I realize this will eat most of your $500 budget, but a Metabones Nikon G to M43 Speed Booster ($429) with any Nikon glass (borrow or buy used) is most useful.
The Speed Booster has an optical element in it that shrinks the lens's light circle down to fit the micro 4/3 sensor, like a reverse teleconverter.
This concentrates the light on the sensor, making it brighter by 1 stop. Thus, an f/2.8 lens becomes f/2.
Additionally, optical issues the lens might have like chromatic aberration are reduced and the lens actually becomes sharper.
The "G" version of the Speed Booster has a manual f/stop control ring, so no matter which Nikon lens you mount, you can stop it down if you need to. If you're using older non-G Nikon lenses, they have manual f/stop rings. Nikon no longer supplies their newer lenses with f/stop rings as the camera controls f/stop. But when you're adapting a newer Nikon lens to the GH series camera, you lose that control from the camera and have to use the lens wide open. If you have the "G" control ring on the Speed Booster, you can still control the iris.
Yes, it's way more than a $20 Nikon/M43 adapter, but you do get better performance out of any Nikon glass you might have.
Just downloaded and updated our 7Q's to 3.10.100 firmware. Very nice.
Where before we could only record 4096 4K uncompressed RAW, which produced really giant files and had to be transcoded to ProRes before we could edit, now we can record directly to ProRes HQ 4096 or Quad HD 3840.
I proved this afternoon that I could record 3840x2160 23.98 or 29.97 Quad HD ProRes 4:2:2 10 bit from my Panasonic GH4 YAGH unit's four SDI BNC outputs to the four SDI BNC inputs on the 7Q and record to a single SSD. Changing the GH4 to 24.00 fps frequency I was also able to record 4096x2160 to the SSD. Audio comes down the SDI to the 7Q.
The only thing the 7Q is not capable of is changing aspect ratios so that I can shoot anamorphic and see the image unsqueezed on the monitor. It does have 2.39 guide lines if you are cropping your image, but it doesn't allow you to stretch the image like my SmallHD DP4 does. Admittedly, that is a real nit.
Another nit is that I can't command the 7Q to go into record via SDI trigger when connected to my GH4, even though the GH4 menu has a "turn on SDI trigger" item. Just doesn't talk to the 7Q.
Overall, the 7Q is really nice. This new firmware update allows you to record 4K ProRes out of the box without having to buy the $800 license to record RAW formats.
The quality appears to be exceptional.
After monitoring CAME-TV's rapid product development from sub-$1000 kit that took a couple of days to assemble to the 7800, with its 32-bit stabilizing system, adjustable/removable handles, quick-release plate to adjust pitch rapidly and easily, I plunged in and bought the 7800.
Admittedly, it had some problems upon arrival, including a broken connector that I had to solder on and a battery charger that didn't work. But after some teething setup problems, it really works.
I took it out on a boat on a lake and the horizon stayed rock solid.
It has a joystick that allows you to rough in pan and tilt, then three modes of stabilization.
Mode 1 (press the joystick in once) has a "follow" mode in both pan and tilt. That is, if you pan or tilt the handles, the camera will "follow" that move with a smooth, ramped correction in that the desired direction.
Mode 2 (press the joystick in twice) allows the follow mode in pan only. This keeps the rig really stable and doesn't let you tilt up.
Mode 3 (press joystick three times) disables follow in both pan and tilt axes. You now point the camera at a target and all motions of your hands are ignored. It's like the camera is on a tracked dolly. You can literally walk toward or away from your subject and it's as if you're on rails.
My 7800 with Panasonic GH4 and 12-35mm lens and a SmallHD DP4 weighs about 8 lbs.
The DP4 mounted on the supplied carbon fiber monitor mount (using a small ball mount) allows me to put my eye up to the monitor's loupe so I can verify focus, exposure, framing and to make sure it's actually recording. It's hard to see the camera's monitor during shooting and the DP4 monitor really helps, especially in bright daylight.
To hold that 8 lbs up for any length of time takes real strength. CAME offers a vest with a crane arm -- not a spring arm like steadicams use -- that looks really well made, but a simple overarm support like that from AtlasCameraSupport.com also works well. With the correct overarm matched to the weigh, the camera becomes weightless, distributing the weight to your back.
You will need an extra LiPo cell or two to power the three motors if you're shooting a lot -- http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000W7WWFW/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s0...
a better charger -- LiPo's are fussy about charging, discharging and storage voltage or you will kill your cells or reduce their life -- http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00466PKE0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s0...
A battery charge indicator helps too -- http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003Y6E6IE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s0...
Add a fireproof bag to hold the LiPo cells during charging and storage -- http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005Q3VSZC/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s0...
An ultra thin and flexible HDMI cable runs from the camera to the monitor that's flexible enough not to drag the motors -- http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006VFOHSY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s0...
A remote camera trigger attached to the left handle is also handy so you don't have to touch the camera itself to get it to focus or start/stop recording. Focus is always a challenge. The wired remote for the GH4 allows a partial press to focus and a full press to start/stop. (It's possible to use the RF remote capability of the GH4 to your phone or a small iPad that could be mounted on the upper cross bar. The iPhone 6 or 6plus or the Galaxy Note 4 would be a really nice size. Still need shading from bright daylight, though.)
