November 9, 2017

How to Build a Cinema Camera Kit for Less than $250

Want to capture beautiful, cinematic images but don't have the cash? Well, you might need less than you think.

If you're looking to get your hands on a cinema camera, expect to spend at least $2000. (The Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera is one outlier at $1000.) And that's just for the body alone—this doesn't include the cost of lenses and accessories, like filters, memory cards, extra batteries, and cages. So, is there a solution for filmmakers who don't have thousands and thousands of dollars to spend on camera gear? Caleb Pike of DSLR Video Shooter shows you how he built a full cinema camera kit for less than $250 in the video below.

Now, for $250, you're not going to get a Cadillac of a camera, but you're definitely going to get something that will get you some beautiful and cinematic images. The Canon EOS M has several great features that will give filmmakers some desirable benefits when shooting films, like its larger APS-C sensor. Pike mentions, too, that the camera allows you to load Technicolor's CineStyle profile, which boosts dynamic range and gives you a flat image style, as well as Magic Lantern, which adds a ton of cool features onto your Canon camera, like waveforms and RAW video recording. (Both of which are free by the way.) You can find the camera on eBay for as little as $150.

Now that you have the brain, it's just a matter of adding the eyes and all of the accessories. Pike suggests a 35mm F1.6 C-mount lens, which costs about $35 to $45 on Amazon, but you can obviously use pretty much any C-mount lens you like (or can afford). From there, you can add a step up ring, ND filter, a camera cage (which has to be modified to fit the EOS M), SD cards, and extra batteries to round out your kit. If you have a little more cash to work with, you can add side handle, tabletop tripod, and any number of other inexpensive accessories, like different mounts.

Is this camera kit going to have the best image quality ever? The answer is clearly no, but if you're an indie filmmaker who is either frustrated with the high cost of quality camera gear or is looking for a b-camera, then this might be your very affordable solution.

For a full list of the equipment Pike mentions in his video, as well as prices and links, check out the video's description.      

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