July 27, 2015

Here's Why You Should Think Twice Before Buying That Fancy New Camera

Simon Cade - Think Twice Before Buying a New Camera
In today's post, Rob's "War on Gear" continues.

All right fine, I'm not really at war with gear. It is, after all, an essential part of the filmmaking process. Without a camera, microphone, and a way to edit it all together, there would be no conceivable way to make live action films. Simple as that.

However, in the past few years, our relationship with gear has become counterproductive, and that's putting it mildly. In essence, we find ourselves in a weird psychologically-crippling loop in which the gear we have is not good enough to produce anything meaningful, and the gear we're about to have will make us whole and put our creative woes to rest. But it never does. And the cycle continues.

So, with that in mind, here's Simon Cade to explain why he's been using a Canon T3i for the past few years, and why he absolutely won't be upgrading to a new camera any time in the near future:

In his blog post, he points out that plenty of other great videos has been shot on DSLRs. For example, Kendy Ty shoots mostly with a T2i, and has produced some impressive-looking work:

Simon says something in this video that really gives me pause: "I don't want the most exciting part of my week to be taking a product out of its box." That hits at the core of something that I, and probably countless other people, have struggled with constantly, and in far more aspects of life than just filmmaking.

The truth is that we lust after new gear because we like the way it makes us feel. It feels good to imagine ourselves creating great work. And more than that, it feels good to imagine that whatever self-imposed psychological barrier that is preventing us from creating work has been overcome through the simple act of purchasing something new. The only problem is that once new gear comes out of the box, you quickly realize that it's not the panacea you were hoping for. It, like the camera you already own, is still just one very small piece of the much larger puzzle which is filmmaking.

And I think that's the problem. The process of making a film can be incredibly overwhelming, especially with small crews and tiny budgets. So, when it comes time to actually make something, it's easy to make excuses like, "Oh I should wait until I have more professional gear." It's a defense mechanism against having to immerse ourselves in a process that is not only daunting and tedious, but which could very well turn out to be a waste of time if the product doesn't turn out like we imagine it in our heads.

From my experience, projects never turn out exactly as you hope they will. There are always obstacles — some technical, some monetary, and some psychological — that get in the way. The only answer is that you have to love the process of making a film. If you can learn to love the process (and it is something that you have to learn), it doesn't matter what gear you have because you're immersing yourself in something that is inherently enjoyable. When you love the process, gear becomes a side note. It still matters, but it's been taken off of the pedestal, and it becomes just another piece of the filmmaking puzzle. 

That, my friends, is how we defeat Gear Acquisition Syndrome once and for all.      

Your Comment

75 Comments

I viscously attacked being gear minded for a long time. As with most things, I've come around to a moderate opinion. If you can afford to ponder about the gear that will be used, then it's important. If you can't afford to ponder about the gear, it's not important. I think the most ridiculously hilarious concept ever are these un boxing videos. Not only is opening a new box the high lite of people's week, but they make videos about it!

July 27, 2015 at 3:56PM

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Adam Wright
Filmmaker
106

Great video. Definitely some very valid points about story etc.

However, the fact is, we do actually need a certain amount of decent equipment. He clearly has good lighting and sound gear. Anyway, part of what I love about film making these days, is all the fantastic gear you can get at a relatively low price.

I think it's perfectly fine to invest in a good camera, as long as you keep your focus on all the other countless aspects of film making.

July 27, 2015 at 4:02PM

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While I totally agree there is sometimes concerns when shooting with dslrs for more than ten minutes or pulling an effects plate, even with great tools like magic lantern I'm hit the wall with my dslr. That also being said- I can't wait for blackmagic to ship so I use what I can. Gear will always be better tomorrow, but if all you have is a hammer, then every problem has to be a nail.

July 27, 2015 at 4:07PM

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Stanislaw Luberda
Technical trainer/DP
77

If you've reached the limit of productivity that your gear can give you then get different gear. If it's actively stopping you doing something then get different gear. But don't think for one second that owning gear is the same as mastering it. It might inspire you to do something different but you're not buying a get out of jail free card.

July 27, 2015 at 4:13PM

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Matt Robinson
Film Educator & Cinematographer
228

Agreed. I know a guy that always says, if I had "that" camera I would be able to make really great work... As with accidents... sometimes it's the guy driving the car, not the car itself that is at fault........

July 29, 2015 at 12:42PM, Edited July 29, 12:43PM

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As I look across the room at my my T3i sitting next to my a7s...

July 27, 2015 at 4:14PM

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Austin Crow
Filmmaker/Photographer
165

I have a T2i next to my a7s so I don't feel any guilt :P

July 28, 2015 at 3:19AM

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Yes you can make an entire Oscar worthy film entirely on an iPhone. But pro gear also helps you to achieve things easier. Like better codec or log curve. Heck Danny Boyle shot "28 Days Later" with a Canon DVcam and it looked awesome!

