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8 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

It is when you need to shoot something for a customer who pays for it when it becomes an issue to have a non optimal camera for the job. Later on, when advancing to bigger productions than the "indie practice films", people are not generally much interested about whether you shot your non budget indies on Alexa or some crappy dslr...  when doing paid work people are interested in what kind of PAID WORK you have done previously and what crew positions you actually did there with what results.

Do you think the value of an Alexa Classic will drop below $4k in a year? If not, then they can buy, shoot some stuff and re-sell pretty fast.

Mind you, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, will not take your indy film in 4k. Also, there have been a few high profile indy features in the last few years, shot on 1080p cameras. One of them was bought for international distribution. So where I would personally never shoot a feature in 1080p, the idea that the product you creates is useless,  doesn't play. 

Here in the States, people hand off demo reels of stuff they made internally and it qualifies to get bigger jobs. Nobody verifies that the Nike commercial in your demo reel or on your website, was paid for by Nike or something you shot yourself. I do A LOT of paid commercial work and NONE of it will ever be seen on broadcast TV. It's all stuff done internally for the companies. How can I prove any of it was paid gigs? I can't, zero way of proving it outside of my pay check.... which let me tell ya, nobody cares about.

I'm sorry, but where I completely disagree with the practice of doing so, if you build a great reel of your own stuff, you'll get work. I've seen PLENTY of people do this and I know they're all very busy working on paid gigs. 

8 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

Any kind of paid work qualifies for more paid work whereas any kind of non paid work qualifies for more non paid work, no matter how good you are in using the 12 year old Alexa body on shoestring indie stuff or how many twisty non budget shorts you have made shown only on student festivals to 10 people...

Hey I mean, ya gotta start somewhere. Make a dozen shorts that nobody watches, that's better than making nothing. 

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3 hours ago, Ryan Ivy said:

Are there any particular brands to avoid? As far as LED lights go, are there anything that stands out and makes for an excellent investment? I generally like to buy quality used gear so I’m willing to spend more on lights that really make a big difference. I appreciate your insight about learning how to work around professional workflows. Are there any books or people to study in regards to workflows, lighting, framing, etc that have heavily influenced or inspired you and your philosophy on your work?

Like you, I own tungsten and incandescent lights. I prefer the look of them for the majority of work I do. For interviews and intimate settings, I think you'll find there to be a lot of benefits to LED lights. 

Types of lights like these are very popular: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1476411-REG/nanlite_15_2008_4kit_pavotube_30c_4_rgbw.html/?ap=y&ap=y&smp=y&smp=y&lsft=BI%3A6879&gclid=CjwKCAjwj42UBhAAEiwACIhADtu1szVJk64ZySitqQB0ppRQt-dpcfUR6Zwm8t14an1clWibvABU5xoCCPAQAvD_BwE

I generally rent SkyPanels or Orbiters when I need LED lighting. However, there are a lot of not so bad knock off's you should think about. 

These are super nice, I've used them for quite a while now and where they don't create exactly the same light as the Arri kits, they do create a very nice light, are battery/AC operated and aren't horribly expensive: https://ikancorp.com/shop/studio-broadcast/dmx-lights-studio-broadcast/lyra-rgbw-1-x-2-soft-panel-digital-color-light/

These types of LEDs aren't going to go bad fast, only the low cost ones fail fast. 

In terms of books, I'm sadly not much of a book guy. The way I learned was watching other people work. Seeing what they did through behind the scenes documentaries mostly and then experimenting myself. Theory is great, but practice trumps theory honestly. It's one thing to light a person sitting at a chair, it's another to create mood through lighting, which is what cinema is all about. It's understanding what you can get away with and what you can't. This is mostly done through experimentation, because reading doesn't really explain why. To me, the "why" is the only thing that's important. That's what you're learning. Once you KNOW the "why", then the rest is easy. 

I kinda started in the 90's, so for me some of the most influential films were Darius Khondji shot "Seven". I was obsessed with that film and what he was able to do. The blacks were black, you never really saw any lighting, it was so realistic and no shits given. Yet at the same time methodically controlled. When you watch the BTS, it was like seeing masters of the craft. They tried to re-create it with Panic Room, but things fell apart between them, so it wasn't a fulfilled vision sadly. Still, I have to say "Seven" re-wrote the book for me at least. I think knowing what they did was possible, let me to experiment in that direction. 

