Just shot a short film on a Canon 7D and loved some of the results. Was horrified but some. But this was a short film and I was trying to shoot on a low low budget.
It cannot touch 16mm, which is how I shot my first short film back in 2001 (Super16 to 35mm blowup to be exact).
Yesterday I watched a working cut of a film hitting festivals later this year. Shot on a RED MX, it looked quite nice, but felt a little off. Kind of video-ish. I was not aware of what it was shot on when I sat down and asked while it was playing. To me, film looks better, but the RED MX is certainly viable for lower budget productions.
They had a choice... RED MX or Super16 and went with the RED because the financial people felt "Digital is cool." The costs were pretty much the same because of how much work is needed with digital in post. 16mm is cheap when you go straight to a scan and DI. Ten years ago that was impossible.
In the past three months the best looking short film I have seen was shot on 16mm. The others, ranging from 3CCD HDcams to DSLR's couldn't approach film. They all looked like HD VIDEO. Not film.
That being said, none would have looked good at all had they been shot on MiniDV or BetaSP so the HD revolution is certainly a good thing in some ways. I know that it allowed me to shoot a short last week for just a grand.
But, then again... We have to re-shoot some of it because of the inherent artifacts in DSLR cameras and that will cost me another grand. ****!!!!
In February I am shooting two short films... On Super8. Yes, Super 8mm. One is a huge production that will end up with a dramatic piece around 15 minutes in length and it will be shot on Super8 (exteriors, which are all flashback) and possibly some form of HD Cam for the interiors. If we can swing 16mm for the interiors we will.
Don't tell me Super 8mm cannot look awesome. It can
with modern digital scanning of your developed negative and a DP who chooses to actually focus properly. No way it won't look grainy, of course, but for the right project, it is an amazing artistic choice.
Check this out...http://vimeo.com/14317782
Don't tell me that isn't amazing and fun to watch. Super 8mm cameras can be found for under a hundred dollars in excellent shape. 50' foot rolls are $13 to $20 depending on stock and processing is about $15. Scanning is anywhere from $5 to $25 on average, unless you scan 2k at some places in Hollywood that charge laughably high prices (that's you, Pro8mm).
Film IS on its way out and I think Super8 will be dead in about five years, but the small little comeback it is going through at the moment should be fun while it lasts (a number of Hollywood celebrities have been spotted with Super8 camera in hand on vacation or at sporting events).
Hell, I am talking with some people about doing an entire feature on it. We just have to find the right story to make it work. It would be insane to actually do it. Very few actually ever have.
Oh yes... the comeback of TECHNISCOPE is amazing. Some are shooting on it because it is cheaper than going digital. A number of films have been shot 2 perf 35mm in the last year, so much so that the demand is three times the availability o cameras.
I love love love Techniscope, which you all know as being the format used to shoot THX1138 and the Sergio Leone Westerns, among many other features. With modern DI's you don't suffer as much with the blowup and that was obvious when I saw ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST from a restored print in NYC last month. That was mind blowing.
The HD transfer is an abomination. It's been scrubbed and cleaned to the point where it no longer looks anything like the negatives. I am praying that the eventual Blu-Ray release will not look like the 1080i transfer I watched. There is always hope.