I tell you! WRONG!)

    Some more advice (and then I’ll get off of my soapbox):

    Pro bono work is good and will get you places, but if you lowball too often, you perpetuate an idea that anyone can work a camera. Real quote, “Why does it cost that much? I can just shoot it with my HD Handicam.” We must inform people of how meticulous and time consuming our craft is- in doing that, we might be able to save our fellow filmmakers a little trouble.

    The following picture is the cover of a business proposal I am working on for my new job- I think I’m going to like working there :) :http://i.imgur.com/CNUyv.jpg

    Over the past couple years, my favorite thing to do was shoot timelapses. There’s just nothing like it! I’ll leave you with this piece: http://vimeo.com/16718260

  49. Charles Sanson says:

    The images on the t2i were great, if they would have supplied a kit lens with a great autofocus and zoom that wasn’t so noisy, I wouldn’t have sold it. Now… Sony knows what we amateurs a want. I just bought a Sony cybershot with a 30 power zoom. So I am not a pro, but on a tv my images and video are pretty damn good. I am saving to get a SonyNEX-FS100u What a beauty is seems to be.

  50. Mike says:

    Wow. This story is pretty much me! Although I went for the GH2 as I’m not so fussed with stills, and the firmware hack looks promising (I also just discovered the tele-crop mode which is FANTASTIC!) My current flux is whether I go with M4/3 lenses, of which more great options are slowly appearing, (and the current long term plan was to get an AF100 when I have more money, and keep the GH2 as a B-Camera) or go with some second hand Nikkors+mount, in case I hit it big (ha!) and could afford an F3 instead.

  51. Chris Gavin says:

    Philip I’m a long time reader of your blog and much appreciate all of it.
    I’d like to ask this most basic question to you (or anyone else in this helpful community on here!)

    I recently bought my first ‘grown-up’ lens for my Canon 600D… I went for the Tokina 11-16mm. I’m loving it and using it on some work already.
    I was amazed how well built this lens is, it’s a joy to use and I thank you for the recommendation…

    Now, the question. I bought my Tokina lens with Canon mount… in your article you suggest buying Nikon mount lenses for best possible future-proofing…
    I presume that with a Nikon mount lens (with mount adaptor) I would not be able to control the aperture/autofocus at all from the camera…

    So should I really have bought the Nikon version of this lens instead?

    many thanks, and get well soon :)

  52. Phil skip the chiropractor and get massage therapy. Did wonders for me. :)

    Great article and basically what a lot of people are thinking.

    I believe that Sony and Panasonic are taking a chunk out of Canon. And I will be one of those guys. As much as I love the picture the DSLR’s provide it’s really wearing on me going out on shoots with all these limitations.

    I have already told my business partner the FS-100 is next. You addressed so many key points that we all suffer through but for me the two biggest aside Audio, are the battery life and over heating. I do a lot of shooting outside and on 95 f degree days(35 c for the guys on the other side of the pond) it is a time killer every time that overheating light goes on. And I have 2 bodies.

    The next generations would have to have a lot to convince me otherwise and even if they have a large sensor video camera, Canon video cameras have always, historically been more expensive than Sony and Panasonic.

    But we are mere mortals to the Camera Gods. And as always we keep up with the rumors and hope that they throw us a crumb one day.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Kevin, try a battery grip. It does help for overheating and get some instant ice packs!!

      1. Murray says:

        Philip–are you joking or being serious? Do icepacks work? I’ve got the same overheating problem.

        1. Ice packs do work. Shooting in Saskatchewan during the summer for any duration of time requires either constant swapping of batteries or an ice pack on standby!

          1. Murray says:

            Good to know. Canon 5Ds have a serious overheating problem.

            It just about killed us when we were shooting withing a 45min timeframe catching the sunset just right–we’d have to wait 10 minutes on the camera! And the temperature we were shooting in was in the low 80′s.

