Jump to content


Photo

Need help deciding what to spoil or not on...

Lens Lights Equipment Amateur Student Help Toronto

  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 Philip Kim

Philip Kim

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 2 posts
  • Student
  • Toronto

Posted 26 June 2014 - 11:52 PM

Hi Cinematography.com,

 

I'm a second year film student and an aspiring cameraman/D.O.P. 

I am currently working as a junior editor at a production house for the summer, and am wondering what I should invest my money on once I've compiled enough when school starts!

 

At the moment, I am wondering if I should invest in two decent lenses, lights, filters, and grip stands instead of a camera body such as GH4 + lens. The reason is because I will have another year of school, which means access to cameras such as F3 (Hell even Bolex h16) till April 2015 + 6 months graduation equipment rental blessing from my college, and by then I'm kind of worried that the next best deal will be released. Also I am not too crazy about 4K resolution or slow-mo... I'd much rather prefer that Wes Anderson X Robert Yeoman look or films by Hirokazu Koreeda. (I am a wide-lens fanatic) 

 

So my question is, would it be a wise choice to invest in equipments other than a camera body? Or should I be focusing my attention on something else? I'm hoping whatever I will squeeze out of my 5 grand will help me on the long run rather...

 

If you can help me with my inexperienced and confused self, then it is very much appreciated. 

THANK YOU. 

 

 

 

 

 


  • 0

#2 John E Clark

John E Clark
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 846 posts
  • Other
  • San Diego

Posted 27 June 2014 - 01:38 PM

I'd recommend going for a GH-2/GH-3, or even a GH-1 at about $200-500, with basic lens like the 14-140mm zoom that is part of the GH standard packages, and then get lights, and accessories. And then shoot the hell out of that equipment over the next year.

 

Sure, you can spend $1700 or more on the GH-4, or a Canon 5DMKIII (popular with some set of people)... but for that same amount, you can get a camera that will do for the next year, and lights that you can learn to use effectively.


  • 0

#3 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11937 posts
  • Other

Posted 27 June 2014 - 06:54 PM

Almost no matter what happens with cameras, lighting and grip equipment remains relevant.

 

Cameras come and go. GH4 is shiny, but in six months there'll be something else. And again. And again.

 

P


  • 0

#4 David Peterson

David Peterson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 166 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Auckland, New Zealand.

Posted 20 July 2014 - 01:04 AM

You're lucky your school gives you plenty of access to equipment.

But even so... I feel it is important to have a camera of your *own*. As when you own one you get to know it so much deeper, than one that you just rent or book out.

So I'd suggest you pick up perhaps a cheap Panasonic GH1, they are going second hand on eBay for under US$200!

*NOTHING* in this price range can come close to matching what the hacked GH1 can do! (heck, I have used both a GH1 and a 5DmkII and I much prefer the GH1 for filming with! And one of those is waaay more expensive than the other...)

This way you then have a very cheap camera of your own to use throughout filmschool. And only after you graduate, go splurge out on a nicer camera. How long is your course? We might be up to the Panasonic GH6 by the time you graduate!

 

The other alternative, is go for a camera which is a bit of a midway point in price and performance between a GH4 and a GH1. The top choices would be: Nikon D5200, Sony A6000, or Panasonic G6 (a new G6 is in my opinion a much better value option than a used GH2 which goes for about the same price). One of these would be quite nice to have over a GH1, but are less important than simply *having a camera*. Any camera! Even an old Panasonic GF2/GF3 will do (that you can find for as little as fifty bucks second hand if you hunt for it)

 

Because having a camera always at arm's reach which you can pick up and use at a moment's notice is so much more handy than your school's equipment, which even if you live on campus will still mean a half to the faculty, filling out forms etc... before you can shoot it.

And the easier you make it so you can just get up and go shooting, the more you'll do of it! And the more you do, the better you'll become. Practise makes perfect!

So while you don't have to blow every cent on getting the best camera body that you can, because you've got the filmschool equipment available, I still feel you should get "some sort of camera".

