Home Camera Camera Checklist for HDSLRs

Camera Checklist for HDSLRs

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC

Here is a little instructional video from our Hurlbut Visuals HDSLR Bootcamp.

A huge thanks to editor Chris Fenwick (chrisfenwick.com) for taking the time to cut this footage!

I have talked in the past about the power of the hybrid approach.  Taking the best from still photography and the best from motion picture photography and colliding them into a hybrid.

One of the best ideas from motion picture photography is the protocol of the film-making process around the camera. Dealing with magazines loaded with film, downloading those film mags, camera reports, etiquette around the camera, exposures, filter factor, film speed change, and double and triple checking before turning over the film camera.  We all know that the platform has changed but the systems and checks and balances have not.

This is just a little glimpse of what my Elite Team members and I have developed and what we are teaching. We have re-written the camera check list based on this DSLR platform.  Enjoy!!!

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73 comments

Shawn M October 7, 2010 at 5:35 PM

Hey Shane,

Thanks for all that you and your elite team do, it’s truly inspiring. Your blog is awesome. It is the go to playbook for this platform and it evolves every week.

When are you anticipating having another Bootcamp? Are you considering doing ones in different cities? I live in Philadelphia and would love to attend.

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Shane October 7, 2010 at 10:20 PM

Shawn M, thank you so much for your kind words and support. We are starting to entertain different cities as we speak. I love Philly. We will see.

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Sura October 8, 2010 at 9:33 AM

Been following your blog for a long time now. Been truly inspirational, thanks for all you do.
However, one little request for those of us at other parts of the world like Africa (Nigeria). Is it possible you consider releasing videolog of the Bootcamp as some learning DVD? I know the Bootcamp is hands-on, but its still be beneficial for those too far away. Thanks

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Shane October 10, 2010 at 12:04 PM

Sura, Thank you so much for the kind words. Yes, we are releasing a series of instructional videos from the bootcamp. They will be available within the next month. Stay tuned

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Eric October 8, 2010 at 10:53 AM

Shane,

First off, great job with the website and all your work! Because of you, I’ve begun venturing down the road to DSLR film making. Thank you for all of your write ups and quick tutorials, they’ve taught me so much!

But where is the video that accompanies this post? I viewed the page in two different browsers, but nothing shows up.

Eric

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Shane October 10, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Eric, I want to thank you so much for your wonderful words and support. The video is back up, so sorry for the inconvenience, a ghost in the machine.

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mel haynes October 8, 2010 at 12:08 PM

Great video, Shane. Really useful, even for us poor 1 camera people. I have disciplined myself to follow a similar checklist and sometimes people look at me like I am Rain Man about to ask when Wapner is going to be on, but I feel it will help me as I grow into bigger productions and strokes my OCD tendencies a bit 😉

Denver is always a great city for a boot camp. Not that Im suggesting anything.

Mel

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Shane October 10, 2010 at 12:09 PM

mel haynes, Thank you so much for those kind words. I feel the same way. I double, triple check all the time. Denver, want to take this baby on the road this summer. Big Hurlbut Visuals 40′ trucks blazing down the highway to the next camp across America. Stay tuned, much in store.

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David Shulkin October 8, 2010 at 4:04 PM

Once again there is not enough thanks to give you for sharing and inspiring us. I’m always disappointed when there isn’t an update on the blog. Anyway, your approach has provided me a creative boost and your info/enthusiasm has help me infect our staff with the potential of this approach. This checklist provided me with a couple other thoughts to incorporate into our workflow. Sincere thanks! And go Detroit or Chicago for Bootcamp!

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Shane October 11, 2010 at 12:01 AM

David Shulkin, you are so welcome and thank you so much for your kind words and support. I love what I do and that passion fuels me. We are putting a list of cities together and will see who rises to the top for our next bootcamp. Stay tuned.

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Justin Cerato October 8, 2010 at 9:25 PM

If you ever did a workshop in Australia, i’d be there!

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Shane October 11, 2010 at 12:03 AM

Justin Cerato, We want to come. We love Australia. I think it would be amazing.

