My World in HD

A  closer look into the ever changing and always evolving world of technology in motion pictures and still photography.

By Benji Aird

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop)-Whether you shoot with the Nikon D90, Canon 7D, 5D,  or anything else, HD-DSLRs are now taking over a large segment of the video-journalism and motion picture markets. All are not really made to shoot video, but with various adapters and add-ons you can make it work and get results not possible in the past.

Recently I shot two projects with the Nikon D90 and was thinking about the differences between using the D90 and a “regular” video camera.


Bokeh describes the rendition of out-of-focus points of light. Bokeh is different from sharpness. Sharpness is what happens at the point of best focus. Bokeh is what happens away from the point of best focus.Bokeh describes the appearance, or “feel,” of out-of-focus areas. Bokeh is not how far something is out-of-focus, bokeh is the character of whatever blur is there.

The most obvious difference is the wonderful limited depth of field (DOF/Bokeh) that is made possible by the large sensors and 35mm still lenses.

This is an example of the Bokeh from a prime lens.

A welcome change from the everything-in-focus, 3-chip smaller sensor video cameras.

At minimum, you’ll need some sort of viewfinder to use the LCD screen in the back of the camera. I tethered to a 17inch monitor for the last project. There’s really no way to use the camera without a viewfinder for professional results. This is a must.

The on-board sound in any HD-DSLR is abysmal at best. You can either record using the BeachTek DXA-5D, or use an external recording device such as the Zoom H4 and sync everything up in Final Cut Pro with Pluraleyes, an incredible program from Singular Software that saves many frustrating hours of trying to sync sound.

One last item is a Vari-ND filter. This variable neutral density enables you to shoot at f2.8 in daylight and maintain that limited DOF look and feel. I use one from Singh-Ray.


The following clip was from the Thanksgiving holiday 2010:

Shooting a low-lit environment may not be the best of conditions to shoot a video, however with 50mm prime lens like the Carl Zeiss I rented from helps a lot. That particular lens had a beautiful bokeh. It was a totally manually operated focus ring which took some getting use to. I know many young photographers are custom to automatic everything!! Using this lens really forced me to take my time when composing the shot.


The other project brought me to up and coming recording music artist Richard Torregano:

Mid:Depth of Field

Shallow: Depth of Field

In the behind the scenes footage from Chad B.’s new club banger “Hit It” you can clearly see the skeleton crew that shoots the video using Digital SLR’s.

After Torregano’s session Blake Hampton of Attention2Detail and I collaborated on a few projects.

Some time in the not too distant future I would like to hit the lottery. I am speaking it into the universe!! I would make the world a better place, visually that is. SO, you come across one of these from a “Street Vendor” get in contact with me.