Canon 5D Mark III
A couple months ago we started looking at cameras for our upcoming shoot "The 700 Year Itch". It was an important decision because we had the resources to buy one camera for several projects, or rent a Scarlet. The question being, how deep into the rabbit hole do we want to go? With the Scarlet, we would be getting the ability to shoot in RAW and output to film with a higher resolution, crisper image, etc...
Did we care about that? Well… yes. One of the first things I think any creative should ask themselves at the beginning of a project is: Where is it going? What is the final output? With an SLR, we would have access to a greater amount of lenses, off the shelf hardware for things like storage and accessories, and the ability to shoot at a high enough resolution that we could burn DVD's for short film festivals with little to no loss of resolution from our image. The downfall is that Canon (and all the other SLR's it should be noted) compress the video as it saves to file, giving you no opportunity to work in RAW. There are some people working on a patch to this called "Magic Lantern" and they've already created some great solutions for people using the 5D for movie making. It is my belief that they will have "export RAW data" figured out soon enough, as the Canon already shoots pictures in this format. My advice to aspiring film makers who are taking this step is to go get the free editing software from the RED site before the kids at Magic Lantern figure it out, because you'll have to prove you've got a Redcam once that happens.
We also looked at the Black Magic, which looked like the best solution. Life, however, is full of little surprises and the BM wouldn't be available until well after our shoot date. So we did a little research and shelled out for the 5D. I'm not going to be the first person exalting the great piece of hardware that is the Canon 5d Mark III, but we should name that camera. The images it makes are amazing!
I got to Seattle a couple days before our shoot, only to find out that I would be behind the camera on this shoot and had 72hrs to learn the camera. It was amazingly easy. There were a couple things I hadn't dialed in by the time shooting started, but they were so freakin' simple (change the exposure with this thumb dial, the auto-focus button is just half/hold the shutter button) that Chris Duerkopp, our lighting guy for this shoot, brought me up to speed in about 30 seconds. He's a great guy, BTW go check out his site HERE.
With access to several different types of removable media, headphone jack, microphone jack, top mount, standard bottom mount, power cable access, easy to find batteries and accessories, this piece of hardware was a joy to use. I had an easy time mounting our external shotgun mic (the internal mic is great, but not for longer shots), and getting all my gear set up and attached to the tripod. The only problem I ran into was that the camera automatically chooses to save to its physically larger memory card. So to use my larger SSD card, I was forced to remove the CF card.
The unforeseen problem (and there's always at least one) was that if a shot is longer than 5min, the camera automatically breaks up the shot into separate segments. This only bit me in the ass once, however, as I almost never have shots that last that long. If you are prone to longer scenes it is something to think about work into your production planning.