I have only little experience with 35mm film, yet I'm thinking about purchasing a 35mm camera to change exactly that. For some reason however (maybe I've simply been misinformed by the lab that I was asking) I have the feeling that labs charge more for 3-Perf 35mm (because they need to change alignments on their telecine?) so that in the end, 3-Perf actually wouldn't save me that much money and I could just as well go with a 4-Perf camera?
No, labs do not charge more for 3-perf (at least, no lab I've ever dealt with).
The only additional cost of 3-perf is if you need a 4-perf 35mm print for projection, and that's only compared to contact printing 4-perf -- if you were going to do a D.I. anyway, then it doesn't matter.
3 perf will save you 25% of your stock and processing costs. That could be a considerable amount of money if you plan on shooting a lot of material. Never heard of a telecine costing more for 3 perf. TK dailies are usually done on a per foot basis, so you'd save there too.
I was considering shooting 3 perf in the past but I found that the camera cost itself tended to offset the savings I would get. There were few places that offered the conversion and it was VERY expensive. Other than that, it would be a great idea. If you have the hookup on a cheap camera and the desire to shoot 35mm then it would be only a little more, I believe, over shooting S16.
4 perf cameras are a dime a dozen, literally. Most sellers, are having to sell them for almost crap metal prices, which is INSANE. You can pickup a decent, quiet, large and hungry, 4 perf Super 35mm camera for under 3k any day of the week. You can pick one up, shoot the film and sell it right after and you've not missed a beat. Plus, if you ever plan on going back to film, 4 perf is really the only way to do it.
3 and 2 perf cameras are much more money and very few people are selling them. So doing the whole turn around thing on buying and selling, can be a lot more difficult and costly. Then you're also stuck to using 1.85:1 or 2.35:1, unless you have a lot of money and can rent 1.3x anamorphic lenses for the 3 perf camera. You're also using less negative then Super 35mm 4 perf, so more grain, noise and on 2 perf, the potential for hairs in the gate. The days of doing a blow up from 3 perf to 4 perf for a decent rate, those are long gone. Most labs charge a lot of money for that work, like $2.50 a foot or more.
I personally don't feel 3 perf is worth the aggravation of not being able to do inexpensive prints. If you're gonna do a film workflow, you've gotta shoot 4 perf. If you're gonna do a digital workflow, then you can shoot 2 or 3 perf without a problem and "fix it in post". 2 perf is the cheapest way to shoot 35mm, even if you count in rental cost. We're talking HALF the price for everything; raw stock, processing, transfer, etc.. The money saved can be put into a better camera package AND have more left over for other departments. I've budgeted all three 35mm options and S16. Honestly, 2 perf and S16 are VERY close in price, if you're doing a digital finish.
In the end, I still prefer S16 over 35mm any day of the week. Smaller/lighter cameras, cheaper cameras, cheaper lenses, cheaper stock/processing, filmic image and if you use lower ASA stocks, it's very clean. A lot of people waste money shooting 35mm because they want that "look" but a lot of that can be achieved through clever cinematic techniques during production on narrow gauge formats.
You're also using less negative then Super 35mm 4 perf, so more grain, noise and on 2 perf, the potential for hairs in the gate. The days of doing a blow up from 3 perf to 4 perf for a decent rate, those are long gone. Most labs charge a lot of money for that work, like $2.50 a foot or more.
3 perf super 1.85:1 has the same neg area as 4 perf super 1.85. It's the gap between frames that gets smaller, not the neg area.
Yes, the 1.85 area is the same size in 3-perf and 4-perf Super-35 and is larger than standard 1.85 in 4-perf.
The only grain advantage for 4-perf over 3-perf is for 2X anamorphic photography or 1.37 Academy.
And if you are going to do a photochemical finish using contact printing, then you'd be using standard 1.85 instead of Super-35.
If you don't know whether you'll be shooting for a contact print or digital finish, or if you want to shoot 2X anamorphic, then get a 4-perf camera but if you're planning on a digital post and release, and don't plan on shooting 2X anamorphic, then get a 3-perf camera. But if this is a one-off project with a set number of shooting days, then just rent.
We charge processing and cleaning per meter and telecine and scanning per minute. Some labs have a price for processing and scanning per foot, this means you get more minutes for the same footage when using 3Perf instead of 4Perf. Maybe this leads to the confusion?
Thank you everyone for the valuable feedback! Since I'll exclusively go for digital post and release 3-Perf is, in my case, the way to go. Luckily, I also have a hook-up for a relatively inexpensive 3-Perf camera.
I've also considered sticking with 16mm, yet in my environment a 16mm camera can be rented much more easily than a 35mm camera. Eg. I've determined that it's worth investing in a 3-Perf 35mm camera. If the funds for a project would be insufficient for 35mm, I could always rent a 16mm camera for cheap. This would not be as easy the other way around.
Again, thanks for your help. I look forward reading and learning much more from you!