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Loan for HVX200


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#1 Kevin Seeley

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 09:04 PM

Hey I'm an aspiring DOP and I wanted input on wheter or not to take out a loan to buy the HVX 200.
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#2 Lars Zemskih

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 04:24 PM

Do it! It's a good camera.

But seriously, it depends on what you are looking for and what type of films you want to make and other factors.

Edited by Emile Rafael, 21 October 2007 - 04:25 PM.

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#3 Tyler Leisher

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 10:23 PM

I don't understand why you need to buy a camera. Rental houses are always out there, if you plan to use it over and over and over again, then maybe but do the math.

Average 2 day week rental for HVX 200 - $500 (Rough estimate from a few I looked into)

Cost of HVX200 - $5200 (Assuming you buy it outright, APR etc would cost much more).

You would have to shoot for 11 weeks to make it worth its while, and keep in mind that in a year a new camera will be out that's better than this one. So those 11 weeks have to be done in one year.

Just my two cents. I may be naive.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 07:28 AM

I would recommend a loan to buy a camera less likely to be outdated as quickly and one which is more versatile. I saved up for an Arri, and it's near to paying for itself already, which is nice.
Maybe look into something a bit higher up in the "HD" world?
personally, I dislike the HVX, but that's just me.
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#5 Dory Breaux DP

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 02:19 PM

I'd do it, as long as you have an assured income source for the entirety of the loan period.
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#6 Ionita Alexandru

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 02:43 PM

it's a good camera, the lens are Leica and that's a big plus, you can olso update the camera with a chip (hydra) and take the camera to 4k resolution...
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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 05:03 PM

I wouldn't. It'll be obsolete fast and production that want an HVX generally don't want to, or can't, pay decently for the rental.
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#8 Michelob Fedusenko

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 12:16 PM

I wouldn't. It'll be obsolete fast and production that want an HVX generally don't want to, or can't, pay decently for the rental.



I am doing it. Tonight actually. The reason I am doing it is because I already have about 6 projects lined up for it. I want to build my reel up as quick as possible. I don't plan on using it for features.

If an HVX200 ($5200 bought + $1000 16 gig p2 card) rental is worth $500 a day, then it would pay for itself in 12 days like similarly suggested above. If you are a student and you are trying to build up a reel (cinematographer, director) then 12 days should be done halfway through the first week.

I would say that if you are serious about working projects that will lead to other PAID work, then $6,200 is a swell investment. Just get it insured.
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#9 Marque DeWinter

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 02:17 AM

As someone who rents out HVXs....the market is flooded. Currently for just the HVX with 2 8GB P2 cards (even if you have 16GB cards you NEED 2) we get $200/day including a good tripod. So camera, sticks, cards your looking closer to $10k which is 50 days to pay it off...typically most rentals items ROI is 30 days. And if you need a rental in NY give us a call 1-800-379-0442

~Marque
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#10 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 04:41 AM

Your main deciding factor with the HVX is the glass. I REALLY dislike the Leica lens they build into that camera.

They should have taken a note from JVC and Canon by creating a what could have been a superior product, just by having an interchangeable lens.
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#11 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 01:17 PM

Hey I'm an aspiring DOP and I wanted input on wheter or not to take out a loan to buy the HVX 200.


Everyone makes good points here Kevin. I own and rent two cine-style HVX packages and in rentals alone, the packages paid for themselves at least ten times over in the first year. They still go out an average of three days a week but the market is definitely flooded now.

The various prime lens adapters like the mini35 address some of the lens issues but it is definitely an intermediary adaptation on the lens side. With a prime lens it's a gorgeous image and a great image to cost ratio.

Getting to the base of your question as "an aspiring DOP"; if your object and goal is to have a camera with film-like functions to practice your vision and craft with, you'd get that with the HVX or any other similar camera with the exception of interchangeable lenses. Since you're "aspiring" as you say, having a camera at your disposal to learn and practice on is invaluable; like investing in film school or workshops. I don't think rentals freely enable that. On the other hand, you can always rent a prime lens adapter and lenses when you need them, or a larger camera package altogether.