I was also obsessed with James Cameron and Spielberg when I was a kid. The two of them were masters of shooting fast and had gobs of behind the scenes documentaries to boot. So you could see how they were doing things and why they did those things. 

As I got older, my interest shifted to Roger Deakins. To me, he's the perfect DP in every way. Methodical, yet you never say "wow that was outstandingly shot" because he doesn't over emphasize anything. The trick is to be invisible, which goes right back to "Seven" and what was achieved in that film. 

I don't purposely copy anyone really. I just know through experience, what to do when and why. I prefer less light, than more light. I prefer a large source, with augmentation if required... for instance the sun with bounce or an HMI with mirrors/diffusion. I prefer shooting fast and not worrying about creating the perfect setup, your story and actors should be able to hold the story. 

Mind you, the large camera thing that Aapo was talking about earlier... I mean, I shoot on film majority of the time. I have no problems swinging a 40lb Arricam around with 1000ft magazine. I've done dozens of 35mm shoots by myself,  loading the mags, grabbing lenses, putting the camera on the tripod, come on. This is all easy stuff. It does not slow you down having a bigger camera. What does slow you down is indecisiveness. You have to show up with a game plan and when you make decisions, stick with them. Since I shoot nearly everything I make, it is a lot more work than just being a shooter or just being a director, especially without a highly competent crew. 

I do a lot of teaching and have YouTube channel dedicated towards teaching people about film cameras and such. But if you want to learn a bit about how no-budget films "can" be made... you can check out this link from my last short narrative I made which kinda explains the process in greater detail. It also shows some BTS footage and of course, the final piece. 

 

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Yeah, I agree with Tyler. Friends of mine and friends of friends have been signed to big ad companies based on spec work. Vimeo has been a good platform even when festivals aren't. You have to get started somewhere. If you want to break out from the path that you're on (even for an AC looking to be a DP for instance), the easiest way to do something new is often to do that for yourself.

That aside, the image quality from a $1000 kit now is remarkably close to the image quality from a higher end one. The $4000 Alexa's image isn't THAT MUCH different from a $1400 P4K, but kitting out the P4K is gonna cost 10X less. On top of that, the really expensive short films I've seen produced rarely do better than the somewhat more affordable ones. I can see dropping money on spec work, but dropping $14k before you have any experience seems foolish to me. I'd go with a $3k or $4k kit to start with.

And maybe to end on. I have a lot of high end gear, but kind of regret buying any of it sometimes.

Edited by M Joel W
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6 minutes ago, M Joel W said:

That aside, the image quality from a $1000 kit now is remarkably close to the image quality from a higher end one. The $4000 Alexa's image isn't THAT MUCH different from a $1400 P4K, but kitting out the P4K is gonna cost 10X less.

I agree, especially with the Pocket 6k Pro because the integrated ND filters + EVF really helps the camera come together nicely. I've seen stuff from the 6k Pro that has blown my mind away. I've shot with it a bit, but haven't owned one to really dive deep into sadly. I really shot a lot with the original pockets tho, still shooting with them today! 

Plus the 6k Pro can be kept for a while, nobody is going to say "no" to a raw 6k image. 

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The P6K Pro looks like a great option but I have yet to use one. With the highlight recovery (which is disabled on ArriRAW) the dynamic range is nearly Alexa-level. The original P6K has a great image but some weird quirks with infrared pollution (and relatively minor issues with aliasing) – the Pro should fix the IR pollution issues with the built-in NDs. That looks like a great choice to me.

Absolutely not right for my workflows but it looks like a great choice and I often mistake P6K footage for Alexa footage (except P6K footage is sharper).

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On 5/17/2022 at 8:11 AM, Heikki Repo said:

Ultimately, however, I'm tempted to say: don't start your project by buying stuff. I know that I'm being boring, since buying stuff is nice and fun while working on a script or planning a project is just tedious work, but that way you'll more likely end up with an actual finished project and not just with expensive toys sitting on your shelf. Furthermore, if you have a very good story in your documentary, it really doesn't matter that much how many K's the sensor has or if the skin tones are silky smooth Arri Alexa® stuff.

