Storytelling with small cameras
Television has some standards and traditions among cameramen. In my more than 30-year career as a cameraman and photographer covering all kinds of stories, I have almost always used the traditional larger ENG cameras for the daily video content and carried a smaller camera for stills.
Traditionally we have always used the larger ENG cameras for field production, having that stable weight in a strong cabinet for steady shooting, using large lenses. All in all heavy but steady work machines.
I carry a small camera for stills. Shooting for the website and social media, because we always have a digital output besides the piece running at our daily news show in the evening at TV2Fyn. I even use still as part of my storytelling adding them as an extra feature in some of the video stories.
All this equipment is pretty heavy and it isn’t very flexible in many ways. A large ENG camera in a car is always annoying and very limiting shooting-wise. A small camera is much better in these situations.
Small cameras have developed rapidly in quality in the last few years, and keep improving. Therefore there is no way back for me.
The Sony cinema line FX6 for example is a very good small camera with better performance than the older larger cameras. Dedicated for video. So why didn’t I go with that one for a start when switching from the large bulky camera?
Because I want something that I can use for more than one thing. I want the flexibility in switching from video to stills and back. I want a tool where I know all the settings blindfolded. Where I do not have to switch between different ways of setting up sound, white balance or menus.
I am pretty conservative when it comes to that because I want to know my tool in and out when using it, so I can focus on storytelling and creativity rather than searching for buttons.
I keep my cameras for a long time because I want that steady workflow. For stills, I have been through different brands over time, but today I am down to two main quality tools. The Leica M9 and Sony A7r-series. The Sony by the way has that extra feature that I can adapt Leica lenses to it adding an adaptor. Really a cool feature, but that’s another story.