October 30, 2016 at 1:57PM

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What Is the best filmmaker camera around 1000$?

Hey, guys. I'm post-production artist with big colorgrading experience and looking for new cinematography camera.

My decision now close to brand new Panasonic G85, with internal stabilization system, pretty fancy 4k video and dynamic range, not too small matrix size, but no rapid, no flat(log) footage, biggest framerate - 100mbps on 4k and nothing bigger for fullHD, so I'm stucked up on this. No information about output image with HDMI, so I dont even know what I can take with external recorder.

In this case already checked up Blackmagic pocket cinema camera, which is so good at recording formats, bitrate, flat image, but small matrix and all this things.

What should I choose, how do you think? For filmmaking and cinematography, really want to get as high dynamic range as possible and 8bit 4:2:2 internally if possible, if not - at least for external recorder. If magic happen - 10 bit through HDMI.

11 Comments

Warning, I don't know your experience/training level, so I am about to unleash a barrage of tips based on an assumption that you know nothing.

Ignore marketing schemes like "4K" and UHD. Not only are they unnecessary but cramming 4x as many pixels into the image can often harm both the image quality and work-flow. Even the few Hollywood productions that are truly produced in 4K are usually projected in 2K or HD on 10M high screens and nobody cares.

If you want to be a "film" maker, it's better to learn how to handle a camera rather than rely on image stabilization. Those corrective elements in the lens reduce contrast and clarity as well as cause flares to "dance". That brings me to the next point. The lens is the most important part of the camera and a good one will serve you well for the rest of your life. That said, a $500 prime lens will often rival a $5,000 zoom lens, so I suggest getting a "normal" prime to start and maybe tack on more later.

Things like 10-bit encoding are nice but not necessary for most destination formats. I know it's now common to shoot haphazardly and try to make the look of the movie in the editing/grading process but it's a bad approach even with the best cameras and CODECs. One must learn to capture an image that requires no manipulation after the fact. Since almost all output formats are 8-bit, nobody will know the difference as long as you don't mess with the image too much.

Things I seek in a camera are 1, no noticeable rolling shutter. This is really distracting and completely unnatural.
2, no moire/aliasing for the same reason. Optical low-pass filters are expensive ($200-$400 each), so almost all cheap cameras omit them and thus fail this requirement.
3, natural color. This is harder than one might think. Most video/DSLR cameras don't pick up deep blue and many translate orange as red. They often use weak color filters to let more light hit the sensor. That means the camera must artificially boost saturation which yields some odd artifacts. Many cheap cameras also suffer IR pollution, which can lead to colors rendering differently under different conditions.
4, Latitude is really important but hard to find in cheaper cameras because the push for tons of marketing pixels costs latitude. A good DP and art department will work around the limitations of the camera. I remember the first feature-length movie shoot on HD video in my area. The sets didn't have any pure white, no pure black, no fine patterns, lots of flat lighting etc. It looked boring to the eye but that's what it took to get a good image on the big screen.

Sadly, my requirements aren't things that are published in spec sheets, so it takes a lot of research, borrowing cameras etc. Also, the technology is changing quickly, so I'd rather shoot 16mm or hire a camera op who owns a good video camera rather than buy one I'll have to replace before it pays for itself.

October 31, 2016 at 9:22AM, Edited October 31, 9:43AM

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I'm post-production artist with huge experiments in colorgrading, retouch, compositing elements and this way things, so working with prores422 or Blackmagic raw - truly sweet for me and I can get as good picture on post as possible, when Sony a7s2, for example, give me low datarate and washed out colors, magenta skin tones, greenish blues, not good at all.

That's why I'm looking for best rig in case of hard post-production process, biggest dynamic range and possibly better color grab from sensor, best possible HDMI out.

Nekuzik

November 1, 2016 at 3:40AM, Edited November 1, 3:40AM

That's certainly understandable, but in the $1,000 range, you have to deal with serious compromises. I would suggest a GH3, which gets a decent image out of the gate rather than one with a great CODEC but such poor image quality that you HAVE to do all that tweaking you're describing. I hate sitting at a computer for hours at a time, so I want my projects to be almost done before I start editing. If you only care about messing with stuff in post, the BMPCC might be fine for you but it doesn't have nearly the dynamic range they claim. No matter what camera you get, you will have to take great care in lighting and shooting to make sure the image falls within its capabilities.

November 1, 2016 at 8:18AM, Edited November 1, 8:34AM

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I'd say if you serious about post production and latitude to do what you want with the footage after shooting then the BMPCC would be the better Choice.

November 1, 2016 at 12:31PM

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Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2577

Pretty old camera with too small sensor size, wich is not really good for any production type..

Nekuzik

November 1, 2016 at 3:30PM

Seeing your answers and desire to be able to do much in post easily, I think there is no camera in the 1k price range that fits your need. If you stay in that price range you will need to compromise a lot on everything. I would advise you to save more and get a higher end camera like an fs5 with an external recorder, a blackmagic ursa mini or wait for the panasonic gh5.

November 2, 2016 at 5:36AM

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AvdS
1104

Also there are the sony a6300 & a6500 that are worth looking at.

November 2, 2016 at 5:38AM

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AvdS
1104

Sensor size and age do not indicate quality. 4/3" (close to flat 35mm) and 2/3" have been industry standards for decades. I will take a high quality older camera over a bad new camera any day.
Any way, you seem to have made up your mind before your original post. Be prepared to work very hard on-set and in post.

November 2, 2016 at 7:04AM, Edited November 2, 7:07AM

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I love Blackmagic and working on their cameras for a long time, pocket camera gives way too much noise and not really good dynamic range for this price

Nekuzik

November 2, 2016 at 9:45AM

Used GH2 and a speedbooster is a solid choice.

November 4, 2016 at 7:06PM

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What ever camera you buy at what ever price? If the audio sucks, if the exposure sucks, if the composition sucks and if it doesn't serve the story. It will suck. No camera no matter how expensive can compensate for sucky set up. The fact is that a very cheap camera with great composition, great audio, great exposure, great lighting will look great.
what a popular camera will give you is bragging rights, but will not give you great video out of the box. For that you have to learn how to set up and use the camera and the craft of filmmaking. Which is true for the cheapest camera to the most expensive camera.
The camera body is one element in a system that has POTENTIAL results of quality video WHEN USED EXPERTLY. When people recommend cameras they seldom talk about ergonomics which is individual to each person or menus or position of buttons, all of which are very personal, if the camera does not feel good to you? if it doesn't make sense to you? You will be fighting the camera instead of using it. This is true for all the popular recommended cameras recommended to you.

November 5, 2016 at 3:37PM, Edited November 5, 3:37PM

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