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camera Advice about: Lenses vs camera?

MidnightRabbit

Business Member
indieBIZ
Hi everyone, I would like to get your advice about what’s better. To get good lenses or to get a good camera first?
I have a DSLR cam and I would like to shoot cinematic videos. ( Eg: Depth of field) I know those examples probably were shot with super fancy equipment and crew.
I would like to achieve a cinematic vibe. Any advice to get a quality video without expending a lot of money?


Some examples




 
For a basic starting point, try simply letterboxing your videos in 2.35 or 2.4. That alone will make them look much more cinematic. Inexpensive cameras are not bad these days, and your camera body really determines image quality more than it does the actual look. Depth of color and bitrate are the big factors there, and you won't get to cinematic levels on either of those metrics without spending some real cash. For the layman viewer, you can get much stronger cinematic effects for much cheaper with lenses.

My advice would be to start renting lenses for your current camera, and just try out different ones for a while. Primes deliver great clarity and sharpness. Wide angles can give you new perspectives or make a small area easier to film. Macro lenses can let you get creative.

When it comes to getting a cinematic look for as cheap as possible, nothing is going to beat a lighting kit and 25 hours learning colorist work in Resolve.

It's possible for you to make Iphone footage look halfway cinematic with just that one piece of free software and some training. Also I should point out that none of the thumbnails above required anything fancy to get the look. If that's your goal, then I think you can get there without spending a lot of money.

For the lens flares in the last video, you can use Optical Flares in AE, by video copilot.
 
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what’s better. To get good lenses or to get a good camera first?
Yes.

:D

Both and neither are important for "the cinematic vibe". A camera can only ever be as good as the lens (or lenses) through which you funnel your image; but no lens and no camera can make up for a badly lit, badly framed, badly shot, badly acted scene. If you're still at the point of asking "camera or lens" then it suggests that you'd really be better off trawling through a few hours of YouTube videos explaining how different lenses work.

For example, were your "cinematic vibe" to include a scene where Our Hero appears to be dominated by towering mountains, you'll want to know how to create that image, and it involves a lot more than simply picking "the right" lens. By way of contrary example, look for the countless photos of so-called supermoons: they rarely capture that feeling of our local giant space rock rising above the horizon because, well, most people just don't know how to combine distance, framing and depth-of-field, no matter how good their camera or lens.

The question of distance - between you, as cinematographer, and your subject - is possibly the most critical parameter. The range of useful lenses for studio shoots will be very different to what you might take into the Great Outdoors. And again, you need to understand how using this lens or that one will affect the image that falls on the camera's sensor; and whether or not you can physically position the camera in such a way as to be able to use your preferred lens for the shot.
 

MidnightRabbit

Business Member
indieBIZ
For a basic starting point, try simply letterboxing your videos in 2.35 or 2.4. That alone will make them look much more cinematic. Inexpensive cameras are not bad these days, and your camera body really determines image quality more than it does the actual look. Depth of color and bitrate are the big factors there, and you won't get to cinematic levels on either of those metrics without spending some real cash. For the layman viewer, you can get much stronger cinematic effects for much cheaper with lenses.

My advice would be to start renting lenses for your current camera, and just try out different ones for a while. Primes deliver great clarity and sharpness. Wide angles can give you new perspectives or make a small area easier to film. Macro lenses can let you get creative.

When it comes to getting a cinematic look for as cheap as possible, nothing is going to beat a lighting kit and 25 hours learning colorist work in Resolve.

It's possible for you to make Iphone footage look halfway cinematic with just that one piece of free software and some training. Also I should point out that none of the thumbnails above required anything fancy to get the look. If that's your goal, then I think you can get there without spending a lot of money.

For the lens flares in the last video, you can use Optical Flares in AE, by video copilot.
Thanks Nate! Great advice, renting lenses is a great idea to know what works best for me. Definitely, I will buy some AE plugins to add cool cinematic effects.
 

MidnightRabbit

Business Member
indieBIZ
Yes.

