June 21, 2015 at 9:08AM

0

Ambitious young filmmaker needs help choosing beginner camera?

Hey there. Pretty much what it says in the title. I'm an eighteen-year-old kid whose decided to finally start making things rather than sit around. I have no previous experience with any professional cameras and I was looking into shooting some short films, just sort of experimenting at first and getting a sense of my style. I am a beginner, again, like I said. I want to invest in my first independent camera however I am clueless as to what I should get. I have no interest in taking pictures, all that is important is that it shoots great video! My budget is a maximum of $600-700. I don't mind buying a used camera as well.

Any sort of advice would be highly appreciated! Thank you in advance.

27 Comments

Given your budget the camera I would recommend is the Nikon D5200, which you should be able to buy with a basic Nikon kit lens. This is a great starter camera, and it does not have the moire and aliasing problems that the Canon equivalent cameras have.

Vimeo Nikon D5200 Videos
https://vimeo.com/groups/d5200/sort:likes/format:detail

June 21, 2015 at 4:13PM

7
Reply
Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30130

Canon 7D is cheap now (500 with some lenses.)

June 23, 2015 at 7:11AM

2
Reply
avatar
Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7706

Although older a used canon t2i or t3i can be found quite cheap and a few lenses (50mm, and 24-105 maybe?) are a great place to start. And shooting photos will only help you shoot better video. You'll want to consider basic sound and some basic lighting as well.

June 23, 2015 at 10:31AM

4
Reply
avatar
Matt Clark
Producer / Writer / DP
581

You can get this Panasonic Gh2 for $379 its a good camera. Upstream colour was shot on it.

http://www.amazon.com/Mirrorless-Free-Angle-Black-Discontinued-Manufactu...

June 23, 2015 at 1:27PM

2
Reply

The big advantage of the recommended Canon cameras which also included the Eos-m is magic lantern software that is free and adds alot of filmmaking functions which I believe makes them a superior choice over the Nikon at your budget level

June 23, 2015 at 10:56PM, Edited June 23, 10:56PM

0
Reply

The other advantage of the eos-m is the ability to use old lenses (like a Super Takumar) with adapters and not worry about a mirror getting in the way.

Remember, it's not what you've got, it's what you do with it that counts. Apparently it's fairly similar with regards to cameras too.

Julian Richards

June 24, 2015 at 4:44PM

The 7D is definitely a good choice, especially paired with Magic Lantern. Definitely do not under-estimate the importance of audio as well. A great starter mic is actually the Rode Videomic Pro because it can be used in a large number of situations. When you add all that up with a lens though it's over your budget so perhaps a good old t2i would be a more fitting option.

June 24, 2015 at 12:01AM

0
Reply
Jeremiah Kuehne
Filmmaker
812

Lots of good suggestions here. I agree that a used t2i seems like a solid choice because you could save some money on the camera body to buy slightly nicer lenses: perhaps even a set of three older Canon or Nikkor primes (a wide 24mm or so; a mid 50mm, and a long 85mm), which would give you a really solid starting point for learning how to use lenses to compose shots and produce good quality images. If you can't afford that, Matt's suggestion of getting a 50mm and a 24-105 zoom could work well too.

Prime lenses might seem like sort of an advanced thing for a beginner, but I wish I'd had prime lenses starting out; I feel they push you to think like a cinematographer in a way that is easy to slide away from if you're relying on a zoom lens to frame shots. They also have better bokeh quality and generally are faster than a zoom lenses at the same price range.

The people who've spoken here about the importance of audio are right. If at all possible, it'd be wise to have decent audio gear on your films, whether that is equipment you own or are loaning from a friend with more experience in audio.

June 24, 2015 at 4:14AM

0
Reply
avatar
Philip Heinrich
Director, Producer
991

These days you can pickup a Panasonic GH3 with a lens such as the 14-45 within your budget. The video quality on the GH3 is worlds ahead of the offerings from Nikon and Canon that have been previously suggested. It records lovely 1080p footage at up to 60 fps and with NO RECORD TIME LIMIT. The audio pre-amps are actually decent - meaning you can get good in-camera sound with an inexpensive mic. The micro four thirds lenses are excellent and well priced and with the GH3 you can adapt almost any lens ever made to work with a $20 adapter. The battery life is also phenomenal. Moire is almost non-existent as well. Highly recommend.

