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Struggling with gear fear and deciding what camera to purchase. (Red Komodo, Sony FX9, C300 mk II)


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Hey all!

I'll cut to the chase. I currently own a Sony FX6 along with a set of vintage Contax Zeiss lenses. I mainly work as a focus puller or camera operator in South Florida, where our work largely consists of branded content, commercials, documentary, reality and music videos. 

My goals are to shoot more, specifically to create a portfolio of work that represents the kind of work that I want to be doing. While I grow my reel, I'm often a solo shooter, or shooting run and gun. I have no interest in ENG and reality. And although I think the new Sony cameras put out a beautiful image, with more dynamic range than the Komodo, and improved color science, I think it still gets pushed aside as an ENG camera and doesn't get chosen for work in that realm. 

Options I'm looking at include the Red Komodo, Sony FX9, and also the Canon C-Series (C300 mkIII or C500mkII)

I mean, as a focus puller, I've been on a couple commercial sets where the Komodo has been the main camera. Although I could care less, I know that brand name carries weight in our industry unfortunately, as does legacy.

I have no necessity for autofocus. I love the idea of shooting Raw straight out of camera so the Red seems like a great option, but I'm put off by the lack of internal ND's, Super 35 sensor (I love having a wider native field of view), and the top mounted touch screen. I also like the fact that I can mount it on an RS2. 

I looked at the C70 but the lack of SDI out is a deal breaker to me. The C300mkIII's RAW out is great though, and they can be found used for pretty inexpensive. The C500, albeit more expensive, is a full frame powerhouse, however it's not a camera I see rented often in my market, and although I'd mainly be using this camera for personal use, I would still like to be able to make some passive income off of rentals with it. 

The FX9 is a great camera. I like the 6k sensor, even if it does downsample to 4k, most of my exports will be done in 4k anyways. I like that the camera comes ready to shoot straight out of the box, the internal ND's are so so so nice to have. However it's internal codecs, to me, leave something to be desired, and I worry about it's reputation as broadcast, documentary camera. 


Would appreciate any advice, given my goals, to help me get over my gear anxiety and that might help me pick what will suit me best. I know most of these cameras can all achieve great images, but because they all have valid pros and cons, it's hard for me to find which one is best suited for me and would appreciate any advice, opinions or experiences that might help. 

Thanks all! 

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Since you're already in the Sony wheelhouse, just stay there. 

Right now, there isn't a great camera to buy. Even the FX9 has been out for a while. 

The canon's are nice, but they aren't commercial cameras. At least the FX9 creates "post friendly" files you can simply hand off to clients after shooting. Ya ain't gonna get that with many other cameras and that's super important when you're a shooter. You wanna just hand the files off, not transcode and walk away from the project. This is why so many people love the Alexa and Sony F and FX series cameras, simply workflow. 

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In that price-bracket it's really all a much of a muchness. All of those cameras will produce excellent results, and few of them will stand out (in terms of overall image quality) compared to any of the others. The Komodo makes lovely pictures, but has a single (seemingly quite fragile) video output, which makes it problematic for conventional camera duties. The FX9 has a terrific 6k full-frame sensor, and lovely colours - but a horrendous raw workflow (the worst of the bunch), and it's beaten in several key areas by the FX6 that you already have (though it does offer a locking lens mount and dual SDIs, which is important.

The Canons (C300iii and C500ii) are probably the most well-rounded of all of those cameras (with internal raw recording, sufficient video outputs and internal NDs), but they have some painful limitations (like not being able to shoot slower than 12fps, not being able to monitor anamorphic desqueeze properaly at above 24/25/30p, and ND filters that jump 2-stops at a time in density).

Personally, I'd probably suggest sticking with the FX6 - it seems to be far and away the most popular of that group of cameras, and none of those alternatives will improve your appeal to commercial producers in any significant way.

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I would probably stick with the FX6 for a while until you can do a bigger step up than fx9 /c300III / Komodo and can update to the next price range / budget level.  It might not be big enough leap forward if you just update within the similar price range than your current camera body already is.

I would get a good quality and silent external raw recorder for your FX6 though if you already don't have one. This way you can get the most out of the camera if needed and it is a selling point if the customers ask for raw. Costs lots less than a whole new camera body too (from 1k to 2k compared to from 6k to 10k) so that you can save on the bigger camera body update til something excellent comes available (probably in the price range of from 15k upwards I think) OR just use the difference on g&e and lenses if that seems more practical 🙂

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You can't buy an FX9. So cross that off the list.  Been backordered forever.  Maybe in late August. Unless you find a used one from an owner looking to upgrade they are hard to get.  The chip shortage has really hurt Sony.

