I recently bought another small camera for some video work.

Recently I have been working as First AC (crossing over to Second Director of Photography) for a small Indy film being shot here in Scotland.  The shooting has been taking place in various locations around Dundee, with the main shots all taking place in houses or offices. There’s been little outdoor work so the challenges have been in controlling the lighting to ensure the scenes look pretty, realistic and functional for shooting.

The main cameras used for this movie are Canon DSLR’s. There’s a Canon 5DII and a couple of 600D‘s around pretty much all of the time and it’s been interesting to compare them. For actual use I prefer the Canon 5DII as has a cleaner interface and produced slightly better video, however it’s not all that clear if it is “worth the difference.” Financially there’s quite a bit between the two cameras as you can buy four 600D’s for the price of one 5DII. A better choice would be to buy two 600D’s and a nice L lens for one of them. That’s what’s been going on here.

We’ve mainly been shooting with multiple angles for each scene. If two people are facing each other chatting we’d have three cameras going; two in close-up (CU) and one a bit wider a Medium Close Up (MCU). Given the fact we’ve been shooting different cameras and different lenses it’s been quite interesting to compare the results and, more importantly for me, to learn how to choose the right set-up for each shot.

The experimentation and learning time I’ve had with this movie has made up my mind. I’m quite happy to say I bought the 600D. It’s a very capable camera given the right lighting. Yes, that does mean the video quality falls off a bit when the light drops and that the camera just can’t be pushed as far as the 5DII, but the 600D holds its own well enough. It’s also pretty capable of normal stills shooting, but the interface is a bit complicated and not suitable for anything fast moving. Maybe my opinion will change in time, but I think not. The Canon 600D is a consumer grade device and as such it just doesn’t handle all that well when under pressure. I’m loving the ability to use Magic Lantern on this thing though. Breaking out of Canon’s menus and adding new features is certainly interesting and does offer assistance when shooting. I’m currently checking out the HDR video function with proves promising, given the right situation.

I for one am seriously enjoying this shooting movies on a DSLR. There’s a big learning curve, but I’m well up for that.

More information and sample video from the 600D will follow. Once I get clearance I’ll post some video from the Indy-Movie and link to the trailers.


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