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The Lone Wolf Filmmaker

Lesson 4 of 15

Different Cameras & Their Advantages

Bill Megalos

The Lone Wolf Filmmaker

Bill Megalos

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Lesson Info

4. Different Cameras & Their Advantages

Lesson Info

Different Cameras & Their Advantages

The camera the camera is the thing that we're going to use to capture this alright the way that the camera works is there is a its called a sensor these cameras have there's a lens okay the lens gathers the light and allows you to focus and too change the amount of light that comes in but then the light is is gathered and it's put on what's called a sensor which is a a chip of silicon chip of some sort and let's see if we can see this open we may not be able to see this open without there we go that's the chip in there that little that little um you see that greenish blue thing in there that's a this is a very large chip. Yeah there's the chip in there okay, um way will come back to this now that is a very large chip. Okay, the reason I wanted to show you this this, uh, diagram is that camera there is called a five d cannon five d and it uses this white line that's all around here. Okay. Um the camera that we're going to use here which we're going to use mostly for this this this class...

because it shows it's the quickest and easiest way to show the cameras has a much smaller chip it's this one it's this this magenta here, okay I I really I use a camera that's very similar to this for most of my work, I find it's the best camera for my kind of work. Um, so there's, another camera that's over here, the one that's on the we'll get to that there's. Another dude this's a dslr that's a dslr which stands for digital single lens reflex. We'll get to that in a minute. That camera has this size. This this this, uh sayin size. So the sensors are bigger and smaller. Alright, what's the what's, the advantage of these different sensors? Well, the bigger the sensor, the larger each of the individual pixel allen picture elements in it are, which means that actually a big censor, all other things being equal, we'll need less light to get an image. Okay, um, it also means and we'll come back to this. It also means that it has a lot less depth of field and we'll talk about depth of field will show you some charts in a minute and we'll see things about that. But, um, the things that we're going to talk about here in these cameras, we are going to compare three different kinds of cameras were going to compare a traditional, all in one video camcorder like this. Which I think for that kind of work that I do and the kind of personal filmmaking if you're really working for yourself this this camera doesn't have to be this big there's their smaller versions of a camera like this that air there but this camera and in general is the easiest to work with and you're going to get the best results um many people use digital single lens reflex is also known as a dslr like this um there's many reasons for using it as we in the next few minutes we'll see what those reasons are um and of course you can use any number of things you can use your iphone which will look at a certain point um you can you can make images with there's there's so many choices now it's just it's amazing but the question is what's the best one for you so these these are things that were going to go through okay and how did how to master them and how to how to use them for your t tell the story that you want um so the d s l lars have much bigger chips the other cameras have smaller chips and that's that's what that's their advantages and that gives them all their entire characteristics all right, so a traditional camera like this right? Why do I like it? Well, first of all you have control over the image total control over the image and because of that, you have a lot of confidence in what you can do. You know that with this camera, no matter what happens in front of you, you're able to capture it. Okay? Um, it has a very we showed before. It has a very has a zoom lens that allows you to teo to really control and feather what you're seeing very but it also has confidence in the sense that you can ugh, this camera has audio infants over here, and you're taking the audio right on this camera. You know, dslr, we throw the word around what it means is a digital single when's reflex, I think if you know it, the original cameras that were film cameras were called single lens reflex is basically all it means is that if there's one lens and it goes up through this prison block and so you're actually seeing what's coming through the lens, okay? That's, what an slr is okay when they started when they dropped film and they started making digital image rate rather than actually putting film in the camera, they put the d in front of it, okay? When it's called single lens reflex, I don't know if you remember those old box cameras that had two lenses, they looked like that and people would look like that what would happen is this would be the lens that you would take your picture with and this is the lens that you would look through the camera this because do you remember that snapping sound I made before that it's basically took a pict what's that noise that we associate with the snap is what's happening is there's a mirror in there that opens up and went out the moment you take a picture okay and that's that click click sound when I opened this up if you saw when I take the lens out you saw that the the mirror flipped up when you're actually filming video with this that mirror that allows you to look through here and see what you see in that mirror is up all right well well so anyway so the um these cameras were not designed to take video they later gave the video capability in it but one of the things that's that is difficult about it and that makes it difficult to work alone is that it doesn't have real sound capabilities there's no place to put in a professional microphone in it it doesn't there they're not that's not what they do so in order to do that we do something called double system sound um okay so double system sound means that the sound is recorded separately on another device that we're going to look at a little bit later so I went over here guys um we'll have to figure that one out it's all hooked up and it's not s o basically it means that on a separate recording device they're going to take sound you let me take a picture here now that's really hard if you're working by yourself that's like a lot to deal with so that's why if I'm working by myself is a lone wolf I really prefer this all right um so because of that that means there's a much better chance of getting the shot every time I know where I can I know this kid this kid is gonna as long as I can imagine where this kid is going to go he's got a kite or he's doing something I can just follow him I know it's gonna happen andi I know I'm going to get it with this because they can