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Personal camera for working DOP


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#1 Oron Cohen

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 02:32 PM

Hello Everyone, 

 

Have a question that is mainly aimed for cinematographers that do films and TV fiction with a budget. 

 

Usually on set you'll use equipment from a rental house: Alexa, RED, 35mm etc. 

 

Also most DOP's don't own camera equipment. 

 

My question is, do some of you have a small camera that you use personally, mainly for fun or small personal stuff? a camera that if you travel to a different country to shoot, so after day ends or before it begins you shoot a bit of the place or when you're with your family you film the kids with? 

 

Would be great if people share what they use, BMPCC? DSLR? GH4? or just an iPhone...

 

Also, the one's that share which ones, please share if at any point you decided to use that camera as a B or C camera (even though, if the project is well budgeted I guess it's not needed). 

 

 


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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 02:55 PM

I have a BM Pocket camera but it doesn't come out for personal shoots though I often kit fee it to productions. When I'm traveling i tend to just use my cell phone and my Nikon FM. Granted, though I don't do video or personal projects as such since i'm a DoP and not a director; but stills, stills are interesting.

 

Should add, if i were to do a "personal" project, say shooting stuff for my own reel, which I've never done but some do, or maybe playing with a timelapse or something, chances are I'd call up a rental house and try to get a camera out and run it as a real world test.


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#3 Albion Hockney

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 03:05 PM

yea I shoot stills. always have something ....right now 35mm SLR has been the choice.


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#4 AJ Young

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 05:22 PM

It's not a bad idea to own a DSLR as a DP. It's not expensive and can be used for very small projects.

 

The 5D is a good old classic, but the newer DSLR's are equally good and better.

 

I would recommend full frame over any smaller sensor; photography lenses work with no crop factor on them.

 

A DSLR can be helpful with visualization on tech scouts (or the actual shoot if you don't mind carrying a DSLR around). They're also great B-cams or crash cams.


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#5 Rakesh Malik

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Posted 15 July 2015 - 01:16 AM

Photography was my road into cinematography, so I always carry at least a small camera with me when I travel. These days it's a Sony a7r, which with a 35mm f/2.8 lens fits in a small point and shoot pouch that I can secure against my torso for when I'm climbing mountains, plus a Sony 4K action cam that I can secure on my helmet during climbs and glissades, good for technical sections and glacier traverses where you can't really stop to pull the camera out. I keep the action cam's remote on my wrist for easy start and stop... I just wish it had better battery life.

 

Of course, I also like shooting wilderness, nature, and wildlife... so I carry a cinema camera on most of my trips.


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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 15 July 2015 - 03:31 AM

I hate carrying a personal camera while working. I can't really divide my brain like that. I do use my iPhone a lot for snaps since it is easy to use and feels less serious. When traveling, I'll usually bring a Pentax MX with a 35mm f/2 or 50mm f/1.4 plus a bag full of film (been using Cinestill 5219 a lot lately).

I own a 7D, 5D Mk3, Hasselblad 501C, Canon Scoopic 16M, and a Moviecam SL. The 7D I now use for tech scouts due to the sensor size, 5D only for video, Hasselblad rarely for travel/landscape/architecture/portraiture if I'm feeling ambitious, Scoopic for home movies, and SL will be for specs and shorts (unused as of yet).

I want to like the DSLRs but I just can't get into them at all. I don't enjoy shooting with them and I don't particularly like the images I make with them. Clearly, a lot of people use them to produce beautiful work, but I have a hard time doing so. I got them to rent out and shoot with, and for that they have been very useful. But I'm happy to leave them at home as much as possible because the film cameras give me exactly what I want.
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 July 2015 - 03:34 AM

I can't tell you how much I agree with Satsuki on never being happy with the images i get off of  DSLR. In fact the only think I like them for in the least are long exposure night stuff when i'm out somewhere basically just enjoying an evening and snapping some b/s stars for the hell of it.


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#8 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 15 July 2015 - 07:28 AM

I often bring a Nikon D300 DSLR with me to set (though more so to location scouts) to use primarily as a Director's Viewfinder (the S35mm sized sensor is great for that). I always mean to get some decent BTS photos with it, but never have time to when on set (surprise, surprise).

 

I've been thinking for ages that it'd be great to have something like the Sony RX100 that could literally fit in your pocket, but take high-quality photos when you have a spare minute between takes. Haven't got round to it yet though.


