Are Lightweight Cameras Ruining Videos?

Lighter has always been better with technology, particularly when you carry the item around. But is it truly always better to be lighter?

Last year I wrote an article on why I prefer heavier cameras for photography. Now, I primarily use a Sony a7 III which I would consider to be very light indeed. The thing is, I don't feel as connected to it when shooting as I was with the Fujifilm GFX 100 for example. I described it in the following way and I still believe it encapsulates how I feel about camera weight perfectly:

Even if I shoot an incredible image with my mobile phone, I don't enjoy the experience. I don't feel I'm plying a skill or engaged with the moment, but with the medium format Fuji and a lens that weighs 1 kg/2.2 lbs on its own, I did. I had that camera in my hands for days on end as I walked miles and miles around Tokyo, taking several thousand images. The tactile experience gave me a similar sensation to what I have felt when shooting on different film bodies: you're involved and everything is markedly more satisfying.

In this video, Cody Wanner takes this thought in a different direction and from a different perspective: video. Now, I know from the title of his video many are going to immediately shout that you can use IBIS, lens stabilization, or a gimbal. Yes, you're right and he knows that. But if you watch the video you'll see that when he uses a 20 pound dumbbell under his mirrorless camera and no stabilization, the video has a "look." Honestly, the look is reminiscent of many music videos I see with some obvious movement of the camera — that is, not perfectly stabilized — but void of those micro-movements that make handheld footage look so very awful.

What do you think? I went into the video a little skeptical but came out with a slightly different view. Yes, you can simulate that subtle movement in post if you used a gimbal when shooting, but an easier and more authentic approach would be achievable with heavier kit, whether as standard or as part of a rig.

Log in or register to post comments

5 Comments

Simon Davies's picture

Glad somebody’s posted about this! For ages I just assumed lighter would mean steadier for video, as less weight is easier on the hands - but when I actually got a lighter camera I realised that wasn’t necessarily true, and that I hadn’t actually given it serious thought. I’d say now I prefer something in the middle for handheld video.

Alex Herbert's picture

I find overall size counts a lot too, hand holding a small camera steadily is much harder than if you add a bit of rigging, even if it doesn't increase the weight much. But both together are ideal.

Gary Pardy's picture

As my boss likes to say, "You can make strong coffee weak, but you can't make weak coffee strong!". Also, preference between hot and cold climates - there are only so many layers of clothes you can remove. I think light kits are generally preferable, as long as they don't get in the way of sufficiently fast glass for your current shoot. The battery grip goes on anytime I use the telephoto lens, but I love walking around without a grip and a compact prime. You can make a light kit heavy, but you can't make a heavy kit light!

Lee Christiansen's picture

My 10kg Sony PMW-500 / Canon 16x zoom broadcast lens is a perfect balance. Easy to hand hold and a doddle to keep steady.

Ergonomics seems to be a lost cause these days and rigs don't address the issue very well in many cases.

Michelle Maani's picture

Maybe women feel differently about this issue than men do?