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George Ebersole

XL2 or XL-H1

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For a project like the OP's, why would you buy a camera body instead of just renting for the duration of the project?

It's the same reason I bought an Arri2C way back in 1992; to have so I didn't need to head out to a rental house and splurge on a package with all kinds of addons and knick-knacks that I'd probably never use.

 

I can't tell you how many shoots I was on, mostly from fresh graduates out of film school, who would splurge on massive camera packages. Boxes and boxes of gear that never saw the light of day for a rock video or some industrial.

 

And it's certainly a lot better (and less waste of time) than telling a guy to go buy a book on how to work on a film set *hint hint hint*.

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And it's certainly a lot better (and less waste of time) than telling a guy to go buy a book on how to work on a film set *hint hint hint*.

 

I'll bet that you wouldn't enjoy reading : Below the Line by John Helton

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I'll bet that you wouldn't enjoy reading : Below the Line by John Helton

No more than you getting the same reccomendation from me.

 

I started out as a howlie intern at San Francisco Studios off 7th and Harrison, which has since been replaced with a school. One of my first gigs was cleaning up the apartment set from Spielberg's "Innerspace", worked on a number of industrials for Chevron, Autodesk, Intel, Apple, set up light (mostly Mole Richardson, some Arris, a few leekos and Eggcrates hung from the grid), ran cable, ran deck, picked up both equipment and onscreen talent, got lunch, got yelled at by blow heart Teamsters and egotistical directors. The only thing I did not do was actually direct anything for money, which was kind of my whole aim.

 

So when I get someone telling me that I ought to buy a book about what goes on on a set, when I've been doing it for ten goddamn years, yeah, I do take exception.

 

Take that for what it's worth.

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Okay, thanks for the replies. I'm still reading through the responses and getting caught up on jargon. CCDs are out, CMOSes are in.

Yea, if you think about size/weight and complexity of a 3 CCD imaging block, CMOS is quite efficient in comparison.

 

Speed boosters "suck in" more light for cameras with limited apartures.

Yep, they also give a wider field of view, which is what MOST people buy them for. This way on cameras with smaller imagers, you can achieve a wider field of view with like glass.

 

And, since most digital stills now shoot video, it looks like everyone's talking F stops instead of T stops.

ASA = ISO

F stop = T stop

 

It's all the same stuff.

 

But it looks like PL mounts are now standard, so whatever lens an old 16mm could use, you can now slap onto a DSLR or more recent prosumer camera.

Not quite... Most manufacturers has their own mount and some cameras have interchangeable mounts as well.

 

Canon uses EOS

Nikon uses F mount

Sony uses E mount

Panasonic has relied heavily on the Micro 4/3rds mount, so has many other manufacturers.

 

Yes it's true, in the world of cinema cameras, the vast majority of them are PL mount. However, as you can imagine, PL glass has gone up in value as these digital cameras have hit the market and the demand has increased. Buying a camera that uses PL, prevents you from using anything else because the flange distance is too great and unless the camera has an interchangeable mount, it... then you're kinda screwed.

 

This is the great thing about the Blackmagic Pocket Camera, it has a very short flange distance, which allows you to run almost any glass you want from PL to Arri B and Nikon/Canon/Sony, etc. Plus, the super 16mm sized imager, allows you to run super 16mm glass! I bought some very inexpensive Super 16mm primes for my film camera which work flawlessly with the Pocket camera. People don't want old Arri B mount Super 16mm glass, and ebay is full of the stuff.

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My only real question is on sound. I've still got me stone age thinking cap on; i.e. a soundman standing off to the side with a nagra and boom mic. I'm guessing sound is more done these days remotely, and then fed to the master during filming. Is that right?

I made a comment about that earlier in the thread, but you probably skipped it.