 

Then once you have your camera (and a basic lens or three, you can pick up set of 3 c mount primes for it brand new for less than a hundred bucks!), either don't spend a dime more and put the rest in an Index Fund (or whatever is your prefered place to keep savings) until you graduate. *Or* you could spend the rest on equipment, but in areas that hold their value longer. Thus once you graduate, your equipment will still be a big asset for you.

A tripod is a good place to start. The technology around tripods is fairly set in stone, and will not change or advance too much over the next five or ten years, or even longer.

This guy gives great advice for students and others on a budget:
https://www.youtube....h?query=tripods

Personally I got a Fancier FC-270A (and the taller version with longer legs), which I really like. And also got the Beike BK-777 as well, because it is soooo much lighter!

 

You might think lighting is another good area to invest in too, but I wouldn't be so sure, with how very very quickly moving LED and battery technology is going forward. It could be a quite different world in another 5, 10, or 20 years from now, than what it was the same time ago in the past.

You've got a total budget of 5 grand, after buying a GH1 (or even a G6) that still leaves an awful lot on the budget. I'd perhaps (if it wasn't going into an Index Fund...) just be putting almost token amounts in each category just to get them covered. Then put the remaining half in that Index Fund!

So for instance:
Panasonic GH1/G6 + lenses + tripod + reflector + 3x Yongnuo YN-300 LED lights (with batteries) + Tascam DR-60D + Rode NTG-2 (depends on your approach to sound though... you could just get a SG-108 for thirty bucks if you want to be very frugal, and a Tascam DR-05 or Zoom H1 recorder).

Now depending on how much you spend on lenses (anywhere from a hundred bucks, to several thousand), this set up could cost anywhere from comfortable under your budget to only a tiny tiny fraction of your original budget.

 

For lenses, I recommend the Nikon F mount (as they have the most versitile use in their ease of adaption to other mount, so they'll be fairly "future proofed" in that you can take them from one system to another) unless you go with the 3 C mount lenses which I suggested beforehand (on eBay: 25mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.7, and 50mm f/1.4 for a total cost brand new of about a hundred dollars. This is what I went with when I first got my GH1). The good thing is lenses depreciate far slower than camera bodies, so they'll hold their value well (if you buy second hand you may even see their value appreciate over time!).

A suggested list would be:

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 (or the cheaper Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8)

Nikon 50mm f/1.8D

Rokinon 85mm f/1.4

 

Together with a standard adapter and an RJ Lens Turbo, this would have you very well covered for a wide range of needs.

http://www.personal-...m43-adapters/p1

 

These gear suggestions I've given you'll still find useful after graduation no matter what, even if there is a flashy "Panasonic GH8" or you are shooting with a "Sony F8" (some made up sucessor to the Sony F5) or who knows what!

As they'll always find a place somewhere, be it as back up equipment, or loan equipment for friends, or as a "crash cam", or to take when on holiday (or any other risky situation, not just the beach!). And if you do sell them a few years from now, their prices are such you shouldn't lose anything much on the deal.


Edited by David Peterson, 20 July 2014 - 01:09 AM.

  • 0

#5 Philip Kim

Philip Kim

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 2 posts
  • Student
  • Toronto

Posted 22 July 2014 - 12:03 AM

Hey guys,

 

Thanks for the great insights, I really appreciate the inputs!

And David, I will definitely look into your suggestions~ I'm going to be graduating next year, and still struggling to find out how to break into the industry haha... 

 

I've been renting and testing, shooting and having fun with various lenses the past weeks and the ones that definitely caught my attention are the Rokinon primes and Zeiss Planar 1.4 primes! I love their textures and contrast qualities, and am planning on getting at least one or two of them. I do have a Nikon D5100 which I frequently use for photography and occasional shoots, it's just that the kit lenses and the 50mm prime feels like they are wearing out after 2 years of shooting (Feeling unamazed and bored by their performances slowly...)

 

I did do a short with the Zeiss lenses Nikon mount on F3 and it has amazed me by far!! And I have seen some deals on Rokinons that come with Videography tripods and ND filters so I'll definitely look into those too. 

