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Hey all. Happy holidays and happy new year. 2020 is now hindsight (thank god).

First off, I have a lot of reverence for what you guys do. Many of you on this forum I'm a huge fan of, so it's an honor even in a small way to be writing this. So thanks for listening. Overwhelmed by choice overload. I tend to be a little too good at matching pros with cons and vice versa, so this amount of indecision (and the self-awareness about the indecision) has been difficult. Hence the need to reach out. 

I'll cut to the chase since I don't want to waste anybody's time. I'm looking to own a camera, thats what this is about. I've got enough $ to own a Komodo production kit with tax. I'll outline choices at the end. The purpose is for me to just feel empowered to get out and make films and work as a director / operator full time versus a owner / op who just rents his camera out to DP's other peoples stuff primarily. I do that for money occasionally the same way I color or edit or crew for people occasionally but my full step forward is towards going from one project to the next on my portfolio.

Until then, here's a lot of ridiculous background and way too much information. 

I'm a filmmaker who prefers self-operating, but mainly for the intimacy and connection with the actors and for how it helps me concentrate, not because I consider myself a proper image-maker at heart, like I'm sure some of you do. My passion is mainly storytelling, not gear, though I'm well capable of digging into deep rabbit holes of technical details if it means getting exactly what I want when I want it. Background: age 25, Burbank-native, editor primarily (that's certainly where most of my superficial skills lie) I'm experienced in that I've made shorts since I was 10 years old. My first feature did get distributed by Gravitas and won a lot of awards - so I'm not totally untalented. But it was exhausting getting there. And in general, I hate the word "content" and have no intention of being a "content creator" at all, ever. Just want to keep telling stories in the way that feels truest to my heart, and make the strongest step forward. Life doesn't make a lot of sense when I'm not making films. And I need to make films right now. 

What's been hard is not having anything to express myself with. Like many of you, I'm relegated to primarily being at home, needing to channel energy. I've got stuff to shoot, I'm always writing and working with friends on writing films. I told myself I will just rent, that the entirety of hollywood infrastructure is built upon the idea that you don't own your own gear - that its better to just own lenses, which I still do. Logically, I still believe that. Emotionally though, whats been hard is not having that tool to express myself with. I know that theres an argument to be made for todays infrastructure being different from shooting 10 years ago, that being an owner operator now especially as a young person is fairly valuable. I also know its the story, performances, composition, movement, and lighting (in that order) that makes it, not the gear. 

Furthermore, Steve Yedlin's right. Camera's today are really just data collection tools. Even film cameras are glorified boxes the film goes through. I like being a colorist and relish the freedom it gives me. But its almost a separate part of my brain. The part of me on set thats connected to the actors and the story, that's the part I wanna grow.  But still for me, film nearly always looks better. I have been fooled a few times, but only when they shot on anamorphic lenses. Linus Sandgren isn't wrong about the distortion of those being almost necessary in a twisted sort of way. His work, plus Maniac, 10 Cloverfield Lane, and a few others I find truly exceptional. If I'm to collect data, then the data I actually care about (which makes film superior) is the motion cadence of a global shutter, the ability to sandblast highlights and still have it look cool, and the ability to oversaturate or shoot in harshly oversaturated environments. That's the data set I'm looking for in a camera to own. 

Recently wrapped up a short on the Red Komodo which I made for an AFI application. Super happy with the image and versatility of R3D, which is inspiring in how it almost dares you to challenge it and push it to its limits. I love that you can beat the tar out of it in post and it never bands or splotches or falls apart. We even did a filmout from the R3D files to a 16mm sized portion of the negative at Fotokem, just to see how close Komodo could get to film, since its the first camera with films dynamic range and a global shutter. Astonished by the results - so much so I genuinely think I could film out everything I've ever done and get the best of both worlds (Most of my heroes are people who utilize the best of both, or create an invisible third option by kicking down the door) Still, something about shooting digital with that camera did not feel right to me. Could have been the stress of mounting COVID productions in general being a huge hassle, but also (while I appreciate lightweight cameras) I've never been a fan of feeling like I'm holding a DSLR. (Though BOY is it nice when you wanna shoot illegally. Had the Canon C70 existed before, my feature would have been completed considerably faster.) Tested the Varicam LT for the short first because that's been my favorite look on digital (perfect mixture of RED's cutting edge and Arri's painterly qualities) but weirdly, wasn't as good as Komodo, was heavy, and was bothered by the rolling shutter on that as well. Which was disappointing, because shooting 3200 iso in camera and NDing for exposure compensation is the closest I've seen to film grain yet. Plus Varicam colors are more Eterna than Vision3, and I'm definitely more of an Eterna guy.

