My first little short film with the Nikon D3s

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No, don’t worry. I haven not abandoned my beloved Canon DSLRS, but after shooting the low light test in the Great Zacuto DSLR shoot out the low light of the Nikon D3s blew me away. So I had to get one for those crazy low light shoots that will pop up. Although I have yet to do any.

This little piece was shot as ISO 1250 using the Nikon D3s, 21mm Zeiss ZF.2 F2.8, 50mm F1.4 and 50mm F2 macro Zeiss. Lit using just one LITEPANEL MicroPro (dialed right down)  in the tiniest bathroom known to man in my hotel in Oslo.

It’s a lot darker than it’s spiritual successor, Shaving it Back, the first short I made using the Canon 7D.

How did I find it? Fine to operate. I used the 7″ Marshall monitor to see what I was doing and a ball head manfrotto tripod to get those easy mucked up angles. Shame when you hit record the frame rate of the output from the Nikon to the Marshall drops, but it’s good enough for reference and with the pixel to pixel of the Marshall I was easily able to get my focus.

The codec of the Nikon sucks. Please get rid of Motion JPEG and make it full HD. This is potentially a great video camera. It already is an amazing stills camera. For now, it’s part of my arsenal. Not for the majority of shooting, that’s my Canons. This is for those moments where low light is needed!

Original music by Harold Green.

It was graded using Magic Bullet Looks, which you can get from for 20% off with the code Bloom20 at checkout.

Flickering effect in V2 was with FX FACTORY light kit for FCP

This was made in part for my Oslo workshops to show the students sequences, telling a story through different angles and moments in time.

Bad Hair Day: Nikon D3s from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.


  1. ahhhh. cinematic haircutting. no matter what gear you use, it is always the careful detail of the shot flow that lifts it above the norm. you are a good benchmark to follow.

  2. Looks cool Philip. About to renew the über short look myself. How did you use a Zeiss CP.2 on a Nikon body? Thought it was EF or PL.

  3. The low light sensitivity of the Nikon D3 is amazing. Are you use the marshall monitor with your Canon DLSR’s as well? I’ve recently purchased the Canon T2i and am searching around for a decent monitor. Any advice?

        1. Hi philip great images, I know you prefer the Marshall monitor, and I think you tried the ikan vx7 or vx9 also, did you like them? are they as good as the marshall one?

          thanks a lot your opinion means a lot to us

          cheers From PERU

  4. Very cool (as usual). Great song to use too. Amazing low light, and agree with you on the motion JPEG – but great work-around with this piece!

  5. Genius! Clearly you are headed for stardom! lol! You could add this to your resume as an Actor! 🙂

    Damn fine editing and grading too! Yet another example of your mastery of the visual. Bravo!

  6. Hey Phil,
    interesting blog post, just wondering how you want to use the low light capability on this camera (which is marginally better than the 5D I think out of the camera and can be de-noised in post) when its compressed to 720 motion jpeg?

  7. Hi Phil,
    Does it output full res (720p?) on the HDMI port? If so have you tried it with the nanoflash to by pass the codec?

  8. really cool and moody. that little lite panel packs quite the punch it seems.

    seeing this make me reallllly wish nikon would get in the game for real.

  9. Yeah Motion JPEG is a joke, I remember when I first used a D90 in movie mode. Ugh gross, Phil said it, weak and blocky. Their sensors are unmatched though (for cameras in their range). I don’t know if SONY worked on the sensor in the D3S, but they did on the D3X, that camera ugh… dreamy. Onto the video: I like the grade Phil, real nice. You’ve got good contrast, rather silly subject, but this real dark and dreary grade. Very cool.

    In other news… you managed to knock a few years off with this new haircut Phil…hehe. Looking suave for those ladies in Oslo eh?

  10. dot net eh? You’re going global it seems. What with all your gear, i suppose there’s not much cash left over for things like haircuts.. Thanks for sharing this, I enjoyed the tone- another good choice of music.

  11. Looks awesome, nice one… do hope Nikon step up their movie game this year, perhaps first with a D700 update

    otherwise may have to seriously consider dropping the ball with Nikon and getting on the Canon trip!

  12. Nice Phil, love the gritty feel too it – some of those NIN atmos tracks are excellent.

    Made me realise watching it that I should buy a razor and just shave my own hair – just paid for a really average haircut the other day…

  13. Great piece Philip, very effective. I too think noise would be lessened further with a good codec. On the GH1 for example, noise is much higher in MJPEG mode.

    Would like to see the camera really pushed to it’s limits now… ISO 1250 is the new ISO 100 on the D3S!

