September 5, 2016 at 8:25PM

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What's the most cost effective camera?

Looking to get a camera for seriously shooting video. Shot all summer with a t5i for camp videos (camera was not mine, owned by the camp I worked at), and really wanting to start trying to shoot more video throughout the school year, maybe even picking up some gigs so I can start making money by doing this. I currently own a Pentax K-5, which I love for shooting stills, but for video.... not so much. Image stabilization is nice, but compression is noticeable, no manual exposure, very little DR, and only 25fps.

So, I'm looking to spend under $1000 on a solid setup to get me started on my own. Not anything crazy, but something that will work well. At this point I'm looking a lot at the Panasonic GX85, as it seems like a very good deal, almost brand new, 1080 60p, 4k if I need it, 5 axis IBIS, but I'm not sure if it's the best deal for my price range (cost is including extras such as SD cards, batteries, grip possibly, etc.). It doesn't have raw, cinelike, v-log or anything like that, which would be nice, but seems solid in a lot of other respects. Anyone have any advice on which direction to go if not for the GX85?

25 Comments

The Panasonic GX85 would be my first pick too. 4K, stabilized, great image, unlimited shooting time, etc...

https://vimeo.com/tag:gx85/sort:likes/format:thumbnail

September 6, 2016 at 4:49AM, Edited September 6, 4:49AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
33299

Everything I've seen of it looks very impressive. Especially for it's price point. Really might just go for it.

September 6, 2016 at 9:08AM

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Or wait a few weeks till the G80/G85 becomes available and compare the specs.

September 6, 2016 at 7:21AM

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Cary Knoop
Member
1607

Is it going to be a step above the GX85?

September 6, 2016 at 9:08AM

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Rumors have it it records 4:2:2 internally but the big question is does it have IBIS.

September 6, 2016 at 3:16PM

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Cary Knoop
Member
1607

That would be really nice. If it recorded 4k at 4:2:2, downsampled footage could be really incredible, especially would be nice with the IBIS. Maybe even if it's not worth the extra cost, it'll bump down the price of the GX80/85...

September 6, 2016 at 4:39PM

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I would recommend that you get a used Canon T2i or T3i and then download the free magic lantern software that gives you many video features. Use the rest of your budget on some manual prime lenses, from wide angle to around 100mm or buy a good zoom. The camera body is just the beginning and if you before getting into for 4k for dubious benefit and extra costs, think about the other things you may need like lights and audio which give a huge contribution to the look of your video, in general the camera body choice is not as important. I would suggest paying $40 for a video tutorial on those cameras from Dave Dugdale at learningvideo.com. Your knowledge or lack of knowledge trumps any camera choice and learning to use the camera to capacity will benefit you for any future choices. Really the key is to get your skills that you make your own decisions and why you make them. Like choosing a spouse, no one can do it for you no matter how attractive.

September 8, 2016 at 4:14PM, Edited September 8, 4:14PM

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I have very seriously considered this, I think for me though, I'm really wanting some of the features that newer cameras such as the GX85 have, such as 4K (to downscale, and with the hardware I'm working with with, shouldn't be an issue), IBIS, and 1080 60p. There are also a lot of restrictions still with what you can do with the T3i even with magic lantern. I've definitely considered it though, people have done some incredible stuff with it, I've shot a lot with the T3i and T5i. At this point, because I'm still a student, most film related things, I have the ability to check out equipment, so I have Canon C300s available, as well as nice glass, lights, etc. What I'm looking for is more run and gun, geurilla style equipment I can use for my own purposes (weddings, personal videography, etc)

Edit: I really appreciate your input! Just looking to go a different direction.

September 12, 2016 at 6:46AM, Edited September 12, 6:50AM

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Hey dude -

Question -

Do you have any lenses already?

September 10, 2016 at 2:44AM

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Mhm, I've got a Rokinon 35 Cine, as well as some old Pentax, Contax/Yashica, and Konica glass.

September 12, 2016 at 6:49AM

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How sad when someone has to use slander to make a point.