I've used lots of cameras, but owned only 2. HVX200 was the camera I learned on and in some ways it spoiled me. Got used to global shutter and undercranking & overcranking and timelapse photography and thick viewfinders and shooting to tape and it's been hard finding cameras that feel that level of satisfying. Owned a c100, but was never happy with it. Most of shooting my feature was about pushing that thing to its absolute limit in every conceivable way (to the point it stopped turning on altogether). After that, I owned the S1H for a bit, mainly because of my history with the HVX200 & how much I liked the Varicam. Sold it. Got WAY too into the whole idea of kitting it out to oblivion, trying to turn it into something its not - and became unhappy. Image was lovely but HATED the rolling shutter.  Any readout 15ms or greater seems similar to the Haas effect in acoustics, where you don't truly perceive it until its in the 15ms to 30ms range. Though our eyes are way sharper (hehe) than our ears, so its probably more like 7ms or greater (at least for me). I've used lots of cameras, owned only a few. Mainly, the c100 Mark I, and the S1H for about 6 months. Unhappy with both. As badly as I want to like the EVA1, the image is beautiful, its the only camera I've ever used which actually enrages me ergonomically. That horrible plastic body and screen and clickless dial which makes menus impossible to navigate. Blackmagic is a fascinating player in the scene, and has the best menu system ever but I hate how every college kid or person my age uses them. I know you can color them to look however you want but I hate having to give myself so much to do, and I hate their lack of quality control.

My choices so far have boiled down to these 3. I'm discounting options which I believe will be useless in 10 years. Komodo seems of all the new cameras to be the one best primed for the test of time, and the Alexas proven her stripes, and film, well, film is film. I want this to be (if at all possible) the last time I purchase a camera, at least for a decade. I also hate how every manufacturer uses the word FUTUREPROOF. 

1. Red Komodo. Have the experience with it, love the image, and of course - the global shutter innovation makes it (to me) the most exciting digital camera in the world at any price level. I know people do get hired because of the Red bias, too, which is nice. Unless I get super creative though, it's gonna be forever till they actually get in stock. But: I can afford to get a decent run and gun kit, and after the initial charges, I'd never have to pay again to create, and I'd have the closest approximation to film motion cadence on a digital sensor. With that ND wheel from Kippertie it'll be great. Genuinely, I do feel its the ultimate tool for someone my age in the year 2020, if properly utilized (and yes, utilized in a way that's different from REDs design purpose). To me, it seems like Reds Mini. The Alexa Mini was a drone camera that became an A cam, too. I don't like having to lean down and look at that tiny screen, but part of me also feels this may help my compositions, and force concentration on framing better. I know I do function better with some limitations. All in all, I love the Komodo in spirit, mainly because it appeals to the more "fly by the seat of my pants" part of me, the one that believes in taking risks and stuff. The young punk, lol. 

2. Alexa Classic. I don't need the resolution (2K's my favorite) and despite me hating the vanilla-ness of that choice - there is part of me that always thought, wouldn't it be cool to own that camera and really do some more extreme photography? Overexpose, underexpose, get grainy and nasty - i do have a little devil in there somewhere that feels he would enjoy that. Plus, its the standard. Menus are easy. Love the EVF. Much closer on paper to my experience with the HVX200 than the Red Komodo. Theres an appeal in that to me being that its the closest thing in digital to cutting out the bullshit. I've heard DP's articulate how that camera more than any other just allows them to focus on their creativity and their storytelling, and not worry about anything else. I do prefer the Varicam look over the Alexa, and the built in ND's. But the rolling shutter bugs me. And an LT is pretty hard to come by used. So a classic EV seems the most compelling option in the realm of "can't go wrong". But theres self-conciousness about wanting something so "safe"