 

Today's digital audio recorders are inexpensive, Zoom makes 3 great models. (2 channel, 4 channel and 8 channel) They're pretty much all 24bit 192khz and record to SD cards of some kind. They're reasonably priced and the newest 8 channel one has timecode as well, which is pissah'. What I do is run all my audio to the recorder and take the output from the recorder, send it to a wireless transmitter and put a receiver on the camera. This will give you a decent mix in camera as temp whilst your editing. Then when you're done editing, you can export just the clips you use and there is this great program called Pluraleye's, which automatically sync's everything for you. Adobe Premiere has this function built in as well, but it would require syncing everything which is more time consuming. Once synched, all you've gotta do is export an OMF file and quicktime reference and you're all done.

 

Everyone uses wireless lav's today for almost everything. The new flat/pancake mic elements are taped to individuals chests and a little fanny pack is strapped to their waist under their garments, with the wireless transmitter. The receivers will be in the bag with the recorder, plugged into XLR inputs. Then you'll have one boom mic per two people as backup. So you can see how even 8 channels can be tricky and a lot of bigger films will use even more. I'm very much a fan of getting it right on set and having two channels for each person talking (lav and shotgun) is ideal.

 

For smaller shoots with 2 people or less talking, you can get away with a 2 channel recorder if all you wanna run is lav's and if you want a boom as well, buy a 4 channel recorder. I rarely run more then 2 mic's, so I have the 2 channel one, which I regret purchasing, but it was on sale. One thing to remember, sound is an art and it needs to be monitored. So if you buy a lot of equipment, you'll probably regret it because most sound guys come with their own stuff.

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Shogun;

 

So, here's a link of test footage I found with a Shogun;

 

 

Just keep in mind, if you get an Atomos product - make sure it matches your camera. For instance the new Flame line and the Shogun are primary good for 4k and UHD video. If you go with something like a C100 which does native 1080p, you won't need anything more than a Ninja ($300 at least price check). If you end up going with a GH4 and you want an external solution, the Ninja Flame is the best options right now, though pricey at $1,300. It records full cinema 4k (something the shogun and any older model was unable to do) rather than just UHD, and in my opinion one of the best parts of the Gh4 is it's native Cinema 4K format - something you won't find in any camera in its price range.

 

C100 is a good camera too no doubt, though if I was going to go with a native 1080p camera, I'd probably pick the black magic and spend the difference in price in adding accessories to the pocket to make it a shoot able camera. Just me though. Then again I'm not a Canon fan - have had bad luck with two DSLR's of their's I owned.

Edited by Landon D. Parks

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I seem to recall someone telling me that certain still lenses were faster, ... someone mentioned to me something about Canon lenses, but I can't remember what it was now. Okay. Since you're saying they're probably on the low end, then I'm guessing their slower even though there's more of them for all kinds of cameras.

 

But what you're telling me is that that advantage is a wash since the PL mount allows faster pro lenses to be used on things like the C100.

 

I'd like to shoot up at Castle Rock some time when the light is just right to get shafts of light through the forest canopy. I'm thinking the EOS series won't facilitate that as well as the pro lenses.

 

Okay, time to do some more shopping, and more reading.

 

Thanks again. Most helpful.

The only advantages PL mount lenses have are mechanical. It only really matters if you have a 1st AC who needs accurate focus marks, long smooth focus throw, geared rings, smooth linear iris, parfocality, perfect tracking, lack of image shift, robust housing. If you were shooting a well-budgeted film with a full crew, then I would advise you to rent PL lenses.

 

But if you don't need these things, then you can save 10's of thousands of dollars for equal sharpness, contrast, color. Look at all the gorgeous photographs taken over the last century with stills lenses, they do just as well on video cameras. If you're looking for modern sharp fast lenses, the Zeiss Otus primes open up to f1.4 and are optically as good as Master Primes. The Sigma Art prime lenses also open up to f1.4 for about 1/4 the cost. Vintage Leica R Summilux primes and new Zeiss ZE primes do as well.

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Yeah, to be honest the only reason I was scoping out Canons was because of the lens options. Ten years back, or heck, way back during Hi8 days, Sony, the guys who invented Hi8 and digital, had cameras with timecode, but you couldn't change the lens. You were essentially buying a dressed up consumer camera. And if that was the case, given the TVC dropout rates at the time, then why buy it in the first place? Why not spend 30k to 50k on an Ikegami or SONY field/studio camera?

