Jump to content

Lessons you wish you would’ve learned about purchasing equipment


Ryan Ivy
 Share

Recommended Posts

I am at an impasse. I have approximately ~$14k to get used lenses, a used camcorder, and all other corresponding accoutrements.

However, I have a very hard time allocating funds because I lack the experience to understand what makes big differences in production/enjoyability due to my location not having rentals.

I know that I want to have EVF and have seen a variety of older camcorders that seem suitable for feature/documentary use, however…

Where do you prioritize your expenses on equipment? 

What is the best advice you’ve received about equipment?

What systems would you never use again?

Thank you in advance for any responses.

-Ryan

Link to comment
Share on other sites


1 hour ago, Ryan Ivy said:

What systems would you never use again?

I will never want to use Nikon cameras again for video. the manufacturer falsifies the specs to scam the customers and the Z6 had design faults which could not be corrected with firmware updates, leading to impaired video performance. I was so happy when I got the Z6 sold and was able to switch to Panasonic, even when I lost a lot of money on the deal

Link to comment
Share on other sites

when choosing the equipment, you really need to know what you will want to do with it. otherwise it is impossible to do any good gear choices and you are wasting most of your money on stuff you are not really using that much in the end.

if you are not able to rent good lights or borrow gear for the projects, I would use about half of the budget on g&e. Then taking the rest of the money and using about 50% or so on the camera body. the rest goes to the lenses, batteries, memory cards, etc. accessories. If you need to record the audio by yourself you will probably need to spend something like 1.5k to 2k on basic audio gear and need to take that into account.

that should get you going for the first half a year or so until you start to get money from the gigs and can then start purchasing more gear if needed. Keep in mind you need to be able to update the camera body every 2 years or so no matter what and there needs to be enough resources to shoot with the gear too, NOT just using all the money on gear and then keeping it in the closet for not having enough money left to shoot anything with it 🙂

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Ryan Ivy said:

However, I have a very hard time allocating funds because I lack the experience to understand what makes big differences in production/enjoyability due to my location not having rentals.

on the previous post I suggested using about half of the budget on lighting and grip gear if you are not able to rent them and need to have your own. Having good lights and being able to use them cleverly makes a lot of difference especially if you are competing with videographers etc. folk who are not very experienced doing cinematic lighting and are making basic "good enough" video lighting setups instead. Additionally, most of the g&e gear lasts 10 to 20 times longer than the camera body...

basically think it like you are marrying the lenses and g&e gear but the camera body is just a guest staying in your house for a year or two until it has to go and a new camera takes its place. OF COURSE you can keep it too but you will NOT use it much in the end... either you sell the old one or it stays on the top shelf and is used once or twice a year. Good lenses and g&e gear is used EVERY DAY.

think of the camera bodies as consumables. it is like a uninterestingly looking basic used car, you will love it until you get a better one and it has to go then because you will not personally drive two cars at the same time and even if you have multiple cars, you will still mostly use the one you like the best and the rest of them are just staying around unused most of the time

Link to comment
Share on other sites

30 minutes ago, aapo lettinen said:

if you are not able to rent good lights or borrow gear for the projects, I would use about half of the budget on g&e. Then taking the rest of the money and using about 50% or so on the camera body. the rest goes to the lenses, batteries, memory cards, etc. accessories. If you need to record the audio by yourself you will probably need to spend something like 1.5k to 2k on basic audio gear and need to take that into account.

Thank you for your insight. I value experience over specs any day. 

I own a 4 piece Arri fresnel kit and lightstands , a couple of c-stands, gels, diffusers, etc. nothing too extravagant, but on a small budget seems workable enough. From what I’ve gathered, lighting seems to be an after thought, so, I appreciate you reinforcing the value and added perspective of g&e.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 minutes ago, aapo lettinen said:

basically think it like you are marrying the lenses and g&e gear but the camera body is just a guest staying in your house for a year or two until it has to go and a new camera takes its place. OF COURSE you can keep it too but you will NOT use it much in the end... either you sell the old one or it stays on the top shelf and is used once or twice a year. Good lenses and g&e gear is used EVERY DAY.

