I was wondering for some time when the first “no dslr” sign would go up. I’m sure that’s not the first, it’s just the first that I’ve seen, but it still tells you something about the dslr that is comforting to the old guard and stymie-ing to the young rogues;

1) The DSLR has limitations that go beyond comparisons with 15k+ cameras

2) Buying a DSLR does not magically make you an excellent cameraman.

The self-confident camera men (and pretentious wannabees) will, of course, insist that they new this from the beginning. But I don’t trust supposedly common sense over honest analysis. Always remember; artists are salespeople with class. Craftspeople, likewise, are positively feudal. If you could establish a rate and sign a contract for 99 years like the peasants did the Cameramen couldn’t be happier. This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with that, I positively love old craftsperson-film workers, but when it comes to my own image of the world I’m aggressively interested in reality.

And it says something that it took until now that I saw something (anti-dslr) like this. I’ve seen plenty of ads that requested a heartbeat and a 5d (an, of course a propensity for not eating or paying your heating bill…hmmm) and not a lot in terms of traditional video cameras and actual operators. The thought basically is that, you shoot on one of these, it’ll look good. No worries.

And the truth is, to a sadly certain extent, that was right. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of people are unduly in awe of the shallow depth of field that can be had with the dslrs. It’s been such a holy grail for so long for small ship operators that the towering tidle wave of the 5d sensor completely overwhelmed all other concerns. Like composition. Like motivated movement.

To a point the consumer agrees, which is the point to which they are right. But there is a limit to this. Shallow depth of field looks fantastic the first time you get your hands on it. It allows one to control the viewer’s eye and attention much more precisely. It feels clever and artsy and POV and very very very expensive. The problem is that HDRI looks like all of those things the first time you use it too; as does the hipstomatic app. After a while you get positively sick of it.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these technologies, (and believe me, every one of them is going to or has picked up the media business by the ankles and shaken it) but there’s only so long that they can distract you from actual content. Content is about choices. It’s king. It’s why you can shoot something on a hdslr or a phone or whatever and still have people watch it, but plenty of low Dof, high pixel ‘masterpieces’ go unwatched.

Of course, it’s easier to sell yourself as a technician than a creative (vast masses of people claim to be creative); which is exactly why camera operators have taken to hiding behind their equipment. If writers could convince people that operating a word processor was a technical and alien process then there’s no doubt that they would do it as well. The flip side is that when the equipment becomes available to everyone, it is assumed that everyone can do it.