 

Only thing is that I really want my own light set so that I don't have to haul equipment rentals from school back and forth with so little time given when I only end up using only a key light and a reflector or a fill light. What would be some of the options for just a head or two? I would like something as hot as a Red Head 800w (was planning on buying one until I heard bad reviews about them...) for beaming stuff through the window or lighting up a room, and something fairly controllable and soft, perhaps that as the Yongnuo YN-300 LED light? I was planning on splurging a little more on lighting accessories like diffusion/CTB gels, Chinaball, a dimmer, etc... Please correct me if I'm looking at a wrong direction, I feel clueless as I speak... 


  • 0

#6 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11937 posts
  • Other

Posted 22 July 2014 - 03:52 AM

Redheads are basic, but they're more or less the entry level standard. Were the complaints you heard about redheads in general or one particular manufacturer? Either way, you can't really go wrong. They're very flexible, and although tungsten halogen lighting is dwarfed in efficiency by more modern things such as HMI (which is very expensive) and LED (which has various problems), tungsten has advantages as well. It's cheap, it doesn't cause flicker when shooting off speed, it doesn't produce strange colour issues, it restarts when hot, etc. Suggest you don't discount redheads entirely.

 

Right now, if you just want to own something of a camera, get a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, no question. They're only $500 at the moment. They have their faults, but if you just need to own something usable, it's very nearly a no-brainer at this point. They're totally capable of decent results. As I said before, your concerns over things becoming outdated are very valid and I don't personally own camera equipment largely for this reason. Lights, flags, etc are a much better idea because they remain relevant almost no matter what camera equipment does. But it probably doesn't perform as well as, say, an F3, and if you have access to one of those, you may choose not to buy a camera at all and that would be a totally reasonable decision. Or, if it's a pain to go and pick up that stuff, pick up a Blackmagic.

 

If I were you I might look at getting some redheads or some sort of set of tungsten fresnels, which are a bit more controllable but a lot more expensive. The Chinese stuff may be fine. I take the attitude, often, that if I want something, I'll buy a cheap one, then if I use it enough that I manage to wear it out, perhaps it's then time to get an expensive one. Same goes for the LED lighting, especially since some of the best-known brands aren't actually anything terribly special themselves. But I'd also definitely get some flags, bounces, diffusion, etc. The trick is not really in how much light you can blast at things, but how you can control it. Stands, clamps, grip arms and the like are almost always in cripplingly short supply on small independent sets and you would do well to make sure you have a few.

 

Yes, OK, it doesn't sound so impressive when a friend of yours has a GH4 and your response can only be "look at my C-stands", but you'll probably be producing better-looking stuff.

 

And don't spend $5k for the sake of spending $5k. It isn't a money-spending competition.

 

P


  • 0

#7 David Peterson

David Peterson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 166 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Auckland, New Zealand.

Posted 24 July 2014 - 12:43 AM

I would recommend getting a few LED lights. Ones like the YN-160 are ridiculously cheap. Surely they're nowhere even close to the quality of lights used on Hollywood features, but student personal projects on a small scale, they're a fantastic tool to use to help drill in the lighting basics by regularily pracitising with your own lights.

 


There are other LED lights to consider too, I'd recommend checking out Nitsan's channel further, he does great reviews on lots of low budget equipment.

 

I do recommend buying things in very small bites. Don't buy ALL the lighting gear that you think you want, all at once. Buy just a couple of items, then use it on your next short film production, then get a couple more. And so on, and so on. You don't really know what you need or even what you want at the start, but as you go along you get a clearer and clearer idea.

This applies to most things too, not just lighting. Any kind of equipment, try and breaking it down in to smaller parcels if you can. And go at it bit by bit.

 

 

I've been renting and testing, shooting and having fun with various lenses the past weeks and the ones that definitely caught my attention are the Rokinon primes and Zeiss Planar 1.4 primes! I love their textures and contrast qualities, and am planning on getting at least one or two of them. I do have a Nikon D5100 which I frequently use for photography and occasional shoots, it's just that the kit lenses and the 50mm prime feels like they are wearing out after 2 years of shooting (Feeling unamazed and bored by their performances slowly...)

 

How about the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G? Is very good value, and is a nicer focal length on a DX than a 50mm, especially for casual shooting. As it is a normal width (vs a 50mm which is a short tele on a DX).