This is such a great way to explain this! That really makes sense of it, thank you the analogy. This is where I am trying to decide over decade plus bodies and then putting more money into lenses while accounting for follow focus, matte box, or upgrades in tripods, sliders, or other tools of the trade that add to the signature of a quality production. I see so many hairs being split between differences and ask myself what makes most sense in the long scheme of things. Kind of like, an 80s Toyota Land Cruiser utility functionality and durability over a Land Rover Disco series II or the likes. Basically, I don’t want to have to reinvest in everything each  time something goes kaput. Friends have affectionately dubbed my desire for finessing the right balance to a Goldilocks disorder of controlling and getting everything. 😅

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you're putting the horse before the cart a bit. You want a really different kit for a small DIY shoot than you want for a bigger set. Or even one movie vs the other. Most of the time I think Alexa is a good choice, K35s are valuable I think because they are a nice look on Alexa, but if there were one right answer everyone would be using the same thing. (They kind of are, though: Alexa.)

The difference between an A7S3 and Venice, I think, is in small part image quality, but far more than that it's how one is designed for an individual to shoot high quality video and the other as an A camera for Top Gun 2. The Venice has a great image btw.

Even lenses are this way. What's the difference between Nikkors and rehoused Nikkors? Ergonomics. And a ten times price increase. 

I agree with Aapo completely about camera bodies. Not trying to start brand warfare because I like the image from the latest Red cameras but "obsolescence obsolete" ended up being the opposite – an upgrade path you had to keep buying into to stay current. 

To me the easiest answers to how quickly cameras diminish in value is buying cameras that last (like a 416 or maybe a Mini LF – but having a concrete business plan whereby the value is greater than just renting) or are cheap enough to be replaceable.

The difference in image quality between an Alexa and mirrorless used to be a lot. Today it's not nearly as much. More ergonomics.

I would say I don't see the appeal of a follow focus unless you have a first AC but unfortunately for me I actually do need one I think for some of my lenses but I wouldn't invest in less than the best there, Arri AKS or similar. I have an MFF-1.

But I also just wouldn't buy AKS until you need them. Imo unless you have a thriving business or a plan with which to build one, grow in real time with the projects you are on. (Then end up with an Alexa lol.)

Until then, what kinds of things are you shooting and with how big a crew? What look do you want? Easier to give specific advice.

The cheaper cameras like an S1 or fp or A7S3 or P6K and cheaper lenses like Nikkors can get you like 95% of the way to the image quality from a cinema camera on top of which they are much much EASIER to use without a crew. 

 

Edited by M Joel W
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am currently shooting documentary etc. stuff on Panasonic S5 and Z-cam E2C (the S5 being the main camera and the e2c used if the environment is hazardous for the camera kit so that I don't want to risk the more expensive S5 on the high risk shots like over water / underwater stuff, or if the smaller sensor is useful like if wanting to shoot with b4 mount tv zooms) . The sensor image stabilizer is a killer for documentary stuff and one can shoot very high quality material on the S5 if using a external recorder. Additionally one can use almost any lens mount via adaptors with it unlike on almost any of the "cinema oriented" camera bodies where changing a different mount is either totally impossible, a very difficult permanent replace or at least requires unscrewing the old mount and bolting another mount in place, then checking ffd etc. which in all takes maybe from 15min to half an hour if you are lucky so not a 30 second job like when using a mirrorless photo body like the S5.

In my use it is critical to be able to use both EF mount, Nikon mount and PL mount lenses quickly on the same shoot and the sensor stabilizer is very useful and thus it made lots of sense to buy a mirrorless photo camera body instead of purchasing for example the Pocket6k which does not have any of these features.  Additionally the S5 consumes way less power than any of the "cinema oriented cameras" so I can survive almost the whole day with two small batteries.

So it really depends on what you use the camera for. I am very happy with the mirrorless as a main camera because I have special requirements for the camera body which differ a lot from the uses the cameras like the Pocket6k or the Ursa Mini are designed for which are the more obvious choices for the "normal indie filmmakers" who want a camera which looks very good on paper too 😄

if looking for a mirrorless body I would choose something recent from Sony, Canon or Panasonic and purchase lenses which can fit on the body with adaptors. Then when you will change the camera in about 2 years or so, you can keep the same lenses and most of the accessories when having chosen them wisely so that they are compatible with other camera systems too.

If looking for a traditional follow focus, I would look for a used Chrosziel studio follow focus. the used older models typically cost only couple of hundred usd and they are perfectly suited for any professional use still. For example I use one of the old early 90's models Chrosziel ones fitting 15mm lw rods, I think I paid about 250usd for it and it is as good as a new 1000+ usd follow focus even when being nearly 30 years old

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For most indie projects I don't see that much use for the older +10 year old camera technology like the Red One, the original large and heavy Alexa bodies and the first generation Red dsmc cameras like the Scarlet and Epic MX.  The newer Red sensors are pretty OK still but the price point is not very competent compared to the current new offerings in the same 5k to 10k price range.

