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Old November 21st, 2013, 06:45 PM   #16
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

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Originally Posted by Haitham Lawati View Post
I am sure that 35mm sensors are the best choices in the market for feature film in particular. However, with full frame sensors, DPs might run into issues of focus and shallow depth of field causing some objects in the scene to appear blur.
That statement is only true if you're talking about quite wide apertures - if you stop down by about 3 stops an s35 sensor will give similar dof to a 2/3" camera.

Hence it's more accurate to say that an s35 camera will give the OPTION of much shallower depth of field than a comparable 2/3" - it's not automatically the case.

You may be thinking now that it's all very well, but won't that require a lot of extra light? No - because the larger sensor cameras will (all else equal) be rated at a far higher ISO for equivalent noise etc. Hence you may well find that if a 2/3" camera needs f2 for exposure, the s35 may need f5.6 - in which case they will show identical dof. But the s35 will give the OPTION of using ND, setting f2, and therefore getting a shallow dof that is impossible with a 2/3" camera. (Unless you could find an f0.7 lens! :-) )

At the other end (small apertures) then the limit is set by diffraction softening. For a given system resolution, the in terms of f numbers a lens on a s35 camera will be able to be stopped down an extra 3 stops (approx.) cf 2/3" - hence the limit for MAX dof will be the same in each case. (That's no accident - it's due to the limit being down to the actual dimension of the iris. Same diameter will be 3 stops less for s35 than for 2/3", for the same focal length.)

Fundamentally, for what's being termed "cinematic", then whilst 2/3" or smaller may be used, using s35 gives a lot more scope. You certainly don't have to have a shallower dof look - just stop down.
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Old November 21st, 2013, 06:48 PM   #17
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

I'm surprised to hear "Sunny" is using EX3s. Not that I ever had any idea of what they might be using. I guess I just didn't associate that look with the EX series. But then, like everything else, it probably has the crap graded out of it.
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Old November 21st, 2013, 07:34 PM   #18
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

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I have shot drama on an ENG camera with stock lens and this short for cinema was done on a 1/3" chip HPX371:

(The Last Straw url snipped)

Total budget was around 2,500 and we did the sound with one AT875r plugged straight into the back of the camera.
Nicely done, Gary. I really enjoyed that. I saw a couple of clips you had posted awhile back when I was searching for info on shotgun mics, but it's nice to see them in context. I'm pretty impressed with the quality that was coaxed out of the lower-priced AT875r. I think the only thing keeping me from choosing that mic is its need for phantom power.

Really nice cinematography, too, Gary. Naturalistic lighting and solid compositions added a lot to the tone of the film. Also, the sinister turn it took was interesting to me as a horror fan. As a long out of practice film school grad who has recently acquired his first HD camera (Canon XA20), I find this little short quite inspirational. Thank you for sharing it.
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Old November 23rd, 2013, 09:43 AM   #19
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

2/3" ENG style cameras have been used in some of the biggest blockbuster movies of all time, including the biggest of them all, "Avatar" (Sony F23, F950 and HDC-1500).

Of course, with the Alexa, F55 and RED cameras, I think there won't be any more big budget films shot on anything less than an S35 sensor.
Come to think of it, with the prices of FS700s and used F3s, even low budget films can have an S35 sensor camera.
That doesn't mean you can't use a 2/3" camera, of course. But I don't see why anyone would choose one now.

2/3" cameras are still great for general use broadcast productions. But cinema? It wouldn't be my first choice, and I like 2/3" cameras.
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Old November 24th, 2013, 12:24 AM   #20
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

Regarding Avatar, Star Wars and other films with lots of green screen, 2/3" makes a lot of sense. You can capture characters with crisp edges and create a composite result with almost any DOF that you would like. In some ways, a small or small aperture capture is superior as you can blur a close background, yet keep both of your actors eyes and their nose/ears in sharp focus.

I'm not sure what they shot Gravity with, but for that film, I'd want deep focus. You can make the astronauts sharp, keep the stars sharp, and easily direct the eye with the white space suit over the black background.

It's practical sets where the image capture size and aperture can make a bigger impact. As mentioned above, there are many techniques for directing audience focus and controlled DOF is one of the most cost effective.
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Old November 24th, 2013, 03:10 AM   #21
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

I think in a certain way all this quest for cinematic imagery and shallow DOF has reduced standards as I see a lot more searching for focus and over use of shallow DOF these days and I don't think that is down to what camera is being used.

A couple of movies I saw in the cinema recently highlighted this and some shots were just out of focus overall and the picture cuts jarred as they went from one aspect to another.

There have also been several music documentaries on the BBC recently that were spoiled by the shallow DOF and interviewees moved in and out of focus, they were on The Who and Queen and having just one half of peoples faces in focus most of the time distracted from what they were saying.

I also watched the BBC Dr Who 50th Ep last night and there was just far too much shallow DOF with some of the make-up errors and continuity sticking out and a couple of the pull focus shots took a long time to get into sharp focus on my 47" TV so would probably look even worse on a cinema screen.

I am not saying that 35mm chips should not be used for TV but I think you also need the cinema shooting disciplines (+$$$$) and I feel that there are too many directors and DOP's (camera Op's) who lack the experience or discipline to use it creatively.
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Old November 24th, 2013, 11:41 AM   #22
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

Quite apart from ENG cameras, super 16 film cameras have been used in a number of recent feature films. It's part the mix of formats on "Captain Phillips" and also "Black Swan". A number of films use a mix, so using format(s) that work to tell your story is key.

