May 23, 2016 at 3:00PM

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4k delivery the new standard? Do I need a new camera?

Okay -- first off -- cinematography isn't my main business. I'm primarily a writer and director, but I've been learning photography and shot composition as a necessary part of growing as a filmmaker.

Mostly I rely on my friends' skills to get my shorts made. I imagine this is how filmmaking will work for me for the rest of my life.

For my projects, my DP is an experienced cinematographer and shoots on a Blackmagic Ursa Mini with primarily vintage Nikon lenses. It looks great.

My personal camera is a 64mpbs bit-rate hacked Nikon D5200. I'm not even quite sure what "64mpbs bit-rate" means, but I know that my colors and image look great. I love this thing. I love how I can use my older/cheaper Nikon lenses on it. Most importantly, I'm learning on it.

I used it as a B-Camera on our last shoot. It doesn't quite match up with the Ursa Mini, but I shot with the Nikon during sunrise on a beach. It's supposed to be a dream sequence so we can heavily edit the image and it would be plausible. But I'm not sure how much longer the Nikon will work as a B camera, if ever again.

Additionally, now people are seeing my work, stuff that I've shot without my DP, and I'm getting offered freelance shooting gigs. Should I upgrade?

Because I use vintage lenses, I don't need autofocus and image stabilization. I have lights. I don't care about low-light situations. I just want good colors and shadows, and I don't want to empty my bank account. I don't get paid enough to go out and buy a Canon 1D mk II.

I was thinking the Samsung nx1 would be a great option. Do I actually need company support?

The GH4 doesn't look that great. I'm not going to buy an external recorder for higher quality files. And if I'm not going to go with an external recorder, I might as well get the gx85. I've never shot on a panasonic before. I have no idea if I can learn to love it.

I'm extremely skeptical about the Sony a6300 for reasons I can't quite articulate. I might just hate Sony's cameras.

I'd love a blackmagic cinema camera so I could push myself to learn color grading, but that requires more gear, and they don't have a 4k camera in my price range. I also like things like viewfinders, battery life, and not expensive file storage systems.

Do I wait for more options? I have a gig coming up in a month, but I also have someone interested in buying my Nikon. Do I sell it at no cost and rent for the next year and see what happens? Do you have a crystal ball? Can you read my fortune?

5 Comments

Sorry for the long post: TL/DR -- Should I upgrade from my Nikon D5200 to a 4k camera if I'm going to start freelancing?

May 23, 2016 at 3:11PM

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Alex Phillips
Writer/Director
333

4K sure makes you future proof, but it still isn't necessary to my opinion if you don't need it for specific reasons. Even Full HD isn't the fully established standard yet as most of the broadcasts and films on TV only get delivered in HD.
If you think your camera is limiting you at the moment think about what you really need from a camera to work with it, e.g. ergonomics, ease of use, color depth, slow-motion etc. With these factors in mind sort out some options which are available.
If your current camera isn't limiting you in your creative ways then stick with it and maybe try to achieve the cinematic looks with lighting. There are still many great videos shot on Canons 600D and also on Nikons as you use.

May 23, 2016 at 5:28PM

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While many projects are being shot in 4K, most of them are still delivering in 2K / 1080p formats, so 4K is currently not much of a delivery standard.

The Canon 1D X Mark II does not shoot LOG, it has a 1.4x CROP factor when shooting 4K, it only records 8-bit video, and it's HDMI output is only 1080p so no external 4K high bit-rate recording. While I'm sure it's a killer still photo camera, it would not be on my list of 4K cameras for video work.

For 4K shooting I would be looking at either the Blackmagic Ursa Mini, the Panasonic GH4 ( with or without an external recorder ), Sony A7S Mk2 ( with or without an external recorder ), Sony FS5 or FS7 cameras. I would also want to make sure I had my post workflow process ironed out, so that I would have a reliable set of 3D LUTs to produce the color and look that I was after in my finished product.

If you have a bigger budget then there's also the Canon C300 Mk2 or the Panasonic Varicam LT which will take things to a higher level in terms of the finished image, but either camera is going to cost you $20K to have it ready to go. ( I would omit the beautiful Panasonic $5K EVF with it's optical zoom feature and go with a cheaper Zacuto EVF solution )

May 24, 2016 at 3:27PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30913

For the most part I certainly agree that 4k delivery is not needed today. I also do not see it in the distant future. I believe that the current buzz about 4k is advertising to get people to sell perfectly good cameras and tvs and replace them with 4k. Already we see the new buzz is 8k. However many problems with 4k in how people in the real world view video. It is unlickly that all the theater owners who have bought 2k projection will replace them with 4k. There is no demand from the public who are satisfied with 2k, with services like netflix most people do not even get 1080, when they say the are giving a 1080 movie, what they mean is that the source file is 1080, but the delivers that you see at home is 720. Today we live in a 720 world with no demand from the public. This is the same scam as the megapixel wars. I am not saying that you should not use 4k or not, but the marketing of it is temporary and driven by sales propaganda, not from the public. This is unlikely to change in the near future. I seems silly to me to worry about 4k when we don't even live in a 1080 world yet

May 27, 2016 at 2:27PM, Edited May 27, 2:28PM

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4k actual bluray are shooted with alexa in 2.7k... could be a enought complete answer ? :-D
anyway, if you want to upgrade, i think is better if search not a high resolution camera, but a more dinamic range capable camera, if you put a dslr against a cinema camera, where color and dinamic range are optimized to cinema, dslr could show its weakness.
ask to yourself why in most of B, C camera of hollywood prefer to use a bmcc, bmpcc, instead go pro, most of dslr? also if them can offer more resolution? be cause them offer raw, offer dinamic gamma instead of simple "pixel muscle", is simpler to mixed two cameras with similar gamma instead to mix two camera with similar pixel resolution but with contrast and gamma completely different.

June 18, 2017 at 4:45AM

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Carlo Macchiavello
Director
638

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