:D

Both and neither are important for "the cinematic vibe". A camera can only ever be as good as the lens (or lenses) through which you funnel your image; but no lens and no camera can make up for a badly lit, badly framed, badly shot, badly acted scene. If you're still at the point of asking "camera or lens" then it suggests that you'd really be better off trawling through a few hours of YouTube videos explaining how different lenses work.

For example, were your "cinematic vibe" to include a scene where Our Hero appears to be dominated by towering mountains, you'll want to know how to create that image, and it involves a lot more than simply picking "the right" lens. By way of contrary example, look for the countless photos of so-called supermoons: they rarely capture that feeling of our local giant space rock rising above the horizon because, well, most people just don't know how to combine distance, framing and depth-of-field, no matter how good their camera or lens.

The question of distance - between you, as cinematographer, and your subject - is possibly the most critical parameter. The range of useful lenses for studio shoots will be very different to what you might take into the Great Outdoors. And again, you need to understand how using this lens or that one will affect the image that falls on the camera's sensor; and whether or not you can physically position the camera in such a way as to be able to use your preferred lens for the shot.
Thanks, yeah that sounds reasonable. I need a lot of work thinking about what's emotion, and aesthetics. Great tip about the distance between the camera and the subject.
 

MidnightRabbit

Business Member
indieBIZ
Hey, guys wonder what you think about the black magic pro? Is it as good as they say?
What are you shooting with richt now?
Hi, I'm not shooting I'm making music, but I would like to make my own videos and docs for my music. In the past, I was making videos with my Cannon Kiss camera ( It's the Japanese version of t3i think so ) and my 50mm lens + My Go Pro - That's the only camera equipment I have. That's why I was thinking to make an upgrade.
 
I was making videos with my Cannon Kiss camera ( It's the Japanese version of t3i think so ) and my 50mm lens

That's more than enough to guide you towards what you need (if you still have the camera & lens combo).

Instead of asking "is [insert random gear here] any good?" and hoping that someone else's skillset and budget aligns with yours, it'd be better to take use the gear you've got, push it to the limit and then ask "what do I need to get this shot?" - or "why can't I achieve that look?"

It may well be that the answer is "you need a bigger boat" :wait: but it's far more common (at least in still photography) to find that the solution is already available with the equipment to hand, and only requires a better understanding of aperture, depth-of-field and iso settings. For video, you'd be adding in other really basic stuff like using a fluid head tripod instead of trying to hand-shoot, or using up-close mics instead of the in/on camera mic.

There's no point in shelling out thousands of dollars, euros, yen or bitcoin on a great new camera or lens if you haven't already identified what it is that that new piece of equipment provides, over and above the capabilities of your Canon, your Go-pro and your phone.
 

MidnightRabbit

Business Member
indieBIZ
Black Magic makes a great starter cine camera. I think you would find it to be a major upgrade from what you're using now.
You read my mind! I was going to ask about how good it is the Black Magic Pocket, also there's a Sony DSLR that people say it's super cool and affordable. I saw some cons about the Black Magic Pocket, it's cool cause it's small, and you can shoot video anywhere (small spaces, inside cars), but also due to is too small, the body is not heavy enough to stabilize the image. :scared:
 

MidnightRabbit

Business Member
indieBIZ
That's more than enough to guide you towards what you need (if you still have the camera & lens combo).

Instead of asking "is [insert random gear here] any good?" and hoping that someone else's skillset and budget aligns with yours, it'd be better to take use the gear you've got, push it to the limit and then ask "what do I need to get this shot?" - or "why can't I achieve that look?"

It may well be that the answer is "you need a bigger boat" :wait: but it's far more common (at least in still photography) to find that the solution is already available with the equipment to hand, and only requires a better understanding of aperture, depth-of-field and iso settings. For video, you'd be adding in other really basic stuff like using a fluid head tripod instead of trying to hand-shoot, or using up-close mics instead of the in/on camera mic.

