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Andrzej Sekula on filmmaking and the Nikon D800

We spoke with Andrzej Sekula, director of photography for the short film Through the Lens, about his experience using the D800 to shoot the film. Sekula has over two dozen feature films to his lensing credit and is a lifelong Nikon devotee. He has a self proclaimed “love affair with Nikon,” wishing he could have used all of his NIKKOR lenses for the shoot. Ultimately, lens choice came down to those lenses that helped convey the story.

Through the Lens was created to show how well the D800 fits into a Hollywood workflow. Watch the interview of Andrzej Sekula to learn just how well the camera and NIKKOR lenses performed.

Through the Lens is the story of a young boy with impaired vision who hopes that his vision will be restored one day. In the interim, he’s capturing the world around him in photographs, so he will be able to see just what he missed. In order to reach a wide international audience, the film was scripted with no dialog—which meant that the main character’s emotions were all that conveyed the story to viewers.

Andrzej Sekula on set of Through The Lens short film

Andrzej Sekula on set of Through The Lens short film

The use of the D800 to create this short film allowed the filmmakers to take advantage of the camera’s small size, large image sensor, HDMI out of a clean, uncompressed video signal, and range of NIKKOR lenses.

In the production of feature films, the camerawork, shooting and aperture decisions are handled by the director of photography. The first assistant cameraman (1st AC) is in charge of focusing and the 2nd AC takes care of the equipment. This separation of responsibilities allows the DP to concentrate on keeping the actors properly in the frame as they move through the scene. All scenes of the film were shot manually, but the aperture was set and focus adjusted by remote control while watching externally output video images on two monitors.

Although this was the case with the filming of Through the Lens, the versatility of the D800 meant that Sekula could control the camera himself, for a more intimate working experience, if he had chosen to do so.

Hollywood filmmakers utilize a vast array of specialized gear to bring their vision of the script to fruition in the final film. For Through the Lens, dollies were used to move the camera horizontally, cranes were used to produce camera movements, and cameras were even mounted on cars for action shots.

View the behind the scenes video to hear Sekula explain how he was able to utilize the D800 to create the cinematic short film Through the Lens, employing the camera, several NIKKOR lenses and other filmmaking tools necessary to fulfill his artistic vision. Then check out the complete short film Through The Lens below to see how it all came together.

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  • Ron Becker

    Powerful & wonderful. Bravo’

  • Pablo Quiroga

    Once a best and deep to heart short movie I ever see, awesome !!!

  • Josh Rottman

    Could you please do a post on how to rig a D800 with an Anton Bauer battery powering everything? Even AbelCine and Anton Bauer were stumped when I reached out to them.

  • Glenn Bossik

    The Nikon D800 is a great DSLR for video. I used it with the Atomos Ninja 2 to shoot the feature-length instructional art video, Underpainting Secrets for Artists: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMWhER_LnlE

    The D800 renders shadow values beautifully and, when used at its lowest native ISO — ISO 100 — it captures noise-free video footage.