 

But, Canon had the EOS adapter. So even even though the lenses were slower, you weren't stuck with a single lens ... like a Fujinon for all the BETACAM cameras I saw. Even though the lenses were slower by their very design, you could get more variety of shots, which was important to me. Not that I had a great need for wide angle or really long lenses, but all of the student of low budget stuff I've ever seen has that amateur feel because the cameraman essentially has one lens to work with.

 

That bothered me.

 

What bothered me even more is why SONY didn't have a digital camera at that time that could take PL or whatever mount lenses. I'm sure they had an agreement with Canon and whoever else to not build a camera in that price range with interchangeable lenses ... which just frustrates the low budget film maker to no end. Corporate gentlemen's agreement torpedoes peoples' aims for cinematic excellence on a budget with video technology.

 

Things have changed, thank goodness. I'm only middle aged with gray on my chin ... but, whatever.

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I do have a question on scaling. I understand data loss with scaling up an image, but how do you lose data by making the image smaller? I would think that you would need more data for a larger image, and that if you made an image smaller (going from 4k to 2k) you'd just need to "shave off" excess info as the image was compressed.

 

I read the explanation, but it seems counter-intuitive to me. Or does it really have to do with red registers?

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As for sound, the C100 has the advantage of 2x XLR inputs, phantom power, line/mic level switching, and decent preamps. So you can hire a sound person and have them plug in an XLR cable and send you a mix from their system. Or if you can't afford the sound person, plug in a boom directly. Or a wireless lav. Or an on-board mic. Or any combination thereof. Because it is designed as a video camera, not a still camera that also shoots video. Most of the other options only have one 1/8" mic input with lousy preamps and no dedicated switches or dials.

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Right now I'm leaning towards a C100, because

 

The only advantages PL mount lenses have are mechanical. It only really matters if you have a 1st AC who needs accurate focus marks, long smooth focus throw, geared rings, smooth linear iris, parfocality, perfect tracking, lack of image shift, robust housing. If you were shooting a well-budgeted film with a full crew, then I would advise you to rent PL lenses.

But if you don't need these things, then you can save 10's of thousands of dollars for equal sharpness, contrast, color. Look at all the gorgeous photographs taken over the last century with stills lenses, they do just as well on video cameras. If you're looking for modern sharp fast lenses, the Zeiss Otus primes open up to f1.4 and are optically as good as Master Primes. The Sigma Art prime lenses also open up to f1.4 for about 1/4 the cost. Vintage Leica R Summilux primes and new Zeiss ZE primes do as well.

 

Yeah, I'm not envisioning any tracking shots or any such. It's mostly going to be static stuff ... not even hand held (I really can't stand shaky cam footage and as a genre unto itself). Just lock down stuff; maybe a pan or two or three, but nothing requiring an intense change of depth of field.

 

Partially because I'm rusty as hell, but mostly because I've always preferred static films over films with lots of steadicam or dolly work. Just my personal taste. Even for action films.

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As for sound, the C100 has the advantage of 2x XLR inputs, phantom power, line/mic level switching, and decent preamps. So you can hire a sound person and have them plug in an XLR cable and send you a mix from their system. Or if you can't afford the sound person, plug in a boom directly. Or a wireless lav. Or an on-board mic. Or any combination thereof. Because it is designed as a video camera, not a still camera that also shoots video. Most of the other options only have one 1/8" mic input with lousy preamps and no dedicated switches or dials.

 

Okay, I've got some homework to do on sound.

 

Thanks everyone for the highly informative replies. Much appreciated from an old dog like myself. I will post more questions in due course. Thanks again! :)

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Sony and Panasonic were pretty committed to the 2/3" CCD prism block design which necessitated B4 mount lenses. I believe their first prosumer camera with a single S35 sensor was the F3, which came with a FZ mount with a PL adapter. There were also EF adapters available. It was a workhorse for low budget films. But it really was the Canon 5D Mk2 that changed everything.

