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What camera should i get


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#1 Jerry Chen

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 12:18 AM

hi my name is jerry im form Carlsbad California, and im interested in cinematography. i am in my junior year in high school and am in our schools's broadcasting program, CHSTV. however i wanted to explore other areas of the photography and found myself interested in wildlife photography and cinematography. i know how to work many different types of cameras and am quite comfortable with them (usually various Studio cams, and sony PD-170), however im not sure if these cameras are the best for Cinematography.

in short, i'm new was wondering about what type of camera would be sutible for this type of cinematography.
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#2 Toby L Edwards

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 11:27 AM

I would think a Bolex 16mm would be a good choice. Or a Bell & Howell 70 series is another good choice at the very low end, around $50.00 to $ 250.00 for a small kit. This is a good cheap way to get started with FILM.

Toby
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#3 S. Thomson

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 12:55 PM

I think first of all you need to decide whether you want to shoot tape or film, as both offer their own challenges. As a student myself I found that an investment in a decent prosumer camera ($1500-$3000) gives you the flexibility to work with more professionally motivated features, without having to drop a ridiculous amount of money off the bat. A big consideration, if you are going the digital route, will be what format you want to shoot in (ie. DV, HDV etc), as well as the tape format itself (or hard drive). If you're looking to learn and not necessarily showcase the work you create on a big scale, then standard definition on MiniDV is a good bet as you can get a better camera for your money (particularly if you buy used). However, given the direction most video work seems to be heading, HD or HDV could be a sound investment towards more professional or artistic work ahead. But if these prices seem a little high, then just look for something that satisfies what controls you would want over an image, but generally as many manual features as possible is good. (Just don't buy a little camcorder that fits into the palm of your hand). Some general suggestions would be a Canon GL1, GL2, XL1, XL2, A1 (HDV), Panasonic DVX100A, DVX100B, as well as some comparable Sony models which I can't recall at the moment. Ultimately, I've found that having a digital cam with a decent lens on it was a great way to learn, and learn cheaply too, given how much a miniDV tape can cost.

But if you want to go the film route then the suggestions above by Toby seem appropriate. Film offers a whole new range of challenges not found with video, but can be a very rewarding experience to work with. But it can also be very pricey, especially if you are looking to learn and experiment. But if you do, then definitely go 16mm, and look for camera kits in the under a $500 range. At this price you will only find used stuff, which is generally a fantastic resource as long as the equipment has been moderately cared for, and try to look for a camera that has a reflex viewing system versus something like a parralex (SP?). Also a few different lenses is always an asset.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 01:03 PM

If he's planning on shooting wildlife, often with very telephoto lenses, I don't think a Bolex would be a good idea -- if he's going to shooting in 16mm, he needs something with a decent reflex viewfinder for eye focusing (and the reflexed Bolex has a tiny dim image). I might go for an Eclair NPR, for example. Otherwise, a video camera, preferably one that allows very long zooms to be put on.
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#5 Toby L Edwards

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 06:58 PM

David'
You make a good point. The view through the finder on the Bolex is quite dim. I usually pull a measurement anyway and use the finder for framing only, but that isn't very practical for wild life.
I would still argue that for the cost of getting an entry level 16mm camera and lens that dealing with the deficiencies of a dark viewfinder are worth it for the end results of the 16mm image.

Toby
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#6 Jerry Chen

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 01:12 AM

hey thanks you guys for all your inpt! i'll tke it all into consideration!
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#7 Matt Kelly

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 03:17 AM

EVERYONE should start with a rack-over!  16mm mitchells are so complicatingly cute! lol

I would encourage you to lean away from video as much as you possibly can :P ... but only because the more you know about how FILM works and exposes, the more understanding you'll have over everything...video included.  It doesn't work so well the other way around.  Also, it may soon be a piece of history.  Especially anamorphic... which i'm wondering if Panavision will ever begin pushing that upon the Genesis.  dying artform?... i hope not.

In the end though, it's the final image the matters... the camera/tools may greatly influence how you got to that product, or it may not.  If going Standard Definition MiniDV, I would just stick with Panasonic's DVX100.  For High Definition, the HVX200 is the next small step (that's affordable).  anything that's NTSC interlaced is bad news IMO (sorry, but it s a solution that no longer applies to this technology.. in addition to looking god-awful)

There are TONS of video cameras tho. I own a Sony VX2000, which i would only recommend getting for filming band practice.  Has a great mike when used in auto-gain!  But the image is pretty terrible overall..

Assuming you can't afford to play with film, I would also check out 35mm lens adapters for video cameras.  Great for understanding exactly how complicated (and influential!)depth of field can be when wide open (so to speak.... depensing on the lenses, you can resolve images to a much larger negative size than 35mm, which makes a look that's much different than regular super 35mm).  You can make your own for under $100, like i did a while ago, or look into buying one. (dvinfo.net, the alternative imaging methods forum is the best resource for that stuff).

ANyway. just throwing a bunch of ideas out there.  My main suggestion is to play with as much stuff as you possibly can, and you'll quickly find where your interest really lies.  Feel free to PM me with any questions.  I'd be happy to share that 35mm adapter thing too.

-Matt Kelly
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#8 Dory Breaux DP

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 09:42 PM

DVX100a and the biggest telephoto lens adapter you can find. Or an XL2...
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#9 Daniel Smith

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 03:43 AM

Avoid telephoto adapters. They distort the quality.

I think the zoom on the PD170 came up to around 500mm though. I remember shooting the eclipse with it and I got some great footage.
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