The Alexas and Amiras are 12+ years old sensor technology as well as the Red MX sensors and the camera bodies are relatively awkward and power hungry with extremely limited low light capabilities.

I think one of the only old technology camera bodies worth looking for is the Sony F55 for its very handy intermediate mount system and good sensor (not very low light capable but the colours and dynamic range are pretty nice) but only on the condition you can get it for cheap, preferably with the raw recorder included. Most of the other stuff is technologically obsolete and one will be much happier purchasing a completely new camera body instead.

One needs to calculate for being able to replace the camera body in about every 2 years. Meaning that one needs to get the money back from it in about 1 year. If you have a REAL USE for the camera body and it is correctly chosen for the application you can get the money back from it in from 3 to 6 MONTHS and the rest is just profit (or in most cases, purchasing more nice gadgets for it).

If it takes years and years to get the purchase price back from the camera body you are doing something wrong. The thing I fear is one purchasing a old camera body which was the hottest thing ever 10 years ago but not getting much gigs with it and never getting enough back from it. The idea is to NOT purchase the coolest camera you have always wanted to shoot your projects with, the idea is to purchase the MOST PROFITABLE camera body and getting your money back as soon as possible, making it a very good investment even if it was not the sexiest and coolest camera on the market you had the possibility to get 🙂 

don't worry about getting a boring camera which pays itself back immediately (making you happy even if it was not the Alexa or Epic) . Camera bodies come and go. You will soon update and forget you even had that camera in your hands 😄  (the S5 is my 6th Panasonic camera so far I think)

Edited by aapo lettinen
  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I own a lot of higher end (and impractical) gear and something like the S5 (or I have the S1 which does 6K internal recording) gets remarkably close. In some ways even better.

I do think the Amira is a viable option, or maybe the Komodo, but otherwise agree with Aapo the way to go is an S5 or A7S3 etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Premium Member

I always get nervous when I see young people spending money on equipment and don’t have a market to use it in effectively. By buying all of this gear, you are already starting in a deficit. I personally wouldn’t part with the money until you have a market to use it in. In the meantime, you can hone your skills without the expense by using older gear or even borrowing a camera with a fixed lens. I can make better images with my iPhone than most amateurs can with a $2000 camera. It’s not the gear but the talent behind it. 
 

G

  • Like 5
  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Premium Member
6 hours ago, Ryan Ivy said:

However, I have a very hard time allocating funds because I lack the experience to understand what makes big differences in production/enjoyability due to my location not having rentals.

The big questions/problems are what do you wanna do with the equipment. Is this personal work? Is this professional/pay work? Is it narrative or documentary? Do you care about audio? How bout lens/accessory cost? How about resolution? Do you care about a cinematic shallow depth of field? Do you care about size of the camera. Also, why do you care about the size? 

6 hours ago, Ryan Ivy said:

I know that I want to have EVF and have seen a variety of older camcorders that seem suitable for feature/documentary use, however…

EVF's are extremely important. I don't really shoot with cameras that can't be configured to have some sort of "shaded" direct to eye viewfinder of some kind. Back in the day 

6 hours ago, Ryan Ivy said:

Where do you prioritize your expenses on equipment? 

It all depends on the work. Just "having" a camera to shoot anything with, is one thing. But if you actually want to work with the package, if it needs to be more than just "a camera" then you really need to think about the entire package. This may include wireless audio for interviews, it may include a mattebox/filter system and follow focus. It may include a shoulder rig for smaller cameras that don't shoulder naturally. Every part of the package is important, tho the imager (color science) on digital cameras is generally the part that creates the image. So finding a camera that fits all the aspects I pointed out above, is generally where I start. If the camera itself won't work for you, then what's the point? The ENTIRE package is the key, spending high dollar in one area vs others, doesn't make much sense. 

6 hours ago, Ryan Ivy said:

What is the best advice you’ve received about equipment?

Don't own good/professional equipment. To which I 100% agree with.

I think it's a waste of time and money.

I gave up trying and bought a DSLR so that at least I can shoot something personal if I need to, but the majority of the time, the camera is used for stills. So my digital kit is basically a stills kit. 

6 hours ago, Ryan Ivy said:

What systems would you never use again?

Anything with a low bit rate internal recording codec, should be entirely outright ignored. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Anything with a low bit rate internal recording codec, should be entirely outright ignored. 