change the image size as I'm doing it and I'll be much better it's also has a good form factor for handheld use um by that I mean no yeah I say everyone is slightly different and we're going to we're going to get two hand held in a minute but it's got a good form factor for meaning I can put it right on my shoulders I can shoot it like this and I can hold it very steady which is crucially important okay this camera is still has the it still has the same form factor that that they came out with back in the late sixties when when nikon created these, you know. And when nikon came out with the night format or the f the nikon f it's it's like this and that's? Not really that's. Not nearly a steady okay, if you're if you're if you're holding it like this, it's not really a ah sustainable it's. One thing to hold it up for a second and take a quick click. It's another thing to hold it and hold a shot for ten minutes like this. All right, so the form factor is better for those, um the thing about I'm sure all you guys have seen big hollywood motion pictures where you see the big camera. Well, that camera actually has a sensor that's a little bit smaller than this, but in order to cover that sensor, remember we saw how big these sensors are in order to cover that sensor and to cover the whole range of it. The lens actually has to be very, very big, so you'll see you've seen these pictures where you see you see a movie camera that looks like this, and then the lenses really long on the front of it. Well, those lenses way about maybe thirty, forty, fifty pounds apiece and there's no way that you can hope to cover this thing with one lens that gives that long range from a wide angle to a telephoto you would the lens would be just totally unmanageable. So what happens in with these lands with these cameras? In order to cover it, we need to use a variety of lenses in orderto have the coverage that we need. Wei need a variety of lenses this lens that's on there is a fifty millimeter lens. We'll see what that does. This lens here is a zoom it's, a wide angle zoom a medium wide angle zoom it's a twenty four, two hundred five millimeter this lens is a seventy two, two hundred. This lens is another single single it's only one focal length. It has a specific use all these four lenses the lens on this camera because it's covering a much smaller censor the lens on this camera incorporates all those lenses and more. It actually goes tighter than the longest lens than the white lens on white, and it goes wider than the wide one. So this lens has what we call um this lens has a range of twelve times or more from white to tell what that means is I don't have to change lenses on it it means that no matter what happens this lenses on here all right? These guys who are following this this what we're doing in this class we're moving here moving there picking up zooming in getting close ups there are they're using the same lens cameras this with the same lens the problem with this camera that I find doing films that are are about people who are doing their lives whether they're walking to school with their kids whether there uh you know, whether they're helping someone with work with this camera more often than not the wrong lenses on the camera right? If I if I think oh, I'm going to take a wide shot here so I'll put the wide zoom on and then I really need to get into close up and see what he's writing on the piece of paper I'll have to change lens come over so it's very frustrating to work with the camera like this for documentary style work because you always feel you have the wrong lens on it it's very good for certain things but it's not good for other things so that's one of the reasons we already talked about cynthia go ahead can you go over how the lens relates to the sensor like why a big sensor would need more lenses versus a smaller it's not so much that the yeah I can I can show you that what happens is the lens is right when we go back to this it's not so much that it needs more lenses it's that if I have a lens that is focusing the light on you guys and inside the lens changing it and you know focusing and so that it ends up on the sensor in focus if I'm covering something this small the lens khun b a small lens it khun b a shorter smaller lands okay, um generally it's it's confusing because there's equivalence depending on this sensor size there's equivalence but we generally talk about thirty five millimeter equivalent just to make just to make things let's have a common it's even confusing for us for professional cinematographers all the time so we need to have, like a common language that we can talk about because these older cameras have been around for such a long time we use the nomenclature from old thirty five millimeter cameras okay, because that's the standard that everything is working too so this would be a wide land so we talk about it as an eighteen millimeter lens. Now when that's an eighteen millimeter lens what that means is this is the lens right on the camera there's a focal point in the center of all these things over here let's say there's a person over here right there focused the things come for here they come back obviously these lenses they're more complicated there's not just one lens in it there's multiple lenses in there and it gets focused on here and actually it gets focused upside down on the censor here okay, so when we talk about an eighteen millimeter lens, we're talking about the optical center of the lens the difference from there to the sensor being eighteen millimeters with a telephoto lens like the white one that I showed you there you'll see that the longer lenses are longer the optical center of the lens here and this is where it connects to the camera that's a longer distance so that lens is going to have a much is going to focus much tighter it's going to be it's going to grab a much smaller piece of the universe okay of the thing that's in front of it, so but because I'm going to show you one more slide forward before we come back to these so this is kind of the range this would be a wide angle lens here. This is all the same location this's a wide angle lens here in thirty five millimeter equivalent of eighteen when I say again talking about that sensor size that we're using to make all comparisons so this would be a wide angle lens and this would be a real telephoto this is the same little red building this right there, okay the big, the longer the lens. The tight the more the more it magnifies things to get back to your question in order to cover, remember this this eighteen millimeters showed the whole mountain and everything. In order to cover this smaller sensor, I would use actually a shorter lens in order to cover this sensor with this if I wanted. If I if I needed to cover this, if I needed to cover this little one, see, the light that comes through the lens gets focused by the lens, and it spreads out again. So if I wanted to cover this little one, I could cover this one with