3. Shoot film. My favorite look, the look I grew up on, is Super 16mm. I dream in 16mm, honestly. Specifically, the format from the 90s forward. Nearly all of my style comes in some way from Super 16mm or super grimy 35mm. Especially in 2020 with the advances in scanning I find the look to immediately be more like the 35mm of the 1970s. It's also the only format I've never seen any successful digital emulation of. Closest was operation avalanche. And that's because they actually filmed out, so it WAS 16mm. I know there's Arri SR's for decent prices, and CP16s, and Eclairs, and despite that essentially being a form of sinking myself into an endless money pit, buying into a dead technology, etc - I've also found more community talking to film people than any other group, and theres a general focus on creativity that seems harder to find in digital (though I know it exists). Only shot on a Bolex and a super 8 camera before so I'd be a huge noob. But I loved doing it. And unquestionably I know it would force me to grow the quickest. I'm attracted to the romance of it, and the idea of proving myself on it doesn't seem scary. What I know I'll miss is getting to do multiple takes with the actors, because I adore that experience of discovering things with them in the process, and not just shooting coverage. (BTW, I loathe coverage. I hate it. ) Nearly everyone I know tells me its a terrible idea to own a film camera and shoot on film. I can't logically disagree, but emotionally I've been torn. 

One of the best arguments I've ever heard for shooting film ironically came from Michael Cioni, talking about how film still is the only capture medium with a true 1:1 quality ratio (at least when captured correctly.) That idea of pure timelessness does quite a lot for me, but I'm very much not a believer in the sake of nostalgia for the sake of nostalgia. Filming out to a grainier portion of the intermediate stock looks more filmic than any filmout I've ever seen, and still preserves the spontaneity and magic of film, without any of the limitations or sacrifices. Especially if you shoot 35mm stills on set with the same lenses using Vision3 stock, you've got access (roughly) to the filmic color space that would be present on set, too, not just that of the final "patina" or "texture". Grain is grain, its cool but not everything. Color to me is everything. 

And for the record, while I'm on the subject of film, the only place digital always falls short for me is outdoors. Something about the harshness of the sun and the slightly blown highlights and halation that comes from shooting exteriors on film always feels like my own eyes. In LA too everything is always too sunny, I like how in film, theres almost that flickering red that you get in your eyes when you've looked at the sun too long, I love how film behaves a similar way. To me, so much expressiveness comes from being able to accurately capture the environment. I love how Elswit shot digital at night and film during day. If I could, I'd do that every day for every shoot, until a solution exists that trumps either of them in isolation. But again, too much wishful thinking doesn't do anyone any good. 

Anyone who made it this far, I'd love to know your unsanitized thoughts. There's no wrong answers, nor is there a perfect choice (as much as I'd like there to me). What I'm looking for is the right set of compromises,

Thanks in any case for listening.

Hope you're staying safe out there.
Soren

Edited by Soren James
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This is going to wind you up, but anything. It doesn't matter. They're basically all great. If you can't get a decent picture out of a modern camera, the problem ain't the camera.

If you have lenses you want to be able to use, you may find the decision is made for you in terms of compatibility.

The only thing I'd caution you about is Alexa. It is huge, incredibly heavy, very slow to start up, massively power hungry, comparatively insensitive, uses expensive media, has middling sound handling at best and lacks even the most basic niceties of a documentary camera, such as ND filters. Most examples are likely to have PL mounts which means they only take huge, heavy, expensive lenses. You can probably swap that out, but it's another expense. And honestly, what really is it, in the end? A 2K ProRes camera that does 120 frames. You can get basically that in a DSLR these days.

Yes, it has "the sensor" (what it really has is "the internal colour processing") but that is, and I should emphasise this, an incremental rather than a transformative upgrade. It's nice, but it won't polish a turd.

P

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Very true! S'ok. Doesn't wind me up at all. :) Mainly curious for a variety of opinions, and to get outside my head. Valuable input. 

For the record, for me it's never about a decent image. It's only ever about a great one. Significantly beyond decent. I'm a perfectionist [shocker! lol]. Being realistic of course, not to the point of being totally unreasonable, but I'm really just looking for whats best for me specifically. Full recognition that the best for everyone is not the same; obviously, its subjective. Personally, I like grainy, aggressive stuff. Don't need tons of resolution, but; the higher the capture format, the better the downscaling. Similar to recording sound in 24 bit. You can make 24 sound like 16 bit but you can't do vice versa. Fully aware I can dig out my iPhone and shoot with that. People will surely get a rough idea of who I am from that. However, this isn't about getting a rough idea.