September 11, 2016 at 1:48PM, Edited September 11, 1:48PM

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Well esp Charles since they are so available used, really stupidly cheap considering the high quality of images. That leaves a budget for other things that make a big difference. The difference between a BMCC and T2i with the same lens is not very discernible, the difference with either camera and great lighting is huge. Great composition, great lighting, great story telling, great audio makes a huge difference in quality, choice of camera body not so much, esp considering that people mostly view on very small screens.

September 12, 2016 at 6:32PM

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iPHONE

September 12, 2016 at 8:43PM

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Michael Militscher
Director / Commercial Producer
2415

What is "cost effective" may mean different things. It can mean:

1) The cheapest option.
2) Most future-proofed option.
3) Best ROI (Return On Investment).
4) Wide feature range (Sensor stabilization, Low-light, etc…)

Given your stated parameters ($1000 or so), here are a few considerations:

1) HD vs. 4k - If you are doing this commercially, how many of your clients have requested a 4k delivery? Has anyone even asked?

It will probably be only a matter of time before it is standard, that being said, it is not there yet. And, quite honestly, most people, when presented with a good story and a well-filmed (composition, lighting, etc…) piece, will probably not even notice the difference between HD and 4k.

2) RAW vs. Linear - Ever since the Magic Lantern hacks, RAW has been one of those "buzzwords". Yet, truthfully, for this level of camera or production, there really is no need for RAW (http://www.provideocoalition.com/log-vs-raw-the-simple-version/).

3) If you’re looking for the best ROI, “Invest in lenses”! Good glass, and for that matter good support gear (tripod and camera support), will outlive any camera body.

Thus for me, here is how I would decide:

1) For a video ONLY camera, I would lean towards a Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera...
- Amazing image quality (recently used in major feature films, intercut along Alexa’s and RED’s).
- Wide Dynamic Range.
- LOG encoding.
- Low compression compressed formats (ProRes).
- RAW if needed.

2) For a hybrid stills/video camera, I would look at something like the Olympus OM-D EM5 Mkll...
- Superb image quality in both stills and video (https://johnbrawley.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/olympus-comes-in-from-the-f...).
- Flat picture profile (not quite LOG but pretty good).

3) For the Lowest cost option, I would lean towards a Panasonic G7…
- Ok Panasonic color and image quality.
- 4k capability.
- Low-cost, meaning you can invest more in good lenses.

Hope this helps!

https://acinematographersjournal.wordpress.com

September 13, 2016 at 7:08PM, Edited September 13, 7:09PM

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John Dimalanta
Freelance Photographer/Cinematographer
550

Here's another example of the image quality possible from the lil' Olympus...

https://johnbrawley.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/intrigue-how-far-will-you-g...

And for that matter, if you are able to stretch out your budget, the newer FUJI XT2 has very similar "organic" image quality, a LOG gamma, and is 4k capable.

September 14, 2016 at 8:29AM, Edited September 14, 8:33AM

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John Dimalanta
Freelance Photographer/Cinematographer
550

Thanks for this. Lots of good information and really puts some things into perspective. Definitely trying to balance cost and invest in multiple areas, i.e. camera, lenses, stabilization, etc. Both the Black Magic and Olympus look beautiful. One of the hardest things is knowing that it's not as much up to the camera, but up to how I use the camera, so makes it really hard to decide between so many different choices. Thanks for your advice, John.

September 16, 2016 at 11:03AM, Edited September 16, 11:03AM

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Things just got a lil' more interesting with all the news from Photokina...

- New Panasonic GH5 @ $1600?
- New Panasonic G80/85 @ $900 (which may now be a better option than G7)
- New Olympus OMD EM-1 Mkll @ $1400 - 1600?

All seem exciting, but as mentioned, focus on your craft skills, the camera "is just a window for your eyes!"

September 20, 2016 at 7:07AM

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John Dimalanta
Freelance Photographer/Cinematographer
550

I'm a noob man(first year shooter), but I shot this on a used canon 6D(around $1000 price point)

https://vimeo.com/182510430

Honestly, I never considered Panasonic before, but those videos referenced earlier have beautiful images.