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From what I know about cinema cameras, the advice given above is pretty solid. Stay with Sony and maybe consider Red.

I think Tyler is right about post-ready file formats.

I am not sure what you mean when you write, "I love having a wider native field of view". I hate to be a smart-aleck but I have no idea what that means. Digital S35 is the sweet spot in the size-price-quality triangle.

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Stick with what you have until you NEED another camera. Invest in the accessories that work on EVERY job, such as wireless video, wireless focus, tripods etc. Chasing the new cameras only really gets you broke. 

RIght now everything is either back ordered, or hyper inflated (LENSES!) so unless you absolutely NEED a doo-dad, give it a break, save the money, and see what comes. 

There’s nothing wrong with an FX6. Hell, I’d take one right now if I could. 

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On 6/6/2022 at 9:59 AM, Michael LaVoie said:

You can't buy an FX9. So cross that off the list.  Been backordered forever.  Maybe in late August. Unless you find a used one from an owner looking to upgrade they are hard to get.  The chip shortage has really hurt Sony.

You also cannot buy a FX6. B&H just quit taking orders or reservations on them. I think we need to be looking forward to Sony's replacement / updated cameras for both the FX9 and FX6.

 

Like the OP, I have also been looking to "take the next step". I looked really really hard at the Red V-Raptor but felt like I needed to step up to either the Sony Venice or Arri Alexa Mini LF camera. And then the Arri 35 was released.

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On 6/6/2022 at 6:59 AM, Michael LaVoie said:

You can't buy an FX9. So cross that off the list.  Been backordered forever.  Maybe in late August. Unless you find a used one from an owner looking to upgrade they are hard to get.  The chip shortage has really hurt Sony.

Granted I’m in LA, but in April I spent a week calling around to a bunch of stores and eventually found an FX9 that had just arrived at Samy’s. Went in the same day and bought it. Also I’m still getting calls from Filmtools telling me when they have an FX9 in stock.

So if you’re proactive and have your financing sorted, you may get lucky too. 
 

-Tristan

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Samy's camera has the FX9 in stock. I go there all the time and they always have one on their shelf ready to buy. 

BH is such well known mail order company, they probably sell out of the limited production fast. There are plenty of other resellers in the country who don't have that much traffic. 

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On 6/8/2022 at 9:01 PM, Adrian Sierkowski said:

Stick with what you have until you NEED another camera. Invest in the accessories that work on EVERY job, such as wireless video, wireless focus, tripods etc. Chasing the new cameras only really gets you broke. 

RIght now everything is either back ordered, or hyper inflated (LENSES!) so unless you absolutely NEED a doo-dad, give it a break, save the money, and see what comes. 

Seconded.

Rent cameras. Buy everything else!

If you need to buy something, go get yourself an FS700 or something. 240fps raw 4K, extremely compatible lens mount, and the price it is now? Still hard to beat.

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According to always correct Probyn's Criteria 

Its pretty simple if your freelance  gun for hire , depending on the market you want to get into , there are only a few in each category these days .Doc / Corp Sony fx9 / fx6  ( rarer than a Ferrari GTO garage find)  /fx3 B / gimbal  OR  Canon C300III / C500 II / C70 B camera gimbal  , these will cover any shoot in that market for a jobbing freelancer and will be the only cameras ever requested . High end, Arri Alexa  or Venice or the higher end RED,s .. this is not a judgement on any camera just what you will be asked for at the moment . 

No further questions your honor 

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  • 1 month later...

My personal preference would be to stick with your FX6 and add an attached recorder as suggested above. Sony's product support has been good in my experience although you will pay for it if you need it. 

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With the Sony FX6 and 9 you can get a loupe that fits over the screen, but on the FX6 they say the screen with the loupe works loose. A lot of people seem happy to film without a viewfinder but if filming shoulder-mounted and in a lot of other situations it would be good to have the option of an EVF. There are non-Sony EVFs but I hear that they can suffer from lag. The Canon and BMD cameras are available with a viewfinder. Thoughts on this anyone?

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Which of Canon, BMD, Sony or Red creates a general look that is most like real film footage? A few people around the place seem convinced that BMD gives the most filmic images. I'm not so sure. Maybe. I kind of like the look of Canon digital cinema cameras. Or doesn't it matter at all and is it just splitting hairs?

On a side note, I really like the look of some of the digital grain/film emulation plugins that are now available. Some of them come close to making video look like film.

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