July 21, 2015 at 11:29AM

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Best camera for backcountry shooting!

Hi, I'm launching a web series called Crazy Possible (http://igg.me/at/crazypossible) that's going to be shot on location along the Continental Divide Trail and am looking to ditch my 5D MkIII in favor of something lighter but still versatile. I may bring a GoPro Hero4 but it's obviously not the best tool for shooting interviews or sound-dependent content. Candidates I'm eyeing right now are the GH4, Panasonic's new GX8, BlackMagic PocketCinema, and I was checking out the new E1 by Z Camera but it's not supposed to deliver till December and we're heading out in 1 month (mid-August) I'd love some feedback on the best camera for the backcountry considering quality audio needs (I do have a Zoom H4N) and for video files that I can edit while on the road but can also look its best for an eventual feature film from the same content.
Thank you!!!

24 Comments

I am in a situation similar to yours but since I am starting out in the video making my experience is quite limited. Anyway, I am looking with great favour at the Nikon D750, it's quite small and light. Also I am considering going with minimal gear also, like 3-4 prime lenses

July 21, 2015 at 1:49PM, Edited July 21, 1:49PM

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Thanks for the suggestion, Alessandro. I'll have to look into that one some more, but I'm hoping if possible to go a little lower in cost.

July 21, 2015 at 9:44PM

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dicky dahl
director
219

I have seen your campaign on Indiegogo and it looks like you will be trekking a lot. When I do heavy duty trekking I prefer to go with a minimum of gear and my minimum arsenal would be (full format equivalent):
- 35mm - 85mm - 300mm in case of wildlife
- 28mm - 50mm - 85 or 100mm for landscapes only

now that I am starting with videos, the gear I need to carry is way more than for simple still images. Also, video takes a lot of battery power, I like the Goal0 solar chargers. With the nomad7 charger I can recharge 4 aa batteries with which I will run some utilities and my Rode NTG-2 mic and the Tascam DR40 recorder.

July 24, 2015 at 3:59AM

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Wouldn't a zoom or two be a minimal setup? Less to carry and you won't be swapping lenses as often.

July 24, 2015 at 10:15AM

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I am a big fan of the Panasonic GH4 for many reasons, and will be an even bigger fan once Panasonic releases their V-log upgrade for this camera.

One very nice feature of the GH4 is that it has good internal mic pre-amps for a compact camera. The internal audio has a dynamic range of 70+ dB RMS, and can sound absolutely great with the right audio input. ( either a "hot" mic or an affordable mic pre-amp like any of the JuicedLink Riggy units, the Tascam DR-60 Mk2, or the Tascam DR-70. These Tascam models also double as very good stand-alone audio recorders. )

July 21, 2015 at 5:52PM, Edited July 21, 5:52PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31512

That's good to know. Would the Zoom H4N work in the same way, then?

July 21, 2015 at 9:48PM

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dicky dahl
director
219

I don't think the Zoom H4n has a "pass through" mode. Can you get a clean MIC or LINE level out from the Zoom H4n while powering an XLR mic ?

The Zoom H4n is also slightly noisier than the GH4, with a noise-floor of -66 dB RMS. ( probably won't make any difference as long as the H4n can deliver a clean signal out to the GH4 )

July 22, 2015 at 5:47AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31512

FYI: A Panasonic rep from New Zealand posted on his twitter account today that the GH4 V-log upgrade will be released in October, which is around the same time the new Panasonic DVX200 camera is going to be released.

July 21, 2015 at 8:31PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31512

That would be really exciting!

July 23, 2015 at 9:32AM

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Tony
444

Hey, can you explain what the V-log upgrade will bring with it? Thanks!

July 23, 2015 at 8:07PM

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dicky dahl
director
219

Two main features:

- At least 1 more F-Stop of dynamic range ( maybe more )

- Very accurate and natural looking color after grading

...And of course: better image manipulation when grading

July 24, 2015 at 12:51PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31512

cool, thankye!

