06January

In the trenches with Vertigo Venus

Nikon D7000 vs. Canon 5d Mk2: Video Shootout! (Yeah, I said it.)

So, one night I'm hosting Guerrilla Photo Group at the studio.  It's the usual amalgamation of wacky artist types.  It's packed.  There are cocktails, cameras and scantily-clad models running and flashing in all directions.  Wait.  The cameras are flashing, not the models.  Anyway, as it happens, mad-scientist-whiz-producer (and friend) Brian Botkiller is in the crowd.  On this night, apparently, he's got an agenda in mind for me.  Botkiller is an interesting fellow... multifaceted, witty, sharp-minded, techno-saavy, an excellent musician and good lookin' to boot.  Imagine if Siouxsie Sioux went three-way with Scottie from Star Trek and a male model.  The lovechild, if it were possible, would be Botkiller.  His approach to me is subtle, delicate.  He walks straight over to me and pipes up: "Hey,, I want you to work on a video project with my band."  I retort, in astonishment "What?!? You're in a band?  What do you play?"...

I jest.  In fact, I am well aware of "the band" that he's in.  Botkiller, along with Jeff Cannon, Chris Cannon, Jess Crockett and Kenneth Cornell are synthpunk media-darlings Vertigo Venus.  They are, basically, "like putting The Dead Kennedys, New Order, and Twisted Sister into a blender and hitting 'Awesome.'”  I like 'em... the band AND the individuals.

Update: Vertigo Venus has since re-envisioned their linep significantly.

The night of the cocktail party, we didn't dicuss much more.  Botkiller's pitch (over the music and giggles of the crowd) was that Vertigo Venus would like to collaborate with me on their upcoming music video.  I told him that I was interested.  The next week, he and several more band members dropped by the studio to chat, which culminated in them asking me to Co-Direct (with them) and be the Director Of Photography for their upcoming video of "Everybody Down."  The band was self-producing the shoot, so the budget was small, but the creative aspects were wide open.  We started talking about the project's scope and then worked our way into "look & feel."  We realized very quickly that the scope of the original idea needed to be tweaked to fit the budget.  There were two points, however, that were of primary imortance.  First, the video had to have good production value.  It had to *look* good, or there wasn't any point in doing it.  Second, it needed to get shot and released quickly (a matter of weeks.)  There was no time to wait for additional funding.  I immediately suggested HDSLRs.  It was partially because of budgetary concerns, but also because I had been looking for an excuse to have a showdown.

You see, in my circles, there are denizens of both Nikon and Canon.  We're always ribbing each other various benefits or weaknesses of one manufacturer or another.  Personally, I shoot Nikons.  I have to admit, however, that they have been a little "soft" in the video department.  The venerable Canon 5d Mk2 is the "gold standard" for HDSLR video production.  For only $2500, this workhorse shoots full-frame stills at 21.1MP and 1080p video at 30fps.  Hell, it's good enough for SNL, House and a feature length movie. Then, in September 2010, Nikon released the D7000.  Of course, as a still camera, the D7000 is not a competitor for the Canon 5d Mk2.  It made quite a stir due to its all-new 16.2MP DX sensor, ability to shoot 1080p video at 24fps and $1200  price tag.  It received "rave reviews" from PDN, Steve's Digicams, and tons of others.  It received Engadget.com's "Reader's Choice Award" and CNET's "Editor's Choice Award."  At half the price and with a DX sensor, it's not in the same league.   What about as a video camera or second body though?  Results:  Amazing.  No one who has seen the video so far will bet which shot is made with which camera!

So... you tell me?  Is the D7000 up to snuff?  Here is the official music video for Vertigo Venus' track "Everybody Down."  The video was produced five hours at a cost eight pizzas, with the generous help of our friends, and Warehouse 508.  It was shot on three Digital SLR Cameras - two Canon 5D MK II's versus a Nikon D7000.

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