Allen's Blog

NAB 2010 Report: The Canon 5D Mark II, Redrock Micro, and How They Will Impact the Next Generation of Photographers

Canon 5D Mark II

The major broadcast equipment companies go all-out at NAB, and Canon, Sony, Panasonic, and JVC are some of the ones you’d expect to be major exhibitors each year. One year ago, there was so much attention paid to the video applications for Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II digital still camera that it was difficult to get hands-on time with the camera and all the third-party devices that had quickly sprung up to support it for video shooters. The crowds at Canon’s booth and that of Redrock Micro, who make an incredible range of accessory products for the 5D, were the biggest I saw. The 5D has almost single-handedly created a new niche straddling semi-pro and pro video, and then filled it. While I was in Las Vegas, Raj Tavadia, our technology director, emailed me to say that this season’s finale of House was shot entirely using the 5D and linked me to an interview with Greg Yaitanes, the director of photography.

By the way, Canon’s use of the photographer Vincent Laforet (former NYTimes staffer) was a really good idea. Vincent’s live presentations were riveting (if you could find room to watch him). I took an unscientific survey of his audiences, and they ran the full age range from students in their 20s to shooters who had started with 16mm news film. Even though Vincent and other presenters showed a lot of lovely scenic video and aerials, it’s clear that the 5D is a real crowd-pleaser when it comes to night scenes (complete with mist and wet streets); the music video shooters were all paying close attention.

That brings me to a conversation I just had with Jeff Hirsch, President of Foto Care in New York City… I think Foto Care is one of the great resources for professional photographers (both for equipment sales and rentals), and Jeff always has interesting things to say about the evolving photo business and the creative process. He is emphatic about the absolute necessity for great still photographers to acquire the same levels of technical competence and creativity in video if they have any desire at all to be competitive in getting and keeping clients. In both editorial and commercial markets, clients are making all kinds of demands on photographers–not just about cutting fees. Even when they don’t know just what they will do with the footage (I know that ‘footage’ belongs in the same category as ‘dial tone’), it’s become a matter of course to ask a photographer–even in the middle of the shoot–to add some video coverage. And then there’s the need to learn something about professional sound recording…

Jeff also had some harsh words for teachers of photography whose courses and curriculum haven’t made the leap into creative video because these teachers themselves are only “teaching what they know.” And Jeff points out that there is “only a short window of opportunity for developing the new creative skills, or these photographers will be left behind.” Even top-end commercial photographers, at an age where retirement looms,  are sending themselves ‘back to school’ for video by hiring assistants who can bring them up to speed on the new technology.

Keep reading my blog over the next few days for more news from NAB 2010!