July 27, 2015 at 4:22PM

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Isaac Alonzo
Photographer / Cinematographer
305

shot on DVcam but a couple of million spent on uprez and post

July 27, 2015 at 4:53PM

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Harold
86

We're talking about gear here not post production.

July 27, 2015 at 9:13PM

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Isaac Alonzo
Photographer / Cinematographer
305

Unfortunately post is part of the budget and unavoidable part of production.

Love your post, though.

July 28, 2015 at 7:56AM

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Srdjan Bozinovic
Director of Photography, Head Cameraman
234

Double post, sorry.

July 28, 2015 at 7:56AM, Edited July 28, 7:57AM

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Srdjan Bozinovic
Director of Photography, Head Cameraman
234

And it still looked terrible.

July 30, 2015 at 9:18PM

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if your focus is on gucci gear, then your mind is not on telling the story with creativity and flare!

Angles, Dialogue, Storyline with a start, middle and end are the vital components, how you capture it can often dictate how you will present the final story, but the story should still be clear in the final product.

Getting hung up on top quality gear and aesthetics will only lead to breakdown in progress and functionality of a team, ultimately, you have to compromise 95% of the time anyway, so don't worry about what others think, make your film and celebrate your creativity, not the depth of your pockets to buy gucci hardware! Your viewers are not interested in what camera or mic you used to make your film... trust me!

July 27, 2015 at 4:33PM

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Seán Ó Cearrúlláin
Project Manager / Author
188

I like this post, I think however that buying a new camera is not a sin. Sometimes you buy it because the old camera simply can't do a certain type of recording (for example low light). Camera's are only tools to use in order to achieve a certain result. In the end, when the final movie hits the big screen, no one will care anyway how you shot the film, how expensive your gear was or which lens or hdmi recorder you used. It's the story and atmosphere that counts. That does not mean you can't buy better gear because it always will be important to get the shot well done. And it has never been the other way (it was the same in the time with shooting with celluloid film).

July 27, 2015 at 4:52PM

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Lutte Kikker
Photographer
247

This video makes a lot of valid points, but like everything in life that makes life enjoyable, you must have "balance".

Sure I could record audio on my old Zoom H4 recorder ( this was the original H4 and NOT the newer H4n ) and live with it's wonderful distorted sound and the annoying mystery "beep" that would show up in your recordings all by itself to ruin any chance of creating audio ambiance in your scene.

Sure I could keep filming with my old Sony TRV-38 camera that captured a wonderful low resolution standard definition image on to Mini-DV tapes, and had a low-light threshold of an over-lit shopping mall.

Sure I could keep using my old Velbon photo tripod that would slowly sag despite using super-human strength to try and lock-off the camera head.

...But as some point you have to ask yourself : If I'm going to spend a significant portion of my life creating films, maybe it's worth buying gear that I don't have to fight with, gear that produces a finished product that I'm not embarrassed to put my name on.

When viewing 1080 HD films, I can almost always spot the films shot with Canon (n)Ti cameras because they have poor image resolution. Even Simon Cade's video that sparked this article looks like Canon "soft" video when viewed at 1080 HD against almost ANY other camera. The Blackmagic, Nikon, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony low-end cameras all produce a more detailed image than the Canon (n)Ti cameras do, and some of them do NOT cost any more than the Canon does. ( i.e. Nikon, Panasonic, or Sony )

And lastly, considering that it is the camera sensor that is going to record your amazing film and allow you to share it with the world, don't you think you should invest a little more time in researching your camera more than any other piece of gear you own, because this camera sensor is going to be your window to the world, and how the world will see your work.

July 27, 2015 at 4:59PM, Edited July 27, 5:08PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32289

I'm tired of fighting gear in low light situations. so tired.

July 27, 2015 at 6:03PM

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kevin barton
editor and photographer
83

I heard you. Same here.
I am not buying new gears because I want them. I buy them because I need them to better tell stories.

July 28, 2015 at 11:15AM

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Menelikk
Computer Scientist/Film Director
236

I don't necessarily agree with the "I don't need new gear" mantra, but one thing I love about it is getting to know your camera. If you spend 2-3 yrs with it you'll be able to master it and that counts for alot.

July 27, 2015 at 5:05PM

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2-3 years sure seems like a very long time to "master" a camera.

Anyway, it's not about how long you've owned it: it's more about how often you use it.

July 30, 2015 at 9:21PM

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Word!

July 27, 2015 at 5:07PM

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One word: Secondhand Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.

July 27, 2015 at 5:46PM

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good points. I'm still using a T3i as well. But man, how does Kendy Ty get THAT kind of image from a t2i? It looks freaking amazing.