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Yeah, I'm not envisioning any tracking shots or any such. It's mostly going to be static stuff ... not even hand held (I really can't stand shaky cam footage and as a genre unto itself). Just lock down stuff; maybe a pan or two or three, but nothing requiring an intense change of depth of field.

 

Partially because I'm rusty as hell, but mostly because I've always preferred static films over films with lots of steadicam or dolly work. Just my personal taste. Even for action films.

Stills lenses sound like they'll work just fine for you then. Best of luck!

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Right now I'm leaning towards a C100, because

Just remember the post I made earlier about the bit depth and chroma sampling.

 

The C100 captures in "substandard" 8 bit 4:2:0. Even though the imager is very good looking, (I think Canon imagers look pretty darn good). Imager is only half the story, the other half is the recording format. You can have the best imager in the world, if you can't get what it's seeing into your editing bay, what's the point?

 

If you want good audio, no camera is going to do it internally. So the "audio" benefits aren't relevant. Generally camera operators are too busy running the camera to make small audio changes whilst recording.

 

Plus the C100 is a big camera, it's tall and fat. The form factor doesn't work well for hand holding because it's so heavy. I've shot a bunch of stuff on the C300 and even though the output looked good, I didn't much care for working with it. Canon has to many little buttons, knobs and panels that flip out/covered up, it's a real pain to just do things with it. Mind you, menu-only operation isn't much better, but at least there is only ONE WAY to get into the menu and make changes. Plus, in the C100 isn't much better in quality then the 5DMKII still camera, unless you want to shoot super high ASA. Obviously the 5DMKII doesn't have the audio function, but it's a lot smaller and less expensive used.

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Despite the internal-recording shortcomings of the C100s, the images they produce are very nice and clean. Especially using the “Wide DR” color profile. A lot of web video work I do at the moment is on these. It gets you about 90% there.

 

I was very impressed by “Cartel Land” which was done on the C100 and recorded internally.

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Well that was one of my big beefs with prosumer and regular consumer cameras; all the features on the side. I nearly got fired by a lady who really liked my work ethic because the consumer camera she bought for some lecture circuit stuff had a bunch of "time lapse" or "slow motion" consumer buttons that got in the way of opreating the thing.

 

So, something that's menu driven and with a minimal amount of buttons is a must for me.

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I was very impressed by “Cartel Land” which was done on the C100 and recorded internally.

I didn't see it in the theater, just on BluRay... which is 8 bit 4:2:0, so it's hard to know.

 

I shot a feature that was shown in the theaters on Canon 5DMKII which is the same 8 bit 4:2:0 codec. It looked ok, but it did not look great. The layer of "mush" on top of every image was constant thanks to the compression and the lack of our ability to do any serious correction.

 

If everything is perfect and you don't need to do any post work what so ever, 8 bit 4:2:0 can be made to look ok, nothing like 12 bit 444, but good enough that the average user wouldn't know the difference.

 

However, most people can't shoot perfectly NOR do they have the time. So everyone today needs the ability to make some serious corrections in post. YES recording in S-Log or whatever variation of compressed "wide dynamic range" you wish to use, does make a difference, it's not enough. I edit and color to pay my bills and I've worked with quite a bit of C100/C300 material (including shot my own stuff on C300) and I'm finding myself up against a wall constantly with the ability to make corrections in post.

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for $3K you can buy a used $4K camera.....

 

or a brand new Sony A7sII on sale... and get a DSLR and a camera at once.

 

 

While I will say there are still reasons for SD, anymore it's getting hard to sell people on "only" shooting "hd" resolution.

Isn't that a DSLR though? I'd prefer an actual camera dedicated to video as opposed to a still camera that can also shoot video, as per Satsuki's reccomendation. I'm open to it, but the Canon and the SONY HD seem more footage friendly to me.

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I didn't see it in the theater, just on BluRay... which is 8 bit 4:2:0, so it's hard to know.

