I am a tech junkie, I’m not going to lie, especially when it comes to cameras. I can tell you the dynamic range, resolution, media format, lens mount, sensor size, and price of almost every major camera out on the market today. And I’m pretty sure most of those specs I listed mean absolutely nothing to most of the people reading this post which tells you how much of a goon I am when it comes to stuff like this. I watch comparison videos of these cameras in different environment and find out which ones perform better in low light, I research which cameras have been used on which TV shows and/or movies, and I count down the days to when the new Blackmagic Cinema Camera finally ships (any day now!).
So, it’s no secret now that I love cameras the same way people would like baseball, but I love them enough to know that they mean diddly squat when it actually comes to shooting something.
Don’t get me wrong, all cameras aren’t created equal. Some are definitely better than others. There is a reason why the Red Epic (The Hobbit, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Pacific Rim) costs about $20,000 and the Canon 7D (Like Crazy, “Wilfred” TV show, parts of Black Swan) costs just over $1500. But it’s not always about the camera. The glass (lenses) used usually have more to do with the image quality than the camera (these guys proved it, quite ridiculously). There’s also a reason why this Canon 50mm lens cost over 10x more than this one even though they share almost the same specs. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make.
Any cinematographer/photographer will argue day an night which cameras and which lenses are the best, and in most technical cases there is proof of a winner. But in a practical sense it really doesn’t matter, because what really matters is how you use them. Take a look at this as an example:
Yep, you read the title correctly. That delightfully little short film was shot on an iPhone, something most of us have in our pocket right now. It wasn’t the camera that made that a great video. It was the lighting, the sound, the composition. It was downright good storytelling. It could have been shot on a Alexa and achieved the same effect. In another case, when Malik Bendjelloul ran out of money making his documentary “Searching for Sugar Man” he turned to his iPhone. Yes, you heard me right. An Oscar winning documentary was shot in part on an iPhone.
So next time you’ve got a shoot prepared, don’t stress over which camera you should use, because ultimately it really doesn’t matter. If you have access to or have the budget to splurge on an expensive camera then more power to you. But just remember what world famous sports/lifestyle photographer Chase Jarvis said: “The best camera is the one that’s with you.”