Wow. Thank you. Joel’s previous sentiment of “carriage before the horse” rings even louder in your explanation. I am grateful for the many voices of reason, experience, and wisdom that have weighed in on my question. It has helped me rethink my process and approach to production. This comment broke a folding chair over my head. 😆 I hope to carry your advice with me forever. Thank you.🤝🙏

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On 5/17/2022 at 1:14 AM, Gregory Irwin said:

What does this mean?

Buy good-quality equipment, that will actually last.

I made the mistake of nickle-and-diming some of my first equipment purchases, and almost all of that gear was broken beyond repair within 12 months of getting it. Which means you're not just paying for the gear once, you're paying for it twice (once for the cheaper stuff, and a second time at full-price for the better quality stuff that you need to replace the useless cheap gear with). So the overall cost ends up being significantly higher, than if you'd just copped to purchasing the good quality gear in the first place.

So "Buy once, cry once." rather than "Buy twice, cry thrice." 

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On 5/16/2022 at 4:05 AM, 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. 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?

You want to be able to get some sort of work for the three of you, so buying a Sony F35 is an outrageous idea. Don't do it!!! Your money would just be going to waste, and you wouldn't be recouping your costs. 

At your level you're looking at lower budget jobs:

Weddings, corporate shoots, small budget adverts, low budget docos, reality tv, etc etc

Sony FX6 would be ideal for this! But I fear would blow your budget out once you consider everything else. 

Very broadly speaking there are three broad classes of equipment you need even as a low budget OMB videographer:

1) camera body + camera "stuff" (lenses / batteries / media / support gear such as tripod etc)

2) lighting

3) audio 

 

You could go heavy in one of these, or even all in on just one of these (i.e. ONLY get lights, and focus on becoming the local go to indie Gaffer guy), or you could try to go fairly equal for each so that you're well rounded for anything.  

I'll give a fairly rough idea of if you go heavy, balanced, or light on each.

Light:

1) mirrorless camera body (Panasonic S1/S5/GH5/GH6/G9 or Sony a7Smk3/a7mk4 or Fujifilm X-T3/X-T4 are all good solid picks here. Or the Blackmagic Pocket 4K, or even the Pocket 6K Pro. Quick shout out to the Z Cam E2-M4 or E2-S6 as well) + lenses + monopod + tripod 

2) a single 1x1 LED panel and light stand, maybe some DIY modifiers / cutters / etc (perhaps get some old cheap secondhand tungsten lights for next to nothing, seeing as the likes of red heads are being literally given away)

3) stick with your rubbishy (am sorry, but it is rubbish) Zoom H6, but get 1x Sony UWP-D21 (the best prosumer wireless you can get!) and Deity V Mic D3 Pro (plus extension cable, plus aluminum boom pole and C Stand with boom pole holder)

Balanced:

1) get a secondhand Sony FS7 (these are the classic workhorses which everyone seems to own! The #1 camera for many years in the low/mid budget market. Only recently are people moving away from the FS7 to a FX6/FX9 instead). Maybe take a look at getting lucky on a cheap C300mk2/F5/F55 (if crazy lucky, maybe even a Panasonic Varicam LT?). But outside these four cameras I've specifically mentioned, don't consider anything else! You'll be excluding  yourself from too many jobs, as those four cameras cover the broadest range of likely work you could do. (hmmm.... maaaaaybe I could let the URSA Mini Pro sneak in there as a bonus mention. Maybe. But definitely don't get the older URSA Mini, the non-Pro, as shooting without internal NDs is too much of a hassle for this type of work)

2) get more in the way of lighting modifiers / cutters / etc, and get also an Aputure 300D and Aputure LS60D (together with their accessories, softbox etc), and of course a 1x1 LED panel. 

3) Zoom F8n or Zoom F6 or MixPre3/MixPre6 (the F8n would be easily the best out of these four. Unless you're wanting to use it paired with a mirrorless, mounted under the camera body itself. Then get the MixPre3, because it is super small). Get 3x Sony UWP-D21, 3x Deity W Lav Pro, get a carbon fibre boom pole (at least 3m, ideally one that is 3m and one that is 5m), C Stand (and boombuddy), Deity S Mic2, Sanken CSM1, blimp, and all the various accessories etc. (bag/batteries/media/etc)

Heavy weighting (i.e. now you're entering into the mainstream low/mid budget range for normal working professionals) listed out for each (these will exceed your budget, but am trying to stick with the lower budget options being selected. Not going crazy here! Always shooting the more "budget" options, so you at least should only be going over budget by "a few" thousands. But it illustrates why you'd have to focus on just one of the three options, you couldn't do all three at once, at this point in time):

