The landscape has changed and I can only imagine that it will continue to change whether I like it or not.
When I started this adventure, the goal was to get a full frame camera. That was what defined a professional. If you were shooting full frame, the world knew you were doing something right. At least that's what I remember telling myself...
I remember my first time using a full frame camera. I was brought on by some friends to shoot their short film and they told me they were renting a 5D Mark iii. The whole team on the project was energized by the thought of it. The first time I held it, I fumbled around the controls and thought, this is it. I've made it.
A couple years later, I would go on to buy my first full frame -- the Sony a7S. To be fair, it was the game changer I needed at the time. I brought that camera with me everywhere and I started taking on more and more professional work. Low end professional work, but still. Things were looking up. I had the sensor I had always dreamed about and I was working.
That's when the first problem of full frame cameras hit me. It's expensive. I could only afford to own two lenses and I was finding that while I was able to squeeze a lot out of those two lenses (24-70mm f4 and 55mm f1.8), the work was starting to suffer in certain environments. I was out growing my gear but I couldn't afford to expand.
It was around this time that aps-c sensor cameras like the a6300/a6500 were starting to turn heads. They were feature rich cameras but with smaller sensors. Now the first camera I owned that wasn't a straight consumer video camera was the Canon 60D with an aps-c sensor. The idea of "downgrading" from the full frame I had worked so hard to get was ridiculous to me. But then I saw how many more lenses I could afford if I jumped back to the smaller sensor. I had already enjoyed the a7S so I figured if I did that I'd stay with Sony if I did.
Then I saw that I could afford two cameras instead of the one full frame. Two cameras was a big deal for the kind of work I did. So I bit down, sold my full frame stuff, went out to the local camera shot and I was amazed how far it got me. I was able to get two cameras (a6300 and the a6500) and a handful of lenses that covered all sorts of focal ranges and speeds. I was starting to feel even more like a professional than I did when I got the original a7S. Now I could tackle jobs from a different approach and my scope for work got bigger.
After a couple years of shooting with these cameras and building my reel, I started taking on corporate video work with a friend and his company. My first introduction to a micro4/3 sensor camera -- the GH4. Once again, I found myself thinking that the aps-c sensor I had was the smallest I'd want to go. I couldn't possibly "downgrade" any further. But the thing is, my friend was producing better work with those little m43 sensors than I was with a bigger aps-c sensor. Once again, my judgement was put into question. What was the bigger sensor giving me exactly?
Now at this point, features beyond the sensor were starting to become more important. I was doing a lot more video editing so things like color grading and picture profiles were something that carried a lot of weight. Things like low light performance was starting to take a back seat to other features.
Once the GH5 was released and I saw what it was offering, on that little bitty sensor, I knew that they had created something important. I wanted that 4:2:2 10 bit because I knew now how important that was. I wanted that 4K 60p because I knew how useful that was. I wanted something with more accurate color science straight out of camera because I knew now how important that was, too. The boxes just kept getting checked and since I had so much experience with the GH4, I knew this was it. I was going to do what my old self would've thought to be ridiculous and "downgrade" to the next smaller sensor.
And low and behold, since I've done so, I've managed to produce some of my best work yet. It's opened me up to new opportunities and I've been able to expand my gear even more. It's laughable to think again at this point, but now I feel even more like a professional! haha. (Hint: I'm not any smarter after all these years.)
I guess the point of this whole story is that I was dead wrong about what you need to have to be a professional photographer/videographer. I still see the remnants of the full frame chase in online forums and discussions and to be honest, I think its far less important these days. Back when the landscape was ruled by the 5D Mark ii and iii, it kind of made sense as an end goal but now the options are so plentiful and the quality is so unmatched with smaller sensors that the playing field has been leveled considerably.
There are multiple tools for the job available to us now. Are full frames nice? Absolutely. I don't want to come off as some sort of activist. But do you need one to do great work? Hell no. The best camera is always the one you have with you and it sure is nice that we have so many options.
These are my thoughts about random things related to videography, photography and editing.
Thanks for stopping by.