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#1 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 08:05 PM

Somewhat of a "microphone or preamp" debate, at least I hope it's close.

 

Say you have $10,000 for a camera-lens tandem (in the realm of digital) would you take a $2000 body and $8000 (zoom)lens?

Or an $9000 body and a $1000 lens?

 

Strictly from a final viewer's perspective, ignoring workflow for right now. At a glance do we appreciate the depth glass can bring to an image? Or would raw color and dynamic range from the sensor be appreciated sooner?

 

Thanks for any and all input.


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#2 Jay Young

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 05:09 AM

Meh.. I've been thrilled with the images I've gotten out of digital cameras that were limited to a 12-stop dynamic range.  People mix Alexa's and Blackmagic all the time because the color is very good on both. 

 

I would go with the more expensive lens, personally.  All things being equal, if the more expensive camera body has the same features as the less, one might only be paying for brand. 

 

However, often one is also paying for reliability, so there is that. 


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#3 aapo lettinen

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 05:17 AM

if you need cine mechanics then it might be more valuable to get a good lens IF your current camera body is good enough. remember that you may not be able to update your camera any time soon if you use all the money for lenses. 8000 is not much for a cine zoom though and if you can manage with modified stills primes I would maybe choose a 5000 or 6000usd camera and 5000 or 4000 usd for lenses or even less. 

with glass it's more of a matter of mechanics and look, not the optical performance. you could manage perfectly well with modified still lenses even for 4k theatrical release if you can make the mechanics and possible chromatic aberrations and different bokeh  and flaring work 


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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 07:22 AM

I"d go full cine lens honestly. A body is so cheap to rent.


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#5 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 03:02 PM

Define "cheap". Every body I see online is $800 for the first day.


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#6 Kyryll Sobolev

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 03:16 PM

i'd go for a 10k lens...

you can always find a body. if you are established in the industry, a friend may loan one. if you are in school, you can probably get one from them.

 

the trick with camera is that you will always need extra bits to make it fully functional, and those extras add up mighty quick.


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#7 aapo lettinen

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 04:22 PM

the main problem with cameras is that you need to update them at least every 3 years or so (even 1.5 or 2 years depending on the model and what you use it for) but you may use the same lenses even for your whole professional career and good lenses may be updated every 10 or 20 years or so. it is thus much easier to waste money on cameras than on lenses, you'll probably change the camera body at least 4 or 5 times before changing your lens set if you like those lenses and use them often. 

however if you are doing certain type of low or mid budget work or lots of indie stuff or live far away from rental houses or need to have a specific camera model which is expensive or difficult to rent compared to the purchase price, then it may be wise to purchase a camera body... even if you have to sell it and buy a new one after 2 years you may get the purchase price 5 or 10 or 20 times back during that time depending on what type of work you do with it. cameras need to work like mad continuously, then be thrown away and replaced. lenses need to be taken care for and serviced and maintained for decades. that is the main difference I think


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#8 aapo lettinen

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 04:27 PM

Define "cheap". Every body I see online is $800 for the first day.

a perfectly usable mid level semi pro camera like FS7 or Ursa Mini 4.6k or Red One MX can cost here something like 200 - 300 euros a day + vat including media and batteries, you can surely find something similar in States


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#9 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 04:55 PM

But you can get some of those for like only 3-4 grand, at that point it's so low what's the point of rental? At least that's how I've been taking it.


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#10 aapo lettinen

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 05:14 PM

But you can get some of those for like only 3-4 grand, at that point it's so low what's the point of rental? At least that's how I've been taking it.

 

for me the difference is that I can charge next to nothing for a camera body if I own it by myself but if I need to rent a camera for a project, the customer will pay 100% of the rental fees. so for me it is much cheaper to rent because of that, I only own cameras and lenses which cannot be rented at all in my area or are so cheap to purchase that a 2 or 3 day rental would be same than the purchase price. like with camera stabilizers, I purchased a used steadicam for 600 euros and daily rental cost for similar type of equipment would be about 300-400 euros a day, plus it would have been impossible to learn to operate it if not owning the rig.

 

owning a expensive camera has the pitfall that you have to shoot all your projects with the same camera to make it affordable, that may be OK for most projects but it really sucks when you know you would do much better with a different type of equipment but cannot afford to rent it because all the money was invested to the one system you own  :o  

"married with the camera" for the 2 or 3 years or so. if you are doing lots of different style of projects it may not be practical at all to own a expensive camera system... maybe something handy for b unit or c camera stuff but nothing overly expensive. same thing with lenses of course


Edited by aapo lettinen, 19 April 2017 - 05:23 PM.

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#11 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 05:16 PM

 

the customer will pay 100% of the rental fees. so for me it is much cheaper to rent because of that

 

Yeah that's where our situations differ lol. All my clients are too damn cheap to cover stuff like that.