1) Sony FX6 / Sony FX9 / Canon C300mk3 with lower budget but decent grade owner-op level lenses (i.e. you've probably spent more on the lenses than the body itself, but not silly money. We're still selecting the most budget level possible PL lenses. Such as DZOFilm CATTA Ace FF 35-80 & 70-135mm T2.9 PL Zooms, plus say the Tokina 16-28mm T3 PL wide angle. Along with a set of primes, such as the DZOFilm primes: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1679957-REG/dzofilm_dzo_v21k8pli_vespid_prime_cine_8_lens.html Of course there many many many other options than DZOfilm! Am just mentioning them because they're cheap, we're lucky that you're spoiled for cheap choices now in PL lenses! Such as Xeen, Meike, DZOfilm, etc... all of these simply didn't exist just a few short years ago!). Of course all the usual supporting gear: 100mm bowl tripod, gimbal, dana dolly, lots of V Mount batteries (or Gold Mount), media, monitors, wireless video feed, etc etc (the camera body is only going to be a small fraction of the total cost)

2) you'll likely be selecting out three of each of everything Aputure makes (again, I'm just picking Aputure yet again because they're a very very affordable brand which still has a solid reputation, just like why I was referring to DZOfilm before. Am not telling you to get ARRI SkyPanels here! As not even if you quadruple your budget could you go all in on those for everything. Am not even including a single HMI in this light! Truly keeping it very much lower budget tier here), Nanlite PavoTubes (2x 30C, 2x 15C, 2x 6C), dozens of sandbags, a dozen C Stands, three Combo Stands, 12x12 frame with a few material options, and lots more cutters/modifiers/etc  And of course a Ford Transit van to carry it all in! (or similar)

3) Sound Devices 833 paired with the Sound Devices SL2 (or instead of Sound Devices 833: Zaxcom Nova, or Sonosax SX-R4+, or Aaton Cantar Mini), with 1x Lectrosonics DSR4 + 1x Lectro SRc (I'd like to select a second DSR4, but keeping costs low! So going for the older SRc instead) + 1x Lectro DPR + 1x Lectro SSM + 2x Lectrosonics LT + 1x Lectro LMb (I want to say Lectrosonics DBu instead of Lectro LT or LMb... but we're trying to keep costs low here!) +  1x Lectro SMDWB (this is the wideband version of the classic workhorse SMQV, and would be nice to have more than only just one here... but again, keeping costs low! That is why I put in a cheapie Lectro LT in there for instance), + 7x DPA 6060 lav mics, + Sanken CS3e, Sanken CS1e, Sanken CSM1, Deity S Mic2, blimps, 3m carbon fibre pole, 5m carbon fibre pole, media, batteries (many many many! I own over a 100x AA rechargeable batteries, just as an example), 1x Lectrosonics IFBT4-VHF, 3x IFBlue IFBR1C (half the price of the usual Lectrosonics IFB R1B!! Nifty product that only just came out. I only put down three here, as that should cover most of your low budget jobs, although I personally own a couple of dozen of these IFB receivers)

(note: of course you don't  have to go with Lectrosonics wireless! Shure AD5XD is super appealing too, Wisycom is good as well. Audio Ltd is worth a look too. And naturally if you chose the Nova, then you'll be "forced" to use Zaxcom wireless as it would be silly to own a Nova and not use it with Zaxcom wireless)

 

Overall, I think you should go with the path of going super light in all three areas. Spend as little as possible, leave the rest of the money untouched for another couple of years. 

And work as much as you can on other people's shoots (even if just as a PA  / 3rd AD / runner / actor / extra / whatever), so you're observing and hopefully using THEIR equipment. And learning on it. 

Then you will figure out what is good or not for you

Plus you might find yourself going off in directions you never realized. 

What if you realize you LOVE lighting?? (and/or there simply is a bigger gap in the market needing a gaffer, than anything else you're interested in) And you decide to become a Gaffer instead of a DoP. You're a bit screwed if you're spent already 100% of your budget on camera gear. 

Edited by David Peterson
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Posted (edited)
On 5/16/2022 at 7:31 AM, Tyler Purcell said:

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. 

