Hey, there, new to this forum, and I'm here looking for camera recommendations. I'm getting ready to graduate soon (been pursuing an education in video production), and while I hope to end up working with a production company or something along those lines, I have a feeling it's going to take some time before I come across that kind of opportunity. So, in the meantime, I'm interested in trying to do some freelance work, just to build up a bit of a "portfolio"/ demo for myself (and maybe make a little money, if possible).
At school, I've mainly been learning on/ using a Panasonic AG-DVX100B, though I'm going to take a wild guess and say that that's probably a bit of an outdated camera (to my knowledge, it doesn't even shoot in HD, unless I just haven't played around with it enough).
So, I don't necessarily need something particularly high end right now. I know I'll probably have to plunk down at least a couple grand for something "entry level", and I'm looking for something that will work for me. I'm kinda hoping to buy ASAP, because I may already have a "client" interested in paying me to shoot a video for them in the next week or two, so I'd like to buy something and familiarize myself with it and whatnot.
Thanks in advance for any input! It's much appreciated.
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Ok, so your budget is a couple of grand. What equipment do you have already? And what type of productions are you planning on doing? - documentary/indie cinema, broadcast/eng, sports/pov, wedding/event, commercial, musicvid...
How much do you want to deal with audio?
Btw, the dvx100 was probably one of the best SD rez inexpensive pro cams of its kind. Especially when you modded it (similar to ML)."When will the rhetorical questions end?!" - George Carlin
I'd get a used Hi-def card/HDD cam with LANC that has audio in, a mic, LANC remote, monitor, a fluid head tripod, and probably have money left over to take a trip to shoot...but that's just me.
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Well, I ask because you'll never find a tool that covers ALL contingencies. Besides budget, you've got compression/quality, filesize/runtime, portability/extensibility, and other factors to prioritize. I was hoping you'd lean to certain styles/things that lead one to filter your list, like "I need a cam that can run for 4 hours straight without overheating or needing a swap of storage."
So, these days, there are certain families of camera types:
1. Traditional Pro Broadcast/ENG camcorders
2. DSLR cameras (photo+video)
3. Electronic cinema cameras
4. POV/Sports cameras
5. Consumer/Prosumer camcorders
6. Cameras on phones
Which one(s) you get, depends on how you work with it. How much or little you care about compression artifacts, how much/little you care about variety in dynamic range or framerates/framesizes, whether you need photo/timelapse ability or not, whether you are sensitive to the differences between imager types (ccd vs. cmos) and whether you are bothered by rolling shutter. And again, how much you can get on a single storage media (depending also on battery life).
Of those families, the 1st one is probably too expensive for you (starting just below the upper limit of your budget) unless you are OK with getting stuff from ebay/craigslist/etc. In that category, believe it or not, you could get an HVX200a (HD cousing to the DVX100b you've been using) for less than or equal to $2k! 2nd category can start below your budget, but can get pricey depending upon accessories (particularly when shopping for real GOOD lenses). I recently got a video-capable, entry level DSLR for right around $2k (with all accessories, media, batteries & couple of good stock lenses), so I know this is possible. 3rd group, POV cams, are where GoPros fit in. They are fairly cheap (so you could afford it), and they are fairly "set it, and forget it", but they don't allow for much control of the image. Conversely, they allow for much control of the positioning and are tied with phones for being the most portable, even moreso than consumer camcorders. If you need something which could go for hours on end, #1, #4 or #5 are your best bets. For manual, professional control of all parameters of the image, #3, followed by #2, followed by #1, are best. For the ability to quickly set up a number of custom "looks" covering different M.O.s, #1 is best, followed by #2 and then #3, then #5.
Note also, that some things which on the surface look to have deficiencies, can be bypassed when coupled with certain accessories (e.g. Raw signal via clean, HDMI output to HDD external recorder).
Have a look into: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera (but beware it can overheat, and has time limitation of cardsize when shooting raw, unless you get ext. HDD rec). Or Full-frame (or NEARLY full-frame) DSLRs like Canon or Nikon (similar heat/size restrictions, but they may also have artificial <30min. size restriction).
Remember, there are pros and cons to using Larger or Smaller imager sizes (DOF, Low light sensitivity, Angle-of-View). Again, depends on your priorities and usage.
Whatever you do, I'd use a spreadsheet to tally up all the necessary items (maybe even including tax), including you storage media, battery/power needs, monitoring needs, stabilization needs, lighting needs, audio needs, and other accessories.
Remember that for certain kinds of shots, you'd want a very stable fluid-head tripod, and good ones of those START at around $300 alone. Don't ever need those shots? Then you could get by with one for 1/3 - 1/2 of that price.
I haven't gone into Audio much, but suffice it to say, most of your On-Camera options are or could be ACCEPTABLE, but NONE, not even on the highest end of #1, or #2, would be considered Pro Audio by a Pro Sound Engineer (whether Film-, TV-, or Radio/Music-based). And good sound gear alone is going to cost you, even for just the "acceptable" pro level, a bare minimum of ~$300-400 (for a good mike and XLR pre-amp adapter), and can easily go up to $1500-$2k (especially if you are going double system).
But, not knowing what you've learned, your level of acceptable quality could be very different. Some people find shooting with an iPhone acceptable (for certain very-well-lit material and med/long distances and little motion, it can give you a wonderful image), though I still wouldn't call it "professional" - prosumer maybe, and even that only when using specialty accessories geared toward outrigging the device.
Don't know how much that helped, but it's food for thought.
Last edited by Cornucopia; 4th May 2014 at 03:41."When will the rhetorical questions end?!" - George Carlin