October 26, 2015 at 1:05PM, Edited October 26, 1:11PM

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Which camera should I buy? Sorry for this unoriginal question.

Hi, I know this is a frequent question often asked by members of NFS, but i really need your opinions and help on this one. First things first, I'm intending on buying a new camera, I have £3,135 to 'play' with. I'd like to spend it on: camera, lens(es), field monitor(optional) and cage(optional). I have some options that I will soon get to, but i just need to provide you wonderful people with some more information.
1. I have a Canon 650D/T4i which I am thinking of selling.
2. Even if I don't I will still be buying another camera. I'm sure it would make a good B- camera but I'm a solo guy, who only needs one camera.
3. Films: Short films, mostly b-roll type edits, no documentaries (at least not yet).
4. I don't do freelance/film is not my job, I am still at school. But I am very skilled with a camera.
5. I would like a camera that is fairly good in low light ( essentially anything better than GH4 in low-light)
5. No 4K

Camera Options: to spend - £3,135
1. Sony A7S, Metabones, Canon 24-105 F4, Tilta Cage/movcam (not sure which is best in terms of cages) + Newmowa FW50 Battery (2 pack) & Dual USB Charger ( A7S battery is terrible)

2. Canon C100, Canon 24-105 F4

3. Sony FS700R with kit ( found cheap at SLRHUT.COM)

4. Canon 5DM3 + Field monitor

Which should I go for? Im asking this community due to the wide range of experience you have to offer.

72 Comments

I would go with either the A7S or the C100...

-A7S if absolute image quality is your thing.

- C100 if you want a work-horse camera that you can simply turn on and start shooting with. ( also if you want to shoot "live" events where you need to record for more than 30 minutes as a single take )

In terms of low-light they are both great cameras, with the A7S having a small advantage here.

October 26, 2015 at 3:25PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
28864

Thanks. The one thing that kind of like about the A7S is its wider dynamic range over the C100. But I've heard a lot of good things about the C100.

October 26, 2015 at 4:07PM, Edited October 26, 4:07PM

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Sharad Taank
Hobbyist Filmmaker
134

It's the AS7 13+ F-stops of dynamic range versus the C100 12 F-stops of dynamic range, so generally not a huge difference if you know how to light, expose, and process your footage in post.

October 26, 2015 at 5:12PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
28864

Would you recommend either cage or field monitor?

October 26, 2015 at 5:44PM

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Sharad Taank
Hobbyist Filmmaker
134

I would always get a cage for a mirrorless or DSLR camera, as you need a way of securely bolting support gear on to your camera, and a hot-shoe is a recipe for disaster.

I prefer small and very solid camera cages, so I can pack the camera in the cage when I travel.

There are also 3rd party add-ons for the C100 that make it easier to bolt on support gear to the main camera body.

...I would also try to always shoot with a sharp field monitor to be sure that you've hit your focus points exactly. The first thing I noticed when shooting 4K video with the Panasonic GH4 was how difficult it was to be exactly in focus when I didn't use a field monitor. Focus peaking helps, but nothing beats a sharp monitor for focus and composition.

October 26, 2015 at 7:59PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
28864

I think this is dead but i want to Add.
I was in the same Position:
I Bought a used C100 and added my Ninja Blade.
Sigma 50-150 2.8 OS and 18-135 stm + planning to buy Sigma 18-35mm 1.8 and Sigma 24-105 f4 to replace the stm.
I'm happy every time using this Combination. It is the fucking "Reduce the failiure rate work out of the Box Camera" Get the Right Exposure, get the critical Focus, ND when needed, have a lot of Room for Colorgrading (thanks to ninja), lots of Profiles and Pros on the Internet with good Advices and at least: sharp Image. You will Love it until in 3 Years you are buying a used FS5 :D

November 10, 2015 at 12:02PM, Edited November 10, 12:02PM

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Lorenz Schuster
One-Man-Band
13

Black Magic Pocket Cinema is about $1,000. It's 1080P.

October 27, 2015 at 11:58AM

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Jonathan Preavett
Director Of Photography
28

I've heard good things about that camera. My only problem is its small sensor, which means i may need specific lenses for it. Do you own one, if so, what is your take on the BMPCC? Is the small sensor a problem (especially in low light)?

October 27, 2015 at 2:02PM, Edited October 27, 2:02PM

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Sharad Taank
Hobbyist Filmmaker
134

Compared to (some) other cameras in low light, yes, the BMPCC doesn't stack up. You tap out at 1600 ASA, the sensor is smaller, etc.

However, I haven't found it nearly as bad as a lot of people seem to claim. Not to mention, the amount of latitude you have in post with the footage is incredible.

You can also get a Speed Booster, which will not only decrease your crop factor but also increase your maximum aperture.

I've never run into a problem with low-light on any Blackmagic (including the BMPCC) but then again, I've always had the ability to at least minimally light a scene.

Biggest problem (for ME) is the battery life on any of the Blackmagic cameras. You pretty much require a battery pack to use these cameras for any moderate length of time.

In the end, though, all that matters is the footage. The end product. And Blackmagic has never disappointed me in that regard. I love what they're doing.

Edit: Also the BMPCC uses MFT lenses unless you have a Speed Booster or other adapter.

October 28, 2015 at 8:17PM, Edited October 28, 8:20PM

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MattyMustng
Director of Photography
123

This guy on reddit is liquidating his gear, this is an absolutely amazing deal. Comes with speedbooster for Nikon, batteries, media, cage. Shut up and give him your money!

https://www.reddit.com/r/bmpcc/comments/3r2niy/for_sale_bmpcc_metabones_...

This camera is amazing. Don't take my word for it:

https://www.hurlbutvisuals.com/blog/2014/08/cinematography-bmcc-training...

November 3, 2015 at 1:35AM

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Zack Wallnau
Cinematographer & Tinkerer
574

Hi Sharad. Perhaps a bit under your budget in it's focus, but I just wrote this article looking at the current "affordable" camera landscape. It might give you some food for thought at least: http://www.desktop-documentaries.com/best-documentary-video-camera-2500....

