How to Make Cinematic Work on an Old $300 Camera

It may be a statement that you've heard many times before, but it's the photographer that makes the picture and not the camera. Here's how a little bit of knowledge along with some cheap kit can turn your images from looking amateur to professional in a few simple steps.

You don't have to look too hard on the internet to find photographers blaming old kit for bad pictures. Some of these people will even go as far as to buy new cameras in the hope that spending money will fix their problems. Most of the time, it's not down to the equipment but rather how said equipment is being used. Case in point is this week's video by filmmaker Nigel Barros, who transforms some footage that starts out looking like it was filmed with an old webcam circa 1995 into something which could easily be used on the big screen.

The difference between the before and after in the video is the use of light and how to use it best to your advantage. What I really like about this transformation is how Barros talks through each stage of the lighting setup and how and why he did what he did. This additive approach to lighting is the best way to achieve what you want with multiple lights and can really help those less familiar with lighting to understand what is actually going on. I also really like how Barros opts for cheap and accessible gear and uses a camera that is several years old to prove the important point that throwing money at a problem is not necessarily going to fix it.

While this video is aimed at filmmakers, all the points are just as relevant to us photographers. For those considering buying a new camera because their current one takes bad pictures, I implore you to watch this video first. It might save you a few thousand dollars and stop you from getting a bad case of gear acquisition syndrome ever again.

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6 Comments

Clay Wegrzynowicz's picture

Great video. There aren't too many excuses nowadays with current camera technology to have bad looking footage in a controlled environment like this.

Arun Hegden's picture

Great video. Thank you for sharing.

Wolfgang Post's picture

Very good! If the camera is at budget level, all the fixes and recommendations should be at the same level. It's possible.

Nice video, straight to the point.

Rod Kestel's picture

That's really good. I love the way he talks you through each step without phaffing about. And a demonstrably good result too.
Can we have links to the lights he uses pls

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

He has the full list in the description in the Youtube video.