July 24, 2015 at 6:07PM

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dicky dahl
director
219

Have you thought about looking into the Black Magic Micro Cinema camera? Looking like a pretty versatile unit.

July 22, 2015 at 10:58AM

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Bryan Tosh
Director of Photography
645

Sounds to me that a light body, zoom lens and optical image stabilization is what you need.

July 23, 2015 at 6:13AM

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Ezi Seel
574

Don't forget about battery life either. The total kit weight is what's really important if you're hiking all your gear in. BMPCC might be lighter than a GH4, but with the not ideal power consumption, the total kit for the same amount of shooting time might be heavier than GH4 which has pretty good battery life.

July 23, 2015 at 10:05AM

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I would recommend the Panasoinc GH4. Great video quality, battery last around 4-6 hours. As Guy said, when V-Log comes out in October it will be a big upgrade.

I got my GH4 in December as an upgrade from the Canon 60D and like it more and more each day. No regrets about it at all.

July 23, 2015 at 2:14PM

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Andy O'Neill
Filmmaker / Cinematographer
2435

Thanks for the input! I've actually been leaning the way of the GH4. Or the GX8 if I can get it in time. Any thoughts on one of these over the other?? GX8 is lighter, has timelapse, has this double IS thing (though I think I heard it doesn't work while shooting 4K), has panorama, a little bit bigger sensor though lower resolution, I believe, and maybe not as good for audio?

Also any thoughts on how worthwhile the Interface Unit for the GH4 that allows for xlr inputs might be for the cost?

July 23, 2015 at 8:05PM

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dicky dahl
director
219

If all you need is XLR in, grab one of the tascam recorders that screw into the bottom of the camera like the Tascam DR-60mkII. We use that with a GH4 and it works great. It is kind of a bulky unit together, so we mainly use it like that on a tripod in production type settings. For running around, we usually keep the tascam separate and sync later.

July 24, 2015 at 6:05AM, Edited July 24, 6:05AM

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thanks, Jordan.

July 24, 2015 at 11:00AM

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dicky dahl
director
219

The GX8 double IS is only useful for still photo work, but the more compact body might be more comfortable if you're traveling. I also like being able to tilt the GX8 EVF to vertical mode. That said, I still think the GH4 is the better camera if video is your main thing, especially once V-log is out.

The GH4 YAGH audio unit is fine for studio shooting where you can power it with AC and the size won't make any difference while shooting. Still I think having a separate audio unit like a JuicedLink Riggy, the Tascam DR-60 Mk2 or the DR-70D makes more sense. ( the YAGH needs external power and does not record anything )

And then there's three different brands of 4K external video recorders that work with the GH4, and they allow for 10-bit 4:2:2 shooting. ( which will be a bigger deal once the V-Log upgrade is out )

July 24, 2015 at 6:07AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31512

thanks, Guy. Can you explain what the V-log update will bring with it?

July 24, 2015 at 11:03AM

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dicky dahl
director
219

See reply above.

July 24, 2015 at 12:53PM, Edited July 24, 12:53PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31512

OK, one more thing. Now looking for nominations for best backcountry lens for the GH4. I guess the leading candidate at the moment is the Lumix 12-35 / 2.8 for its flexibility and small size. I've heard good things about the Sigma 18-35 / 1.8 but it's big and would require a speedbooster. But i would love that kind of aperture. So also looking at the Lumix Leica 15mm/1.7. And for price and super small size still like the Lumix 14mm / 2.5. But I'm open to other suggestions! Thanks again!

July 27, 2015 at 12:21PM

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dicky dahl
director
219

We use the sigma 18-35 w/ speedbooster and it is big. Amazing lens, and really improves the camera in lowlight, but it makes the camera about the same size and weight as our 6d and 24-105. No real experience, but I looked at the rokinon 12mm 2.0 for some travel stuff and it seems pretty small. Also an old Pentax 50 1.4 w/ canon adapter on the speedbooster is a pretty great portrait/shallow look combo in a small package. 12-35 seems to be the best bet for running around if you need a zoom to be able to react.

July 27, 2015 at 12:41PM

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