June 29, 2015 at 2:33AM, Edited June 29, 2:34AM

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What camera should I buy ?

Hello Guys,

I've got around $3800 budget for a new camera and some(or one) lenses.
I'm going to be using it mostly for Music Videos, Short Films and Documentaries.
I was looking mostly at the GH4 and the A7S, and lately I've been thinking about extending my budget to buy A7R II with one lens.
I was using a Canon 650D with manual(vintage) lenses up until now.

What would you suggest to buy ?
Considering I'm a newbie and I have a lot more to learn.

Thanks in advance,

Cheers

19 Comments

Both cameras have their pros and cons. It really depends on your shooting style. For music videos and short films it wouldn't really matter which camera as you'd most likely be lighting up properly.

For documentaries the GH4 is great for it's wider DoF to catch all action with no focusing issues. The a7s is brilliant for low light shooting so it would really depend on the content of the documentaries and what you'd need.

Also with the GH4 you have almost an endless supply of lenses because of the sensor size and adaptors so you could most likely use the lenses you already have.

What type of docs do you plan on shooting?

June 29, 2015 at 3:30PM, Edited June 29, 3:33PM

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Andy O'Neill
Filmmaker / Cinematographer
2228

Thanks for your answer Andy,

Yes, most of the scenes will be lit properly, even for the documentaries, since they will be mostly interview ones.

The only thing bothering me is the sensor, Full Frame vs Micro 4/3. I've been shooting with APS-C until now, and I can't say I love it.
But when I see the footage from the GH4, it makes me reconsider which one to take.

What about the a7R mark II ?

Pece Zdravkovski

June 29, 2015 at 8:43PM

Sorry for the triple reply, I've no idea what happened...

Pece Zdravkovski

June 29, 2015 at 8:44PM

Depending on your shooting style, you might want to add the Canon C100 Mk1 to your list. It's $3,000 new ( $2,000+ used ) and is a great work-horse camera for commercial shoots. No 4K or slow-motion, but it has an extremely sharp image ( 1080 HD downsized from a 4K sensor ), good dynamic range ( 12 F-stops all the way out to 80,000 ISO ), professional XLR audio inputs, and a sensor that can shoot up to 80,000 ISO.

Lastly, if you go to sell it in a year or two it will keep it's value. ( especially if you can find a used one in good shape )

June 29, 2015 at 4:57PM, Edited June 29, 4:58PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30863

Hey Guy,

Thanks for your help. Indeed, I love the image from the Canon C100 I, also it's ND filters make it so much worth it.
The situation is a bit complicated, so I must take one of the 3 cameras.

Otherwise I'd probably be taking that with some good lens.

Pece Zdravkovski

June 29, 2015 at 8:47PM

You can use your 650D with buying prime lenses. Working with underrated cameras makes you posh

June 29, 2015 at 7:02PM

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The a7rii on paper looks great but I haven't seen it in action besides the odd tester taking photos so I can't really comment but I'd imagine it's like the a7s but with internal 4k recording and a couple of other small upgrades.

It's very small which is great for on the move shooting. If you want to use lenses you already have you'll need the Metabones adaptor at about $400. (Or a cheap knock off adaptor)

The need for full frame is a fair bit over-rated in my opinion. It really just affects the focal length/field of view of the lens e.g 25mm is 50mm/ 50mm is 100mm and so on.. It's a 2 times crop from 'full frame' to m43. Another thing it affects is the depth of field making it a bit wider but you can get great shallow depth of field with the m43 through camera placement. Another FF advantage is low light but if you're lighting it won't be an issue.

I had the same predicament as yourself with the GH4 vs a7s and I thought the GH4 was just better for me. I didn't think the extra money was worth it for the a7s as the features I would have gained (low light) I wouldn't have needed. I got some high speed cards and lenses instead.

I would write down the pros and cons of each camera and see which one suits you best.