July 27, 2015 at 5:47PM, Edited July 27, 5:48PM

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Mike Kozlenko
Filmmaker
182

His stuff looks great right? Also that Sigma 30mm 1.4 produces some beautiful images.

July 27, 2015 at 8:10PM

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Jeremy Patterson
Director of Photography
147

But... but, Robert 16K.

July 27, 2015 at 5:51PM

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Edgar More
All
1163

or i could buy a a7s and actually film bands in austin that are playing in venues with the worst lighting ever known to man, or no lighting at all just light from a bar window. (I've rented and borrowed and saw the difference) Not having to deal with nasty gross iso noise like at 3200 or worse 6400 like on my canon 60d is amazing. He is right though, its how you use it and what you use it on. we can do a lot with just an iPhone to a old mini dv camera to whatever is in your bag right now. People do need to work more on telling a story than on what they are using. both are just as important. But if he got hired to go film a band at some venue with like 4 lights that are red and blue and dimly lit and pulls it off with a t2i. then i really don't know what I'm doing anymore.

July 27, 2015 at 6:00PM

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kevin barton
editor and photographer
83

Maybe the conversation should be around the right gear that is going to last you years and has serious ROI. Having worked at a production company for 10 years, we look at purchases that have lasting value. Our most recent purchase where some Kino Flo LED Celeb 200's. Amazing lights with many uses. They can last 5-10 years and be relevant. Throwing money at every new camera is sure fire way to lose money fast. We have a few work horse cameras that get upgrade every 2-3 years. Need a speciality camera for a shoot, rent it! 95% of clients don't care about the camera you are using.

You should also factor in the massive amount of marketing and advertising these companies tailor to the "indie market". This gear obsessive gear syndrome is similar to why people are always buy the new iPhone. You're programmed to think it's better and you must have it to complete your life. The camera companies tap into the same part of your brain to take your cash and leave your wanting more.

July 27, 2015 at 6:11PM

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Lauchlan Ough
C.S.C Associate Member
21

Eh, personally I love gear. It's fun to research it and try it out and yeah, open the box the first time. It's a complimentary things to film making, it doesn't take away from it. I've made money renting gear out with me and to be frank it has inspired me at times to shoot the same kind of job I've done many times before, in a different way. I'm not ashamed of being into gear. Of course you have to choose carefully.

July 27, 2015 at 6:16PM

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I have a new ultra wide lens on the way and I'm quite sure that opening the box and shooting my kids will be the high point of my week. I love getting new gear. Just not to the point where it hinders me creatively or has me wasting time making unboxing videos or "upgrading" every time a new camera comes out.

July 27, 2015 at 6:37PM, Edited July 27, 6:38PM

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Don Way
Writer/Director of Photography
914

I'm not a fan of gear obsession either, and I agree that you should push your current gear to the max before upgrading; learning how to get the best results with what you currently have is invaluable.

But I find it weird that he has "no interest in upgrading to a better camera." It would be different if he said, "I have no interest in upgrading to a better camera YET."

Cinematography is our art-form, and our tools should not inhibit what we want to create. The Canon DSLR's can produce lovely images, unless you're trying to capture a wide landscape shot with lots of grass & tree detail.

Moire & aliasing isn't just distracting, it's changing your picture without your approval. A painter would not choose paints that change color on them once they dry. Why would we want a camera that changes the image we're capturing?

All those other things like actors, script, lighting, music etc. are obviously much more important than your camera choice. BUT, you'll eventually come to the point where your camera is your weakest link.

July 27, 2015 at 8:05PM

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Sean Kenney
Event Cinematographer
212

It's no good to obsess over gear.. but hey, who doesn't like spending nights perusing through B&H's website :)

July 27, 2015 at 8:11PM

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Reece Robinson
DoP, Director, Writer, Editor
74

Yeah but I can buy a ton of gear and write it off as Section 179 OR give my hard earned money to uncle sam for nothing. I'll keep buying a ton of gear, thanks.

July 27, 2015 at 8:46PM

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Marlon Torres
Director of Photography
74

This topic is only complicated if you just have perspective from one side.

I am annoyed by the people that have only ever used professional gear. Turning up their noses at you and your cheap equipment.

I'm annoyed by the people that can only afford cheap gear and criticize those that use better stuff than them. Gear doesn't matter, I use my T3i by CHOICE because the camera doesn't matter...

Gear quality is dependent on budget. Nothing more. When I was shooting $500 weddings and local ads, my T2i was more than enough.

When I got my first call for a bigger project and I told them I would be using a T2i, you know what I heard on the other end? Laughter.

Gear doesn't matter, talking about it gives it relevancy. If you really didn't care about the camera you wouldn't make a video saying that it doesn't matter. There's an argument to be made for both sides.