Generally speaking one would want to avoid shooting under 150Mbps and shooting 8-bit codecs nowadays unless one really needs to save on hard drive space or if the editing computer is very old and one needs to edit it quickly with it.  For documentary use the 150 to 200Mbps 10-bit codecs of the S5 have been pretty OK and I can hook it up to a external recorder if needed to shoot proresraw or proreshq or 422. The E2C shoots variable bitrate 4:2:0 h265 10bit with max. 300Mbps bitrate which works pretty well even for cinema release on most typical content.

10bit makes pretty huge difference when using the typical compressed codecs if the bitrate just is enough for 10bit.

422 makes visually a tiny bit sharper image than 420 but the difference may not be apparent in the end product and it is extremely rare that the viewing conditions and equipment for the end product would be such that anybody in the audience would actually see the difference except maybe if having done pixel peeping for living for years like I have.

The 10bit vs 8bit difference shows especially well if shooting log to capture more dynamic range but risking a bit more compression artifacts and banding at the same time.  150Mbps is just barely enough for 4k 10bit inter frame if the image content is easy enough for the codec and in very difficult content the codec will break at 150Mbps but for short films targeted for festival use etc. the more ideal bitrate would be something from about 250Mbps minimum

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Premium Member
5 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

Generally speaking one would want to avoid shooting under 150Mbps and shooting 8-bit codecs nowadays unless one really needs to save on hard drive space or if the editing computer is very old and one needs to edit it quickly with it.  For documentary use the 150 to 200Mbps 10-bit codecs of the S5 have been pretty OK and I can hook it up to a external recorder if needed to shoot proresraw or proreshq or 422. The E2C shoots variable bitrate 4:2:0 h265 10bit with max. 300Mbps bitrate which works pretty well even for cinema release on most typical content.

Yea 8 bit isn't even on my radar, not even gonna use an 8 bit camera ever. 

R5 we have is 12 bit raw or 10 bit HEVC. 

.h265 is a problem with X86 intel systems, it's very slow compared to .h264. Apple fixed this with the built-in HEVC encode/decode engine on the M1 chips. It's outstanding how good it is. Really makes that codec sing. 

The 12 bit raw recordings are very good tho, they are just impossible to play back due to the R5 being 8k and again, stupid X86 issues with encode/decode. 

5 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

422 makes visually a tiny bit sharper image than 420 but the difference may not be apparent in the end product and it is extremely rare that the viewing conditions and equipment for the end product would be such that anybody in the audience would actually see the difference except maybe if having done pixel peeping for living for years like I have.

Yea, you'll see 4:2:2 v 4:2:0 in any solid colors. So if you have a background that's red or blue for instance, you'll see tearing around any other color, especially white. So if you use a broad range of colors in the background of an interview and not be creative with it, you won't tell, that's correct. However, 10 bit 4:2:0 is kinda unheard of, so it's not a big deal due to my requirement being 10 bit minimal. 

5 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

The 10bit vs 8bit difference shows especially well if shooting log to capture more dynamic range but risking a bit more compression artifacts and banding at the same time.  150Mbps is just barely enough for 4k 10bit inter frame if the image content is easy enough for the codec and in very difficult content the codec will break at 150Mbps but for short films targeted for festival use etc. the more ideal bitrate would be something from about 250Mbps minimum

With .h264 410Mbps is quite common for 4k 10 bit 4:2:2, like the Canon and Sony XAVC-I format. 

With .h265 150Mbps is quite common for 4k 10 bit 4:2:2 like our Canon R5. It looks very good, but is not as fluid to edit as .h264. It's unfortunate that none of the smaller cameras have the 410Mbps XAVC-I codec, they all can't deal with the bandwidth. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, M Joel W said:

I think you're putting the horse before the cart a bit.

You’re staring into my soul. Story. Of. My. Life.

19 hours ago, M Joel W said:

having a concrete business plan whereby the value is greater than just renting) or are cheap enough to be replaceable.

The voice of experience. I appreciate this angle and aspect that should be more heavily considered.

19 hours ago, M Joel W said:

I don't see the appeal of a follow focus unless you have a first AC

This is exactly the information that I’m looking for. Thank you.

19 hours ago, M Joel W said:

Imo unless you have a thriving business or a plan with which to build one, grow in real time with the projects you are on.

Scalable business models. Aye carumba. I can totally see my hungry a** not rationing my supplies and dying from exposure and self-indulgence. This makes so much sense. Thank you.

 

19 hours ago, M Joel W said:

Until then, what kinds of things are you shooting and with how big a crew? What look do you want? Easier to give specific advice.