Some minor corrections:

Sennheiser G2 has been replaced by the G3. And the G3 has been replaced by the G4. So don't get a G3, get a Sennheiser G4. 

Except don't get a G4! Get the Sony UWP-D21 for the same price, as the Sony is so much better. (or don't get prosumer wireless at all.... and get pro wireless instead such as from Audio Ltd / Lectro / Zax / Wisy / Axient Digital / etc)

MKH410 doesn't exist, I presume you mean the MKH416. That too has seen a successor: the MKH60 (which I've got myself). And the MKH60 has also seen a successor. the Sennheiser 8060!

Still, I'm not keen on those. I'd suggest something else like a DPA or a Sanken if you're going to be spending over $1K to get a proper shotgun. 

Or.... get the Deity S Mic 2, it is 95% of a 416, at half the price!

Likewise with the Tram TR50, back in the day it was a fine lav mic as a low budget choice. Very popular! And I guess still a good buy if you're picking it up very cheap. 

But for @Ryan Ivy on a tight budget in 2022?? I think just like the Sennheiser MKH416 (a design from the 1950's!), then the TR50 is also an outdated mic, and there are better bangs for your buck elsewhere. 

For example the Oscar Sound Tech lavs have been around for a very very long time now, and are better value on a tight budget. 

Or go for the Deity W Lav Pro (or W Lav Micro) would be my tight budget recommendations in 2022. 

https://deitymic.com/products/w-lav-pro-lavalier/ 

I agree that the Zoom F6 would be so much a better option than a Zoom H6 (even better is the Zoom F8n, best dirt cheap field recorder there is you can get for sub $1K!), it would be lightyears ahead of the H6. 

Would be like going from a Nikon D90 to shooting instead with a Sony FS7! Huuuuge

And yes, get as well either the Tentacle Sync E you mentioned, or Deity TC-1 or Timecode Systems UltraSyc ONE. 

  

On 5/16/2022 at 7:31 AM, Tyler Purcell said:

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. 

Totally, I 1000000% agree!

You could even spend a $100K buying all the toys and gadgets and spend a couple of years playing around with them together on your own shoots with friends and family, yet walk onto a real film set and be totally and utterly completely lost. 

(btw, $100K isn't actually anywhere vaguely enough to buy everything that's on the set of large productions! $100K is just scratching the surface. However spending even more money won't solve your problems here)

Edited by David Peterson
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On 5/16/2022 at 6:52 AM, Tyler Purcell said:

Not comparable. 

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

The monitoring tools, the robustness, the shooting options, the features (NDs, genlock, timecode, SDI, etc etc) are totally different worlds apart with the Sony F55 vs Canon R5

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On 5/15/2022 at 8:29 AM, 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

I can't remember the last time I saw a manual follow focus on a film set! Has been years. 

They're rare as hen's teeth these days, nobody seems to use them.

Oh wait, I think there was a zero budget short film I did this year where the DoP pulled his own focus and used one? (we didn't even have a 1st AC!)

Everyone uses wireless follow focus now, especially as you can get "acceptable" level wireless follow focus which are dirt cheap. Such as the Nuclear M is one I see all the time on no/low/medium budget shoots these days, used by aspiring 1st ACs. (of course professional ACs use instead the standard tools such as say the ARRI WCU-4, or have ordered the new ARRI Hi-4)

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1507995-REG/tilta_wlc_t03_k4_nucleus_m_wireless_lens_control.html 

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On 5/15/2022 at 6:25 AM, aapo lettinen said:

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

What are you referring to? That the original Z6 needed to be returned back to get the raw update? (honestly that's not different at all to say those with a Sony FS700, you also had to return that back for the 4K raw update! Is a common occurrence this kind of thing) 

Perhaps you could say people got mislead and carried away by the hype, but "falsified"??? That's a stretch to far. I don't think they ever explicitly said it would be a firmware update that the user could do themselves. 

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3 hours ago, David Peterson said:

What are you referring to? That the original Z6 needed to be returned back to get the raw update? (honestly that's not different at all to say those with a Sony FS700, you also had to return that back for the 4K raw update! Is a common occurrence this kind of thing) 

Perhaps you could say people got mislead and carried away by the hype, but "falsified"??? That's a stretch to far. I don't think they ever explicitly said it would be a firmware update that the user could do themselves. 

