ChungMedia

Janek Zdzarski reports for Polish TV news using the Canon Eos7D

Out shooting with the Eos7D and LCDVF finder

Out shooting with the Eos7D and LCDVF finder

I’m the freelance correspondent of Polish TV station Polsat News and have been based in China for almost 4 years. The arrival of the Canon Eos 7D marked my evolution into a DSLR news videographer – I now shoot all my TV reports on the 7D. Fellow media people at press events here still give me a strange look when I appear with my 7D to shoot TV. Luckily enough when I go out to shoot in the field with the 7D the Chinese people around me think I’m just another tourist with a photo camera. It’s a good thing not to drag attention to yourself around here, so the 7D gives me the possibility to stay almost unnoticed while shooting video of everyday life on Chinese streets.

I’ve always been a big fan of multimedia and am fascinated with the tools that make it easier to create a video report. I believe that very soon most newspapers will have a video content on their sites, not just the big ones. Below is one of my latest reports about the cancellation of the Mr Gay China event – shot entirely on the 7D, when broadcast it would have a Polish voice over track to explain everything, but I’ve left that off here.

Beijing police cancel China’s first gay pageant from Janek Zdzarski on Vimeo.

For most of my years in the media I’ve been a news photographer for daily newspapers and also writing articles. In 2004 I obtained an MA from Warsaw University, my major was TV and Photojournalism. Then 2 years ago, right before Beijing Olympics, I was being offered a freelance job for TV.

I was using regular video cameras, the Panasonic AG DVX100, Sony PD150 and Z1. For unobtrusive field work I was carrying my small Sanyo Xacti 1010HD. But then 7D appeared. The image quality, ability to shoot in low light and portability are the things that make this camera a dream tool for me. I usually equip mine with the a LCDVF LCD loupe to make viewing the back screen easier, a small stabilizing rig and sometimes a monopod. For audio I mount a Zoom H4N audio recorder to the camera and then sync it with the camera’s audio track using PluralEyes from Singular software.

Moving pictures are rapidly taking place of stills. Generally my view is that people are bored and fed up with stills, they don’t have time or will to scroll pages full of pictures online. The video format makes it easier, especially when you add some visual devices like timelapse or maybe some stills – this makes the story visually more attractive. That kind of moving news feature or report can reach a far broader audience and the new video DSLR’s are the perfect tool to make this thing happen. For me another good thing about 7d is its price: it’s a really affordable camera for the quality it offers and that gives it potential to change our industry. Here’s another example of the street shooting I’ve been doing.

Merry Christmas in Beijing from Janek Zdzarski on Vimeo.

A couple more things – for me after shooting news photographs for many years I am familiar with DSLR cameras. I understand how to move around with them and the whole philosophy of being a photographer. But not I’m shooting video, I just need to wait longer to capture not just 1/250th of a second, but let’s say 10 seconds. I also need to take care with the audio (as one of my friend said: in the film the good light means good sound). The other area a photographer coming to DSLR video needs to learn and manage is the editing. It evolves more senses and more dimensions than straight stills. Take time to learn all these things.

I still take photographs though, using the 7D and also sometimes a Mamiya 7. I’d like to take the opportunity here to really encourage photographers to learn how to edit and produce a video features. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that photography is about to die; for me video is another challenge and as said before – the video story can reach the broader audience.

Anybody interested in these kind of News/Documentary features from China, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.
I publish some of my stuff on my photoblog and here’s my picture’s portfolio: www.zdzarski.com

Below is CNN’s version of the Mr Gay China story – look closely and you’ll see it features Janek in action with his 7D.

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Posted on January 19th, 2010 by Janek Zdzarski | Category: Canon Eos7D, DSLR video news, Journalism |

29 responses to "Janek Zdzarski reports for Polish TV news using the Canon Eos7D"

  1. How To Die Says:
    January 20th, 2010 at 2:10 am

    Live and let live…live and work like there will be no tomorrow…save for your dependents as much as possible…live frugally if you must!