This brings forth a pet peeve of mine that too many people are more infatuated with the latest greatest gear than they are with the art and BUSINESS of our profession. Read through the posts on this forum and others and you'll see what I mean. Five years ago the DVX100 was the holy grail, then the HVX and JVC and now the RED is the almighty magic bullet. Add 8mm, 16mm, 35mm in antique and present day adaptations. Is it standard def, HD, 2k, 4k? I think too many people are consumed with resolution and cine-toys. As filmmakers those are considerations based on project, budget and personal preference but I can tell you that outside of industry professionals I don't think I've ever heard a layman say "wow, that movie really sucked because it was shot on Super 16 or HD". With a great story and high production values few people really care or notice what it was shot on. The elements of the tools should never be apparent in the story anyway except to those of us who are watching with a professional eye and even then it's nice to see a great film where I don't get sucked into the technical side and am in the story.

Instead, consider investing a small amount into a modest camera to hone your eye and skills, and invest the largest part of your time and money into marketing and selling your services. Your JOB is to build your business, not to be a DP, Producer, Director, Camera Operator, Filmmaker, whatever. If you build your business and treat it like a business then you'll get to do what you love; whatever that is. i.e. DP, Produce, Direct, Camera, make films, make money and buy the cool gear....

You can always rent or borrow gear but you can never rent or borrow a client!

All the best!

Robert Starling, SOC
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#12 Jayson Crothers

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 02:15 PM

Robert~

Thank you for stating that so well - even in interviews I'll occasionally get asked about what camera I think the production should shoot with......nevermind that I've only read the script twice and only met the director and producer 25 minutes ago!

A lousy piece of equipment in a gifted filmmakers hands can still create something meaningful and professional. An amazing piece of equipment in the hands of a novice can still create something hollow and amateurish. I recall 2 thesis films from my school days that illustrate this point very well; one shoot had an outlandish budget and the filmmakers wanted to shoot on 35mm Anamorphic, large night exteriors in downtown, a technocrane - the works. They also had a poorly written script and were more interested in all the shiny things they could rent. The movie was quite terrible and to the best of my knowledge was never screened anywhere. The other thesis film had a really wonderful script and the filmmakers spent a great deal of time and energy working on how to best tell that story - it was shot on Super 16 with only a few bounce cards, a pick-up truck of some lights, and a great deal of talent. It's been screened at over 100 festivals worldwide and the Director was hired for a feature because of it and the Cinematographer has won a number of awards and got an agent from it. A mastery of the craft and an understanding of the artistic intentions make for quality work and success, not the equipment or even budget.

If you're established within a market and owning a camera will strengthen your position or be profitable to you (ie, you rent that camera so often for your clients that you could own one and put that money into your own pocket), then by all means make the purchase. If you're buying the camera so you can market yourself as a Cinematographer, you'll only be joining a rapidly growing group of people who own gear but don't know how to apply the technology in either an artistic sense or as a business venture.

If you want a camera to learn with, anything that records an image will do really.
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#13 Walter Graff

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 05:51 PM

I think too many people are consumed with resolution and cine-toys. As filmmakers those are considerations based on project, budget and personal preference but I can tell you that outside of industry professionals I don't think I've ever heard a layman say "wow, that movie really sucked because it was shot on Super 16 or HD". With a great story and high production values few people really care or notice what it was shot on.


You can always tell the few true professionals on these boards, because they understand this. Any conversation that is about equipment and the drivel of good, better, or best is simply an amateur thinking that equipment makes them a pro, not experience. I'd be the first person to offer anyone interested in equipment, all I can muster on the subject, but I know as I do, that I am probably talking to someone that will never amount to much in this industry. Sort of like a person fascinated with the metro card that gets you on the subway. While they stand around talking minutia about how the card works, how the turnstile knows how many times you swipe or how it knows to transfer a fare when you went from bus to train, the train has already pulled out and those that will ride the train are on it, while your still staring at the turnstile.

The greatest compliments I get after I give seminars are phone calls and emails by people who took the course looking to get more into the art who tell me that my seminar changed their life. They continue to tell me that prior to attending, they were so hung up on everything but the art and it took only one day with a professional who showed them that lighting is not about fixtures and the term DP not about cameras, nor pixels, nor formats to see that. You will not pick up a book on Renaissance art and find it filled with discussions of how the artists found the brushes they used or how they created the pigments in their paints, or what types of nails they used to stretch the canvas. No, you'll find a lot of discussion on emotion, and color and feeling, but little to nothing on tools. Can anyone tell me what kind of clubs Tiger Woods uses? What kind of bat Babe Ruth used? How about what kind of gloves Dan Marino used when he was quarterback? I didn't think so. Most newer folks are so confused as to what resources they need to make a career in this business that is almost scary.

