October 19, 2014 at 6:06AM

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Purchasing first camera - which is best buy on a budget?

I'm shooting my first feature film early next year and am buying my first camera for the shoot. I have a budget of $3k and want to make sure that my purchase is future-proof. Have started to do some research but advice would be appreciated on best product for my budget. Not wanting anything for a specific effect, just generally best quality pictures for any and all future projects. I am very green in regards to cameras (if that wasn't obvious) but have been given an offer for a camera of my choice so need help please !!!

10 Comments

Keep in mind that you will also need audio and lighting gear, so sinking your entire budget into a camera might not be the best idea. Cameras will never be "future-proof", but everything else will probably have a long life-span.

Here's a gear list I put together for someone with a $2K budget, that includes audio and lighting...
http://nofilmschool.com/s/47263/296014

With your larger budget I would upgrade the audio gear to a proper mic and boom set-up, so instead of the Tascam DR-40 recorder I would get something like this...

$200 Tascam DR-60D Mk2 recorder
$330 Sennheiser MKE600 shotgun mic
$200 Rycote 18cm Standard Hole Softie Kit with Lyre Mount and Pistol Grip
$175 K-Tek KE-89CC Avalon Boompole with Internal XLR Cable
$ 31 Canare L-4E6S Star Quad XLR Mic Cable - 25' (Orange)

The new Tascam DR-60D Mk2 has better mic preamps than the DR-40 and the gain controls are stepless so you can ride the audio levels like you would with a field mixer.

The Sennheiser MKE600 is the best deal in a low cost shotgun mic. ( it has better sound than the Rode NTG-2 mic and works better in indoor enviroments )

The Rycote softie and pistol grip is light weight and can be used both indoors and outdoors, both on the boom pole and even just handheld out of frame.

The K-Tek Avalon boom pole is well made and relatively low cost.

The Canare Star Quad cable has very good shielding against radio and cellphone interference and is more flexible than standard XLR cable. The orange color makes it easier for people to see on set, so there's less chance of somebody tripping on it.

October 19, 2014 at 3:42PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30422

Fantastic, thank you Guy! A camera was never going to be my priority however the budget I mentioned was offered specifically for a camera - we are hoping to cover audio and lighting gear with crowd-funding but I will absolutely be using your list when it comes to that point!

October 20, 2014 at 12:01AM

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I've been told either Sony A7s or Pano GH4 is the way to go

October 20, 2014 at 1:04AM

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Both are excellent cameras.

The A7S is better for low-light shooting, shallow DOF, and maximum dyanamic range.

The GH4 can shoot 4K internally, so right off the bat you're shooting 4K without an external recorder, which means every shot will have tons of detail, and you can down-sample your 4K footage to get 1080 HD 4:4:4 color which gives you more room to work when grading your image.

Three years ago I bought the Panasonic GH2 and sold all my Canon gear, then upgraded to the GH3 about 18 months ago, and then this summer upgraded again to the GH4 camera. I always shoot with lights, so the GH4 was a good fit for me.

You can't go wrong with either camera, but if you do go the GH4 route I would recommend checking out the Metabones SpeedBooster adapter for the GH4, which enables you to mount Canon, Leica, or Nikon lenses to your GH4. This adapter makes the GH4 equivalent to a Super35 sensor and gives you one extra F-stop of light. ( I bought 8 Nikon AI-S lenses this summer after trying out the SpeedBooster with a Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens, which equates to a nice f/1.0 medium close-up lens with the GH4 )

Guy McLoughlin

October 20, 2014 at 5:28PM, Edited October 20, 5:28PM

Blackmagic pocket camera is good for a goob and is cheaper.

October 20, 2014 at 2:29AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7099

As this is your *first* camera, I'd highly recommend you go cheap and affordable.

Such as the GH1 or NEX-5N, they are dirt cheap (about $200ish or less) and will knock the socks off any Canon APS-C DSLR.

http://www.anycamerawilldo.com/old-but-not-out/
http://rungunshoot.com/the-350-docu-filmmaking-kit-depreciation-is-wonde...

Get Nikon F mount lenses to preserve your investment the best for the future (perhaps a native mount or two, such as a kit lens and a normal FoV prime. As they're each quite cheap).

And get this focal reducer:
http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/9086/rj-lens-turbo-m43-ada...

Then rather than launching into making a feature film, make a handful of short films.

Then after you have done that, you can pick up an A7s or GH4 on the cheap (as they'll have dropped down in price by then) or get instead whatever is now the latest hot thing (such as a GH5/A8s/NX2/K-4/E-M2/D9300/etc, or who knows what!) which you can safely take across your lenses to it to use with your next new camera.

October 20, 2014 at 10:20AM

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David Peterson
Wedding Cinematographer
2403

Great, thank you David!

I've made several short films already, I've just never been involved in the technical side of the films (silly I know). I would not be operating the camera myself, it was just the offer of financing a camera that came my way - hence just wanting to know what is best as an investment for my crew to use!
Definitely will take that advice into consideration for my personal use though!

Louise Fields

October 27, 2014 at 9:40AM

Different cameras have different +'s and -'s on paper, but I highly recommend trying out the different cameras before you invest in them and find the one that you can work with.

One camera might produce a good image on paper, but you may have difficulty working with slowing you down during the shoot. Or you might find one you love the menu options, but its form factor (body shape and size) makes it difficult to use. etc.

Try contacting other filmmakers in your area and ask to run them through the basics of how to use their cameras.

Or you can just hire a cinematographer. :)

October 20, 2014 at 7:20PM

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Jeremy Parsons
Director of Photography / 1st Assistant Camera / Crane Tech
97

My Blackmagic Cinema Camera is nice but the crop-factor can be an issue. You need a wider lens than with S35 or full sensors or stand back farther from your subject. I love that I can slap just about any lens on it. I've been able to scrounge old film camera glass from Nikon, Pentax, Yashika, and Canon cameras. I have lens adapters for each that cost like $10 on Ebay. The sound on-board is less than perfect. I ran into a hiss issue in my headphones that fortunately wasn't being recorded. External sound works better. The RAW files are computer intensive but very nice to work with in the included Davinci Resolve software. It's not the easiest camera to hold steady without some kind of rig or stabilizer. The high dynamic range is nice for a film look. If you want more information on this camera, let me know.

February 6, 2015 at 3:25PM

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Anton Doiron
Creator/Filmmaker
541

You can get a used Canon eos-m for under $150 and the stock zoom, then with the free magic lantern software, you have a wonderful tools for filmmaking. There are people doing stunning work with this combination. I would suggest making a bunch of 10min or less short films prior to trying to make a feature movie. For quality, it is not what tools you have, but what you can do with those tools.
If you have a bigger budget to buy a camera, my personal opinion is that you don't get better quality, but you get more options. I would suggest getting any camera that has a Dave Dugdale tutorial on it learningvideo.com. I am not connected to Dave, but for less than $40 he will teach you to setup and use the camera effectively. Then get more experience

May 27, 2016 at 2:35PM

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