October 13, 2014 at 4:21PM


Camera & lenses for freelancing ?

I am interested in cinematography and I would like to start doing freelance work.
I saw many job adverts for camera operators but with their own equipment ( frequently requested a Canon 5D MK II ).

Should I buy a MK II just for that or no? What are some alternatives?
Because I would prefer something cheaper/used so I have enough money left to buy some good lenses.


I am using BMPCC with Canon mount. And am buying Rokinon Cine lenses. I figure these lenses give the most bang for my buck. My camera will change over time and I can always use the glass for my own projects. When I get to the point where I can charge money, then I can just rent better lenses (and cameras for that matter).

October 14, 2014 at 10:19AM

Kevin Greene

this is a very good low budget kit. i have a similar kit to carry around. When the job is more demanding, usually the budget is better so you can always rent a red or arri kit. but i always felt it was good to have a kick around camera around.
i've seen and worked on footage recently from a f3 but the color space and low light capabilities was not the best.
personally for me this is kind of partially aesthetic but i try not to carry around a stills camera for a few reasons. 1st you are questioned if you shoot video or still? also you are at times asked to take a photo.
having a video formfactor camera cuts out that question. and having no stills capabilities also cuts out those requests.

Kazu Okuda

October 15, 2014 at 7:08AM

Also, be careful about buying older cameras. Technology changes fast. Buy the newest camera you can afford. I wouldn't buy a used camera over a few years old. How much longer is the shelf life gonna be? We have 5d III, GH4, A7, BMPCC. You should really consider that.

Kevin Greene

October 15, 2014 at 9:02AM

Thank you for your answer. The more comparisons between 5D Mark III, GH4, A7 and BMPCC, the harder I can make a decision. It`s good that there are many options nowdays but...

Lily Dukes

October 15, 2014 at 11:50AM

What type of freelance work do you want to shoot ?

Do you want to be hired as a camera op or do you want to shoot your own projects ?

Do you own any camera gear right now ?

October 14, 2014 at 1:29PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

I would like to shoot short films, music videos, maybe corporate videos. I would use it for own projects as well.
No, I don`t own any camera gear right now. I have the possibility of using someone`s else equipment, but I don`t want to rely on that anymore.

Lily Dukes

October 15, 2014 at 11:42AM

I would recommend definitely NOT getting a 5D, Mk II or III. There are much better cameras out right now for less $ (as mentioned above: GH4, A7s, BMPC).

You say you're "interested" in cinematography though, so I'm wondering if you have any training, knowledge or experience? If not then you probably shouldn't concern yourself with freelancing, rather learn about the theory and technology behind cinematography, start shooting with whatever you can get your hands on and think about the business side in 6 months or a year.

If you have some experience & knowledge then keep in mind that you'll probably need more than a camera if you're selling yourself as a DP to low-budget productions. Lenses and lights will probably be a must have as well.

October 15, 2014 at 12:17PM

John Morse
Producer + Director

Could you please be more specific in why you definitely don`t recommend getting a 5D ? What are the main strengths of the other cameras in your opinion? Thank you

I almost finished my training and I`m working hard on getting as much experience as possible. Often, not having my own good camera gets in the way of getting more experience, hence my question. For now I saved money for a camera and 1-2 good lenses. Soon, yes, I hope to add more equipment.

Lily Dukes

October 15, 2014 at 3:48PM

@Lily - Guy pretty much covered it below. Even if shooting stills I still wouldn't go the 5D MkII route because of the horrible moire and aliasing. MkIII fixed that but for the price and video quality the GH4 and A7s are definitely at the top in this category.

John Morse

October 16, 2014 at 3:55PM

also, of course being fluent in your own camera is important but you should also become custom to more industry standard cameras. you might get that call to AC or camera operate and it would be embarrassing not knowing how to use it. you would probably never get a call back either.
from time to time it might also be wise to rent a camera just to familiarize yourself with it
try borrowlenses.com spending 200-300 to try all the cameras you are debating and making the right choice is smarter and safer than taking a gamble just from reading things online. you might waste 2000 just diving into a camera. unless you have that much disposable income.
also consider all the diffferent accessories you would need to accomodate your shooting style.
the bmpcc is 1000, but it cost me about another 2-3k to build a system that fit my workflow.

October 15, 2014 at 1:52PM

Kazu Okuda

The Canon 5D Mkii is now 6 years old, and doesn't really compare well with the best DSLR cameras available today when shooting video. If your budget was tight and you mainly wanted to shoot still photos I would still consider a 5D Mkii, otherwise I would look at either the Panasonic GH4 or Sony A7S.

The GH4 can shoot 4K internally, which is a pretty big deal in terms of maximum image quality.

The Sony A7S requires an external 4K recorder ( add another $2,000 to buy the 4K recorder ), but this camera can shoot in near darkness when necessary. ( I shoot with lights all of the time, so the GH4 was a good fit for me )

I personally shoot corporate educational and training videos with the GH4, which I am very happy with. The GH4 can produce a beautiful image with great skin-tones with the right settings. ( not that hard to figure out with some practice ) It also has an audio noise-floor of -70 dB RMS, so with the right mics properly positioned you can record very good sound with it.

Add on a Metabones SpeedBooster for the GH4, and you now have the equivalent to a Super35 sensor with an extra stop of light when shooting with Canon or Nikon lenses. ( I bought 8 Nikon AI-S lenses to use with the Metabones SpeedBooser, and regularly shoot "talking head" interviews with the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AI-S lens, which produces beautiful results )

Keep in mind that you will need to buy audio and lighting gear to go with your camera set-up if you want to be self-sufficient so you can shoot your own projects without having to borrow or rent extra gear.

I would also recommend learning how to color correct and grade your footage in post if you want to have full control of the final image you produce. This does not cost very much, but it takes practice to get good at this, but it makes a huge difference to the final image you produce. ( I aim to always produce sharp detailed shots with great color and good audio, which is fairly easy to do with good gear if you know what you are doing, and by good gear I don't mean expensive. When I first started out I was using a $200 audio recorder for sound, but you couldn't tell from my finished work because I knew how to get the best from a $200 audio recorder. Same goes with my camera and lighting gear. Practice definitely makes "perfect". )

October 15, 2014 at 5:42PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

Great advice here! Also check out the two (rather cheap) books Steal like an Artist, and Show Your Work, Very inspiring and really help to make video work seem a lot less daunting.

Kent Harkey

October 16, 2014 at 10:51AM, Edited October 16, 10:51AM

Thank you for this detailed reply and your great advice!

Lily Dukes

October 19, 2014 at 11:29AM, Edited October 19, 11:29AM

I am using blackmagic camera cinema and Canon 5D mark II. Is the best combination and both uses the same lenses.

October 17, 2014 at 2:54AM

Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director

I would recommend a sony A7s or c100 (mark ii if you have the extra money).

if your main concern is great image quality, easy gradable image, XLR audio comparability /w phantom power, built in ND filters and easy/low cost storage medium, superb low light capabilities....i would go for the C100, it is still widely used among many cinematographers and news agencies despite its lack of 4k and slow motion.

March 6, 2015 at 8:38PM


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