December 8, 2016 at 11:04PM

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Best filmmaking camera under 2000$?

Hello all, I'm about to buy a new camera for future film projects. Because the budget is quite good it's really hard to make a decision.

I'm considering Sony a6300/500 and Panasonic Gh5 (even if it's not out yet). The problem is both have their pros and cons. Sony is probably sharper and has less crop, and it's probably better for adapting canon lenses, but massive rolling shutter and really dark monitor are big issues. On the other hand Gh5 would have 10-bit 4:2:2 but more crop and worse AF and probably not much low light capabilities. My question is, if there's anything that can match advantages of both. Also is the rolling shutter on Sony unusably bad at let's say 50mm? OR just wait what Panasonic will offer

My overall requirements:
- 4K with a good codec
- as close to super35
- at least 13 stops DR
- decent lowlight (ok at ISO 3200)
- clean HDMI output
- Native or easly adaptable EF mount

11 Comments

I won't really comment on which camera is ideal for you but will interject some things to consider:
4K is a myth in your price range, end of story. UHD can be had but usually comes with a penalty in rolling shutter and DR vs HD. Plus, you probably won't see higher resolution than HD due to limitations in the human eye (most people can't see the difference between 720 and 1080) and optics. I'll repeat what I say everywhere; the favorite camera for Hollywood is an Arri Alexa, a 2.8K S35 camera that gets resized to 2K for post. Hollywood's material gets played on larger screens with people sitting closer to them than yours will. What makes it so sharp is good lenses, not the pixel count.

Super-35 is 24mm wide (essentially APS-C), so no problem there.

You will not get 13 stops in a $2,000 camera. I know BM makes those claims but in reality, it's closer to 10-11 stops unless you use a lot of high quality noise reduction, which of course costs you detail (related to resolution). The only camera I know that can *natively* and truly yields that much without HDR trickery (motion artifacts) is Alexa.

When you crank up the gain (ISO) on your camera, you'll lose detail and DR. If you want excellent quality (and I know you do), you'll need to light to the native ISO of your camera like a pro. That makes a far greater difference in the outcome than anything else.

Clean HDMI output shouldn't be an issue with most cameras.

My suggestion would be to get a camera that is ergonomically comfortable, laid out well and not worry about trying to get 35mm film performance on a mirrorless budget. A skilled DP can make just about any camera look amazing. That means flagging over-exposed areas and adding extra light for under-exposed areas. Good DPs not only avoid using gain but also try to put the lens at its sweet spot. A budget lens might only resolve 500 lines at F2 (standard def) but 900 lines at F5.6 (barely the limit of HD video, forget UHD) and 400 at F16. Of course, you WANT a softer image for closeup shots. Even focus is extremely critical. If a subject or the camera is off their mark, that can make a difference between meeting HD resolution limits or not.

December 9, 2016 at 5:35AM

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Well I thought about UHD more for cropping than delivery in this resolution. Also there's a big benefit of downscalling.

Karol Weber

December 9, 2016 at 5:41AM

Good post. You basically ask for a 15.000 body (if not more) for the price of 2.000

My advice would be to get a second hand C100 mark I for that budget as it really shines in all sorts of shooting conditions, plus makes you work for that perfect image (which it's definitely capable of) instead of going 4k and 13 stops dr so you can crop to HD and lack in lighting. why do you even need at least 13 stops?

Filmdudezero

December 12, 2016 at 7:09AM

There's merit to that but only if the optics/conditions allow greater than HD resolution and an excellent resizing algorithm is used (like Lanczos 4 or NNEDI3-64). For instance, if you have a lens that can resolve 1200 lines in your particular conditions, you can get away with cropping about 20%. Of course, all processes harm the image, so it's generally best to avoid cropping/resizing when possible.

December 9, 2016 at 6:05AM, Edited December 9, 6:26AM

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Well it's true, but mostly if uncompressed footage is used, in H264 world any better resolution helps. I had Panasonic G7 and between 4K and 1080p was a huge difference even though bitrate for 1080p was better if counting in mbps/pixel. Also it matters if we got antialiasing filter or not, that's why Canon DSLR's are a lot softer than any other, even if the same lens is used.

Karol Weber

December 9, 2016 at 6:34AM

It doesn't have to be uncompressed, but yeah, H.264 is terrible for ANY kind of post-production manipulation. It's terrible just for normal editing. We were complaining that DV was too compressed and it only got worse despite storage getting way cheaper and more reliable. Still, I'd argue that an FHD cam with external Pro Res HQ capture will give you more flexibility in post than a UHD cam with H.264. You're dead right about the anti-aliasing filter. Still, cropping will enlarge alias distortion and chromatic aberrations too, so it's not just about sharpness. I suppose that's a matter of preference though. I know people using DSLRs who added or changed OLPFs to one that's optimized for HD video, yet I know others who removed them in favor of a mere IR filter. Side note; Sometimes I remove the OLPF/IR filter from my industrial camera for astronomical imaging, because nebulae etc. put out more IR than visible light and there's no patterns to cause aliases. Regardless of the specs, the DP is still more important than the camera and at $2,000, you can't be picky.

On the note about compression vs. resolution; about 15 years ago, I remember reading about the then proposed digital cinema standards. One party was arguing for 2K 10-bit log compressed 8:1 while another was arguing for 4K 16-bit linear compressed 50:1. As we now know, the winner was 2K 12-bit 2.6 Gamma compressed 8:1 with an option for 4K compressed 32:1. I think they made a good compromise.

December 9, 2016 at 11:24AM

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A6500

December 11, 2016 at 2:52PM

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Black Magic Cinema Camera MFT

December 13, 2016 at 2:14AM

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Arsh DSJ
Director Editor Producer
261

Panasonic GH4.

December 15, 2016 at 6:39AM

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I have big expectations for the GH5 coming next April. ( my GH4 becomes my b-roll camera once the GH5 is here )

Guy McLoughlin

December 15, 2016 at 5:43PM, Edited December 15, 5:43PM

Blackmagic will need a lil More that $2000 to start shooting with it effectively so i would suggest you go with something like the Sony A6300 or the Panasonic Gh4

December 16, 2016 at 8:19PM

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Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2461

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