  2. Mark Says:
    January 20th, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Janek i’m a bit puzzled as to why you think people are bored of looking at still image galleries on a news website but will happily watch a 2 to 5 minute video package?

    On a news news website video may get many clicks but that doesn’t mean people are watching anything more than the first 20 or 30 seconds. A well designed still gallery of say 12 good quality stills can tell a story quite effectively and can be clicked through (or not) at the viewers own pace.

    Its true some subjects suit video better than still and vice versa. But the key as far as i’m concerned is quality. There are too many so so galleries of still images put up on hidden parts of newspaper websites but often the video content is even worse (both in terms of footage and editing).

    To be honest i’m not sure its worth newspapers trying to compete with TV news for their sites (hence people like the Times partnering with Sky). Not that video can’t be used to add value to a newspaper brand, it can. But i’m not really convinced that many editors out there are really placed to know what to do with it as yet.

  3. Tony Says:
    January 20th, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Janek,

    Your work looks spectacular. I’m wondering why you chose the 7d over the 5d mark 2.

    Note – the photo link on this post were broken.

  4. Janek Says:
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Mark, thank you for your comment.What I mean is that there are so many ‘so so galleries’ that people are bored watching it. It started when digital photography become so popular. It’s hard to find a good quality picture on the popular web sites, for there are too many bad pictures.
    I believe in Internet and I also believe that sooner or later it will be a competition between TV and video on the net. And I keep my fingers crossed that it will be a good quality video.
    Best,
    J.

    Mark :
    Janek i’m a bit puzzled as to why you think people are bored of looking at still image galleries on a news website but will happily watch a 2 to 5 minute video package?
    On a news news website video may get many clicks but that doesn’t mean people are watching anything more than the first 20 or 30 seconds. A well designed still gallery of say 12 good quality stills can tell a story quite effectively and can be clicked through (or not) at the viewers own pace.
    Its true some subjects suit video better than still and vice versa. But the key as far as i’m concerned is quality. There are too many so so galleries of still images put up on hidden parts of newspaper websites but often the video content is even worse (both in terms of footage and editing).
    To be honest i’m not sure its worth newspapers trying to compete with TV news for their sites (hence people like the Times partnering with Sky). Not that video can’t be used to add value to a newspaper brand, it can. But i’m not really convinced that many editors out there are really placed to know what to do with it as yet.

  5. Janek Says:
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    hi Tony, thank you for your comments, glad you like it.
    I’ve chosen 7d because:
    - it’s newer than 5d
    - it’s better built
    - has more controls in video (24,25fps etc.)
    - my last camera was Canon 40D, so I have a selection of lenses that are not perfect for FF cameras.
    J.

    Janek :
    Mark, thank you for your comment.What I mean is that there are so many ’so so galleries’ that people are bored watching it. It started when digital photography become so popular. It’s hard to find a good quality picture on the popular web sites, for there are too many bad pictures.
    I believe in Internet and I also believe that sooner or later it will be a competition between TV and video on the net. And I keep my fingers crossed that it will be a good quality video.
    Best,
    J.

    Mark :
    Janek i’m a bit puzzled as to why you think people are bored of looking at still image galleries on a news website but will happily watch a 2 to 5 minute video package?
    On a news news website video may get many clicks but that doesn’t mean people are watching anything more than the first 20 or 30 seconds. A well designed still gallery of say 12 good quality stills can tell a story quite effectively and can be clicked through (or not) at the viewers own pace.
    Its true some subjects suit video better than still and vice versa. But the key as far as i’m concerned is quality. There are too many so so galleries of still images put up on hidden parts of newspaper websites but often the video content is even worse (both in terms of footage and editing).
    To be honest i’m not sure its worth newspapers trying to compete with TV news for their sites (hence people like the Times partnering with Sky). Not that video can’t be used to add value to a newspaper brand, it can. But i’m not really convinced that many editors out there are really placed to know what to do with it as yet.