There's no point in shelling out thousands of dollars, euros, yen or bitcoin on a great new camera or lens if you haven't already identified what it is that that new piece of equipment provides, over and above the capabilities of your Canon, your Go-pro and your phone.
Thanks : ) Yes I still have the camera and the lens! Could you please guide me? I really have had that question for several years, "Can I make a cinematic pro-looking video by investing in lenses, and using a cheap camera?" ( like the examples I posted) - Music production is kind of similar, from my experience I know that good equipment can save you tons of hours, so you should pick wisely and just buy the equipment you really need, and also I learned that bad equipment sometimes can stop you to get the sound you want to achieve. I wish, someone in the past could guide me about that, and save me a lot of money and time, exploring each device, instrument, and virtual instrument, cause every new piece of gear you add to your workflow requires time ( knowledge curve ). Eg: If you want a grand piano for your song, You don't need to buy a Grand Piano, you don't need to learn how to play it, and learn acoustics to place the mics and the grand piano in the live room. you can use a Virtual Instrument instead. But, If you don't have a professional DAW, a Computer with enough RAM and resources, and a decent pair of good monitors; you're going to have a bad time. I hope that makes sense. 🙂
 
Not having good monitors makes a lot of sense. I used cheap computer speakers for my first Breakcore album= hate my skin. Its terrible masterd because cheap computer speakers make everything sound distorted and raw. In reality the base is waaaay to hard.

The Black magic's are interesting camera's good Low light and high dynamic range for the price. The Pocket needs to be upgraded with a cage and external battery it has bad auto focus The Black magic 4K is small enough for most gimbals. And because its MFT you can put small lenses on them.

But why not a Sony instead? You will have good auto focus, low light and its a good fit for most gimbals. If you want something even smaller and light you could go for a a6300, a6400, a6500 or a6600. APS-c sensors allow small lenses. rolling shutter is one of its downsizes
 
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"how do I make my footage look cinematic" was literally the first question I asked myself 14 years ago when I started. I now know the answer to that question, but it's not an answer, it's 700 answers. It's a college degree, and then a masters.

First things first, define cinematic. I wouldn't actually call any of the videos you posted cinematic. It's a word that gets overused to an insane degree these days.

What the cinematic look you see in movies comes from is not any one thing, it's the end product of getting dozens of things working perfectly in combination. There are some basic things we can help you with, like getting the best camera and lens combination at price x, but in truth, the largest obstacles you face are education and funding. Anyone without both will face difficulty achieving the look you see in studio films.

The education part at least, is mostly free, though there are some expenses as you go. I recently dug up this video for a friend, that clearly shows one of the core pieces of the puzzle, and if you take the time to fully understand this concept, and learn to use it all the time, it will go a long way towards giving you competitive visuals, and this requires no money. This clip is pretty basic, but it does a good job getting the central idea across.


Some super basic tips

Don't overexpose shots trying to get extra brightness, use your cameras meter as directed, and brighten in the colorist process. How this works is that anything that goes below or above your camera's range is lost, and cannot be recovered later, so if there is a light glare on your face in a shot that goes above range, you can't fix it.

Third lines - the "rule of thirds" is another cinematic basic. I never talk about it because most people know it already, but in case you don't this is ground floor cinematic method. Basically divide your frame into thirds, and place subjects of focus near the intersections of the lines.

1659396495412.png

1659396522225.png

toppng.com-rule-of-thirds-rule-of-thirds-transparent-696x464.png

This last one is a transparent PNG file, that you can download and use on your projects, just stretch it to fit whatever frame ratio you use, and layer it over your footage during composition, then remove before print. Once you get the hand of where things should be, you won't need to use it, but it might be helpful for a short while.

Third starter tip - An eye for composition. When you design a shot, you should always make sure that the subject is clear to the viewer. I don't mean make sure you aren't behind a lamp, I just mean that for a cinematic look, it should always be clear what thing on the screen you are supposed to be looking at.

good - lots of detail in this shot, but everyone is looking right at that character in the doorway.

