Born and raised in the rough streets of West Point, Utah.
Manfrotto came out with their Sympla rig a few years ago and it totally got lost in the shuffle. I picked up discounted floor model a few years back, and aside from the wonky matte box, I've loved the rig. Tons of little details that really show how much thought went into the design. The core baseplate has knobs that allow you to shift the camera up, down, left, and right in order to better fit accessories and matte boxes.
The best part right know is that they are selling for about half of what they launched at. You can get the full kit for $499 on eBay. http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR1...
The original post mirrors my own situation about a year ago. I had shot on DSLRs for a few years and had started to pick up work that required more capable equipment. Dropping a couple grand on anything is nerve wracking, but I finally pulled the trigger and picked up a Blackmagic 4k. That being said, here's what I've observed after going through the exact same thing:
Blackmagic cameras are NOT as cheap as they appear.
- Media is expensive. The ratio per gig for a decent 64gb SD card and a 256gb SSD may be similar, but the SSD fills up considerably quicker when shooting higher quality footage or 4k on the Blackmagic. You'll want at least two SSDs, allowing you to shoot on one while dumping the other. $500 for the two.
- Batteries. Batteries, batteries, batteries. I went with two gold mount batteries and a power supply pinch. Batteries cost about $300 A PIECE not to mention the charger itself costs $300 as well. All in all, a decent battery solution for a Blackmagic is $1000.
- With better footage comes bigger files. It's crazy how much external storage I've had to buy. Generally 1-2gb per project.
In the end, look to add anywhere from $1000-$2000 to get your Blackmagic fully setup.
Blackmagic cameras are an upgrade in image, NOT in ergonomics. One of the bigger reasons I wanted to upgrade was the desire to not have so many work arounds when shooting with a DSLR. Unfortunately, the Blackmagics don't really address this need.
- No XLR. 1/4 inputs only. To get most mics to work will require an adapter. Adapter = $
- Camera shape is essentially a bloated DSLR, big and boxy.
- Although not much heavier by itself, a better tripod and rig would probably be needed after being fully rigged with external battery, cage, mic adapter, etc.
All that being said, it may sound like I'm whining and hate my purchase. Fortunately, that hasn't been the case. I like to tinker and build and solve problems, so setting up my Blackmagic became less of finding a workaround like I had to with my DSLR, and more of building my own version of a cinema camera. The square shape almost made it easier to build around and setup. The image is beautiful. If you're not wanting to color, and just want an overall decent image, I suggest shooting flat and the buying some LUTs to drop over the footage. Just make sure you're exposed correctly and that your color temperature is on spot.
If I was in your situation TODAY with all of the newer options in the mix, the Blackmagic would still be my go-to for a sub $3000 (wink wink) camera. BUT, with the FS7 now in the mix, I personally would hold out, saving the extra cash needed. Hard choice, but I wish you the best of luck! Feel free to email me if you have any extra questions. This was written quickly, so I'm sure some things may sound a little wonky. firstname.lastname@example.org