Currently we have a crew of 3. We have each had successful careers in other industries before going back to school to search for what we love, which probably explains for why we are so motivated to make something and apply ourselves in every possible way. Right now we are wanting to tackle some documentary work to familiarize ourselves with higher end form factor equipment so that we can feel confident enough to expand to shorts and features.

As far as look for documentary, I was impressed with Macgregor’s The Mauritania Railway. Any suggestions for films that have stood out to you?

We want a beautiful and powerful documentary. We currently have an h6 zoom field recorder, two mirrorless cameras (Fuji xh1), and a variety of glass because of our past interest in photography, but we don’t think that is quite enough for what we want and are looking for something that can produce more cinematic and beautiful imagery (within our budgetary constraints, hence the look at older equipment). We understand the sentiment of “use what you got” and we also want to invest in ourselves with equipment that helps push ourselves deeper into the rabbit hole of production.

We live in a relatively remote area away from rental equipment (~4 hours east of Portland) so it is hard to make 8 hour trips plus gas regularly, otherwise we would be game to rent and see what we like. We all have technical minds and want to push ourselves so we can earn our stripes, establish ourselves in our area, and expand. We know there are a lot of moving pieces and we are each prone to self-flagellation and grueling challenges, so, we are chomping at the bit to make something that we can be proud of.

 

Thank you for your insight. It is exciting to see so many technically driven minds in this industry and I appreciate you holding a torch for us by weighing in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

18 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

For most indie projects I don't see that much use for the older +10 year old camera technology like the Red One, the original large and heavy Alexa bodies and the first generation Red dsmc cameras like the Scarlet and Epic MX.  The newer Red sensors are pretty OK still but the price point is not very competent compared to the current new offerings in the same 5k to 10k price range.

The Alexas and Amiras are 12+ years old sensor technology as well as the Red MX sensors and the camera bodies are relatively awkward and power hungry with extremely limited low light capabilities.

You are a wizard. Good grief you have read my mind. This is what I suspected but didn’t think I could speak confidently enough to know and understand it.

18 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

I think one of the only old technology camera bodies worth looking for is the Sony F55 for its very handy intermediate mount system and good sensor (not very low light capable but the colours and dynamic range are pretty nice) but only on the condition you can get it for cheap, preferably with the raw recorder included. Most of the other stuff is technologically obsolete and one will be much happier purchasing a completely new camera body instead.

This. Bless your soul. This is what I wanted to hear exactly. The next time that you are in Bend, OR, hit me up and I owe you a drink. I have been trying to convince myself to pull the trigger on this, but have been deliberating over whether or not it would make sense or hold up against the exact other devices that you mentioned earlier. What would you consider a great deal on something like the f55? I want to get the external recorder but the media is >insanely< expensive. Oftentimes I feel like I’m trying to squeeze water out of rock in trying to get the most bang for my buck.

 

18 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

If looking for a traditional follow focus, I would look for a used Chrosziel studio follow focus. the used older models typically cost only couple of hundred usd and they are perfectly suited for any professional use still. For example I use one of the old early 90's models Chrosziel ones fitting 15mm lw rods, I think I paid about 250usd for it and it is as good as a new 1000+ usd follow focus even when being nearly 30 years old

Aye carumba. This is the type of information I’m trying to compile to build an effective budget. You are speaking to the heart of what I’m trying to understand. I don’t need the latest and greatest, but the things that are timeless, can be found for a bargain, and add to the pleasure and experience of filmmaking. Thank you for all of your insight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For a documentary like that the Fujis (or I also like the S5) and a slider should be fine. For a three-person team a smaller kit like that seems appropriate and nothing in the image there couldn't be captured with prosumer equipment from a technical perspective.

That might be easier to capture on an S5 than on a Mini LF and the image isn't as different as you might think:

The guy who shot that video you linked to was one of the early hot shots at dvxuser and I think got signed based on his early work on the dvx100, which was beautiful. I think the link you sent was to something shot on the F35, which is an incredible camera still. And if you were literally getting that crew together again today I'd probably recommend an Amira or Mini LF. But the crew is what matters, the guy who shot it has a really great eye. I'd either hire him or go with an S5 and cheap old vintage lenses seem popular with over-sharp camera and aspire not to recreate what an experienced team put together with more gear but to get like 80% of the way there and gain experience along the way. The more you work the more you'll know what you'll need later on. But in general I think it would be easier to start a little smaller because some of these larger cameras are expensive and battery-hungry.