October 27, 2015 at 3:43PM, Edited October 27, 3:43PM

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Matt James Smith
Founder, Lintelfilm Video Production
170

I have yet to see anything shot with the Canon XC10 that I've been impressed with. Add to that the fact that there's no EVF and that the fixed zoom lens ramps from f/2.8 to f/5.6, I really don't get why anyone would give this camera a second look. I would rather spend the extra $500 and buy a C100 Mk1 than be permanently stuck with a small sensor and a very slow zoom lens that ramps it's aperture by 2 F-stops over it's zoom range.

Vimeo XC10 Group
https://vimeo.com/groups/canonxc10/

Vimeo Sony RX10 II Group
https://vimeo.com/groups/310670

Vimeo Canon C100 Group
https://vimeo.com/groups/c100

October 27, 2015 at 4:31PM, Edited October 27, 4:42PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
28864

I second that! Canon XC10 is a poor competitor and a waste of valuable resources from Canon. In other terms, it's a pile of shit! But great for some people who it suits, i guess...

October 27, 2015 at 5:40PM

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Sharad Taank
Hobbyist Filmmaker
134

Of the cameras on your list, I would also recommend either an A7s or a C100.

I used to own an A7s (with Tilta cage and XLR adapter). It's an amazing little camera. You can definitely get some cinematic images out of it. If you shoot in S-Log, you do indeed capture about 14 stops of DR, but you have to crush the darkest parts of the image due to noise; so I would say you come out with about 12+ stops of DR with a nice curve and good highlights. BUT, shooting in S-Log can be a major pain because of the base 3200 ISO. Also, you're scraping the bottom of the barrel when you try to color that 8-bit footage that's been stretched so thin.
The low light is indeed amazing, but don't expect to go over 12,800 ISO.
The EVF on the camera is fantastic! I never felt like I needed a monitor to judge anything by. The EVF image felt very true to life.
You can shoot up to 60p in full resolution, and 120fps at 720p. That's fun.
The worst part of the camera is simply the handling. The record button is in a terrible position. I didn't think much of it when I bought it, but after a while it really starts to grind on you. The camera is just SUPER light, which makes it hard to keep steady under most conditions--you'll definitely want a rig. Also, it's neat that you can adapter almost any lens to the camera, but sometimes I just don't like using adapters.

I work with the C100 very often. I love that camera. It's extremely easy to use. You really don't need any peripheral accessories except perhaps a better monitor and your standard tripod/should rig, etc. The camera itself, though, is just ready to shoot.
Honestly the ONLY drawbacks with the C100 Mk I are the crummy EVF (it really is almost unusable), and the lack of high-speed options. Not being able to do 60p is a real bummer. That's why I plan to get a Mk II, when I finally get one of these cameras.
The dynamic range isn't as good as the A7s. I would say you're missing about 1 1/2 stops in the end. That means you have to be more careful with your exposure or you'll clip those highlights, and it won't look cinematic. BUT, if you know what you're doing and know how to treat the footage in post, it can look great. Maybe the A7s has a slight edge on the "cinematic" side of things, but it's not much, and I would absolutely trade that edge for the ease of use the C100 offers.

TL;DR. If you don't need slow motion, get the C100. It's a pleasure to use and creates images about on par with the A7s. If you do need slow motion, the A7s is a great option too.

October 27, 2015 at 11:37PM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1036

what ever camera you get, I recommend you buy a model that has a good tutorial for it even if you have to pay for the tutorial. http://www.learningvideo.com/store/ is just one of many who sell video on how to use a particular model camera. Using a camera well for video is more important and will result in greater quality, than buying a particular camera. Then consider the cost of the stuff needed to make it function, obviously lenses, but for example with Blackmagic cameras the camera body is about half the cost of the rest of the things you need. So you buy one for $3k but will need $6k total to make it function on a basic level. Make sure your NLE handles the footage well, Samsung uses a codec that not many nle handle at the moment. Likely you can download video samples from the camera in question and if that is problematic with your computer or software, that is something that has to be addressed if you want to edit. If quality is the issue, learn to use your present camera effectively and turn your attention to lighting and audio instead. A cheaper camera with great lighting and audio will be far more effective than the expensive camera without. Last thing also the first thing. If you invest in yourself even buying a tutorial for your present camera, not only will you not need mine or anyone elses recommendation, but that knowledge will apply to every camera you ever own from now on, best investment you can make is in yourself and over the long term is the cheapest and most effective for quality video.

October 28, 2015 at 12:54AM

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If you intend on shooting any documentary stuff, especially plain old interviews, the C100 will make your life so much easier (recording time, codec efficiency, battery-life, much less rolling shutter, pleasing image off the bat, built in NDs, easier to go handheld etc.).

But if you are mostly going for beauty shots and b-roll you might consider stretching just a biiit and go for the A7Rii or A7Sii - much newer tech, beautiful image, 4K when you want it and you would also have an absolutely insane stills camera (especially with the R).

October 28, 2015 at 8:48AM

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Thanks. I've been thinking about the A7R/SII, but i wonder whether or not its worth it over the A7S

October 28, 2015 at 9:21AM

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Sharad Taank
Hobbyist Filmmaker
134

I'm personally a huge of fan of Blackmagic products right now. I've worked extensively with the BMCC and the BMPCC (and hope to soon with the Ursa Mini). The image quality is amazing, even ignoring the super low-cost of these cameras. When you factor that in, Blackmagic is just a big win all around.

There are a few drawbacks - they are not the best cameras out there in terms of low-light. Adjusting levels (like ISO or white balance) aren't as quick to access as some other cameras out there, making them not super ideal for doc or reality shooting. But, as you said in your post, you're primarily looking to make narrative films, and in that case I highly highly recommend Blackmagics. The image quality simply cannot be beaten in their price range.

