Are you a VDSLR-Wimp?

Since the dawn of VDSLRs there is a disease spreading alarmingly fast and it seems to infect more and more shooters. The VDSLR-Wimp disease.

I read a lot of forums and boards. And there I noticed him first. THE VDSLR WIMP. Intelligent, sober and sane folks suddenly write entries like:

I got a problem here. That Canon EF 24-105mm 1:4L IS USM is way to heavy for my shooting style, what´s the best lightweight zoom?

Excuse me? The Canon EF 24-105mm 1:4L IS USM is to heavy? For what? And what “shooting style” are you even talking about? Balancing the camera on your nose, or bolt it on a RC model plane?

The bloke in question revealed, that his “shooting style” consists of holding the camera with his bare hands, while watching the little screen in the back, image stabilization engaged (of course), running and gunning around and trying to mimic a steadycam that way.
He called that a “docu style”.

First of all, MTV roller coaster camera is so 90s (and don´t get me into constant unmotivated zooming and focus racking). Furthermore, I´m editing professional docus since 20 years. 99% of the material was shot with a proper pro shoulder cam, or a tripod. Even classic run and gun ENG work is done that way.

Actually there is no such thing as a shaky “docu-style”, but there are tons of kids with DSLRs out there, that think they can reinvent the wheel, by just dumping everything that is known about proper camera operation, including trying to do a Steadicam job without a Steadicam.

Then there is the type, that thinks that just because his 7D is so light sensitive, that he don’t needs any lights at all. Or any other gear like flags, tripods, shoulder rigs, dollies and whatnot. As a matter-of-fact, he thinks everything can be done without any additional gear.

Ohmygawd I´m so glad I bought that 5D. No more schlepping around of that cumbersome tripod, and lights and bags and boxes. I feel so free. This camera goes into spaces where no camera went before (WTF?), I move fast, shoot fast and nobody even knows that this is a video camera.

Okay, there are times and places and situations where a stealth camera is in order. But we don´t talk about shooting a war as under cover reporter in Afghanistan, but a bunch of film students on Main street, a family guy in Disneyland or a wedding shooter.

Give ma a break.
Guys that constantly moan abut how heavy that lenses are, how cumbersome that tripod is and how much they hate it to have their “freedom and creativity” limited by THAT additional gear.
If that sounds familiar to you, you are probably a DSLR Wimp.

Also there is no way to cut corners when, it comes to narrative shooting.
Having a small, fast and lightweight camera doesn’t mean you get away with just that.

If you want dramatic, filmic light you still need lights. Not 12k of lights as you need with a slower camera, but the same amount (which comes with the same amount of cables, stands, gels, flags, boxes). You may skip a powerful generator, but you definitely need lights when you want to light.

And you still need some proper stabilization system. Tripod, dolly, crane, shoulder rig, bean bag or a steady cam. Not as beefy as with a heavier camera, but you will need that to. Also you want filters. Several ND, grad ND and a Polfilter is the minimum.
4×4 filters need a matte box, which leads us to a 15 mm rod system. And yeah, forget that little screen for focusing you need a monitor and a follow focus, especially with shallow DOF.
And you will need a focus puller/AC1.

Also you need a good sound system, since neither that little pinhole on your 5D that they call a mic, nor a shotgun in your hot shoe will do the trick.
You will need a good microphone, a field mixer, a recording device, a boom, dead cat and at least one – better two – sound guys, knowing what they do, since nothing screams more amateur straight at your face than bad sound.

You see, suddenly your tiny, fast and lightweight camera isn’t so tiny and lightweight anymore. And you already employ a crew of 2-3 guys, just for sound and camera. When you want to do a serious job that can held a candle to any other professional production, there is no corner cutting. You need almost the same amount of staff and stuff.

Now look at this:

Image by Hurlbut Visuals, www.HurlbutVisuals.com.

Here we have the right spirit and balance between gear and camera. This guy is definitely not cutting corners, but probably get usable, great looking footage that he can make a living of. The difference between pros and wannabes.

Which brings us to the question: Who is a VDSLR-Wimp?

Let´s have a look at the top DSLR Evangelists first. Shane Hurlbut, Philip Bloom and Vincent Laforet.

Shane Hurlbut is THE man of tactical gear – yes, even camouflage rigs. The GI-Joe of DSLR shooting. Though he loves to talk about, how fast he moves with the DSLRs in a tight cage with handles, he knows, what it takes to get good footy and he sure does get it. Check out the making of his Navy commercial or The Last 3 Minutes.
Shane Hurlbut: Definitely no wimp candidate – no way.

Image by Hurlbut Visuals, www.HurlbutVisuals.com.

Is Philip Bloom in for a nomination? Though Philip is a preacher for fast-lightwight-less equipment he walks knee deep in lenses and gear. Hey, that bloke even got his own slider made by Kessler (which is an excellent piece of equipment by the way) and it comes even with his name engraved on it. So what can I say? Philip? NO!

Vincent Laforet is definitely no wimp. If you look at this picture, you easily recognize that Vincent is a serious guy, when it comes to additional gear. Also have a look at the making of Revere and Nocturne. They had everything but the kitchen sink there, including exotic devices as electric camera cars and gyros.

Bottom line:
If you are in serous shooting, no matter if documentary, commercial or narrative, you better gear up to impress your clients on set, make your job easyer and your footy better and more pro (and please don’t come up with that lame “I impress my clients with my footage” thing. Your clients are only human).

If you are a film student or hobbyist, it´s O.K. to be on a budget and it´s O.K. to DIY, to improvise and work with what you have. Actually it may teach you a good lesson or two.

But on a professional production, when you get paid good money, forget that whole lightweight shebang and show up with a 5 ton truck on set and a good crew.  You better get real, get serious and get pro.
Otherwise you might become a DSLR-Wimp.

Frank Glencairn

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2 thoughts on “Are you a VDSLR-Wimp?

  1. Hi Frank,

    Thank you for mentioning us and for the kind words. Would you contact us with your email address at the email address provided with this post? Thanks again.

    Hurlbut Visuals

  2. Pingback: Jual lensa Canon EF 70-200 f/4L IS USM | gratis pasang

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