As far as Iâ€™m concerned, itâ€™s official. You can get just as good a picture shooting with a digital camera as you can with 35mm film. Maybe better.
This afternoon I attended a press screening of an independent drama called Valley of the Heartâ€™s Delight (Iâ€™ll post my review a little closer to the filmâ€™s 10/26 release). Early in the movie, I was struck by the fine, nearly grainless detail in the image. 35mm film rarely looks this good (and it was film; a projection error made that obvious). I figured that the print was probably made directly off the camera negative, which would explain why it looked better than most commercial prints.
Imagine my surprise, at the end, to discover it was shot digitally with a Sony HDW-F900 camera.
I want to emphasize that this was a beautifully shot film, winner of the Best Cinematography Award at the 2006 Boston International Film Festival. It’s filled with atmosphere, including a lot of night exteriors shot with a nourish flavor. All the more remarkable, itâ€™s a low-budget period piece set in 1933, shot in 26 days in Bay Area locations.
During a Q&A session after the film, I asked cinematographer Hiro Narita about shooting digitally. â€œI loved it,â€ he responded. He also talked about the difference between watching it on high-def as opposed to on film (as we saw it). â€œIt has an incredible clarity [on hi-def]â€¦Some people who object to the video look like the film version. The two are quite different.â€ He said he liked them both.
Aside from an artistâ€™s preference for the tools he or she already knows (as a writer who refuses to upgrade to Word 2007, I understand that sentiment), I canâ€™t think of any reason to shoot on film.