Cut the BS
I ran across the famous BS button recently and was pleased to see it’s still in production.
It is a fitting and appropriate image to represent so much of what we read about cameras these days. Actually, the title of this article should be “Stop the Pixelpeeping, Stop the Measurebating, Stop the BS.” But that’s too long.
What do you do when you start thinking about buying a new camera? Like nearly 100% of everyone these days, you most likely start reading the reviews, looking at sample clips, asking questions on line. That’s good. It’s good to do your research, especially if it’s not possible for you to see the camera in person before committing to its purchase.
However, when you start reading about cameras on the Internet, it’s wise to make sure your BS filter is well tuned. It might help to spend a few bucks on that BS button, so when you read something really stupid, you can smack it and be rewarded with an amusing recording. The BS button also makes a nice desk decoration. It fits nicely beside the keyboard in an editing setup.
Usually when I talk about a camera’s image, good or bad, I will make it plain it’s my opinion. I don’t try to state universal truths that I can’t prove. I may say something like: “The Sony NEX lens looks very acceptable on my NEX-7, but I tried it on my FS100 and compared it to an ancient Nikkor 35, and it sucks.” I didn’t say, “The Sony lens sucks.” Big difference there.
I’m a bit tired of people proclaiming truths that they don’t know personally, simply repeating things they’ve read but not checked out for themselves. If, for example, I had read all the BS about why H.264 is a codec that sucks, then I probably wouldn’t have bought a 7D and then a 5DII. For a codec that sucks, my documentary that screened at an AMC theater on a 4K projector on a 40′ screen sure did look amazingly good. After I got interested in the FS100, I started seeing the same BS about AVCHD. I haven’t shot enough with the camera to put together a film for a festival yet, but I will. I don’t have to worry a bit that it will look good on the big screen. I also know that if I shot a project I’m working on with an Arri Alexa, it wouldn’t end up a better film at all. There would be a bit more clarity to the image, but the composition, lighting, moves and all are going to look like I did them, no better, no worse than the work I’m capable of doing.
Now I’m going to state something that may be my opinion, but I also believe it’s the opinion of many professionals a lot more accomplished than I am: ANY big chip camera that’s out there today looks good enough for you to make a movie with. They all look good enough for TV spots. They all look good enough for corporate work. They all look good enough for documentaries or narratives. If you make a movie with the Alexa, fine. If you make the same film but shoot it with a T3i or an $800 Panasonic GH2, fine. I can state with confidence that if you shoot that same film with an Alexa, that’s not going to do a damn thing to getting you a distribution deal. You’ll get the same deal if you do it with a t3i and FCPX. The distributor does not care what you use. He only cares about the story, the acting, the production values and whether all those add up to something he can use to make money.
And I’ll leave you with this thought: If you make posts that a codec sucks, that if it’s not RAW or not 4K it’s worthless…well, that is not going to enhance your standing with other professionals. They don’t care what you think about any codec. They only care about getting the job done. The pros learn to work with the tools they have available. When money is no object, they get the best tools for the job. Sometimes the best tool is not the best quality–it’s the thing that allows them to get the best shot under the conditions they are in. So, before you buy a new camera, buy that BS button and use it wisely.
For more BS-free camera discussion, visit our camera forum.