Dexter’s Season 7 camera operators praised the Nikon D800, saying the DSLR performs fantastically for such a cheap setup.
Dexter is one of the most popular TV series in the United States, as one of the last season’s episodes managed to gather more than 3 million viewers. Up until now, the TV show was filmed mostly with professional camcorders, but director John Dahl decided to alter things a little by shooting the Season 7 episodes with a Nikon D800 alongside the more professional ARRI Alexa camcorder.
Dexter’s character portrayed using a DSLR
Director of photography, Jeffrey Jur, said that the show’s producers wanted to portray Dexter in a different light from what viewers were used to during the first six seasons. Eric Fletcher, the camera operator of Season 7, said that he tested other cameras, too, in the previous seasons, but Season 7 was one of the best series ever, due to Nikon D800’s huge contribution.
Mr. Fletcher said that the operators were waiting for this opportunity for a long time because producers had not given them too much freedom to experiment over the past few years. Nikon sent over two units of the D800 last April and everybody was surprised to see how well the cameras coped with the demands, added Fletcher.
Nikon’s dedication made the difference
The show’s directors said that Nikon also delivered a lot of lenses, including 16-35mm, 24-70mm, 35-50mm, 72-100mm, and 85mm. Fletcher had his own 14-24mm lens and he brought it to the set. Such dedication is very rare, Fletcher reinstated. The operator was surprised to see so many Nikon employees, who tweaked the cameras and updated the equipment with new firmware, on the set. The employees did everything the directors asked them to do, but the real hero was the D800, which was used for shooting big wides and unbalanced frames, as well as extreme tights.
Fletcher said the D800 is telling Dexter’s story in a weird, but cool-looking way. The main advantages of the camera are amazing color depth and low noise even when used at high ISO. Additionally, the shooter performed great in broad daylight conditions, since the show is filmed in Miami. When the producers saw how good the Nikon cameras were, the D800 became the so-called primary second-unit camera.
Operators were also testing a professional Canon C300 alongside a Cooke lens and they were impressed with the footage provided by the $40,000 setup. However, they decided to test Nikon’s $4,000 setup and when they noticed that the difference in quality is little to non-existent, they were convinced to use the D800.
The camera was shooting uncompressed movies, meaning that file size was dramatically reduced to as little as 600MB, down from 4GB. Directors claimed that only a trained eye would notice the difference between the footage, as the images were very realistic.
Last but not least, battery life was another important factor: the operators could shoot three hours of footage on a single charge, filling up a 64GB SD card.