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Patrick October 8, 2010 at 9:30 PM

Hi Shane,

Do you always shoot at 1/50th shutter speed or will you bump up to 1/60th for US light sources when doing 24P. There’s been a lot of debate about this on the web. Thanks for you input.

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Shane October 11, 2010 at 12:04 AM

Patrick, Yes, always. I have never had an issue with it and I have shot the equivalent of 2.7million feet of 5D and 7D footage.

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Joseph J October 9, 2010 at 12:18 AM

Shane, you kicked A tonight..as usual. Great job!

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Shane October 11, 2010 at 12:07 AM

Joseph J, thank you so much for all of your support. It was great having your expertise in Portland, helping me spread the word and fuel the revolution. You ROCK Joseph!!!!

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Miles October 9, 2010 at 12:09 PM

Hi Shane,

I was just wondering if you had considered making a “Bootcamp” DVD? I’m sure there are many of us from outside the US that would never be able to make it to the actual hands-on seminar. I would love to have something that would be geared to the professional making the change to the DSLR market. Most of the stuff out there now seems to be made for the beginner or semi-pro.

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Shane October 11, 2010 at 12:09 AM

Miles, yes we are editing the DVD’s from the bootcamp as we speak and should have some for sale in the next month and a half. Yes we are pushing this on the professional level. The Elite Team and I are making it our mission to show how this can hold up on a 60′ movie screen and not a 15″ laptop. Stay tuned, DVD’s will be on the way soon.

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Steve M. October 9, 2010 at 4:13 PM

Hey Shane,

I too want to take this opportunity to thank you for this DSLR checklist. I hear ya when you talk about that Manual button getting bumped. It happen to me on a shoot where it had gotten bumped to AV and it took me several minutes to figure out what the hell was going on! Although some have complained of the new locking mode dial on the 60D, I for one think that it’s a nice little feature. Lastly, is there any thoughts in the future of perhaps marketing a Boot Camp DSLR DVD? I’ll pre-order it right now!!

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Shane October 11, 2010 at 12:11 AM

Steve M., you are very welcome and thank you for your wonderful words of support. Yes that damn button has boned me twice. The first time I did not catch it the second time I did. Bootcamp DVD’s will be on the way in the next month in a half. Stay tuned.

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PhotoCine News - The definitive destination for HDSLR filmmaking. October 10, 2010 at 2:22 PM

[…] Hurlbut ASC recently put up this video on his Hurlbut Visuals blog. He talks about the settings and procedures that he and his team use […]

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Patrick October 11, 2010 at 4:38 PM

Thanks for the reply on the 1/50th shutter speed “debate”. Your answers are the bible as far as I’m concerned. Hoping to attend one of your bootcamps soon.

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Miles October 12, 2010 at 5:15 AM

Hi again Shane,

Thanks for the info and good luck! I can’t wait to see the DVD’s.

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ivan marasco October 13, 2010 at 2:41 PM

hi shane,
wich software do you use in windows to control dead pixel of canon?
thanks

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Shane October 15, 2010 at 9:41 AM

ivan marasco, I would recommend Adobe After Effects and you are very welcome.

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Steve October 13, 2010 at 6:06 PM

Hi Shane – thanks for a great looking video. You mention staying in the ISO range of 160/320/640/1250/1600 – I never go above 1600 – but do use 200 and other values in between. Are you suggesting that the ISO values you mention are the recommended ISO values. If so, just wondering why? Thanks!

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Shane October 15, 2010 at 1:27 AM

Steve,Thank you for your kind words. Just like film stock having a specific ISO or back when I started ASA rating 50, 100, 200, 250, 500, 640. This camera has the same. Let’s call them native ISO’s and this camera’s ISO’s that show the least amount of noise are 160, 320, 640, 1250, and 1600. Now when you push film a stop it adds grain, same thing with pushing the sensor. When you go to 200 ISO, you are effectively pushing the sensor and adding noise. 250 ISO will have more noise than 200 because you are now effectively pushing it two stops. When you reach 320 which is a native ISO, it is like we have started with 320 ISO film stock. If we push it to 400 ISO we are once again pushing the sensor and adding noise. When you push the sensor a 1/3 of a stop it is equal to pushing film one stop. When you push the sensor 2/3 of a stop it is like you are pushing film 2 stops. Very organic with this sensor compared to other video cameras. If you sign up for the inside track on my website you can access all the old newsletters. There is one that shows you all the different cameras and their noise levels based on different ISO’s.