let's. Say a four millimeter lens and this the bigger one would take an eighteen millimeter lens. All right, the lenses are longer the focal length or longer. Now, what does that do? First of all, that means that the lens is going to be bigger. So that if I were to cover this camera with the lens that has the same range is this camera right? I showed you zoomed in tight and then it was wide. If it was that lens would be much, much bigger. It would be like this. So there's no way that I could hand hold that lens I could only put it on a very big tripod I would need a camera assistant to change the focus on it I would need I would need a much bigger I would need basically one hundred one hundred fifty thousand dollars worth of gear just to manage that lens now it's going to give me a better image because this is going to have a lot more information in it it's going to give me a better image but it's going to be totally impractical for my use so in order to cover the range of this lens this little lens because it's on a smaller sensor I actually need a range I need all these other lenses just to cover that same range alright x I could do it with just the two of them but even this I mean this this lands here uh ways I mean this lens by itself which only covers the long end of the range that weighs more than this camera does. If I wanted to get everything that this camera does in one lens it would be like this all right and it would also cost about eighty thousand dollars with all that being said you're saying that this one has a smaller chip side does have a smaller chips okay, so I can't out the smaller chip size allows it to be convenient it also allows it to be cheaper in overall in the in the whole thing this this bigger lens the bigger sensor size allows this let's let's get back to the more these let's get to the advantages again okay, we talked about the single system audio right that I'm keeping the audio together on here in one piece when I worked with the d slr I need a separate recorder and when I edit I need to match those two pieces up together because this is getting picture and kind of just a scratch like reference sound but the good sound is going over there so I need to use a slate to synchronize them and every time I get into the editing room I need to connect those back up when I start working so that's that's a real advantage this one has a motorized zoom these lenses here they are they technically there zoom lenses but you can't do a smooth a smooth operated zoom in them. Um this one has a lot of data in the viewfinder so you can see that there's a lot more there's a lot more information on here. Um I can see this I can see the audio levels over here I can tell you I can tell you all sorts of what the f stop is which we're going to get to what the game is, what the color temperature is set at all that and I can put even more information in here, right? But right now, so so you have that so that data is there that gives you confidence, you know, that you're getting good audio levels. We'll talk about that a little bit later. Um, it also has neutral density filters. Um, I guess we need to go back to this again. So I go back to the x one. The extreme, um, neutral density filters, which we'll talk about in a moment. Basically, they're like sunglasses. If you look at this image, I can just aiken that's. Actually, I've got so much on there that you can bear other you so you can see yourself there for a moment. Okay, so this this allows you a lot of control. You can go from indoors outdoors very quickly. You just flick this in and you don't lose your shot. You're following somebody. Um there's also let's. Go close up on the camera here from goto. This camera. There are many, many external controls on the camera. Can you switch back, tio? What? Okay, there are many controls on the camera. I don't have to go into menus and stop filming I can just very quickly switch this on. Which will change this one will change my my color temperature I can switch this one on which changes my gain we'll talk about gain in a minute I can switch like I just showed you these everything is out there able to be manipulated very quickly without having to stop and say hold on hold on no stop there I don't get out of your car yet wait, wait just a second I'm going to do this again which you're constantly doing when you're using one of these cameras but that's not to say that they don't have advantages so let's move on to the advantage of these cameras it's less conspicuous if I want to go to a country where if I want to film some place that might be sensitive and people are worried about about a video camera coming there it this looks less like a video camera, okay? It has a shallow depth of field we're gonna talk about that very soon with the depth of field is what is in focus find focusing on jessica and it has a shallow depth of field. I can just get her eyes and maybe the hair around here and then everything behind her and in front of her is out of focus. That is because and we'll get back to the lens is that your question? Uh shot aboutthe lenses and the larger sensor it means that you can get you khun do things with a lot less light so these air these air thes air definite advantages another advantage of it is the um is that the in some ways they're cheaper? I mean they're cheaper when you first just go out and buy one if you would just go out and buy that camera is cheap by the time you put some good lenses on it the prices they're not so cheap anymore but the original entry and if you if you can say well look, I want to be I can rent lenses when I need them says I need a special I just get maybe one lens now and when I need rent like so there is a little bit of a cost advantage too um there's another kind of camera that we were going to talk about here um which is an iphone uh recently this year and in the two thousand fifteen um sundance film festival there was a feature film that got people very, very excited because it was shot almost entirely on an iphone um other people have shot films, parts of films on iphones before I don't know if you remember there was a documentary called uh finding sugarman or where some of the key the key interviews were shot on an iphone but this one there's that but there's there's again less intimidating people are so used to them um, and, uh, it's, always with you, the best people say what's, the best camera, the camera that you always have with you, you know, it's, certainly, in taking still photographs and more, more kind of amazing pictures have been taken on iphones. I think in the last few years, just because people always had the phone with them, they catch the stuff I remember. You know, I don't know if you saw that you'll see things like planes crashing because the people had the phone with them right there, you see, they say, the plane coming in, and so all this video that you're saying, or the rodney king video or just the people, the fact that you've got the phone with you.