  14. I liked it. Very limited palette and strangely engaging. Do you think the H.264 codec is part of the reason Canon DSLRs pick up colour noise?
    I notice your email addresses on your new .net web site have not changed from to .net. Are the ones still the ones to use?

  15. Hi Phillip,
    Gotta love that low-light on the Nikon.
    Question: Ever use “Neat Video” to clean up noisy footage? Just read a couple of things in a blog about it. Wondered if it would be a worthy invest. Thanks.

  16. haha, that was great Philip. beware, that’s how it starts with the hair cuts and before you know it you use shavers…
    I like the Nikon’s ergonomics better for still shots, did you do a jello comparison yet against the 5d?

      1. God damn it, I have been at school til now, missed it!
        And I couldn’t afford the seminar..

        Well, well, we’ll always have your website as a great resource, but I’m still mad I missed this opportunity!

  17. Philip, I don’t know if you can make shaving your hair more exciting and dramatic!! I luv it! pretty much all of it was awsum. but please dont go nikon on us 🙁

  18. Dear Dr^H^HMr Philip,

    Could I get the prores (I take it you transcoded it?) footage with different ISOs from your D3S with noise. I wanna try that how post done de-noising works with it (been puzzling this since I saw the hyper iso done at zacuto) as since I’ve been thinking of acquiring D3S to my gear 🙂

    thanks a lot!

  19. Actually…I noticed lots of noise in the last shot (the hair on the floor) That’s coming from the colour grading?…or is that due to high ISO?

  20. Not enuff blood! Didn’t Scorsese do this in the 1960s?

    Philip makes a good Peter Bernuth!

    Very cool stuff man. What was the motion jpeg workflow? Do you convert using Streamclip? Looks like you had to have shot it at 24p based on what I saw on the Nikon website. Was that limited?

  21. When they say “cut”, they don’t mean your hair, Philip!

    You even make a silly every month’s job look like a scene from the Godfather. Great!


  22. Phil, great darky subject! you should think to develop another story with same style. You just introduced a new Bloom’s style, after “*****’s people” & co. … bravo!

  23. Wow I really love Nikon quality and am still waiting they move their a*s and give us a 1080p-24 with mpg2/AVCHD codec, what else ? (maybe a built in ND filter…)
    Oh I forgot… of course your short film is great 🙂
    I wonder if one day you’ll make one I don’t like 😛

  24. Hi Philip,

    Just an OT question: I know several people have tried to get an update about the new ML release (because it has been pretty quiet for the last two months). But it seems very hard to get in touch with Trammell Hudson or one of his fellow-developers.

    Do you have any news? Do you have access to Trammell? Please help us to get an update on how it stands and what the near future has to offer.

    Thanks a million!

    Regards, Tom

  25. Harold Green sure looks like you ….must have taken alot of time to find him ..Especially convincing at the closeups…Or is just more of the Nikon Magic …low light and cloning of performers..


    1. someone tell Tyler he needs to get over his definition of what is and isn’t a short film. it’s a tied argument that has been done to death. Open your eyes and lose your snobbery. ANYTHING can be a short film even if I film a brick wall for 2 minutes and called “The Brick Wall”. That can be a short film if you CHOSE it to be.

      1. Gotta agree with Phil on this one. There is no “real” formal definition for a short film outside of industry/organizational purposes.

  26. Tyler, get with the programme, bud. There is no clear definition of the maximum length of a short film: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences classify it as 40 minutes while the Internet Movie Database refer to any film lasting less than 45 minutes as a short subject. The short-film form is to the full-length film what the short story is to a full-fledged novel. The North American definition generally refers to films between 20 and 40 minutes whereas the definition refers to much shorter films in Europe, Latin America and Australasia. In New Zealand, for instance, the description can be used to describe any film that has a duration longer than one minute and shorter than 15 minutes…

  27. Hi Phillip,
    I love the lighting on your video. I’m very curious to know if the HDMI Output of the D3S gives a clean uncompressed signal that could be used for recording with an external recorder like the ‘ninja’ or similar? Have you maybe tried something like that?
    Anyway keep up the excellent work and thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experiences with us ordinary humans!!!

      1. Hi PHiLiP Thank you been shared your thought and projects for us …..
        I have ninja first tape and i used for HDMI external recorder
        But it seems not working when I recorded it…
        and I use ssd the monitor won’t show any thing when recorded and play back
        Is there some thing wrong with it ?it’s not better than just recorded in d3s body with avi format

        Any suggestion would like to hear form you TKS

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