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Daniel Cohen October 14, 2010 at 10:28 AM

Get video Shane, as usual. Thanks for sharing.

Something I learned years ago from still photographer Neil Leifer, when I was his assistant – use little pieces of gaffer tape to keep dials from moving. If you want to stay in “M” manual mode, just put a small piece of tape on the dial. I never need to move it off there anyway. I noticed the 60D has a little lock button on that dial, so somebody at Canon is listening, but right now on the 5D and 7D, I use some tape.

And Steve, those ISO numbers are the “native” ISO numbers for shooting video in these cameras, as set up by Canon. I’ve been told that if you keep to the multiples of 160 you’ll have cleaner images, less noise. Maybe not true for shooting stills, but for video that seems to be the case.

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Shane October 15, 2010 at 1:28 AM

Daniel Cohen, that is exactly right. Thanks Daniel.

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Ken October 14, 2010 at 4:20 PM

Hi Shane.
Your work and you writing and sharing is helping me fulfill my dreams on working creatively with video!!!

As Steve says, I think many people wonder about questions regarding the connection between ISO/FPS and Shutter.
I have asked mr Bloom to provide a simple table with that, but that guy´s to busy drinking long-drinks at Zacuto 😛
(just kidding)

But, Steve! Here is all I know with the ISO:
Your shutter should be set to 1/50 (if you set it to 1/10, it would actually be 1/30).
160/320/640/1250/1600 should be used, and here is what I know:

Lets say you will find ISO 200 perfect in you viewfinder, the results in ISO 200 will be more grainy than ISO 320!
I do not know the technical background for that… guess I leave the rest for Dr.Shane 🙂

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Shane October 15, 2010 at 1:32 AM

Ken, First off I want to thank you so much for your kind words and support. Thanks for helping Steve. I answered Steve with my best analogy.

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Juan Kis October 14, 2010 at 6:00 PM

Hi Shane! I had the opportunity to assist to your lecture in Portland Oregon.

My question is what is the reason that when we use those kind of cameras the ISO have to be 160, 320, 640, 1250, 1600 ?

What can be wrong with “photo ISO” like 100, 200, 400, 800 ?

Thank you!
Juan

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Shane October 15, 2010 at 1:37 AM

Juan Kis, Thank you so much for helping me out in Portland. I had such a great time. The food and the wine was insane. Just like film stock having a specific ISO or back when I started ASA rating 50, 100, 200, 250, 500, 640. This camera has the same. Let’s call them native ISO’s and this camera’s ISO’s that show the least amount of noise are 160, 320, 640, 1250, and 1600. Now when you push film a stop it adds grain, same thing with pushing the sensor. When you go to 200 ISO, you are effectively pushing the sensor and adding noise. 250 ISO will have more noise than 200 because you are now effectively pushing it two stops. When you reach 320 which is a native ISO, it is like we have started with 320 ISO film stock. If we push it to 400 ISO we are once again pushing the sensor and adding noise. When you push the sensor a 1/3 of a stop it is equal to pushing film one stop. When you push the sensor 2/3 of a stop it is like you are pushing film 2 stops. Very organic with this sensor compared to other video cameras. If you sign up for the inside track on my website you can access all the old newsletters. There is one that shows you all the different cameras and their noise levels based on different ISO’s.

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Jerry W October 15, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Hi Shane,

Just wondering if your planning on evauating the Panasonic AF100 which is the next evoltuion in the DSLR? It should rock the cinema world almost as much as the 5DII did. I would really be interested in getting your feedback on this S35 sized sensor video cam. Thanks for the time you put into this stuff for us.

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Shane October 25, 2010 at 11:41 PM

Jerry W, I am conjunction with Panasonic to put this baby through the paces. Will give you feedback.

