Reason #2,525 Why I love HDSLRs [Erik's Guest Post]

erik hecht_chase jarvis[Reminder: Since each of my staff are experts in their own right, you’ll be seeing more and more posts from these talented people in weeks and months to come. Today, Erik--our video guru--takes you on a ride down the HDdSLR road to extol yet another reason he loves this cool new format. (It also is a pretty fun recall of some fun behind-the-scenes moments from 2010.) Take it away Erik...]

My interest in becoming a filmmaker started back in high school, when the only way I knew how to create visual art was with a still camera. I went to film school to learn how to make my pictures move. Now 7 years later I find myself making films with a camera that’s a tenth the size of the cameras I learned on. And the first thing that popped into my head for my guest post was to talk about an aspect of my job that I quite like: DLSRs that shoot video.

I can talk to no end about the pros and cons of the format, but I’d much rather share one simple thing that makes them so special to me: the moment when I remember that the video camera in my hands is also a badass still camera.

Much of the sentiment in our blog here is that photographers are very fortunate to have amazing video capabilities built in to their cameras. I’m here to tell you that it goes both ways. As a filmmaker I couldn’t be more excited about the instant access I have to a quality still camera every day I show up to shoot video at work. To illustrate the point, here are some behind the scenes images that I’ve captured this year that were only made possible by the fact that my camera is such a strong switch hitter.

Chase & Director of Photography Chris Bell in Telluride

Chase & Director of Photography Chris Bell in Telluride.

10 more still photos from our 2010 adventures that were made possible because I was shooting a HDSLR after the jump…

Chase showing some love

Chase showing some love.

Norton rocking the slate during our video profile of Soren Sorensen for Russell Investments.

Norton rocking the slate during our video profile of Soren Sorensen for Russell Investments. (Click the photo for the movie)

Mercer Island, en route to San Diego for our “12 Tasty Video + Photo Tips” shoot

Mercer Island, en route to San Diego for our “12 Tasty Video + Photo Tips” shoot (Click the photo for the movie)

Chase composing his frame.

Chase composing his frame.


San Diego

Springtime in Telluride.

Springtime in Telluride.

Chase laying out the image order for the Seattle 100 book.

Chase laying out the image order for the Seattle 100 book.

Scott at the Jarvis cabin on Camano Island

Scott at the Jarvis cabin on Camano Island.

Kate driving the “Ride the Ducks” tour boat/vehicle thing on her birthday.

Kate driving the “Ride the Ducks” tour boat/vehicle thing on her birthday.

The view from the Ace Hotel NYC before Chase’s Photo Plus keynote presentation.

The view from the Ace Hotel NYC before Chase’s Photo Plus keynote presentation.

Waiting for the perfect light in Oahu.

Waiting for the perfect light in Oahu.

Shooting Light.

Shooting Light.

An impromptu creative meeting with Scott (left) and Chase (right).

An impromptu creative meeting with Scott (left) and Chase (right).

Happy holidays! And don’t forget your fancy new video camera also shoots stills…

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45 Responses to Reason #2,525 Why I love HDSLRs [Erik's Guest Post]

  1. Ben December 30, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    “Waiting” for the perfect light in Oahu?!?! Looks pretty perfect to me!! These are all awesome.

    • Erik Hecht December 30, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

      Thanks Ben, it was beautiful light for a still like that, but unfortunately we needed hard light and a bright blue sky. I took about 30 pictures of that same landscape over the hour or so that we were waiting. That was my favorite one.

  2. Mark December 30, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    Great photos! Love the one of Mercer Island. I can see my place!

  3. DanielKphoto December 30, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    Nice photos! And an interesting story :-) Thanks for sharing Erik!

  4. Trudy December 30, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    This is really beautiful work. Love it. Great job. (Love the Oahu light photograph the most).

  5. Brian Benthin December 30, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    Nice moves, Erik. I recently had a chance to play with the 7D from our studio, amazing piece of hardware. As much as I geeked over the fact that I had full HD video at my finger tips, the stills capability blew me away. Grey stuff, even in the hands of an admitted amateur.

  6. Blake Murphy December 30, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    Beautiful work! Love it!

  7. tylertv December 30, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

    I agree completely. Having an awesome still camera is a great bonus to my incredibly nimble DSLR. While a lot of photographers are finding themselves doing video occasionally, I sometimes find myself shooting stills.

    Form factor is quite nice too. :)

  8. Michal Garcia December 30, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    Dude Erik, you’re the coolest! Thanks for the images and video – kudos to you Chase for following up on your promise with more guest posts. Dartanyon, Scott, and Erik have all made awesome contributions. Looking forward to hearing from Kate, Mikal and Norton.

    ¡Feliz año nuevo desde Hong Kong!

  9. jeremy December 30, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    thanks for the post, hopefully for the next one you can write a more technical blog post. We Nikon HD DSLR video shooters don’t really have many professionals to look to that shoot with the Nikon format for HD video, unlike the LaForte’s and Blooms of the Canon world.

