DSLRs – a creative response to the constraints imposed by technology

By | August 19, 2010

You may, or may not know, that I have a Canon 5D Mk2 camera which I’m learning to use for video. It’s a wonderful invention but tricky to get to grips with re the video.  

There are many challenges using a DSLR for filming like focusing on the fly, seeing what you’re doing in the viewfinder and holding the damn thing steady.  

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Regular video cameras are designed to overcome these problems through years of reference to camera operators in war zones, making music promos or generally hurling them around.  Stills photographers work differently, looking for individual moments with their best eye clamped to a little hole.

Perhaps we should think differently about how we use DSLRs for shooting video rather than bemoaning the fact that they aren’t like film cameras. Instead of looking at their weaknesses, think about what new opportunities they present.

Could it be that DSLRs open the way for photographers with an excellent eye for colour and composition to bring a fresh approach to shooting moving images?  Many videographers, in my view, have got into a bad habit of whizzing and crashing the camera around to bring life to a subject.   A stills photographer may be more inclined to look for the possibilities within a specific set-up – considering the precise lighting conditions for that framing and taking care over the details. 

What we see is an attempt to make mobile phones and stills cameras do what is best done by much more specialised equipment.  Instead we should be thinking about what these tools can give us that we can’t get from conventional cameras. Can the constraints lead us in a different direction altogether?

This video shot on DSLR is about custom motorcycle engineer Shinya Kimurs by Henrik Hansen. The film reveals movements  within the frame – often subtle – by keeping the camera still; Most of the shots are locked off and could have been taken from a stills tripod. Not bad for a film which is all about motion. 

The careful construction of the film mirrors Shinya Kimurs care and love of constructing his machines. The editing is brilliant and the mastery of audio exceptional.

I think this demonstrates an intelligent and creative response to the constraints imposed by the technology. 

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