  6. Gary Taylor Says:
    January 21st, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I’m finding it really difficult to say something positive. The narrative is poor and difficult to follow, and it’s very sloppy audio and camera work.

    You made a comment about there being so many ’so so galleries’ that people are bored watching and It’s hard to find a good quality pictures on the popular web sites, for there are too many bad pictures.

    Can you honestly say that’s good quality? We should be seeing more in depth, more interesting, more creative, news/doc video pieces, both in terms of narrative and visuals.

    I’m sorry but it really does look and feel amateurish! If I’m confusing this blog to be less about the strength of news gathering and more about the ‘gear’ than I’m really sorry.

    Positive: 7D great, Zoom H4N audio recorder is great, PluralEyes from Singular is a great piece of software. Interesting subject matter to use the gear on! I use the 5DmkII and PMD660 audio recorder myself but I would recommend the 7D and H4n to anyone…they really are great pieces of kit.

  7. Mike Says:
    January 21st, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Hi,
    I’m 90% agree with Gary Taylor. With all due respect Janeck, what are you doing with your DSLR that you can’t do with your Z1? Would you go to Haiti with it? Most of the shots you have taken of the Mr. Gay China would be better solved with a video camera… and with less problems syncing the audio, upscaling, downscaling, interlacing…
    I mean, I think that we all agree that the new DSLR/video cameras are just for some kind of news reports. You can film features for a newspaper because your deadline is flexible, they are perfect for guys like Dan Chung. But the DSLR are right now a no go for everyday TV news broadcast. Most of the videojournalists working for TV stations can use this camera only in the 10% of their assignments.

  8. Janek Says:
    January 21st, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Dear Gary and Mike,
    I agree with you that the report is not perfect. This piece was created as a TV news report, not in-depth story. Using 7d is challenging, not very easy at the beginning, and I hope to make progress…
    @Mike: I don’t own Z1 and 7d is my only camera.

  9. Gary Taylor Says:
    January 22nd, 2010 at 9:39 am

    I just feel it’s missing so much and so much of the 2:00min is lost, with nonsense.

    Rehearsal: 10secs – (why? it doesn’t show me anything important)

    Interview – (I feel quite a offended at what he’s saying. He knows he’s doing something offensive and new, but his only response to that, is that people are jealous. Strip down the homosexual activity and it’s nothing more than pretentious individuals expressing themselves, only to offend people. The quote from him is ok, but in order to understand him and what he is about, and what the gay community is about, we need more than one question and one answer. Otherwise there’s no point to the story. Its very weak, and that might be due to time/deadlines/situation. So don’t feel bad when I think, as a viewer, the person who watches and takes note of these stories, that I feel unhappy about that. You work to bring us these stories, and I think that is the missing ethos between you and the network that supplies us with this poor content. It’s more of a disappointment at the system, a system that’s not working to improve, instead is striving to be saved with new technology?!)

    Cancelled footage: (Due to the media? Due to what exactly?! People aren’t ready for gay pride in china!? no one seems to be there not approving of it!, so where are they?! Where’s their voice in all this? I really don’t understand why it was cancelled!

    Interview: Unclear
    Footage: B-roll
    End

    If the purpose of this was to show the use of a 7D, I don’t think it highlights it very well.

  10. Mark Says:
    January 22nd, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Janek i agree there are too many bad pictures being used these days. Financial restrictions mean everyone is tied to the large agencies who’s main driver is quantity and not quality. Its all very short sighted as far as i can see. Though that’s a rant for another day :)

    But i don’t see tv news being any different. The quality being produced is often uninspiring to say the least (that CNN package being a prime example). And some of the tv news coverage coming out of the US about Haiti is downright scandalous.

    But if people are bored looking at a few pictures i still don’t see why they’re going to watch a video package that lasts minutes longer. Watching on the tv is slightly different, but on the net where people can easily navigate away i think the biggest factor is going to be quality (regardless of whether its text, multimedia, video or still) and what medium tells the story the best.