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Oli Kember October 16, 2010 at 5:01 PM

Hi Shane,

I can’t believe this is my first post as I’ve been reading your blog for so long and have gleaned such insightful knowledge from it. It feels almost selfish to have enjoyed your content for this long and to only now be thanking you. Anyway, thanks for all the information you so selflessly share and distribute. I come to your blog not expecting a daily dose of updates on the newest technology, or rants about some new camera or the other, but come knowing that the posts are carefully thought out and evenly spread between the creative and the technical.

The most interesting post I think I’ve read of yours, personally, was the one about lighting the diner in Montana. As an aspiring DP, posts that give insights into a pro’s lighting philosophy are pretty invaluable. The post has since turned into a post about the video village challenge, which is indeed still very useful, but less creative and philosophical than when it had been about lighting that location. I know for one I’d love to read more posts about lighting- it’s so key to creating a look, and while I appreciate that a lot of lighting gear doesn’t fit in with the low budget philosophy that goes with these HDSLRs, one can still use cheaper available lights, common hard lights bounced off sheets etc to get great looks.

Anyway, there’s so much information available about these cameras and their limitations etc, that I for one know I’d really appreciate more posts about lighting- something that you are in a very privileged position with in terms of knowledge and experience. We all know pretty much all the technical/ gear stuff now, I feel that we should get back to the basics of story telling, and lighting is so key to that, and for some reason something that almost no one out there blogs about, probably because of lack of experience. Anyway, I’d love to read more about lighting if you ever got the opportunity to post more about it. Available light’s great, especially with these cameras, but that doesn’t mean we should neglect thought out and controlled lighting.

Thanks for everything.

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Shane October 25, 2010 at 11:40 PM

Oli Kember, I cannot thank you enough for your kind words and all of your support to the blog. I am working on more lighting blogs. Have you checked out the BTS of the Last 3 Minutes? I go into lighting in depth on the Carnival one as well as the Janitor one. I could not agree about hanging with the story and the lighting.

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Gianluca October 20, 2010 at 9:51 PM

Hello Shane, last week I got the hard drive containing the group’s A footage, but I was surprised that I couldn’t watch any of the stabilized shots we took in the bedroom/warehouse set. I’m referring specifically to those scenes were Eli was talking on the phone and we were shooting from the Dana Dolly and the JL Fischer (cactus out focus, etc…). Basically from the folder of that scene there are only shaky hand held shots that we took as B roll for the editor. I know that HurlbutVisuals is preparing an instructional DVD on the bootcamp, so I also thought that perhaps the best taken shots will be released only at that time, but honestly I hoped that it would not be the case. Anyway if it’s possible I’d love to watch exactly the clips that we screened together at the Alternative Rental’s theater for group A. Thank you in advance for your help on this.

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Shane October 25, 2010 at 11:37 PM

Gianluca, That is very bizarre. If you are LA I will make sure you get those files. I am slammed but if you come to Bandito Brothers I can hook you up with all of the Group A footage. Sorry for the inconvenience. 3115 S. La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016. I will be here tomorrow after 11:00am and again on Thursday.

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Joevye October 21, 2010 at 4:14 AM

Hi Shane!

Great video and very useful HDSLR tips you’ve got there.

You may want to share them too with other HDSLR professionals over at Expert Checklist http://expertchecklists.com/. It’s a new web app for professionals working in difficult and complex environments where users can work together to create and discuss very effective checklists for their fields.

The cool thing is that you can modify the list for yourself and print it as PDF. On the web site, you can also work together with other pros to improve the list or discuss changes.

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Shane October 25, 2010 at 11:30 PM

Joevye, Thank you so much for those kind words and your advice. I will check that website out.

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Gianluca October 21, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Hello Shane, I just want to let you know that a gadget from Beachteck that was backordered (never released) for 8 months it has finally hit the market. I’m talking about the 5DMulti Mount which gives you a duplication of cold shoe slides to hang devices as the Marshall monitors, Zoom H4n, and also hosts in the middle of the rings a Senheisser wireless receiver which is a very good thing since before I was just wrapping it with gaffer tape. Hope you like this concept, it’s three times cheaper than the Norbert. Ciao!

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Shane October 25, 2010 at 11:29 PM

Gianluca, sweet I will check that out. Thank you so much for the heads up on this.