I have been on both sides of the equation and can say with confidence that one side is based in insecurity (the pros that scoff at cheap gear) and the other is based in jealousy (the beginners that scoff at pros/pro gear).

Stop talking about stopping the gear talk because you're making gear matter by talking about it.

It would be extremely pompous for someone to do a video saying how you should only use the most expensive gear because anything lower is not up to par. The same goes for people that upload videos saying more expensive gear isn't necessary. It shows a lack of awareness and perspective. More expensive gear is necessary for more expensive jobs because the people that write the checks say so.

BTW, didn't watch the video(and therefore my comments aren't on the video or the guy that made it). Just talking about this subject in general.

July 27, 2015 at 8:55PM, Edited July 27, 9:08PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2030

Buy lights and audio gear. Rent your cameras.

July 27, 2015 at 8:58PM

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Joshua Bowen
Editor
478

That's like saying "buy your house but rent your car". Or "buy your car but rent your house".

Renting a professional camera set up for a month will cost you more than ten grand!

Buy used and then sell. Rinse. Repeat. It never makes financial sense to rent if you can buy. If you CAN'T buy...it makes more sense to rent. Buying if you're not ready to buy might be the worst of all three options :)

July 27, 2015 at 9:14PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2030

Why not rent for a particular job instead for a month.

July 28, 2015 at 7:45AM

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Srdjan Bozinovic
Director of Photography, Head Cameraman
234

Personally I like to master my the gear or camera I am working with. This means that I need to spend more time with it. Renting is not an option for me unless I am hiring with it a camera operator who knows already the camera.

July 28, 2015 at 11:34AM

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Menelikk
Computer Scientist/Film Director
236

If the budget allows, sure. I would never spend any of my own money to rent a camera. Not all projects/budgets are created equal and there's a lot of work to be had as an owner/op that can bring along their own gear.

All depends on the type of work you do though. If you're always getting hired on month long shoots where they have budget for camera rentals OBVIOUSLY you wouldn't buy. I don't think that's the scenario we are discussing here though. He said "buy lights/audio"...if you're always on shoots with rental budgets you wouldn't buy that stuff either.

July 28, 2015 at 12:02PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2030

If you are working on something for a straight month, you should be able to afford th rental. And your math is severely off. A C100 Mk1 with a set of lenses would be about 2500 for a month of rental. That's the bare minimum. If you are working on client shoots, you should be able to build the rental cost into it.

You're also ignoring the danger in constantly buying used gear, wear and tear, and a host of other issues. There's a reason people rent. It might have made sense to buy in the F900 days when we were taking out mortgage-like loans, but charging healthy rental prices for our equipment packages.

If you buy a camera, it will be outdated within the year. Two years ago a C300 was what, 15 grand? Now you'd be lucky to sell one for 4-5k used. The mentality of "It never makes financial sense to rent if you can buy." is so commonplace now, and so wrong. Spend that money you would be using on the camera on support equipment. You are going to need to own that stuff more.

July 28, 2015 at 9:09AM

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Joshua Bowen
Editor
478

All of this depends on the price range and how much you work obviously. My prices are for RED and Arri. It also depends on what you're shooting. If you're constantly booked with gigs that have camera rentals built in...obviously you wouldn't buy. You mentioned buying lights though. If you were on a jobs with rental budgets I wouldn't buy those either.

We're both talking about owner-ops I believe. Makes sense for that crowd to buy and not rent.

July 28, 2015 at 10:41AM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2030

You need to also assign a value to the time you got from the camera, the work you did, and subtract rental costs. Then, even with a camera that lost value like the C300, you would be ahead.

Two years using a C300 (instead of renting) and then selling for 4-5k is a $10,000 loss.

You'd get there in rental fees in 4 months.

Again, all of it hinges on how much you shoot and what you're shooting. Most of the time...renting doesn't line up until someone else is covering it. Then..yeah, obviously you rent.

This wasn't the topic you brought to the table though...you said buy lights and audio but not camera. We are talking about owner/ops and it rarely makes sense to rent.

July 28, 2015 at 12:07PM, Edited July 28, 12:09PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2030

But lights are not tricky. The same theory pretty much applies to all types of lights no matter the brand. If you only rent your cameras, odds are you're not going to be very familiar with the menus and you'll look stupid on set and cost other people's time and money and won't get hired back. Don't go crazy with buying cameras, but it's good to own your main camera so that you can use it without even thinking.

July 28, 2015 at 12:05AM

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Jeremiah Kuehne
Filmmaker
724

If you can afford a camera that you're going to be working with on a set shoot, with a full crew, then you could just as easily rent. It's insane to purchase an F5, or a RED, or even a C300 just to look at the menus.

