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Looking to buy first film setup (S8? 16mm? Sound?)


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#1 Collin Davey

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 04:25 PM

Hello, I'm pretty new to the boards, so maybe there's already a thread here about this?

I've worked a lot on film and video crews and even produced some of my own video projects, but now I'd like to make the leap to getting a low-budget film setup for doing some of my own stuff on film. This is for strictly feature-type stuff, storytelling. That' really the only criterion other than cost.

I will probably record sound separately since it seems that gives me more varied, more affordable camera choices, and since I'll probably be doing most sound in post. I plan to get a little mini-dv setup, non-synched for now. Anyone use a laptop and record straight to hard-drive? Suppose that makes it tough to do moves.

For cameras, I've seen some great-looking stuff shot on S8, so that's an option, but it seems some think it more expensive by the time you're done with processing. I'm looking at the Canon 1040 XLS and several Nizo models. In 16, I'm looking at the Bolex family, of course. I assume the wound cameras are too loud even for separate sound recording?

The main thing is keeping the cost as low as possible. I am happy enough for now with some of the S8 stuff I've seen in terms of quality, but if the right 16 setup is just as affordable, well, hey!

Anyway, thanks in advance!
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#2 Ira Ratner

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 07:18 AM

Hi, Collin. I'm a TOTAL beginner, so you're light years ahead of me with your experience. However, I'm a hell of a lot older than you, so I have a background in 35mm still work. (And you know you're old when 35mm was invented during your lifetime.)

I'm doing this just to have some fun, so I bought a Russian K-3. And you're right--the noise makes it useless for on location sound. However, there's a Danish company that's releasing a sync motor drive for the K-3 next month that's a CINCH to install and has a very low profile. (It's not a huge box, but instead, thin and flat and runs off a small battery.) It's around 500 bucks, which isn't chump change, but considering that really mint K-3s are selling for anywhere from just $150 to a $279 buy-it-now on eBay, total cost here is pretty low.

In addition, the stock zoom on the K-3 is pretty superior and gives you a good range. (It's a 17mm to 69mm, equivalent to around 35mm to 140mm on a 35mm still.) However, the K-3 was made with both bayonet and M42 (screw) mounts, and the M42s are more sought after because then you can use all of the great Pentax lenses out there for sale which used to sit on a 35mm still bodies. I'm now going on a lens-buying spree on eBay.

You can also eventually decide to mod it for Super 16, and depending on your production workflow, you're now approaching 35mm quality.

For me, it was a matter of getting a 16mm camera in my hands for next no nothing. I got mine for $150 and $79 shipping, and not only is it like brand-new, it came with every accessory that's like mint too. (I guess it's a Ukranian trait to take care of their things.) There are a ton of K-3s floating around the Ukraine, and a ton of reliable eBay sellers there.

So, just telling you my experience and rationale on this. For me, it was all about low cost now and good potential for later. For you, it might be a better camera now for more bucks.
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#3 Jim Carlile

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 12:53 AM

If you want a real setup for sound, you should probably go 16.

But where do you live? In some places, for serious work, renting is an option, and cheaper. The older Bolexes are good to buy for silent work, but you're talking some serious money for the newer equipment.

Best bet-- rent, don't buy. A few weekends will teach you all you need to know. Better spend your $ on film stock and actors, rather than on equipment that will just sit around most the time.
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