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Michael October 23, 2010 at 3:35 AM

Hi Shane,

Great video! Many thanks.

The only thing left is the picturestyle setting that is killing me. For grading its key! Could you please write a little article about this digital film settings you have created for yourself!?
I have many setting but can’t find the right one.

Cheers,

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Shane October 25, 2010 at 11:28 PM

Michael, Thank you so much for your kind words, I am glad you enjoyed the video. Unfortunately my picture styles are proprietary, which has come from 21 months in the field testing.

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Benton Collins October 27, 2010 at 11:38 PM

Hi Shane,

I attended your talk and show at the Canon Expo in NYC a while ago. During the Q&A section, someone asked about how you dealt with rolling shutter issues or something similar. You replied, “it doesn’t exist”. I am still mystified at your answer or maybe I don’t fully understand what the rolling shutter effect fully is. I have seen examples of the rolling shutter “jelly” effect during fast pans, where vertical lines are skewed, that I understand. But there is also another artifact that I have seen during even very slow pans or in modestly moving objects that is much more disturbing to me than the “jelly” effect. This is the appearance of sharp horizontal (scan?) lines that suddenly appear in even the most modest of pans or slow moving objects. Is this also an artifact of the rolling shutter? Or am I seeing something else? Either way it sucks big time and I don’t know how you are able to get around this affliction. Whatever light you can shed on this issue is greatly appreciated.

Thanks! Benton

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Shane November 2, 2010 at 1:25 AM

Benton Collins, when I said that is doesn’t exist I met with how I am shooting we didn’t have issues. Now I am panning all over the place and following good guys shooting the crap out of bad guys. High speed car chases, boats blasting down rivers at 50 knots, you name it I experienced. The biggest issue we had was that we shot the whole movie 30p and the 24p firmware was not out yet, so the conversion, frame blending. Whatever you want to call it is what is kicking our ass. Now I do see small rolling shutter anomalies. We dealt with them on the Last 3 Minutes, we were lucky to be able to use another take.

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Benton Collins October 28, 2010 at 9:30 AM

Hi Shane,

After some testing, I have discovered that the spontaneous horizontal lines that I spoke about in my previous post, only occurs in videos that have been posted and viewed on the internet. The same original clips which I have produced, do not display these lines when viewed directly from a hard drive on my computer. Whew! Now that that mystery is solved, is there any fix for the horizontal lines that pop-up with videos hosted on sites like Vimeo and YouTube? Thanks!

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Gianluca October 28, 2010 at 12:20 PM

I’ll come there today . Thanks

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Shane October 29, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Gianluca, perfect, see you soon

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George Pauley November 1, 2010 at 8:32 AM

Shane – Thank you very much for making great films and taking each and every one of us through the process. Your website is invaluable. Would you ever consider a forum like Roger Deakins has? There are SO many questions I have for you, your team, and your readers, but I don’t feel that the comments section is appropriate. I don’t want to get too far off the subject of your posts.

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ivan marasco November 1, 2010 at 2:43 PM

hi shane,
i would like to know if you have a solution or suggestion for reducing moirè aliasing problem.
do you use filter during shooting?
do you do something in post?
do you use other tips during shooting?
or do you shoot ignoring this problem?
thanks

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Benton Collins November 5, 2010 at 10:18 PM

Thanks Shane for your reply on the rolling shutter issue. Regarding that native ISOs have lower noise than intermediate settings, Amila C. Kumarasinghe posted a test on Vimeo that clearly shows this to be true: http://vimeo.com/15875333 However, there was an exception with ISO 1250. For some unknown reason (at least to me) the next highest best setting past ISO 640 was 1600 NOT 1250. 1600 showed much lower noise than 1250. ISO 800 wasn’t bad and also better than 1250, but 1600 was still the best after 640. (Perhaps 800 and 1600 are better because they are true multiples of 160, where 1250 is not?) This test is best viewed at full screen in a darkened room.

Incidentally, I did a test for the lowest noise ISOs for stills (on a Canon 60D), and found that that range was completely different than for movies, it ran: 100,200,400,800,1600. (1250 was also not good here either) Strange but true!