            1. Were you shooting video on the sunset? Better to do a timelapse next time. Higher res images, less footage to work with (unless you’re making a 45-min Sunset Blu-Ray out of it) and no issues with overheating. I have never seen a 5D overheat from taking stills…

      2. Philip thanks for the tip. Have you had success with this in extremely humid environments? My concern would be condensation building up inside the camera when applying the ice pack.

        Sometimes it is so humid here that just getting the camera out of the camera bag is a 15 minute wait for all the condensation to evaporate on the lens.

        1. Philip Bloom says:

          the ice packs i use are the instant ones that you just crack, i used them in florida with much success!

  53. squig says:

    The 5D and the D700 have reached the end of their product life cycle and there are rumours of 2 new FX DSLRs from Nikon in the next couple of months. Sony is also rumoured to be bringing out 2 or 3 new DSLRs soon too which are certain to have gen 2 EXMOR sensors.

    Sony has shown the potential of gen 2 DSLRs with the FS100. The question is will Canon deliver us some gen 2 goodness this year or will they wait till PMA in January? If they wait it is sure to hurt them.

    I’ve been saving up but I’m holding off on the FS100 until I see what the gen 2 DSLRs can do. The FS100 looks great but it’s no Alexa. It’s still only 8bit, bigger, costlier, and not as stealthy as a DSLR. The FS100 is now the sub 5K benchmark, Canon and Nikon have to match or better it. Who knows Sony might even deliver a DSLR with 24p and manual controls!

    You can shoot a feature with a $600 550D now. Imagine what the $600 cameras will be able to do in year from now when the new sensor and processor tech trickles down. There’s never been a better time to write a great script.

  54. Terry says:

    Step back and look at the Fred scenario, and think about his current clients and really ask yourself “What’s going to make his clients happy?” (and thus get Fred fed!), it’s going to be delivering a product which requires dealing with a whole load of factors and the issue of what camera and lenses to buy in truth is actually pretty small.

    I would boil camera choice down to “big chip look” or “small chip look”, I think after that what body and lenses you initially choose are largely irrelevent and are solely based on what you can afford.

    If I was Fred I’d spend time learning to get on well with clients, understanding their needs, telling stories that ordinary people can relate to, and having a basic understanding of promotional films and creative messaging.

    I appreciate this may not be the point of the discussion but I think it’s worth considering the bigger picture. I’m in a similar position to Fred and having dipped my toe in this area my impression is that providing the pictures look nice and in the right ball park, and the sound doesn’t suck, clients don’t care what camera you use or their relatively minor aesthetic differences. But they do care about a lot of other stuff a lot more.

  55. Robin says:

    I listened to the Fred in me and bought a Canon 60D a few weeks ago. You can get real bargains on eBay, it didn’t break the bank at all as I got mine for US $899.

    The most important thing I have learned: don’t wait! I have spent so much time waiting for the perfect camera only to realize every day without any camera is a lost opportunity.

  56. Charlie says:

    Right on the spot, have following your blog post from the very beginning of your site. I love this article. I sold my 5D2 not long ago and get the Gh2 that get my job done, and client ask me why your camera is getting smaller… ha ha

  57. Ron says:

    And i just bought an AF100!!!! I hope it was worth switching from my 7D!!

  58. Andre Bonner says:

    There will be no 5D Mark III anytime soon. Reason being?

    You said it in the article:

    There is no other full frame stills camera that offers the same
    aesthetic or that does video well.

    No competition means no update, Why would Canon introduce
    a competitor/replacement to a product that has no equal?

    At this point the manufacturing costs/R&D for the Mark II have all
    been recouped. Its just pure cash for Canon from here on out.

    To quote the Wayan’s Brothers:

    Mo money Mo money Mo money

    1. Gene Sung says:

      I think Andre Bonner is correct. I’ve read a number of times that Canon will not release a new 5D3 till next summer (1 year from now), because sales of 5D2 are still really strong.

