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#1 artin boghosian

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 12:01 AM

Hi I am a beginning film students in college and have a few questions
Since i have no prior experience in cinematography or photography
should i buy a camera
some people have told me yes but im still not sure
if i do
what are some choices
im thinking Nikon d40 but its 525 dollars
Is that way too much for my needs
if so what what would suffice my needs
also the book we use is way to simplistic
my class is beginning film making but
i need something more informative
can anyone give me any suggestions
something i can understand but more in depth
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 12:52 AM

I'd recommend a manual SLR 35mm still camera to learn on. It's a fast track to learning about exposure levels, depth of field, shutter speeds, and all kinds of focal lengths.

I have an old Nikon FM that fully prepared me for graduation to motion picture film, and I got it along with a whole bunch of extras used for $100

Edited by Jonathan Bowerbank, 07 September 2007 - 12:52 AM.

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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 07:37 AM

I second the SLR
the Nikon FM10 runs for around $250 with a lens. It's a new camera, though completely manual. BHphoto has them.
If you mean a camera in terms of video; i'd say no. It's really hard to justify the expense of buying a camera unless you're sure you can make your money back. Of course, I'm a hypocrite for that as I just bought and Arri SR3 just because I wanted to have my own cam.
It's one of those things where if you can afford it, go for it but it's not necessary. Also, in a video world, it's not the best idea to buy a video camera (too often a new one obsoletes yours before you've shot with it enough.)

Shy away from DSLRs. They may teach you the same things, but they can make you lazy and cavalier with your shots. A lot more thought goes into framing, IMHO, when you're paying say $6 for the roll of film $10 for the contact sheet, and are limited to 36 shots! (as opposed to the hundreds you can cram on a memory card). And the reward, I think, is more satisfying, when you're looking at your contact sheet, without any image manipulation and think; wow-- I shot THAT!

my 2 cents


Also, for books; look into The American Cinematographers Manual
The Filmaker's Handbook
Cinematography co written by David Mullen ASC (who posts here)
Film Lighting by Malkwowitz (spelling? he also wrote cinematography)
and a few theory books, i.e. A Cinema of Lonliness
Film Art (standard text book for a lot of film theory classes I'm told)
Cinema of the Outsiders (indie film history and such)
Rebel without a Crew (i have heard good things about this one, yet never read it)

Edited by Adrian Sierkowski, 07 September 2007 - 07:40 AM.

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#4 artin boghosian

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 11:13 AM

thanks a lot for the advice Jonathan and Adrian
i hope i could have gotten some more replies but oh well
I didnt mean video cameras ;)
i couldnt afford a good one
plus my school has a few jvc svhs cameras [not sure about the model number]
so im gonna use those as much as i can
my film teacher told me to shy away from the dslrs for the same reason
thanks for the book recommendations as well
if anyone eles has advice on cameras
or what/how to shoot with video and still camera
i'd love to hear it
[gosh im such a newbie :( ]
again thank you so much for the advice guys
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#5 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 02:36 PM

Also, in a video world, it's not the best idea to buy a video camera (too often a new one obsoletes yours before you've shot with it enough.)


I'll second that as well. I'm not buying any DV/HD camera, probably ever, because I know that something new will come along a year or two later, while I'm still trying to get projects to pay off the one I have. It would cost the productions I work on just as much to rent as it would to pay me a kit fee, so it's not a big issue whether you own or not. It's just a question of whether you can afford it.
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#6 Douglas Sunlin

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 12:19 PM

also the book we use is way to simplistic

Maybe that's because they want you to be well grounded in the basics.
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#7 Mark Bonnington

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 01:13 PM

DSLR's are GREAT for learning on! Forget the lazy aspect, it pales in comparison to the eduction you get when witnessing the immediate feedback of what your personal choices are doing to effect the picture. With film, you're stuck having to wait for a film lab to process everything, and the film labs may compensate your exposure without you even knowing it, further distancing you from the real effect your manual settings are having on the final picture. Plus, DSLR's give you the chance to compare framing while you're still on location, instead of having to drive back to it a month later because you found out from the developed film that the shot wasn't quite right. Here's something else... digital captures usually include the camera/lens settings in their info, making it easier to see exactly what the camera settings were to get a certain look. Get a DSLR, look at the histogram after each shot to understand light levels, try different things and shoot lots and lots of pictures to understand what works and what doesn't. Digital is cheaper per-shot, and the more shots you take the better your understanding will be of what's going on.
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