December 26, 2016 at 2:03PM

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Are Canon DSLR's Capable

I currently have the 70d and I'm planning on investing in my setup.
I have audio completely sorted to the highest possible standard.
I don't think lighting would be worth while as i mainly shoot travel and events/docs style. Im not completly happy with the video image unless i have a shallow depth of field which is a problem as i love the look of wide lenses. My question is are Canon dslrs capable of producing an amazing image. When I look best dslr films(such as the list on this site) they don't amaze me other than act of valor which looks great. Should i invest in a new camera(gh4) to improve image or a few nice lenses like the 24-105 and 10-18 and yougnach 35 f2/canon 20mm/canon 28mm ( i have the canon 50). Thanks a million.

7 Comments

No camera can produce an amazing image. A camera only captures data. A camera operator captures an amazing image with thought out composition, lighting, framing, etc. What do you define as a great image? good color grading? Is there anything that the camera is physically holding you back with? Battery life, dynamic range, recording bit rates? You need to identify what you need before looking at an upgrade. If the color is your only problem, then you may need to focus more on post-production, rather than a new camera. Nearly any camera can produce an amazing image, once you apply the right techniques and tools. A master with a t2i will still make a better video than an amateur with a RED camera.

December 26, 2016 at 5:52PM

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Craig Douglas
Writer/ Director/ Editor/ Videographer
1645

is that really true, if a master had a t2i with nothing else and an amateur had a red camera with nothing else, I'd bet on the amateur. You can do it the traditional proper way, testing your camera, finding your contrast ratios, calibrating your meter, testing your lights with chip charts, testing your signal to noise ratio per iso to find the exact look you want. Or you can just shoot on an alexa rec 709 with no prep and it will still look pretty good. Do you really expect directors who chant stories and characters are all that matter to be able to tell the difference. Its up to the DP fake it til you make it with a better camera or use a crappy camera with proficient fundamentals. But lets be real, if your asking people online whats the best camera, then its unlikely that you value the fundamentals anyway, the biggest rule in cinematography is don't trust anything that you haven't tested yourself.

December 28, 2016 at 7:31PM

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Indie Guy
859

Honestly, i'd like to see an actual test done myself. In my experience, i've seen people given powerful cameras (Sony FS7, BMCC) and the images don't look nearly as good as some work I've seen shot on 5D's and GH4's. You have to know how to expose an image, shutter, iris, ISO, color profiles, etc. Which is why a DIT is usually required when working with cameras like the Alexa line. Also, directors who chant stories and characters won't tell the difference, no matter what camera you're using... if the image is shot well. But they sure will notice a blown-out image, bad framing and composition, choppy footage, etc. Good technique shines through any camera. Faking it till you make it gets really dangerous, when you get on a big set, but still don't know what the waveform monitor is when the director asks about it.

December 28, 2016 at 9:29PM

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Craig Douglas
Writer/ Director/ Editor/ Videographer
1645

You have to explain more, from my understanding you can shoot 4 stops up or 4 stops down on the Alexa and still restore the image. Why do you need a dit when you can be two stops off and completely fine?
Plus you can literally print the rec 709 lut on camera looks gorgeous. BMC and the Fs7 are low end cameras, your missing my point. Don't underestimate how powerful high end cameras are. No they won't shoot your movie for you, but as long as you not an idiot they will do a lot of heavy lifting. I've seen 3 man crews with an Alexa and natural light produce better images than a red weapon crew with 4 and 4 in G and E and a 3 ton, mostly because the Alexa is a stop brighter overall at the same iso and it can handle 3 times the light in the highlights.
I would say most people are faking it til they make it as DPs, most are just using techniques that they picked up but if you ask them about the physics of light how it really works, they won't be able to tell you much. I've never seen a director ask about a waveform, I've only seen them get pissed when its on and they can't see their whole image.

December 29, 2016 at 12:24PM, Edited December 29, 12:24PM

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Indie Guy
859

At the end of the day, it's more about what pushes your buttons, and less about objective technical qualities, like resolution and dynamic range. And what pushes your buttons might be a cheap camera, or might be an expensive camera, and might well vary from project to project. There was a recent American Cinematographer article about someone who still loves their DVX100 -- just the particular look it has.

Can Canon DSLRs make "amazing" images? Well, if you watch the video from those cameras, and they don't do it for you, there's not much else to say :). Don't buy a Canon DSLR then! If you look at Blackmagic videos, and there's a higher amazed to not amazed factor, then get one of those instead.

So, that's one way to answer your question. Some people love the look of Canon DSLRs. Some people think they're too soft. Some people, like Andrew Reid, think there is a magic in the 5DMk2 that was somehow lost in the Mk3 and in the EOS line of cameras. It's all very subjective.

But there's another obvious way to answer your question, which is that it's more about the user than the gear, and of course a skilled artist can produce an amazing image with any camera.

December 26, 2016 at 5:53PM

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Adrian Tan
Videographer
1041

I know you said in your post that you don't think lighting would be worth while but I would have to disagree. There are many small, portable, reasonably priced, reasonable quality, LED lights that you could have in your bag that will help greatly with getting a cinematic look. Another thing that could help a lot would be a cheap reflector. If you're shooting in daylight very close to your subject even something like wearing a white shirt could make a difference in making an image look better.

Casey Neistat shoots lots of vlogs/videos in a travel/doc style and even he uses lighting in certain scenarios.

Also if you're in love with shallow depth of field a GH4 would be the opposite of what you're looking for as that has a smaller sensor than the 70D. Get a 16-35mm f/2.8 lens or faster for the shallow depth of field, then learn some lighting and color-grading techniques. Those are a few tips.

December 27, 2016 at 6:40AM

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Jeremiah Kuehne
Filmmaker
790

Craig, Adrian, and Jeremiah are all spot-on (and earned my up-votes). I will add this: many people (myself included) evaluate video quality not only based on the moving image, but also the pixels we peep in still frames. If you are expecting to pull stills from video, get ready to spend lots of money--Digital Still Motion Cameras (DSMC) are not cheap. But they are a lot cheaper than they used to be.

Regarding your question about shallow DOF, here's an example of what you can do with a GH4, a f0.95 Voightlander lens, and a Sachtler FSB-8 tripod. If there's a particular DOF look you like from your Canon (or that you cannot get from the 70d, but can get from a 5D), you can use readily available DOF tools on the Internet to determine what aperture you'd need on your 70d, a GH4, or some other imaging platform. What I've come to accept about the GH4 is that if you want shallow DOF, you really need to use a very fast lens (such as f0.95) or a reasonable telephoto lens (a 42.5 at f1.4 is shallow across a wide range and is also shallow at f2.0 when focused in close).

December 27, 2016 at 6:59AM

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