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David Pettet

Best budget camera with professional results

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Hey guys, hope you’re all good. 

I need some advice i want to invest my savings into my first camera to play around with for my third short film. I’ve always worked quite abstractly so used to use GoPros and also other strange devices or whatever I could film on. But for my third film I really want to step up and use a camera that yields beautiful results. 

My budget is £600 GBP... and I want it to shoot beautifully but also be able to get the hang of quickly and good for a beginner. I’ve heard about the Panasonic G7 but anted to get so,e more feedback before I actually buy! 

 

Thank you you all so much

 

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when considering a camera purchase I use to divide the budget in half. 

max.50% for the actual camera and at least 50% for lenses and accessories. That tends to work for low budget pretty well if you don't have all the accessories beforehand (all the needed lenses, support, monitoring and power) . helps to balance things out 🙂 

You may want to look carefully the lenses you would like to use. For indie films you can go either with modern lower end still zooms/primes or you can use vintage glass (some of it is affordable and good quality, I recommend trying Nikon AI-S primes and Pentax Super Takumars and SMC Takumars for starters if you are interested in low budget indie glass. both of them have very good mechanics if they are in good condition... by my opinion some of the Takumars can have almost as smooth focusing as real cine lenses if they are in good mechanical condition)

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3 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

when considering a camera purchase I use to divide the budget in half. 

max.50% for the actual camera and at least 50% for lenses and accessories. That tends to work for low budget pretty well if you don't have all the accessories beforehand (all the needed lenses, support, monitoring and power) . helps to balance things out 🙂 

You may want to look carefully the lenses you would like to use. For indie films you can go either with modern lower end still zooms/primes or you can use vintage glass (some of it is affordable and good quality, I recommend trying Nikon AI-S primes and Pentax Super Takumars and SMC Takumars for starters if you are interested in low budget indie glass. both of them have very good mechanics if they are in good condition... by my opinion some of the Takumars can have almost as smooth focusing as real cine lenses if they are in good mechanical condition)

Thanks so so much ... what would you rec for the actual camera itself... the lenses info was extremely helpful!

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14 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

What can you get a Blackmagic Pocket for these days? I'd go for that in a heartbeat.

Indeed or the 2.5k Blackmagic cinema cameras are probably coming down into the price range.

Although lensing on both might be an issue if you want "all in" for £600

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Posted (edited)
On 11/20/2019 at 5:08 AM, aapo lettinen said:

For indie films you can go either with modern lower end still zooms/primes or you can use vintage glass (some of it is affordable and good quality, I recommend trying Nikon AI-S primes and Pentax Super Takumars and SMC Takumars for starters if you are interested in low budget indie glass. 

I regularly use vintage lenses on my M4/3 cameras with adapters for stills and video. Also good for shooting time lapse since the aperture blades stay in a fixed position unlike modern lenses which open and close for each individual shot (increasing the chance of flicker.) Though I'm half regretting getting the Takumar 300mm f4. It has huge amounts of chromatic aberration. Extreme CA. I have tried but I cannot get rid of all of it in Raw processing software for stills. And I don't know any way of removing it in video.

Edited by Patrick Cooper

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Yeah seconding the Sony PMW-F3. I don't go any smaller than a Super35 sensor when looking for a premiere look. I'm pretty sure it's the cheapest camera with a super35 that doesn't record to some ugly compression.

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Hey Max, I am going down the route you mention with the Sony PMW-F3. I am recording on a Atomos Ninja Assassin, which has trouble with the format it receives over HDMI. Can you recommend a box that will convert the unusual data format coming from the F3 into something the Atomos recorder can handle?

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On 3/23/2020 at 3:47 PM, Hannes Famira said:

Hey Max, I am going down the route you mention with the Sony PMW-F3. I am recording on a Atomos Ninja Assassin, which has trouble with the format it receives over HDMI. Can you recommend a box that will convert the unusual data format coming from the F3 into something the Atomos recorder can handle?

Any HD video recorder or deck with HD-SDI input or HDMI input will do. Not sure what trouble you are having with the ninja assasin. I have used a NInja Star and Samurai Blade on the F3 with great results. I now have a Gemini 444 recorder and couldn't be happier. I rate the F3 quite high. Now quite cheap. It can be a bit noisy in low light at 6400iso, but the noise is random not fixed pattern like you will get with early Blackmagic models. I would steer clear of first generation blackmagic models on the whole. 

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Guest Nisar Bazmi

Try a Panasonic Lumix, unless you actually mean video capturing, then go for a JVC Everio, budget costly, but precise in filming.

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On 11/20/2019 at 5:32 AM, David Pettet said:

My budget is £600 GBP... and I want it to shoot beautifully but also be able to get the hang of quickly and good for a beginner. I’ve heard about the Panasonic G7 but anted to get so,e more feedback before I actually buy! 