I wish more folks would take my, and the many other professional seminars about production technique that exist so we can end the countless drivel about cameras, pixels, and all sorts of things except anything that means anything to a 20-30 year career in this field. It seems outside of us who do this everyday as a career, the gold standard is how well someone can imitate a pro by emulating some sort of look, or by pushing a $5k camera to levels that they can say makes it look like 35mm rather than trying to be a pro. Or just owning anything that has HD stamped on it.

Every day I am fascinated when I look at my website statistics to see how many people link to my site from search engines using the term green screen or some or combination of green screen-like words, and how every day one of my articles on green screen is the most read page when there are ten others that are so much more about the technique of filmmaking. I know why. If someone can do a green screen they think it means they are more like a professional. Sort of like the way a guy goes to a football game with a jersey of his favorite player and thinks in some way it must make him closer to the team.

Sorry to sound so flippant but a camera is not going to make you a professional. Most all of what is shot with these HVX's and the like goes to SD so most folks gain little to nothing wasting their money on such equipment. Tools are important, but shinny hammers don't build houses, carpenters do. And if you go to a construction site, I doubt you'll find many carpenters with anything more than what most would say looks like an ordinary hammer. That will confuse most, just as the drive to find the ultimate camera shows how little folks are prepared for a career in this industry, let alone a chance to actually work in it.

No this post will not make me many friend with the younger set, but then again I used to argue with my dad all the time too. I'm older and smarter now and know he was usually right. But you can?t tell youth and inexperience anything these days. They?ll 'prove you wrong'.

Do you know how many folks stare at the camera they purchased a few months ago with money they didn?t have and wonder if they are ever going to actually do anything with it worthwhile with it? Allot!
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#14 Walter Graff

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 06:13 PM

Kevin,

I should add my post was not directed at you, just the direction most folks take thinking it will make them something it will not. I know for myself and most others I know who have achieved what we have, we never started by sitting in the captains chair but worked hard learning all we could (often in unrelated areas) before we could even take a step on the bridge. And once we did finally take the step it was usually never because of equipment but because of our hard work and the circles of people we ended up in. Once we established ourselves that equipment helped make a difference. I bought my first equipment in 1993 after having worked eleven years in the business, and only then because I got a $500k a year contract for the next nine years that meant I needed it. I would say to you that you should practice the craft as much as you can but know that no one simply buys a camera and becomes a DP. Sure a lot of folks buy cameras and find themselves work, but often it is work that never leads to bigger and better things and certainly not a career. I know at least 20 people personally who are young and have the same intention as you. They bought equipment. They struggle to maintain an income. Sure they find work, but are always treading water, and sometimes floating pretty nicely, but never find real security. And the real question is, can you do this for twenty years, and if so, is it going to be the rollercoaster ride that it is for most? Don?t give up your dream, but know that equipment is not an answer when you are not established, only a tool to help you hit a ball.
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#15 James Baker

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 11:53 PM

I agree with the gist of what Walter is saying. However, I also sympathize with people just starting out (in any endeavor). When I was a teenager (100 yrs ago) I decided I wanted to make photographs. My real influence was from looking at, and reading about, photographs. But I eventually needed to buy a camera. I labored as to which camera I should buy, etc.. Yes, in the end it didn't matter; only my images (my content, my thinking, etc.) really counted. But nevertheless I was still concerned about which tools I should invest in with my hard-to-come-by money.

Later, I went on to get my MFA (CalArts) in an environment where everything was about ideas and not tools. I developed my cerebral and emotional skills with less concern about equipment. However, at the same time, I was also acquiring a complete knowledge in the arena of image making, which included understanding tools.

I feel confident about which tools work for me and which won't and why I prefer certain ones over others. However, that took time and a certain sense of confidence.

