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Best camera to start with


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#1 symesad

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 05:37 PM

Hi everybody, I really hope this is the right category! It's my first time posting and hopefully I'll leave all the wiser.

I wish to start working as a freelance cinematographer/DP, but need to get a camera first.
I am fortunate to have some money backing me at the moment and am in a position to purchase a good camera to use in future production.

I first looked intensely at the F65, but sadly it is a bit too expensive, to buy the entire setup needed, I'd like to try and keep my budget to below 80k.

The F3 looks pretty nice and am seeing a lot of positive stories based on the s-log update. - my attention was first drawn to the F3 when i saw a post about people favouring it over the RED Scarlet.

There is also the FS-100, which I know the least about.

If anybody is willing to shed some light, I would appreciate it a lot.
If I'm overlooking a still very decent camera from the past, i.e the F35, please let me know.

Thanks everybody
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 05:51 PM

I'd go Arri Alexa or RED Epic, those two will be big digital renters in my opinion. Though honestly, you do not need a camera to be a DoP. it would be a lot cheaper/wiser to just RENT what is needed instead of tieing up 80K in just one camera package. That money would be MUCH better spend investing in Lights/Grip equipment, which works on EVERY shoot.

if you have to buy a camera (and trust me, you don't), I'd say the Epic and Alexa are going to be in higher demand than the Scarlet/F65 and followed shortly by the F3. The FS100 is also a nice camera for the price; but aimed a much less "professional" market.
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#3 symesad

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 05:56 PM

By the time all the accessories are bought to go with a RED Epic it ends up being far too expensive, and the Arri Alexa as I'm aware is retailing for rough minimum of 100k.

I also want to shoot my own film soon too, that's why I would prefer to have the camera, I can practise my skill as I go along and slowly build up the light collection if you see where I'm coming from.

PS - I have read a lot that the Epic (in fact, any RED) does not possess much of a 'pick up and go' format.

Edited by symesad, 01 February 2012 - 05:59 PM.

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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 06:06 PM

If you want to just start out learning and shooting small side things, then why spend upwards of 80K? Why not just pick up something like a Canon 5D or 7D of 60D and shoot with that. If anything you have a tool you can also use on location scouts.
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#5 symesad

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 06:15 PM

The theory is that I'm in a position to spend that much and I don't know when I will be again, I'd like to make an investment, I may purchase a Canon 1dx when it comes out, as far as I can see it's video capabilities exceed that of the 5D Mark ii.
So you don't think much of the F3 from the same position as the 5D or 60D?
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 06:23 PM

No, I think the world of the F3, it's a fine camera, but it's expensive, and will be outdated, as all digital camera will be. So the question is can you get an ROI on what you buy before the next (f4 or whatever) comes out. If you can't, then you're spend 20K+ which would've been better spend or saved. This industry is full of ups and downs, and if you have 80K in capital you should invest it in things you can use across your career, instead of the flavor of the week. If you need to buy a camera to learn on then you must understand that you're probably not going to make too much money off of it, so you should invest more modestly. If you want a good mid-range camera then the FS100 is a good look as well, but doing a package for it (once you add in lenses) still comes out to around 23K, give or take. Same would be true of the F3, once you add in the cost of PL mount glass, which clients will be demanding for that type camera, you're used up almost all of your money and come next NAB, well there's a new camera from company X and you're kind of scrambling... This is why the rental houses exist and exist well because they can eat up the quick depreciation on their cameras because they invested in lights/grip/lenses which last longer.
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#7 symesad

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 06:38 PM

Ok you're making a lot of sense and referring me back to my original thought of the Epic package seeing as it appears to be somewhat future-proof. Or an Alexa if i'm going to spend that much money.

Buying top market would surely yield ROI in the long run.
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#8 Paul Salmons

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 11:15 PM

That is not what he is doing. What he is really saying is get a DSLR, sticks and a few lenses, some lights and maybe some audio. Learn how everything works together. Learn how shutter and aperture change your image in more ways than exposure. It takes a lot more than a camera to make a great image and all a nice camera is going to do for you is get you on bigger shoots then you are ready for and likely ruin your name as you may or may not know how to properly light a scene.
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#9 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 04:09 AM

Ok you're making a lot of sense and referring me back to my original thought of the Epic package seeing as it appears to be somewhat future-proof. Or an Alexa if i'm going to spend that much money.

Buying top market would surely yield ROI in the long run.


When buying these electronic cameras there is no long run, if you can't pay off the purchase price of this higher end equipment in less than 18 months, don't buy. There's no point in buying an Epic unless you've currently got the clients who are using it on their productions. Buy the gear that your current clients require, everything else rent in. For the lower end cameras you need an even quicker pay off period.

BTW You need to use your full real name, it's one of the forum rules.
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#10 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 07:38 AM

Why are you buying a camera at all? If you want to be a working DP, you should be selling YOURSELF and your skills and talent. IF you get hired to shoot movies/TV/commercials/music videos, you should be allowing the requirements of the PROJECTS drive the decisions on what camera(s) are necessary for that specific project/shot/budget. As soon as you purchase a camera, you're now looking for jobs that ONLY will use THAT equipment you've purchased (so you can pay it off).

For the most part, the only segment of the cameraman industry that uses the same "camera" enough to make a specific investment worthwhile are "videographers" you shoot enter entertainment or corporate or industrials. The workhorses that lasted a long long time used to be BetaSP. That shifted to Digibeta and now tend to be the Sony F900R. In some areas, the EX3 has taken over the projects that used to rely on Beta or Digibeta (and in some cases, even the F900). These are typically "run & gun" type cameras that are useful for a variety of project purposes from running around to sitting on tripods of dollies.

But regardless of what kind of projects you shoot, the CLIENT typically has a major role in deciding which format the project will be shot on. Budget is obviously a big factor but so is post workflow. You could very easily decide to invest in one expensive camera that delivers a specific codec et al, that the Producer decides isn't going to work for his project. Then what? Your camera sits at home while the production is renting the appropriate equipment for three months.

Owning a camera won't make anyone an instant DP. Cameramen are hired because of their skills, talent and personalities, not because they own equipment.
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#11 Jérôme Keller

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 03:00 PM

I don't mean no disrespect but I get very skeptical when I hear people saying things like

"I wish to start working as a freelance cinematographer/DP, but need to get a camera first."

It's like Neil Armstrong saying he wants to be an astronaut but first he has to build himself a spaceship. The spaceship part is simply not your problem. If there's nobody gonna give you a spaceship than probably they don't trust you flying with it. And even if you build one yourself with a bunch of spare parts, people will most likely put you in a nuthouse before they let you hurt yourself with it.

The cost of a DOP and the cost of the camera equipment necessary to do the job are simply not part of the same equation. It's hard enough to know about all the fancy new tools out there, let alone own any of 'em.

Always remember the golden rule: THE PROJECT COMES FIRST! It doesn't make any sense to think about the work tools before you've found any work to do.

If you just wanna learn the trade, then invest in a filmschool, there are good hands-on camera courses out there, half a year for little more than 10K.

Good luck no matter what direction you're gonna take.
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