July 28, 2015 at 9:11AM

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Joshua Bowen
Editor
478

That'll do Simon, that'll do.

July 27, 2015 at 9:41PM

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Dean Butler
Writer Director Shooter Editor
759

We have a lot of people saying a lot of things in the "community" those few mentally challenged people that actually post to cinetography or videography forums on the internet, where most either don't turn up much or don't post much. Most don't have much to say with all the grunting and ahhing, and say things that are out of whack.

In light of this, I can say I have seen somebody protest that standard definition was fine for cinema use and you cant see 4k, which I ussually think, how blind are you, in response. The reality is that even though 8k is closer to the limits of human vision, most people will struggle to see past 4k, then 2k etc, as they get older, and 4k is a happy medium. So a good modern hdr, high bit depth, fast framerate, low niose, sensitive 4k camera with visually lossless codec, a good lens set, audio and over equipment is all you need until holographic cameras come in. You could walk around the next ten years making great pictures unless you wanted to use a holographic camera. So the Red Dragon and just getting there BM models (or future model), fits the bill today. If you weren't doing cinema or anything special such a performing camera in fullhd will do, even a rough and ready 720p camera of this sort. If you want premium quality for your 100m film, get an 8k camera in a holographic form. So the equipment upgrade battles are reducing. These figures are based on objective estimates of future viewing screens that are moving to a wide feild of view. If you want 360 suround though, times the resolution by around 6 on the horizontal axis and adjust vertical resolution to suite (holographic resolutions are also many times more). So equipment upgrades have a way to go, if you have the use for them, but for the rest of us, we will be fine more or less.

July 27, 2015 at 11:35PM

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Wayne M
Director of a Life
216

https://i.imgflip.com/orlhc.jpg

Ironic that once you begin making money (you know, the stuff you use to scratch that equipment acquisition itch) you find yourself in a bracket demanding higher quality gear (you know, the equipment you can't afford). Then there's a magical number scribbled on the budget sheet for the rental of said equipment and that camera you spent your first decent check on is... still perfectly acceptable to shoot on, apparently.

Dangerous addiction, indeed.

July 27, 2015 at 11:42PM, Edited July 27, 11:42PM

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Skipped most of the comments so I'm sorry if I'm repeating anyone but yes gear ought not matter to the screenwriter but it should matter to the DP. If your job is telling the story using gear creatively, you should know it and be excited for all the technological leaps and bounds. Tons of legendary directors have been obsessed with gear. It comes with the territory of a somewhat creative, somewhat technical industry.

July 27, 2015 at 11:54PM

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Brooks Reynolds
Director/DOP
277

Well said dude. Sometimes I wish I could spend 100% of my time in "creative mode" but that is close to impossible with filmmaking. Music and writing are great creative outlets when I don't want the hassle of thinking like a tech. Unfortunately gear, tech, and filmmaking are a package deal.

July 28, 2015 at 1:55AM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2030

Isn't it kind of silly to post this shortly after you just posted about a new camera? From what I have seen a larger portion of what is posted on this site is about "new gear". Just saying.

July 28, 2015 at 2:07AM

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That Kendy Ty showreel looked great. You know what would make it look better? Global shutter and 4k. At a certain point it's El Mariachi syndrome, low budget for the sake of low budget.

July 28, 2015 at 2:16AM

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Howard Roll
Boss
209

Hi.

Like the flash glitch of Matt Damon DeVault.

Ummm, can you write less emotional? The rest of the page is perfect.

And thanks for posting again. You can always count on you people to do the SAME exact thing.

Thanks no film school.

July 28, 2015 at 2:43AM

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This is/has become one of the most recurring disputes. As with most things truth is somewhere in between.

Buying new gear just for the sake of the feel you have when opening the box or because of the 1k plus of the resolution, or a stop or two of the dynamic range is just silly. But, only the most expensive cameras tend to have everything that you would need if you shoot different things for different production companies.

If you shoot News or similar, for example, you would need broadcast camera. Now, per EBU standards it has to shoot (broadcast material has to be in) 10 bits/4:2:2/50mbps (altough there are different tiers). If you shoot documentary (or a music clip for that matter), you will have a bit broader choice (depending of the style chosen and postproduction available), if you shoot drama of some kind you'll probably need (because of the post that will be most certainly done) a camera that enables the editor/colorist the widest latitude in his/her work (it would be 35mm chip, widest dynamic range, RAW capture... or a camera that at least allows output of similar signal - so you could attach external recorder).

And I don't even touch the subject of the in camera sound recording, connectors, SDI, monitoring, rigging, maybe some live streaming... Let us not forget the availability and type of external accessories either.

Then comes the light (the price of rental and the electricians that follow). The choice of the camera dictates the choice of the lighting (especially if you don't have much latitude in a artistic choice of the look that has to be achieved, which is almost always the situation when you're not the producer/director/dp/sound engeneer all in one).

