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Need serious help choosing my DSLR...


craigbuckley
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Ok, so I have been researching the past few days and I have been trying to decide on which DSLR camera I want to buy. I have been leading towards the canon 60d with the canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM (thats about my budget), but I have been reading more that I should spend less on the body and more on the lens...

So with a budget of around $1300 (amazon prices- the 60d and 50mm lens comes to $1250), which camera/lens combination would you choose? I am open for anything and all advice.. Would the t3i or the Nikon D5100 be a better call, and then spend more on a lens?

I am trying to shoot short films and documentaries (interviews) with this camera. I don't have too much lighting right now but I could get some in the future. I have a decent mic... I just don't want to spend too much on a body and then be upgrading in a few years to something better, or vice versa. All help is appreciated, Thanks!


(send me any options of camera/lens combo for a budget of $1300)
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I'd go for GH2, a good patch, and some old SLR primes any day. It has more resolution than the 60D and more options for lenses as opposed to the 60D. You'll be saving money and having more options for the future. Looks like the GH2 isn't going anywhere.

There are lots of good articles on here about the GH2 and how to hack it so read up on those for some good information.
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One of the big pros of the GH2 is the ability to mount almost every lens onto it with cheap adapters. The Canon 60D is much less flexible.

I'm using old Minolta glass I bought on eBay: 58mm 1.4, 28mm 2.8, 35mm 2.8, 45mm f/2, 135mm f/2.8, 50mm macro, 300mm f/5.6. I paid like $250 for everything...

The GH3 will cost 1299 body only, the GH2 is already much less, I don't think it will get much cheaper.
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[quote name='lafilm' timestamp='1348948899' post='19197']
Sorry, no one produces more lenses then Canon. One of the main reasons they have the loyalty from consumer to professional.
[/quote]

While it's true that Canon has more lenses, the GH2 can use a huge variaty of lenses that the Canon can't. Because the micro 4/3 mount is so close to the sensor, It can be adapted to just about any lens type as long as it's a manual lens. The same goes for just about any mirror-less camera.

In my opinion, the GH2 has superior video quality (with the hack) then any Canon, Sony or Nikon DSLR. The only problem is that there is a perceived superiority of Canon due to it's popularity as a stills camera and to the fact that it was one of the first to shoot high quality HD video. Because of this you're friends might laugh at you when you show up to shoot video with this little mirror-less camera. I've had my GH1 for less then a month and I've already gotten into it with several Canon guys who are practically offended by the notion that my camera might produce higher quality video. I learned pretty quickly not to argue. ;-)

On the other hand, there's safety in numbers. If you buy a Canon, you will have the peace of mind knowing that just about every other pro photographer uses one too and there are tons of options out there for it. And, chances are you won't even notice the difference because you never look at the GH2 footage along side the Canon footage. I know so many people who shoot with Canons and live comfortably with the footage they get from their camera; never even caring that there is a camera that can produce better video. You probably won't even know that the video isn't as good because DSLRs are just that much better looking then video cameras anyway that that's about all you'll see when you look at the footage. "Wow! it looks so much like film!" was all I could say the first time I saw footage that was shot with a 5D mark II. The other strong positive in favor of Canon cameras is the custom firmware addition, Magic Lantern. It's got some really great pro features like focus peaking and auto metering that make it a lot better to shoot video on.

The other thing I was going to say about Canon is that the sensor is pretty much the same on just about all the APS-C Canon cameras. So, a 7D isn't going to get you any better quality video then a t2i/550D. However, there are features that you may want on the higher end models like the swing out screen or better metering etc. One thing that you should keep in mind too is that Magic Lantern only runs on specific models so you may want to buy one that it supports: http://magiclantern.wikia.com/wiki/Magic_Lantern_Firmware_Wiki
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[quote name='Julian' timestamp='1348952443' post='19202']The GH3 will cost 1299 body only, the GH2 is already much less, I don't think it will get much cheaper.[/quote]

It's officially not produced anymore. Many sellers report it as sold out. Prices for new GH2s rise. People are wary about the GH3s possible shortcomings.
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Which adaptor you buy depends on the mount of the lens you buy. So for example, if you get a nikon lens, then you'll need a Nikon F mount to micro 4/3 adaptor or if you get a minolta lens, you need a minolta MD mount to micro 4/3 adaptor etc., etc.