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#12 aapo lettinen

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 05:45 PM

 

Yeah that's where our situations differ lol. All my clients are too damn cheap to cover stuff like that.

 

they still pay you a reasonable compensation for the equipment I hope? then it would make sense to own a zoom or two, some stabilizers+gimbal and stuff like that. a low day rate may not matter because lenses don't go obsolete quickly like cameras do


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#13 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 06:46 PM

Lens, every time. The lens will last as an investment. The camera, much less so.


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#14 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 07:59 PM

 

they still pay you a reasonable compensation for the equipment I hope?

Ironically enough, I make more money on commissions for things that don't require gear of any kind. So far the compensation I've gotten on camera related things has been ripping me off.


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#15 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 10:04 PM

Sounds like you need to negotiate those rates better.

Also you're looking at about 10K+ for even an URSA mini camera Package that you can shoot with without lenses to a level that you may get some kind of rate for it; but here in LA, for example, a full PL Ursa Mini can be had with some CP2s for about 350/day. Same for a Red Dragon, basically.


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#16 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 10:05 PM

Sounds like you need to negotiate those rates better.

(or just find more work in general)


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#17 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 10:40 PM

Strictly from a final viewer's perspective, ignoring workflow for right now. At a glance do we appreciate the depth glass can bring to an image? Or would raw color and dynamic range from the sensor be appreciated sooner?


If you're asking about the average viewer, then I doubt either would make a massive difference in their appreciation of the finished product. I think great locations, strong compositions, and good lighting would matter more.

Now, there are some images that a fast prime lens can make which a slow zoom simply cannot. Same with a camera that has a wide dynamic range versus one which clips very quickly. And some cameras can can capture a wider range of colors than others. So in that sense some equipment can help you out to a noticeable degree, but it's really situation-dependent.

If you're asking what a cinematography-savvy viewer would appreciate in an image, then I think they would notice image problems first. If there are no obvious problems, then I think the actual work of framing and lighting would stand out. Then over time, some might pick up on the lovely character of a particular lens, the smooth highlight rolloff of the sensor, or unusually deep color response.

Some obvious image issues:

1. Dynamic range - harshly clipped highlights that would normally be there. Also, excess color noise in the shadows.

2. Colors - skewed or unnatural colors, especially in skin tones or other recognizable subjects that we see every day.

3. Soft focus - an image that is slightly out of focus, or just seems to be consistently mushy without anything ever coming into focus.

4. Too sharp - seeing every pore and wrinkle on someone's face, every fly-away strand of hair.

5. Imaging artifacts - moiré, aliasing, macro-blocking.

6. Lens distortion - bowing lines which should be straight, faces looking fat or skewed, circles looking ovoid.

7. Rolling shutter/motion cadence artifacts - too much/too little motion blur, skewing distortion on moving objects, partially exposed frames from flash bulbs, flickering monitors and fluorescent lighting.

Now, you could use each of these things to artistic effect, but without context most viewers would find these images distracting. Once you are working with gear that isn't causing unintentional distractions or isn't getting in your way, then I don't think the specifics matter as much.
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#18 Brenton Lee

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 05:46 AM

Man, I'd spend $500 on a second hand BMPCC from eBay, then spend $9500 on glass and accessories.


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#19 aapo lettinen

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 07:51 AM

Ironically enough, I make more money on commissions for things that don't require gear of any kind. So far the compensation I've gotten on camera related things has been ripping me off.

 

maybe the lens would be a better investment then, it will pay itself back much slower but there is also less risk because it lasts much longer than a camera body would do. 

 

I tend to charge a low fixed rate for my gear when working on projects (most often a set of Nikon AI-S lenses, the steadicam, onboard monitor, tripod and some misc stuff like filters) , you can try similar approach with your customers if you have problems getting enough compensation and you already have most of the gear paid off. you could charge for example X amount of dollars per day for your gear and if the project needs something extra it can be rented at customer's expense. when getting more gear you will raise the daily rate depending on which type of gear is in question and how expensive it was to purchase.

 

the projects I do have normally budget for renting lighting gear, camera bodies, etc. but cine lenses may be too expensive for the customers so I can use my own lenses and the needed additional gear I have for X euros fixed rate to help them out with the budget. that usually works very well but does not create enough revenue that I could buy any expensive lenses at those rates. it allows, however, me to keep a collection of special nice looking stills lenses and other gear which is virtually impossible to get from rental houses so that I can create special looks for projects easily. if I would own for example a set of Master Primes the customers would not pay much extra for using them in the production I shoot (and they might think it being a bit dishonest if I would try to force them to take the expensive lenses if I would be both the rental house and the DP on the same project) but for lower priced gear it has worked very well


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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 10:38 AM

Man, I'd spend $500 on a second hand BMPCC from eBay, then spend $9500 on glass and accessories.

 

Word.


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