Now, for someone like me who does a lot of freelance work - it's actually better for me to own a C100 or C300 than a Blackmagic. Name recognition means a lot, and not many people are familiar with Blackmagics. They're more likely to hire that guy with a RED or a C300. Once again, though, not something you're worried about.

Last note - if you're looking for a low-light capable camera, I wouldn't get an f4 lens. Personally, I prefer the 24-70, which is an f2.8. Beautiful little lens.

October 28, 2015 at 4:12PM

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MattyMustng
Director of Photography
123

Obviously there are exceptions to everything, but in general don't buy this idea you need a specific camera for a client. The client wants to look good, so has to answer to the higher ups or the audience that will see the work which likely is his customers or potential customers. Most often I have to educate the people I do work for. So the person who can work on budget, has a high tolerance for client anxiety and delivers video that the client loves gets the job, no matter what the camera is, also if you have a reputation for quality, timely delivery and affordability so that using you is the quality/value choice and has great people skills, communicates well. Issues with camera choice are just part of sales, in sales you convince the customer that you are the one.

October 29, 2015 at 8:15AM

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If you ever need to hire a DP or any top level crew member listen to this: Don’t only hire DPs because they own a RED Camera!
http://www.indiefilmhustle.com/red-camera/

October 29, 2015 at 11:28AM, Edited October 29, 11:29AM

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Alex Ferrari
Director / Producer
846

Alex, your podcasts are a god send. I've been listening to them for a while now, absolutely amazing and informative! Whats your opinion on all this, about the options, according to the type of filming i would be doing, etc.

October 29, 2015 at 3:24PM

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Sharad Taank
Hobbyist Filmmaker
134

I'd go with the A7s, it's one of the best HD cameras out there, it's great for run and gun and you have the option to shoot 4K externally down the road if you ever needed it. I just got an A7s II but I've had the first model for a year and I got some great use out of it. It's a low light beast. Canon may have better natural colors on the C100 but if you get the hang of shooting in Slog2 you'll be able to get so much out of your image. Also the a7s has a timelapse app that's pretty cool too. Here is some stuff I shot in Slog for your consideration.

https://vimeo.com/144063304

October 29, 2015 at 9:47PM

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Graham Uhelski
Director of Photography/Video Editor
418

What does the OP say about your ability?
What does all the recommendations for cameras and lack of interest in how it will be used say about the quality of advice?

Would you let your parents choose a spouse for you?
Would you accept the advice of friends advise you on a spousal choice based on the choice they made for themselves?

In asking for specific camera choices based on unknown use tells us that instead of mastering the camera you have for quality, you have chosen instead to replace it with a more expensive camera with the hope that by doing so, you will improve the quality of your filmmaking without the pain of learning and experience.
If you had been very specific about your needs,
it would be a different response from me.

Then to get a variety of recommendations from all of us without knowing your needs or interests? speaks to much the same situation.
People using more expensive camera choices to further the illusion of quality.
People can only recommend what they use for their own reasons or what they read in reviews.
Which of course is not applicable to you, because they have different needs.
My guess is that you don't know why any camera would help you specifically.
I for one posing this question to this group would be very specific about my needs and specific about finding people who have actual experience with the camera in the area of those needs .
If you suck on your present camera, it is not the camera, but because you suck.
If you buy a more expensive camera you will suck on it too.
If you invest in yourself first, learn to use what you have,
get experience with your present camera and not at a computer terminal,
then you will develop your own criteria and specifics that will aid you in buying a new camera.
This means MASTERING your present camera.
If you choose not to Master your present camera in lieu of buying a new camera,
it will be the same for the new camera.
It is quite possible that with more controls and camera crap you will suck more on new equipment than you do on present equipment.
I don't know you.
However when you invest in yourself,
that will benefit you with every camera and situation the rest of your life.
I suggest it is you that needs the upgrade.
As far as recommendations go, if you cannot be more specific about how you will use a camera and why your current camera is inadequate,
you are not ready to ask the question.
Now that I am finished, you can kill the messenger.

October 30, 2015 at 3:40PM, Edited October 30, 3:46PM

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I have been very specific. LOOK at what I have written! Before the numbered options, I have stated what I intend on filming.

October 31, 2015 at 8:44AM

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Sharad Taank
Hobbyist Filmmaker
134

If interested in Mastering your present camera for video, let me suggest this tutorial from Dave Dugdale on the camera you own. http://www.learningvideo.com/store/t5i_sales.php It has a modest cost of $40, but that boils down to $10 an hour very cheap for the camera model specific information.

October 30, 2015 at 6:42PM

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A t4i is more than plenty for anything you need. If you want to improve the quality of your films I would suggest saving the money and learning about lighting, audio and color as these are key to a good film. If your school doesn't have lighting and audio equipment, I would suggest spending your money on just that because there's no purpose of buying a really nice and expensive camera if you're not going to be able to have access to some of this other equipment.

October 30, 2015 at 7:22PM

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Wyatt Spalding
Director of Photography
82

http://nofilmschool.com/2012/12/purchasing-digital-cinema-camera-guide-r... this article is dated only regarding specific camera models to buy, but spot on in all other ways and worth reading. I absolutely agree with Wyatt Spalding's advice.

October 30, 2015 at 9:15PM, Edited October 30, 9:15PM

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btw as far as spousal advice and this applies to camera purchase as well. 4yrs ago, I married my wife. Altho we had "dated" for twenty yrs. I can whole heartily recommend marrying a Grandma in her mid 50's that is not skinny and has nice curves. This suits me perfectly and that is why I can recommend someone like her for every body or it may be that my needs suit me and your needs are different? However using the format for this discussion, you should marry a Grandma because that is my experience and should be your experience as well. you need to know your needs, if you Master your existing camera you will know. The fact if you have NOT MASTERED your camera speaks to inexperience and you have a perfect opportunity right now to do so. After you are the Master of your tools for filmmaking, you have a whole other criteria to evaluate instead of buying a newer more expensive camera that you will not Master either, but instead rely upon the tool to acheive your goals which it won't do, but Mastering your existing camera will.