I'm sorry for the loooong post, but I wanted to partially bring forward the reasoning and the problematics in planing.

And now for the point of all this writing... You can shoot beautiful things on any camera, but sometimes there are factors that are very limiting or demanding. If you're looking for the most versatile camera you'll never stop (even ALEXA has bad audio - it was designed for particular job).

On the other hand, if you don't encounter such demands (or budget/time restrictions) every relatively newer camera model can do great job.

July 28, 2015 at 7:28AM, Edited July 28, 7:32AM

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Srdjan Bozinovic
Director of Photography, Head Cameraman
234

Somebody virtually allways says that Srdjan. But if you had a one bit (literally black on white) camera, how many beautiful things would you want to film on it. Ironically there is such a sensor technology out there that aims to emulate the grain of film but on a much smaller size that I am eyeing for holographic filming uses. However, read my previous post, there are beautiful cameras out there this year to film most things now and for years to come, and beautiful sound recorders and beautiful lens, the war is almost over until we get into holographic vision and sound (which we don't structly need at the moment). Once these cameras get to 20+ propper stops latitude in regular shooting and 20 bits plus, anything more is a speciality feature, but a Dragon etc will do most of the time already. Gear war is comming to a temporary lull on the professional side, except for this performance getting cheaper.

July 28, 2015 at 9:51AM, Edited July 28, 9:51AM

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Wayne M
Director of a Life
216

You're right, but maybe I haven't expressed myself properly (english is not my native language).

I didn't speak about the sensors, per se. My point was more on the subject of cameras as whole. For news, you'd need servo zoom lenses, xlr inputs with 48v phantom, for drama large sensor with great dynamic latitude and good primes, etc.

There still isn't one camera that can fulfill all my demands... that's why I rent depending on the job and budget. If I had enough money maybe I'd buy a new camera each time some of my needs are met, just to make my life that easier.

And there lies the gray area in chasing or not the newest gear.

July 28, 2015 at 11:59AM

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Srdjan Bozinovic
Director of Photography, Head Cameraman
234

Your English is fine Srdjan. I'm not talking about different gear for diffetent jobs, just that gear is getting so good you dont need to update it till something more substantial becomes normal, like hologrsphoc filming and auto 3D viewing (no glasses). Sure you need a big camera and a few smaller ones for different jobs, with some simple modes of image workflow, but if they perform well enough you dont need to upgrade them. For instance, dragon or ursa mini 4.6k might fullfill your big camera needs, but as for smaller hanhelds and pov, they have a little way to go to deliver a great 4kp50/60 package, even if Sony could deliver a quality 3rd party oem sensor for them today. However the options for the top end is topping out for 4k.

July 28, 2015 at 11:21PM

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Wayne M
Director of a Life
216

Its true that you not always need the newest Gear. But i think the basic Gear to make a Film sometimes makes out how the Film turns out. "There are always obstacles — some technical, some monetary, and some psychological — that get in the way." Oh yes i struggled a lot with having not that gear i need to make the Film i want too. But on the end it turns out ok, but in the hope the next Film will be better.
I think that makes us a bit better. Learn from mistakes and throwbacks and make the next Films better. :)

July 28, 2015 at 8:28AM

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Cathy Danneberg
Filmmaker, Editor, Designer, VFX
654

I totally agree with Simon and Robert`s comments here, the war on gear has its roots in a psychological barrier that is preventing us from creating the films we would love to do, the process to learn to do a good film is really hard and slow, and a T3i is more than enough for the first years, in reality, any camera available is more than enough, master your gear takes time and patience, and people get crazy buying a new camera every year....this is totally psychological, not practical.
Yes, a 4K camera gives you the flexibility to re-frame your shot, lovely, but if your plan is to get better, then learning to shot the right frame every time is a better goal...

July 28, 2015 at 9:19AM

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Great post! I'm with Kendy on this. Most of my reel is shot on my 4+ year old 7d.

https://vimeo.com/120633441

You simply can't shoot in most of Africa without a DSLR. I bought an Ursa last year, but I'll be shooting with my 7d again in Congo this winter.

July 28, 2015 at 10:15AM

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Aaron Ward
Freelance Video Professional
81

If I need a piece of gear, I try to make it myself. If I can't make, maybe I don't need it.

