October 31, 2015 at 2:48PM


First Camera/workflow help!

Hello, my name is Logan and I've been reading this site for a while but now Im here needing some insight on the world of cameras and such. So, after months of research I've decided that the samsung NX1 seems like the camera for me. Its well balanced and produces images that nothing under $2,000 seems to replicate. My issue is the deeper I dig into the world of codecs/compression/atomos/speedboosters/ color bit ect. I only get more frustrated and confused. I guess the ultimate question is, what exactly would be an ideal 4k Rig/Workflow set up for under $5,000? I already have a brand new computer with more than enough power to process and edit 4k but the gear/ equipment is making my head spin with all the jargon and oddly specific pieces of equipment (atomos external recorders /codec compressors ect.) Basically, outside of the camera and one decent piece of glass I don't know what I NEED to get for a functional set up. Any and all help is appreciated!

1 Comment

4K is a resolution spec. 4:2:2 is a chroma sampling rate. 10 bits per pixel speaks to fineness of dynamic range steps. Gammas and color matrices give images a "look" that is either baked in to your capture, or if you are shooting RAW, something you apply later. Finally (and we almost touched on it in the previous sentence), codecs are the principal ways that the data of a full-on 4K stream gets reduced to something you can record and/or store on media for a reasonable price. All cameras represent tradeoffs in all of the above dimensions against cost, simplicity, flexibility, quality, etc.

If you are happy with everything you can get from camcorder video except resolution--you want UHD, not FullHD--then you don't have to worry about all the technical mumbo jumbo. Get a 4K camcorder and delight yourself with a reasonably powerful zoom lens that's good in low light and which provides enough resolution that you can really see 4x the information that in FullHD. Filmmakers would not approve, but you haven't said you plan to make films, just that you want to shoot 4K.

On the other hand, if you want images that look good, images that you can *make* look good, then you need to learn a heck of a lot, and you need tools that don't cast too much of the image into stone before you have a chance to manipulate it. At one end of the spectrum are cameras that shoot RAW, which gives you unprecedented freedom to make the image look the way you want to (provided you know how to light your set and lens your subjects). Then there are cameras that can do "half-RAW" or "Log" gammas. Given enough bits of dynamic range, given good enough chroma sampling, etc., one can achieve a percentage of RAW's flexibilities for a fraction of the price. (A more honest and less poetic way to say the same thing is "you get a fraction of the performance for a fraction of the price"). A Panasonic GH4 shoots 4K, but with an 4:2:0 / 8 bit / 100Mbps codec. Which is pretty darn lean. An Atomos SHOGUN raises the spec to 4:2:2 / 10 bit / 88MBps codec, and more than doubles the cost of the camera.

Some of the add-ons you mention are specifically targeted to add in what the manufacturer left out (so you get more of a fraction of RAW for more of a fraction of the cost).

And then here's the real rub: if you really do want to practice powerful image manipulation, grading, etc., that computer you thought was so powerful will likely get choked up by all the extra data and processing you demand of it. There is no free lunch.

You have set yourself a goal of capturing 4K imagery for $5,000. But you also need to articulate a style you want emulate. Find people who are shooting that style, in 4K, for $5,000 and read their gear list (including computer spec). That will tell you what equipment you need. The rest is simple: spend 10,000 hours learning the craft ;-)

October 31, 2015 at 7:03PM


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