October 30, 2015 at 9:23PM

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1. I'm fully aware that my T4i/650D is more than enough, but I'm upgrading due to problems i have with the t4i and due to its poor DR. I like to grade my videos, and even with Technicolour Cinestyle, I struggle to grade the footage to my requirement.
2. I have not said I want the NFS community to choose for me, I want THEIR OPINIONS & EXPERIENCES with these cameras. This stems from them 'choosing an option' where they have expanded on their chosen option with their experiences etc.
3. I'm taking all opinions into consideration, and also aware how important sound and lighting is.
4. I have made it clear what type of filming I am doing. I said 'mostly b-roll' (narrative) therefore sound and lighting isn't incredibly important. But down the line I will be thinking about it.
5. I have perfectly mastered my camera, making sure all the setting are right to gain the right exposure, negative sharpness/contrast for the best picture. I would mention that I am skilled with a camera, If i wasn't. I'm not experienced, but I know the steps to take to get the best picture. The T4i/650D doesn't suit me very well and there are many thoughtful and proper reasons why. Otherwise I would just be looking to invest in lenses, lighting, sound etc.
6. If I was just going for picture quality, I would go for 4K (naturally), but I don't want 4K ( its all up there).

October 31, 2015 at 8:42AM

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Sharad Taank
Hobbyist Filmmaker
134

Pay Lofar no mind. He's more interested in being a pedant than being helpful.

DSLR's are really not designed for quality video images. The T4i is extremely limited, and I don't blame anyone for wanting out of that game. If you can afford something better, why not? I never understood the whole, "Master your own camera first" mentality when it came to tools not designed for video.

It's like a chef telling a student, "master that dull knife before you upgrade to a sharp one." Sure, maybe the dull knife can cut if you try hard enough, but why waste the time?

Ugh. People.

October 31, 2015 at 11:28AM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1036

Thank you, It's nice to know I might not be crazy.

October 31, 2015 at 11:38AM, Edited October 31, 11:42AM

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Sharad Taank
Hobbyist Filmmaker
134

Any time. Unfortunately you're entering a world where people are waiting to tell you you're "doing it wrong." I'm more of an advocate for letting people find their own path. If a new camera is part of the path they want and it's not hurting anyone, then get a new camera!

October 31, 2015 at 12:19PM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1036

The Gh4 is great in low light if you understand its settings and know a little about how lenses work. GH4 + Speedbooster + Fast, wide lens + shooting 4K and scaling down to 1080p + Denoising when necessary + not underexposing + not messing with master pedestal or tweaking contrast too much + leaving noise reduction at 0 = Fantastic low light camera. Also, certain photo styles produce less noise than others, so you can work that into the equation as well. I know all of this sounds like a lot of work, but my point is that the GH4 can perform very well in low light.

October 31, 2015 at 1:39PM, Edited October 31, 1:45PM

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Alexandra
Videographer / Documentary Filmmaker
409

Well I would recommend that you ignore Kenneth Morril, obviously does not respect craft and his advice reflects that. As well as attempting to misinterpret what I have posted for his own ends. My suggestion is that Kenneth express his own opinion, rather than deliberately misinterpreting posts and attributing it falsely.
I think making it personal instead of staying on topic speaks to his integrity or lack of same.

October 31, 2015 at 11:51PM

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I'm not interested in fighting someone. My advice comes down to this: find a tool that you love using and use it. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you make stuff. A tool that helps and encourages you to do that (rather than making you dread the process) is very helpful and definitely a step in the right direction, if you can afford to get one. Some people do amazing work on a T2i (looking at you Kendy Ty), but for some people, the limitations of that camera (and every camera has limitations) make a creative block. You, Sharad, came on this forum because you're experiencing a creative block that you feel is at least partly due to the limitations of your equipment. Who am I to tell you you're wrong? From what it sounds like, a C100 is a great upgrade, and I believe it will help you do some awesome stuff. It's definitely a camera that HELPS make things--very easy to use with great results (though you will still have to know what you're doing to make the best of it).

Those are my 2 cents. Hope they're helpful Sharad!

November 1, 2015 at 1:10AM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1036

Thank you Kenneth. Seems like the C100 is an investment, even though its still quite expensive, I might think about getting it early next year. The A7s still seems like a camera worth considering, although its battery is a huge let down.

November 1, 2015 at 6:45AM, Edited November 1, 7:00AM

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Sharad Taank
Hobbyist Filmmaker
134

Sharad
there is always a better camera in front of you or on the horizon. No one is a mind reader, you have money to spend and it is your right to spend it on anything you want. In video production, there are endless products you can spend your money on. My best advice is to take about $10 and buy a used copy of Director Robert Rodriquez book "Rebel without a crew" Altho he shot his first feature on 16mm film, he has his own sound stage, production studios and uses the studio network for distribution only and he has his own TV network, all springing from a cheaply made film for $7k that returned millions in profit. Do not let the detractors deter you from being the very best you can and invest in yourself, because at the end of the day, it is you not your equipment that makes the movie and if your skills are not up to snuff, that will be true with every piece of equipment you own. I have alot of respect for the craft of filmmaking and cannot understand why people who call themselves Directors would show disdain for craft.

November 1, 2015 at 5:38PM

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No disdain for craft here! If you were referring to me...

