Here he’s talking about the current hot item – using a stills-oriented digital single lens reflex camera for video- with the various benefits and problems you’ll find along the way when deploying still cameras in situations that they were not necessarily designed for, such as…well, video production.
Mathers points out that although the Canon 5D Mark II (the model most often used for motion photography) has a larger sensor when compared to even Sony’s top F35 camera system, all of that sensor’s resolution doesn’t end up in the image when shooting in video mode. Why not? The codec must toss most of the digital data in order to record to the confines of the standard, 8-bit HD file format and onto tiny bits of silicon. The full frame of the CMOS imager, however, is used for light capture, so 5D users can deliver impressive quality images in low light levels as the sensor is paired with ever better lenses.
The upshot? Since lots of elaborate lighting is usually beyond the budgets of small productions, DPs carefully using new, less-expensive lighting kit (think LED rigs) to deliver excellent results. Canon pushed hard to establish itself as the market leader, although the company was originally caught off guard by the vigorous uptake of the new EOS models for serious video production. You can only imagine what creativity this will unleash in the highly competitive hardware industry.
But truth be told, to get top notch results–that is, unless you can get Raoul Coutard for your next shoot–you need to put in a similar amount of effort on lighting setup as the major productions do.
For that insight, you might want to check out Vincent Laforet’s thoughts on the recently aired season final episode of House, which used the Canon HDSLR for principal photography. Laforet, a still photographer who gained some notice by his early adoption of a DSLR for video production, points out that although the House production team used the Canon (with the company’s difficult to focus-for-an-AC EF lenses) for this show, they still relied on the typical heavy-duty lighting rigs available when producing a top TV series.