 

Certainly getting one of the Rokinon primes (though I regard the Sigma and Tokina which I mentioned above as a *much* higher quality lens at their focal lengths than the Rokinon equivalents, but the Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 is worth it) or other Nikon F lenses would be a good starting point to spend something on. They won't drop in value like a camera does.

And you can keep on using them in the years to come, on personal projects, micro budget films, or if you go freelancing (such as for corporate/wedding/music videos).

 

 

I did do a short with the Zeiss lenses Nikon mount on F3 and it has amazed me by far!! And I have seen some deals on Rokinons that come with Videography tripods and ND filters so I'll definitely look into those too

 

 

Don't buy those package deals!! They're usually poop. Upping the price by adding a bunch of junk into it, that you could just as easily by separately and cheaply yourself. Or even not buy at all.

 

When it comes to a low budget tripod for a student I recommend the Fancier FC-270a and Beike BK-777, which are the two I own myself. Though personally I find myself using my monopod with a fluid head on it more often! They're just so handy, lightweight, and quick to use (plus sometimes a tripod can be a little too "sterile", while a monopod is steady while having just enough movement to it for a bit more organic look as it isn't as locked off).

 

 

 

 


Right now, if you just want to own something of a camera, get a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, no question. They're only $500 at the moment. They have their faults, but if you just need to own something usable, it's very nearly a no-brainer at this point. They're totally capable of decent results.

 

Agreed, go get one ASAP if you're thinking about it! Crazy good deal. I don't even care if Blackmagic Design announces another amazing camera in a few more months, this is too great a deal to let pass by. Or at least that is my attitude, I purchased on last night! If I'd had the cash I would have got THREE of them for doing wedding films with this season (especially now that the latest firmware lets you do ProRes LT, so you can record for hours and hours onto a single SD card).

 

But I have to emphasize, if you are thinking about getting a BMPCC, do it ASAP. Because they're very very quickly running out. I'd recommend going with Adorama like I did over B&H, as then you should hopefully have a weighting time of weeks rather than months.

 

Otherwise, just keep on using your current D5100, with skill you can sitll make nice stuff with it. I saw recently a fellow NZer share this on FB:
http://sylvaincoppens.be/nikon/

Though stepping up to the Nikon D5200 is a big leap, Nikon really stepped up their game starting with the D5200 (it is waaaaay ahead of the Canon competition). And the Nikon D5200 is the one I'm using.
http://www.eoshd.com...on-d5200-review
http://www.eoshd.com...tag/nikon-d5200


  • 0

#8 David Peterson

David Peterson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 166 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Auckland, New Zealand.

Posted 24 July 2014 - 12:54 AM

Just realised it might sound like I'm implying getting a D5200 is a good idea. Well, it is! A very good idea!

But not for you.... should've made that clearer rather than perhaps accidentally implying that. As if you're more focussed on filmmaking and you already have the D5100, I'd lean towards getting a Panasonic G6, GH4, Sony A7s, A6000. or BMPCC over a D5200.  I went for the D5200 personally as it is a lot cheaper than those newer offerings and/or they hadn't been released yet, and because I not only wanted a very good video camera (by DSLR standards of course, let's not compare it with a Sony F55 :-P ) to replace my very very well worn Panasonic GH1 (still is such a great camera! And gets use to this day), but I also wanted an upgrade for my photography camera which had been the very long in the tooth Nikon D50. So the D5200 was in my situation, the perfect combo to kill two birds with one stone.


  • 0



The Slider

Technodolly

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

Visual Products

CineLab

rebotnix Technologies

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

FJS International, LLC

Ritter Battery

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Metropolis Post

Glidecam

Aerial Filmworks

Abel Cine

Wooden Camera

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio

Opal

Wooden Camera

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Ritter Battery

Abel Cine

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Paralinx LLC

Tai Audio

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineLab

Visual Products

Technodolly

Aerial Filmworks

CineTape

FJS International, LLC

Opal

Glidecam

Willys Widgets

The Slider

rebotnix Technologies

Rig Wheels Passport