Buy secondhand and you can get the Panasonic G85! The IBIS is a really nice improvement (plus much more such as live HDMI, and bit better low light, etc)

Panasonic is crushing it for any camera that is sub $1K, you can get a Panasonic G9 for instance for a bit more with 4K 10bit internal! Even the legendary Panasonic GH5 can be found secondhand for around that price. 


Looking then at the $1K ish to $2K price bracket I'd say:

BMPCC4K / Z Cam E2 / Panasonic S1 / Nikon Z6 are your top choices in these price bracket. 

(or look at a secondhand Sony FS5 / FS700 / F3)

However if you're doing low budget corporate shoots, I'd probably still pick the likes of a Panasonic GH5/G9 over a BMPCC4K
 

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On 3/28/2020 at 4:26 PM, Chris Burke said:

Any HD video recorder or deck with HD-SDI input or HDMI input will do.

No, the F3 doesn't output 10bit over HDMI. 

You must get an SDI recorder. 

On 3/28/2020 at 4:26 PM, Chris Burke said:

Not sure what trouble you are having with the ninja assasin.

That's because it is an HMDI recorder. 

Even though I own an F3, and I'm a big fan of my camera, I'm not so keen in strongly recommending the F3 to newbies starting out. 

There are too many "gotchas" or hidden costs / hassles, which even if you know about, you might not still fully appreciate the magnitude of it until you get the F3 into your hands and start working with it.  

They're better off getting a Panasonic G85 or an OG BMPCC

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Thanks for your insight, David! I love my F3 and would much prefer switching recorders than cameras. It is true though that the F3 is a bit of a maze. To figure out what settings I need to use to record the best possible signal is a big old head scratcher. Do you know of any resource that offers a step by step setup guide for new F3 users? I would be more than happy to pay for this kind of advice.

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8 hours ago, Hannes Famira said:

 Do you know of any resource that offers a step by step setup guide for new F3 users?

There was a DVD course, I only ever saw it listed on eBay once. Truly regret not buying it!

If you ever find the DVD course let me know!!!!

But otherwise I don't know of any single step by step guide to the F3. 

Both Denis Hingsberg and Alister Chapman have written a lot of great stuff about the Sony PMW-F3. Look up their posts on forums such as dvinfo or dvxuser (such as this thread: http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?323095-Sony-F3-Resurrection-The-New-Chapter "starcentral" is Dennis Hingsberg's username). Additionally check out their own personal websites:
http://www.hingsberg.com/category/pmw-f3/

http://www.alisterchapman.com/tag/pmw-f3/

AbelCine also has a lot of good content on their website:
https://www.abelcine.com/articles/blog-and-knowledge?tag=pmwf3&sort=newest

If you know of any other websites to mention, please let me know!

 

8 hours ago, Hannes Famira said:

I love my F3 and would much prefer switching recorders than cameras.

Basically *ANY* SDI recorder would be the way to go. Better than your HDMI one now. 

The cheapest choices would be:

Blackmagic Video Assist (5" or 7", originals or the newer models) or the Atomos Samurai (which is what I've got, as when I purchased my recorder there were no secondhand BMD Video Assists available to buy, note there are two versions of the Atomos Samurai: the original, and the "newer" Atomos Samurai Blade. I've got both!). The original first Atomos Shogun is also going for quite cheap on eBay as well. 

If you have an F3 with the 444 upgrade, then you might want to consider also the Convergent Design Gemini / 7Q / 7Q+ or the Video Devices PIX-E5 / PIX-E7 (but do NOT get the PIX-E5H! That is their HDMI version. BTW, Video Devices is a brand owned by Sound Devices who you likely already know of as they're famous for their sound recorders / mixers). 
 

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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, David Peterson said:

Both Denis Hingsberg and Alister Chapman have written a lot of great stuff about the Sony PMW-F3. Look up their posts on forums such as dvinfo or dvxuser (such as this thread: http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?323095-Sony-F3-Resurrection-The-New-Chapter "starcentral" is Dennis Hingsberg's username).

One more person: Charles Papert. (he's a "big time DoP", who used the Sony PMW-F3 for one season of  "Key & Peele", he's talked a little about the F3 I think? Search and you'll find it. They switched to ARRI Alexa for all the later seasons. The initial pilot was shot on a Canon 1D mk4! Seems too the F3 was used mostly in "only" 8bit for much of that 1st season, kinda by accident as they didn't realise it!) 

This website is worth a browse too:
http://www.shotonf3.com

(Dennis Hingsberg founded it, to help spread awareness of the F3 and encourage more Producers and DoPs to shoot with the F3)

Edited by David Peterson

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2 hours ago, David Peterson said:

If you have an F3 with the 444 upgrade, then you might want to consider also the Convergent Design Gemini / 7Q / 7Q+ or the Video Devices PIX-E5 / PIX-E7 (but do NOT get the PIX-E5H! That is their HDMI version. BTW, Video Devices is a brand owned by Sound Devices who you likely already know of as they're famous for their sound recorders / mixers). 