June 25, 2015 at 12:16PM

0
Reply
Myke Scaffidi
Editor/DP
134

Lots of good options were recommended, but I'd go with Canon 60D or Panasonic GH2 plus a few well-matched vintage primes (20mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm & 85mm) and a vintage 200mm zoom. The Canon 60D has some advantages over other APS-C Canons because of it's user-friendly layout and the GH2 plus hack is capable producing detailed footage in with a very unique and distinct look. I've found the Nikkor lenses to be a mixed bag, but they are great starting place (non-AI or AI) if you go the Canon route. I'd invest in Voigtlander lenses for the GH2.

June 25, 2015 at 3:05PM, Edited June 25, 3:32PM

2
Reply
Marc B
Shooter & Editor
607

I sold my Canon 60D within one month of owning my first GH2 camera. I was not impressed by the video that the 60D produced, and it had pretty noisy audio compared to the GH2.

Guy McLoughlin

June 25, 2015 at 5:10PM

I want to thank you all so much for your helpful comments! I wasn't expecting this at all. All of this is more than enough. And yes, I want to take into account both lighting and decent audio along with my camera (don't mind it being used)

I think I'm looking at around 850 bucks all in total..
I've taken a look at most of what you've all suggested and I like what I see. I've also heard a lot about the Lumix G7..does anyone have any insight into how it is?

What exactly is 4K video? Thank you in advance everyone!

June 25, 2015 at 8:22PM, Edited June 25, 8:22PM

7
Reply
avatar
Abdulrazak Mohamed
Prospective Filmmaker
175

I'm leaning towards the Canon 7D or possibly the GH2/GH3..

June 25, 2015 at 8:31PM, Edited June 25, 8:46PM

1
Reply
avatar
Abdulrazak Mohamed
Prospective Filmmaker
175

Go with the GH2. 7D has lots of morie and aliasing and isn't as sharp. Adding magic lantern hacks to a canon cam isn't as easy as you would think either.

June 25, 2015 at 8:59PM

3
Reply
Ed Wright
Director, DP, Writer
408

GH2/GH3 are better than the 7D as far as the video quality you'll get. The biggest downside is the smaller sensor size, but you can compensate with wider lenses.

June 25, 2015 at 10:53PM

0
Reply
avatar
Philip Heinrich
Director, Producer
991

The GH3 or Nikon D5200 would be the cameras I would look at. Good video image and good image controls.

June 26, 2015 at 3:20AM

4
Reply
Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30130

I have a 60d (with Magic Lantern) and I think they are quite limited. You can get great quality out of them, but I'd go more for the GH2/GH3 as I've seen much better footage from them.

I have no experience with the GH2/GH3 as a disclaimer but what I've seen from them over the Canon's blew me away. You could even look at some comparison videos and work from that as well.

I don't think the smaller sensor on the Panasonic's should be a problem. If you shoot in daylight or light up properly you'll never have a problem. When I was getting my first DSLR people were going on about sensor size and I regret listening to it. It has it's advantages but it can be worked around easily.

June 26, 2015 at 7:42AM

0
Reply
avatar
Andy O'Neill
Filmmaker / Cinematographer
2228

I have decided to go ahead and purchase a used GH3. I want to thank you all for your much needed help!

June 26, 2015 at 9:12AM

1
Reply
avatar
Abdulrazak Mohamed
Prospective Filmmaker
175

I have to disagree with the GH2 and GH3 fanboys. I know for them there is not other camera. I have had 2 canon rebels and an eos-m with magic lantern software. When buying used there is NOTHING that can compare with them for value. Quality video is mostly a function of camera operation and the craft of filmmaking. So, any camera mentioned here used effectively and with skill can result in stunning video. I like Canon for its value and for the magic lantern hack that turns it into a sophisticated video camera, something the other cameras mentioned cannot do.

June 26, 2015 at 11:02AM

0
Reply

>>>I have to disagree with the GH2 and GH3 fanboys

While I own GH3 and GH4 cameras, I'm not a fanboy. I like and recommend certain Blackmagic cameras, Nikon cameras, Samsung camers, Sony cameras, and the Canon EOS Cine cameras like the C100 mark 1 and mark 2.

