Which camera is better?

I wanna shoot a few shorts to build a portfolio in order to get funding to film one of my screenplays and hopefully more afterwords. So for shooting shorts that will be winners at the film festivals, I need the camera that will qualify for to be seen as a good director. I am shooting on very low micro budgets though and need some advice. I've done research and so far there are two HD cameras out there, that are cheap, yet seem to be the best choices to meet the standards of being good enough quality to catch the critics eyes.

The Canon Rebel T2i HD and the Canon HV30 HDV. Which camera is better quality and why? And are they both qualify-able for film festival standards to break into the business? And if possible are there cameras with that good of quality, that are even cheaper? I also wanna shoot in 4:3 ratio, if those offer that. Thanks.
 
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As for cameras, out of the two you listed the T2i will give you a more film-like image. Any small sensor video camera is going to look like video without a lens adaptor and some glass. Then you start getting into lost light, and it's really not worth the effort. You haven't mentioned anything about other equipment you have. You'll at least need a tripod. Also, lighting is essentially a requirement. Without decent lighting any image is going to look subpar and amateurish. You also didn't give an actual budget for audio. The camera is actually less important than some of these other areas.

I can spend up to $1000 dollars on the video and audio.
 

Uranium City

Pro Member
indiePRO
If you go to Vimeo or Youtube and do a search for each of those cameras you will turn up hundreds of examples of films shot on both.

That's what I did to help me decide to buy a Canon HFS100.

When it arrived I opened it up and went outside and shot everything that crossed my path!

And it all looked like crap. None of it looked like the cool videos I had seen on Youtube made with the same camera.

The point here being: the camera is a very small piece of what makes a good looking film.

Either camera can be used to make a great looking film if in the hands of talented artists. Also, either camera can be used to make horrible looking films if in the hands of people who don't know how to operate them.

I spent a good three months woodshedding before I finally learned enough about my camera to make something decent looking. Constant calls and files and notes sent back and forth between me and my cinematographer brother.

If I were you, I'd find someone who owns one of these cameras in your area and hire them to be the cinematographer on your movie. Have them show you how it works and how it can be used to make good images. This will give you a good idea of which direction you want to invest in down the road.

If you've got $1,000 burning a hole in your pocket though, I'd get any of the Canon Vixias with a mic input, an Audio Technica ATR-6550 microphone and extension cord to plug into the camera, a couple of clamp lights from a hardware store, some PVC tubing and a painter's pole to make a shockmount and boom for the mic and then get out there and start making movies. Post them here and we'll tell you what works and what doesn't.
 

Uranium City

Pro Member
indiePRO
Which has better sound for plugging in a mic? And is the sound good enough to not get rejected from the festivals?

The video camera will have better sound than the DSLR when plugging in a mic.

But good sound, the kind of sound that earns awards and acceptance at festivals, isn't as simple as plugging a mic into a camera.
 

Uranium City

Pro Member
indiePRO
Well whats the cheapest sound recording device I could get that would gain that type of acceptance? How many mics will I need?

This is difficult to answer because what you are asking (cheapest way to record sound) is not related to the desired result (acceptance at festival). Festivals don't care what gear you use; they judge your film based on its worthiness as a film.

Good sound involves good pre-planning, good sound capture, and lots of post-production.

But it sounds like you want to move quick, so I'll give you a good place to start your lifelong experiment in getting great audio for films:

Plug an Audio Technica ATR-6550 (about $50) into an extension cable ($10 or so) and the extension cable into your camera. Place the mic on a boom close to your actors. Monitor the levels on the screen in your camera to make sure they don't clip.

This setup will be prone to radio frequency interference.

To avoid that, get a nicer microphone ($200+) with XLR connectors, plugged into a Beachtek or Juicedlink adapter ($200+) and into your camera.

Practice, practice, practice.
 
Okay thanks. So is it really a good idea to convert from 16:9 to 2.35, in post production? Some movies everything looks a little stretched out and the actors faces look wider than they should be, so is that a result of doing that in post? Well I called all the stores and the HV30 has been discontinued. Any cameras around the same price, that have just as good quality but with a memory card, instead of a cassette? I could still go for the Canon T2i but I am torn now, since some say the sound on the HV30 is better. That is if recording through a boom mike that is. If I go for the Canon T2i, what additional components will I need, since one of you mentioned I would.
 
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Uranium City

Pro Member
indiePRO
This line of Canon cameras was popular a few years ago for budding filmmakers because it allows a certain degree of manual control over the shutter and iris. They are consumer grade cameras, but have more advanced features than most other consumer grade cameras. Their popularity for budding filmmakers has waned recently due to the rising popularity of DSLR cameras at a similar price point which offer even more manual control over the image.
 
Well I called around and the HFS200 is on sale right now at one of the stores, so if I get it now, I can save and have some budget left over for something else. Is it up to par with the HV30 or Canon T2i quality though?
 