I'll keep that in mind about the Alexa. Makes sense, given the age. Totally. Yeah, I dislike the general noise of the camera manufacturers, I'm sure some of the appeal of shooting film is the lack of people rambling about specs. Komodos frankly the only camera I've seen besides Varicam and DXL go toe to toe with the Alexa and look as good, just different in flavor (Coke vs Pepsi). 

By the way, your quote at the bottom is hilarious. 

 

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42 minutes ago, Phil Rhodes said:

This is going to wind you up, but anything. It doesn't matter. They're basically all great.

I agree. These cameras are all better than most of the content we put in front of them. It's only if you do a bad job lighting or are pushing the boundaries of the medium like Lubezki in Revenant (and have millions of dollars of post budget to relight your image) or something where the slight advantages of the Alexa become relevant. And it will always be obscenely power hungry and very heavy.

On the other hand, film, Alexa, and even the newer Red cameras have a baseline "good" starting place, which not every cheaper cameras does, even though cheaper cameras have caught up technically.

I own a 4:3 Alexa Plus and Aaton LTR-X and am shooting my next short on an EVA1. (But it does take a bit more work imo to get the colors I want from it. But a LOT less work on set.)

Most of my work is in post, and that's another issue to consider. An Alexa is heavy on set, 6K raw is heavy in post. 

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Funny you say that! I've had no problems whatsoever with R3D in Premiere Pro, and my computer is buggy and terrible as hell (for a first gen trashcan mac, that is).  Totally! Yeah EVA1 can be quite beautiful once you get it into the right color space. One of the things thats tough is Varicam LT always felt like the camera for me. IDK what it is about it vs the EVA1, they should be the same, but they're not. LT just has this thing thats hard to describe. Textures a good word I suppose (though totally overused)

Another camera I've been seriously impressed by every single time I see it is the MAVO. Anyone shooting on that?

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2 minutes ago, Soren James said:

Funny you say that! I've had no problems whatsoever with R3D in Premiere Pro, and my computer is buggy and terrible as hell (for a first gen trashcan mac, that is).  Totally! Yeah EVA1 can be quite beautiful once you get it into the right color space. One of the things thats tough is Varicam LT always felt like the camera for me. IDK what it is about it vs the EVA1, they should be the same, but they're not. LT just has this thing thats hard to describe. Textures a good word I suppose (though totally overused)

Another camera I've been seriously impressed by every single time I see it is the MAVO. Anyone shooting on that?

I was REALLY impressed by the Varicam LT when I worked with it in post, the EVA1 less so. Then the S1H less than that. 

There is some difference for sure. 

The best option is probably renting. 

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The purpose is for me to just feel empowered to get out and make films and work as a director / operator

If this is your goal with getting a camera then in my opinion, the  Komodo is the easy favourite. Nothing will empower you more to get out and make films than not having to fight your gear every time you're out. Like Phil said, the Alexa is a giant chunk of old camera and film is another beast entirely. 

Quote

Another camera I've been seriously impressed by every single time I see it is the MAVO. Anyone shooting on that?

I've got a buddy who owns and operates a MAVO, if you have any specific questions I'm happy to ask him for you.

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As previously stated, it doesnt really matter as long as the camera doesn't get in your way. You should probably add FX6 to your list. It might not be as sexy as a Komodo, but it sure seems to be a real shooters camera. Also, there are great deals on Ursa Mini G2 and C200s. Both have incredible images when shooting raw.

