HELP PLEASE! The right camera??

Hi,
I am currently studying Cinematography and have an interesting assignment due, which is to produce a 3 minute short film ( criteria may be discussed in another post ).

Ok here is my problem. I have spent hours upon hours,days, weeks and I am struggling to find the right camera to inveterate in to shoot other short film ideas.

I have good experience with DSLRs and I know my way around a camera. But being a student I have a reasonably low budget €1000 - €1500 max! I am looking for a camera which I can invest in and use for years to come, one with a high dynamic range and one that gives a great cinematic look. I found myself being torn between;
the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera and the Panasonic Lumix GH4.

Every camera has its flaws, I love the image produced by the super 16mm BMPCC but the crop factor and accessories needed for it to make a decent film camera ( i.e multiple batteries or v mount, speedbooster to reduce crop factor or mount other lenses than MFT, etc. ) shoots it upto the €($)2000+.
The GH4 does look decent but I dont think it does a great job with highlights and blacks? I am also looking at the Canon 70d and the Nikon D7200

Would love some opinions on this.
:)
 
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I am looking for a camera which I can invest in and use for years to come, one with a high dynamic range and one that gives a great cinematic look.

There is no sensible answer to this question! Where do you intend to be in "years to come"? If it's working as a cinematographer in Ireland for TV, then you'll need a camera approved by the EBU (and probably RTE). If you're looking to work in cinema, then neither camera would be suitable and commercial film productions tend to hire the required camera equipment rather than owning it anyway. If you're looking to be an amateur filmmaker, IE., not hoping to ever have your films broadcast, then you've still got the potential problem of not knowing how online (or other non-commercial distribution platforms) technology will develop and which of your two choices would be less or "un" suitable in "years to come".

Maybe the wise choice would be to hire a camera for your short or get something less fancy (and less expensive) until you have a better idea of where you're going with your cinematography?

BTW, you can eliminate a built-in microphone from your considerations. Whether a camera has one or not is irrelevant as no built-in mic will provide better than "home video" quality anyway.

G
 

directorik

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Hi,
I am currently studying Cinematography and have an interesting assignment due, which is to produce a 3 minute short film.
Ok here is my problem. I have spent hours upon hours,days, weeks and I am struggling to find the right camera to film this.
To produce a 3 minute short film for a class assignment is it even
necessary for you to buy a camera? In your price range it might be
better to hire a camera for the weekend.

I am looking for a camera which I can invest in and use for years to come, one with a high dynamic range and one that gives a great cinematic look.
In your price range you will very soon outgrow the camera. You will
not be using either the BlackMagic or the GH4 in 2025. Or even in
2020. Once you move beyond 3 minute shorts for class assignments
you will need to use a higher end camera.

You are correct, every camera has its "flaws" - it is up to the cinematographer
to overcome those challenges with skill, talent and experience. So I
suggest you get the GH4 if you are determined to buy a camera now.
Yes, that camera has its "flaws" - it will not give you a great cinematic
image right out of the box. You will need to learn how to use it well.

Make this first 3 minute short film and learn for doing it. Then make 10
more over the next year. By October of 2016 you will be much better at
using that camera then you are today.
 
There is no sensible answer to this question! Where do you intend to be in "years to come"? If it's working as a cinematographer in Ireland for TV, then you'll need a camera approved by the EBU (and probably RTE). If you're looking to work in cinema, then neither camera would be suitable and commercial film productions tend to hire the required camera equipment rather than owning it anyway. If you're looking to be an amateur filmmaker, IE., not hoping to ever have your films broadcast, then you've still got the potential problem of not knowing how online (or other non-commercial distribution platforms) technology will develop and which of your two choices would be less or "un" suitable in "years to come".

Maybe the wise choice would be to hire a camera for your short or get something less fancy (and less expensive) until you have a better idea of where you're going with your cinematography?

BTW, you can eliminate a built-in microphone from your considerations. Whether a camera has one or not is irrelevant as no built-in mic will provide better than "home video" quality anyway.

G

I understand your point of there being no sensible solution to the question... i.e one camera covering the vast fields that cinematography. And what you said is a great point! I need to define the area I'm going into and find what's best camera for that.
It is tough as I am studying Multimedia in college so photography also comes into place as the various other modules im studying.
But I would be looking for something that i am not just buying for the sake of this course. I am very interested in cinematography mainly in cinema film and especially in the post process of editing and grading. My aim as of now is to excel in the area of short film/short indie films to be portrayed on an online platform/portfolio e.g vimeo. Also to enter local film festivals after I learn to be a skilful cinematographer and , as of this moment in time, i see myself in the future progressing into commercial productions. I know I'm talking the caliber of RED cameras and rental of high end cameras for the commercial productions but for now I just need to invest in a good camera that will hold for a few years. Not to be the best camera for a few years as technology has an insane growth/development rate but just one I know will produce a high quality short film and hold its ground.

