February 4, 2016 at 2:57PM

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Canon T3i upgrade???

I've had my Canon T3i for about 3 years now & I feel like i'm overdue an upgrade. My primary focus is short films & my secondary focus is music videos. I'm looking for an OBVIOUS improvement in image quality. So what is the best camera I can get for my purposes under $1200?

68 Comments

If you are looking for an obvious improvement in image quality I thing you won't be happy with Canon because all their APS-C DSLRs have moreless the same image quality due to the same codec and image processor and because they are still photo cameras in first place just with video capabilities.
A camera with an obvious improvement would be the Panasonic GH4 in my oponion. It's a bit above $1.200 and you would need an adaptor for Canon glass as well but it has 4K.

February 8, 2016 at 2:47PM

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Eric Halbherr
Director, DP, Editor, Creative Storyteller
1850

Sony A6300. You are going to get a whole lot of camera for $1k.
Wait for more reviews when the camera launches on March also.

February 9, 2016 at 9:56AM

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Keith Kim
Photographer
1622

If you are serious about an upgrade, let me recommend the T3i course by learningvideo.com. It is cheap to buy and altho geared to using the T3i will work with every camera the rest of your life. The only real upgrade is you, so buy another camera or not, but learning to use any camera effectively is the most frugal upgrade and effective.

February 9, 2016 at 10:32AM

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If he's used the same camera for 3 years, he knows how to use it. I wanted an upgrade for my T3i last week. After renting a bunch of different cams over the last 6 months for work, I decided to invest in a Scarlet. It's changing the way I look at my project for the better and has raised the bar for me in what I can do. I would do something like the GH4 as well. It's so good for the price and if you can work up some money in the next few months for the Atomos Assassin, you'll have 10bit 4:2:2 4k footage which is a killer deal for $2k.

Clark McCauley

February 9, 2016 at 2:47PM

Seriously dude? Every. Single. Post.

Kenneth Merrill

February 10, 2016 at 8:54PM

Sorry what?

Clark McCauley

February 15, 2016 at 3:17PM

Thank you everyone for the responses, it seems like the GH4 would be the best bet. I do feel as though I've reached the peak performance with my T3i. I was also thinking about the Blackmagic Pocket Camera but I know that it'll cost a lot in add-ons.

February 9, 2016 at 3:09PM

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Talus McKill
Director, Videographer
301

The pocket camera was too small for me and needed a cage and I also would have to get metabones and tons of batteries. Otherwise I would've gotten it because they have some crazy DR for such a small camera and they're really amazing!

Clark McCauley

February 9, 2016 at 4:13PM

How is the DR on the GH4? Also if you could recommend just one lens for the gh4 which would it be?

Talus McKill

February 9, 2016 at 7:09PM

It's between 11 and 12 stops which is right up there with the reds (minus HDRx). I used the Veydra mini primes, although I would've probably gotten a metabones and used my canons, love my canon glass! It's got to be very wide though.

Veydra 12mm mini prime on the ground shots - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-Edbj9DlzY

This was shot inside with one tiny little incandescent at some ridiculously high ISO, excuse the noise - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=me98gO87Zlg

Clark McCauley

February 10, 2016 at 6:24AM

Pocket, pocket, pocket!!!!! I cannot recommend you the BM Pocket enough. It's a really big improvement over dslrs (I own a t4i and still use it), image quality will blow you away, you will never look back. It's less than 1.000$ (I bought mine used -like new- for 730€), much cheaper than GH4 which needs as much add-ons as the Pocket. With the 200$ you save from your 1200$ budget you can buy a cage (got mine for 60€) and lots of batteries or a power bank solution.
The best advice is research information about the camera and its possibilities, its strengths and weaknesses. Sub 1000$, 10bit prores, shoots raw... The only downside is it does not have 4K, but for me it wasn't necessary. And whatever equipment you already own (tripod, slider...) for you t3i will work with the Pocket (similar size, weight...)
I have some videos shot with the Pocket as well as the t4i in my web andresvideo.net if you want to take a look.
You can also rent it for a day to compare with other cameras.

Good luck with your choice!
Andres Mata

Andres Mata

February 10, 2016 at 2:56PM, Edited February 10, 2:56PM

I would recommend an A7s over a GH4. Better dynamic range, better color, and it can still do 4K via an external recorder. Plus the low light is much better than the GH4. Even internal S-log is totally usable if you expose properly.