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Ho yeah. G2's the one I have the hardest time with, and am debating the most as the 4th option. That camera was basically made to be the ultimate box ticker in every category except for basic in camera image quality - which I just don't like. There's no greens or deep reds in any of the blackmagic cameras, yet they still have that magenta cast thing. But to be fair, the G2 is the one of theirs I like the most, I've seen some really lovely footage. In general, especially after working with BRAW, I see the appeal. It's all about how you grade it, even more than other camera, BMD's are like excuses to use Da Vinci. Was surprised when we ran the Komodo against the BRAW how close they were, closer than they had any right being, once you brought them into the right color space. But R3D is the greatest format ever. The RedFilmBias LUT inside the komodo gives some of the most pleasing colors I've seen, even better than Varicam LT, which previously had my favorite reds and greens. I will never need more than the trillion colors of a 16 bit image. But yeah the G2 is a pickle. Literally everything about that camera I like. High speed options are ridiculous, quality options all I've ever wanted, and the greatest menu system ever designed. It's ergonomically exactly what I want. An movie machine you can put on your shoulder that doesn't kill your back. Especially the in camera under and overcranking on a sliding wheel, man thats so fun. That's the thing. Ursa G2, of all the cameras out there, just seems FUN.

But I cringe whenever I see the image in shootouts. And honestly, the biggest reason I haven't pulled the trigger on it (I came very close once before) was simply imposter syndrome. It sounds dumb, it is dumb, but it's still true. Don't want to be a young person who owns a blackmagic camera. It's like what everyone expects me to use because I'm young and I can't afford A or B. I dislike how easily identifiable and mediocre Blackmagic footage is (with 90% of the people who use them at least). Biggest reason I haven't gotten one is because I have a tangible aversion to being labeled as a young guy that got a blackmagic camera. They sometimes seem like the Rokinon of cameras to me. Or the Gap. If they're so legit, how come no real movies use them as their A camera? I know they used it on Fury Road. But nearly years of camera manufacturing and they still aren't really in movies? Even the Varicam has stuff to show. Digital Bolex too. But yeah. There's a high likelihood it may be the G2 I end up going with. It's just got everything I'd need. Provided I get one that doesn't stop working after a single shoot (happened on the G1 on a friends shoot, brand new, too. Blackmagic literally gave the guy a "Sorry, can't help" after he sent it in. )

FX6 has a lot of cool features (the internal "variable ND" though makes no sense to me) I do like the option of outputting the 16 bit. But I remember the FX9 coming out literally like it was yesterday and even that camera seemed fishy to me. It's a 6k sensor that can't ever output 6K? Seems like a waste of money. By contrast, the FX6 certainly is appealing. What I love about it is the size. It's the perfect size. I legitimately hate that its the same sensor as the A7sIII because I am no fan of the A7sIII, but the color processing seems weirdly better on the Fx6. A solid option, I'll surely look into it. Should definitely point out the most comfortable camera I've ever used was the Venice. I love that camera and the look. It's just weird. It's almost like Venice got made in secret or something, it's so excellent and ahead of every other sony camera. I'll look into it, but no internal RAW is definitely annoying. Better than the C70 though (at least the Fx6 HAS external) Plus 16bit > 10 bit. 

C200 I was super into 5 years ago when I was shooting my feature (mainly because anything seemed better than the C100). I like the RAW I've seen from it. And I'm definitely not one of those people who needs the 10 bit. I'd be shooting RAW all the time. I certainly like the personality of the c200, the image is nice too in camera, lovely skin tones. Not as lovely as the Panasonics but more than the c500 mark ii (which I'm sorry to say I legitimately do not understand the popularity of, it seems to be a an enviable set of features trapped inside a hideous image and a truly hideous body. Still have yet to see one shot from that thing that looked good.) The Canon's though are fragile. You can't really attack the images the way I like. Haven't decided, but the biggest reason that'll be a no in all likelihood is it seems like a really questionable investment given its already kinda dated, lost over half its price, and its only a few years old. Plus, no slow-motion playback, even of the 4K 60, and the rolling shutter is 15ms. I am not cool with that. And frankly, if the C70 had raw, it would blow that thing out of the water. C70 drives me insane it's like everything I wanted in a guerrilla shooting camera 5 years ago but didn't have the money for. 

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I went the film only route in 2015. I was tired of the offerings with digital cameras, none of them at the time really interested me, they all had major issues. So I said screw it and when I found a good deal on an Aaton LTR, I jumped on it. Because I already worked in the industry, it was very easy to find people who wanted to rent it, so I was making money off it right away. A year later, I already had upgraded to an XTR Prod and bought a bunch of glass. I eventually got a few 35mm cameras and started renting for larger productions, but they didn't make enough money and I was broke at the time, so I sold nearly everything and only kept the good cameras. I have two main packages; XTR Prod with Optar Superspeed's and Aaton 35III 3 perf that I mostly use two Rokinon Xeen's with and rent zooms whenever I need them. Here in Hollywood,  it's easy to rent the cameras, they're constantly making money, which is great. We also have a lot of support from Andree Martin to Girvan over at Abel Cine. So parts and support is easy, just need to know your way around cameras. I have easily paid off my purchase from the rentals and buying/selling used cameras. I don't think you can do that anymore, I was at the right place at the right time.

