June 29, 2015 at 7:18AM
1000$ budget for first camera - what to buy?
Hi NFS people,
I'm a 2nd year film school student looking to get myself my first camera, so I don't have to keep relying on my friends' cameras to shoot my short films (plus, they're all Canon cameras with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lenses, hardly the best combo for the money). Stills are not very important.
My budget is around 1500$, but I have no intention on spending it all on a camera. I'm keeping aside 1000$ just for the camera, and if it costs less than that, great - more money for lenses, audio, and other gear.
About the camera: I'm looking for a camera that can give me an image that I can tinker around with in post without it falling apart, so I guess dynamic range and color space are a big thing to me right now. I am also leaning away from Canon cameras, as I've always felt their 1080p is not really 1080p, if you compare it the Full HD image of other brands. I don't mean to sound like a pixel peeper, but resolution is big on my priorities (1080p is more than enough, though, if it is good 1080p, like say the GH3's).
But that is just the technical tip of the iceberg... I definitely don't want a camera that will slow me down on a shoot. I know it's a very subjective matter, but I find it almost as important as the image it produces, that the camera is user-friendly, customizable, fast and intuitive to use. Both during production and in post-production.
With that said, I'm ruling out the Blackmagic Pocket Camera. Sure, the images look great, and ProRes and Raw are a wonder to work with, but I don't want the hassle of crappy battery life and huge files. It just strikes as very user-unfriendly, at least within my budget.
So, I've been doing research, and I've kinda narrowed it down to a few cameras (obviously, I'm open to criticism and suggestions of other cameras):
Very sharp video image, amazing battery life and no recording time limit, high bit-rate recording, 1080p 60fps, weather sealed body, mic input and headphone output. The crop factor is a bit of a problem, but I'd pair it with a mitakon Nikon F speedbooster.
Panasonic GH2 (hacked with FlowMotion 2.02 patch)
Very very sharp video image, no recording time limit, very high bit-rate recording, 720p at 60fps that can damn nearly pass as 1080p, and the crop factor isn't as bad as the GH3's.
Plus, the ability to hack it with some more extreme hack, like the Driftwood ones, and get insanely high bit-rate recording, for some special shots where stability and data consumption aren't a deal breaker, is pretty cool.
I'm really leaning towards the GH2, as it is very cheap. I can get it anyday at ebay for 400$/500$ tops. But the fact that, once hacked, it is not as stable and has some quirks, adding to that the fact that it is used, plus the fact that its battery life and data consumption are a problem when hacked, kinda leave me in doubt.
I am aware of cameras like the Panasonic FZ1000, which can give me 4k for 800$, but the fact that it is a fixed lens camera kills the deal for me (25mm may not be wide enough sometimes, and f/2.8 will definitely not be enough many times, as I can't afford big lights, and it makes it impossible to run and gun in low light situations. Any of the other cameras, paired with a speed booster and something like a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lets me do it just fine.)
Sharp video image, excellent stills camera, very good dynamic range and color space, moire very much under control. I am aware of the Nikon D7200, but I don't feel it's worth the extra 300$ for my purposes. Or is it? And for the sake of my budget, how much of a difference is there between the Nikon D7100 and cheaper Nikon models like the D5300? If I can trust dxomark's scores, not much, but what do you guys say?
Sorry for the long post, but it's my first camera, and it's a lot of money, so I want to do this right and get myself as much of a future-proof option as possible.
I really appreciate it if you guys take the time to tell me what you think.