If you can live without slow motion and 11 stops of DR, I cannot recommend a used Canon C100 enough. Due to internal ND's and great audio inputs, you won't have to kit it out with a ton of accessories, which is an amazing feeling.

Kenneth Merrill

February 10, 2016 at 8:44PM

Id recommend the pocket as well. Gives you wider glass use and for the price you might be able to fit two into your budget.

T3i still has life, GH4 is an upgrade but not by too much. Id save more and go for an actual cinema camera (ie C300, Black Magic production Camera, etc). You'll grow out of a GH4 shortly if you already feel limited on a T3i.

Chris Hackett

February 12, 2016 at 5:53AM

I would rate the GH4 dynamic range at about 10 stops. In The A7s in s-log is about 14 (though depending on internal/external recording, not all of that is "usable").

February 10, 2016 at 8:45PM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1443

I wish any of those "cheap" mirrorless cams could record 10 bits in prores. That would be the cam to have. Once you're graded 10 bits 4:2:2 those 8 bits cams are so frustrating.

February 11, 2016 at 4:42AM

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That's one of the reasons I got the Blackmagic Pocket: it had the most important things I wished my t4i had: more lattitude and a better codec (10bits prores) plus, it shoots raw if you need it!! I bought an 90$ Roxsen speedbooster that makes its crop factor closer to the APSC I am used to work with. Life is more beautiful now! :)
The only thing I miss is the foldable screen!!

Andres Mata

February 12, 2016 at 9:30AM

Would getting a 10-bit recorder improve my footage on my t3i at all?

February 13, 2016 at 8:10AM

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Talus McKill
Director, Videographer
301

I don't believe the T3i puts out a good enough signal to really gain anything by that. I could be wrong though.

Kenneth Merrill

February 13, 2016 at 12:18PM

The T3i doesn't have clean HDMI. Yes I know by sad experience.

Clark McCauley

February 13, 2016 at 1:52PM, Edited February 13, 1:52PM

No idea if you can bypass compression on the T3i and go to a recorder. I never used that cam.

Philippe Orlando

February 17, 2016 at 4:07AM

Sony A6300 seems to be best bang for buck in that price range.

February 13, 2016 at 7:43PM, Edited February 13, 7:43PM

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Steven Bailey
Writer/Director/Composer
1226

Right I think before buying anything people who are shopping for a new cam must wait to see what that A6300 will be. If it's as good in real life that it is on paper, it's going to be a big game changer.

Philippe Orlando

February 15, 2016 at 5:20AM

If you suck using the T3i than you will suck with any camera you buy.
So much of the camera's performance depends not just on setting up the camera exposure etc, but also with lighting and audio and story and art design.
You get those things right and most any camera for video will work for you, don't get them right and your output still sucks.
There is no camera that can substitute for lack of knowledge and skill and the only upgrade path is you. You cannot substitute a more expensive camera for lack of skill, but many will encourage you to try.
I am not among them.

February 14, 2016 at 8:56AM, Edited February 14, 9:00AM

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That's why all those Oscar-nominated films are shooting on T3i's these days.

Kenneth Merrill

February 14, 2016 at 8:49PM

You offer so much wisdom. I want to see some of your work!

Kenneth Merrill

February 14, 2016 at 8:53PM

I mean, you reply mockingly, but it's true. If you suck it doesn't matter what camera you own, and if you're good you'll make amazing things with whatever camera you own.

Steven Bailey

February 15, 2016 at 9:00AM

I completely agree with you Bailey. Lofar is offering a false dichotomy though. You can be amazing with a T3i and still get frustrated with its limitations. Anyone who says the T3i isn't too limited for certain outcomes is a troll--and yes, I think Lofar is.

Kenneth Merrill

February 15, 2016 at 1:41PM

Dude (@vincent) do you have a T3i? One setting change in grading and it falls apart...

Clark McCauley

February 17, 2016 at 8:23PM

And for the record, I don't & never said I suck with the T3i. You're pretty much assuming that I lack knowledge & skill because I want to make an upgrade. I've shot a LOT with the T3i over the past 3 years and its faults & limitations (30fps, low DR, shitty codec) are things that I could FINALLY (after 3 years and feeling like I've gotten everything that I could out of this camera) afford to solve by upgrading my camera.