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I have the hfs10 and the quality is quite worthy, even without a dof adapter; with it, it's a monster. But then you could just get a t2i for less and more manual controls. i'll say this, once you go dslr, you're not going back. get a dr-100 for sound
 
The T2i is more money though, at least in the stores where I live. They run in the $800 range, and the HFS200 is only $600 range. How about this. I will get a camera, a boom mic, and a digital recording device for sound. Which types of all three of those could I get for $1000, that still meet the standards?
 
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Nate North

Business Member
indieBIZ
Most movies in theaters are 1.85:1 or 2.39:1. 16:9 (1.78:1) is the current standard for HDTV. 4:3 (1.33:1) is the old standard for "full screen" TV.

This is the good info.

Film a regular movie in 1.85 (due date)

Film an epic cinematography movie in 2.35 (gladiator)

Use 4:3 to look outdated, or to match formats with people at expensive commercial production companies that are staggeringly late updating their equipment, but expect full price anyway.
 
It would really help if I could get an idea of what exactly makes a standard qualified camera. I mean I browsed around and saw some HD cams for only $100. Then I saw some non-HD cams for $500. Is a non HD quality cam for $500 really going to look better for example?
 
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKK0HeuJsTs&feature=related

a little off-topic, but is a very, very bad way to compare camera's.
Left is fully automated (auto iris, auto focus, etc), right full manual control. White balanses don't match. And I can see the EX-1 is using a flat gamma profile (most likely no picture profile at all) and the 5D is using a picture profile with adjusted gamma with higher contrast images as a result...

on-topic:
Do you know anyone with one of the cameras you mention?
Ask if they can let you use it (together with them; just some testing) to try and see what you like.

About making a different crop: never stretch the image!
Making it wider without stretching means making it lower: by adding letterboxes the aspect ratio of the image changes. (Adding letterboxes = cutting top and bottom.)
Stretching is only possible when you shoot with an anamorphic lens that compresses the width of the picture. Then you must stretch the image to restore normal proportians to the image. (The lens works just like a 'funny mirror' that makes you shorter.)
 

Nate North

Business Member
indieBIZ
It would really help if I could get an idea of what exactly makes a standard qualified camera. I mean I browsed around and saw some HD cams for only $100. Then I saw some non-HD cams for $500. Is a non HD quality cam for $500 really going to look better for example?

This is the camera discussion I get into most often. Almost everyone reads some text statistics and throws reasoning out the window.

Here's reasoning. Nobody would be buying 100,000 dollar cameras if the 200 dollar camera from radio shack did the same thing. Statistics look identical? Look harder.

I've had guys say, my handycam is as good as a RED, because they both shoot 1080p. Check your data transfer rate. The red captures about 7500 meg a second. Your average $2000 DSLR will pull about 220. A cannon 40d does about 81.

I understand that I'm overfocused on one camera but what I'm saying is true across all price ranges. If a camera costs 5x as much as another camera, there is usually a reason. And yes, an SD cam can look better than a cheaper HD. Waaaay better. It's just not HD.
 
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Good to know. It's just hard to know what to believe since some people say the camera doesn't matter near as much as the hands that guide them. But there still seems to be a limit. I have a Sony DCR-SX43, but I'm guessing that any director of photography I hire could make it look up to film festival standards.
 

Nate North

Business Member
indieBIZ
Good to know. It's just hard to know what to believe since some people say the camera doesn't matter near as much as the hands that guide them. But there still seems to be a limit. I have a Sony DCR-SX43, but I'm guessing that any director of photography I hire could make it look up to film festival standards.

Take that, it's not the cameraman, it's the camera, stuff with a grain of salt. It's half true.

You give Spielberg a handycam and list him under an alias, and no one will buy the movie. I've never seen a cheap camera make it to the theaters.

It depends on what you want to accomplish. The 5d is the best low cost option out there right now.
 
This is the camera discussion I get into most often. Almost everyone reads some text statistics and throws reasoning out the window.

Here's reasoning. Nobody would be buying 100,000 dollar cameras if the 200 dollar camera from radio shack did the same thing. Statistics look identical? Look harder.
Very true

I've had guys say, my handycam is as good as a RED, because they both shoot 1080p. Check your data transfer rate. The red captures about 7500 meg a second. Your average $2000 DSLR will pull about 220. A cannon 40d does about 81.

Check your numbers:
SD PAL/NTSC is 25Mb/s (that's about 3,1 MB/s)
HDV has the same bandwith.
RED can capture different RED formats. RED28 is about 224Mb/s. RED48 about 384Mb/s.
A Canon 40D can only shoot stills.
A 5D MkII compresses to around 47Mb/s (approx 5,8 MB/s)

But it's not only about bitrate, it's also about the quality of the lens, the chip and of the process that compresses the image. (Otherwise there would be no difference in imagequality between different (for example) mini-DV cameras.
 
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