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opinions on best 35camera for the money!?


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#1 seth christian

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 01:32 AM

new indi movie maker looking to purchase an
affordable 35.

We've thought about shooting our future movies
in 16 and then blowing up, cuz I already own a
Bolex EBM as well as an Eclair NPR. But we really
want to make our future investments REAL and
SELLABLE! and, 35 is the theatrical standard.

looking for opinions on your preference of the
best 35 for the money!?

or even on my comments....!? any discussion
would be great.

thanks ya'll
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#2 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 08:14 AM

RENT.
Especially with 35mm. The HD revolution means fewer 35mm cameras are getting rented.
Also it's easier to swing a deal on 35mm gear because most student films are shot in super16mm.
Basic law of supply and demand.
A 35mm camera that you can do sound filming with PLUS lenses PLUS the maintenance on said camera and lenses is expensive. Not to mention accessories such as follow focus, matte box, etc.
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#3 Paul Bruening

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 10:38 AM

I own my own gear, but I still agree with Dan. You can get nickle and dimed to death owning your own gear. I bought into 2-perf to save on film and lab, but I will have to shoot a few productions before I see big savings against my investment. Definetly- rent.
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#4 Nate Downes

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 01:50 PM

Truth is, no 2 films need the same kind of gear. Talking to Panavision the other week gave me just such an insight, as our project had 1 specific need, and in the discussion I could see how if our project had different needs, the camera choice, lens options, etc would all change dramatically. If you're going for cookie-cutter looks between your films, then yes, invest in the equipment, like an older Arri BL1 or 2, possibly a Russian made such as the Kinor (personal fave), but if you are not going for cookie-cutter, then rental truely is the best option for you.
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#5 seth christian

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 09:06 PM

so lets figure we rent one for......ooohhh.....an average of $500/day.
it takes lets say 30 days to shoot the feature. that comes to 15k just
to rent the camera. :(
Wouldn't it be better to find a decent Arri BL or something for 6k? and,
have it as long as you want....not putting pressure on the project?


just playing devil' advocate here!
any thoughts to this?

thanks ya'll.....makin us think this through........keep it comin.

Edited by seth christian, 07 April 2007 - 09:09 PM.

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#6 adam berk

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 09:19 PM

so lets figure we rent one for......ooohhh.....an average of $500/day.
it takes lets say 30 days to shoot the feature. that comes to 15k just
to rent the camera. :(
Wouldn't it be better to find a decent Arri BL or something for 6k? and,
have it as long as you want....not putting pressure on the project?
just playing devil' advocate here!
any thoughts to this?

thanks ya'll.....makin us think this through........keep it comin.



In my opinion....if you can afford the maintenance...HELL YES. Buy the gear. At the end of the production(s), you can sell and before you know it, you may realize that the camera use may have cost you only a few hundred bucks. When we're talking specifically about an investment of only a few k (up to 10k) to buy, with a minimum of several months of use, I think renting is just absurd, especially for indie prod.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 09:30 PM

Most rental houses charge a 3-day week, so $500/day works out to be $1500/week. So if you shoot 5 6-day weeks, 30 days total, that's $7500 total.

Although you have to factor in the cost of a total package including lenses, tripods, etc. which would probably be more than $500/day.

Either way, it makes more financial sense to rent for a one-time-only shoot of a limited period like a month. The level of equipment that you'll be able to rent will be higher than what you can buy for the same price. For example, a set of Super-Speed primes and a zoom.

Anyway, you may be able to rent an Arri-BL3 with a set of Zeiss Super-Speeds and a zoom for, let's say, $1000/day or $3000/week if you're lucky. Four weeks would be $12,000. Well, you probably aren't going to find an Arri-BL3, set of Zeiss Super-Speeds, and a zoom for sale at $12,000.

Now if your shoot is spread out over a year with uncertain shooting dates, etc. it may make more sense to buy the equipment. Or you have other projects to shoot with it.

You have to ask yourself whether it is more important to get that specific movie made... or to be an equipment owner, because some people get side-tracked by the whole "buying" everything need and forget why they are buying things in the first place. Owning equipment doesn't make you a filmmaker -- making movies does. Do whatever it takes to get the movie made with the amount of money that you have to spend. If it makes sense to buy, then buy... but make sure you have really broken your total costs down, budget-wise -- don't just start buying equipment.

If you've got a budget of $15,000 to spend on a total 35mm package (sync-sound camera, lenses, batteries, mags, tripod, filters, etc.) for a feature, then start figuring out if you can shoot your feature for a set period of time and then start calling the rental houses looking for a deal, and look around for bargains to buy, and see what makes sense. If you can't shoot your feature all at one go, then work with that information when deciding.

But just remember that generally it is more efficient to make a feature in one limited period rather than spread-out over time, not only due to renting camera equipment, but lights, locations, etc. and scheduling actors and crew people. You won't get the same level of commitment from people if you tell them that you're shooting off and on over weekends over the next six months, because most people can't plan their lives that far in advance. You'll generally get a mixed, mostly non-professional group of people involved who have weekly jobs or something. It takes a lot of momentum and force of will to get a production going, and it's hard to keep mustering that over and over again in small bursts.