But for those first entering into the fray, it can become overwhelming. Perhaps it's the easy(ier) acquisition of (now) relatively inexpensive devices? Or, the marketing that's used by manufacturers: "You will become an instant film maker with our new HDV-ACHDV-DVCPRO camera." Why study the history of film? Why read literature? Why read philosophy? Unfortunately (and where I agree with Walter), the emphasis (notoriously by the purveyors of the goods) tends to be on the equipment. And, for the young mind that perhaps hasn't yet had the chance to really stretch, this siren's song is sometimes all that is heard.

No matter what we say (those of us who have gone through exactly what they are going through), those individuals just getting their feet wet really have to go through all parts of the learning process themselves. But it's nice that folks like Walter are attempting a good influence. I think (hope) it's helpful.
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#16 Walter Graff

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Posted 23 November 2007 - 06:04 AM

The fact that more professional acting cameras are available to the masses is good for those who want to play with some of the tools of the trade. Good because it lets more people practice the art. Problem is they think that camera IS the solution. It never is.

If you are a student and can afford a camera, by all means get one. It is a tool that can help you practice the art. Just don't look at it as a free pass to a career. It is not. Never as been, and never will be.

Most of us who have established ourselves did so through working as much as we could. First working doing anything we cold, then later on, finding out what areas we really liked (and more importantly) really could do well. I can't tell you how many people I know who will tell me stories of how their career came to be and how different the end result was than they imagined. Not because they wanted to be A and became B. In many cases they wanted to be A and because A but found out getting their was not accomplished the way they thought getting their was.

You don't need a camera to work, but you do need as much of any experience as you can. Yes and now for those that say, that was the old day. I say poppycock! There are two things that give many a false sense of worth today, one a website that they can put the word Director of Photography on the title page of as if calling yourself a title means you are. Two, a camera marketed as professional, which means by default (in the mind of those that own it) that you are now a professional if you have such a camera.

In fifteen years I'd estimate that more than 70% of the people now members of this website will look back and remember when they were interested in film, but how economic realities showed them that while it was a great dream, it was a field that was too small and had too many people all trying to be in it, but not enough work to support a career.

Growing up many not as many people who seem to want ot work in the media arts were interested in it as they are today. Technology is one of the biggest reasons as is a dysfunctional society. Technology because manufactures used marketing to entice folks into buying cameras that they claim are the difference between home videos and careers. Dysfunction because so many people need to express themselves and think making movies is how to work through that pain. We always used to say that those that never knew what they wanted to do with their life took liberal arts programs at colleges. Today it seems like a lot of people don't know what they want to do with their lives but know they need to express something, and it seems making pictures that tell stories is that way, whether they go to school for it or not.

This year 1.2 million of these people will attempt to enter some sort of film festival that now exists like toilet paper sheets on a roll, 60,000 will graduate college with a degree in some sort of TV/Film/Communications arts program ready to "go out and get a job". Another 7.4 million will purchase a camera that is labeled as HD. That's nearly 9 million people all interested in jobs and careers in a field that is not that big to begin with. Just something to think about for anyone interested in buying cameras and making a website for themselves with a slick movie driven by a cool song. If only life were that cool and that easy.
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#17 James Baker

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Posted 23 November 2007 - 01:04 PM

Yes, but isn't this happening in many fields? After all, the world is growing exponentially. It's also more difficult to be a poet, machinist, lawyer, carpenter, doctor, etc.. Global economies have shifted, capitalism and profitability has become more intense, geographic centers have moved, etc., etc..

I think one has to re-invent oneself more these days in order to contend with the changing tide. And it changes always, over time, over history. I went and got the MFA not because I thought it would get me a job working with Hollywood film makers, but because it meant I can teach at the university level. So now I have an income I can count on, and the time and money to subsidize my own work. And my work is certainly shaped by the environment I currently live in.

People have always had a need to express themselves. And, yes, in a world where we all sometimes feel less and less autonomous, that desire is perhaps more pronounced although I might argue that it's been this way throughout history. And there are many ways to express oneself; a good job; children; a diary; gardening; making movies; meditating; helping others; etc., etc..