Fwiw I just bought an Alexa and Cine-Xenons and wish I had bought an Amira and Cookes I think. But that's a hobby for me. I have an S1 for professional work. I find the Alexa easiest to work with of any digital camera in post – and the S1 easiest in the field. The image is not as different as you'd think.

Were you already set up and established doing that kind of thing I'd look to an Amira or Mini LF today but again, if you were, you'd know what you wanted. I'd get a much cheaper kit. Or even just the camera body and a few lenses and rent out the support gear as you travel.

Edited by M Joel W
Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

The big questions/problems are what do you wanna do with the equipment. Is this personal work? Is this professional/pay work? Is it narrative or documentary? Do you care about audio? How bout lens/accessory cost? How about resolution? Do you care about a cinematic shallow depth of field? Do you care about size of the camera. Also, why do you care about the size? 

Currently, there are 3 of us that want to familiarize ourselves with professional workflows and form factors with equipment features that can be used in a professional setting. However, we are all adult students (had previous careers and are going back to school) and want to earn our stripes, put in our time, and apply our motivations to make beautiful work. This is currently personal work. We are wanting to tackle documentary at the moment, but end goal is narrative for when we have talent. Audio is essential. We are each musically inclined, but field recording is where I lack knowledge. I have an h6 recorder, but suspect we need to appropriate funds for audio to have a dynamic production. Lens/accessory/body costs and justifications are where I am deliberating over what percentages (40/50/10? 60/30/10? Etc.) makes sense for budget regarding lenses. 4k would be nice, but the f35 produces jaw dropping images, so, to me, resolution is secondary to image capture, but I’m not sure if I want to hulk around deprecated equipment if there are viable other options. I definitely want to go for a cinematic look and am keen on investing in the appropriate equipment to put me in the ballpark. Size is a good question. What factors have you found to be useful when deliberating over form and size?

 

16 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

It all depends on the work. Just "having" a camera to shoot anything with, is one thing. But if you actually want to work with the package, if it needs to be more than just "a camera" then you really need to think about the entire package. This may include wireless audio for interviews, it may include a mattebox/filter system and follow focus. It may include a shoulder rig for smaller cameras that don't shoulder naturally. Every part of the package is important, tho the imager (color science) on digital cameras is generally the part that creates the image. So finding a camera that fits all the aspects I pointed out above, is generally where I start. If the camera itself won't work for you, then what's the point? The ENTIRE package is the key, spending high dollar in one area vs others, doesn't make much sense. 

The voice of reason. I have been guilty of being a dirty park raccoon fixated on shiny objects that lead to my demise. I appreciate the grounding reminder about the bigger picture and not just what might look good on paper. I was thinking of the other elements that go into production as an afterthought and I am grateful for this insight. I do need to be more mindful of the ENTIRE package. Thank you!!

 

16 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Don't own good/professional equipment. To which I 100% agree with.

I think it's a waste of time and money.

I gave up trying and bought a DSLR so that at least I can shoot something personal if I need to, but the majority of the time, the camera is used for stills. So my digital kit is basically a stills kit. 

What about older equipment that can still produce beautiful images at a fraction of the value it was a decade ago? I feel so limited geographically to not having a rental company nearer than 4 hours away plus a return trip. I have been wanting to learn the ropes and hone my craft on something that I could develop through experience and practicing workflow while not having the latest and greates. I have a couple of mirrorless bodies and lenses, but don’t feel the same excitement for them as something that I could use EVF with.

 

16 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Anything with a low bit rate internal recording codec, should be entirely outright ignored. 

Good to know, thanks, that removes a lot from the equation.

 

Thank you for your response and weighing in with your wisdom. I am excited to throw myself into this all and have neglected to ask myself many of your questions to develop a vision for what I want. The “know when I get there” mentality likes to rear its head of inexperience when I get excited about anything and I often will make mistakes when I can’t take a dimensional step back and see the bigger picture. Thanks for the reminder, Tyler! 🤜🤛

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Yea 8 bit isn't even on my radar, not even gonna use an 8 bit camera ever. 

R5 we have is 12 bit raw or 10 bit HEVC. 

.h265 is a problem with X86 intel systems, it's very slow compared to .h264. Apple fixed this with the built-in HEVC encode/decode engine on the M1 chips. It's outstanding how good it is. Really makes that codec sing. 

The 12 bit raw recordings are very good tho, they are just impossible to play back due to the R5 being 8k and again, stupid X86 issues with encode/decode. 