Today, the camera prices are too much in my opinion. People are keeping their film cameras and the few that exist, are getting crazy money for them, which is sad for people who want to start out on film, but good for the value of people who own cameras. 

So what to do? Komodo, it's that simple. Don't get near anything else currently. I can't even explain to you, how good the Komodo is over-all. Being able to tell a client you're going to shoot their show in 6k and being able to use pretty much any lens you want, is a HUGE benefit. I love the form factor, the normal storage solutions, the decent amount of accessories which aren't too expensive. For $8k you can get into a compete package, add some low-cost DSLR glass to start with, you're good to go! 

Film is fun, all I do is shoot is film, but unless you have a lot of clients dedicated to working on film, it's not worth it. The camera will sit around and you'll always have to come up with money to use it. Having a digital camera enables you to go out and shoot stuff without worrying about stock, processing, transfer and all the ancillary things that make film tricky to work with. I have spent 6 years building a community of filmmakers, labs, providers of stock and transfer houses, so that my personal cost to work on film is literally peanuts. I would not be able to shoot film otherwise, it's too expensive. You'll be 8k into shooting a short film on 16mm and wondering why it's gonna cost another 10k when you could have had a Komodo. 

So yea that's my story... 100% Komodo. Stop what you're doing, invest, shoot, build a great demo and then when you have money, rent a Arricam LT for your first big show. 

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Thank you Tyler! As always, really providing clarity where it's needed. This is extremely helpful to no end, and exactly what I was looking to hear. Completely relate to, sounds like you were very much in the same place not that long ago. Could NOT relate more about the black hole of camera specs and manufacturer noise. Trying to find ways to carve my way out of that is difficult when you've only known the industry during intense periods of flux. Needless to say, it's invaluable hearing anyone who's been there before and what they have to say, but it's especially invaluable when there's an industry as wildly changing and all over the place as this one is. Amazing to just think how much has happened in the last year alone. Your opinion is very valued, and I thank you for it. Huge huge help. And you bet. In any case, I most certainly will be shooting proper on the Arricam the second the moment arrives and my clients got their priorities in the right places. 

Komodo it is, then. Here's to 6 months of backorder waiting YEEHAW.

Thank you all, gentlemen, for the kind and thoughtful counsel. Keep shooting, stay safe, and talk again soon. 

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I believe the best bet is to rent out cameras if possible but it is just a choice. Also the Komodo has CMOS and Global Shutter using CMOS is relatively new technology. However , I am not sure how frequently one would experience rolling shutter effect (jello) in limited FPS. Even in global shutter the camera would be limited to 120, unlike a Phantom. Also 6K$ for body only and single card slot without xlr inputs, bit pricey . Moreover, it has compressed RAW formats and ProRes is limited to HQ internally.
I am not trying to say Komodo is a waste or whatever, just that if I had the money I would go for URSA G2. 10-12 bit ProRes should be enough to take stress in post imo.

If the target is 6 inch color inaccurate phones or say some TV screens then most of the mid-budget cine cameras will do the job,however, if it’s for a 70 feet IMAX or True HDR displays then one would need much more than ‘ just a camera ‘ I believe.

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Thing is, no matter what camera you're using, even IMAX - whatever image you make needs to be look good on a 6 inch telephone.
To me, I think that's means you need higher standards of framing composition and lighting, because whatever you do needs to translate to the simplest of viewing platforms. Furthermore, in America (unfortunately) the average movie theater has a screen that's less resolution and less color accurate than the average HDR home TV. So here at least, the average viewer is getting more of a high quality experience, literally, in their living room. Of course, we need to catch up to the rest of the world. But sadly, even when that is, no putting the cat back in the bag.