November 1, 2015 at 7:28PM, Edited November 1, 7:28PM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1036

If the shoe fits

November 1, 2015 at 8:43PM

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"6. If I was just going for picture quality, I would go for 4K (naturally), but I don't want 4K ( its all up there)." At present there is no advantage in rendering your video to 4k.
Theater projection is 2k and if they did have 4k which they don't at present it is a moot point since indie films do not get theatrical projection outside of film festivals, film festivals do not have 4k projection. If people view on their cell phones, computer screens, tablets where much of the viewing is going on nowdays, the extra resolution is lost. Even on a big screen tv that would have to be 4k which there are few and the cable system or netflix etc, which they don't even if they say they do. So, for practical purposes no one will watch your film commercially in 4k. 4k has the problem of hyper resolution which makes it look very video like, I suspect this will be a popular look in the future due prior generations being raised on film and prefer that look which is right and natural to them, new generations are raised on digital everything and that high resolution look may be more popular, but that will take some time. Actresses will never embrace the high resolution digital look and will insist on some blur to smooth their skin. 4k is very specific in who benefits in the audience, so in a theatrical projection or at home with a 4k tv only certain people will benefit, for these reasons and more, 4k will not mean higher quality. However 4k in post can have advantages, and especially for those of us who are one man bands when it comes to video capture. It allows framing a little loser and then cropping in post without discernible loss of quality. It is not enough to buy a new camera body, but is just one element to make quality video. Good lights and knowing how to use them will make for better video, good story, art direction, make up, hair, good actors, props all are vital to make video production pop. If you don't have them, this likely is the source of your inability to get good dynamic range out of your Canon Rebel. I am not against buying a new camera body, there are many reasons to buy a newer camera, but the problems you are experiencing sound to me more like problems with camera operation than camera choice, if that is so, you will experience the same problems with any new cameras. I take my own advice on this, I study and practice constantly, it seems I never lack for work and it is a struggle between delivering a project timely and going outside the comfort zone and push myself which takes time. What ever you do and the point I make is that I hope you invest in yourself first.
All the Masters of cinema will see themselves as students and push to be the best they can and see cameras as tools to use, but realize they have to deliver no matter what the camera?

November 1, 2015 at 9:51PM, Edited November 1, 9:52PM

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I don't think you're actually reading what Sharad says...

November 1, 2015 at 9:55PM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1036

Kenneth Merrell I would appreciate if you would keep your comments to the OP and not try and provoke an argument. Trolling will wreck not just discussions, but websites.
You have an opinion and advice, but you have chosen instead to attack me personally instead of just stating a contrary opinion. There are lots of forums for you to express this kind of behavior esp on this subject, like the frugal filmmaker forum on facebook. You have an opportunity from me to take the high road and confine your comments to the OP. I personally do not care about what you think, nor could you possibly mind read. Prove yourself not a Troll and just STOP and contribute to the conversation, this is my last word with you.

November 1, 2015 at 10:26PM

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Ha. Ok then.

November 2, 2015 at 10:33AM, Edited November 2, 10:33AM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1036

I actually agree with Kenneth on this one. He is right, your not listening to what I have said even in my main subject post. I have mentioned what type of filming I am doing: "3. Films: Short films, mostly b-roll type edits, no documentaries (at least not yet)." Therefore, when you mention about i struggles/ should look into "Good lights and knowing how to use them will make for better video, good story, art direction, make up, hair, good actors, props all are vital to make video production pop". That's not what type of filming I am doing and have made that clear. Additionally, Lofar you have absolutely no right to tell Kenneth to keep his comments to himself, it's not right. We have both disagreed with what you're saying but have not told you to keep quite or "appreciate if you would keep your comments to the OP and not try and provoke an argument. " In fact you have insulted me many times whether you are aware or not, in your HUGE POST. And I tried to make things more clear for you ( with the support of Kenneth). Additionally, ( constructive criticism this time) you keep going off subject talking about how actresses do not care for high resolution etc. So why don't we forget and 'forgive' and start a fresh whilst staying on topic

November 2, 2015 at 11:08AM, Edited November 2, 11:11AM

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Sharad Taank
Hobbyist Filmmaker
134

So why don't we forget and 'forgive' and start a fresh whilst staying on topic
I can wholeheartedly agree with this statement.

November 2, 2015 at 12:33PM

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Wow..quite the debate going on in this post. I'm in a similar situation Sharad, although at this point I am approaching it as a professional, no longer a student. Regardless, the dilemma is the same, so I feel your pain. The second you buy a camera it essentially feels outdated. I just sold off all of my GH3 gear, it feels surprisingly good I gotta say.

My humble advice, based on the points you listed in your original post (mainly the type of work you do and at what level), I might consider hanging on to that T4i. Do you feel like the camera itself is holding you back? I'm just curious as to why you want to invest in a new camera.

After throwing around ideas in my head for months (FS7, C100 MK II, C500, C300 MK II, FS5!?!? You get the idea, it never ends), I've almost come to the conclusion that I am going to let the dust settle as far as cameras are concerned. After NAB we should see new models and reduced prices on "older" models. You catch my drift?

I've seen a lot of return on investment from my lenses and support, to be honest. Instead of spending $3K on a new camera, I spent that money on Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 and 85 f/1.4 and a quality variable ND so I can keep that shallow DOF in most any conditions. Through shooting weddings (soulsucking, but totally worth it for the $), I was able to purchase a Ronin-M and SmallHD 502. Can't tell you how happy I've been with both of these purchases.

The beauty of this is that I am not limiting myself to any particular camera body, rather I can fit most any body (below the $20K price bracket, let's say) within my existing gear.

This probably doesn't make your decision easier, but just thought I'd share how I've been working through this process.

November 2, 2015 at 5:52PM

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Gabe Reuben
Director of Photography
264

My bro-in-law bought a used Alexa with money he made shooting weddings. No shame in that work--though like you said, it is soul-sucking.

Game's advice is really good. Lenses are a great investment, and they actually do make a huge difference in your image.

November 2, 2015 at 6:19PM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1036

I shot an interview recently (after selling my GH3s), and all the director had access to was 2x T5i's. I put my 35 and 85 on, and we had a surprisingly good looking image off that camera. Certainly not cinema quality, but this is where you are right, Kenneth...the glass made the image.

All depends on the scope of your project, Sharad. Sounds to me like the T4i is a good option for you at this point in time. Don't be tempted to buy a new camera just because you can!

