What Camera Do You Use? / by Richard Something

You know, it was all on a lark. I wasn’t taking myself seriously as a photographer. I borrowed a camera, they wanted to give me a light meter and I wouldn’t take it. Here is my photo education: when you’re outside in bright light you put the thing on 16 and you put it on 250 or 500 or something, when you’re outside and it’s cloudy you put the thing on 16 and you put it on 60, and when you’re inside, you go by the window and you put the thing on 2.8 and the other thing on 30. That’s what I did and all my exposures were perfect. That was my total education in photography.
— Duane Michals

Since I've made some short films (one of which was shortlisted for cinematography at several festivals) and take pictures of things, people often ask me what camera they should buy. I always provide some vague, general answer because I have no idea what they should buy and they’d probably get better advice from a distracted teenager in the camera department at Best Buy. A lot of photographers, videographers, and cinematographers are gear heads, they love their cameras almost as much as what they produce with them. That's not me. I know what equipment I need to get the images I want, but that’s the extent of how much I care about the technical side of things.  

This certainly doesn’t make me better than all those people who are obsessed with their equipment, I'm sure in plenty of ways that it makes me worse, but it definitely makes me not very knowledgeable about which GoPro will work best with the drone someone got for their birthday.

If I don't care that much about camera equipment, then how'd I choose which camera to shoot Hell with? And also, what camera am I shooting Hell with anyway? 


Hell will be shot on a Blackmagic Cinema Camera. I bought this camera a couple of years ago for several reasons: 

  • It works with all the expensive Canon lenses I already owned. Lenses are just as important, and often more important, than the camera itself and I didn't want to start over with those. 
  • It's fairly small and adaptable.
  • It has 13 stops of dynamic range. What does that mean? Well, for example, if I'm shooting in a dark room backlit by windows, it means the camera will capture all the detail from both the room and what's outside the windows, instead of blowing out all the brighter parts of the scene. This provides a lot more flexibility in post-production. 
  • It shoots a very flat, desaturated image, mostly due to all that dynamic range mentioned above. This also provides a lot more flexibility in post-production, particularly for color correction. 
  • It has arguably the best combination of picture quality and price of any video camera. 

All that sounds good. But does this camera actually produce high enough quality visuals to capture footage that looks like a really real movie? Just from using the camera, I know that it does. Plus it was also used on the recent X-Files mini-series and several other "cinematic" TV shows. So even fairly deep pocketed productions are impressed enough with the BMCC to use it either instead of or alongside more expensive cameras.

See Several Stars of Hell at the Roxie Tonight in Talkies

Aviva Siegel, Land Smith-Abbinante, and Scott Vermeire are all performing sets at Talkies tonight. The show is at 10:00 in the Little Roxie. Talkies is a monthly (and hilarious) comedy show, so if you can't make it out tonight, I strongly recommend attending the next show on the first Friday of May.