Rental for this wouldn't be an option as a student my income is not only relatively low but not consistant. I'd like to buy a camera to have of my own to film many many of my own Short film ideas and to grow a nice setup/rig etc. Not to just use all my income to use a camera for one weekend.

Also I worded that first question wrong lol. I meant to list equipment necessary for the bmpcc. I will be buying tripods, external mics etc for any camera I get of course as filming and entire short with in camera audio would be terrible haha. but the bmpcc requires endless batteries, speedboosters to reduce the big crop factor etc
Thanks for the reply also! Any further advice would be much appreciated
 
To produce a 3 minute short film for a class assignment is it even
necessary for you to buy a camera? In your price range it might be
better to hire a camera for the weekend.


In your price range you will very soon outgrow the camera. You will
not be using either the BlackMagic or the GH4 in 2025. Or even in
2020. Once you move beyond 3 minute shorts for class assignments
you will need to use a higher end camera.

You are correct, every camera has its "flaws" - it is up to the cinematographer
to overcome those challenges with skill, talent and experience. So I
suggest you get the GH4 if you are determined to buy a camera now.
Yes, that camera has its "flaws" - it will not give you a great cinematic
image right out of the box. You will need to learn how to use it well.

Make this first 3 minute short film and learn for doing it. Then make 10
more over the next year. By October of 2016 you will be much better at
using that camera then you are today.


I wouldnt be just buying it for the 3 minute short. I love cinematography, filming and the editing process so it would be something I would use and film with Alot.
My income isn't very high or consistant so renting a camera wouldn't be an option. I'd rather buy a pretty high end camera to film as much as I can with to expand my knowledge and skill s instead of renting one for one day.


That is a very relevant point..no matter what I buy now. Even if it's the #1 camera now, in 2020+ the features will be very outdated. Just the joys of the insanely quick, developing, technology world we live in I guess :lol: but I'd just be looking for something that an experienced filmmaker could recommend that would hold itself for a reasonable time and that gives great image quality.
Great advice, as they say the best way of learning is by doing.

Just want to make sure I invest in a decent camera and don't end up spending what I have on a camera that just makes this journey much more difficult.
 
...............
My income isn't very high or consistant so renting a camera wouldn't be an option. I'd rather buy a pretty high end camera to film as much as I can with to expand my knowledge and skill s instead of renting one for one day.
.................

Just want to make sure I invest in a decent camera and don't end up spending what I have on a camera that just makes this journey much more difficult.

Low income vs. high end could be the bottle neck here...
Instead of high end you can get as good as possible for your budget.
And you know what?
That is allright.
By the time you have outgrown your camera it is possibly an old camera anyway.

BTW, I have no solid advice on which camera.
The best way to find out which one suits you best is renting or borrowing them to try them. It might cost a bit more to start with, but it might give you peace of mind compared to a situation where a online forum tells you what to buy and you keep wondering: "what if...?"
 
I would rather own a GH4 than a BMPCC. This is based on my experience owning a GH3 and using a BMCC 2.5k most of this semester.

The GH4 will be much more flexible. Higher frame rates, good still photos, less post work necessary, smaller crop factor. This last one is huge, since very few MFT lenses are suitable for cinema work, and finding affordable, super wide, all manual, non-MFT lenses is tough.
The BMPCC will make a better quality image, hands down, but proper lighting and composition will make a much larger difference in audience's visual experience.
The BMPCC's files will be larger, so you will need much more storage. GH4 can make large files with 4k, but you have options for lower bit rates.
If you have no experience color correcting/grading, your learning curve with the BMPCC will be steep.
If 4k is an issue, obviously the GH4 has it. If I had the option I would shoot 4k just to downscale it to better 1080p.
The accessories you mention are needed for either camera.
 
ah... every film student I know always says "I have experience with DSLRS" yet most of them I meet dont know what a shutter speed is or does, confuses it with ISO and almost dies when I say open or close the aperture.. get yourself a cheap camera such as a t3i or gh2 hacked and play around until you know all the features and what they do.

I meet too many people with money and no sense and buy the most expensive thing they see thinking its what makes their footage great.
 
Low income vs. high end could be the bottle neck here...
Instead of high end you can get as good as possible for your budget.
And you know what?
That is allright.
By the time you have outgrown your camera it is possibly an old camera anyway.

BTW, I have no solid advice on which camera.
The best way to find out which one suits you best is renting or borrowing them to try them. It might cost a bit more to start with, but it might give you peace of mind compared to a situation where a online forum tells you what to buy and you keep wondering: "what if...?"