Falsified yes. The manufacturer claimed about 14 stops of dynamic range and the camera is incapable of doing even 10 in real life.

The Z6 has some kind of hardware issue in the sensor which every now and then unexpectedly causes flashing in the green channel and which cannot be corrected via any kind of upgrades or firmware (one would need to change the entire sensor which would cost millions for Nikon and they are not going to do that). It is present in every video recording whether being internal h264, external 422 hdmi output or raw video from the hdmi.

It is a real pain to try to correct the green flashing in post and it was more practical and less painful to sell the whole camera for loss and purchase another type of camera which is from the same about 2k price range with the kit lens but is 2 to 3 times better in every aspect (the Panasonic S5) and even uses cheaper memory cards (the Z6 uses really expensive cards especially considering that the internal recordings are of relatively poor quality so one does not even need a fast card for video, only for fast photo shooting)

Nikon falsifies the video specs of the newer cameras too. the Z9 is claimed to have huge dynamic range but the real performance is relatively poor and not on par with any of the competitors in the nearly 7k price range ( I think it was claimed to have something like 15 stops and the real performance is somewhere around 12 stops which is the kind of performance acceptable for a 2k price range camera but NOT for a 7k one).  It is just dishonest scamming of customers to claim your camera has 3 or 4 stops more dynamic range than it really has and they just keep doing it.

Nikon cameras are not really suitable for video use, almost ANYTHING can be better, even the cheapest Z-cams have the dynamic range advertised and don't do green flashes all over the place

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Posted (edited)

additionally the Z6 had multiple dead pixels out of the box which had to be corrected by the manual "sensor cleaning" which has combined automatic bad pixel mapping function. It is just that when the camera heated up or I cranked the ISO up the mapped out bad pixels often started to show again and one needed to map them out again in the middle of the shoot. This is one of those annoyances which start to really bug the end users after a while.

Though one of the worst features of the Z6 was that the video processing of it was not very sophisticated. It had pixel overflow/black hole sun correction added of course but the correction was not sophisticated enough like on real video capable cameras and thus the Z6 got confused if, for example, you had a sun behind a tree with the leaves and branches having a overexposed edge. the Z6 handled this kind of shooting situation by showing a black pixel overflow edge around EVERY branch and leaf making the image almost unusable and a very weird looking (the tree parts should only have had a white edge from the light but instead it was white-black-white edge which was just too weird to use in any kind of end product and is pretty impossible to correct in post ) so I just was not able to shoot this kind of images AT ALL.  Pretty much every other camera can handle this type of shooting situation correctly but Nikon? not in your dreams...

Nikons are perfectly good photo cameras but they are NOT suitable for video use, never were. The reason I purchased the Z6 back then was that there was no alternatives at the moment (the only alternative camera was Pocket4k but it was sold out back then and could not be obtained from everywhere before the start of the production. I had to have SOME camera to shoot with and I just ended up picking up the Z6 from the nearest photo store because it was a model capable of outputting 10bit via hdmi and was only such camera in the price range which was available without 6month wait) . It was not horrible to shoot with and one could often live with the bad dynamic range. But the last year I had it, I noticed I just did not want to shoot with it anymore because I pretty much hated the thing so much. I was so glad when I got rid of it and got even SOME money back from it so that I did not have to give it away for free.

When you figure out you try to avoid shooting with a certain camera, almost hating it even, it is evident that it is worth nothing to you anymore and it is time to get rid of it as fast as you can when it (hopefully) still has some value so that you can maybe trade it for some other camera model which is actually useful for you

Edited by aapo lettinen
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5 hours ago, David Peterson said:

Overall, I think you should go with the path of going super light in all three areas. Spend as little as possible, leave the rest of the money untouched for another couple of years. 

And work as much as you can on other people's shoots (even if just as a PA  / 3rd AD / runner / actor / extra / whatever), so you're observing and hopefully using THEIR equipment. And learning on it. 

Then you will figure out what is good or not for you

Plus you might find yourself going off in directions you never realized. 

What if you realize you LOVE lighting?? (and/or there simply is a bigger gap in the market needing a gaffer, than anything else you're interested in) And you decide to become a Gaffer instead of a DoP. You're a bit screwed if you're spent already 100% of your budget on camera gear. 