Totally! I get where you're coming from, but you've got to use it. I've shot on Komodo, on Varicam, and the Ursa Mini (though only G1 and the global shutter is flawless. In fact, its so flawless it's almost subliminal. Using it is less like using a traditional CCD global shutter and way more like if cameras like the Alexa or the Helium never had rolling at all, even when pixel peeping. It's strange. Makes a lot of other cameras, even great ones, look dated, or faulty. Granted, with G2s and Alexas and Heliums, not faulty on a level the average person would see.

But that motivations never made much sense to me. If we're going based on the average persons eyesight, why try at all? 90% of great film audio engineering goes completely unnoticed. That doesn't mean you don't try to capture everything you can in 24 bit WAV or higher. If you played back a 24 bit file to someone, then played back the 8 bit or 16 bit equivalent, they'd think you were nuts. They'd think that at least, until they tried editing it. Stretching it. Adding plugins. In those moments, every bit counts. And frankly, a 16 bit raw container is infinitely better. 

R3D raw is a little scary. It makes every raw format obsolete. Arriraw is cool but even then, its a 14 bit container, and it murders your system. Furthermore, the Komodo even at its highest compression (LQ) is really 6:1. That's crazy. I shot my whole film in HQ, i.e. 2:1. The data was nuts. But I was able to do things with that footage no other camera has let me. The global shutter doesn't feel like a CION, or an HVX, it feels like a camera from 20 years in the future where all cameras all global shutter and people have stopped caring or noticing. ProRes is nice for convenience. And yeah, I'd like 4444 or XQ. It'd be cool. But thats firmware update material. And its not as important.

I watched the eight episode of the new twin peaks on my phone and didn't leave my bedroom or sleep the entire night after. Effective visual storytelling is effective visual storytelling. You put up the Stargate scene from 2001, it still looks better than anything you've seen. In my opinion, the importance of creating a memorable visual look for an audience that watches on a tiny screen is even more important than that of those who create for IMAX. It's a kind of crutch. Controversial opinion, sure. But still.

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17 hours ago, Soren James said:

 

You're kind of talking against yourself from the first post though. If cameras are data collectors, when just go with whatever. But I do understand and agree that it's not that simple.

If you don't wanna be a young guy with a Blackmagic, you certainly don't wanna be a young guy with a Komodo. I would love to try out the Komodo myself, but for the most, it's lacking a couple of features that I hold dear on my Canon. And while we're on the C200, have you spent some time with the footage? I find it can take a good beating before breaking down.

No matter where you end up, it's a great time to be a filmmaker. It sounds like you are leaning towards the Komodo. Go for it. From what I've seen, it's basically the same image as the Gemini.

And I assume an Amira is out of the budget? If I could go Amira, I certainly would.

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Posted (edited)

Oh yeah. Amira's are all at least 25,000 dollars. You can bet I looked at that one. Even then though, Amira and Alexa look more Kodak to me out of the box, and I'm an Eterna Vivid guy. But I agree with you. To me, both are true, it's important to hold both the importance of getting something good in the box, and the importance of having a good data set for post, and balance them. Cameras are data collection devices. But some have more valuable data sets than others. For me, being a guy that's obsessed with equaling the spirit of film, even more than just the surface texture, the data set provided by the Komodo is actually kinda obviously superior. In more ways than the specs suggest. You wanna replicate the dynamic range of film right out of the box with zero compromises (or as close to zero as possible?) You need 16 stops (film clearly has more than 14 to my eyes, but I'm no expert) and a global shutter, right out the gate. At least if you're a perfectionist. And keep in mind, if the Komodo is far from my dream camera.

My dream camera is the Komodo's raw and global shutter, the in-camera grain of the Varicam, the viewing color space of the Amira, and the highlight versatility of film, all in the body of an Aaton XTR or an Arricam LT. Frankly, it doesn't exist. I didn't like working with that screen, didn't love the kit that the guy I rented from put together, and found certain parts of it frustrating. But frankly, I'd rather be a young guy with a Komodo because young people aren't the only ones using Komodos. I can live with some degree of separation from the worry of being perceived as the average young person with a Red because of that reality that many of my heroes, Soderbergh included, shoot on Red. As for the Gemini, I'm aware it has more range on paper, but some of the image doesn't speak to me, and there's actually a few comparisons I've seen where it looks hideous to me. The reality is, you gotta work with them yourself. Gemini I know is the most underrated of the pack. Sensors clearly got something under the hood I can't see.

