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greetings,

 

This question has probably been asked a hundred times but the goal posts keep changing so here I am.

 

Basically I want to shoot a short film. I'm willing to spend up to 15k for a camera kit and want to make sure I'm getting the best bang for buck I can. The idea takes place in the Australian desert and I'll be looking for hot sweaty actors and landscape glorious colour. There won't be much call for low light conditions. I'm a visual effects artist so I will be adding in various effects such as heat haze and so on and there will be green screen work later in the film.

I'd like colour depth to play with and as much resolution as I can afford.

I'm not looking for a hand held effect but there will be action shots with possibly a whip pan or two. I'll need several shots close to ground and tracking across the landscape.

 

I was looking at the black magic but got told to stay away and go for a canon eos with nice lenses. So many choices - its like picking tiles for the house!

 

any advise people may have and I'm all ears

 

cheers

 

mark

 

 

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I was going to suggest an Arricam which can be had for that price. But you want digital and that's out of my realm.

Canon eos 5DS seems like it will next you about half the resolution as the black magic. Canon reports 1920x1080 max.

Black magic will do 4000 x whatever.

It will also record in Mpeg2 or h.264 only. No raw video output on the Canon.

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If you're concentrating solely or mainly on a short film, buying camera gear is a poor idea. Even if you're planning to do more in the future, it's a much better plan to invest in things like lighting, grip and lenses, which remain relevant regardless of what happens to camera equipment. Renting a body can be cheap if you own the rest of it, and it's "the rest of it" which makes it look nice. A member of this forum recently bought a used Sony F3 for very little money, in recognition of this fact. What's more, many people who spend big on camera equipment quickly realise that the costs of shooting productions are overwhelmingly in people and facilities, not equipment, and end up using the equipment so infrequently that it's almost impossible to consider it amortised even in terms of getting personal use out of it.

 

If you really insist on buying something big and clever and new, wait to see if the Blackmagic Ursa Mini is worthwhile. It's potentially one of the most interesting new cameras announced in a while, and if it turns out to be half of what the company is claiming it'll be a useful little thing. But even then, please, really, consider what you're trying to achieve and how a camera investment helps. More than anything else look at the crew situation: for that money you can afford something of a crew, including a director of photography, and that's far, far more useful than even the most highly-specified camera.

 

P

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I agree with Phil Rhodes. If you have $15,000 to spend on a short, put it on the screen and not in a camera. You can easily rent any camera you would like to use, Alexa with a nice set of lenses etc and the gear you need to shoot, plus some knowledgeable crew for that amount of money. You could easily spend the $15k on a camera package and still not have everything you need for it. If you're not a working cinematographer, I wouldn't purchase something. I know the idea of buying seems attractive, you have a tangible item after you shoot and can re sell it if you want after, but you could probably rent and not spend the full $15k.

 

All I know is that before spending all your hard earned money, do a budget of renting gear and paying people first. If you are shooting all day exteriors you will mostly just need grip equipment that is cheaper than lights to rent as well.

 

Just do some homework first, good luck!

 

-n

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If you're just planning to make a short film you're better renting the camera equipment, that's the way film producers work. You can probably rent a high quality camera kit for much less than buying a cheaper one. The camera isn't up on screen, while the art direction and actors are.

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Thanks guys - yeap I'll do some homework on rental - the reason I was looking to purchase was I wanted to learn a camera inside out to squeeze the most out of the quality it offers. I run a small vfx facility and often shoot elements and felt it could contribute. - the usra I've been keeping my eye on but it looks like I can borrow a red after all. Seems the usra will have similar rolling shutter issues to dslrs which is a bit of a deal breaker.

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Learning a camera takes time. If you really want to buy, then look out for the second hand EOS C500. It is selling cheap these days at around 7-8k usd. A new Canon 1DC will be 8k usd. It will also help you with still shots.

 

Cameras have evolved to a point where we are not longer limited by cameras. Rather more by creativity and vision.

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Had I 15K AUD (11K USD), and wanted to buy a camera for learning it 'inside out'... I'd look to the Blackmagic Design series. I've been impressed with my 'Pocket' camera, with an S16 sized sensor. There are other models that have larger sensors and higher resolutions...

 

What I didn't have was the budget for 'good lenses', so, in the case of the Pocket (BMPCC) at $1k USD, I'd have about $10K USD to spend on lenses and accessories.

 

In that regard, there are adapters for the Blackmagic to mount EF (Canon) or Nikon lenses. The Nikon lens I use is about 45 years old... because the Wife won't let me use her fancy new ones...

 

While I've not used Canon's, as 'we' are a Nikon household... I've been on a number of local amateur short film projects where Canons are used, 5D, C100, etc. and while they do produce, I personally would not spend the $5K or so, for 'new' for say a C100, unless I specifically was looking for 'low light'. The C100 did impress me for a shoot last year that required ISO 3200. The 'problem' if you will with Canons is that often people are raving not about the Canon firmware but the Magic Lantern firmware. I don't have a problem with using the 'hack', but I tend to not use them, as there's a hack for my Lumix GH-1, which I've never used.

 

In the case of the Blackmagic Pocket, one gets10 bit Pro Res or 12 bit Raw using the standard firmware.

Edited by John E Clark
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I'm not a fan of rushing out and buying a camera for a project you won't see any money returning on. Owning good equipment can be a headache because you've got assets sitting around that you won't be using every day. Putting the budget into production design, actors, locations and decent rental equipment for production, is far more important in my opinion. As a cinematographer, it's very rare you'd be working on a paid shoot with your own equipment. Even if you did, getting a rental fee on top of your labor rate can be tricky.

 

As a cinematographer, I never needed my own equipment. I'd simply put a budget together, talk with the rental houses, secure what I wanted and shoot. However, as time went on and I started producing my own projects, it became harder and harder to justify spending the money. The moment I heard about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, it was all over for me. I have zero interest in 8 bit 4:2:0 MPEG or RAW capture, which is what MOST camera's did prior to the BMPCC. Here was a camera that shoots 10 bit Pro Res 4:2:2 and 12 bit RAW for $1k. With an EOS lens adaptor, it could work with standard canon still glass. So lenses wouldn't be a problem and buying NEW wouldn't be expensive. I invested heavily in the BMPCC, 2 camera bodies, 4 prime lenses, audio equipment, everything you need to shoot.

 

As a producer of content, it's nice having a little kit I can take anywhere. Unobtrusive, relatively inexpensive and best part, everyone thinks I'm shooting stills. So taking it places you normally can't take a big camera, is no problem. I do mostly documentary work, so it's a no-brainer to have a small package and make it work.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks guys - yeap I'll do some homework on rental - the reason I was looking to purchase was I wanted to learn a camera inside out to squeeze the most out of the quality it offers. I run a small vfx facility and often shoot elements and felt it could contribute. - the usra I've been keeping my eye on but it looks like I can borrow a red after all. Seems the usra will have similar rolling shutter issues to dslrs which is a bit of a deal breaker.

 

Are you shooting this film or directing it? If you're the cinematographer, then maybe it's worth investing in some cinema gear, but if you're directing it, it's probably a significantly better value to put your money into production design and talent instead.

 

Cameras don't produce images. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either a camera dongle or a camera salesdroid.

 

Ursas by the way should be largely immune to rolling shutter problems.

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