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Old October 16th, 2012, 11:50 PM   #1
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Did older cameras have as many quirks as the new ones?

Posted here since I can't really categorize this question.

So here it is: I've pretty much only been involved in pro video from when Video DSLRs came out. Before that I was consumer camcorders. Since the release of the video DSLRs, a number of other cameras have been released such as the FS100, FS700, AF100, etc. But there are still people complaining about ergonomics, usability issues, it feels plasticky, etc.

For those of you who have shot on true professional video cameras in the many years past, have those cameras all exhibited "issues" that you wish were better, or were all older video cameras pretty much perfect?
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Old October 17th, 2012, 03:16 AM   #2
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Re: Did older cameras have as many quirks as the new ones?

Older camera's were designed as video camera's by people who designed video camera's.

Now we have video camera's being designed by still's camera designers and trying to make them still's and video camera's.

Why re-invent the wheel but it is more about selling and marketing these days.

As a side note I just picked up a cracking small nikon still's camera as I found my D300 and D1x too bulky for holidays etc, it was a D3000 and less than $200 as it did not have video capability.

As for my video cameras the main one is an HPX371 and my handycam is a canon HF11 which also does stills but if I ever want a still from my video work I can just take a freeze frame.

The quest for shallow DOF and cheap large chip camera's has made them be built to a cost and that means a lot of video related ergonomics has been forgotten by designers that are more still's orientated, there also seems to be a quest to copy modular camera's that are designed for mainstream cinema use and need to have the disciplines required for such operation but people then try and do silly things with them.

That goes for DSLR's too they are not designed for video work but people re-invent wheels to try and make them do things that in traditional workflows require more discipline and crew such as focus pullers so we now end up with a new genre of searching for focus and wobbly cam, in the old days the DOP would choose the lens for the job in hand but now everyone seems to want to shoot everything with shallow DOF and that makes the current new breed of camera's unsuitable or a handful for a single operator.

Right tools for the job etc but too many people are trying to re-invent the wheels and not sticking to tried and tested disciplines, I see this in audio too so we end up with all sorts of kit that is not designed for a job being used and then the results end up being bodged in post prod or filling up fora like this. DSLR's due to their limited audio design have forced people to do more sep sound but that involves certain disciplines that seem to be forgotten or ignored and it all ends up a bit messy, the same goes for lighting and it ends up with the kit being blamed rather than the user who is not using it in well defined or planned applications.
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Old October 17th, 2012, 04:37 AM   #3
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Re: Did older cameras have as many quirks as the new ones?

There's a split between the handicam type layout and and the larger camera. Certainly with the 2/3" broadcast cameras you could pick one up from most manufacturers and use it in minutes without looking at a manual because all the controls were pretty much in the same location. Getting into menus things do become more complicated with them, but usually you don't use the menu that often once it's set up.

Ergonomics has suffered with the new designs and has allowed a range of 3rd party manufacturers to come up with products to improve this. It's less of an issue when the camera is mounted on a tripod, but cameras are often expected to be used on a range of productions and that these days includes hand held in their shooting style. For that a well balanced camera becomes important.

There's nothing new about modular design, but you do get the impression that "modular" cameras are now being designed without a modular system to go with them.
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Old October 17th, 2012, 07:08 AM   #4
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Re: Did older cameras have as many quirks as the new ones?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Hildebrandt View Post
So here it is: I've pretty much only been involved in pro video from when Video DSLRs came out.
If you are filming with a dslr there is not much to complain about ergonomics or usability issues, it's meant to be used as a photocamera so it's designed around that primarily. If you are talking about fs100 and even worse the Bmc kind of camera"s then yes, they are awkward to handhold. To me it looks like the cameramanufacturers don't care that much about usability and just leave it up to the many accesory builders out there to come up with different solutions.

I don't think that's bad, in the past you bhought a camera and it was either handheld or shoulder mount and that was it as far as choices went, now you have that lego kind of camera where you can build upon and transfer it to your specific need. I think the BMC is the perfect exapmle of that, it looks like my alarm clock beside my bed but it's the accesory builders wet dream.
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Old October 17th, 2012, 09:18 AM   #5
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Re: Did older cameras have as many quirks as the new ones?

Well sure, everything has quirks and issues if you examine it...

There were video cameras with side-slung, wire-connected recorders. Kind of its own quirk.

Various shoulder-mount ENG cameras are (comparatively) huge and heavy and kill your back after a while.

Tape-drive cameras of all flavors have all the dropout and drive problems associated with tape cameras.

Ergonomics have been all over the board - either too big, too small, handles and buttons in the "wrong" positions, oddly-placed shoulder supports, infinite feel-less wheels... and of course quality issues such as bits that break easily, odd audio and video noise patterns and quirks, temperature and humidity sensitivities, excessive power consumption...