I should also mention the Sound Devices PIX 240 Video Recorder

Avoid however the Sound Devices PIX 220! (that is HDMI only)

They also have the updated Sound Devices PIX 240i (and the HDMI only Sound Devices PIX 220i) which has an improved screen and a few other features:

https://www.tvtechnology.com/equipment/sound-devices-pix-240-production-video-recorder

btw, all of these are older than the Video Devices recorders, as anything "Video Devices" is more modern. As at a certain point they ditched the Sound Devices branding for their video recorders and gave them their own branding of "Video Devices" for their later products.
 

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Dear David, thank you so much for taking the time and compiling this extensive list of resources and for all the first hand knowledge. I will spend the weekend absorbing the links you provided. It's difficult to find anyone who actually has the experience and is willing to spend the time to answer these questions. It is appreciated. 

And I found the DVD and ordered it!

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/766578-REG/Vortex_Media_F3DVD_DVD_Mastering_the_Sony.html 

My camera does have the RGB 4:4:4 upgrade. So it sounds like I should definitely sell my Atomos recorder and get the Odyssey instead. It's a big investment for me but it seems really necessary. It doesn't make any sense to forego 4k and stick with 1080p if I am not recording the full depth of the available color information. Also the same recorder will still make sense if I eventually upgrade to a F35.

If you come up with more information please do not hesitate to post it here or ping me directly.

Thanks again!

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I think the Atomos Shogun 7 will handle dual link SDI.

Various people (AJA, Blackmagic) make converters which might take dual link 1.5G SDI and turn it into 3G SDI. It's another box and a bit of rigging to figure out how to power it, but it would let you use any 3G recorder.

I'd try any solution you come up with before you buy anything as dual link, and single link RGB, are both comparatively rare formats, and the sort of thing where you might expect to run into problems. It should work, but I suspect you wouldn't have to work too hard to find something where the dual link or RGB specific implementation hadn't been tested quite as much as everything else.

P

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Hannes Famira said:

Dear David, thank you so much for taking the time and compiling this extensive list of resources and for all the first hand knowledge. I will spend the weekend absorbing the links you provided. It's difficult to find anyone who actually has the experience and is willing to spend the time to answer these questions. It is appreciated. 

No problem! I'm far far far from an expert myself though. Especially as I purchased the Sony PMW-F3 years ago just as I was in the process of switching focus to instead being a sound mixer (which was a great career move! No regrets), so I haven't got to use my F3 as much as I initially wished to. 
 

10 hours ago, Hannes Famira said:


That's exactly the one I was referring to. Didn't realise it was still available to buy brand new?? Maybe something changed since I was last looking for it ages ago. I see you can rent it to stream online as well. Definitely I'll need to do that if I ever get back into filming more with the F3. 
 

10 hours ago, Hannes Famira said:

My camera does have the RGB 4:4:4 upgrade. So it sounds like I should definitely sell my Atomos recorder and get the Odyssey instead. It's a big investment for me but it seems really necessary.


I wouldn't say it is essential. As 10bit 422 is still very good (plus remember a *lot* of great things have been shot with the Sony F3 not in 10 bit, but in 8bit! Such as "Safety Not Guaranteed" and "Key & Peele"), and you can get 10bit 422 recorders for dirt cheap. 

However the Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q is selling quite cheap on eBay

 

 

10 hours ago, Hannes Famira said:

It doesn't make any sense to forego 4k and stick with 1080p if I am not recording the full depth of the available color information. Also the same recorder will still make sense if I eventually upgrade to a F35.


Personally I think the FS700R might be the more interesting "upgrade" path, they're selling for only slightly more than an F3 now, and if gives you the "modern features" of 4K raw and fancy super slow motion. 

Depends on where you want to go, stick with the basic features but pretty images? Then yes, go to a F35 next. 

Either which way, the Odyssey 7Q makes the most sense for both the F35 and the F700R!

 

10 hours ago, Hannes Famira said:

If you come up with more information please do not hesitate to post it here or ping me directly.


I think it's best to post it publicly here, rather than in a PM, so that other F3 adventurers of the future can discover this too! 

Edited by David Peterson

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Just get a Sony 960 digital betacam which is the latest model with 1000 lines. I'd take that over. dslr for sure. The colors are still better on digital Betacam than dslr footage like 7d etc. My opinion.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Giray Izcan said:

Just get a Sony 960 digital betacam which is the latest model with 1000 lines. I'd take that over. dslr for sure. The colors are still better on digital Betacam than dslr footage like 7d etc. My opinion.

Like what, specifically? The problem I see is they're probably at least a couple of hundred bucks for the camera body, but to record with them you'd want an external recorder which adds a few hundred dollars more. By this point in time you're not that far off the cost of just buying a secondhand Sony PMW-F3 (which can at least record to 8bit internally to SD cards for almost nothing, using an SxS adapter). 

Plus I don't really buy the argument that an old old ENG camera is going to have "better colors" than say a BMPCC would have. (or a Canon 5Dmk2 with ML Raw for US$350 for a body on eBay)

Edited by David Peterson

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