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Martin Scorsese Loves Canon, but Proves You Should Choose the Right Camera for the Job

12.18.12 @ 6:05AM Tags : , , , ,

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.



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Description image 26 COMMENTS

  • I think canon is swagg canon all the way! turn up$$$

    Canon be droppin dem real cam shxtt

  • Canon cameras are good – no doubt about it – their pricing is completely f**ked though.

  • Ohh, come on. Few month back he was beaching that he is sort of “anti digital”, and that the 35mm is the best. Now he is doing commercials for Canon. Cash slut.

  • Some young guy on 12.18.12 @ 9:15AM

    I worked on Wolf of Wall St. and they’re lying. The rest of the movie is being shot on Alexa’s.

  • DIYFilmSchool on 12.18.12 @ 11:00AM

    Okay, so Scorsese likes these models; so? Different strokes for different folks. If “Some young guy” is right, I highly suspect Scorsese’s motives and testimony. That said, it doesn’t necessarily nullify any of the technical achievements of this camera, but if he’s using Alexas to shoot “Wolf of Wall Street”, his endorsement is purely a marketing vehicle.

  • This marketing arrangement doesn’t seem to be working out very well. Canon pay Scorsese to say how great Canon cameras are. Scorsese takes the money and says Canon cameras are great. He then goes off and shoots on an Alexa. Thus making both himself and Canon look rather foolish.

  • Kiefer Sutherland, at least ‘back in the 24 days’ preferred bigger cameras. He thinks he gives a better perfomance with a big camera that he can take seriously according to Rodney Charters

  • Scorcese can afford to have the best. Lower budget filmmakers may see things differently.

  • A camera like the BMC doesn’t need Spielberg, or whatever to endorse it….because people can afford the damn thing. Simple as that.

  • Looking sharp Leo.

  • Based on various articles, forums, reviews, etc. It seems like on paper the C300 isn’t as impressive spec-wise as it’s competitors, but for folks who’ve actually used it, they love that camera to bits. If you already own EF glass, like the image their DSLRs delivers, then why not pay the premium costs if its in your price range (it’s most certainly not in mine, God no)? I don’t see the harm of some folks praising or being loyal to Canon.

    • Yeah, I know some DPs in Boston who love the C300 and shoot stunning footage with it. I’m not supporting Canon over other companies by saying that–simply agreeing with jorden that it’s already a very popular camera.

      • The C300 is a great camera, and absolutely squeezes an amazing image into a pedestrian 8bit codec, but the price is just silly. I used it for some interviews and it was of course amazing, with fantastic build quality, and ergonomics, but if I was investing my own money, I would not look twice at Canon. Sony doesn’t insult its users by banking on brand recognition, and are constantly upping the ante with amazing spec sheets for half the price of Canon’s comparative offerings. For discerning indie filmmakers, the FS700, BMCC and GH3 offer the most bang for the buck in the sub $10k range.

  • If I had Scorcese’s budget, I would also agree with him. In fact make sure you use a helicopter whenever it makes sense, to get the right shot.

  • There seems to be a WHOLE LOT of editing in that Scorcese bit. Like it was edited to get the exact content that they needed. It didn’t seem like Marty was really talking much about the Canon, but he mentioned it in passing and the film was cut and pasted to make it seem like glowing praise.

    I’m not even a filmmaker and I picked up on the obviousness of the editing.