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#1 Mike Atencio

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 12:08 AM

I'm wanting to shoot my first complete film after years of working on other's indie projects.

What's the best HD camera for under $5,000.00 to shoot cinema movies on? I don't want to use film so what will work here? I'm leaning towards the Panasonic AG-HVX200A but I don't like the P2 card system. A 64 G card is a thousand dollars! It's better to download straight on to a hard drive.

What camera and sound system would be gentle on me and complement my lack of experience.
Any comments or opinions on this would be very helpful.
Thanks
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#2 Fred Neilsen

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 12:43 AM

What camera and sound system would be gentle on me and complement my lack of experience.
Any comments or opinions on this would be very helpful.
Thanks


(As much as I hate answering like this...) It realy depends on your circumstances, remember that digital cameras are rarely a good investment for personal projects (unless you earn more per year from it than the deflation in value). I would strongly recomend renting and trying out different cameras, especially before committing to a purchase. If you dont want to rent, shoot in unusual hours, on weekends or for long periods of time, then purchasing a DSLR could be an option - while they have their drawbacks, when shot properly and carefully they can produce excellent images and a complete kit (good lenses, memory cards, some sort of hand held rig, a monitor etc) should cost less than 5000 dollars.

Fred

NB: Do not neglect sound - As much as I regret saying this, sound is much more important than camera - by which I mean poor sound will ruin a film, poor images will merely make it look somewhat cheap. It is a good idea to hire either an experienced sound man, or his assistant for your short - believe me it is money well spent.

Edited by Frederik Nielssen, 22 November 2010 - 12:43 AM.

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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 07:56 AM

I'll second all Mr Nielssen's advice. Flawed as they may be, it's hard (actually, it's impossible) to better a DSLR for the money. My feeling is that the Panasonic GH line may have somewhat fewer of the downsides that the Canon stuff has, in respect of aliasing performance in particular, but you should read a lot of reviews before making a call.

And yes. Sound. More than anything, it needs a dedicated person.

P
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#4 Mike Atencio

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 09:11 AM

Did I mention I live in Louisiana? Think of it as filming on the moon. There just aren't any sound pros around. I'm on my own. I have sound experience but not extensive. Know any good book about the dynamics?

Thanks for the info about the DSLR. I was surprised. I would have thought a HD Pro camera would be a better choice for cinema but I seem to remember a DSLR used in a commercial to shoot the commercial.
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 09:23 AM

As said a lot depends on circumstances and while a vDSLR is a good choice when you have a lot of control in your environment, I feel that as you begin to loose control, or need to shoot longer duration takes, you start running into their drawbacks. As for sound, I am certain there are sound people in your area with or without equipment. I would contact your local or state film office and inquire.
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#6 Mike Atencio

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 01:04 PM

Thanks Adrian, I spoke to the film commission and they are telling me that there is no money for any indie work in LA. It seems that the Governor has permanently cut all grants and programs in our state and they couldn't help me much on any subject. If I was in New Orleans, it would be different but I'm in the north near the Arkansas border. Up here we're on our own.
I do appreciate the reply.
Mike
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 04:19 PM

Yeah it's a pain out in the middle of states, same goes for PA, where we have Phila and Pitt and the whole middle can be, well waste-land like. And while you can bring in an out of towner, you often get stuck with Per Diems, which quickly quickly add up. There is always the other option of shooting where the crews are, and then just moving one's self out there for the duration-- just a thought.
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#8 todd folts

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 12:43 PM

I'm curious about what you dont like about the P2 system, yeah a 64 GB card is around a grand but its reusable multiple times, hot swapable, solid state, nearly indestructable, and comes in sizes of 8, 16, 32, and 64 gb... I have been on several several multiday shoots with both an hvx200 and hpx170 cameras and to be honest with you, shooting at 720pn (24fps) i could let the camera roll for something close to 4 hrs (with 2 64gb cards), the battery would die before both cards are filled. fact i made do for a long time with a 32 and two 16gb cards; even used 3 32gb cards and 3 16gb cards for a two camera shoot of a 4 day (all day) conference. off loading & backing up a 32gb card takes less time than to fill a 16gb card, but thats what a tech is for.

either one of those cameras can be had NEW for 3200-3600 at BH, a couple of cards and some sound gear will probably cost you around 5500-6000. then you have to add a tripod.... 5000 bucks aint much

in all seriousness i'd suggest to rent big (alexa, f3, red one) or buy small like a used hvx (they get them at BH at times for around 2500)....
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 01:13 PM

Thanks for the info about the DSLR. I was surprised. I would have thought a HD Pro camera would be a better choice for cinema but I seem to remember a DSLR used in a commercial to shoot the commercial.


What pro HD cameras are sold for $5000 and less?

A Sony EX1 or 3 would give you a sharper image than a DSLR, but with more depth of field, but even that camera falls outside the $5000 limit. The new Panasonic AF100, which is sort of a hybrid -- 4/3 still camera sensor into a prosumer camcorder body -- may be a good choice but it's right at that price limit without a lens on it. But I'd probably use that before I'd use a DSLR. But under $5000, probably a DSLR is your best bet.

Trouble with those is that the accessories needed to make it cine-shooting capable... onboard monitor, mattebox, follow-focus system, etc. tend to double the price, probably hitting near the $10,000 mark by the time you are through.