      It’s also been rumored that Canon doesn’t plan on releasing a large chip video camera until next summer (1 year from now).

      Canon moves so slow it’s painful. They are very much a rest-on-your-laurels and milk everyone dry type of company.

      Sony will start taking them to town. I don’t see Panasonic doing as much damage as Sony because Sony’s 1.5x crop is much more of an industry standard than the 2x crop of Panny. It just doesn’t look as filmic when it’s 2x, the DOF difference of the Panny’s is very noticeable to me anyways.

    2. Mookie says:

      Andre’s point is well taken. Philip, why would Canon introduce a competitor replacement that has no equal in regards to the 5D’s aesthetic as a DSLR? Especially if there’s no upside on the stills side…

      1. Philip Bloom says:

        can you clarify? do you mean why would Canon bring out a 5dmk3 or something else? confused!

        1. Mookie says:

          Philip, I think that Michael covers my question here: The incentive isn’t really on the video side for the 5D Mark iii, but what they need to do on the still side anyway, thus, hopefully, they will improve things for video as far as moire, jelly, and bloody down conversion from HDMI when monitoring. Philip, would you concur that the impetus for the Mark iii is really more about stills functionality than video? Michael, as I don’t really use the Mark ii for stills, can you share with us what Nikon has developed for FF stills that Canon needs to catch up on?

    3. Michael says:

      Canon really needs to introduce a Mark III soon: the reason being that there is plenty of competition in the 5D’s prime market – professional photographers. They may still have a unique product from a video perspective, but the full frame Nikons have a lot of advantages when shooting stills.

  59. Losalnos says:

    Cracking article. A wee guide here and there is a huge help, especially for the (very nervous) beginner. I’m an editor, being doing it professionally for about the last 10months although, somewhat unusually, I come from a radio background as an audio editor. Consequently, I’m still learning all about all things camera, lenses and shooting, primarily in order to help me become a better editor. For someone like me the discussions, tips and enthusiasm from your site, and all the forumites on it, has been a great help.

    Enough brown-nosing, slightly off-topic but a bit of advice: I’m saving up to buy a canon, primarily to allow me to experiment with and do fun things to practice editing, probably the 600D/t3i or 60D if I can find the extra cash. As a Brit, our exchange rate is quite good against the dollar. Is there anything I should watch out for if I was to buy from US amazon (thus getting it cheaper) or is a bit of a no-no? I can’t think why, but I think a part of me thinks “it’s too good to be true” so something will come back and bite me in the bum.

  60. son_of_sizemore says:

    Good article…but it highlights the *problem* that a lot of us are having, we have limited funds and just don’t know which camera to pick from some very similar options.
    I just sold my 7D because after 6 months of sitting in its bag, because mostly I didn’t feel safe taking out this massive investment (massive for me) for just any old occasion(I used it last year on a low budget short), I then realised that I could pick up a 600D for almost half the money and still have change to put towards a new Mac…

    All seemed fine until the whispers in my ear(okay, Vimeo) started saying that the GH2 was superior. I have a GH1, and I love it, theres no doubt in my mind that its a superb piece of kit, but the GH1s/GH2s don’t match the Canons for low-light, and my lovely Zeiss 50mm will be cropped to all hell on a Panasonic, BUT Gh2 has great hdmi out to my newly acquired monitor, but, but , BUT….
    And there you find us, all flapping around like beached fish, hoping for an answer, which in all fairness we can’t expect you to deliver. In truth, in order to have the best of both worlds, we need to have the best of BOTH worlds, which more than likely means having 2 cameras, since it seems no single one is all things to all men.
    So, my point being, 600d or GH2?? …kidding!
    I guess like many have said, if you’re shooting tomorrow, go buy a camera that you can afford that won’t bankrupt you, if you’re not, why not sit back and wait until you need one?

    but if you have an opinion, GH2 or.. ;)

  61. aria says:

    I love the look of the Sony S35 cams. I think the AF100 is the one camera that has the right mix of functionality and image. If you had the AF100 and a GH2 or 5D you should be able to do just about anything you’d need for a film project.