Great to know on M1 chips in Apple. Thank you. 

How would you stack something like the R5 against something like the F55? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Premium Member
2 hours ago, Ryan Ivy said:

How would you stack something like the R5 against something like the F55? 

Not comparable. 

The F55 is a cinema camera. The R5 is a consumer camera. 

The F55 is 4k XAVC (mostly) and the R5 can shoot 12 bit RAW 8k. 

Not even apples and oranges... the Canon simply looks better but it's not designed for cinematic shooting. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Premium Member
2 hours ago, Ryan Ivy said:

Currently, there are 3 of us that want to familiarize ourselves with professional workflows and form factors with equipment features that can be used in a professional setting.

Probably not going to happen sadly. The cost to learn the real professional tools, is just too much sadly. The big gap isn't just the body/color science, but actually all the accessories and even lighting. You could buy an Alexa Classic tomorrow for a few grand, but when you land on a real film set, be completely lost. 

2 hours ago, Ryan Ivy said:

However, we are all adult students (had previous careers and are going back to school) and want to earn our stripes, put in our time, and apply our motivations to make beautiful work.

If you wanna make pretty images and if that's the only goal, then I think we can have a good conversation. 

2 hours ago, Ryan Ivy said:

Audio is essential. We are each musically inclined, but field recording is where I lack knowledge. I have an h6 recorder, but suspect we need to appropriate funds for audio to have a dynamic production.

EW100 G2 wireless kit with Tram 50 lav mic and sennheiser MKH410 with boom pole and Zeppelin. The H6 will work, but I suggest an F6 because it has better timecode options. You'll need a timecode generator like a tentacle. 

2 hours ago, Ryan Ivy said:

Lens/accessory/body costs and justifications are where I am deliberating over what percentages (40/50/10? 60/30/10? Etc.) makes sense for budget regarding lenses. 4k would be nice, but the f35 produces jaw dropping images, so, to me, resolution is secondary to image capture, but I’m not sure if I want to hulk around deprecated equipment if there are viable other options. I definitely want to go for a cinematic look and am keen on investing in the appropriate equipment to put me in the ballpark. Size is a good question. What factors have you found to be useful when deliberating over form and size?

If ya don't care about resolution, the answer is drop dead simple; Alexa Classic. 

You can get them for $5k with an EVF no problem. They're 1080p but it's an Alexa! It shoots Pro Res and has great color science. Besides if you can learn that camera early on, that's the #1 camera on modern sets and the menus and color science haven't changed much between the variants. 

I personally won't shoot with anything less than my deliverable, which is always 4k these days. So we tend to shoot 6k or 8k so that we have a nice beefy image to work with. The great thing about 8k is that you can re-frame in post. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but even if you're the most organized filmmaker ever, you're always going to need to re-frame, especially with documentary work. An 8k sensor, gives you a medium and a close up in one shot, with a 4k deliverable. The great news is, 8k cameras aren't that much anymore. The Red Helium is a great camera. Excellent color science, excellent workflow, interchangeable lens mount, easy to get EVF's and such. I know a lot of people don't like red, the image does have a more waxy look than the Alexa, however it still delivers an excellent image. I prefer it over Sony or Panasonic cameras, even the Venice. I edit and grade mostly, so I get to see top filmmakers raw camera files and my two favorite are the Alexa of course and the Helium/Monstro. They are the easiest to grade, they look great out of camera and I love being able to reframe with that lovely meaty 8k imager, it's amazing. 

Lenses are tough. You can just go for a good package like Zeiss CP.3 or you could go cheaper like DZO Vespid. Either way, I think a set of primes 18/24/35/50/85 that are high speed (F2 range) is a great way to start. It'll cost you around $13k or so for a good kit of lenses. I'd also buy a more classic cine zoom like a Angeneuix 25-250 HP/HR series. Those run around $8k and they're so damn good. I love many other zooms, but that's the easiest one to access and it'll fill in the gap for longer shots.

Now all of those numbers probably sound like a lot. This is why most people buy kinda lower-end cameras. The best low-end camera for "cinema" is the Pocket 6k Pro in my opinion. Not only can you get a decent EVF for it, but it also has very good color science. Then you can use cheaper lenses, like even geared still lenses with EF mount. It's kinda of a cheap way to go and you get a very nice raw image which grades nicely. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The EVA1 is fantastic and underpriced but older S35 cinema glass is more expensive than full frame in some cases. But an EVA1 with old Nikkors or a Sigma 18-35mm produces an incredible image even if it's harder to find a fast wide (the 20mm f3.5 Nikkor is gorgeous but slow).

