Cinematography Is A Frame Of Mind. Not A Specific Camera.



This is a bit of a knee jerk reaction to the latest crop of new cameras about to be unleashed upon the public at NAB 2012 and the new Canon 5D Mark III. Canon has a great marketing team. They did a fantastic job selling the new 5D3. I want one! However I do not think in any way that the new 5D3, C300, C EOS, Scarlet or Arri Alexa will make me a better cinematographer. Cinematography is a frame of mind, not a stupid camera. That is why it is considered to  be a craft and not art. We use the tools available to create the images we envision. Cinematography is about noticing the lighting in every room you enter. It’s about watching the world light itself. It’s about compassion for your craft and fellow craftsmen. It’s not about bit rates, codecs and compression. So before you run out and spend a ton of dough on a new camera, get great with the one you already have.

Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • Mikespins

    I understand where you’re coming from Jared but I tend to disagree. A good cinematographer can craft great images with any motion capture device. But that said using better tools will generally bring better results. I can craft images with the 5D and have done so for the past two years, but in my short time shooting with the C300 I am capturing the images I see in my head.

  • Oliver Kember

    True, but sometimes the right tool can give you the right mindset. I’m pretty sure we’d all think about composition a lot more if we were shooting 35mm film instead of snapping away on our iPhones. In that respect the right tool can be beneficial to the frame of mind. Essentially though, of course, it’s never been about the tool. I would add that I do think that cinematography can reach the status of art. Painting was never about the brush but that doesn’t mean we call it a craft instead of art, right? Thanks for the post.

  • vince gaffney

    Jared, I agree 100%. Light and composition. And discipline.

  • Goforjared

    Thanks for your comment. Do you think it’s the C300 or the fact that you were able to afford a 5D and practice with it for years that helped your shooting?

  • Vlad Box


  • Jim Weise

    Well said, Jared.

    Let’s remember, though, that while talent allows any tool to be used to create art, even the best craftsman can do better work when the tools stay out of his way (psychologically, physically).

    I know that in my photography and limited filming experience, for example,  I get frustrated when the basic tools I have on set like stands, tripods, etc. don’t function the way I expect them to. A camera, after all, is just another one of these, but a pivotal one.

    It’s not just about the image coming out, but how easy/intuitive the camera allows that result to be. I think we’ve seen that the split into the C300 and other cinema line is Canon’s recognition of this principle, because form factor and features go a long way.

    Are these new cameras the best thing ever? No, certainly not, but they are improvements and better first-time buys than what came before them. The reality is I will have to work harder to get my shot from my 5DII than I would with even the MkIII, and that has at least some value.

    Will they make me a better photographer/cinematographer? No. Will they get out of my way and allow me to reach a higher potential if I can? Almost certainly.

  • Mikespins

    I think it’s likely both. The 5D clearly forced me to really work on composition, understanding DOF, aperture and a whole world that I never touched much as an ENG shooter. Shooting well with the 5D isn’t an easy thing. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time. That has absolutely helped me to become a much better shooter. I have been able to transfer that knowledge to the shoots I have done with the C300 and get as much out of that camera as I can. I will never knock DSLRs. They have been very, very good to me. But let’s be honest and admit that they were a happy accident that we were all too happy to exploit. Now Canon has listened to what we all said we wanted, smaller form factor, XLR jacks, a better codec, better outputs, and those of us like me who come from a DSLR background are now able to take those same skills and use them on a more powerful motion capture device and get better results. It’s a melding of the skills I’ve learned and improved on with a camera built to do more of what I want it to do.

    Hope that explains my point better than in 140 characters on Twitter.

  • Loren Nelson

    I understand what you’re saying Jared, and everybody else says it too, but you rarely see articles and blog posts about the craft, they’re all about the gear. Gear posts get clicks and comments and website ad revenue. “It’s just a tool and the craft is more important” is the throwaway sentence at the end of almost every one of them. I’m not saying I like it, it’s just how it is. I’m glad WOC goes deeper…even though your gear posts probably get the most traffic. Ha!

  • Trankilstef

    You’re right Jared, when you look at movies like 28 days later for example, it’s obvious that it’s obvious that it ain’t the tool but the man who uses it that make something great or not.
    But we entering times where technology gets more and more important each day and also gets faster obsolete. We all a part of this, we all want to getthe latest trendy cam that shoots with the latest non compressed codec, but sometimes it’s useful to slow down and think about primary thing : our skills.
    And to end here, one last movie comes to my mind : The Artist. Not the fancier movie at all. Not the bigger budget at all. But really good cinematography, good concept and almost great storyline. 5 Oscars.

    Thanks for this article.

  • Kenz Perez

    Jared, you are my Jesus Christ in cinematography.

  • Steve

    Well don’t ask him to walk on water, because rumor has it, he can’t.

  • Nina Warner

    Wow Jared you’re a wiz at this…I am down with the camera just being a box with which
    you can re-image/realize your point of view. Don’t go too much farther afield with a system that may hamper your style. And I too am a Canon lover…not at a high level and in the market for a purchase of a dslr…which inadvertently lead me here. Hey Jared, it’s nIna
    from 3B, nyc….based in LA for many years….and wow, you sure look different that the kid eating ice cream I took pictures of for that Sesame Street magazine cover.  Hope to chat sometime…Best to Jeri and Bob….congrats on fatherhood, career, etc.

    Nina Warner
    Playa del Rey, CA

  • Snindo16

    Los invitamos a conocer los productos de Aprotech todo en soluciones tecnológicas