    Look out for the Sony NEX-VG20!!! I have a feeling that it’s gonna be right in that sweet spot between the DSLR’s and everything else above that. I get the feeling that the Canon XA10 will get knocked off by the VG20. It’s the main reason i’m holding off on a purchase right now. I wanna see what they do with that camera.

  62. To Sir WIth Love says:

    I have a GH2 and I’m blown away by it – being a newbie there’s loads to learn and the small form factor is great for me right now. And BTW – I have a D700 for stills :-)

  63. Dimitrios says:

    Tell Fred to take a look at some of this recently 50mbps 3GOP hacked GH2 Footage.
    http://vimeo.com/26818589

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Hacking is cool that it is happening but it is not a stable thing on these cameras therefore not a recommended thing by me on professional shoots. It’s great we can do it I just wish it was part of the cameras.

      1. Oliver Lau says:

        Hey Phil
        Would you recommend hacking the 5d mkii on anything serious and do you think that the original bit rate is enough for professional work?

        1. He does not recommend using hacked version for professional shoots, no. See comment above :).

  64. Liam Allen says:

    Hey Phil,

    I am in a state of flux with a twist! My EX1 camera and gear got robbed from my work place last week so now am on the hunt for a new camera and gear. Using your site for info has been essential at the moment and im looking at the new FS100… Anyway Im gona have 9000 dollars to invest from insurance and im looking for a few tips?!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      different type of camera. what sort of work do you do?

  65. Silvester Divas says:

    Spot on Philip.

    As an early adapter of DSLR Video, I invested in a D90 and a lot of Nikon Glasses. I didnt have a lot of money but still tried to make videos with what I got. One day, I sold my D90 and bought a GH2 and Nikon Mount Adapters. That little GH2 has made me stick to it and build a rig around it.

    Its high time Nikon and Canon up the game. But I aint complaining, I’m sticking with my Gh2.

  66. Greg says:

    Very nice article Philip. Hopefully the time of change we are in will never end. We need the innovations and technological advances to keep things moving forward! I agree that Canon is beginning to fall behind in the DSLR race, that being said, Nikon barely made it off the line! I think they got disqualified for so many false starts.

  67. Eike says:

    I’ve been Fred more than I’d like to imagine. Right now I’m just prepping to shoot for the web and its just weird watching these companies. Red says they’ll release their scarlet soon, but given their ability to push things back I’m slowly doubting it. Plus you need so much hardware to go with those. I’m almost convinced on a 7D though I want that full frame that could come with an eventual mark 3. Yet the canon XF video you posted the other day is tempting me with other possibilities out there. I don’t really have the money for glass. Ah heck, I might as well pick up a canon consumer camcorder at this rate. (Nah.)

  68. paul h says:

    sorry to hear about your back. having had back trouble in the past, i would be very happy to share my back wisdom with you. i continue to work on it with great success, do not use drugs (well not for my back) and have never had surgery. take this offline if you want the coaching. regards, paul

  69. NatureBoy says:

    Poor Fred.

    Floating a $50,000 student loan from film school and in need of paying gig,s in todays market place has put Fred in a rather difficult postion.

    There are literally thousands of Freds who want to be a DP. Sad reality is the market will not bear those thousands of Freds!

    Those cookie cutter film schools do not teach nice fellas like Fred a very IRL lesson.

    That being not everyone is going to make it as a paid professional or make the next “Blade Runner”.

    Fred needs to realize our industry is starving for good solid Gaffers,Key Grips,Audio men etc.

    What camera to buy should be the last thing on his mind!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      the thing is Fred wants to be a one man outfit really! He told me over a beer…

  70. bob wass says:

    Well I’m fred in my spare time and I’m 42, hmmm…. so I bought a 550d loaded Magic Lantern on it (gives me the audio monitoring and line out + all the other functionality) I pick up vintage Nikon, Yashica and Zeiss glass on ebay when the bids end at 1.30 in the morning and no-one can be bothered to bid.