It's very important that a feature shoot be scheduled and finished, because until you finish it, you can't really hope to recoup any costs. So a vague, indeterminate schedule can be a road to financial hardship and the movie starts to become an anchor weighing you down.

We've had this discussion before here on the merits of owning versus buying. All I can say is that the typical very low-budget 35mm feature shoot is shot in a short schedule with a rented camera package. Take from that example whatever you want.
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#8 John Thomas

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 10:41 PM

There's something very comforting about owning your own gear. I owned a big pile of stuff myself. I thought that I was an entrepreneur. It sat on the shelf most of the time that I owned it waiting for me to get it all together. Should the phone ring (never) for my very specific package, I was ready!

Don't let the equipment distract you from doing the things you need to do to be a successful filmmaker/cinematographer.
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#9 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 05:44 AM

Very well said John!
The essential thing is to make films not get hung up on owning gear.
Art books (if you have to buy things!) are a better investment to your evolution as a film maker.
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#10 seth christian

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 02:59 PM

You guys are GREAT!

thanks for the opinions of experience and reason. :)

definitely seeing pros/cons going rent and owning.
I agree with the renting value of having top-of-line
equipment. But I also completely RELATE to the
fact that ownership takes stress off of you and the
project .....;however, working with more slightly
archaic equipment which makes it a little harder
for the workflow, like syncsound possibly.

at any rate, if the assumption is that you were all
going to buy your 35camera........
What's the opinions on the camera of choice to
go for??? (budget...lets say around 3-10k)

thanks again...keep it comin. :)

Edited by seth christian, 09 April 2007 - 03:01 PM.

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#11 Michael Nash

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 04:33 PM

at any rate, if the assumption is that you were all
going to buy your 35camera........
What's the opinions on the camera of choice to
go for??? (budget...lets say around 3-10k)


Which part of the camera do you want to buy for that price? :P

No offense intended, but seriously, you're not going to get much of anything of any quality for that price. Lenses alone will cost you more than that.


But I also completely RELATE to the
fact that ownership takes stress off of you and the
project .....


That's not really true -- usually renting takes the stress off you. You've got decent well-maintained gear, and if something goes down during the shoot the rental house will replace it for you and you keep shooting (time=$$ on during a production). You sort out the L&D costs later. If you own the camera and a piece fails, YOU have to replace it right away and front the $$ to rent the replacement, AND pay for the repair... If I were producing a project, the latter scenario would sound much more risky and stressful.
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#12 seth christian

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 11:28 PM

[quote name='Michael Nash' date='Apr 9 2007, 04:33 PM' post='165937']
Which part of the camera do you want to buy for that price? :P


Something like the Arri 2C or Arri 35III. I've seen people find great deals
along with a good Angeneauix 12-120mm lens to go with it.

To me, its the magic that you make...rather than the equipment you have!
(providing all the mechanics are smooth)



for instance:


http://cgi.ebay.com/...1QQcmdZViewItem

cuz I already have a lens to work with it.

any opinions on this buy?

Edited by seth christian, 09 April 2007 - 11:22 PM.

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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:03 AM

A noisy MOS camera like an Arri-2C or Arri-III wouldn't be adequate for modern sync-sound shooting of dialogue scenes. You could use it for projects that don't involve sound recording, or 2nd Unit type shots.
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#14 seth christian

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:14 AM

good to know David, didn't know they were coffee grinders.

so OK!.....for the cheapest amount,...what
are some opinions of the best 35 camera (sync-sound)
for the money???
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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:22 AM

Try doing some searches on a used Arri-BL3 and tell us what sort of prices you are coming across. My guess would be in the mid $20,000 range at the lowest.
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#16 seth christian

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:39 AM

found one on ebay (no lens & no accessories)
for 10k.


the more I investigate these matters concerning 35......
the more I'm leaning back to shooting our films with
my 16mm and then just blowing up (providing we can
push the film to that level) this way....if the film
doesn't do so great, I haven't lost out on too much
money...and can move on to the next project. But
35 can break ya. :(

thanks yall.
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#17 Thibaut de Chemellier

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 02:49 AM

I've heard that the one camera a DP should own is a Arri 35-3 because it's the more reliable 35mm camera ever; it will never let you down.
It doesn?t need too much maintenance, the mechanic is unbeatable and the electronic is really reliable.
The only part you should ever switch one day is the pull down claw, and it?s really easy.
You can?t do sync sound with it but it?s rather affordable and very very versatile.
There are many accessories for this camera that you can buy one at a time and end with a complete package pretty quickly?
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#18 Nate Downes

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 05:34 AM

You can get a Mitchell BNCR package for that price point in most cases. You can also get a russian made Kinor for that price, and while they're technically a MOS camera, I know fellas that have made sound-muffling setups for them.
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#19 Adam Paul

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 10:06 AM

I thought Kinor was a sound sync camera and the Konvas was the MOS.
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#20 Nate Downes

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 04:56 PM

I thought Kinor was a sound sync camera and the Konvas was the MOS.


I've been spoiled by that Panavision I tested a few weeks ago. 8)
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