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Looking to purchase first camera


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#1 andrenewsome

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 12:54 PM

I am looking to purchase my first mini dv camera. Any recommendations for the type of camera I should consider investing in.
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#2 Robert Hughes

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 07:45 PM

Go to Best Buy or any bigbox shop X, look at the cameras, try a few out at the counter, and buy one without too many bells & whistles. Then go out and shoot every situation you can think of; bright daylight, shade, indoors, nighttime, closeups, landscapes, action, still lifes, etc. Try short and long takes. Practise framing your shots to look like fashion photographs or classic paintings. Go home and watch everything you shot, and compare your images to what you see on broadcast TV. What do they do to keep the image interesting? What can you learn from the pros to make your video images look great?
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#3 Paul Wizikowski

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 02:30 PM

Go to Best Buy or any bigbox shop X, look at the cameras, try a few out at the counter, and buy one without too many bells & whistles. Then go out and shoot every situation you can think of; bright daylight, shade, indoors, nighttime, closeups, landscapes, action, still lifes, etc. Try short and long takes. Practise framing your shots to look like fashion photographs or classic paintings. Go home and watch everything you shot, and compare your images to what you see on broadcast TV. What do they do to keep the image interesting? What can you learn from the pros to make your video images look great?



Thats not bad advice but here's my 2 cents. Best Buy and stores like it only sell consumer cameras. Tthey are cheaper and therefore easier to get your hands on. Unfortunatly they also only come with consumer functions. If you are serious about learning how to run a camera professionally you need to get familiar with professional functions. Yes the basics are where you start such as framing, iris control, focus, camera movement as such but honestly I find it harder to do those things on a consumer camera because the camera is so small and light and much of it is automated. If your serious, I recommend saving the $500 you might spend on one of these cameras and investing in a prosumer miniDV camera. There are a lot of great deals on ebay and sites like that. You do need to watch out for deals to good to be true as I found out the hard way. But a used prosumer camera is what I recommend. Something like the older Sony PD-150 or Canon XL-1, or XL-1s. These cameras will give you great images with more functionality than something cheaper. It really depends on how much you intend to spend.

My biggest complaint about these cameras and cameras in this range is their lens with its frustratingly infinite turning focus ring. Unfortunatly you pay for what you get and unless you can plop down 10K+ you're gonna get a camera with some drawbacks. Anyways something in the $1000-$3000 is a good starting point.

My next suggestion is to get your hands on as many different types of cameras as possible. Get familiar with all the buttons and switches and functions that all cameras have in common and then you can start determining what each camera does uniquly. You can assess their strengths and weaknesses so that by the time you are ready to get a newer camera you can decide for yourself whats going to work. I say that because choosing a camera is a subjective opinion. Yes there are positives to each camera but there are also negatives and only you can determine what you can live with and what you can't.

Edited by Paul Wizikowski, 25 July 2006 - 02:31 PM.

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#4 Tom Bays

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 03:54 PM

Sony HDR-UX1?
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#5 Robert Hughes

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 07:26 PM

I'd recommend a new consumer level camera. The original poster is asking about what will work for a first camera, not how to set up a production studio. From my bitter experience, purchasing a used camcorder is a bad idea. Cameras are fragile, precision instruments, and can be damaged in a hundred ways that can not be detected by the layman. And they have no warranty, so when your used lemon packs it in, you're out of luck.

Edited by Robert Hughes, 25 July 2006 - 07:27 PM.

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#6 Michael Collier

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 08:03 PM

I would recomend the DVX-100. You hear a lot about this camera and with good reason. All technicall specs aside most DV cameras are quite similar in quality (to the viewer anyway) except for the DVX. It seems to have a greater dynamic range getting you closer to film. With an adequet filter (such as filmlook by cine-something or other) you can make convincing film-look (it will look more like 8mm than 35mm, but your getting closer.) and without filtration the look still holds up.
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#7 Paul Wizikowski

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Posted 26 July 2006 - 10:54 AM

The DVX-100 A or B would be a good choice.

As for new or used I completly understand you arguement. There is a risk involved. But if this is your first camera there is a good chance your just getting started in this field and its gonna be a bit harder finding $3000-$6000 for the latest greatest camera. However just getting something thats good quality but easier to afford can open up doors for work sooner.

In my opinion get the best you can afford. Typically as a beginner the level of production you will be working on won't warrent the best technology anyways. I think that money would be better served spread out, to purchase other gear or on crew and such for productions. But more than that my point was once you've shot a while and have a sense of what kind of work you can find you will be better suited to choosing your long-term camera.

Anyways, if you can swing a brand new camera by all means do it, just don't get hung up on it.

Edited by Paul Wizikowski, 26 July 2006 - 10:55 AM.

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