April 1, 2017 at 2:52PM

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DILEMA: Which camera to chose for a low budget narrative feature film?!

I am planning to shoot a low budget narrative feature film all taking place in my apartment. I have budgeted roughly $10,000 for the film, almost all of the budget will go towards equipment. Ideally I was planning on purchasing a Panasonic GH5 and shooting in 10 bit 422 4k, however it was just brought to my attention a crew member who will be working on my film owns a Canon C100 that I could use for free, and it would save me a few thousand dollars. I am wondering which route you would chose to go in my situation? Do you think the C100 paired with an atomos would deliver a codec hefty enough to be screened on the film festival circuit? Or in 2017 with the GH5 bringing a high quality 4k image at a reasonable price point should I make room in the budget for this camera?

Side note: I already have money budgeted for decent sound and lighting equipment so whichever camera I go with will not effect what I purchase when it comes to these facets.

Thanks

19 Comments

The C100 is not going to disqualify your film from festival presentations (except for one or two 4k-only festivals). Save the money and spend it on something really important: craft services for your talent and crew.

April 1, 2017 at 9:24PM, Edited April 1, 9:24PM

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C100 to an atomos will be fine. Great image, nice and sharp, great color. Just light accordingly and you'll be golden.
I agree with Michael I'd spend the money on craft services, talent, lighting, audio, lenses, etc.
As long as you light to the camera, lenses will probably have a greater impact on your image than camera will.

April 1, 2017 at 11:15PM

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Ben Meredith
Cinematographer/Filmmaker
1107

Thanks for the responses, and my initial gut instinct as well is to go the C100 route and allocate the money I'd save for other things. However if a distributor wanted to purchase my film do you think it would be worth more to them if filmed in 4k? Also do you think the ability to push the image further in color grading with the GH5's heftier codec and ability to crop and do camera movements in post is worth the extra I'd spend?

April 2, 2017 at 12:25PM, Edited April 2, 12:25PM

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In a word: no. Unless your apartment is a two-story penthouse overlooking Central Park. Then shoot in 4k all day! But seriously, 4k not only quadruples the data storage requirements, it also puts your set dressing, costume, and makeup capabilities under a microscope. Best to do that when you have a much, much larger budget. And remember: in the $10k realm, the definition of success is not selling the film. It's raising enough money to make the film you really wanted to make in the first place (which may or may not be the film you actually made).

Michael Tiemann

April 2, 2017 at 3:32PM

iPhone Footage is shown on silver screen and holds up nicely... Point is, save your money and go with what is available...as everyone said above. we sometimes like to think it's the camera that will make everything awesome, but I'd say, get a proper crew and shoot your film on the C100, it's a really solid camera. Best of Luck!

April 3, 2017 at 4:51PM

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Wentworth Kelly
Director/DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2397

Most of your favorite films weren't shot in 4k but instead 2.8k on the Arri Alexa.

April 4, 2017 at 10:38AM

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Josef Lorenzo
Director
251

Between those two cameras, (despite the budget) I would still choose the Canon C100.
If the GH5 sensor is anywhere similar to the GH4, the dynamic range is heavily tilted in the direction of highlights rather than shadows. This makes it an amazing camera to shoot outdoors with, but it struggles indoors with shadow detail. The C100's 12-stop dynamic range is well-rounded in the middle of both highlights and shadows. It can handle them both.

It's higher ISO capabilities of the C100 can come in very handy as well. I don't think you'll be disappointed with this camera.

April 4, 2017 at 1:45PM

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premiumbeat has a gh5 giveaway maybe you win it haha
link: http://woobox.com/f8ugnj/ir4eb5

April 5, 2017 at 10:43AM

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Joel van Etten
Director, editor
118

Ha thanks for the heads up, submitted to the giveaway a few days ago!

Pavle Novakovic

April 5, 2017 at 2:01PM

Echoing what everyone else has said. We shot my no-budget narrative feature on a friend's free Canon C100, and my DP did such a great job with it that the movie looks like we had a budget. Good luck and have fun!

April 7, 2017 at 8:34PM

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Daniel Shar
Writer/Director
177

It would be remiss not to mention that the C100 + recorder is the same image as a C300, which has been used to shoot a ton of Indie features that found their way into cinemas, most notably Palm d'Or winner Blue is the Warmest Colour, breakout nailbiter Blue Ruin and the one-shot-wonder Victoria. All of which won a ton of awards and hearts, and look pretty darn good on the big screen.

There are no such stories for the GH4 or GH5 (closest is Upstream Color, shot on a hacked GH2).

April 7, 2017 at 10:38PM

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That's not true, the recorder is not the same, if you do record externally know that I will be grainier without the high compression but it will have more detail, it depends on the shooting style if the external recorder will actually help

Indie Guy

April 8, 2017 at 10:03AM

Sorry, not the same image as the C300; equivalent or better (and indeed the same as a C300 shooting to an external recorder).

Einar Bjarni Davidsson

April 9, 2017 at 2:09PM

The c300 will be grainier two with the i frame recording on the c300, that's why most films shot on c300 don't use a external recorder, it's not worth the extra weight, the c100 encoding has macro blocking that's poses problems when you switch to I frame recording the graininess of the darks increases and the usable isos drop down, if you want a beefier negative with lower sensitivity shoot i frame if you want a smaller camera build and more versitility in exposure shoot on board and know there will be less flexibity in post, also know it's 8 bit, which noise reduction filters will not like it's better to expose properly for the sensor and compression you will use

April 10, 2017 at 1:27PM

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Indie Guy
837

With all due respect this video from Film Riot seems to contradicts what you are saying. In that recorded to the atomos in prores the image has less noise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSyl2LeSGOA

Pavle Novakovic

April 11, 2017 at 8:29AM

Pavle look again at that video again at 6:40 for the underexposed comparison, look at screen left and get back to me. Exactly what I said happens, onboard is less sharp but cleaner, prores is sharper and noisier. As far and the denoiser is concerned shoot a gradient back wall and see what happens, the denosier will work with textured backgrounds but when you shoot a gradient the 8 bit will not able to handle it, so I don't think its a tool to get too used to using for the c100 or c300 for that matter. Like I said, that coincides with Connelly, it depends what you are shooting if it will make a difference.

Indie Guy

April 11, 2017 at 12:40PM

You're right, my apologies. I did notice what you were talking about when comparing those two under exposed shots. In the video he does mention using denoiser for an optimal result yet you say denoiser will not play nice with 8 bit footage when gradient is present. So if I were to purposely avoid gradient and use denoiser would I be getting best image possible out of the camera?

April 12, 2017 at 12:06AM

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Not really, if you want the best image possible always expose or over expose a little bit and then you won't need the denoiser and you can shoot whatever you want, but yes if you do have to underexpose and you want to denoise, the prores will be better.

April 12, 2017 at 10:52AM

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Indie Guy
837

You could wait out for the C200, which seems like will be a beast of a camera at a more affordable consumer-professional price.

May 29, 2017 at 10:15PM

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Zack Millsaps
Director
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