November 2, 2015 at 7:11PM

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Gabe Reuben
Director of Photography
264

Thanks. What both of you have said has been a real eye opener. I knew the lense can improve the image, but not to that extent. I might just invest in lenses, monitor etc. But I will also keep an eye on prices after the next NAB

November 3, 2015 at 11:40AM

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Sharad Taank
Hobbyist Filmmaker
134

Here again, here is a video that represents my view, for the record I use mostly nikkor vintage primes, but the only new lens is a fisheye https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0XQd9zYMc0

November 2, 2015 at 8:47PM, Edited November 2, 8:47PM

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That video is the source of a lot of misinformation. The dude doesn't know how to test lenses.

November 3, 2015 at 11:38AM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1036

lots more to getting good footage then the camera body and lens, check out Ken Rockwell, altho he has many camera and lens reviews, he has good advice that applies to video. No longer referencing the OP since I believe has his answers, but this is to contribute to the general discussion.

November 2, 2015 at 8:50PM

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Totally agree, it isn't just about camera and lens. My persuasion is that, if I had to choose between investing in a body and investing in glass (at this point in time), I would invest in glass. Equally as important (if not more) is obviously lighting. For the amount of money Sharad is ready to spend on camera gear, he could just as easily buy a nice little Arri kit and stick with his current camera kit.

Different strokes for different folks, there is certainly no right or wrong answer.

November 2, 2015 at 9:23PM

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Gabe Reuben
Director of Photography
264

My only thing with purchasing lights is that you need a fairly sizable light kit in order to be flexible enough for the different kind of projects you will want to do. Also, storage.

The way I look at it, you're going to end up renting something anyway. I vote buy the lenses (you can store in a Pelican in the closet) and rent the lights--and you can get different lighting for every project.

On the other hand, if you're doing the same kind of shoots all the time, a small light kit is super convenient.

November 3, 2015 at 11:40AM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1036

For me, I invest in pre production, make up, hair, costume, lights, craft services, art direction, props, set. Then to practice more. Experiment more prior to the shoot. Choice of lenses,with everything designed to serve the story. The craft of filmmaking is what makes quality video and the more I learn, the more I can convey the story. Altho I like camera crap and have a bunch of it, I am learning out and trying to make the process of capture sleeker and simpler.

November 2, 2015 at 11:24PM

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Sorry to recycle this thread.

Finally I've put together a 3600€ budget to get a kit from scratch to film my screenplays for short and feature film while learning and practicing the craft. No freelance or documentary in mind at this moment.

I was counting on getting a BM Ursa Mini, but taxes ruined my initial budget and the cost of rigging it made me reconsider.
I love the image of the blackmagic, so I'm considering going for the pocket, but I want to invest in some lighting and audio* as well, so I'm a little short of budget. That's why I'm constantly looking for used pockets within Spain (so as not to have to pay added taxes). I've bumped into this affordable one
http://goo.gl/P9IUjp
but the seller states the sensor has a notch (noticeable in the provided pictures), though he also says it doesn't affect the image at all for the notch it's below the sensor itself.

What do you think? Is it really possible that such a mark doesn't affect the image?

Also, I wanted your opinions on the kit I'm considering. The screenplays I want to practice with are mostly interior, no camera movement and I own a manfrotto tripod for stills. Could I take something out of the mix? Should I add something I'm missing?

BMPCC - XXX€
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 - 715€
Metabones Speedbooster - 525€
Aputure Light Storm LS 1s - 745€
Reflector - 40€
Sennheiser MKE 600 - 298€
Tascam dr-40 - 170€
JuicedLink RM333 - 395€
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x - 125€
(Samyang 14 mm f/2.8) I really wanted this for I really love wide shots, but I guess in my situation I will have to skip this one for the moment.

Thanks.

November 3, 2015 at 12:05PM

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If you want some wides, try the Pana 14mm 2.5
Its not ideal for focusing but hey, its 14mm!

November 3, 2015 at 12:13PM

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I think you have a really GREAT kit listed there. It should give you lots to work with for a long time!

Only note: DO NOT BUY A KNOCK-OFF lens adapter, ESPECIALLY if it's supposed to act as a Speedbooster. I've tried to go the cheap route with lens adapters before, and even for the "dumb" ones with no electronics or glass elements, you get what you pay for. Stick with Metabones. It will be a pain in the butt to return an adapter you don't like and buy one you do.

November 3, 2015 at 7:04PM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1036

Tara
there are cheaper alternatives to the metabones on ebay, if you google the irig mod, you will find that the juice link can be replaced for $35 or 10% of the cost of the juice link, here again knowledge is king, but it is a which comes first the chicken or the egg? Video audio is a subject that I cannot address in a paragraph, but I use a Tascam DR1002 and run a sescam cable ($30) into the camera, you can have the best audio equipment in the world, but if you cannot get the microphone close to the subject, it will not sound good, yet a $10 lav mic does sound good into a recorder. However, I recommend you study how this all works and then your choices will make sense instead of just buying audio equipment. It helps to have someone experienced in sound guide when new, that way any equipment that you end up not using can be returned for the cable or equipment you need for audio. All your choices are good choices for equipment, but you could use even cheaper equipment with good technique will trump more expensive equipment without knowledge. My ear is pretty good and I do wild sync, altho I have plural eyes, I never use it. I use double system, but always nice to get good reference sound on camera, if doing interviews, then a lav even a cheap lav is great for interview, going into a digital recorder and the line out with the sescam attenuating cable so that the camera audio is a reference track. Using any of the Rode Video Mics are a great solution and simple too. The key is to get the mic close and you record dialog, farther away and you get room sound mixed in. You can always simulate the sound of room sound, but damn hard to eliminate it after the fact (Sony spectral? is good software for doing this, but good capture technique is better).

November 3, 2015 at 3:06PM, Edited November 3, 3:07PM

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http://s59.podbean.com/pb/a148e9ccecfe423dd6fed1bedd0f691d/5639220c/data... This is an indiefilmhustle podcast that Sharad enjoys on 4k cinema. Not trying to put words in the OP mouth, so feel free to correct your intent but this was posted "6. If I was just going for picture quality, I would go for 4K (naturally), but I don't want 4K ( its all up there)." So, part of the discussion is the assumption that 4k capture results in higher quality. This podcast addresses this very subject and I personally agree with it, but think it informative and thought provoking wither you agree or disagree.