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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 July 2015 - 02:38 PM

I am kinda tending towards some of those weather-proofed/waterproofed nikons/olympus that are around-- something a bit rugged I don't need to worry about and can put on my belt maybe. Who knows, maybe Santa will bring something.


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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 15 July 2015 - 05:48 PM

I have a thing for toy cameras. I really like the Kodak ZX1. You can shoot 720p 60fps slo-mo on it. (There is even a 120fps mode hidden in the firmware but I havn't managed to enable it yet) You can shoot 30fps and speed it up in camera to preview timelapse stuff and the cameras virtually come free because you get an AA/AAA battery charger and two high power AA batteries with it.

 

Everyone thinks it's a phone if you take it out and about, for some reason they always seem to think it's an iphone in spite of the fact it looks far more like a small nokia phone from years ago. I get people asking me how I mounted my iphone on a tripod!

You can use it with magnetic lenses for extra primes, and just sling it in the bottom of a bag or purse or something.

 

The big downside is it's 60hz only and there is no 24fps but it's a lot of fun and I prefer the images to a lot of fancier cameras even the better Kodak cameras which have more pixels but worse colours

 

My other fave is a toy camera that shoots 240fps at 0.4K!

 

If it was something a bit more serious then maybe the GH1 with the hack.

 

Freya


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#11 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 15 July 2015 - 08:35 PM

I have a Mamiya RB67 6x7, and a Super 23 6x9. I also shoot 35mm, and use my iPhone for everything else


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#12 David Peterson

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Posted 16 July 2015 - 04:02 AM

Depends entirely on what you want in a personal camera?

Do you want a raw capable camera for tiny personal projects? Then get a BMPCC.
Want the dirt cheapest possible camera with still "good" image quality? (so that you're not too invested into it) Then pick up a Panasonic GH1 for US$150ish (or a Sony NEX-5N).

Do you want an amazingly awesome bridge camera? Then check out the Sony RX10mk2!
Do you want a tiny camera to keep in your pocket which is still rather decent? Then pick up any of the Sony RX100 series, or the Panasonic LX100 (or maybe even... stick with your cellphone! Smallest one of them all, as you'll already be carrying it). 
Want a tough camera to capture your sporting activities while on holiday? Then consider a GoPro.

The possibilities go on and on.... all depends on your needs/preferences.

I do agree with the earlier comment, in this day and age, all DoPs should own a camera of some sort. As then they can shoot at a drop of hat any little passion shoots they might like to do on a whim, without needing go to the cost/hassle of renting. 


Edited by David Peterson, 16 July 2015 - 04:05 AM.

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#13 Oron Cohen

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Posted 16 July 2015 - 05:18 AM

This has become rather fascinating little thread!

 

First I learned that many of you guys don't shoot any personal moving images apart from your work for others or at best shooting on your iPhone which is actually what I'm doing now.  I've actually heard of dop's that like to shoot personal doc project, experimental films, shooting person diary and of course family films etc, but I guess that most DOP's don't really care much about filming more stuff on top on what they already do, as well as the fact that dop's main work is lighting, and if there is no lights around, I guess it gets kinda of boring? 

 

Secondly I learned that many of you guys carry around a still camera and love taking still pictures, this was not my original question at all, but it was very interesting to hear, I'm a huge fan of photography, and I love taking photos and actually have 4 cameras at the moment: Rollie 3.5F, Minox 35GL, Nikon 8001 and Yashica FX-3. 

 

I Also have a DSLR (Canon 60D) which I carry around to use (as many others as said) mainly as director's viewfinder, this also connects me to other comments being said by Satsuki and Adrian that I can't stand using this camera for Video. 

 

I will add that originally my question was more aimed towards the ones that work on higher budget stuff, it's interesting to know if they feel like they want to have some sort of a video camera in their bag? or they can't see themselves filming anything Personal during production or even off production? 

 

- Freya, That's a great insight on the Kodak camera, I never really heard of it, I'll defiantly try it out! 


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#14 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 16 July 2015 - 05:25 AM

Hey I'll have you know I've done things with budgets in the Millions of Dollar range (if we're talking Zambian Kwacha) ;)
 

I will add that it is when there are no lights around (or not enough) that I personally enjoy being a DoP the most.