    Oh, and when you and Chase get a spare minute, can you PLEASE ask Nikon for a firmware update for 720 60fps, metering display in live view, plus maybe apeture control in video mode? Zooming with the stock 18-105 changes the fstop and exposure and man….its a bummer.


    • Erik Hecht January 3, 2011 at 9:11 am #

      Hey Jeremy, I hear you on the Nikon stuff. I’ll do my best to think up a nice tech heavy blog post for my next go at it.

      • David January 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

        I am having the exact same issues with metering in LiveView.

        I’m just starting out with video myself, and it’s really frustrating not having a meter and/or histogram for video. What I end up doing is taking a still or two using my video settings just to double check my metering. Needless to say, this is a pain.

        So is not being able to change the aperture in LiveView for video.

        If you are in LiveView manual mode, the camera does not allow you to change the aperture at all. However, if you are in LiveView aperture-priority mode, the camera does allow you to change the aperture. But here’s the confusing thing: stills are taken with the aperture you dial in, but video is still taken with the locked-in aperture setting.

        Two completely different apertures for the same aperture setting? Doesn’t that completely defeat the purpose of what-you-see-is-what-you-get LiveView?

        If there are such limitations with changing the aperture, perhaps Nikon should make a separate dedicated stills mode LiveView and a separate dedicated LiveView video mode, because a dual-purpose stills/video LiveView mode has the potential to create confusion with regards to what aperture the camera is actually going to use.

        Also, as Jeremy points out, there seems to be an issue with the aperture changing when zooming in and out with the 18-105mm kit lens (f/3.5-f/5.6). Even if I manually set the aperture to the smallest f/5.6 before entering LiveView manual mode, if I zoom in while in LiveView, the aperture itself can change all the way down to f/9. Even if I manually set the aperture to f/8, if I zoom in while in LiveView, the aperture itself can change all the way down to f/14. Etc. Something weird is going on with how the camera is determining/limiting the aperture.

        Other gripes I have are: no auto-ISO in full manual mode for both video and LiveView stills, no 1080/25p or 1080/30p, and lots of compression artifacts under certain circumstances.

        What do you think about moire, aliasing, and jello?

        Is there a good way to get Nikon’s attention regarding these things? To me, it seems like Nikon is struggling to catch up in the video department.

        Erik, I would love to hear your take on all of these things.

        • Erik Hecht January 13, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

          Hey David, the live metering has never really been a gripe of mine since, like you said, what you see is in fact what you get when looking at the LCD. I do, however, also use a Zacuto Z-finder at all times when shooting HDSLR video, so I’m not battling any ambient light reflecting on the screen and hindering my ability to judge my exposure. For critical exposure assessment, I think you’re doing exactly what I would do by shooting a still and looking at the histogram that way. There are also external monitors that will let you see a histogram.

          I’ve never tried using the camera in aperture priority mode to deal with the locked aperture issue, but I have a couple suggestions to ease the annoyance. The first thing I would do use a zoom lens that has a constant fast aperture. The Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 is a great lens, and if you it’s out of your price range then I’d look to Tamron or Sigma for a mid-range zoom with a constant f.2.8. The other suggestion I’d have for adjust exposure on the fly without changing the shutter speed or ISO would to use a fader ND filter ( for example). They give you about 6 or so stops of adjustment and the adjustments will be smooth and manual.

          As for moire, aliasing, and jello. The D7000 is a massive improvement over any other Nikon HDSLR, and the jello is far less present than on any other HDSLR I’ve used.

          Hope that helps…

          • a9251 January 16, 2011 at 8:02 am #

            I think the point Jeremy and David were making was that even if you use an f-number that should be well beyond the range where zooming in and out would affect the aperture, the aperture still changes when zooming in and out (in LiveView manual mode).

            I just verified this behavior on my own D7000. Dial in a high f-number well beyond the f/3.5-f/5.6 range of the kit lens, like f/11. If I am taking stills, I can zoom in and out at will without the aperture changing, which is what you would expect.

            However, when I enter LiveView manual mode, the aperture changes from f/11 to f/18 as I zoom out and zoom in. That seems like a firmware bug to me.

            Also, I think that good design dictates that there should be an exposure meter in LiveView. There doesn’t seem to be a huge clamor for this, for some reason. The entry level T2i has an exposure meter, and the 60D adds a live histogram.

            All of these other suggestions are great (shooting a still, using external monitors, etc.), but in the end, I think they are still are workarounds when there should just be an exposure meter in the first place. Just my two cents.

  10. Jessica December 30, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    great post erik. i’m really loving how chase is incorporating the staff into the blog now. i’ve been following chase for a while now and he is hands down my favorite photographer, but he is very blessed to have an amazing staff also. you guys create some amazing work. i love your opinion and view point on HDdslr. you captured some great stills over the past year. i’m definitely looking forward to upgrading my d5000 to the d7000, so i continue to get the best of both worlds.

    thanks ~ Jessica

  11. Joseph W Nienstedt December 30, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    These are all really well composed and made shots. I know you said that you started as a still photog because it was the only way you knew how to create visual art until you learned to do video. Did the photography naturally lead to the video pursuit, or was it something that you did because you couldn’t do the video yet?