November 3, 2015 at 5:41PM

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I agree that 4K definitely doesn't equal better IQ all the time (though, if all other factors are equal, why not? You can always soften an image in post.).

November 3, 2015 at 7:02PM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1036

Well I agree Kenneth that is a feature and if included fine, but the issues are clearly spelled out in this podcast which so very well spells out the issues. I think it also has to do with money, hard drives and a modern computer that can handle the files, here is the link same as above http://s59.podbean.com/pb/a148e9ccecfe423dd6fed1bedd0f691d/5639220c/data...

November 3, 2015 at 11:50PM

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I think its like a standard thing. Most people, including me, tend to think 4K IQ is better than HD all the time. But that podcast makes some really good points.

November 4, 2015 at 11:19AM

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Sharad Taank
Hobbyist Filmmaker
134

Thanks for the tips and advice, Lofar, Tim & Kenneth.
Actually, I don't know if I really need the JuicedLink. I thought a good boom mic (I picked the sennheiser because Guy wrote it's good for recording audio outside; although I'd rather get one that's good for interiors, but I don't recall he mentioned any in particular) and the Tascam recorder would be enough, but then I listened to some youtube samples of audio recorded with the JuicedLink Pre-amp and the difference was huge.

Let's see if I got it right. What's the difference between getting Mic (sennheiser) + Recorder (Tascam) and Mic (sennheiser) + Recorder (tascam) + Pre-amp (juiced link)?

Finally, did someone take a look to the picture of the "damaged" sensor I'm considering bidding for? Should I worry about it?
http://goo.gl/jE9sa1
The seller guarantees me it doesn't affect the image and he seems legit, but I'd like to know your opinions.

Thanks.

November 4, 2015 at 1:18PM

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The Sennheiser MKE600 is good for both indoor and outdoor audio recording, where Rode NTG-1 and NTG-2 mics are good outside but not so hot for indoor work. ( they are too sensitive to sound reflected from walls and ceilings, where the MKE600 is significantly better )

As far as audio gear goes, you would probably be looking at something like this...

Sennheiser MKE600 shotgun for indoor and outdoor work, which is plugged into a Tascam DR-60D Mk2 or Tascam DR-70D recorder.

If you want to record directly into your camera and skip using a recorder, then you would be looking at this...

Sennheiser MKE600 shotgun for indoor and outdoor work, which is plugged into a JuicedLink Riggy preamp which feeds a clean audio signal directly into your DSLR / Mirrorless camera. No recorder required.

You can also take the audio feed from the Tascam DR-60D Mk2 / Tascam DR-70D recorder and feed this signal directly into your camera, so that you end up with a very high quality recording from the Tascam and a second good quality recording made by your camera. ( there is a bug in the Tascam DR-70D when used this way, so that you have to use a special 25 dB "padded" cable to get good sound from your camera )

November 4, 2015 at 5:49PM, Edited November 4, 5:59PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
28864

Thanks, Guy,
You're always of so much help. I mean it. Your bookmarked posts have helped me a lot (although you haven't got to talk me into the gh4 yet, wink).

Could you point out the main differences or improvements between tascam dr-40 and dr-60 or 70?

Thank you so much.

November 5, 2015 at 5:51AM, Edited November 5, 5:51AM

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In terms of sound quality the DR-60D Mk2 and DR-70D are pretty much the same. They are both using newer upgraded pre-amps. ( compared to the DR-60D Mk1 )

The DR-70D has four XLR inputs and is lower profile, where the DR-60D Mk2 is taller and only has two XLR inputs. ( you can still record four audio tracks with the DR-60D Mk2 using a 3.5mm mini-plug input, so this could be used with wireless mics or something like the Rode VideoMic Pro )

The DR-70D has four audio gain control knobs, where the DR-60D Mk2 has only three gain controls. ( channels 3 and 4 use the SAME amount of gain )

My main reason for buying the DR-70D was that I liked the lower profile when mounted underneath my camera, and that it has four XLR inputs. But if you don't need these things, you can save $100 by going for the DR-60D Mk2.

November 5, 2015 at 4:14PM, Edited November 5, 4:15PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
28864

Thanks a lot, Guy.
I don't want to abuse of your kindness, but considering I'm going to purchase a BM pocket, which set-up would produce a cleaner sound indoors, shotgun MIC + Tascam (DR60D or DR70D) or shotgun MIC + JuicedLink into camera?

November 6, 2015 at 5:53AM

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Blackmagic aren't known for having great audio ( maybe this is changing, but I haven't heard anything about the audio of their new cameras ), so I would play it safe and go with the Tascam DR-60 Mk2 or DR-70D and use the internal 48 kHz 24-bit format to record with. Yes you will have to deal with syncing your audio with your BM footage, but it will be the best audio you can produce at this price point. ( the internal Tascam recordings have a noise floor of -80 dB RMS, so they can sound absolutely great when properly set-up )

November 7, 2015 at 1:03AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
28864

Limpid answer, as always.
Thanks, Guy.

November 7, 2015 at 3:27AM

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While our company is a bit richer than others,
I can say that after comparing our four Canon 1Dc's,
two Canon 5D Mark II's, a Canon C100, multiple Sony Betacams,
various Panasonic DV/HD models, older DV and 720p cameras,
and renting multiple Canon C300/C500's I have found that as a
workhorse camera, I happen to like the C100/C300/C500's the best
in terms of the IT ALL JUST WORKS - PRESS RECORD AND GO!
aspect of those cameras. A used Canon C100 is cheap but what
I would do as a BIG TIP is spend some money on the fastest
and best lens you can afford.

And right now even though it's made for DSLR, a Sigma 50mm Art F1.4
put on a C100 gives you AWESOME image quality for the $1200 you'll be paying!

