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Why the Best Camera is NOT the One You Already Have

Tanner Shinnick

As content creators, we’re inundated with the notion that the best camera is the one you already have. Is it, though?

Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of this piece of advice. I believe that the best and right camera can breathe life into any project. Because cameras have the ability to inspire. The right camera has the power to motivate creators to accomplish their best work. The amount of excitement that a camera can bring to a project can be felt all the way through. That’s why we’re going to look at why the best camera is NOT the one you already have.


The Power of Inspiration

The ARRI Amira

The right camera can inspire in memorable ways. Amira Image via ARRI.

Back in 2015, I was tasked to DP an ad in New York. Honestly, I was pumped about it. It was one of my first bigger commercial gigs. At the time, I was well-versed in the Canon Cinema Series and owned a C100, so my immediate thought was to film the ad on that camera, since I already had it.

However, after much consideration, I decided to take my first steps into the world of ARRI cameras and film the entire spot on a rented (and new at the time) AMIRA. The moment I made that choice, the shoot’s entire atmosphere changed entirely. We were all young and extremely excited to work with this camera system. I worked harder than ever to prepare. We all knew it had the ability to help us create our best work. This attitude was consistent all the way up to the delivery of the final video. To this day, that piece is one of my personal favorites and remains on my portfolio. That camera inspired the production.


How and Why to Choose a Camera that Inspires

Crew Working on Short Film

The type of camera you choose will help craft the mood and tone of your project. Image via guruXOX.

Choosing the right, best, most inspirational camera — it’s entirely subjective. Initially, you must consider what type of project you’re looking to shoot. If you’re filming a bird-watching documentary, capturing it on the iPhone 11 Pro you keep in your pocket may not be the best choice. The device’s lack of long lenses and less-than-ideal sound recording capabilities make it not the most inspiring choice.

However, if you had the Canon C500 Mark II and a Canon CNE 50-1000mm lens, your captured imagery alone would motivate and inspire you through the entire filmmaking process. While this camera system is an extreme example, any system with a telephoto lens would be more inspirational.

Take a thoughtful look at the type of content you’re creating and imagine which camera system would be the ultimate and best choice. If you’re creating a documentary, figure out which camera systems were used on your favorite documentaries.


Rent or Buy?

Choosing the Right Camera

It’s important that the crew be just as inspired by your choice in camera, as you are. Image via guruXOX.

Renting versus buying is one of the greatest conundrums of any filmmaker. I’m a true believer in buying a camera system that works best for the type of content you create on a consistent basis. If the project you have in mind doesn’t fit with the camera system you already own, then it’s wise to rent versus buy.

For example, if I were a corporate videographer who owned a GH5, I’d be far more inspired to film my short on a rented RED Raven than my own camera. I feel confident that the crew would feel the same — because your choice of camera system can inspire them too.

If you have a group of filmmaking friends that have never filmed on a RED Raven, chances are they’ll be more than willing to join you on your creative endeavors. In return, they’ll put forth a stronger effort than they would with a different, more common camera system. So, not only will a great camera system motivate you, it’ll also motivate other crew members to help you create some of your best work.

Just remember, cameras alone don’t make projects better. A great concept, script, direction, and camera, all in synchronicity, create a better project. That said, make every effort to use the best camera possible — the one that inspires you most.


Find more camera takes and advice in these articles:

Cover image via N.Sritawat.