April 26, 2016 at 3:35AM, Edited April 26, 3:36AM


First investment on equipment (indie filmmaker)

I am a film student from Pakistan, and I am investing for the equipment which could help me in my thesis as well as my work which will be mostly based on documentaries after my graduation.
My budget is around $4000-4500. I like travelling and I will be travelling a lot. I will be working in a critical climatic geographical region so the equipment has to be as strong as me ;-) .
I will be very thankful if anyone could provide me a list of sound and camera equipment excluding the light equipment.


Panasonic GH4 + Metabones Speedboster XL 0.64x + Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 (about 2.800€)
Sony Alpha 7S II + 24-70 f/4.0 (about 4.000€)

While the A7S II is one of the best, if not the best, low light camera in the world that also shoots 4K the GH4 is much cheaper and also it's batteries lasts much longer so that the A7S II's.

At the moment I'm using the GH4 option as mentioned abouve myself and it works very well. But I will upgrade to the A7S II option soon because of low light and full frame and because I'm going more and more into feature and advertisement work.

April 26, 2016 at 9:38AM

Eric Halbherr
Director, DP, Editor, Creative Storyteller

GH4 is a small camera that has great batteries and a lot of versatility if doc work is what you're looking for. A7series is more expensive and better in low light, but its batteries aren't as robust.

Do you need portable lights for your doc work? LEDs, a Bi-panel, some brick batteries. For doc work a simple audio recorder and/or a on-camera mic is simple enough. Leaves you lot of budget for camera and support.

Andy Zou

April 27, 2016 at 6:55PM

Although, if KNOW you are going to focus on documentary work where you need versatility and portability, you should probably go for an ENG or camcorder like camera and forget interchangeable lenses.

Andy Zou

April 27, 2016 at 6:57PM, Edited April 27, 6:57PM

The A7S cameras have a history of overheating (it's been a topic several times on this website). SONY claims to have finally fixed it after prior claims of firmware fixes did not resolve the problem. Regardless, given your requirement for "critical climatic geographic region", I would also aver that the GH4 will better function than the A7S when the ambient temperatures are uncomfortably hot.

April 26, 2016 at 10:19AM, Edited April 26, 10:19AM


I would suggest the c100 and a canon 24 - 105mm f4L (its a good all rounder) ,zoom H5 and a rode videomic pro . I have used this setup seems to work well or you can go for the Canon 6D its full frame and produces good quality as well.

April 27, 2016 at 3:44AM

Prosper Kunyetu

The 6D is a very bad video camera because it has a lot problems with aliasing and moiré. It's sensor is just not designed to do 1080p video.

The C100 is a nice camera but if you have to spend about 4.000 - 5.000 $ for you entire gear you should invest every cent just in one camera and one lens plus an audio recorder and a mic which is not ideal for a lot of travel work.
Consider that you also need betteries, memory mediums, maybe one or two more lenses because one lens alone does not do a well job. I would rather buy the EF 24-70 f/2.8 and the EF 70-200 f/2.8 for example than buying the EF 28-300 f/3.5-5.6 even if this would cost me nearly double the price it would be worth it.

Eric Halbherr

April 27, 2016 at 9:48AM, Edited April 27, 9:48AM

I would also recommend the DR 70D, but buy an NTG-3 don't get anything less. I just upgraded to the NTG-3 and I can no longer recommend anything less than this mic to anyone with a budget of your size. I'd also recommend the Benro BV6 head (find a combo with the legs the price just dropped). Buy a C-Stand with a mic adapter. After all of that you still should have like $2700 for a camera. I know everyone suggests the A7s, its a fine camera, but depending on what you are doing it may not fit your needs. The GH4 is a wonderful camera as well. The C100 is a great option. Both the C100 and GH4 are very tough cameras, I have heard that the A7s isn't as rugged. The camera is negotiable, but you're only going to hurt yourself if you get anything less than the NTG-3 and I think you will kick yourself later if you don't get a decent tripod. If you can muster it, buy the Zoom F8, it is a well built sturdy recorder that will last you a long time. Also the NTG-3 will handle extreme conditions better than anything cheaper than it too. Buy good audio gear!!!!! Cheap cameras can make nice images. Cheap audio gear cannot capture good sound.

April 27, 2016 at 11:38AM

Paul Goodyear
Director/ DP / Writer

if i were travelling, one factor i would consider is the safety of myself and my gear wherever i go. with this in mind, the gh4 is great because it is such a tiny camera. if you dirty the exterior or cover it with tape, it should attract very little attention. the c100 has a larger profile and could attract more notice. i don't know if you'll be in sketchy/dangerous areas.

i generally love the swivelling lcd on the gh4, but i imagine while travelling and shooting with it i would want to pay extra attention to make sure that i don't ever break the swivelling lcd somehow. i haven't done it to my own gh4 (and it did take a fall once when the tripod fell over, oops), but i could see the potential for it. the c100's screen on the other hand seems less prone to breakage, although it doesn't have as much articulation as the gh4's screen (you can't really rotate it).

the gh4's screen is not great in bright sunlight. i'm sure there's a decent solution out there, but i haven't devoted time to it yet. can anyone chime in?

i would probably want to shoot with one main lens, to keep from having to switch lenses (dust, weather exposure) and to make sure that i'm always ready to capture whatever moments arise. while i have the sigma 18-35/1.8 and love that lens, i don't think you get enough versatility from it. also, it's a heavy lens.

i've shot the c100 with the canon 18-135/3.5-5.6. i love the range of that lens (go from wide to telephoto very quickly), but it is variable aperture and not the greatest for low-light (although the c100's better low-light capabilities help make up for that). also, while the canon 70-200/2.8 is an amazing lens, that thing is a beast to lug around. if i'm travelling, i would want to minimize and reduce.

there's no way i would ever want to let my camera bag/case out of my sight or hand if at all possible. so if you can pack everything into one case that you know can fit in any/all travel situations, that'd probably be a good thing. i would also probably get a hard case. again, something in a size that i know will be accepted on any train/airline/boat/bus/moped/camel. pelican cases are popular, there are other options available.

having said all of that, i think the gh4 is a great option. it's relatively cheap and the native mft lenses are tiny compared to the non-mft lenses. consider the combination of the panasonic 12-35/2.8 and the panasonic 35-100/2.8. both are really small and relatively fast lenses.

for sound, i have an old rode video mic. sometimes i attach it directly on and into the camera (run-n-gun). i've got a windscreen for it which really helps to reduce wind noise. if i'm doing an interview and the person is a little further away, i might move the mic closer and have it record into a sound recorder (or iphone, you just need to make sure you have the right cables). i would love to upgrade my sound equipment (hear great things about the ntg-3), but it's just not in my budget right now.

the sound from the camera itself is not bad. it's pretty loud (versus the c100's mic which is very quiet). if you're close to your speaker, the sound will definitely be useable (not amazing, but useable). i also have some cheap lav mics i can attach to people. these just record into iphones (again, have the right cables). pretty simple.

oh, final thought, you can interface to the gh4 with an iphone/ipad through the panasonic image app. it's a great way to get unique angles and remotely control your camera. i love this feature and it's relatively easy to setup/connect. not perfect or idiot-proof, but pretty good.

April 28, 2016 at 2:46AM, Edited April 28, 2:58AM

min win

Thank you everyone for your valuable response. I now have a better idea of what i have to purchase.

April 29, 2016 at 7:48AM, Edited April 29, 7:49AM


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