July 28, 2015 at 11:51AM, Edited July 28, 11:51AM

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Edwin Rea
Music Composition, Screen Writing, Novelist
91

As some one who makes money with their gear as my primary income… "I'll buy any piece of gear a client is willing to pay for" : Steve Kahn. read that about 20 times. gear has to have fast ROI, especially cameras. lights and audio work for years and top end stuff does hold some value for gear flip / upgrades.

that said, when better gear makes your life faster / easier / simpler and you can also generate more money from it, or not loose money because you don't have it. buy it. The low light abilities of canon C series has totally changed the amount of gear I take out on shoots, and the light levels I work at. I'd never go back to anything less.

t3i ? it doesn't have native ISO's and the images it makes are very noisy. I dumped mine only a few months after getting it when the 60D started shipping and never looked back. first job I shot in t3i I had to do noise reduction on several shots to make them usable at ISO "400". it was a painful camera to work with and the 60D was a no brainer at the time. Likewise I've crept my way up into C series cameras now… and I've sold my 60D's because the C series are just so much better to work with. real audio, real hand grip, real usable video shooting form factor, especially when shooting in very tight spaces like aircraft. great low light performance… and acceptance as meeting "broadcast specs" of all the networks.

so there are lots of times when gear upgrades DO make a big difference in how much easier they are to work with, and in the money they can make you… or loose you if you don't think it out carefully.

July 28, 2015 at 2:56PM, Edited July 28, 2:56PM

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Steve Oakley
DP • Audio Mixer • Colorist • VFX Artist
462

This is fantastic perspective! Especially from a young man who has every reason to fall into the trap of tech. The tech evolutions that have happened throughout the past decade are remarkable; we, as filmmakers, should feel fortunate to live in this time. But the rising obsession with gear has put our artists at risk of joining an elitist, "latest-and-greatest" thought process. If we obsess over the best-of-the-best, we risk reverting back to the closed-door industry of yesterday. Remember when we were young and aspiring filmmakers? All we wanted was the opportunity to create something, and every new experiment was an adventure! But there was a locked gate between us and being "serious" artists and producers. Now that the gate has opened, we should be careful not to let it close behind us. Thanks so much to Simon for reminding us why we began!

July 28, 2015 at 6:29PM

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Christopher Sakr
Producer/Writer/Director
81

Whenever I'm starting to feel a serious case of gear envy and have a finger hovering over the "Buy" button, I head on over to Vimeo and do a search for "T2i." I'm always humbled and have to admit that its not the camera, its me.

If I'm honest with myself I was at my happiest making films on super 8mm film, guerrilla style with zero budget. Everything since then hasn't quite measured up. I think because with super 8mm we knew it was going to be grainy with no sync sound and we just accepted the technical limitations and let our creativity make up for it.

July 28, 2015 at 8:01PM

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Nathan Taylor
Jack of all trades, master of none
441

Filmmaking definitely isn't easy and if you want to produce good stuff gear does get in the way of your creativity...it just does. There's no way around it. I prefer music and/or writing as a creative outlet because it's so much easier to realize an idea. I love film, don't get me wrong...but dealing with tech and the x's and o's of gear can sometimes take all of the energy away from the creative ideas and you're spent by the end of it.

Film is a masochistic addiction for me. I crave the tough days and the slog of production. Music is a quick fix, writing is a quick fix...film is the real deal. I have very little left in the tank at the end of a project and I love it for that very reason.

July 28, 2015 at 8:48PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2030

Filmmaking definitely isn't easy and if you want to produce good stuff gear does get in the way of your creativity...it just does. There's no way around it. I prefer music and/or writing as a creative outlet because it's so much easier to realize an idea. I love film, don't get me wrong...but dealing with tech and the x's and o's of gear can sometimes take all of the energy away from the creative ideas and you're spent by the end of it.

Film is a masochistic addiction for me. I crave the tough days and the slog of production. Music is a quick fix, writing is a quick fix...film is the real deal. I have very little left in the tank at the end of a project and I love it for that very reason.

July 28, 2015 at 8:48PM, Edited July 28, 8:48PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2030

Another great article from Mr. Hardy. We don't view gear as a trap, gear can be the most simple bongo tie that helps hold a chord down, to a MoVI 15 with Redrock Micro Follow Focus and Connex HD wireless transmitter helping you achieve shots that help tell your story. And if you don't need that bongo tie or the MoVI to make something beautiful and meaningful... well that is ok too. But we prefer not to "wage war" on gear, in fact, we embrace the challenge of balancing what is "nice to have" with what we "must have". If this is a discussion about affordability, one must do what they can to enable themselves to do what they love. The thing we should be celebrating is that we live in a time when the T2i is very affordable and in the right hands, capable of producing footage that Simon Cade can utilize to put food on the table. I just refuse to feel anything but excited about new and shiny gear, and I happen to love unboxing that new piece of gear and learning how to implement it into our workflow or creative process.

