• brian wheatley

Professional Equipment is Essential

These days I see more and more people using DSLR cameras to film events.

Now there's nothing wrong with doing this but I've found from experience that having the right equipment for the job is essential to obtaining great results as a Camera Operator. It also makes my life easier as a Professional Video Cameraman if I'm using the right cameras and lenses on a project. There's nothing worse than being on a job when you realise you don't have the right camera or lens on you. But - we learn and improve with each project and grow accordingly.

I still have the very first video camera that I bought for filming. (Sitting in the loft!).

The Canon XL1S - my first video camera

A Canon XL 1s. It's an old camera now yes! But considering I bought it in 2005 it was pretty good in those days. DV tape was the recording media and it only filmed in 4:3 ration but still provided pretty good images. Moving on I next bought a Canon XL H1. This was and still is a serious camera.

The serious Canon XL H1 Hi Def Camera

Considered as semi-pro I know of some production companies who relied heavily on its amazing capabilities. Full HD/SDi via a BNC output, time-code syncing, 16:9 ratio and it was of course a true on-the-shoulder camera. I used and abused mine as a video camera operator filming everything from conferences and events to weddings and parties. It never let me down.

Later on in its life I added an external Atomos Samurai recorder so I didn't have to rely on my Sony external tape deck for dual recording of an event. Tape in the camera - dual recording onto solid state drive via the Atomos - sorted. I ended up owning three Atomos units.

But all good things come to an end and the XL H1 ended its days on a wedding shoot when a particularly strong wind aided by a hill tipped the camera and tripod over and - well - let's just say a minor tear was shed and thank god I shoot with two cameras! The second camera being a Canon XH G1s. All the capabilities of the H1 but compact and not a shoulder mounted camera.

So - what next? DSLRs? Well - I experimented. I owned a Canon 7D - great camera. Brilliant for video - but not a true wedding videographer camera. Too fiddly and you have to fight with the focus - so true of any DSLR when filming.

Then I bought a Canon 6D full frame 35mm DSLR. Great imagery - but again - not a camera that lends itself to run and gun shooting. But to accompany the 6D I bought a 5D Mk III as I was starting to get more projects that required not only video but photography as well.

But again - great imagery from the 5D but not as controllable as the XL H1.

So where to next? I decided on a Canon XF305. After reading many a review I went for a second hand model bought from a photographer in Surrey. I say second hand but it had only shot 15 hours of footage so I was sold on that one! And it came with a Peli Case so it was quite a bargain.

Canon XF305 Professional Broadcast Camera

But what to accompany it with?

Now having shot a few corporate videos with my 6D and 5D I thought hard and long about their roles in my business. Yes - they have a place but only with considered thought about the definition (look and feel) of an image.

So I was looking for a full frame video camera that would give me a creative, arty look to imagery and was compatible on format with the XF305. Wasn't too expensive and was able to accept my Canon EF lenses.

The answer was pretty obvious really. The Canon C100 MK II. (You many have noticed by now that I like Canon Cameras!).

Canon C100 Mk II - simply awesome

The C100 MK II is a full frame Broadcast Video Camera. "Now hold on!" you techies out there may be saying. It records onto SD card and is only 8 bit. But it has a 4K sensor that records full HD and add an Atomos Ninja or Flame which accepts the HDMI output from the C100 and you're shooting 10 bit Apple ProRes. This is an awesome combination. the Ninja's HDR abilities allow cinematic colour grading onsite. There's nothing better to be able to see how your footage will look before it even hits the edit suite.

And combine it with Canon EF fast professional lenses and you have a piece of kit that is able to perform in near darkness. Great for filming a night time party or in door event.

So the only gripe about it is that there is no power zoom on the C100 but again there is a work around in the form of the 18-135mm EFS Nano lens parred with a PZ E1 Power Zoom Adapter. Now it really becomes an awesome camera to work with.

And now I'm looking at 4K cameras such as the Canon XF705 or XF405. And I'm keeping an eye on the new EOS R5.


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