1659397091306.png


bad - plenty of interesting things on screen, but what am I supposed to be looking at? It's not clear.

1659397202291.png



Anyway, I hope some of this is helpful to you. The good news is that composition and technique are actually more important than most of the things you have to buy, so you should be able to make some real progress without breaking the bank.
 

MidnightRabbit

Business Member
indieBIZ
"how do I make my footage look cinematic" was literally the first question I asked myself 14 years ago when I started. I now know the answer to that question, but it's not an answer, it's 700 answers. It's a college degree, and then a masters.

First things first, define cinematic. I wouldn't actually call any of the videos you posted cinematic. It's a word that gets overused to an insane degree these days.

What the cinematic look you see in movies comes from is not any one thing, it's the end product of getting dozens of things working perfectly in combination. There are some basic things we can help you with, like getting the best camera and lens combination at price x, but in truth, the largest obstacles you face are education and funding. Anyone without both will face difficulty achieving the look you see in studio films.

The education part at least, is mostly free, though there are some expenses as you go. I recently dug up this video for a friend, that clearly shows one of the core pieces of the puzzle, and if you take the time to fully understand this concept, and learn to use it all the time, it will go a long way towards giving you competitive visuals, and this requires no money. This clip is pretty basic, but it does a good job getting the central idea across.


Some super basic tips

Don't overexpose shots trying to get extra brightness, use your cameras meter as directed, and brighten in the colorist process. How this works is that anything that goes below or above your camera's range is lost, and cannot be recovered later, so if there is a light glare on your face in a shot that goes above range, you can't fix it.

Third lines - the "rule of thirds" is another cinematic basic. I never talk about it because most people know it already, but in case you don't this is ground floor cinematic method. Basically divide your frame into thirds, and place subjects of focus near the intersections of the lines.

1659396495412.png

1659396522225.png

toppng.com-rule-of-thirds-rule-of-thirds-transparent-696x464.png

This last one is a transparent PNG file, that you can download and use on your projects, just stretch it to fit whatever frame ratio you use, and layer it over your footage during composition, then remove before print. Once you get the hand of where things should be, you won't need to use it, but it might be helpful for a short while.

Third starter tip - An eye for composition. When you design a shot, you should always make sure that the subject is clear to the viewer. I don't mean make sure you aren't behind a lamp, I just mean that for a cinematic look, it should always be clear what thing on the screen you are supposed to be looking at.

good - lots of detail in this shot, but everyone is looking right at that character in the doorway.

1659397091306.png


bad - plenty of interesting things on screen, but what am I supposed to be looking at? It's not clear.

1659397202291.png



Anyway, I hope some of this is helpful to you. The good news is that composition and technique are actually more important than most of the things you have to buy, so you should be able to make some real progress without breaking the bank.
Thanks a lot! wow, you really know how to teach stuff! I don't want to become a filmmaker I just want to learn the fundamentals of a professional look with using low-budget equipment. Practicing the stuff you posted is going to be super useful. P.S. Semiotics of the term "Cinematic" is so weird nowadays, I just tried to explain myself with my limited knowledge and vocabulary about filmmaking, but I think you get my point.
 

MidnightRabbit

Business Member
indieBIZ
Not having good monitors makes a lot of sense. I used cheap computer speakers for my first Breakcore album= hate my skin. Its terrible masterd because cheap computer speakers make everything sound distorted and raw. In reality the base is waaaay to hard.

The Black magic's are interesting camera's good Low light and high dynamic range for the price. The Pocket needs to be upgraded with a cage and external battery it has bad auto focus The Black magic 4K is small enough for most gimbals. And because its MFT you can put small lenses on them.