June 30, 2015 at 6:59AM, Edited June 30, 7:01AM

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Andy O'Neill
Filmmaker / Cinematographer
2228

Hey Andy,

Thank you very much for your help, I really do appreciate it.
I've chosen the a7s, mostly because of the lighting. As it seems, you can light a scene only with flashlights on high ISOs with this thing. That will help me with the cost of lighting, so I don't have to use such strong lights to light a simple scene.
I will feel like Kubrick, lighting a scene on candles. ( right? >.< )
The thing to be able to do more with less, seems so good to have.
I will hate the fact that there is no 4K, but as I said. I'm still a beginner, and the XAVC will help me learn how to color flat images without having to use a beast of a machine to do that.

I really love the GH4 colors, sharpness and it's good price, but I think the A7S will suit me better.
I'll get it with Zeiss Loxia 50mm f2.0, Zoom H6 and Rode NTG4+ for a start, and I'll go from there. Also, don't forget the APS-C option on this thing. 2 Lenses in one.

I really appreciate your help, I'm in debt to you.

Cheers

Pece Zdravkovski

June 30, 2015 at 7:21AM, Edited June 30, 7:21AM

I forgot about the APS-C option. It's a great camera. When it comes to shooting 4K you can always buy or rent the Atomos Shogun when you eventually need it.

Enjoy the kit when you get it.

June 30, 2015 at 7:33AM

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Andy O&#039;Neill
Filmmaker / Cinematographer
2228

How come nobody suggested the Samsung NX1?

June 30, 2015 at 7:37AM

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I really don't know anyone who uses it nor have I used it myself. The (pro) stores I know don't carry them either and their lens lineup seems quite limited. Yes you can always use vintage glass, but knowing it is a mount that still gets lenses produced (and not sporadically) is more attractive to potential customers.

gandulf charpentier

June 30, 2015 at 9:07AM

I would instead suggest that you pay $39 to Dave Dugdale for his 650d tutorial. http://www.learningvideo.com/store/t4i_sales.php

All the cameras recommended so far are good cameras and likely will work for you, but just good cameras are not mentioned. It is like choosing a spouse, I am in my sixties and like a woman in her fifties with a little meat on her bones, for you this grandma image may not be enticing, where as for me I salivate. Cameras are like this, shooting music video as a generic term doesn't really address your need, because we don't know HOW you shoot music video. You have a great camera in the Canon Rebel and my suggestion is to buy this tutorial and then master everything on it. If you do this, then you will know what you need and not have to ask how to spend thousands of dollars and choose a camera to your needs, not mine, not the other contributors needs.

June 30, 2015 at 9:20AM

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I've spent many months with the t4i, and believe me when I say it's not sharp.
Also the codec is very breakable and to be honest I don't have the time for the ML workflow. Since to get usable picture from it you need to do 3-4 processes before just importing it.

I'm not buying the a7s to make Hollywood kind of movies, but to learn as much as possible when the time comes. Of course I don't plan any of these to be my last cameras, that's why I decided to stop worrying and go with the a7s. Since it's more likely that it will suit my needs now and whatever I'll need in the future.
You're right about the music video statement. But I think both will work there.

When it comes to that, when I read the specs and see the quality of the gh4 - I want to buy the gh4.
But when I see the specs and the quality of the a7s - I want to buy the a7s.
And it goes round and round.

Thanks for your brutal advice, I really liked it!
I wish more people would advise like this.

Cheers

Pece Zdravkovski

June 30, 2015 at 10:03AM

If you're going to be working under time pressure and if you're planning to charge for your services, I'd really recommend budgeting for other equipment besides the camera. The things that have made the most difference for me have been small lights I can carry everywhere, proper stands, good battery options for my equipment, good audio gear... It's easy to miss this stuff as you research vintage glass, compare camera footage, etc.

If you're planning to focus on more personal projects, this might not be so relevant.

