On the Cutting Edge: Digital Still Cameras for Film, Part 2

In part 1 I talked about why we are looking at using digital still cameras for this documentary. In this post I’ll be talking about the advantages of using these cameras.

In order to make a proper assessment of this equipment we researched what the capabilities of these cameras were and why someone would want to use them.

Image Sensor

One of the big advantages of a still camera is the image sensors. They are designed to mimic film, and the imagery they produce is exceptional. They work very well in daylight and low light. There are some limitations in low lighting. If you need to film in very low light, then you may lose some image quality. However, for our project which consists of a lot of well lit interviews, we felt this was not a problem.

It’s a lot easier to show you what these cameras can do. Here are a couple of short videos that really highlight image quality of these digital still cameras.

This first video is from CrunchGear’s review of the T2i.

Canon T2i demo reel from CrunchGear on Vimeo.

The second video is by Philip Bloom who is a director of Photography and knows how to make these cameras shine. Shot with a Canon 7D and Canon 5D.

Skywalker Ranch from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.


Another big advantage to the digital still camera is their price. For example, a Canon T2i is about $900. On the higher end, a Canon 5D is about $2,500. These prices are for the camera body and a basic lens. In order to film this project we will need to buy lenses and rigging that will help get the best shot. The extras will bring the cost of equipment up but these cameras are still a lot less expensive than high definition camcorders that can be as much as $30,000.

One of the goals of this project is to produce something that could be shown on TV. Part of the challenge of this goal is making something of this quality can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. This can include equipment as well as salaries. So using this camera to do most of the filming is one strategy we are using to keep costs down.

Do They Stack Up?

It’s great that digital still cameras have high quality sensors and are reasonably priced, but how do they stack up against real film cameras? Well we are no experts in this field but we found some people who are.

If you are interested in a very geeky breakdown of how digital still camera stack up to film cameras I highly recommend Zacuto’s Great camera Showdown of 2010. It’s about an hour and half long and they put these cameras through a number of very scientific tests. Then they get feedback from various professional filmmakers. It’s interesting to see what these camera’s can do and the promise they hold.

Stay tuned for part 3 where I’ll talk about the disadvantages we found to using digital still cameras in a film.

3 thoughts on “On the Cutting Edge: Digital Still Cameras for Film, Part 2

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention On the cutting edge, digital still cameras for film. Part 2 | Ana's Miracle -- Topsy.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *