Archive for April, 2011

PostHeaderIcon Why Micro Four-Thirds Makes Sense

One of the reasons frequently cited for the current fad among shooters demanding larger and higher K cameras is this little matter of depth-of-field. Advocates for battleship-size imagers in cameras claim that a narrow depth of field is essential to producing first-class work, and that no self-respecting shooter would be caught dead shooting with a – oh God, no, heaven forbid — a 1/3-inch traditional camcorder.  Never mind that one’s choice of optics is far more important; indeed one’s choice of lens can account for most of the professionalism that an audience can perceive on screen. Sure the RED and the DSLR craze has propagated this notion that bigger must be better; do I have to remind you that this “bigger” mentality has prevailed among many races of men since time immemorial?

When it comes to imager size in professional video cameras I would assert that quite the reverse is often true. If you’re shooting 3D we WANT as much depth of field as we can muster, which gives the smaller imager in a camera, say, 1/3-in to 2/3-in, a significant advantage.  Likewise if we’re shooting wildlife in Tanzania we usually prefer increased depth of field to compensate for the focal length lenses we tend to use.

On the other hand when a shallower depth of field is legitimately demanded, the Micro Four-Thirds format championed by Panasonic and Olympus provides an optimal solution. The 22.5 mm diagonal offers the inherently shallow focus for narrative-type shows, as conditioned over many years by our collective 35mm cine experience. This desirable range of focus is much more readily and practically achievable in the MFT format, without the peril of the nose in-focus/eyes out-of-focus syndrome that plagues users of the Canon 5D for example.

My point here is that craft rules the roost, or at least it ought to; a larger imager with more Ks is NOT better, unless your particular brand of storytelling demands such a treatment. And inasmuch as larger imagers demand proportionately better optics, it simply means we should determine our camera and imager size needs according to the quality of optics we have at hand.

And keep in mind this one inescapable fact: If you’re planning to use a consumer still lens, regardless of your camera’s sensor size or resolution, you can only attain consumer grade images! Think about it.