July 28, 2015 at 11:45PM, Edited July 28, 11:45PM

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Scott Rieckens
Director/MōVI Op/Aerial Pilot
81

I did find this video really interesting and reassuring. As I am quite new to film making and it does make me feel confident about using my 1200d. (Not the best DSLR in the World however it's mainly used as a B camera as a friend of mine usually uses the 600d on shoots). I will say though once I've mastered all of the nooks and crannies of the 1200d with audio equipment and lighting I will eventually upgrade to a better camera.

July 29, 2015 at 10:37AM, Edited July 29, 10:37AM

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Connor Stevenson-Wright
Director/Cinematographer
154

Last year I saw an art student's final thesis project and he had decided to make a short film. He proudly told me it cost £5k to make and he'd shot it on a hired EPIC. It looked like a home video and had no story. It was terrible in every way. Then I look at Andre Brenni's stuff on Vimeo and I think two things: 1. Master the tools you have. Be the guy who tames the jungle with one machete, not the dork who has every tool in the catalogue and can't even make a birdhouse. 2. Invest in people, not stuff. Don't buy a recording module, befriend a Sound Recordist. Date a DP. Buy that Gaffer a drink. Call that writer and ask her how she's doing (it's a lonely profession).

July 30, 2015 at 5:05AM, Edited July 30, 5:05AM

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I've been shooting all my shorts for the last 4 years on a T2i. I think that it's a fantastic platform for shooting my work, especially when it's unpaid projects...

July 30, 2015 at 11:18PM

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Darrell Ayer
Director of Photography
97

Shot the last couple of years with my trustet FS100 from Sony (even a feature which is in cinemas this summer) but found the need to upgrade for my clients. Thoughts went from FS7 to the AJA CION and BM URSA Mini - but finally I ended up buying an ARRI ALEXA. Maybe I'll do a guest post on my motivation, if someone's interrested.

July 31, 2015 at 3:00AM

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Konstantin Costa Konstantinou
ARRI ALEXA Owner/Operator, Cinematographer
81

Just get yourself out of 8 bit. That's the limitation. All 8 bit dSLRs should be stacked in a funeral pyre and danced around while they burn. They've had their time. As long as you have 10 bit you can grade with confidence. Nothing else is that important. Including global shutter, 4K, etc....

I've got a BMCC and I'm done. It's better than you are.

July 31, 2015 at 5:16AM, Edited July 31, 5:17AM

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"Not only is opening a new box the high lite of people's week, but they make videos about it!"
What a great Comment. And Funny too. It seems a Lot of Guitarist's (and any one of thousand's of other Special Interest Groups) need to hear these ideas.
Over the decades I have had Multiple "Creative afflictions". I won't name any sites, but you Guitarists out there will know of more than a few Forums and Sites that seem to Fuel these Addictions (Of which I have been guilty also). Many of them are thinly Veiled Equipment and Mfg. Sales sites. The Lust for Gear at these places is Palpable.
I remember a couple decades when one of the Major Computing Mags I loved to read had the Fall "Stuff you just GOTTA have Cover". I eagerly opened it to find out what was New, Necessary & Soon to be Obsolete Gear I just had to have. I started noticing the Language used in the "Articles" - more thinly Veiled Sales Pitches. It sounded like the so-called Legal Drug Pusher's with their Little Briefcase's of Pills I would see every time I waited & waited at my Docs office. The writing seemed to be sounding a lot like the Drug Pusher's Lexicon. "You gotta Have it" / "Can't Live without it" / "Addicting" "Alluring" / Etc. Suddenly it just all sounded so Disturbing & I felt like a real Schmuck. I tossed that Mag and ended My Subscription (& many others) as it was nothing but more and More of the same every month. Fast forward Decades & it all all Looks & sounds the same. What did I miss ? NOTHING. And in reality , it all turned out to be the same thing - TV & RADIO
PS - My T2i still works wonderfully well all these "Long Long years later"

July 31, 2015 at 9:35AM, Edited July 31, 9:35AM

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Great video and very important message. ESPECIALLY for those getting started or wanting to create self funded work. For those who shoot for a living and are staying booked, having gear that speeds up production is important.

July 31, 2015 at 11:48AM

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Caleb Pike
Shooter, Educator
262

I have agree to a degree. You can get stuck in that situation where you're hesitant to do any work because you feel like you're camera isn't good enough, but really you're making excuses. Of course I have to say, but what about people that don't have any gear in the first place? You have to start somewhere obviously, and if you're stuck with nothing but a smartphone, you sure as hell won't catch any freelance work. I actually don't have any of my own gear anymore, because I can check out anything from a DSLR to a broadcast quality ENG camcorder from my university equipment room.

August 2, 2015 at 1:51AM, Edited August 2, 1:51AM

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Charles Duoto
Instructor & TV Production Crew
1148

This gave me a great new way of thinking. The gear isn't what matters, it's the content, the story, the message of the film.

August 3, 2015 at 3:22AM

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