    It’s all a bit of a faff and Heath Robinson but its fun and when I’m not trying to figure it all out I even get a chance to shoot some nice video.

    What I’m trying to say is you neatly captured the independent filmmaker scene very well, but let’s not forget filmmaking is as much about ideas and technical superiority

    still swap it all for an F3 though.

    1. bob wass says:

      P.s. hope your back improves

  71. I’m either being a Negative Nancy or a Realistic Rachel… but here is my prediction:

    If Canon loads up the 5D III with 30+ MP… I think video mode will suffer from either:

    A) overheating

    B) even more aliasing/moire and rolling shutter

    Wouldn’t pro photographers prefer 20mp with enhanced ISO, dynamic range, FPS, and AF capabilities rather than an extra 12mp? As you take away MP, you can utilize more processor power towards DR, ISO, FPS and AF.

    I think once you get beyond 20… honestly it just becomes unnecessary. It’s just wasted processing power going to something unnecessary. Even if you’re printing billboards, I don’t think 32 MP is necessary. Photoshop plug-ins can do a damn good job at interpolating 20mp to 30 and beyond if you, for whatever reason, ABSOLUTELY need more than 20.

    However, knowing Canon, I think it’s inevitable that they will play the resolution game, and the result for us will either be worse aliasing/moire, or overheating. I don’t think there’s room in that tiny camera for a 32mp sensor to downscale without distortion without having overheating problems. The reality is that downscaling that much without having moire, rolling shutter, and aliasing in 24p real time does take processing power, and I’m very worried that it will result in overheating problems far worse than the 7D, or that Canon will give us a camera that doesn’t overheat much, but has crappy moire, rolling shutter, and aliasing.

    /resolution-war-rant

  72. Bubble says:

    For those waiting for the next big thing from Canon – don’t be distracted by the 5D MkIII, but instead look forward to the concept camera that they exhibited last year becoming a reality. Press launch due at the end of the yr. Based around a 4K S35 sensor, but the spec I’ve seen only allows for 1920 x 1080 HD recorded internally. Using the same 4:2:2 50mbps codec as the XF300/305. (But perhaps it will allow for higher quality output to external recorder..?) Two versions – EOS mount or PL mount. The body shape has evolved significantly from the concept – with all the buttons you’d expect and better ergonomics, but still has a rounded finish. With the LCD on top (tho I think its removable) and a side hand grip, it has a look reminiscent of the FS100 BUT Looks a lot more sexy than the FS100! I have not seen all the spec, but have seen enough to be excited. If Canon have been smart, this will be the camera that everyone has been waiting for.

  73. Gundars says:

    You are so right!

    It is exactly my story. I bought a canon 60d and i am very happy with it. I didnt bought 5dII because it is already old and has many issues so i am waiting for m5dmkIII. Love the 5dII picture quality though. Meantime 60d is just super. I love it a lot.

    Your story about fred is so very true.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

    Gundars

  74. wtthif says:

    I agree completely, can you tell me one thing though, why the hell cant I control my audio on my 7D? does canon seriously want me to spend 900 on a 60D body, when AGC was their mistake from the get go.

    Canon release an update already!!! is there some kind of petition we can all sign. it drives me crazy how they updated their other cameras and fixed this problem and Im stuck wasting countless hours for no reason.

  75. Andres says:

    Hi everybody. Phil thanks, for share your knowledge. I think that we have to wait until Canon can develop a new DSLR better designed for all of us, people who loves the cinematik look at an affordable price. In the meantime, could someone say me why for the hell, Sony, Panasonic and Canon work in their camcorders with the AVCHD packages that are so difficult to manage in MacOS? You cannot even see the footage in the finder. Someone should make a camcorder that record in plain h264 like the beloved Canons.