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what should my first camera be?


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#1 Cameron Busby

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 03:12 PM

I like to introduce myself my name is Cameron Busby, I'm a young cinematographer just starting out of high-school. I been looking through dozens of pages of advice in these forums trying to find the best HD camera for me. My budget is around 5000 and i am very puzzled still on what camera i should buy first; to start out.I plan to use it mostly doing short films, commercials, interviews, and indie features. Im looking for a camera that can give a lot of control and has a large array of easily buyable attachments (lens, mic, monitor, viewfinders, rigs, etc). With 5000 dollars what camera would be my best choice? Thank-you in advance.
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#2 Sebastian Cepeda

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 11:03 AM

I like to introduce myself my name is Cameron Busby, I'm a young cinematographer just starting out of high-school. I been looking through dozens of pages of advice in these forums trying to find the best HD camera for me. My budget is around 5000 and i am very puzzled still on what camera i should buy first; to start out.I plan to use it mostly doing short films, commercials, interviews, and indie features. Im looking for a camera that can give a lot of control and has a large array of easily buyable attachments (lens, mic, monitor, viewfinders, rigs, etc). With 5000 dollars what camera would be my best choice? Thank-you in advance.



Hi Cameron,

What I would recommend you for that money would be to wait for the newest Sony FS-100, it is very good in low light and has a nice Depth of field, this camera should be around 5'000, and then you can get yourself an adapter for canon or nikkon lenses and start shooting with that one. The good thing about that camera is that it is very modular, you can have many different kind of lenses, mics, shoulderrigs, monitors etc.

Otherwise if you need to get it asap, i would go for the panasonic AG-Af101 with an external recorder kind of like an atomo ninja or something similar, for the whole set you might end paying more than 5000 but you can get some stuff now and then when you have more money you get yourself the other stuff needed.

Otherwise of course a great solution are always DSLRs like canon 5d mark ii, i had before a sony pmw-ex1 with letus extreme 35mm dof adapter and sold it to change to 5D. It is a great small camera that makes beautiful pictures if you know how to use it good, and it's pretty affordable as well...

My advice right now, wait and go with the new FS100 from sony, you have the most for the money and the best quality, also future proof...can go with PL mount lenses when you have money or rent them for bigger projects.

I hope i could help...
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 08:00 PM

Your first camera should be what your CLIENTS ask for, not what your purchasing budget allows.

EVERY job will require a different set of specifications from the camera format to lights and sound and everything else that a production requires. To that end, why would you saddle yourself with a specific piece of equipment that has specific limitations?

Why not, instead, seek out PROJECTS, and THEN RENT the required equipment on an as-needed basis as practically EVERY professional production does?

The "top" camera you buy today (within your budget, of course) will likely be old news within months, yet you'll still be paying for it long afterwards. The key to building and maintaining a career is to sell YOURSELF and your skills regardless of any gear you happen to own. Plus, owning gear tends to push you towards projects that will use your gear instead of allowing you the freedom to choose projects regardless of your personal investments.

My advice is to forget the alphabet soup of cameras and formats and instead focus on selling YOU and what YOU can do with ANY camera or format or genre. Save your money for living expenses so that you are free to take ANY opportunity that comes along or that you create.
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#4 JJ Labritakis

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 02:24 PM

Don't do what Sebastian said, that's not a good idea at all, you would have a camera with no lenses or gear with $5000. Brian's response is 100% spot on, renting is the way to go. What I tell people if they live in an area you can't rent or they shoot a lot of small things is to go with the panasonic gh2. Only reason is that the camera is great quality for the price and you can use old Canon FD lenses which run cheap. I own a GH2 and have made my money back with it and for other shoots I rent.

Edited by JJ Labritakis, 31 May 2011 - 02:29 PM.

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#5 Markus Rave

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 05:37 AM

My 2ct. If you want to buy think about light and gels. Lasts long, does not loose too much money and you will need to experiment with that anyway. For the start a Kinoflo 4bank (daylight bulbs) and two fresnels (650-1k) with tripods will do. Going ebay will be under 2000 USD for that. Also introduce yourself as a cameraman who shurely wants to become a cinematographer. Anthing else will be not be considered appropriate. And then of course: rent what is needed.

For the start I recommend to read: Matters of Light & Depth by Ross Lowell, price under 30 USD and for sure the best investment to be made first.
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#6 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 10:26 AM

Plus you need a good tripod and a monitor. A well chosen quality tripod will last a lot longer than the cameras and will improve your operating.
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#7 Matthew French

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 02:42 PM

Hi All,

I also had this dilemma a couple of months ago and I was looking at buying the AG-AF101 when it first came out. However, I came to the conclusion that at this stage in my career it wasn't worth spending that amount of money on a camera that will date quickly and is more of a prosumer camera than professional.

What tripod would you recommend that isn't too pricey that still delivers a good smooth fluid head? I was looking at the Miller Arrow 55... any suggestions?

Matt :ph34r:
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