youtube channel for steve oakley
Facebook logo for steve oakley

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Camera & Gear Rat Race


I realize I've been a bit slow with postings lately. A lot of it has simply been work related and being busy, another has been some personal self questioning about what I've been posting.  Every so often one of you kindly sends me a personal email thanking me for what I do. I really appreciate that and its a big help to keep something going that's largely a labor of love. Don't be afraid to say thanks once in a while, or ask a good question. Some of you have been good enough to make a purchase thru one of my affiliate links, thank you ! That helps too. What I like is that you folks understand my real world experience with production work and gear and that I'm not just talking about stuff to make a post. I'm only gonna post if its relevant. There are plenty of news type sites that mostly live on pushing out the days events. That's perfectly fine and useful, but also very draining to do unless its your full time job. 

I'm not quitting this site, but I'm making some change in direction back to how I get started doing this in the first place. I too got caught up in the dslr revolution. Lets define it though : small, reasonably priced cameras with big sensors making images that used cost a fortune to make otherwise. While I have no question in my mind that S35 size sensor cameras would be where they are, they would also be much more expensive with out some price pressure from the rest of the market. I was completely intrigued with how cheaply I could make great images. 

That of course brought me into looking at used AKA vintage glass. I have some really nice old lenses these days, some I've gotten for nearly nothing. I was out shooting some stills yesterday with them and was pretty thrilled at getting nice images from them. Enough so that I don't think about or lust after MOST modern glass, except for maybe filling out my collection of Rokinon cine lenses. I know I've featured their glass here several times for good reason : great price, great performance, great features - value for the money. 

However I see the revolution as being a bit corrupted now. It started early on with shooting rigs for dslr's. Ok, granted, with a big sensor camera having a matte box and follow focus seem like necessities. Some days they truly are and I use several filters all the time : ND's and grads along with an occasional diffusion filter. However, I've also found myself shooting bare bones too. When ? when clients aren't around ! When I don't need a ND filter and I don't need to impress anyone with tricking out a little camera to make it look big.  There are lots of times I've found myself shooing in a very minimalistic way and liking it. In fact if you watch some BTS vids out there you'll see other name shooters doing the same thing. Honestly if you are working by yourself having to schelp around all the heavy stuff is tiring and time consuming.  I think its fair to say some rigs out there are just completely ridiculous in how big and heavy they are. My ultimate anti-rig was shooting with a 60D + Rok 14 2.8 + Letus LCD VF. Consumer size and weight, made great images and got lots of key shots  with this setup. It was fun to work this way. 

This brings me back to the image I started this with. I shot this almost 2 years ago on what could be called the ultimate vintage lens, a 100 year old bit of Kodak glass. This project has been looking at me for a while and I haven't done anything with it. TIme to do it ! Its next on my list of reviews. I think its time to get back to basics in some ways. No I'm not going Luddite at all, just not succumbing to being a complete gear slut. I've actually spend some good money on audio upgrades as of late ( new Sound Devices 552 mixer ) but have been stuck for a camera I want to upgrade to... at least not with out spending a fortune. As I look at the market I see several good M 4/3's cameras and then a huge gap to S35 / APS-C and FF cameras. Nothing in between thats worth doing. Its like < tin foil hat warning > the camera manufacturers have decided that if you want the big sensor you are in for $5k + if you want a sharp image that doesn't suffer from moire and aliasing. I'd LOVE to eat my words with Canon releasing a 70D APS-C camera  this week that address this with a sub $1500 price, but I doubt it. Canon has clearly engaged into feature pricing like Sony... except Sony has been making some  interesting moves, and RED is trying to stay in the mix. However, they are all still selling products that I find too expensive for what they deliver if look back at what has been offered before. Silly me, I want to be profitiable rather than sending all my hard earned money to one of them. After all I buy an item to make money with it, not to have something and have no money. Odd concept I know.

So I have a couple of video reviews to shoot this week and that will get released over the following weeks. I'm going to be changing the posts I make too - more quality ( I hope ) and some what lower quantity.  I want to do more indepth work like the dynamic range and codec tests I did showing how shooting flat can seriously reduce your dynamic range. Thats my plan... and please don't be afraid to post some comments and continue the conversation !