October 25, 2016 at 9:37AM, Edited October 25, 9:44AM

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Narrowing down on a Cinema Camera, NFS can you help steer me in a right direction?

Freshly fresh freshman here. I've been lurking for some months. I'm honing down on a Cinema Camera based on what I feel I need as a Narrative filmmaker - following extensive research. I'm asking, Based on my "order of priority" list if you could help steer me in a promising path.
Priority meaning: The aspects of cinematography/style that I embrace the most. I'll put cameras I'm alluded to based on the aspects. This all comes with the knowledge of the importance of light, story and knowing that it's not all about the camera. I'm not new to storytelling just extremely, newborn to the technology to produce the stories I have in the means I feel fit.
In order of "Priority":

I...... A Wide Dynamic Range (ala Nikon D180, A7Si/ii,) Color, shadows is my one. I would love to see closer to what my eyes see.
2..... 10, 12, 14 Bit Color (ala Digital Bolex d16, Blackmagic Cameras) I hear the-
3..... Freedom in post is magnificent especially with color (see above)
4...... Can be used efficiently with Handheld motions- (i see problems with this, with a7s and Dslrs)
5..... Steady-Cam Capabilities
6..... Keen to wide/ultra wides lenses.
7..... Audio. I'm in love the idea and creativity of sound design and I'm learning to do my own. (ala Eraserhead, Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, Aronofsky films)
7 ..... I'm not too stickler with ergonomics, heavy or light I'm willing to get it done need be.
8 ...... Not too caught up in low-light capabilities, I hear it's nice but I honestly don't know what I'm shooting it varies on what I write. Which brings me to
9. ...... Natural light, huge fan- Magic Hour shooting. I primarily wake at 5 am and get back at 6, so I'm mostly accustomed to the beauty of those time periods.
10...... I plan on going solo for some time. Narrative filmmaker, not extremely social. For smaller films I love smaller intimate casts 1-2 actors.
11..... Editing and Storage ease is helpful, but large file sizes if need be I'll work more to accommodate. I have a 13 inch Macbook Retina (2014) with FCPX.

Budget wise I'm willing to work harder/longer to play hard but I'm looking for something that if new would be 4,000 or less. (I'll likely get used) and I'm looking for something versatile that could get me a long way with Festivals, projects. Not sure about Jobs since I'm a narrative filmmaker who likes working on his own scripts. If it's a hard camera I don't mind I'm more than happy to start harder. I'm also not looking for a learning camera because they have two in my Theatre Department. I've steered away from looking into DSLRs for obvious reasons.

So yes basically I have no problem with long, strenuous hours of work and set ups. Film is all I think about all day so it's my pleasure dealing with these things. It's our craft there's no easy way around it. I've shot all of the shorts I've made with my iPhone 5C.

https://vimeo.com/188208236

https://vimeo.com/185406851

Thank you guys for the help.
I'll be in the comments if you have more questions for me.

3 Comments

Allow me to influence your research a bit...

You say "In order of 'Priority':"

I...... A Wide Dynamic Range (ala Nikon D180, A7Si/ii,) Color, shadows is my one. I would love to see closer to what my eyes see.

NO! Go back to film school (JK). The #1 thing that makes amateur videos look amateur is that they use only natural light which, by its nature, does not give a damn about separating subjects from background. Of course there are 20 minutes in the morning and another 20 minutes in the evening when "golden hour" also creates the effect of motivated lighting (provided that the sun rises and sets in the right place), but generally the approach of trying to get a camera to "see what your eyes see" will give you the worst, not the best cinematic quality.

2..... 10, 12, 14 Bit Color (ala Digital Bolex d16, Blackmagic Cameras) I hear the-
3..... Freedom in post is magnificent especially with color (see above)

Having lots of dynamic range and color gamut to play with is great...if you have done a good job with your motivated lighting to first properly light your subjects. If you don't have them properly lit, all the dynamic range and color gamut in the world is not going to save you.

4...... Can be used efficiently with Handheld motions- (i see problems with this, with a7s and Dslrs)
5..... Steady-Cam Capabilities

These two kinda go hand-in-hand, so to speak. Gimbals have really opened up the lightweight low-end to compete with higher-end and heavier steadycam rigs. To really answer the question of what's best for you, rent a few options and see how your knees, your elbows, your shoulders, your hips, and your feet feel after actually doing the motions. Don't assume!

6..... Keen to wide/ultra wides lenses.

m43 and beyond have keen wide/ultra-wide lenses. Keen wide/ultra-wide lenses are fairly pricey. Just sayin'.

7..... Audio. I'm in love the idea and creativity of sound design and I'm learning to do my own. (ala Eraserhead, Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, Aronofsky films)

Audio is almost always best done off camera for two reasons. First, most cameras don't have great built-in audio. Second, the camera's location is almost always a terrible place to put a microphone (*). The microphone should be placed as near to the talent as possible, without getting in the frame. It should be managed separately from the camera (but in coordination with the camera).

(*) In your case, if all your scenes are intimate wide angles, where you are 2'-3' from your talent, you might actually be close enough to use a camera-mounted or camera-integrated mic. But if you are 5' away or farther, don't bother with a camera-mounted mic. And if you are 3' away in a very small room, your audio will also sound very suspect.

7 ..... I'm not too stickler with ergonomics, heavy or light I'm willing to get it done need be.

Oh to be young and strong!

8 ...... Not too caught up in low-light capabilities, I hear it's nice but I honestly don't know what I'm shooting it varies on what I write. Which brings me to
9. ...... Natural light, huge fan- Magic Hour shooting. I primarily wake at 5 am and get back at 6, so I'm mostly accustomed to the beauty of those time periods.

Magic hour is great, but it lasts for such a short period of time. Very, very difficult to shoot on schedule around that.

10...... I plan on going solo for some time. Narrative filmmaker, not extremely social. For smaller films I love smaller intimate casts 1-2 actors.

If you want your actors to stay with you, you want assistants who can help keep things moving and help run through checklists without errors. If you are trying to do everything, you might find that you are spending 40 minutes of everybody's time just to do 20 minutes of shooting. Whereas if you have a proper sized-crew, you can do 20 minutes of shooting in 25 minutes. The latter is much more motivating to actors than the former.

11..... Editing and Storage ease is helpful, but large file sizes if need be I'll work more to accommodate. I have a 13 inch Macbook Retina (2014) with FCPX.

If you are serious about narrative filmmaking, you should have a workflow that maintains your footage in three locations. So, yes, you need external hard drives. Lots of external hard drives.

October 25, 2016 at 3:59PM

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Thanks a lot for dealing with me sir lol. I just had a talk with my directing professor and he talked a little sense it to me. He says to look for the lenses I want first (wides) great lenses that i will never want to sell. Than he suggest getting a body that I like in the +/-2,000 range.

Jackson Flowers

October 25, 2016 at 6:43PM

Hopefully he also told you about the importance of lighting.

One other thing: not just for me, but anytime you read a response you think is valuable, don't forget to upvote it. Good luck!

October 25, 2016 at 8:44PM

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