Don McAlpine ACS ASC has talked about his experiences shooting the feature film “Ali’s Wedding” on Panasonic’s VariCam 35. Don has shot such movies as X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Patriot Games and Predator, and it is interesting to hear why he chose the Varicam 35 over cameras from Arri, Sony and RED.
Don did exposure and comparison tests between all four of the cameras and found that at 800ISO they all performed in a similar way. All of the four cameras tested had their various strengths and weaknesses, but Don ended up choosing the Varicam 35 for the film because of the cameras duel native ISO of 800/5000. After extensive testing he said that it was very difficult to tell shots that were done at 5000ISO and 800ISO apart, particularly after applying post noise reduction. Don goes onto to say that the duel native ISO feature in the Varicam 35 offers a massive evolution in the ever evolving process of digital cameras.
Don was not only shooting 5000ISO at night, but also during the day for certain scenes. He was doing this in some instances, so that a greater depth of field could be used. Don goes on to say that he had no hesitation switching between 800 and 5000ISO when ever he thought it was more convenient to use. Don is also quick to point out that even shooting at 5000ISO you still need to light scenes to achieve quality work, but you don’t need as many lights to do it. It is very rare that he shoots anything using just practical, available lighting sources.