July 2, 2015 at 2:25AM

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The best and cheap camera for Handheld Long-takes

I need to shoot for almost two hours continuously in varying lighting conditions on handheld. Does anyone know if the URSA mini or Panasonic GH4 be better for the job? My budget is $4000 for the camera and lenses. I prefer it to be a 4K sensor so I can use it as a long term investment for future uses too. I like the full frame of Blackmagic, but does it have a heating issue? For this particular project, I'm happy to shoot in 1080p.

7 Comments

Both the GH3 and GH4 can shoot for 3+ hours on one battery, and you can double this if you add a second battery with the Panasonic battery grip.

Also, keep in mind that you will need at least a 128 GB SDXC memory card to shoot 2.5 hours of 4K with the GH4.

July 2, 2015 at 7:40AM, Edited July 2, 7:43AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31248

I'm pretty sure the Ursa Mini isn't full-frame. Have you considered the A7s?

July 2, 2015 at 10:29PM

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Tim
402

The Ursa Mini is a Super35 camera.

Also the Sony A7S has a 30 minute internal recording limit, so you will need to add on an external recorder to record longer than 30 minutes.

Guy McLoughlin

July 3, 2015 at 4:06PM

This raises a lot of other questions: Do you need/want shallow DoF? How wildly will the lighting change? Are you actually handholding or are you using some sort of rig? What exactly are you shooting?

If you don't want to think too hard about focus, a GH4 is a good way to go, since the small sensor means the DOF is pretty wide. You almost definitely won't want the full frame of something like an a7S (also, the serious rolling shutter issues on that camera are particularly problematic during handheld use).

You'll probably need a lens with a declicked aperture to compensate for light changing.

I don't recommend BlackMagic for anything ever. Ever. Ever ever ever. And that's triply true if you're going to be in a variety of lighting situations.

Overall, your best bet is probably a C100. It's a great camera that can handle various lighting conditions, has good ergonomics for handheld, and if you get a good battery will do what you need it to do without issue. I've used one for an indie short and also a few event videography gigs. I've really liked it every time I've used it. It may only be 1080p, but it's a fantastic 1080p.

July 3, 2015 at 9:56PM

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Alec Kubas-Meyer
Writer/Director/DP
273

No one is paying attention to the most important part of his question, which is, he's going to shoot for almost 2 hours continually, meaning an almost two-hour take. So he needs a camera whose battery will not only last that long, but one that will shoot for two hours without stopping. Most cameras only do 30 minutes, I think I can get 1.5 hours out of my Pocket Cinema Camera on one card if I'm not shooting RAW. I personally would use the URSA Mini if you can afford it (think about renting it), but remember the CF cards are incredibly expensive. Otherwise I would go with the Production camera, but don't forget it's not great with low light, and I would most definitely rent it first.

July 4, 2015 at 7:41PM

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Edmund Lloyd
Cinematographer/Director
197

>>>No one is paying attention to the most important part of his question, which is, he's going to shoot for almost 2 hours continually

Actually I mentioned that the Panasonic GH3 and GH4 cameras can shoot continuously for 3+ hours with ONE battery, and 6+ hours continuously if you add on the battery grip. You will need a large SDXC memory card to accommodate this as a 128 GB SDXC card will record 4K at 100 Mbps for a little more than 2.5 hours.

July 6, 2015 at 1:52AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31248

Yep, two hours is not a problem for the GH4 (the model that doesn't have the recording limit) even with the standard battery. A variety of lighting conditions is going to present some challenge to any camera; shooting in raw would be nice so you could push the exposure up and down, but I don't know if any of the (as others have mentioned, often cumbersome) Blackmagic cameras could sustain two hours in a raw format with limited storage space. You'll probably have to live with a set ISO and light accordingly. If you felt brave, you might be able to put a variable ND on the lens and adjust it live for especially bright lighting in portions. But that sounds like a nightmare.

C100 is a good choice as well! Somewhat better color and a slightly less noisy image than the Gh4, in my experience. I'd rather own the Gh4 myself, but only because of its 4k internal recording abilities. To be fair, those might come in handy if you feel the need to do any post-stabilization of your 2 hour take.

July 6, 2015 at 5:06AM, Edited July 6, 5:06AM

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Philip Heinrich
Director, Producer
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