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Hello there folks, The time has come for me to buy my own video camera, and (surprise surprise) I wanted to get some advice from the vast experience of the folks on this site. Now I know that there is no such thing as “the best camera for xxx price” because then one can end up with a hammer although one has a job that requires a screwdriver…. But I have to admit, I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of products on the market. I am scrolling through the B&H site in my price range, and there are just way way too many cameras (and way too many of them have way too good reviews), and I barely know where to begin, and need your help. Sooo to cut to the (somewhat long) chase: I would like some advice on which cameras to look at or test before I make my purchase. Thanks for the patience in advance for reading this long post What I need the camera for and what my philosophy of filmmaking is Camera for Director - I am not a cameraman, but a film director. I do not believe in the tyranny of tech-specs and for the most part believe that the feel of the image is the single most important thing. There are some MiniDV cameras that look better than some HD cameras, despite the technical superiority of the latter. I have a (still camera) Nikon D60 which I never use because I feel the image is glassy, plain, the colors are uninteresting. Whereas the tiny Sony Cybershot I had (before it got stolen – bastards!) made far more beautiful images, despite that it had not the same capacities. The Best tool us the one I will use – I have expensive photo gear which I don’t use simply because I don’t like it (often too heavy, bad ergonomics, poor user interface). I far far prefer a tool that is less than perfect visualwise (which is a limitation with which one can be creative) than one which is annoying to use. This doesn’t preclude the use of very good tools. I have several super 8 camera for example, and the only one I use is my Beaulieu 6008, because it’s well, perfect. Heavy, good glass, variable speed, good feel, the right buttons in the right places etc. I would love something that I could use for years and years – Okay, I know this is video and model change every two weeks, but still.,, This would be nice. For still photography (in film) I have two “forever cameras” my Nikon FM 3A and Contax T2… they are little beasts of perfection. And if I could find something similar in video, I would be only too happy. My budget, some technical considerations, etc. Budget - My absolute maximum budget is 5000$. I do not necessarily need or want to spend this much money but am willing to if the “per-dollar-impact” of what I spend is worthwhile. My preferred price point is about 2500$, becuase then I could buy a nice tilt and pan tripod with a nice head and a matte box with a few filters... although if folks here tell me that I can get what I need for 500$ I’m not adverse to that either. (the iphone is tempting only for its camera) As this will be my first “serious” purchase of a video camera, I do want it to be a good investment, and hopefully something which I can continue to make images with for years to come. Use – My use of the camera is destined for short films which will be shown (one hopes...) on large screens in film festivals worldwide. This comprises of 1. Fiction short film with actors 2. Video diary stuff (i wander through the city and shoot stuff cause its pretty or ugly or whatever) Technical preferences, Good low-light – I shot my last film on the F3 (which I neither need, nor have enough money to purchase), and o it looks very very good at night. I do a good amount of night shooting under “available” (street) light, and I need a camera where the darkness of night (or room) doesn’t turn into grey, pixellating mud. Best possible dynamic range for the money Useable sound – Although if I shoot fiction films with the camera I will record sound separately, I want to be able to use the camera input for documentary/ video journal purposes, so the sound should not be overly crappy/compressed. PAL (25p) – I live and work in Europe Manual access to controls – Don’t like when white balance, filter, zebra, iris, etc. is buried deep in menus. Manual, zoom, focus, iris is a must ????? Finally, I know that there are quite a few DSLR options out there. For the moment (unless someone convinces me otherwise) I am not really in favor of them. Besides the fact that I really dislike the way the D5 for example looks, the smallness of the camera, the difficulty to follow focus, the poor sound, and the fact that they aren’t designed as video cameras make me think twice about them. But if there's something I absolutely have to try, let me know... Cameras I am currently looking at Sony NEX F100 - right price range. Big sensor. I like the F3 (does this matter?). Other people seem to like it. (although they seem to like the 700 better). A bit on the pricey side. (and will probably have to spend more on accessories than I need/want) Sony NEX 20/10 - These are far more in my preferred price range, although I fear they will be quickly outdated, and will quickly lose value unlike above camera. VG10 seems to get worse reviews than the VG20. Sony NEX VG900 - somewhere in the middle of the above too... somehow it feels like it's sitting on the fence.. but what do I know? (that's why I'm here). I would be tempted to go for either the NEX 20 or F100 JVC GY-HM600 - Read somewhere that this was a very good camera with good low light performance. For me I can't tell the difference between a camera like this and the 8,000 other similar prosumer models out there. But others know more than me Sony's HXR-NX30U - Cute little thing. Is this good enough for what I need? Like the portability, but still will likely be super shakey, and if I want something small I can buy an iphone... Panasonic AG-AF100 - Honestly, now that the Sony's are here, seems a bit not worth it as much. two years old. Correct me?? Perhaps a second hand Sony PMW-EX1R ??? OR????? Any other ideas???? I seem to a little bit biased towards interchangeable lens cameras, and I may be wrong here, but I think I have perhaps chosen them because they are far more unique to me than their "full package counterparts" out of which I have difficulty telling one from other (marketing people, listen up!!!) aaargh too much tech... and all I want to do is shoot stuff!!! If you have actually made it to the end of this post, I bestow a million blessings upon you and all of your ancestors.