Talus McKill

February 17, 2016 at 8:47PM

From the mouth of the user ;) (@talus)

Clark McCauley

February 18, 2016 at 6:18AM

I think at this point for me its between the GH4, A6300 or the BMPCC. 4K actually isn't as important to me as DR, color science and a better codec. My T3i just can't handle any serious color grading without falling apart. My problem with the GH4 is that a lot of the footage I've seen looks a bit "video-ish", although I do believe that the camera is capable of some very cinematic imagery in the right hands. Also with the A6300 I would most likely have to wait until April-May to actually get my hands on one & I honestly just don't wanna wait that long.

February 14, 2016 at 9:20AM

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Talus McKill
Director, Videographer
301

From what it sounds like, the BM Pocket is your camera. It has its quirks and issues, but overall the value you get for the price is pretty incredible. The dynamic range is pretty equal to the A7s once it's colored, but the colors themselves are so much better. Weirdly enough, it's a good way to step out of the DSLR world and into more cinema-like cameras.
The things you will want with it, though, are:
-a cage
-a better battery solution. The little internal batteries are ridiculous, giving you about 15 min of on time. My friend uses Anker mobile phone batteries and plugs them into the DC power jack on the camera. Those $50 batteries power the camera for like 6 hours! But like I said, you will need a cage of some sort to help you rig the battery to the camera.
-A speedbooster. I mean, you can buy a bunch of new glass if you want, but the Metabones Blackmagic Pocket Speedbooster will give you a 1.68 crop (I think?), which is the same as the T3i about.
-you might want a better monitor. The tiny one on the back of the camera is like a little mirror... The Blackmagic Video Assist is a really affordable option it seems. Yet another reason to have a cage.

I would check sale sites, craigslist, and eBay to see if you can get a camera that already has some rigging or something. Will save you a few hundred bucks, I'm sure.

Kenneth Merrill

February 14, 2016 at 8:48PM

The best image I've seen, for less than $ 10 000 comes from the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. It seems that as long as you use light and don't film a fast moving object (rolling shutter) it's amazing and it is even in Prores.

Philippe Orlando

February 15, 2016 at 5:22AM, Edited February 15, 5:22AM

Pocket Cinema Camera. S-log is a nice concept for Alpha cameras, but it breaks down so quickly.

Steven Bailey

February 15, 2016 at 11:56AM

Kenneth Morril, your disdain for craft might say something about you? How many of us would use cameras that Hollywood uses? Too big, too fidly, too awkward, requires focus puller, big support equipment, but learn the craft of filmmaking will work with a t3i and work with a big production camera too. My suggestion to you is to continue to buy cameras that will substitute for skill, seems like it is working for you.

February 15, 2016 at 8:56AM

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Like I said, I would love to see your work.

Kenneth Merrill

February 15, 2016 at 1:41PM

What camera do you use? And where is your work? I gave up on my T3i this month after 2 years of use. Don't tell me that I don't know how to use it as I could still navigate those menus and make a short on it blindfolded.

Clark McCauley

February 15, 2016 at 3:20PM

GH4 will look a lot less video-ish if you add some grain to it. I've also been using Zachary Suprenant's settings as a guideline to getting better images out of the GH4: https://vimeo.com/101043514

February 15, 2016 at 12:47PM

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Sebastian Kammonen
Filmmaker
332

I don't care if anyone uses the t3i or not?
The OP is looking for an upgrade. The only true upgrade is bettering himself which will work with any camera.
Only a poor workman blames their tools.
Obviously anyone will buy anything they can afford and justify the purchase.
I think it is very telling of ability to get very defensive when skill and craft is mentioned.
Many people have great results in color correcting t3i video and make stunning work.
It is just a matter of skill.
Yet if you lack the skill and craft, you will have alot of cameras to buy.

February 16, 2016 at 2:23AM, Edited February 16, 2:24AM

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I would love to see some of your work.

Kenneth Merrill

February 16, 2016 at 11:12AM

I totally understand what you're saying, thanks for the advice.

Talus McKill

February 17, 2016 at 8:23PM

Kenneth, send me your email address and I you can purchase my work for sale. We can handle the transaction thru paypal.

February 16, 2016 at 3:02PM

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Lol :'D

Clark McCauley

February 16, 2016 at 5:47PM

I'm not really interested in purchasing anything. I'm assuming you would have a sample of your work online somewhere though right? I mean, especially if you're trying to sell it...

