In this final installment on film and video cameras that changed the face of Indie film, we review the last two of the six selected for review. Read on.
5. CANON 5D MKII
There were several cameras, like the Panasonic HD camera, the HVX200, that became available in the market after the DVX100 that stole some of its fame. But it wasn’t until Canon released the 5D MK II that change really started to take place.
In fact, until this point in time, almost all popular video cameras that were being used in the independent film scene had one major issue: they had fixed lenses. The implication of this was that to obtain a more filmic depth of field or to make use of a really great piece of glass, a heavy and expensive 35mm lens adapter had to be used. The experience users of this adapter had didn’t sit well for most and clearly, independent filmmakers were beginning to outgrow their fixed lens HD cameras and needed something else.
It is at this point that the 5D MKII came in. Canon admittedly produced one of the most revolutionary cameras in recent history totally by chance. Although they did intentionally add a video mode to their cameras and actively promoted it; they could, however, never have imagined the impact that this camera was going to create.
Canon probably wanted to infuse video functionality into the MK II as an extra feature so that photographers and photojournalists would have that option available to them in case they felt like obtaining some extra content. It is however doubtful whether they ever meant for the MK II to become an independent filmmaking machine, although that became exactly the case once indie filmmakers began to see the benefits of shooting on a removable lens camera and a full-frame sensor. Suddenly, it was possible to achieve a cinematic depth of field as well as to shoot in extremely low light situations with ease, making it possible for filmmakers to keep their lighting organization time and expenses to a minimum.
Although the 5D MK II certainly has its flaws and is not the best DSLR for video today, however, at one point, it was simply the best; and perhaps more importantly, it was the first camera to be widely accepted and will go down in history for the impact that it made on the industry.
The 5D MK II was the catalyst for the DSLR revolution, and within a few years, virtually every low-budget independent film was shot on DSLR. DSLRs were once used in several larger-scale feature films and television series to make use of their compact footprint and low-light capabilities in specific scenarios.
There remained, however, a gap at the top of the independent filmmaking spectrum that needed to be filled. DSLRs were capable of producing some incredible images, but they weren't ideal for professional use on a large scale set because many of them lacked basic video and audio functionality, such as a headphone jack, zebras, and other features, discouraging many larger-scale independent productions from going the DSLR route. So there was a large gap in the camera market for a while, and the better-funded indie films had to choose between dealing with the limitations of a DSLR or shooting film and staying within their budget.
That was the case until RED Digital Cinema introduced its flagship camera, the "One," and everything changed once more. That gap between DSLR and 35mm film began to shrink, offering an alternative to shooting on a DSLR, which did cost more than shooting on film in most scenarios.
At the time RED One first came into the market, its price was beyond the resources of the majority of independent filmmakers. But it wasn’t long before the camera became much more accessible. Within its first two years of its release, its prices began to drop and even smaller independent productions were able to rent the camera for a couple of weeks on end, eventually allowing them to capture a filmic image that was previously the exclusive preserve of the high-end productions.
Nevertheless, much like the Canon 5D MK II, the RED One became also outdone by other digital cinema cameras like the Arri Alexa or RED’s own Epic. But as at the time of its release, it was truly revolutionary.
Looking at all of these cameras, they were not only capable of producing images that stood up to cameras that were many times their cost, but they all did push the technological boundaries of their times in one way or another.
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Jul 26, 2021
by Eguaogie Eghosa