October 25, 2017 at 8:03PM

0

Camera for a very low budget feature

Hi everyone! I am shooting a very low budget film next summer. This is a fiction feature (musical). No-one will be payed, we have lots of people helping us, lending us locations for free and all, but I need to invest on the camera side of things.
I own some pretty decent Pentax lenses (a telephoto zoom and a prime 28mm, I will need to find a third one anyways), but the DSLR I have is way too bad for something destined to the big screen.

The budget I have is 2000$ in total, and 4K is not my priority. I want to be able to shoot RAW (or at least a good format for color correction), I need a good dynamic range to make the most of available light, and most of all I want something that doesn't look like video.

I am not sure about renting the equipment, since the shoot will last a month it may end up costing more than buying something like the BMPCC, even with adaptors and all the accessories necessary?

Sorry for the very long text, I could conclude by just saying I need help choosing haha!

23 Comments

I have a bmpcc and love it. The biggest thing with using it is making sure you have a good battery solution as the stock batteries are no good.

October 25, 2017 at 10:46PM

0
Reply

Ok thanks for the tip!

October 27, 2017 at 1:27AM, Edited October 27, 1:27AM

0
Reply

I think you should buy a GH4. It's really cheap right now and it produces some great 4K images. I know you don't care much about 4K but recording 8 bit 420 4K gives you way better color resolution than shooting 1080. You can rent an atomos shogun for ProRes recording but I think you could be satisfied with the internal codec of the GH4. I think instead of renting a recorder for ProRes you should spend that money on lights, especially since the GH4 doesn't have the best low light. If any thing is going to make your film look more cinematic, it's going to be proper good lighting. As far lenses are concerned you can buy a K mount to M43 adapter for your camera or buy a M43 lens like the Panasonic 25mm f1.7, Sigma 19mm f2.8 or whatever.

Here's an awesome short doc my friend shot with a GH4 using the internal codec.
https://vimeo.com/192307919

I hope this was somewhat useful.
Good luck with your film!

October 26, 2017 at 2:16PM

2
Reply
Alex Alva
1060

I've heard good and bad about GH4, mostly because of the "video-ish" look I guess, but I have to admit that this doc looks great!
Anyway, I think you're right about investing in the lights, especially since I'm going to have some dark locations...

Thank you!

October 27, 2017 at 1:44AM

0
Reply

I'd get a used BMPCC. If you're located in the Los Angeles area you can just use mine actually. Always down to help out fellow filmmakers.

For under 2000 I think bmpcc is the most organic image and shoots a really nice picture.
Additionally the only other camera I'd look at in that price range is the Sony FS100. It's old at this point, sure, but there is something very pleasing and filmic about the image it produces, even with the low bittrate.

October 26, 2017 at 4:25PM

0
Reply
avatar
Ben Meredith
Cinematographer/Filmmaker
1078

That's so nice of you to propose! Sadly, I will not be in L.A. area, I will be shooting in the french countryside. I think I can find the BMPCC used for around $500 so it really looks like a great option. Do you think the images would still look good on a theater screen?

October 27, 2017 at 1:48AM

2
Reply

Yup, they'll look fantastic as long as you use nice glass, get sharp focus, and light accordingly. Most theater projectors are still 2k projectors. Unless you are a foot away from the screen, the difference between HD and UHD is very minimal. 1080p/2k is plenty of resolution for the human eye and looks wonderful on the big screen.

October 27, 2017 at 4:22PM

8
Reply
avatar
Ben Meredith
Cinematographer/Filmmaker
1078

this is really reassuring to hear!

October 27, 2017 at 8:54PM

0
Reply

I'm French, and if I'm not shooting one of my project I'll be in France next summer, I can help you. I have a G7, which is basically a GH4, since sensor. IF you know how to use the G7/GH4 and grade in Davinci Resolve and use the Filmconvert, you'll be amazed at what this camera can do. I'm also falling in love with the look of the Black Magic Cinema Camera 2.5K. I have a friend who has it and frankly this is the most under rated cam right now. It's truly amazing.

October 28, 2017 at 4:21PM, Edited October 28, 4:22PM

3
Reply

bmpcc look very like in the theather, are used often from hollywood like crash cam and no one note where is that and where is alexa :-D
think that camera need to work :
- a cage to manage, attach accessories
- an external battery (there are many cheap solutions from battery bank for smartphone to more strong solution like large battery
- a small rig to allow you to use on shoulder
- VERY IMPORTANT a good monitor to check picture quality and focus, original monitor is not enought good

BMD are amazing cameras, shoot in raw with a great look, a good result without great effort in color (but if you know how to drive it in color you reach high result). That cameras love light, if you need to choose, choose lighter image instead a dark picture, you can reasonable put down exposure in post and obtain great picture with dark areas, the opposite is not good.
Remember that shooting raw require many disk space, discipline you to not shoot too much, to shoot what you need (like with film).
Good luck.

October 27, 2017 at 11:35AM, Edited October 27, 11:35AM

0
Reply
avatar
Carlo Macchiavello
Director
768

Thanks so much! Do you have any recommendations in terms of monitors? I was thinking of getting the adaptor BMD makes so you can use you macbook but I'm afraid it's not very practical

October 28, 2017 at 11:29AM

2
Reply

The best thing to do is test the cameras.

October 28, 2017 at 1:21PM, Edited October 28, 1:21PM

2
Reply
Indie Guy
1209

The cinematic look can be achieved with cameras that don't shoot Raw and with compressed codecs. The lighting is going to be the biggest hurdle to jump. I have seen things shot on Canon T2is and Red Epics played on the same movie screen and in the same night. They both looked great! You can even get rid of a "videoish" look by controlling those factors with lighting. Video look comes from heavily clipped highlights that don't roll off softly, and heavily saturated colors in my opinion.