 

I shot a feature that was shown in the theaters on Canon 5DMKII which is the same 8 bit 4:2:0 codec. It looked ok, but it did not look great. The layer of "mush" on top of every image was constant thanks to the compression and the lack of our ability to do any serious correction.

 

If everything is perfect and you don't need to do any post work what so ever, 8 bit 4:2:0 can be made to look ok, nothing like 12 bit 444, but good enough that the average user wouldn't know the difference.

 

However, most people can't shoot perfectly NOR do they have the time. So everyone today needs the ability to make some serious corrections in post. YES recording in S-Log or whatever variation of compressed "wide dynamic range" you wish to use, does make a difference, it's not enough. I edit and color to pay my bills and I've worked with quite a bit of C100/C300 material (including shot my own stuff on C300) and I'm finding myself up against a wall constantly with the ability to make corrections in post.

 

Because of a lack of red data?

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The C100 captures in "substandard" 8 bit 4:2:0. Even though the imager is very good looking, (I think Canon imagers look pretty darn good). Imager is only half the story, the other half is the recording format. You can have the best imager in the world, if you can't get what it's seeing into your editing bay, what's the point?

I'll post some C100 frames when I get home. I don't think you'll be disappointed by the end result. Certainly, 4:2:2 and 10bit would be better. But if I have to choose between a better imager/color science vs a more robust codec, I'll take the imager any day. You just have to nail the lighting, exposure, and color in-camera. Just like with film and photochemical finishing.

 

Also, keep in mind that George wants to make short films for YouTube with this camera. The compression isn't going to matter on a 15" screen nearly as much as it would for theatrical projection on a 50' screen. (Btw, C100 footage from a Prores recorder looks great projected on a 50' screen).

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Isn't that a DSLR though? I'd prefer an actual camera dedicated to video as opposed to a still camera that can also shoot video, as per Satsuki's reccomendation. I'm open to it, but the Canon and the SONY HD seem more footage friendly to me.

 

A7SII is a DSLR, yes. If you want a dedicated video camera, the cheapest you'll find is the pocket camera from Black Magic. Everything else in that general price range, and even up into the few thousands will be severely limited, usually in recording media and sensor size. Most of the dedicated 'video cameras' (rather than Cinema cameras) will have tiny 1/2" sensors which give you terrible low light and little depth of field, and will usually be limited to recording 4:2:0 8-bit internally.

 

I still say for the price, and for your intended audience, a GH4 is the best option in this case. It's pretty cheap and produces some amazing images, while giving you plenty of options to upgrade in the future as you need to. It's menu driven, and also takes really good on-set stills if you need them - even while shooting. It has a more cinematic sized sensor, allowing for better low light and more creative depth of field.... It can take pretty much any lens from mf3 on up to PL primes... Has the option of 10-bit 4:2:2 out the HDMI if you need it later...

Edited by Landon D. Parks

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So, something that's menu driven and with a minimal amount of buttons is a must for me.

Give me a on/off button, manual iris, manual focus, manual zoom and I'm happy. I hate menu's, I hate switches and knobs. Cameras these days are too complicated, which is why I really like the blackmagic cameras because they program everything into a very simple menu. It really makes using the camera much easier for most situations. Yea if you're outside shooting ENG (electronic news gathering), you'd use a nice big shoulder mount camera with all the functionality on the side and NO menu's. However, when you're shooting in a controlled situation and you can spare the 10 seconds it takes to make a minor change, its great to loose those buttons and knobs.

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I'll post some C100 frames when I get home.

If you shoot perfectly, they look "fine". Just shoot something not perfect and try to correct.

 

Also, keep in mind that George wants to make short films for YouTube with this camera. The compression isn't going to matter on a 15" screen nearly as much as it would for theatrical projection on a 50' screen. (Btw, C100 footage from a Prores recorder looks great projected on a 50' screen).

Yep that's very true. But it's not about delivery, it's more about being able to correct when you make a mistake.

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