That is what I would get but an S5 isn’t bad either (I prefer the EVA1’s color but they’re both so good) and has more lens choice.

The F55 is imo worse than the F35. Which is weird but I just don’t like the image much at all. It’s been improved since early builds imo and raw is fine, but the F5 I found really underwhelming and it got better but imo the A7S3 or FX6 make more sense even if they don’t look like F35 footage either.

I don’t think 4K matters much unless it matters to your client, frankly. If you’re the client, it doesn’t matter.

P6K looks great too, great image.

In 2011, the Alexa was leagues ahead. Today it's shocking how close you can get even with a P4K and Nikkors.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

If ya don't care about resolution, the answer is drop dead simple; Alexa Classic. 

You can get them for $5k with an EVF no problem. They're 1080p but it's an Alexa! It shoots Pro Res and has great color science. Besides if you can learn that camera early on, that's the #1 camera on modern sets and the menus and color science haven't changed much between the variants.

I would highly advice against purchasing any of the very heavy cameras like the kitted up Alexa Classic unless one can spend at least 4k or 5k minimum to the very basic used tripod and head which can support such a heavy beast. I mean, normal fluid heads cannot support it especially if it has any nice metal cheeseplate style accessories and additional gear attached... my Soviet copy of the Mitchell camera is actually more lightweight than the Alexa. One can carry and lift the Arri 35BL series cameras with one hand or hold them up with couple of fingers easily but the fully kitted Alexa Classic can be so heavy even without the lens that it becomes just outright ridiculous to handle it on a tiny crew ultra low budget indie set and you need two hands to lift it up to the tripod.

One can of course purchase anything one wants but it is generally not a wise choice to purchase very heavy, power hungry and awkward to operate cameras (for example very long camera setups) for fast moving low budget productions. The heavyweight gear just limits one's possibilities too much and slows down the production unnecessarily and makes some shots impossible to shoot with the time and budget available. The general no-no cameras for indie and doc are for example the Red One (M, MX), the Alexa Classic versions, the Panasonic Varicam cameras, the F65 and the old digital cinema cameras like the F23, F35, D21, etc.

The reason I recommended the F55 as a some kind of OK compromise if one specifically wants a older camera body is because it is lightweight and can be used with normal relatively affordable tripods and is easy to handheld too for being a magnesium alloy body. The "cinema camera bodies" one talks about (Alexa Classic, most Red cameras, etc) are usually made of much heavier aluminium alloys which makes them much heavier and more awkward to operate on fast moving sets and small productions.

It is just, the lightweight and easy to operate camera allows you to get more of the shots you want in the limited time available. Choose a heavy and difficult to operate camera body and you will lose shots, a lot of them

Edited by aapo lettinen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

one further thing is the storage space requirements.

One easily develops an attitude that "it is mandatory to always shoot at the best technical quality possible" but that can bite back pretty easily if shooting a longer project with lots and lots of material.

For example on my current own doc projects a shooting day on the S5 typically takes up from 1TB to 1.5TB if shooting proresraw, from 500GB to 800GB if shooting a mix of prores422 and prores422hq, and if shooting the internal h264 and h265 codecs on the sd cards the day takes from 100GB to 180GB depending on the content. That is quite a difference in storage space consumption and will add up quickly if you shoot for example 30 or 40 days or more. I tend to mix the formats whenever needed to for example get to shoot more shots for the day or to get highest quality low light material if needed  and still be able to pay for the gasoline too to get to the location in the first place 😄  if the requirement would be to shoot exclusively raw only, then I would lose about 4/5th of the total shot count I think. So it is a delicate balance between the absolute image quality, the perceived image quality and the usability of the system and the storage space requirements. If one knows that a scene can be shot on lower quality codec and faster camera setup to get more shots and thus for example more options for the editor, then it can be the best choice over shooting for example raw

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Premium Member
2 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

I would highly advice against purchasing any of the very heavy cameras like the kitted up Alexa Classic unless one can spend at least 4k or 5k minimum to the very basic used tripod and head which can support such a heavy beast. 

My point exactly regarding spending the money and starting off in debt right off the bat. It doesn’t end with just the camera, you must accessorize it as well. That turns into a never ending list of stuff and lots of $$$$! Trust me. I own a camera rental company and even though it’s on a different level, the money keeps being spent to keep up. The difference is that my business has a clientele and turns all that spending into profit. It’s daunting at times!

 

G

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...