Finally, unless you want to carry the system around in the cardboard box it arrived in, you'll need a good case. If you remove the top handle (a single bolt holds it on) you can fit the 7800 into a Nanuk 945 case for safe transport. http://www.amazon.com/Nanuk-Case-Cubed-Foam--Black/dp/B003JH7ZW2/ref=sr_...
The 7800 is a remarkable piece of engineering and stabilizes lighter cameras up to a Nikon D800 or Canon 5DII very well indeed. I really like it.
If you record to an external recorder, yes, you cannot record internally at the same time. But if you're not recording externally, you can certainly record internally if the YAGH is attached. You can monitor out either the HDMI or SDI ports, too. And it downrezes the internal 4K 100mbps recording to 1080 so you can see it on the external monitor.
The four SDI outputs allow you to record 4K 10bit ProRes 422 HQ into a Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q external recorder, if you are so inclined. And the soon-to-be released Shogun from Atomos will also record externally. (But you should see how nice that internal 4K is before you denigrate it. It's remarkable in its own right.)
The YAGH also protects the very fragile Micro HDMI output on the camera itself and adapts that tiny, fragile output to a full-sized HDMI.
The front 1/4-20 holes are set at Lightweight Arri 15mm standard (centered 80mm below the lens). You'll need an adapter that takes M12 threaded rods, http://smallrig.com/smallrig-15mm-railblock-1421-m12-thread.html
I really appreciate that the YAGH accepts phantom-powered balanced low impedance mic signals or line levels and allows switching between stereo and mono so a single mic can go to both channels if you want. And it gets rid of the mini-stereo interconnect cable between an outboard BeachTek or JuicedLink adapter. (For the record, I prefer the JuicedLink RM222 Riggy.)
Yeah, it's a bit clumsy and costs more than the body, but if you want to output SDI or pull in timecode, it's pretty helpful.
Why stop at 240fps interpolation? How about 500? Or more!!!!
My father in law loves it for his football and NASCAR. "It's like I'm there!"
The first time I saw how fast frame rate interpolation corrupted movies was in 2007 or 2008 at Costco when a Blu-ray of Transformers 1 was playing. There was John Turturro sitting in the back seat of his limo talking and it looked...weird. Like he was plastic. Did. Not. Like. It.
Definitely not the way to watch movies. But an interesting psycho-perception topic for study.
Or we're just stuck at 24fps -- a frame rate developed in 1927 so optical audio would work in the newfangled talkies. Before that, the standard was, what, 16-18 fps...or whatever rate the cameraman was cranking at the time. And that framerate was established so the minimal amount of expensive film was expended to achieve adequate motion.
A larger question might be, why do so many of today's viewers like the 120 or 240 frame rate?
My media department owns two FS700's and two 7Q's.
The 7" OLED monitors and the focus assist and other features are terrific. But it'll cost you.
Buying the 7Q is only the beginning. The unit comes in a cardboard box with a wall wart AC power supply. That's it.
- Want a battery? Buy one. Or two.
- Want to charge the battery? Buy a charger.
- Want a battery plate to hold the battery on the monitor's backside? Buy one.
- Want a way to mount the monitor to the camera? Buy an arm or hot shoe ball joint.
- Want a thin, short, flexible BNC SDI cable that meets Convergent Design's 4K specs? Buy one from them.
- Want a case to protect your investment and accessories? Buy one.
- Want to record 4K? Buy an $800 license...for each camera brand you want to record from. The Arri license is different from the Sony license. If you have both cameras, you buy both licenses. There is something about "renting" a license for a short period, but somehow that's kind of a pain and still costs you each time you want to shoot.
- Want to record onto an SSD? Buy proprietary media. 512gb SSD: $800.
- Want to record 4K RAW? Buy two SSD and RAID them.
(At least the ProRes 4K should allow use of only one SSD to record.)
- Want to plug the media into your computer so you can download it? Buy an adapter.
My Atomos Ninja-2 (1080p ProRes via HDMI only) came with everything but media, and the media was way less expensive, off-the-shelf. Even includes a Firewire 800 transfer adapter. Batteries, charger, ball joint hot shoe mount, two SSD caddies, protective case, all included. Not sure what the Shogun will include, but it won't take much to be a better deal considering how bare the 7Q was when it arrived. OTOH, not sure how good the Shogun's monitor brightness, sharpness and focus assist/peaking/zoom will be. I can attest that the 7Q is really, really nice to shoot video with and its touch screen is a breeze to use.
Not to pile on Convergent Design, but one of the Sony battery holders -- custom made for the 7Q -- was so badly warped during injection molding that I could not fit a battery into it.
And, worse, one of the 7Q's had to be sent back to the factory directly out of the box because it simply would not fire up. The service department was responsive and did regroove it quickly and sent it back, but it feels like we have a used device before we even recorded a single frame on it.
You can record 1080 out of the box. And the monitor is a work of art. And it is very lightweight and thin. Just don't think you can buy one and start recording 4K.