Kenneth Merrill

February 16, 2016 at 11:04PM

It is immature and assumptive to ask Lofar to show Lofar's work if you disagree with what Lofar says.

It is immature because there is no correlation between one's film-making skill and one's ability to answer questions. Einstein's work is theoretical -- other people proved him right by setting up experiments to test his hypothesis. Similarly, our siblings film-critics can go about blasting Nolan's work all they want yet no mature person asks a film critic about how many films a critic made.

Also, it is assumptive because none of us are on the same playing field. Other things being equal (to simplify -- same white room with two actors, no lights, but director lets you chose lenses and angles) then pretty much everybody on this board would produce very similar results. But incomes, locales, job, family, military duty, etc. get in the way making us chose what to focus on: weddings, own stories, practice with friends, etc. All those choices made before we even start filming affects the way our work looks far before we even get to a set and in a far more dramatic fashion.

Finally, we are all in the same boat -- all of us are trying to make it, yet none of us made it in the industry yet. The reels that we post have only one purpose which is to show that we know how to turn the camera on and save the other posters time from prefacing their post with a lengthy advice to us about how to turn a camera on.

February 16, 2016 at 7:26PM

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Alex Zakrividoroga
Director
3882

Well Alex I think it's immature that Lofar walks around telling anyone that says they want to upgrade that the only upgrade is themselves and that they suck at filmmaking and that a T3i is just fine for everything, which if that was true we'd see the hobbit in all its 8bit 4:2:0 glory!

Clark McCauley

February 16, 2016 at 7:49PM

I totally agree with you Alex. I'm just exhausted from all of Lofar's big talk. I'm interested to see how he walks as well.

February 16, 2016 at 11:03PM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1443

God bless you Ken, Jesus loves you and has a special plan for your life.
I hope your camera is giving you everything you need to make stunning video and this discussion is not about me or about you, but is giving opinion to the OP on "upgrading" the quality of his video. Your postion as I understand it is that no matter what level his skills, the upgrade is accomplished by buying newer more expensive cameras, my position is that upgrading skills be the first thing in a true upgrade.
If you are serious about viewing my work, I am happy to make that available at the regular price without an "upgraded price" for you.

February 17, 2016 at 11:02AM

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After three years any camera is due for an upgrade. Heck after 1 year you can get away with a new one.

Clark McCauley

February 17, 2016 at 5:42PM

I feel as though my skills will NEVER stop improving, but as with every craft some tools are better for the job than others. I simply feel as though I would benefit greatly from a better tool. I completely understand that the man makes the camera the camera doesn't make the man. I'm just asking for advice on a CAMERA UPGRADE from my T3i. Once again though, I greatly appreciate your kind advice.

Talus McKill

February 17, 2016 at 8:40PM

@Ninjamonkey, don't really agree with everything you say but I did like how you said quality compliments skills. I think it's up to us as filmmakers to decide when our camera's are no longer complimenting our skills and instead holding us back.

Talus it sounds like that T3i is holding you back, I'd get a new one!

Clark McCauley

February 18, 2016 at 6:21AM

Talus, how much money do you have to spend? Why aren't you concerned about sound, about art direction, about lighting? You have a fundamentally great camera, but if the ergonomics bother you, that is something we won't know. Why not concerned about lenses? or for what use? run and gun, narrative and interviews all have different requirements. You may have other wants like slow motion or stabilization. I think what I and others have posted is that the T3i is a great camera capable of really beautiful work when used skillfully. The question of "upgrade" is possible, but really is more about features, form factor than quality. Then if you go 4k for example bigger file sizes, more computer storage, faster cards etc. The camera body is just one factor. It is entirely possible maybe likely that if you are trying to substitute knowledge and craft by buying another camera, what ever you lack now, you will lack with the more expensive camera. Anyone is free to recommend cameras for you to buy and many people as on this discussion have recommended cameras to you while being ignorant of how they will be used? It is amazing to me and to others to make recommendations ignorant of how it will be used. I also think if you want to buy another camera, go ahead and do it. Daily someone starts a discussion of which camera should be purchased and the same ignorant recommendations are made. All of the cameras recommended are good if not great cameras, but none of them substitute for skill and all of them have strengths and weaknesses and could be a slice of heaven for you or hell.