....but in my opinion one of the FIRST things you can do on ANY DSLR
or C100 type of CAMERA is to please TURN OFF your Auto-Iris and
Turn OFF your Auto-Focus!

Play with the light you have and MOVE IN on your subjects
because once you have something like a Sigma Art F1.4 50 mm
use their very sharp, crisp facial expressions and sharp clear textures
of your subject matter to tell the story!

Use your HANDS to Focus and Iris Up/Down.
You literally need to FEEL the lens and make
it dance to the needs of your subject matter.

Why spend $5000+ on a Zeiss Otus for your $10,000+ DSLR rig
or spend $50,000+ on Zeiss Master Primes with a Red when for
the money and quality of image along with the WORKABILITY,
I suggest a used C100 mated to an EXCELLENT lens
(i.e. Sigma Art F1.4 50mm)

To reduce noise during later afternoon/evening or at night
you literally "Light The Night" with some banks of LED's
and some colour correction gels. This might be a heretical
thing to say to Key Lighting Techs, but I've had great success
shooting at night with multiple $10.00 flat multi-row LED flashlights
taped to lighting stands and some CTO, CTB or CTG colour correction
gels wrapped around the LED lights.

I've literally attached an inexpensive $350.00 color corrected 24 inch
Philips or ASUS 1920x1080 computer monitor plugged into the HDMI
port of the camera to get a live view in order to light the night scene
using the LED flashlights with colour correction gels and then once
satisfied with my look then started shooting my scenes as I like!

The more video noise I saw, the more LED flashlights I taped to the lighting
stand until the noise went away. I got away with on average about 4 flashlights
per stand and I usually used between 3 to 6 stands. So that's about $300 max
on LED flashlights, batteries and another $80 on a few square feet of colour
correction gels.

Who needs high ISO when you can LIGHT THE NIGHT!

November 4, 2015 at 3:39PM, Edited November 4, 4:01PM

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Henry A. Eckstein
Director, Research and Development
117

Oops! I forgot to add the following definitions for colour correction gels:

CTO = Colour Temperature Orange
(changes 5200K daylight to 3200K tungsten)

CTB = Colour Temperature Blue
(changes 3200K tungsten to 5200K daylight)

CTG = Colour Temperature Green (plus or minus green)
(changes 3200K tungsten or 5200K daylight to the 4200K to 4600K
flourescent lights depending on the plus or minus value you use)

You can do a MANUAL white balance (turn OFF auto-white balance!)
your camera to the corrected light using a solid bright white balance
card placed near or on your subject matter to get a natural smooth
looking frame in your late evening or full night shots.

Stop up or down to "fake" the darkness level you want
AFTER you colour correct the LED lights and white balance
the camera. ... OR... you can also use video filters in your
non-linear editor software to increase/decrease contrast
or overall darken a scene to get a TRUE night-shot.

November 4, 2015 at 3:56PM, Edited November 4, 4:04PM

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Henry A. Eckstein
Director, Research and Development
117

At the heart of all of this, is this question what makes for quality video?
Over and over the people whose skills I respect say it is the skills of the operator not the capability of the camera.
I believe this. Want film look? buy a camera with a film look preset or, light your scene as if shooting on film, have art direction as if shooting on film,
compose your shots as if shooting film.
If you do that pretty much any camera including cell phones and tablets will have the film look and the camera preset will not.
What happens in this discussion and the many similar ones is that someone is trying to use a new camera to compensate for lack of understanding or skill in camera operation.
The "tell" is blaming perfectly good cameras as being deficient, when the real issue is how the camera is operated?
I am speaking for myself, the reason I am not "upgrading" cameras is that I continue to progress on my present camera.
I could use my tablet, but that would be awkward, but no one watches a movie thinking, oh man look at that arri camera with cooke cinema lenses! or how silly is it when someone tells you that you have a good camera implying it is the camera and not the camera operator that is quality.
In my own story telling I am putting more effort into costume, color choice, composition, the quality of light and less about camera choice. It is the same for guitar players, even cheap guitars can be great guitars, no body tells the guitarist that he sounds good because of the particular model guitar he has, but instead that he can make that guitar sing with his technique and music sense.

Buy a camera or use the one you have, but real "upgrade" is within you not equipment.
Now there are specialty circumstances, for example flying a camera on a quad copter, but even with that, it takes skill to operate the quad for video.
Even with editing, how many of you use a stock video effect? or use the stock setting as a start and tweak it to fit your goal? How many come up with your own effects? There is the artistic and the commercial side. Who has time to be creative working on a deadline?
Who will go outside the box for a client expecting the standard video?
Quite a different mindset than the artist who has no commercial ambitions to make art, who goes outside the comfort zone and in fact may not even have a comfort zone!
I see a bevy of cameras recommended and in my mind I say yes to each one. Each one when operated well will work.
We might even make a list of them so that we can copy and paste the list each time a "which camera should I buy?" question is posed.
Different price points, people either recommend them by reputation, from reviews and gossip or experience.
However in the process ignore the many other cameras which are just as good. If you recommend from your experience, it suits you, your style of work, your nle, everything that is you, but really does not address the needs of the OP. Often that is because the OP doesn't know their need and so come to you and me for recommendations. Not speaking to this OP specifically, but to the genre of "What camera should I buy" inquiries.
There are posers and people who like to brag about the expensive cameras and camera equipment they have.
I for one think this is a valid reason, but it is not filmmaking.
Just like so many people live their life on credit and have nice cars and houses that they cannot really afford.
I roll my eyes when I see recommendations for cameras while ignorant of the OP needs and no posted reasons why that particular camera model addresses the unknown needs over other cameras?
This post is a general observation and not personal to anyone in this discussion, but is common observation to ever "What camera should I buy? discussion we have.
I have been tempted to post my own "what camera should I buy" discussion without context or needs and see the responses. I think people should be able to post this question in our forum here,
but if people talk about craft and ability over specific camera body recommendations, there are reasons.

November 7, 2015 at 3:30PM, Edited November 7, 3:33PM

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