Equipment Research

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in News


There is no end to the amount of equipment a technophile can lust after. Director of Photography, Dean Jacobson and Director, Thad Donovan went into Chicago recently to personally test out some interesting equipment from Zacuto.

They have a product called “Recoil”. What’s neat about camera rig is that it places the camera right over your shoulder for better weight distribution. Additionally, there is a wicked cool follow focus tool they call the Tornado and Z-Drive. This unique follow focus allows the camera operator to have an ergonomic way of pulling focus without having to rely on a camera assistant. This is appealing for lean and mean productions.

Unfortunately, I still found the balance to be a bit off and was fatigued easily. Granted, we didn’t have a lot of time to optimize things. I wish we had another couple of hours to really play with it. I’d have to say, and I think Dean would agree, that it was still much better ergonomically than shoulder-mounting a big RED camera. The price did start to get out of hand for all the Recoil add-ons, so for now, that’s on hold.

We are exploring the Canon cinema cameras, specifically the C300 or possibly the C500. There are many fantastic cameras out there and none of them, including Canon’s C series is perfect. Each has some kind of tradeoff in terms of feature, price, size, technology, etc.

After researching camera packages for months, the C series keeps rising to the top for our needs. For one, they are great low light cameras. This is important because we want to be able to use mostly natural light and use artificial lighting for specific mood. We generally want to have dark rooms with strategic lighting. They are also light and compact. We also have several photo style lenses (EF mount) that will give us options beyond cinema lenses that we will likely rent. Plus, our existing 5DIII and even 7D can be used as B cameras and will match the C series quite well.

The C series has excellent dynamic range (better than the 5DIII we use today) and a wide array of codec, LUT and output to external recorder options. We have an Odyssey 7Q that is just fantastic. The ability to record RAW as an option or even ProRes 4.2.2 is a perfect fit for us.

And of course, renting versus owning is always on the table. I think we’ll start by trying to trade some favors with some C series owner friends!