I was recently lucky enough to be able to shoot with Canons number one DSLR, the 1dc. Canon Norway lent me their beast for a shoot in Ecuador, where we were to shoot short commercials for a TBA project (secret, will post when ready :).
When the 1dc was announced last year, it was the first camera, DSLR and non-DSLR, to offer a viable 4k onboard recording solution for documentarist and run&gun shooters. RED and C500 and Sonys solutions (until recently) are all dependent on quite heavy and power-hungry setups. On the 1dc, I was able to stay shooting-ready on three batteries a day (normal 1d style batteries). In fact, I never ran through more than two of them in one day. That being said, due to the style of the finished product, I was not expected to record all the time, “waiting for something to happen”- style.
That enabled me also to shoot 4k. I was a little concerned in pre-production that I was not going to be able to do 4k whilst on the road. I only brought 5 64 GB CF cards (4x Komputerbay 1000x CF, and 1 Lexar 1000x), which would allow me to run for 1 hour and 15 min a day in 4k. Again due to the style of the finished product, this was enough. We brought 2x 2tb USB3 hard drives with us, together with the great Nexto CF card capture thing (basically a 750gb hard drive which can copy CF cards in the field). The Nexto was able to secure three shooting days, and the rest we spread amongst the hard drives. During 5 days of shooting, I shot 1.1 tb of 4k, and I was a bit worried on beforehand on how to put all this through post. Luckily, my director brought his almost new Macbook Pro, so transfer times with USB3 and Thunderbolt CF card readers made the evening data management sessions less of an headache. I was even able to produce 2k Prores HQs (via MPEG Streamclip) overnight, which most likely will be the files we master this project on.
The 4k (and 2k) C-log footage looks gorgeous. I read up during preproduction about staying away from shooting below 400 and above 1600 ISO in c-log, and this worked out great. This is my 15th shoot on this kind of documentary trips, and its the first time I haven’t worried about shooting in high-noon equatorial sun. Highlights and shadows resolve beautifully. Shooting in non-lit huts and dark interiors, I pushed the ISO up to 3200 in the Neutral picture profile (c-log should be avoided on high ISO, as skintones becomes “mushy”). Together with a small manfrotto lamp, I just could not believe how noicefree the 2k footage looks. The downscaling from 4k helps of course, but together with the industry cleanest sensor output, the result was amazing!
Doing DSLR video for almost 5 years now, I have become quite used to pulling my own focus. I know all of the usual Canon lenses “by heart”, but 4k presents a tougher challenge. Therefore, I knew I needed some kind of monitoring in the field. I wanted to keep the rig light, and to be able to see the screen without the need for sunshades or molton.. An EVF is really then the only option, and I was able to get one from the great guys over at fotovideo.no They carry the Kinotehnik LCDVF. Its HDMI only, works on AA batteries (and other DC sources) and has a completely closed EVF environment. The EVF worked flawlessy during 8-9 hour shooting days. It used quite alot of AA batteries though, and the battery indicator did not work properly. I think that powering through AA is giving the unit almost too little power, so when any of the 4 batteries inserted goes belows a certain voltage, it blacks out. Luckily, AA batteries are easily avaliable all over the world.
In short, the 1dc is an amazing performer when it comes to video. It gives you a wide variety of formats and resolutions to choose from, and they are available with a push of a button. Thats one thing that I love with the DSLRs. The technology is rock solid, restart-less and fanless. It just works. Its a pretty expensive camera, and buying it only for its HD video performance might be a bit overkill. But if you need a extremely lightweight 4k solution, this is really the only thing doing it at the moment.