September 14, 2016 at 10:00AM, Edited September 14, 10:45AM

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Definitely considered the 6D, several people that I know shoot with them and do really good work. Not a huge fan of the Canon look though, tbh. That looks really nice, though. Good work, man.

September 16, 2016 at 11:04AM, Edited September 16, 11:04AM

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Sony A7SII

September 15, 2016 at 11:46PM

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An authority no less than nofilmschool.com has been recommending the Canon T2i for years for those on a budget. This article http://nofilmschool.com/2016/09/canon-mirrorless-m5 suggests that they may now recommend the new Canon mirrorless as a replacement. The difference in choosing between the two and in my mind gives it an edge over the new mirrorless is that the T2i can take advantage of the free magic lantern software to add many video features and a used T2i can be bought for about $100 and the new Canon mirrorless will be about $1k. When you factor in that for the same money you could have a T2i, lights, digital audio recorder, slider for the same money, it is a no brainer for me. I am not a shrill for the T2i, but given the parameters of the discussion a used T2i with a cage with an external monitor and audio recorder is a formidable video making tool and my focus is what you can do with it if you have the skill to operate the camera to potential? I do think that a good story, good lighting, good composition, is far more important than the camera body and lens and even a crap lens to one person, is a special effects lens to another. It is all in how you use the tools at your disposal?

September 16, 2016 at 12:03PM, Edited September 16, 12:04PM

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I would say more important than deciding on what camera to get is understanding what makes a great image. Knowing how to manipulate light, how to compose interesting shots and how to make things look and feel professional is the most important thing

Every Camera is going to have its limitations and its true that 4k is looking to replace 1080p in the coming years. However if it was me I probably would also recommend a t3i (T2i is still good but its worth noting that the audio out of that model is bad, theres a strange auto gain feature that boosts hiss when its quiet, but this can be fixed with magic lantern). The t3i doesn't have that headache and if you are nervous about using the firmware i would go for that model or newer. If you are dead set on 4k i think the G7 would be a good shout. though personally having never shot on it I couldn't give you a first hand recommendation. I do know that micro 4/3 mounts are harder to adapt lenses to and have a smaller lens range than canons EOS mount. One of the great things to mention here also is that nearly any old manual lens can easily be adapted to the t2i/t3i cameras. I know when starting out lenses can be crazy expensive but there are fantastic manual lenses for sale on eBay and it should allow you to build out an array of different lenses on a budget.

And thats basically it. you're on a budget and want to make great looking videos. well a camera isn't going to do that on its own. tripods, rigs, sliders, a good mic, basic lights, a couple of decent lenses. all of this will do far more for making better videos than having nothing else and a decent 4k camera with the kit lens. (plus down the road all you do is upgrade the camera and you still have the rest of your gear ready to go).

heres an example of what can be achieved through understanding your camera and the principles of light - https://vimeo.com/74573072 (i believe all the videos on that channel are shot with a t2i)

September 19, 2016 at 5:48PM, Edited September 19, 5:58PM

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The look that Kendy obtains from his Canon T2i has a lot to do with his post-processing of his footage, which is why is footage looks very different than other T2i shooters. And what's also surprising is that he shoots with only one lens, a Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens.

Here are Kendy Ty's comments about how he shot this video: https://goo.gl/1qYE3C

September 19, 2016 at 6:38PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
33299

You and Josh both make the same point as me. The cameraman makes the image more than the camera. The guys here can shoot exquisite footage on a good camera, or even a not so good camera. An idiot can never do that.

September 23, 2016 at 12:17PM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
1418

I've run a production company with someone else's checkbook, and now with my own. I feel there are some great suggestions listed, but I feel the investment in audio, lenses and tripod are wise. Camera bodies are changing almost as fast as cell phones now, and that wasn't the case that long ago.
You can make money in this business, and it honestly won't come down to the camera body. Get something you will enjoy and master. Then treat your clients fairly and never play games with the money. If you master your camera, the client will notice, you will gain more confidence and the quality of your work and wallet will grow. That's my $0.02

September 19, 2016 at 8:14PM

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Kagan Yochim
Owner / Gravity Media Productions
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