...and that's just about video cameras. Look at a Bell & Howell Filmo news camera some time and consider how easy that must've been to handhold.

Absolute universal perfection just isn't something mankind will ever manage.
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Old October 17th, 2012, 10:17 AM   #6
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Re: Did older cameras have as many quirks as the new ones?

Since i've been using DSLRs primarily, i'm well used to, and have accepted the fact that I never hand hold that camera for video. It always has to be mounted on something, and that's never been a problem for me.
If that is the main concern about modern large sensor cameras, that seems a bit silly.
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Old October 17th, 2012, 02:19 PM   #7
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Re: Did older cameras have as many quirks as the new ones?

It really depends on the film you're shooting, if it's one like "Children of Men" or "United 93" a good, well balanced camera for hand held work is important.

Traditionally hand held includes the camera on your shoulder or in your hand, how you do it depends on the form factor of the camera.
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Old October 17th, 2012, 05:09 PM   #8
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Re: Did older cameras have as many quirks as the new ones?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Hildebrandt View Post
For those of you who have shot on true professional video cameras in the many years past, have those cameras all exhibited "issues" that you wish were better, or were all older video cameras pretty much perfect?
Older cameras, such as the Sony BVP5, performed perfectly. Great low light, shallow dof, no jello cam. Manual focus, zoom, iris, white balance, shutter. Everything was perfect except for size, weight, and power consumption.
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Old October 17th, 2012, 05:21 PM   #9
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Re: Did older cameras have as many quirks as the new ones?

Also, newer cameras are pretty much computers inside.. Which can lead to coding issues and such if the problems haven't been found during testing..

Old analog camera's were pretty straightforward.. Though offcourse they needed adjustment from time to time to make sure they still worked in spec, which is something digital camera's don't really need anymore..

Modern cameras can do a lot more than what cameras used to be able to do... which leads to more different situations having to be tested...
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Old October 17th, 2012, 06:40 PM   #10
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Re: Did older cameras have as many quirks as the new ones?

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Originally Posted by Warren Kawamoto View Post
Older cameras, such as the Sony BVP5, performed perfectly. Great low light, shallow dof, no jello cam. Manual focus, zoom, iris, white balance, shutter. Everything was perfect except for size, weight, and power consumption.
How precisely did this camera manage shallow DOF?

My own memory of working with pro video gear, starting back sometime in the late eighties, is that the camera were entirely adequate, good even, but the look was unmistakabley 'video'. DOF was deep to infinite, contrast was OK but range was limited, depending on the model you had to watch for blooming or streaking or light trailing ... and they cost a bundle. Twice the price of the production van, back in the day. You paid as much for a couple of camera bricks and a charger as you pay for the current crop of LSS devices.

Today, you can achieve a 'cinematic look' for the price of a good set of sticks. For those of us that began before video, it is starting to feel like the old Bolex days may come back ... Not yet ready to declare a winner from the devices available, but prices are so low & advances so quick the winner will come.

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Old October 18th, 2012, 02:41 AM   #11
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Re: Did older cameras have as many quirks as the new ones?

I never really liked the spilt cameras like BVP5, it was the BVW series I liked, especially the BVW400. However, you were always trying to escape the video look by using filters and the lighting. F2.8 is more or less the sweet spot on 2/3" cameras fitted with zooms, primes do give the option of a wider aperture. It's more or less a 16mm type DOF.

The modern cameras do give much more options with your "look".
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Old October 18th, 2012, 07:53 AM   #12
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Re: Did older cameras have as many quirks as the new ones?

Personally I think we're getting a superior image today, but we've gone backwards in terms of ergonomics. I hate adding attachments to a camera to make it comfortable, it reflects poorly on the company brands because for me that should be part of the design.

My favorite cameras are still the true shoulder mounts that can be solidly cradled in the crook of your arm and then dropped down low using the handle, and back up to your shoulder -- with nice big fat focus & aperture rings and a zoom rocker that is very easy to handle from almost any angle. We've lost a lot of that with the modern mid-range prosumer cameras (US$1500-$4000). They're too small to cradle comfortably, and too small to hold on your shoulder so your stuck with basic hand holding, which is far from ideal. The lens rings & zoom rockers on modern cameras can be quite fiddly from different angles. A note to the camcorder designers, you're main market is mostly male! Don't make the controls dainty! Urgh ... I think even the female camera operators would agree.

On the other hand I love the ergonomics of the DSLRs because they're designed specifically to be hand held - the DSLR ergonomics are a nice tested design that hasn't changed since (the 1950s?). I'm sure some marketing group will figure out a way to change it for no good reason, but in the meantime, DSLR camera ergonomics are pretty cool for me.
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