Let’s get something straight. The video from the Nikon D90 and the Canon 5D MkII is not of good quality. It’s over compressed, over-processed, over-sharpened, and lacks professional control. It skews and shears and shuts off in the middle of a take. It sucks.
So why are we so excited by it?
Because the video from these DSLRs stimulates us emotionally. It’s contrasty, with sexy depth of field. It looks like cinema, if you don’t look to close. Guess who doesn’t look too close. Everyone.
Not to mention the thrill of portability, incognito shooting, and of an infinite assortment and renewable supply of state-of-the-art lenses that serve both our motion and still habits. It all adds up to a thrilling sensation, even if we know deep down that these cameras aren’t quite ready for us yet.
What the D90 and 5D2 have done is show us that it’s no longer OK for video camera manufacturers, whether they be Sony or Canon or RED, to make a video camera that doesn’t excite us emotionally. Buttons and features and resolution charts just had their ass handed to them by sex appeal.
There’s nothing new about this of course. We’ve been trading image fidelity for sex appeal for years now, using 24p modes, on-camera filters, Magic Bullet, and 35mm lens adapters. Especially those lens adapters. We suffer all kinds of pains in our filmmaking asses to cut our cameras’ resolution and light gathering capabilities substantially. All because in cinema, less is so much more.
So it stands to reason that the number one manufacturer of 35mm lens adapters is the first to start taking these video DSLRs seriously.
On August 29th I wrote: Mark my words, you will see rail-mounted D90s with follow-focus rigs and outboard HD displays. On September 27th I played around with some spare Redrock Micro parts in an attempt to imagine what such a rig might look like. Zacuto soon followed with mock-ups of their own. But Redrock Micro is doing more than just mocking up: tomorrow they will announce a new, shipping product, a cinematizing kit for DSLRs with video.
I love Redrock. They make great, affordable rigs with the DV Rebel in mind. The Redrock bundles for video DSLRs are being showcased at Photo Plus in New York, tomorrow through the 25th, in the Canon and Zeiss booths. They ship November 1.
Since Redrock is taking video DSLRs seriously, maybe it’s time the camera manufacturers do too. It’s great that these images are so exciting, but they do need to grow up if we’re to use them for our films.