My thoughts on ENG cameras are more about the "video look" that you can tend to get, rather the sensor size. Again, that can be something you want, although it has been used some films and tended to work against the story. The RAW 2/3" cameras look more interesting in that regard.
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Old November 24th, 2013, 03:57 PM   #23
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

It has been a long discussion and extensive debate on this controversial topic. Anyhow it was very informative and very rich. In fact, I have started this topic in order to get opinions from talents and expert people about ENG and 35mm Cinema cameras and approach towards the best choice for me as an investor who is intending to purchase and start production business mainly in wedding and events. Now for weddings and events in particular, what would be the best choice in terms of auto focus, electronic zooming, large depth of field and probably cinematic look all in one camera and which one of them might be the most versatile in operation and user friendly? ENG or 35mm? Now, I do understand that this would be controversial but I need opinions in this regard.
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Old November 24th, 2013, 05:23 PM   #24
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

They are different animals at the pro/prosumer level. 35mm look cameras will not electronic zooming or what is known as servo motors on the lenses. Ease of use is in the ENG camp favoring towards the 1/3"-1/2" all in one cameras.

Keeping things in focus is the tricky part of all manual shooting and even worse with 35mm style cameras.

My advice is to try and get one from each camp and a best case scenario being the same brand so the colorimetry will be similar. Tell us your budget and we will find you the best stuff to buy.
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Old November 24th, 2013, 06:18 PM   #25
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

If I were to do weddings (which I don't), I'd go for a mix. Traditional camcorders are reliable for capturing the must-have scenes and master shots. DSLRs can capture shallow DOF for a romantic, dreamy feel. Ideally, the DSLR would do 1080/60p for shallow slow motion shots for ultimate dreaminess.

I think the key is how those shots are put together. I wouldn't want to intercut the doc footage with the dream footage. I'd look for a structure that weaves between the realism of the event and the emotions of the couple.

BTW, I do shoot corporate events where we use a DSLR for the tight shot, a camcorder for the wide, master/safety shot, and the PowerPoint slides for the info (over the shoulder or full frame). Then again, my end results for these events are not intended to be cinematic or dreamy/romantic for these projects. :)
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Old November 24th, 2013, 06:37 PM   #26
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

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Originally Posted by Haitham Lawati View Post
Now for weddings and events in particular, what would be the best choice in terms of auto focus, electronic zooming, large depth of field and probably cinematic look all in one camera and which one of them might be the most versatile in operation and user friendly? ENG or 35mm? Now, I do understand that this would be controversial but I need opinions in this regard.
Less controversial, more a case of what is your budget! Are the events mega-concerts with huge budgets or small scale with tens of people there? Are the weddings of super-rich people who want quality, or couples on a tight budget?

That said, then frankly there is no one size fits all at any price level. What's good for cinematic look may be bad for event filming.

If you have to go for one camera, then probably something at the lower end of the 2/3" range may be a good idea. More "cinematic" than anything with 1/3", even 1/2" chips, but arguably better in terms of versatility/user friendliness. Since a lot of the expense of 2/3" ownership is in the lens, probably something with a "package" lens like the PMW400, which also has autofocus if you want it.
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Old November 25th, 2013, 01:22 AM   #27
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

Thanks to all for the response. In fact, the market which I am targeting will mainly be weddings and small-to-medium events. For weddings in particular, we have been studying the market and found that some production firms provide media coverage at costs likely to reach $5000 for one wedding event only, and yes there are customers who can afford this cost and probably higher. For events, we usually take part in media coverage for business and corporate events where attendees range between 10-100 people but there are chances that we may be awarded with larger events for media coverage.
I made a plan for my business team and proposed to them to consider choosing 2 Panasonic AG-HPX370, 1 AG-HPX255 and 1-2 Canon DSLR. How about adding Sony NEX-700R to the line? Is it appropriate to replace AG-HPX370 with Sony?
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Old November 26th, 2013, 12:52 AM   #28
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

Any response......
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Old November 26th, 2013, 01:35 AM   #29
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

Haitham, I think your question would be better served in the Wedding/Event Videography section of the Forum. Please feel free to browse through existing links over there and see if you want to repost into one of them, or start a new one, after which we'll delete it here.
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Old November 26th, 2013, 02:12 AM   #30
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Re: ENG Cameras for Cinematography

I agree with Charles as the demands of the wedding video shooter are totally different to that of TV and Cinema.

For me though being a panasonic user I would be going for the HPX range but if I were chosing sony I would be looking at the PMW 400 and 300.

I do not like DSLR's as they are not designed for video use and 35mm sensor cameras may have their uses but that also comes with a certain discipline for focus and shooting that is totally alien to some applications such as doco's and fast moving subjects such as news and weddings.

Workflow and ease of operation from location to edit always features high in my priorities but I do find that productions and operators seem to make things very hard at times just to get a shallow DOF camera on set, a recent example is in the panasonic section where a user is asking how to make his HPX250 look like a nikon DSLR. why downgrade the full HD video camera just to suit a flawed DSLR workflow?

Others may disagree but I see so much material that is badly shot and out of focus these days just because people have this quest for cinematic imagery out of context with the delivery platform and without the discipline required for cinematic workflow.

You can but any camera you wish but at the end of the day it is how you use it that matters!
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