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Published on Oct 3, 2012
This is a film Nikon asked me to shoot to show the capabilities of the D800 in different shooting scenarios as a professional DP. The film was shot almost entirely on the D800, with just a few shots on the D4. Mainly using the Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8, but also a few shots on the 105mm Macro (for the close ups of the eyes).
The film was lit and professionally graded and edited in Los Angeles. Didn't have very much light with me, so it was challenging at times, but a good representation of what the average amateur or semi-professional shooter might have with him in terms of equipment etc. I mainly used 1/100th degree shutter, as it improves almost all video without becoming visibly narrow and "shuttery". All in all, the camera is very good in video mode and easy to use. Access to the only three things that are important when shooting video; shutter, ISO and F-stop was easily reached through dedicated buttons, rather than being hidden in some deep crap menu like on most other cameras. Very little rolling shutter, no visible artifacts and a decent exposure latitude. Not as good as a Red or an Arri Alexa, but for a DSLR it's pretty impressive.
As with all digital cinematography, you need to protect your highlights at all costs. Do not fall into the trap of "ISO-ing" up to compensate for not having any lighting like 99% of the clips on YouTube do. That will burn backgrounds/highlights into unrecoverable oblivion and look shit. Sometimes this means having no information in the blacks, as is the case when the grandfather teaches his grandson to drive in first scene, but that's the price you pay. Here I've sacrificed detail in the blacks to protect the highlights on their faces and on the car when I didn't have enough fill light available. Not doing that would have burned their faces and looked even worse. It's a tradeoff, but thats the single most important mistake people do in video - they don't protect the highlights.
The night stuff does look a little underexposed here, especially the girl with the lantern, but did not on professional grade HD monitor. The compression has added a bit more contrast to it. I suggest you look at it in darkness and in highest quality.
My tip to the professional shooter: this was shot on the factory settings (which were far too saturated), but I'd suggest if you are going to grade afterwards, you should turn detail off, turn down the contrast to minimum (it's easily added in grading if you want it back) and get the saturation down (also easily put back in later). On top of this, I'd add a Tiffen UltraCon or LowCon filter just to bring the latitude a little bit more inline with professional gear and you'd have a pretty wicked and capable video camera setup, almost indistinguishable from a professional rig.
All in all an impressive DSLR and an all round endorsement for the D800. For the price, it's a very capable camera.