I guess all I'm trying to say is don't box yourself in just because someone says that "this or that" makes a camera bad. An operator that understands their camera and how to overcome short comings of that camera will always trump an amazing camera in a sub-par ops hands. I mean Tangerine was shot on an iPhone and it looked amazing. I would say find a camera that you are comfortable with and learn it inside and out. Then focus on the lighting and composition side to better tell your story. Good luck with your project!

October 28, 2017 at 9:16PM, Edited October 28, 9:16PM

2
Reply
avatar
Kyle Acker
Cinematographer/ Video Editor
506

If you're on a budget, don't focus on the camera. Focus on feeding the crew and actors, audio, lighting, etc. I'm working on my first feature now (planning and test shots + modifying script for what I have). My budget is nearly non-existent. I opted for one good microphone, home made led lights, and a craigslist DSLR ($385 for camera and kit lens). I have multiple batteries and SD cards. I've left more in the budget to feed the cast and crew than for for any other single item. I've also worked in a $10-20 day rate for everyone (people I already know) involved (in addition to final DVD and credit) to cover at least gas.

If you have a DSLR that can shoot 1080p and this is your first feature. Maybe that $2000 could be spent on lead actors? That might lead to a better film than a better camera.

October 31, 2017 at 1:07PM

4
Reply
avatar
Ethan
Producer/Writer/Director/Prop Maker
327

I never post on forums or answer questions, but I just wanted to throw my opinion in on this issue.

I see that a lot of people are urging you towards a BMPCC, which image-wise, is a pretty great camera. One thing to consider with this camera specifically is that the HDMI port is crap. The way the camera is made makes the HDMI port very unreliable and problematic. I shot a feature and went through two seperate BMPCC's with HDMI issues and ended up finishing on a different camera all together. And as another poster mentioned, the monitor on the back of the camera is useless.

Since you will not have access to another camera and you are calling in a lot of favors, I just urge you to think about the reliability of the equipment.

a6300 is a great camera, but has severe rolling shutter, but it is definitely worth consideration. If you get a cage for the camera, it greatly reduces the overheating potential of the camera, as the cage acts as a heatsink. I used to own that camera, and it is very capable of some great images. And you can also get an E-mount adapter to any lens mount out there, so your lenses would work with that camera well.

I just wanted to give you a heads up, because I'd hate to see you get halfway through your film and have a camera on your hands that is almost impossible to shoot with if something does go wrong.

October 31, 2017 at 2:15PM

0
Reply

Frankly, if you have a limited budget, just get your hands on a Panasonic G7, you can find them for 500 bucks in the US and you can see how they look here: https://vimeo.com/search?q=panasonic+G7+
Invest in good glass for this camera that won't break the bank, probably rokinon and Voigtlander Nokton. As soon as you understand how to use light, I don't see why this camera shouldn't meet more than the minimum to capture a decent story, really! As somebody else suggested, take care of the crew and actors and stop worrying about equipment.

November 1, 2017 at 9:12AM

0
Reply

I shot my feature on the BMPCC and it's great - once you've worked past the niggly problems.

In other news - Ben Meredith - what a dude! You offered to loan your camera to a complete stranger, just to help out a fellow filmmaker. NFS people - give this man some kind of 'NFSer of the month' award, now!

November 1, 2017 at 6:23PM

0
Reply
avatar
Alex Richardson
Director
3403

Hah thanks Alex! I'm always down to help out anyone in the Los Angeles area or abroad any way I can. Us filmmakers have to stick together :).

November 2, 2017 at 5:11PM

0
Reply
avatar
Ben Meredith
Cinematographer/Filmmaker
1078

Mate, if I'm ever in the Los Angeles area I'll buy you a drink!

November 4, 2017 at 5:03PM

0
Reply
avatar
Alex Richardson
Director
3403

A C100 because it will have every single thing you need straight out of the box minus the lens. it has xlr hookups, ND's etc in a small very easy to learn body and has great image quality.

November 1, 2017 at 6:55PM

0
Reply
avatar
Michael Militscher
Director / Commercial Producer
2305

I think a GH4 or an A7S will be your best bets. I shot a no-budget feature film last summer (also a musical, incidentally!) and I used both of these cameras on it. They both have something really great to offer to a no-budget film. The A7S has fantastic dynamic range and low light performance, which helps you work with pretty minimal lighting and still get great image. The 4K on the GH4 affords you a lot of re-framing felxibility in post, which I can tell you from experience is very useful when working with no budget.

You may find some use in the write-up I wrote about my no-budget musical. It's in the post below, as are links to watch the trailer and the entire film.

http://nofilmschool.com/boards/discussions/my-2500-feature-film

November 2, 2017 at 8:31PM

1
Reply
avatar
David West
Filmmaker
1070

Why is it that every new film maker thinks that it's the camera that makes things look cinematic? Others have already said a lot of it...

But OP, if your focus is completely camera, then what you will end up with is decent looking footage with a crappy story, crappy acting and no thought given to the production design of your film.

All those play a bigger part in ending up with something cinematic than what ever camera you use... and ofcourse lighting too.

November 4, 2017 at 6:20AM, Edited November 4, 6:20AM

0
Reply
avatar
Torben Greve
Cinematographer
873

Torben, thank you captain obvious and not focusing on the question at hand. End of the day you still need some sort of camera with footage that will hold up to an extent.

November 4, 2017 at 1:05PM

1
Reply

Your Comment