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Shane November 6, 2010 at 1:12 AM

Benton Collins, you can see our test on the inside track newsletter and there is a little bit of difference between the 1250 and 1600, but very minimal. Thanks for sharing that info. You are very welcome and thank you for your support.

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Benton Collins November 6, 2010 at 1:31 PM

Hi Shane,

I just signed up for your news letter, Thanks! If the test that I referred to on Vimeo was done properly, (it’s all shot with a lens cap on and then the brightness levels are brought up uniformly in post so the noise levels are exaggerated so the noise can be seen more easily) it clearly shows a major, not a minimal difference between 1250 and 1600. Perhaps this only pertains to the 60D? I know you have already done a through test on this, but maybe you could tell me why my eyes are seeing a big difference between 1250 and 1600 with this Vimeo test? Thanks!

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Shane November 7, 2010 at 2:16 AM

Benton Collins, it doesn’t matter who you think is right or wrong. I go to 1600 ISO anyway when I have to go that deep. But with my new picture styles 1600 ISO is like 6400 ISO so I am grabbing so much more information. You are welcome and thank you for your continued support.

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Tony November 7, 2010 at 10:52 PM

Hi Shane,

Just wondering on your thoughts on the new Nikon camera: D7000. How do you think it compares to the 7D or 5D?

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Benton Collins November 7, 2010 at 11:46 PM

Shane, You said, “with my new picture styles 1600 ISO is like 6400 ISO so I am grabbing so much more information.” This sounds great! How/where can I find out more about your new picture styles? Thanks!

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Shane November 10, 2010 at 1:17 PM

Benton Collins, my picture styles are a proprietary thing. Sorry, 22 months in the field.

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Benton Collins November 12, 2010 at 9:22 PM

Thanks Shane, I completely understand protecting the family recipe. Are you able to say if they are derived by accessing the standard camera menu or is this a custom software/firmware type of thing? Thanks!

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Shane November 12, 2010 at 11:33 PM

Benton Collins, totally custom. Thanks for understanding.

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Benton Collins November 13, 2010 at 12:26 AM

Very cool. Thanks! Have you thought of selling your custom picture styles?

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Shane November 15, 2010 at 1:20 AM

Benton Collins, no I haven’t. They are personal to me.

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Molefi Clive Mohale November 14, 2010 at 1:21 AM

Hi filmmakers, i will be in Kenya Mombasa so any of you needs stock footage contact me. Hope to hear from you guys.

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Brett Alton November 29, 2010 at 8:38 PM

I really appreciate you explaining these details to the public. I’m brand new to DSLR cameras, let alone film, so I appreciate every tip I can get. Thank you.

Maybe you can explain how to purchase sliders, dollys, lighting, z-finders, etc. while you’re a poor student? :p

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Shane November 30, 2010 at 2:53 AM

Brett Alton, yes ask and you shall receive. I have many things in my rental inventory that we do not use anymore. I can help. You need a Z-finder, I have one, you need a cam-rail. I have one. You need a handheld rig. I got one.

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Martin Calvi January 13, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Regarding the ISOs:

Are these as well the best ISOs for the T2i, 7D and 60D?

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Shane January 13, 2011 at 6:30 PM

Martin Calvi, yes they are.

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Alan Austin July 16, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Love this blog…it’s a great resource that I’ve spent many hours on, and go to often.

Thanks so much,

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Shane July 25, 2012 at 8:10 PM

Alan Austin, thank you so much for those kind words

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Carlos Diaz January 24, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Thank for keeping us educate in this way!!! This is a new trick for the portafolio.

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Shane January 28, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Carlos Diaz. Thank you for the comment and support.

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Ashraf March 9, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Mr. Shane thanks for this amazing blog i’m learning allot… my dream is to be a cinematographer one day.. i’m from Lebanon(middle east) and where i leave u cant find a mentor or someone to lead u cause sadly the D.O.P s hear want advice u cause they are afraid if they do we might take their job one day… so basically i’m on my own and i need a help from you… what can i do or read to improve my skills and vision… i already read (five C’s of cinematography) and i’m reading your blog on daily basis…. Thank you

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