Class Description

It is common to "postpone" your filmmaking due to insecurity and doubt: Do I own the right camera? Do I have access to the proper resources? Can I support my vision with a strong artistic/technical point-of-view? Those fears are why so many film and media projects never get off the ground.

In The Lone Wolf Filmmaker with Bill Megalos, you’ll learn camera, sound, and storytelling techniques that will place you on a simple, yet sophisticated path towards completing a moving-media project. 

Bill will help you:

  • Choose the best camera for your project and budget
  • Use the camera on a technical level, with an artistic intent
  • Develop an aesthetic and technical approach to sound recording

The class will demystify the distance from the first step to the completion of a formidable, marketable piece of media. You’ll learn techniques that will simplify your process, no matter the scope of the project or your experience as a filmmaker.


Mulk Raj

This was excellent. I’ve been learning filmmaking up until now from watching YouTube videos and from my own practice which has been great. But I found these lessons to complement everything I knew and filled in much of where I was going wrong or wanted to know, and all in one convenient place. The course covering both the technical aspects as well as telling the story. There were lots of great techniques, tips and information from all aspects. Shooting mainly on the Sony Camcorders but I didn't consider this to be an issue, and the course also provided an excellent side by side comparison with the Digital SLRs. You can see from the lesson list that many topics are covered from the different types of lenses (one interesting question Bill asked was “what type of lens was that photograph taken with?” I had never thought you could discern this from the photo). Other great lessons was on sound tests, covering reflective sounds and comparisons with booms and lab mics and the ideal placement. The emphasis was always on telling the story and the reasons why you would choose one over the other. I learned a heck of a lot from the interview section. How to set-up, where to set-up an interview, looking at all the different aspects and backgrounds open to you from a location, how to conduct an interview, how to ask questions, lighting from the far side, the concept of slow disclosure, and the final hour being a fly-on-the wall on getting the shots was really interesting if you’ve never worked on a filmed set before. I personally thought this was an invaluable insight into filmmaking, well worth the investment. Great work.

jamie applegate

I have seen a couple other film courses on CreativeLive, but I think I have enjoyed this one the most. It was very informative, Bill's personality is great. I loved how hands on he really got with his student's including seeing them actual film. It had some good laughs. Well done!

Josh Moore

Great overview of capturing video from a one-man/small production team perspective. And great insight from an expert who's done it all. The Making One Location Look Like Many episode was fascinating to see how Bill spontaneously approaches creating shots in a location.