I recently saw a photo from a Canon event where editors from Surfing Magazine were giving a talk. A big pull quote was streaming from a projector saying,
“THE DIGITAL CAMERA WAS JUST A TEMPORARY BRIDGE FROM FILM TO FRAME GRABS” —Peter Taras
There’s been a bit of talk recently about Canon’s new 1DX Mark II and it’s frame grab capabilities. Rumors of staff photographers going full video and just pulling frame grabs for print.
So I bought the new camera and put it to the test a few weeks ago in Indonesia. The picture you see above isn’t really a picture. It’s a frame grab. Quality is pretty good right? I was impressed, I admit. Could this be the moment that photographers strike back against the greedy filmers in our industry and take their jobs? You “video guys” who pull frame grabs from your RED clips and sell them for peanuts. Now we “creepy photogs” will buy the new Canon to film video for the magazines we work for so they can grab frames for an Instagram account and we sell the extra clips to brands for peanuts. Revenge!
But here’s why that won’t work. The RED camera didn’t put photographers out of business. And Canon camera’s won’t put videographers out of business. Why? The quality just isn’t there. The settings you need to shoot video in order to get sharp frame grabs is not a good setting for motion. So you’re compromising one thing for another. And vice-versa.
If you’re an aspiring surf photographer and want to be the best you can possibly be, get a digital camera and shoot RAW files. There’s no better quality than that. Unless you’re a #staybrokeshootfilm type.
If you’re an aspiring surf filmmaker and want to be the best you can possibly be, buy a RED and shoot the settings that are best for motion. There’s no better quality than that.
The best people in both photography and filmmaking didn’t get to where they’re at by trying to do everything (no one with a greedy-bar is doing anything worth watching). They focus on one thing and do it to the best of their abilities. Buying the new Canon camera and pulling frame grabs will never get you past Todd Glaser or Zak Noyle in the surf world. And the video clips you get will never be half as good as the work of Tom Jennings or Rick Rifici.
So go ahead and relax now, that temporary bridge is holding up just fine. At least, until next year. —Nate Lawrence