DSLR and Low Light

Not so long ago I was the acting soundman on the production of a short. What was particularily interesting to me was that this “film” was being shot on a DSLR camera. That’s D like Digital and SLR like Single Lens Reflex. Even though DSLR cameras - as far as I can tell - have no need for a reflex device, the name remains.

I know, I’m a little late to the party on posting about the wonders of DSLR video innovations but I hadn’t actually seen the short film until recently. Two years ago, this kind of “filmic” video quality was not widely available. Now it’s the consumer norm for parents-to-be looking to upgrade from their old point-and-shoot digital which has suddenly been rendered unworthy to photograph their impending offspring. The quality is actually pretty damn awesome.

I would encourage everybody getting geared up to shoot their next no-budget indie, not to buy one. “Not” because surely, 18 months from now, an even better technology will be built into wristwatches or something and we’ll all want to shoot our next short on that.

What’s particularly remarkable about the DSLR technology is the response to low-light levels. Now, I’m not terribly well versed in anything photographic since 35mm film but it’s always surprised me how crappy video is in low light. You’d think, I don’t know, my digital camera could print to the flash card what I see on the LCD viewfinder instead of stopping it down by five points… But I digress. I guess camera manufacturers wanted to preserve the authenticity of traditional photography by including those most irritating aspects of film technology such as crappy low light response. Regardless, it doesn’t matter any more, because finally these DSLR badboys are finding the light in those dark places. This short I was working on was lit with nothing but a flashlight and my radiant smile.

What was my point with all this? Oh, right. I’ve got some nighttime shots to coordinate for an upcoming project and I was thinking about low-light. Being that we’re not all expectant parents looking to upgrade our point-and-shoot digitals for the latest space technology optics, I’ve been thinking about shooting day for night. Never done that before. I usually hate it when I can spot it in a film but who knows how many times I haven’t spotted it, so yeah, I’ll be sure to report back.

This has been a pretty slipshod post. Sorry about that. It’s a long weekend. Which means substantially less when you don’t actually have a 9 to 5, but oddly enough, it seems to affect my brain in the same way.

Conclusion, if you’re looking at cameras, look at the new DLSRs. If you’re stuck with an aging two year old buick, maybe day for night will work better?

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