For myself, i think we DoPs are creative vampires, and we need to feed off of the creativity of those around us on set-- the director, actors, PD, gaffer, etc. It's not that we don't love making things, I do at least and I sometimes get ideas for awesome little projects (which I have no interest in directing in the least). Rather, I at least, don't find satisfaction in creating in a vacuum. I am much happier knowing the director and I are making something interesting which we both value than, say, filming a personal doc project.


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#15 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 16 July 2015 - 09:40 AM

There’s a great New Yorker profile on Gordon Willis from the late 1970s in which Willis says the only images he takes in his personal life are small Instamatics on point-and-shoot cameras. 


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#16 Rakesh Malik

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Posted 16 July 2015 - 11:11 AM

I identify with both sides of the "working with others" thing. I love being on set because the collaboration invariably leads to superior work (more expressive, more engaging, and more sophisticated at the same time). The better the crew, and by "better" I really mean, "more collaborative," the better the result. I've had great results with people who had no clue, but were hard-working and eager to learn all they could (and by teaching them what *I* could, I ended up learning a lot).

 

At the same time, I love the solitude of travel and adventure, and have done some of my best work when it was just me and the mountains or penguins. When I'm a solo crew, there are obvious tradeoffs; I have to limit the amount of stuff I can carry in the back country, so it means I don't carry a jib, slider, gimbal, and that sort of thing, so I have to make up for not having all that gear with exceptionally careful and inspiring compositions.

 

It's good mental exercise though; when a single frame has to be able to stand by itself, it forces you to raise your standard for visual storytelling. I find that working in solitude with just a camera and tripod enhances my visual skills, while working on set with a full team opens my mind. They feed off of each other. Otherwise, I think that my growth as a cinematographer would have been much, much slower than it has been.


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#17 David Peterson

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Posted 16 July 2015 - 12:06 PM

There’s a great New Yorker profile on Gordon Willis from the late 1970s in which Willis says the only images he takes in his personal life are small Instamatics on point-and-shoot cameras. 

We however live in a RADICALLY different world when it comes to accessible affordable cameras which you can easily carry with you all the time and use at a drop of a hat. 

I'm 100% certain if he lived now instead and was asked that question again then his answer would be very different. 


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#18 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 16 July 2015 - 06:26 PM

I think there's a fallacy in thinking that just because you can do something you will do it.


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#19 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 16 July 2015 - 07:06 PM

I really like the pocket cameras because they're unobtrusive. For documentary/TV work, they're awesome because they look like still cameras and nobody knows you're shooting cinema-quality material. Plus, I can fit my two cameras, 4 prime lenses, mono-pod, viewfinder adaptor, mic's, audio recorder, gel's/diffusion and tools, in a small backpack. I can get on location and setup almost immediately,which is quite unique. I've shot two TV pilots and gobs of documentary work with my pocket cameras since I got them 18 months ago and I love 'em for down and dirty work. I'm a huge fan of the URSA mini and will try to throw one on a budget for a feature I'm slated to shoot next year. That will be my "A" camera, but it won't travel with me, it won't be the "grab it and shoot" sorta deal. I'll bring it out for bigger shoots and that's it. I just want the bigger imager more then anything else. 

 

Though I must admit, with the prices of 35mm cameras dropping like fly's… I may try to go that route someday as well. 


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#20 Oron Cohen

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 12:22 AM

I really like the pocket cameras because they're unobtrusive. For documentary/TV work, they're awesome because they look like still cameras and nobody knows you're shooting cinema-quality material. Plus, I can fit my two cameras, 4 prime lenses, mono-pod, viewfinder adaptor, mic's, audio recorder, gel's/diffusion and tools, in a small backpack. I can get on location and setup almost immediately,which is quite unique. I've shot two TV pilots and gobs of documentary work with my pocket cameras since I got them 18 months ago and I love 'em for down and dirty work. I'm a huge fan of the URSA mini and will try to throw one on a budget for a feature I'm slated to shoot next year. That will be my "A" camera, but it won't travel with me, it won't be the "grab it and shoot" sorta deal. I'll bring it out for bigger shoots and that's it. I just want the bigger imager more then anything else. 

 

Though I must admit, with the prices of 35mm cameras dropping like fly's… I may try to go that route someday as well. 

HI Tyler, 

 

Thanks for your reply. 

Are you a DOP or Director? in your title it's says director and your answer suggest you haven't read my original post or follow up post, I really want to keep this thread on track as even though the comment is well appreciate it's really off topic. 

 

If however you want to contribute form a director perspective and tell us about dop you worked with that had a small personal camera NOT for shooting a film please do. 


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