June 30, 2015 at 12:13PM

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Pece, I would look at why you think your camera is not sharp? Another thing to look at probably the most important thing is find these cameras and hold them in your hand. Do they feel good in your hand? Then do the controls and access to the setting that you need make sense? I am an older guy and I like buttons, I grew up with buttons, buttons make sense to me. One of my daughters is a photographer and menus make sense to her, so I think ergonomics is so important. I don't pay little attention to specs, for the most part specs are meaningless, just advertising. Try out the camera and look at the footage. I think even if you have to rent, it is money well spent. I am assuming you are keeping the camera for awhile and I am assuming you are not making a living from video. If you are a making a living then the cameras are more expendable since it is the cost of doing business. Completely legit to object to your present workflow, but really ask yourself if the camera is the problem or is your workflow? Is the camera lacking sharpness or your operation of the camera or your lenses.
I have the t3i, I find it excellent for sharpness, but then I don't want to see the white head of a pimple and I work with older actor and so extreme high resolution is not something I look for, but maybe something that you do? Altho a bit vague, my recommendation is to find a camera that feels good in your hand as the primary goal. If it feels good, then you will want to shoot with it all the time, then work on your workflow. It may be that a camcorder will fill the bill better for you? However what ever you do, you should not have to fight the camera or the workflow and specs for the most part are marketing ploys, it is how well the camera looks and functions for you despite the specs and seeing with your own eyes is better than any recommendation or review.

June 30, 2015 at 4:19PM

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Hello Lofar,

Just when I thought I'd get the a7s, you're here to change my mind. About the t3i(same sensor as t4i, t5i... ) I agree, it is sharp to a point, but nothing compared to these 2 beasts.
Considering that I already put audio in the price, and I own pretty decent ligthing.
What would you have me do? gh4 or a7s?
After your answer, it seems that I will learn much more with the gh4, than will I ever learn with the a7s. Having in mind that the gh4 is not lowlight camera will make me think for solutions and the cheap lenses for it, make it so good.

But are those lenses going to be worth it in few years? Since they're MFT mount...

P.S.

I've used both of them, and I really like them both.

Pece Zdravkovski

June 30, 2015 at 8:39PM

I don't think your sharpness is a function of the camera body. I think that an overly sharp image is detrimental and looks like video. The issue for you can be the lenses you are using or it can be how you are setting up the camera or a lighting issue. Using iso can be the issue, but this is part of knowing your camera and if you have skipped learning these things, that could be the issue you are having. To me having great lighting, composition that gives a 3d type image and color correction are far more important. I cannot know, but this will be a problem with more expensive cameras if you don't have the camera set up properly. I think you can google your camera model and native iso. You want to shoot with a native iso. So think that very well could be that your image is soft due to camera operation and setup, not the camera body. It could be your lens too. I expect that you will ignore this advice and just buy some more expensive camera, but if I am right, you will continue to have problems. Just a guess on my part, seems like $40 for a tutorial cheap. Check out Matthew Brown's video on vimeo called "Ballerina" then consider that camera he uses, you can buy used for $100

June 30, 2015 at 11:35PM, Edited June 30, 11:35PM

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Have you seen the comparisons between 5D Mk III and the A7S ?

It's not just about the sharpness(which is a lot better in the a7s), it is too about the dynamic range and the robustness of the codec.
Sure, 650d can do ML, but that's only 720p, any higher it skips frames.
Also, what I like most at the a7s is that it's native iso is 3200, which means less light does more job. It is important to me to have a camera that will reduce my ligthing costs.
Thanks for all of your advices, all of them were very reasonable and made me think this thing through, what I've finally decided is to go with this bundle:

Sony A7s
Zeiss Loxia 50mm f2.0
Zoom H6
Rode NTG4+
and lotsa ND filters

I got this for a very reasonable price and I think it will give me a nice boost into the cinema world. Of course, I will continue using my 650D as a B camera, which is great.
I often feel the need of a second camera on shoots.

P.S.

I almost took the GH4, which I really like. But what I really love is Zeiss Glass and how it works with the Sony cameras. After all, if I made a mistake it's only for life.

Thanks again guys, this has been very helpful to me.

Cheers

Pece Zdravkovski

July 1, 2015 at 1:51AM

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