July 9, 2015 at 5:51PM

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Who's got the best package at $1000-2000?

Everyone says that you can make good video with any camera, and that can be true. I've been doing corporate and professional work with a canon rebel for about three years now and have somehow managed decent results despite using one of the worst camera lines out there today.

I need an upgrade. I can light a scene, I can grade and edit sound decently enough. I'm limited now by the sensor of this $700 camera and the only thing that's really keeping some of my work from looking that much better is the terrible sharpness (a byproduct of the rebel line's image being upscaled to 1080p from a smaller resolution) and very limiting dynamic range (try filming anything around noon without a decent bounce and you'll have a fun time).

I'm looking for a new camera that will be able to give me a much more workable and cinematic-like (what an overused term these days) image. I was considering the GH4 for a while before I saw how bad it's dynamic range really is. In some ways it looks from the shots I've seen that my current camera beats it!

The A7s was another contender, but both its crop and its price put it out of my consideration. I really can't go over $2000, and even then I'd need an adapter to be able to use my EF lenses.

I was also considering the BMPCC but I'm not so sure I want a completely dedicated video camera with no option for stills. Sure, if I want truly cinematic footage I will need to make this trade off, but I still find myself put in the role of photographer every so often and it doesn't hurt to be flexible.

So great gurus of NFS, what should I do? I need a new camera; there's no argument there. I really can't decide if I should go GH4, or a blackmagic offering, or even a used professional cinema camera if that is doable for under $2000.

13 Comments

>>>I was considering the GH4 for a while before I saw how bad it's dynamic range really is.

Depending on your setting the current GH4 has a dynamic range between 10 to 11 F-stops. The Panasonic V-Log update that's taking forever to be released will bring this up to about 12+ F-Stops of dynamic range. ( almost the same as a Blackmagic camera )

I've seen fantastic work shot with the GH4 and I've seen absolute crap shot with the GH4, and it all comes down to knowing how to properly use the camera and how to handle your footage in post.

I've been shooting with my GH4 for almost one year now, and I am quite happy with the footage I am getting from it. ( it took a while to figure out the settings that work best for me )

The Blackmagic Pocket Cine camera produces a gorgeous image, but it doesn't shoot still photos, and it eats batteries for breakfast. ( expect 20-30 minutes of shooting per battery, compared to 3+ hours of shooting with ONE battery in a GH4 camera )

The new Blackmagic Micro Cine camera looks like it will do everything the Pocket Cine camera does ( but no built-in LCD display ), and the batteries are supposed to last 90 minutes each. ( still no still photos though )

Given your budget I honestly think your best bet is either the Panasonic GH4 or the Samsung NX1. ( I haven't shot with the NX1 myself, but I've seen some great work shot with it, and Samsung are very active about adding new features through free firmware upgrades )

Vimeo GH4 Group Videos
https://vimeo.com/groups/gh4

Vimeo Samsung NX1 Group Videos
https://vimeo.com/groups/287943

July 9, 2015 at 7:31PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31369

I hadn't even thought about Samsung as a contender! I believe I might have seen news about their NX1 but I didn't realize it was the powerhouse that it is. The part about the sensor it uses really intrigues me; future firmware updates could add 4:4:2 recording, RAW, and other features to really pull a lot more from it. I'll have to add that one to consideration.

July 9, 2015 at 10:25PM

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Patrick McDonnell
One-man Band
81

The Samsung is apparently a very capable camera, but I hear nightmares about the h.265 codec.

July 10, 2015 at 12:50PM

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From what I've heard the NX1 isn't quite ready to be a contender yet. That's based off of a few camera reviews on YouTube as well as a Philip Bloom comment about it.

July 11, 2015 at 12:58AM

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Jeremiah Kuehne
Filmmaker
791

3+ hours off one battery? Last week, I accidentally took only one battery to the London Anime and Gaming Con and my EOS-M lasted for 140 or so stills, and that was with the Helios 44 lens so there was no power drawn by the lens. Good pics though.

July 11, 2015 at 6:17PM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
1552

I would recommend the GH4. I got one in December and don't regret it.

The GH4 has great picture coming from it. If you saw some bad footage I guarantee it was a bad cameraman or editor.

The BMPCC needs so much to go with it that it will end up much more expensive. It has a great picture but having worked with one before it was a lot of hassle.

July 11, 2015 at 10:49AM

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Andy O'Neill
Filmmaker / Cinematographer
2238

>>>3+ hours off one battery?

Yes, both the GH3 and GH4 can shoot 3+ hours of video with just ONE battery. The longest single take I've shot was at a symphonic musical performance that lasted 2.5 hours, and my GH3 was still showing 2 out of 4 bars on the battery display.

If you add the Panasonic battery grip this becomes 6+ hours of video shooting on TWO batteries, and the camera will automatically switch over between batteries so it's possible to have a single video that is more than 6 hours long.

July 12, 2015 at 12:31PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31369

In the price range you stated, I also think the GH4 would be the best bet. I have shot with one for about 8 months now and I have to say I am pretty happy with it. The battery definitely performs 3+ hours easily.

July 12, 2015 at 5:44PM

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Visa Niemeläinen
Film Student/Cinematographer
137

Or you could go a little higher on the Canon DSLR range.

July 12, 2015 at 8:51PM

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I know you are trying to keep the cost down, but if you got a Metabones speedbooster for the GH4 (Nikon F/G to M4/3 is the cheapest I believe) and a fast lens, you could shoot in surprisingly low light. Then, once V-log comes along, you should be able to get high dynamic range footage under and lighting condition you encounter.

July 13, 2015 at 11:34AM, Edited July 13, 11:34AM

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Because you mentioned a problem with sharpness....

I'll be the odd one out here to say you can save serious money and get a freakin' good image with the GH2. You'll probably need to buy it used though as they are out of production after the significant upgrades to the gh3 and gh4. However, you could get a used GH2 body, a nice zoom, and a fast prime for all under $2,000. I am currently shooting the documentary "From Two Sticks" on primarily a GH2. My second cameraman uses a 5D Mark II. In post I am shocked at how sharp the little GH2 is next to the 5D. It's quite a significant difference.

Having said that, clearly the GH2 does not hold a candle to the 5D or even 7D when it comes to stills and that is a major weakness.

July 14, 2015 at 3:42AM

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Jon
Director
81

I have been using the Panasonic GH2 hacked w/ Aquamotion for 3 years, and I get fantastic footage out of it.

It's $600, then buy either a Nokton or SLR prime, and you're good - and well under $2,000.

July 14, 2015 at 3:59PM

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Paul-Vincent Alexander
Storyteller
246

You can shoot RAW with your canon camera. Google for magic lantern if you aren't familiar with it yet.

July 21, 2015 at 5:31PM

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r b
105

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