Martin Scorsese Loves Canon, but Proves You Should Choose the Right Camera for the Job
As digital cameras get better and better, it’s becoming less about specs and a lot more about what specific cameras can do for you in certain situations. For example, you may need a small camera for a particular shoot, and other times, that small camera might not be good enough or might not give you acceptable image fidelity if the project requires something more heavy-duty. Martin Scorsese, whose narrative feature films have been shot on celluloid his whole career up until Hugo, has been championing digital cameras in partnership with Canon. He also proves another point we’ve talked about before: not every camera is right for every situation — even those from Canon.
While this video is not new, it seems even more relevant now:
Here is a little behind the scenes on his newest film, The Wolf of Wall Street, shooting primarily on 35mm (and partially on the Canon C500):
Scorsese is currently a cheerleader for the company right now, but The Wolf of Wall Street, the first movie that could have been shot fully on Canon, is only partially shooting on their cameras (at least according to IMDb and BTS footage). The C500 was used for aerial scenes, probably because of the low-light performance, and the rest is being shot on traditional 35mm film (though they are shooting anamorphic, so that could also have something to do with it). There was some talk about possibly using Alexa on the shoot, so it’s unclear if the C500 has taken the place for those specific shots. Mr. Scorsese is no stranger to digital, having shot on the Arri Alexa in 3D for Hugo, but a conscious decision was made by him and his DP Rodrigo Prieto to choose the formats that most suited the project. Many factors go into the camera choice at that level, but when cost is rarely a deciding factor on multi-million dollar movies, even getting a bunch of free ones probably wouldn’t do much to persuade a production like this (though a serious monetary investment might).
Scorsese could certainly shoot more in the future on Canon — or even an entire movie at some point — but the biggest takeaway for me is that he’s going to choose the absolute best camera possible for the situation and for the particular story he’s trying to tell. On smaller budget projects we don’t always have this choice — and a free or discounted camera can definitely make a difference — but it is still important to try to take a look at all of the options available and choose the one that makes the most sense when you consider all of the factors that will affect the production and post-production.
I might seem hard on Canon at times, but I still use their cameras on productions consistently, and I certainly wouldn’t object if I thought it was the right camera for a particular job. The C500 is the first large sensor Canon camera to give maximum image fidelity, so it makes sense that it is the first camera from the company that Scorsese is actually using for one of his films. He may very well shoot an entire movie with available light on Canon at some point in the future, but for now, he is choosing his cameras specifically because they are right for the story or the shooting scenario.
The comment about the actor appreciating the size of the camera is definitely an interesting one. I’ve heard both sides of this before, where some actors actually like a big camera because it forces them to shift into another gear — and other times I’ve heard actors talk about exactly what Scorcese does in the video above, that a small camera like a DSLR can actually help them forget they are even on a set. I know for documentary situations this makes a huge difference, and people tend to be less nervous the smaller your gear package.
These are all things to keep in mind as the camera wars heat up over the next few months — with Sony and Blackmagic delivering new cameras — especially as you may decide to throw down some serious cash on a camera body.
What do you think about Scorsese’s feelings on camera choice? How about the camera affecting the performance, has this ever factored into your decision when choosing a specific model? Let us know what you think below.