But for me and my purposes, Komodo seems to have deeper reds, cleaner blacks, and a more pleasing image overall. Not as pleasing as the DXL2 (which to me with the Monstro sensor, is the current gold standard). But certainly the most pleasing besides the Amira of course. The differences are more in taste at that point. And honestly, I've still yet to see any digital camera shoot spherical that looks as instantly perfect as the crushed black 3-perf Slovis shot on Breaking Bad with Vision2 or the skip-bleached newspaper look of Three Kings or the faded Ektachrome of Buffalo 66 or the sandblasted stocks Soderbergh shot in Traffic, or the punchy high speed super 16mm of Primer. Film reveals itself the most when it's truly not treated as sacred. The closest I've seen to filmic spherical is some of Danny Boyle's work on Slumdog and 127 hours. 

As for the C200, I'll admit, I haven't spent as much time with it in post as I'd have liked, but I'd be really suprised if it took the kind of beating I give my images without falling apart at least a little. I'll rent and see for myself. 

 

Edited by Soren James
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Owning your own camera to rent and owning your own camera to shoot projects are two very different things.

If you're looking to get hired because you have a camera, then you'll need the top name brands: ARRI or RED. At that point you're joining the carousel of the rental business; you'll need to always have the latest version of the name brands. It becomes a bit of a losing battle for small owner/operators.

If you're looking to have a great camera for personal projects, then get the one that will meet the final delivery demands of the personal projects you want to make. (I assume most likely 4k DCI) At this point, the world is your oyster.

The Komodo seems like it'll tick off the boxes you're looking for. Red's color science has gotten substantially better over the years, particularly with IPP2.

My recommendation: Get the Komodo!

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Posted (edited)

True! I do not intend to be an owner/operator to join the rental carousel, lol - I just want to own my own camera to shoot projects. It would of course be nice to get hired for having something nice, sure - but that's more secondary. Main thing is to create.

Edited by Soren James
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I've never been a huge fan of Red but (quite deliberately) it's been a long time since I picked one up with any serious intent. From what I've seen the company has always prioritised marketable resolution numbers over all else, and the pictures have never been that pretty.

Personally I avoid raw formats for no reason other than that I don't think it's good philosophy for the industry to be divided into walled gardens like that.

I have Blackmagic for complicated reasons but I like it very much. It's not necessarily what I'd choose, although it's not necessarily not what I'd choose, and I'm honestly not sure what else I'd choose. If you think Blackmagic gives you an image problem, though, I can't imagine where you'd be with Red. They have skulls on them, everything's called "bomb" and "weapon" because somehow that helps, and I believe that anyone using one is contractually required to pepper their conversation with the words "like," "gnarly" and "dude."

P

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Well I was in a similar situation with my girlfriend a couple of years ago. 

We are also filmmakers and started small. So we used our DSLR at first but we were getting frustrated with getting an 8bit compressed image. So we started looking at cameras we could afford.

Let me say that we were not making enough money off it to justify buying something expensive like a Red or an Arri in either case. 

So I started analyzing stuff and trying to figur out what would be best.

We were considering buying a Sony or an EVA1 or even buying a recorder to just record of our Nikon DSLR.

But then Blackmagic came out with he Pocket 4K.

I actually needed another 8 months to fully figuro out which to choose and in the end I decided for the Pocket 4K.

Now here's the kicker why. 

Any other camera C300 or even C100 or EVA 1 all of them seemed like they either needed an external recorder anyway or we'd be getting only a marginally better result than what we had anyway.

But with the Pocket 4K we actually got a cinema camera that just between the time we were waiting to get it started saving data in braw. At the same time we could use it very rigged up if we needed it or we could use it in a very basic way.

It has shown itself to be a really great cinema camera for our needs which is motalo music videos and short films. Basically stuff like that and the ability to shoot a form of raw is great. Yes it has it's problems mainly the battery life and that we need to use focal reducer but then again it hasn't been that much of a problem.

From what I understand the Red Komodo is something similar but a lot more expensive with a couple of really nice features. 

Personally I've been thinking of upgrading to the 6K but in the end it would only mean more data and at this point there's no need for that.

Best of luck with choosing your camera.

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