February 17, 2016 at 9:20PM

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"So what is the best camera I can get for my purposes under $1200?"
That is my original question, I appreciate your comments on this post but you haven't answered it.

Talus McKill

February 17, 2016 at 9:44PM

I asked SPECIFICALLY about a camera, that's all. All the other aspects of filmmaking I fully understand & didn't mention because that's not what I'm having trouble with. I'm asking about a camera upgrade because I want some opinions on which CAMERA I should upgrade to.

Talus McKill

February 17, 2016 at 9:46PM

NinjaMonkey , I have the opportunity to buy an older RED ONE MX for $ 3500. Should I go for it or buy the Ursa Mini 4K? What do you think? I just love the image those older Red produce. Why would you go for either of one of these cams? Comments much appreciated.

February 18, 2016 at 10:39AM

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You can get a scarlet for just over that price. There are a few RED ones on REDUSER that you can get for under $2500. I would keep looking. Make sure it's the MX sensor and not the first gen. Also make sure you budget in what you need for lenses. The RED ones are PL by default, and sometimes you can find a ef mount.

Clark McCauley

February 18, 2016 at 12:11PM

I would much rather have the URSA mini 4k then the RED One. Refer to this project which I shot on the Mini - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DybrVGL2D2k

Better color, better IO. better audio options, much easier to navigate the menu (way simpler than any RED, much less the RED One).

Clark McCauley

February 18, 2016 at 12:31PM

Interesting. Clark, are you dissatisfied with the color on the Scarlet MX? By my experience, the image on the Red One MX is nearly identical, lacking only 1/2 a stop of dynamic range and a stop of sensitivity (due to processing power I think).

Read the reviews for the Ursa Mini on B&H. It looks like a huge risk to take. On the other hand, Red One's are built to last and still produce great images. There's also a risk there because of the age of the hardware, but if it clears Red's checks, then it should be fine.

Kenneth Merrill

February 19, 2016 at 9:10AM

I think it depends on the situation for me @kenneth. I like the color on the URSA mini better generally, but I love the RAW for RED 100% better and it makes it worth it to me much more because I can change the entire look of the project after the fact. Totally SOLD. The red one usability is my big iffy with it, it just seems heavy and slow. Not to mention 90 second boot times lol...

Clark McCauley

February 19, 2016 at 9:34AM

I can't argue with URSA mini reliability though. I used two at the same time from two different rental houses and they ran for two weeks flawlessly. Probably just got lucky.

Clark McCauley

February 19, 2016 at 9:35AM

As an example, here are are some videos I shot (they are all very short)
With my T4i:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqF-FkpyUBA (camera's own h264)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clcVjGrqBr4 (ML raw)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EB6O5yfCSvQ (ML raw)

And with my BMPocket (all shot in prores LT, not raw):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1c5DqcxN8k
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijD9J1xB6s4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nq1yAqE7DI

The improvement in image quality is really really big. The ease of use while shooting is quite similar to a DSLR once you get used to it. I can send you some prores files if you want to play with them. Nothing like "feeling" those 10-bit prores glory in real 1080p!
Haven't used any Lumix or Sony camera, I cannot compare with that. But I'd rather have 10-bit 1080p prores than 8-bit 4K any day. :)

February 18, 2016 at 3:38PM

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Andres Mata
Camera, Editor, Director of Photography
259

Thanks a lot! This was EXACTLY what I needed to see.

Talus McKill

February 18, 2016 at 4:12PM

Which lenses are you shooting with?

Talus McKill

February 18, 2016 at 4:24PM

The BMPCC does look good!

Philippe Orlando

February 18, 2016 at 6:01PM

Thanks all of you for that discussion, very interesting. Andres, I'd love if you could send me those prores files? How do we do this? Through dropbox?

February 18, 2016 at 5:53PM

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I am uploading some video files to Google Drive. These sample files are straight from the BM Pocket, the 10bit prores LT I shot.
Will post the link to the folder here when upload is complete.

February 22, 2016 at 9:19AM, Edited February 22, 9:19AM

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Andres Mata
Camera, Editor, Director of Photography
259

February 22, 2016 at 11:47AM

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Andres Mata
Camera, Editor, Director of Photography
259

Thnks a lot man!

February 23, 2016 at 6:25AM

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Talus McKill
Director, Videographer
301

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