  11. Janek Says:
    January 22nd, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    @Gary Taylor: If you clicked the vimeo link of the ‘Mr Gay China’ you would know more details and text attached under the video would answer all your questions and doubts.
    The broadcast version that was aired in Polsat News had a voice-over.
    This version embedded here without voice over was to show that 7d can be used during shooting news. And of course, you have right to dislike this piece.

  12. Gary Taylor Says:
    January 23rd, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Isn’t that missing the point!?

  13. Gary Taylor Says:
    January 23rd, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Even on vimeo the comments are about the equipment and what you used..not a single response to the actual story. I suppose it’s not important, not like anyone cares.

    • Dan Chung Says:
      January 23rd, 2010 at 10:00 am

      Gary,

      I think its a little unfair to say no-one cares about the story. If that were the case I’m sure Janek wouldn’t have posted it here in the first place. I also think that the quality of what Janek has produced is not so very different from the report for CNN, both rely heavily on the voice over to tell the viewer what is going on. I’m sure if you watch the report in Polish it makes perfect sense, otherwise Polsat wouldn’t have run it. What is significant is that what Janek did on his own with a $1800 camera was produce something not far off what CNN did with a crew of three and an expensive broadcast camera.

      Apologies also that you feel this site is too technical and not enough editorial, for now that is the balance I have chosen to adopt because most contributors here have an employer that would probably not like editorial matters discussed by their staff off of their own websites (or at all). Most of us are quite free to discuss technical stuff but I would hate anyone contributing to run into problems with their bosses for posting here. This may change as the site evolves but for now that’s how it is for many of us. I would always welcome contributions from others who want to discuss the more practical and editorial side of DSLR video production, please chime in.

      Dan

      ps – I actually did the same story as a preview piece for the Guardian the week before the event. You can see it here http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/10/china-gay-pageant
      please feel free to crit that also.

  14. Mark Says:
    January 23rd, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Dan i think the significant thing is how poor some tv news has become. I’m really not sure the quality or style of that cnn piece is something to be aiming for. But i guess if you work for a tv station you have to produce what you’re told to just like still photographers. Which is where i think its the whole system that’s at fault.

    I can understand that there are difficulties discussing certain editorial issues but surely that doesn’t stop people discussing their own filming and editing? Gear is certainly an important part of film making but not as important as..well…the actual film making!

    I dunno its ok talking toys but i personally want to be inspired by good work and learn from people with more experience at this. Which i’m not going to get from talking about the latest nik nak.

    Anyway i’ve got some editing to do. Sadly i won’t be able to share it due to clients permissions etc. But maybe in the future i’d like to contribute something.

  15. Gary Taylor Says:
    January 25th, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Dan, I understand what you are saying, but you’ve just proven my point by producing something far better. Exactly the right amount of ‘in-depth’ information and constructive narrative I was criticising Janek for not having.

    If CNN produced the same terrible piece, then that’s no reason to give a guy praise. With your video, you’ve just proven with a little bit of thought, and creative input, you can make something watchable.

    I feel some of the videos have missed that key element. The reason why the story is important, and why it’s important to tell people about it. We know the Dslr can produce fantastic quality pictures, but without anything else it’s just not happening.

    I love the technical and practical side as much as the next guy.
    I feel every time I’ve voiced out about not liking the editorial side, I’ve instantly hurt someones feelings. I’ve made positive comments on great work, Danfung’s especially. His work was an outstanding contribution to the site. I feel if other work isn’t up to standard, I want to make a constructive criticism/opinion about it, in the same way I’m giving positive feedback. Reason I said no one cares, is because it seems not many people care for the editorial side and it’s more about the nice depth of field and camera rigs used.

    The comment about having a voice-over to explain it all… well that’s like having an incredibly poor still image, with an amazing caption, a caption that shows more than what the image is showing.

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