Shootout—HDSLR versus APS-chip Camcorder

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It’s been an insane two months (and it’s not over) but I thought I’d try to pull my head up from the computer (what country is this?) and check in.  I’ve been covering two, back-to-back, 3 week-long charter jet tours for National Geographic Expeditions and TCS&Starquest Expeditions. Covering them entirely in video (fortunately, I don’t have to edit all this stuff!)

These tours move like lightning, spending no more than three nights per location and going all over the world. It’s like a Whitman Sampler of world culture. And for a rookie video shooter, it’s a challenge…you get one crack at a location or activity, it’s brief, and there’s no going back for reshoots, there’s no assistant, no soundman, no second cameraman.

I shot the first 24-day trip with Nikon gear…two D7000′s, a battery of lenses, and a bit with the late, lamented Sanyo Xacti HD 2000 handicam. The gear behaved flawlessly, but it was a heavy load slogging two bodies, 5 lenses, a little LCD light and a soundkit, on and off buses, landrovers, small charter planes, etc. 

Here’s an example of what we did during a brief trip to the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea with this setup.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of using an HDSLR in fast breaking documentary coverage.

The pros: Nikon optics…can’t beat ‘em, ability to grab stills if need be, familiar form factor. Built-in intervalometer makes doing timelapses very easy. Easy access to all controls and a very complete and logical menu system.

The cons: Attaching and unattaching an LCD loupe is a hassle when things break so fast…and you can’t fit a body already fitted out with one in any camera bag that I own. So you end up not using one a lot of the time and  it’s hard to see in bright light.

Onboard sound, even with a good shotgun mic, is okay at best, there is no live histogram to judge exposure (and it’s very hard to judge exposure on an LCD, if you can’t see it!).

And the weight of the bag became daunting (of course, I am not getting any younger, so that’s a factor:-).

In the next post, I’ll talk about the second trip, which I shot with a completely different setup.

 

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10 Comments

  1. Tim May 4, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Awesome Video Bob but inquiring minds want to know, just what was that guy smoking in the pipe?

    • Bob Krist May 5, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

      Dunno Tim, but he was eating a lot of nachos and giggling all the time….

  2. Mike Morse May 4, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    Great video. Recognized some of the guys (and the Huli Wig Woman) from my trip. My only concern is that you didn’t credit anyone with the chanting. As memory serves me, the Huli’s are pretty big into retribution if they feel slighted. At least you didn’t mess with their pigs. Great slow motion stuff. Mike

    • Bob Krist May 5, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

      Thanks Mike…I cleared the chanting rights with their agents at ASCAP:-). Nice pix, BTW!

  3. JackKurtz May 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    It’s a beautiful video Bob and I love the sound.

    jack

    • Bob Krist May 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

      Thanks Jack…the editor, John Campbell, did amazing things with the chanting stuff they did and I just recorded from the shotgun straight into the camera. Hope you’re well. Bob

  4. Dave Hutchinson May 7, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Bob, you are great at everything that you do. You are a great story teller…and certainly a role model for travel video shooters. I loved the Papua New Guinea piece. -Dave-

  5. Dave Hutchinson May 7, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Bob, you are great at everything that you do. You are a great story teller…and certainly a role model for travel video shooters. I loved the Papua New Guinea piece. -Dave-

  6. Dave Hutchinson May 7, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Bob, you are great at everything that you do. You are a great story teller…and certainly a role model for travel video shooters. I loved the Papua New Guinea piece. -Dave-

    • Bob Krist May 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

      Dave: Thank you…in triplicate! But I’ve got a long way to go in a lot of things, especially video… Bob

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