Things certainly have changed since the "old days." But everything is always in a state of flux. One has to work through and around certain obstacles. But those obstacles were always there, in some shape or form. Today, they just have a different appearance.
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#18 Adamo P Cultraro

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Posted 23 November 2007 - 04:33 PM

If you want to buy a camera so that you can hone your skills and practice at your leisure, do it. I think to go borrow money to buy an HVX is a pretty poor idea. You should save and go buy an HV20 which is sub $1K. You can practice framing, blocking and lighting with that little camera. Never make a purchase based on it's return to you - it's false economy. Besides, I don't think the rental of a naked HVX will be too popular. I have an HVX and with all the gear that's on it, it pushes $15K. That's what I'd expect to rent if I wanted one.

As for all the philosophers out there, if the guy wants to buy a camera, let him buy one. You can't learn if you don't have the right tools at your disposal. And it's hard to rent on a low budget - usually you need insurance to rent.
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#19 Walter Graff

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Posted 23 November 2007 - 08:43 PM

Yes, but isn't this happening in many fields? After all, the world is growing exponentially. It's also more difficult to be a poet, machinist, lawyer, carpenter, doctor, etc..


Actually it's not harder to be any of what you mention. All those jobs still exist just as they always did and generally but not always, need drives how many more there are today than thirty years ago. Take physicians for instance. Today there are twice as many as there were 30 years ago and now nearly twice as many per 100k population. As for graduates of medical school, there are many more today than their were 30 years ago. Depending on the area of expertise is where you find the difference in how many doctors there are. Hold on, I'll make a point about this industry in a second. In 1971 there were 8,974 allopathic doctors. Today (2000) there are 15,712. But it's not the increase that is as important as the specific areas of increase. Podiatrist only saw an increase of double. But Osteopathic medicine saw a jump four times other rates. yet in areas such as Pharmacy there are only 2000 more pharmacists today than there were 30 years ago. And there are less than twice as many veterinary doctors. One would think with the huge increase in pet populations that there would be far more vets. But there is not. See, while the population has increased the need for doctors hasn't exploded. I equate the similarity to the film and television industry. There was a tremendous explosion across the board when cable TV came into existence. And genres like talk TV created a plethora of jobs. And with reality television there is a greater need for cameraman and sound men. But overall it depends on what genre of the film and TV industry you are talking about. Look at union rosters and you will not find tremendous increases. Look at working DPs and you will not find a tremendous increase. But there are many more cameramen out there in general. But many of these add-ons are guys all trying to break into a tight field that could involve corporate, broadcast, web, etc. yes there are more opportunities but still no where near enough long term jobs, nor full time careers in the field of film and television. It's always been tough but now it's just a bit more tougher as more people fight for a smaller part of the puzzle. The web has not helped. Many websites have created a pseudo industry that creates hopes of a career. But the web is misleading a lot of folks about potential. And today there are over 6000 film festivals, all making a few a lot of money, as they suck money out of hopefuls, who are desperate for the acclaim. Broadcasters have not helped. Some channels like Sci fi have created little shot film competitions. Most all who enter are strung along as their films advance. It's all a new form of grass roots marketing designed to get more foils to watch their channels but offers little hope for those that enter and think they have a chance because the station has advanced their film only to unexpectedly change airdates to some ungodly hour of the night, and then to postpone even that to some future date that sometimes never comes. I know two people who actually quit their day jobs because such channels told them they made the 'semifinals' and might have a good chance to win. Yea there are a lot of jobs and a lot more people all trying for them. Then you have these new found group of wannabe filmmakers that has little chance of any real career but between the web, manufactures and broadcasters all stringing them along, find that their $15k investment in equipment wasn't exaclt what they thought it would turn out to be. Yep, it's a tough world, always has been. Just gets tougher.
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#20 Adamo P Cultraro

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Posted 23 November 2007 - 09:43 PM

That, Walter, was one of the most pessimistic diatribes I've ever read. Let's keep the original question in context: The guy wants to take out a loan to buy a camera so he can become a DP.

It seems like you're telling him not to even bother being a DP. Not sure if that lugubriousness was tongue in cheek or genuine, but I personally have a hard time dissuading someone from doing something they ASPIRE to, like he said. Getting a loan for the camera is a bad idea, aspiring to be a DP is this guy's dream. Why bring out statistics? Let him keep aspiring!

I don't think you get that, since you also used the term "wannabe filmmaker" like it was some sort of crime to 'want to be' a filmmaker. Or perhaps we should all aspire to make something "practical" like infomercials. Sheesh.
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