    • Erik Hecht January 3, 2011 at 9:06 am #

      Thanks Joseph. My pursuit of filmmaking vs photography was almost a coin toss for me. I have a lot of passion for photography, but I’m a movie geek at heart. When it came time to go to college, I figured that film school would make me a better photographer, but going to school for photography wouldn’t necessarily ever lead me to filmmaking. Kind of ironic now when you look at this HDSLR boom and the convergence of film and photography that’s going on (Chase’s success definitely contradicts my previous belief). So anyway, I applied to one film school and got in, so that was that. Good times.

  12. Johnny Mccoy December 30, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    Cool quote! “I can talk to no end about the pros and cons of the format, but I’d much rather share one simple thing that makes them so special to me: the moment when I remember that the video camera in my hands is also a badass still camera.”

    And too, you can do both at the same time!!

    A DIY 9Shooter: Shooting Stills & Video Simultaneously & Audio Too!

    “The post below shows a simple way to capture video while taking still pictures. Sure, there is some added weight and yea, video will not get a dedicated person and will just “follow along”, yet, this is a neat way to achieve video with just one person shooting, This is also a great instructional tool for yourself to see how you interact with your model, what things work and what makes them shrink.

    There are two versions for this mod – a dueler which mounts a DSLR with a video camera and a 9Shooter that also has sound attached.”

  13. aalex.04 December 30, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    Wonderful photographs, I want to be as talented! :)

  14. Sam December 30, 2010 at 5:55 pm #

    dang. my photography has been beaten by a filmmaker. amazing behind the scenes photos.

  15. vallord December 31, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    Looking forward to going the opposite direction and learning more video with my new camera. It will be a challenge since I am drawn to the silent split second.

  16. Andy December 31, 2010 at 5:15 am #

    Erik – Awesome post. The Telluride lift photo is killer. And ditto to all the other positives above. Great work.

  17. Cody Min December 31, 2010 at 6:55 am #

    Not sure if this was already asked, but any chance we can see some of your personal film work?

  18. Puneet December 31, 2010 at 8:09 am #

    Please can I know, how can you take shots like :
    Shooting Light.
    Springtime in Telluride.
    I mean it’s so contrasty and full of detail !
    is it the time of the day or the quality of the glass or something special that makes these kind of warm flare photo ?

  19. Dwayne December 31, 2010 at 8:26 am #

    Love that Oahu frame and the meeting with you Scott and Chase.

  20. Carla December 31, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    hello!!!! well, i´m only here to congrat you for all your amaaaaazziiing work!!! i´m portuguese and I love to photograph, mostly to experience this type of expression. I have a “petit” machine, really “petit”, but I love her.

  21. Alex December 31, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    Great post Erik. Love seeing these photos. That one of Kate driving “The Duck” amphibious vehicle is classic. Cheers buddy. Alex

  22. John Caetano December 31, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    Awesome shots Erick…keep up the great work. Love seeing all your works

  23. Kent December 31, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    Great stuff! Thanks for sharing…

  24. Tony T. December 31, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    Very true, Erik, I made the move to my current camera because it could do both so well. I absolutely love it. I find I’m shooting more video than stills currently but 4 months ago it was the other way around. To have a tool that excels in both worlds is priceless.

  25. diala chinedu December 31, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

    Such a great post…i love anything behind-the-scenes…Amazing photographs too!!!

  26. Diego December 31, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    Fantastic post, Eric!

    I gotta ask though, what are the brands and models of Chase and Scott’s sunglasses? They’re awesome.


    • Erik Hecht January 3, 2011 at 8:55 am #

      I think Chase is rocking Electrics (not sure about the model) and Scott wears a pair of real deal vintage Ray Bans. They’re rad and heavy and the lenses are real glass.

      • Diego January 4, 2011 at 1:34 am #

        Awesome. Thanks man!

  27. Jill Jarvis January 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm #


  28. Mate January 1, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    nice shots

  29. mr wesley January 2, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    hey mate. great post and great shots. The “view from ace hotel NYC” pic looks like a scale model of a new york street – would love to know how to create that effect.

    cheers. Paul from australia.

  30. Will Austin January 3, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    KILLER shots, love them all!

  31. Anthony Perez January 11, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    i wish i could afford an SLR with video, really want to start making mini clip films!

  32. Stu Bailey January 13, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    Great Post Erik! Love the photos. Its nice to hear from Chase’s staff as you’re all so heavily involved in his work.
    Keep the blog posts coming!

  33. Getty Images Representatives Philippines January 17, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    Good job. Great capture of all this pics. Shooting light and springtime in Telluride photo I’ve like the most.

  34. Nishant David February 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    Loved All Of Them
    God Bless Ya Guys.

  35. Elinor Buehler April 5, 2014 at 5:02 am #

    I do agree with all of the ideas you’ve presented in your post. They’re very convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too short for novices. Could you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

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