That is very true and the big problem I have faced for weeks now :lol:

Great advice by the way. I may look into people living in my area that may has some high end film cameras ( but judging from where I live I don't think this will be too easy). The Internet has two big problems I think when it comes to finding a camera. One; you will always get the answer you look for. If you look for why it's good you will get 100 reviews saying that, if you look for flaws you will get another 100 stating flaws, reviews can be generally biased. Two. You should never judge a camera solely on its spec sheet. These world wide companies have oustanding marketing teams to make these cameras appealing so you can't judge alone by just numbers. Hence my final solution was any bit of advice from some professionals on some foruns before entering this long time investment !
 
I would rather own a GH4 than a BMPCC. This is based on my experience owning a GH3 and using a BMCC 2.5k most of this semester.

The GH4 will be much more flexible. Higher frame rates, good still photos, less post work necessary, smaller crop factor. This last one is huge, since very few MFT lenses are suitable for cinema work, and finding affordable, super wide, all manual, non-MFT lenses is tough.
The BMPCC will make a better quality image, hands down, but proper lighting and composition will make a much larger difference in audience's visual experience.
The BMPCC's files will be larger, so you will need much more storage. GH4 can make large files with 4k, but you have options for lower bit rates.
If you have no experience color correcting/grading, your learning curve with the BMPCC will be steep.
If 4k is an issue, obviously the GH4 has it. If I had the option I would shoot 4k just to downscale it to better 1080p.
The accessories you mention are needed for either camera.


That is true from researching these the GH4 seems, as of now ,to be a camera that does a pretty good job balancing stills and video, the more all in one camera. That is also one of the main factors impeding my purchasing of the bmpcc ...the big crop factor. There is a few solutions including the metabones adapter to be able to mount different lenses and reduce the crop factor but these ain't cheap! But that 13 stops of DR on the 16mm sensor just looks beautiful if well graded. And grading wouldnt bother me much. I may be edging towards the GH4 with the good range of options it gives you and like you said downscaling 4k to 1080p. I much prefer working in 1080p at the moment.
Thanks for the advice.
 
ah... every film student I know always says "I have experience with DSLRS" yet most of them I meet dont know what a shutter speed is or does, confuses it with ISO and almost dies when I say open or close the aperture.. get yourself a cheap camera such as a t3i or gh2 hacked and play around until you know all the features and what they do.

I meet too many people with money and no sense and buy the most expensive thing they see thinking its what makes their footage great.

Every...film student you know? to be honest you sound like an arogant nob that categorises students into this negative image because you think they may have lesser knowledge in this area as a result of being a student?

Am I right :lol: also for your information i have used a range of DSLRS from entry to full frame for the past 6 years and studying this for over 4 years I know the ins and out of the workings of these cameras much more than your aperture, iso, dr, shutter speed and more than likely more than you. So in future if you don't have a good input into a decent film camera you may have used then don't comment :D
 
Every...film student you know? to be honest you sound like an arogant nob that categorises students into this negative image because you think they may have lesser knowledge in this area as a result of being a student?

Am I right :lol: also for your information i have used a range of DSLRS from entry to full frame for the past 6 years and studying this for over 4 years I know the ins and out of the workings of these cameras much more than your aperture, iso, dr, shutter speed and more than likely more than you. So in future if you don't have a good input into a decent film camera you may have used then don't comment :D

I am a nob, because no one likes the truths I tell, based on your suggestions of which camera will give me the 'Cinematic Look' (laughing to myself how many film students and amateurs constantly throw this question out), you suggested a BMPCC (an ok camera but terrible unless invested in properly), a GH4 which I own and is probably best bang for buck/pound but lacks great colour science and V-log is useless without an external monitor for serious work, the 70D... really a 70D? I could do exactly the same with a 600D and you wouldnt notice the difference...

not even gonna bother with the Nikon...

I chose the GH4 because of its features, colour science canon wins, I hate the Black magic look...

I may move to a c100 or a sony Fseries... as for you knowing more than me, could be true, but its what you do with knowledge that counts..
 
Every...film student you know? to be honest you sound like an arogant nob that categorises students into this negative image because you think they may have lesser knowledge in this area as a result of being a student?

You did post in the newbies section, so I suspect you are a newbie.

Frankly, a good comeback would've been something like "yeah, I'd almost die if someone told me to open the aperture, when it's really called the iris."

But actually, knowing your way around a dslr for still images is completely different than knowing how to use it for film. It's very, very different. For example, if you want to shoot 24fps, what's the proper shutter speed to use (assuming 180 degrees)? When someone says to use 90 degrees, what is it? What's the difference between a cinema adapted lens besides the gears? Can you use a ballhead to pan? Why is noise worse in film and how do you prevent it?

None of these things are taught when studying DSLRs, but these are all questions that come up when using a DSLR to shoot movies.
 
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