BTW, on the last day of my TV pilot in Vancouver, shot on the Alexa, we also ran my Canon 550D/T2i (with the kit zoom on it) alongside a rented Canon 7D that had been converted to a PL-mount, with a Cooke S4 prime on it, for a car crash stunt... even though both cameras have the same sensor more or less in them, the 7D's HD image was better in my opinion, less chroma noise, and sharper. But obviously by putting a PL-mount on it, Cooke S4 prime, a Marshall monitor, baseplate for rods, etc. you've taken a $2000 camera and made it nearly a $20,000 camera probably.
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#10 Mike Atencio

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 01:20 PM

I bought a Nikon D3100 HDSLR. It's got 1080 / 24 - 30 - 60 fps and I can manually focus my shots. The only drawback I have found is that there is no microphone jack for an external sound recording source. It was $699.00 with the lens. Not a bad deal and the 15 mega-pixel images are incredible. The video isn't perfect but it is much better than miniDV tapes and I can use this footage professionally with a little bit of smart cutting. I'm very happy with it and expect to shoot my film in the next few months.

As for shooting in the "south" I wrote a screenplay about evil and greed in the swamps of Louisiana and urban legends. It's going to be really good and cheap to shoot. My final biggest challenge is going to be shooting inside or outside at night with my equipment. I have to figure out how to light the scenes.

To everyone that offered advice, thanks.
Mike




I'm curious about what you dont like about the P2 system, yeah a 64 GB card is around a grand but its reusable multiple times, hot swapable, solid state, nearly indestructable, and comes in sizes of 8, 16, 32, and 64 gb... I have been on several several multiday shoots with both an hvx200 and hpx170 cameras and to be honest with you, shooting at 720pn (24fps) i could let the camera roll for something close to 4 hrs (with 2 64gb cards), the battery would die before both cards are filled. fact i made do for a long time with a 32 and two 16gb cards; even used 3 32gb cards and 3 16gb cards for a two camera shoot of a 4 day (all day) conference. off loading & backing up a 32gb card takes less time than to fill a 16gb card, but thats what a tech is for.

either one of those cameras can be had NEW for 3200-3600 at BH, a couple of cards and some sound gear will probably cost you around 5500-6000. then you have to add a tripod.... 5000 bucks aint much

in all seriousness i'd suggest to rent big (alexa, f3, red one) or buy small like a used hvx (they get them at BH at times for around 2500)....


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#11 Mike Atencio

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 01:31 PM

Yeah. I agree with you about it eventually costing more with the add ons. I'm getting some of that now. What works for me is the ability to do it a bit at a time instead of all at once. Truth be told, I'd love the entire Red system but I have to live with my wife and the budget I have available to me. I'm the Captain of my ship and like every good Navy, every cent spent must be approved by the Admiral. I'm sure you can appreciate that. Indie's have a hard time but I'm learning that it's the journey that's making this the most fun. Anyone can buy the best equipment but I kind of feel that not having the best equipment forces me to be a better filmmaker. I have to make up for the stuff others take for granted. I'll eventually be able to buy the better equipment but for now, this'll work.

By the way, how'd the camera hold up after the crash shot?
Mike

What pro HD cameras are sold for $5000 and less?

A Sony EX1 or 3 would give you a sharper image than a DSLR, but with more depth of field, but even that camera falls outside the $5000 limit. The new Panasonic AF100, which is sort of a hybrid -- 4/3 still camera sensor into a prosumer camcorder body -- may be a good choice but it's right at that price limit without a lens on it. But I'd probably use that before I'd use a DSLR. But under $5000, probably a DSLR is your best bet.

Trouble with those is that the accessories needed to make it cine-shooting capable... onboard monitor, mattebox, follow-focus system, etc. tend to double the price, probably hitting near the $10,000 mark by the time you are through.

BTW, on the last day of my TV pilot in Vancouver, shot on the Alexa, we also ran my Canon 550D/T2i (with the kit zoom on it) alongside a rented Canon 7D that had been converted to a PL-mount, with a Cooke S4 prime on it, for a car crash stunt... even though both cameras have the same sensor more or less in them, the 7D's HD image was better in my opinion, less chroma noise, and sharper. But obviously by putting a PL-mount on it, Cooke S4 prime, a Marshall monitor, baseplate for rods, etc. you've taken a $2000 camera and made it nearly a $20,000 camera probably.


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#12 Mike Atencio

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 02:14 PM

Hey David, check out this video shot with the HDSLR Nikon D3100 I think you'll be impressed with the quality - especially for $699.00



FYI, the time lapse par was shot with a different camera.

What's your opinion on the footage. I ask because you work in the field professionally so you know what you're looking at better than I and your experienced eye sees things my eyes don't. Thanks for commenting.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 02:45 PM

What's your opinion on the footage. I ask because you work in the field professionally so you know what you're looking at better than I and your experienced eye sees things my eyes don't. Thanks for commenting.


It looks good, but I never draw conclusions about how anything looks technically from a small YouTube window. Unless that's my target audience.
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#14 Will Montgomery

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:26 AM

I think it's great that these low-cost DSLRs are inspiring filmmakers. Now just shoot a good story and have fun. Do that and more expensive gear will come and you'll learn what you really need.

BTW, even if you are in the other LA, rental houses in Los Angeles and NY will ship rental gear to you and you only pay for the time you're using it. Abel is a sponsor here and I know they do it.
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#15 Jenna Whitney

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 11:47 PM

I recorded several interviews on HD cameras, (commercial directors and directors of photography), I would be happy to send anyone interested a free copy, I'm curious to know what you think. It's a great resource on HD technology, and the choice of camera involved.
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