David, I owe you a beer. Next time that you’re in Bend, OR, hit me up because wow. Thank you for the wealth of knowledge, insight, and perspective. I really appreciate your model recommendations for different set ups. I had a solid belly laugh when you started throwing shade at my zoom h6 🤣😂.
 

I have been deliberating over the f55, Varicam, and now the fx6/fx9 because you recommended it. Is the f5 or f55 even worth considering if it isn’t to the external axs-r5 recorder? The media is pricy on those recorders, so I’m up in the air as to what might make sense, or if I should appropriate eggs to other baskets at this point and time. I’ll go ahead and cross the f35 off my candidates 🤣 and am now deliberating over if vintage nikkors would be worthy candidates to offset lighting and audio costs, or would the sentiment of “buy once, cry once” make sense in context of the information you gave me and invest in some versatile lenses? Thanks again for your responses.

 

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Posted (edited)

I would try more stuff before you buy it. Fwiw I think the FX6 looks great but have never worked with it. Varicam35 has a beautiful image but slight magenta cast to skin tones (slight might be generous) that isn't always flattering but otherwise I think it's amazing. I really like the F3's image but the internal codec is garbage, love the F35's image, personally have had really bad experiences with the F5 and F55 though they improved them after launch. Imo there is no easy way to know exactly what you need because if there were one right answer here everyone would own that.

But imo – for the money a used EVA1 is the best thing going and the FX6 plus Sony GMs is the best thing going probably a step up (I haven't used them, just love how they look). And the Alexa Mini LF is the best camera on the market if money's no issue or you want to rent something.

Edited by M Joel W
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Posted (edited)

with that budget off the top of my head go:

cam - bmpcc 6k (or URSA Mini Pro if you can swing it);

lenses - 25mm and 75mm dzo vezpid (add a 50 if you can swing it)... disclaimer - I haven't shot on these but have heard good things and the price point is crazy affordable;

lighting - Nanlite 720 bi-color (or 300 or 500 if you can't afford 720 ) and a Softbox (or better yet a 6x6 or 8x8 butterfly frame...I like the chimera pro panels) ; nanlite 60b or pavotube;

a good light meter - spectra cine maybe;

audio - a used audio recorder h4n maybe and a good lav (others might have better suggestions.... I don't really worry about sound anymore so not up to date... I think audio stuff is relatively more cheap to rent though);

tripod/head - a used miller ds20 fluid head and legs;

misc-  flags, diffusion (maybe a Matthews road rag kit for portability); use the rest on stands (Matthews digital combo or maxi steel... maybe a few cheaper aluminum ones, grip heads, gobo arms, Cardellini, etc. etc.), bags, batteries, misc. grip and cam accessories and a rock n roller cart to lug it all around. 

Looking back I wish I had 'bought once cried once', but I don't think I was really in the financial position to realistically do so.  I'd say buy what you can afford and make good stuff and then you'll organically grow your kit too (and know what kit you personally need as your career progresses... everyones different and only experience can teach this to a certain extent).  That said, don't buy the super cheap stuff - that stuff just breaks and ends up costing more (both in being a waste of money, but also a waste of time when it breaks in use on set). 

Also, don't get addicted to buying gear. If you're not sure but feel a burning desire to get something, sleep on it a day or better yet a week.  Buy what you need now - not what you think you might maybe need one day for that very unique scenario.  Also, I find camera grip accessories (a good grip, shoulder pad, ergo rig, top handle) to be very useful to me and something I use almost every shoot and which I can move from camera to camera since a lot of times I don't even shoot on my own camera 

 

Edited by Ericsson San Pablo Chu
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Sorry my last two thoughts were a bit stream of consciousness. Streamlined for clarity:

Other thoughts:

  • Don't buy the super cheap stuff - that stuff just breaks and ends up costing more (both in being a waste of money, but also a waste of time when it breaks in use on set). 
  • Don't get addicted to buying gear. If you're not sure but feel a burning desire to get something, sleep on it a day or better yet a week.  
  • Factor in equipment insurance
  • Buy what you need now - not what you think you might maybe need one day for that very unique scenario.  
  • I find camera grip accessories (a good grip, shoulder pad, ergo rig, top handle) to be very useful to me and something I use almost every shoot and which I can move from camera to camera since a lot of times I don't even shoot on my own camera 
  • The end goal is probably to not own anything ironically 😛 
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