From my perspective ALL Canon APS-C cameras have a very significant flaw when shooting video, and that is moire and aliasing. While aliasing is easier to work around in post, moire is a shot killer. Unless you are very careful when you shoot ( i.e. always checking your shots with an external monitor with 1:1 pixel mode ), there is always the risk that you will find f*cking moire in your shots when you go to edit your Canon APS-C footage. There is no post solution for moire, so you either throw away the shots ruined by moire, or go back and reshoot the same shots being careful to avoid moire the second time around.

Yes, there is a good solution to get rid of the moire problem with Canon APS-C cameras, but this means spending an additional $300+ for an optical low pass filter by Mosaic Engineering. ( this is a filter that fits over your Canon camera sensor and will prevent moire from being recorded in your image )

Mosaic Engineering Video Aliasing / Moiré Filters
http://www.mosaicengineering.com/products/vaf.html

My GH3 does show a little moire from time to time, which is why I no longer use it as my main interview camera, where my GH4 in 4K is completely moire free so I never have to worry about having an important interview f*cked up when I go to edit my footage.

I came close to losing a client once because there was moire popping up during an interview with one of their female executives that I shot with my GH3. I had forgotten to check for moire with 1:1 pixel mode on my 7 inch monitor. Luckily the client let me do a reshoot for free, and I was able to fix the problem by carefully adjusting the camera distance to eliminate the moire problem. I didn't make any money on that job, but I saved my reputation.

June 26, 2015 at 1:06PM, Edited June 26, 1:08PM

1
Reply
Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30130

I just watched this tiny comparison video and actually I saw more moire from the GH3 than the 7D. The 7D is also going to give a closer to S35 sensor size approximation which will help with shallow depth of field and becoming familiar with standard video camera framing. I shoot weddings with the 7D as my B cam and don't even use the Magic Lantern hack (I have it on my 5D3 though). Also if you started with the 7D you can maybe get some lenses that you'll continue to use after you move up from your first camera. Not completely familiar with Panasonic's lenses but do they cover a larger sensor at all?

June 26, 2015 at 5:14PM

0
Reply
Jeremiah Kuehne
Filmmaker
812

>>>I just watched this tiny comparison video and actually I saw more moire from the GH3 than the 7D.

If you check out the Mosaic Engineering Video Aliasing / Moiré Filters webpage, you can easily see that the majority of their filters are made for CANON cameras, including the Canon 7D.

The other cameras they make filters for are the Nikon D600, the Nikon D800, plus the Blackmagic Pocket Cine camera. There are NO Panasonic cameras and NO Sony cameras listed.

June 26, 2015 at 6:08PM, Edited June 26, 6:12PM

0
Reply
Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30130

I don't think either camera had any filters on when the compared the cameras..the GH3 just looked like it had more moire to me. It was this video: https://vimeo.com/77457924

Jeremiah Kuehne

June 26, 2015 at 7:34PM

>>>I don't think either camera had any filters on when the compared the cameras..the GH3 just looked like it had more moire to me. https://vimeo.com/77457924

The problem with this video is that you are not able to view the original source at full resolution, which was likely 1080 HD. The author of this video should allow a full 1080 HD download of this test, otherwise you can't be sure of anything you are seeing.

Most online video platforms do not down scale 4K or 1080 HD video properly, so while you won't see any moire at the full video resolution, you will see it in the smaller sizes. This is "artificial" moire that is caused by poor down scaling algorithms. YouTube has exactly the same issue.

When I edit the 4K footage from my GH4, I will often see moire in the editor's video display when it's down scaling the full frame to lower resolutions, but I know that final rendered 4K footage will be totally clean.

When I down size GH4 4K footage I always use the GoPro Cineform CODEC as it uses wavelet compression that won't induce "artificial" moire when I'm bringing my 4K footage down to 1080 HD or 720 HD.

June 27, 2015 at 10:25AM, Edited June 27, 10:27AM

1
Reply
Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30130

This is true but the GH3 wasn't shooting 4k and I only could see the moire during the HD playback and not during the SD playback. But yeah, hard to know unless you have the source footage from both. Great info in your post! That's why it's super important to KNOW the camera you are working with. :)

Jeremiah Kuehne

June 27, 2015 at 5:30PM

What are you passionate about? If I gave you a camera and a tripod tomorrow what would you go out and film?

June 27, 2015 at 11:50PM

0
Reply
Joe Valenti
Clippn Founder & COO
74

Your Comment