But why not a Sony instead? You will have good auto focus, low light and its a good fit for most gimbals. If you want something even smaller and light you could go for a a6300, a6400, a6500 or a6600. APS-c sensors allow small lenses. rolling shutter is one of its downsizes
Thanks, man! I will check all those Sony cameras. I heard a lot about Sony, but I don't have an idea which one could be the best. I need to make more research on that topic.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Thanks, man! I will check all those Sony cameras. I heard a lot about Sony, but I don't have an idea which one could be the best. I need to make more research on that topic.
i like my a7siii but its a couple years older now
Honestly the easiest/quickest way to be "cinematic" is just to push in with a dolly or to do a crane shot

Like for example, play creepy music, show a door, push into the door slowly for 8 seconds, you've got a cinematic horror trailer
I've seen that basic shit so many times lol, but really just slowly pushing in with a dolly is magic compared to videography.

I did this like 8 years ago but still like the opening shot, just a basic crane shot.

 
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A quick tip for low budget cinematography that can help you accomplish what Sean is talking about immediately.

You don't really need more than 1080p for youtube, so film in 4k on a tripod. Once you get into the editing deck, the image will be much larger than the 1080 frame. Shrink shots down to fit if you don't need movement. If you want to do a push, or crane move of some kind, simply set keyframes and move the entire shot inside the window at up to native resolution. Perfect stability, full resolution, flawless fluid movement. It's a zero dollar fix that works perfectly, as long as you don't mind a 1080p output. This technique was responsible for every camera move in my first released film.

It's super easy, and if you don't understand, or need help, I'm sure one of us would be glad to screen share with you for 5 minutes and walk you through it.

Great suggestion from Sean.

I went and found the trailer for that old movie that used this trick, lol, I can't believe how bad I used to be at this. Anyway, you can see the technique in practice here.

 
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Eg: If you want a grand piano for your song, You don't need to buy a Grand Piano, you don't need to learn how to play it, and learn acoustics to place the mics and the grand piano in the live room. you can use a Virtual Instrument instead. But, If you don't have a professional DAW, a Computer with enough RAM and resources, and a decent pair of good monitors; you're going to have a bad time. I hope that makes sense. 🙂
You're talking my language - that all makes perfect sense! There's another way to use the analogy though (which can serve as a metaphor for that infamous "cinematic look") : why is a grand piano needed for this song? Is it the rich "grand piano" sound, as opposed to a stand-up honky-tonk piano, for a key phrase in the music? OK, you can sub in a virtual instrument there; job done, money saved, on to the next project.

But what if the song is about a pianist, and the music video needs to show them graduating from a honky-tonk in some two-bit town to a grand in a major concert hall? Well, now you've no choice - you need a real piano for the shot. But does your artist need to be able to play it? Not necessarily - stunt doubles regularly do the fingerwork for all kinds of instruments in movies, so your artist only needs to be able to act as if they can play.

Then again, if it's the artist who's commissioning this video, they might really need to play when they sing to get the maximum emotion out of their performance, so now you've no choice but to find a grand piano in a suitable setting and shoot your artist and the piano in real time. But hey, you can skimp on the audio at this stage, and re-record everything in the studio, because you're going to be doing this anyway, aren't you?

Unless the whole point of the video is to reproduce a "live" performance ...

There's a whole set of circumstances that have absolutely nothing to do whether or not the technology exists, but everything to do with whether or not it's needed, and that need will change with every production.

Getting back to the "cinematic" or "professional" look of any production, but especially a music video. Taking your second video as an example (MUSE) - study the intro: there are 54 separate shots in the first minute and three quarters, before he starts singing. That means setting up camera angles and lighting, as well as rigging and decorating the set, 54 times over. Sure, you can compromise on certain shots and use the same lighting when shooting from two or three different angles ... but if you want the "professional" look, then it's that investment of time and creative energy that will have the most effect, not the number of lenses you have in your kit bag.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
I would like to achieve a cinematic vibe.
Great way to word it. So many posts about the film look when they really mean this! (Although some posts really are about a certain film look, like super-8 etc.)
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
Cinematic vibe! Not just what is on the screen technologically but to evoke a certain experience similar to a theatrical one.
 
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