I feel like lenses are kind of a subjective thing. They arguably have the largest influence on you final image. So what lens you need will be dictated by what kind of look you are going for. At least that's what I think anyway. :-)

I would definitely recommend getting the kit lens with the camera. I got a GH1 body only because I already had a bunch of old lenses but now I'm really wishing I had a nice simple zooming autofocus lens with image stabilization so that I would just quickly pop off a shot now and then or shoot hand held any time I felt like it. As it is, I always need to use some kind of rig and I often miss a shot because I'm busy focusing. Not that I would use it all the time it's just nice to have for those quick, in the moment times. From what I hear, the panasonic 14-42mm is actually a really nice lens. In fact, I would recommend starting with that, shooting with it for a while and seeing what it is that you feel it's lacking and then using that to inform your next lens purchase.
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Wow , awesome answer. Thanks. I am going to get the kit lens but I have a little extra budget to spend so I am going to get this 50mm lens as well. What do you think about it? Will it be good for short films? Kind of cinematic look?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001GCVA0U/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?ie=UTF8&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

And will this adapter work with the GH2 and this lens?


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003TROEBM/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&smid=A2UHLVL8IH9Q52
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Will do, but if you are willing to spend 400, you get more. Buy old, manual lenses. A 50 mm is a 100 mm on the GH2 and a 260 mm also (EX-Tele mode). It doesn't need to be f1.4, because who ever heard about a 260 mm f1.4.? Too hard to focus. Buy a used 50 mm f2.0, from Nikon, Canon or Minolta. How much can it be? 50 bucks? Note: Not every lens will be a good allrounder (a good allrounder is the kit lens), find recommendations here or test yourself. With the GH2 you should embrace the idea, that it has a good sensor and that you can adapt almost everything.
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I double all of the above.. I'm also glad you posted this here instead of Personal View... It's good to see you still have a good self-esteem:)

A GH2 with the 64gb, 95mbps Sandisk Extreme Pro card... Others will disagree, but this is the only card that has "never" stopped recording on me from 2 years of personal experience.. So don't skimp on that... Get it if you can afford it and plan on using patches with bit rates around 150+

A GH2 with a set of old fast manual Nikon AIS's or Canon FD's (especially the older 'ssc' ones) - will make it sing. Then buy the proper corresponding adapter for around $30. (Sorry.. I'm sure Novoflex is awesome for $200... But come on.). Get a variable ND, and make a movie man.
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Yes, that adaptor will work on the GH2.

Now for that particular lens, I'm going to offer my personal opinion. ;-) First off, I have a lens almost exactly like it but I paid about $40 for it. It's a Minolta 50mm f1.4. 50mm is about the most common lens you can find out there. Check ebay and I'm sure you'll see what I'm talking about.

But here, there is a slight issue you should be aware of. The sensor in the GH2 is a micro 4/3 size. That means it's smaller then an APS-C sensor and even smaller then a full frame sensor. So, if you had a full frame sensor camera, a 50mm lens would be a 50mm lens just fine. But on a micro 4/3 camera, The sensor is actually crops the lens by 2x more then a full frame sensor. So a 50mm (which is about medium focal length on a full frame camera) is actually 100mm on the GH2! This means that a medium lens is actually a telephoto! Now, this is both good news and bad for some people. I love the look of telephoto. To me, I have this cool, 70's, raw documentary kind of romantic vision in my head. So this is right up my alley. However, a lot of people are really into wide angle or even fisheye lenses. If you look through the listings on ebay, you'll quickly see that wide angle lenses are some of the most expensive out there. To make things worse, what is considered wide to a full frame camera is actually medium focal length on a GH2 because of the 2x crop. So a 24mm lens is almost a 50mm on a GH2. So, you need to go down further and further in focal length to to actually get a wide angle look. The kit lens is 14mm-42mm so with the crop that's actually 28mm-84mm (which is actually perfect for most people's taste). So, the kind of lens that you'll be wanting to get is either something wider then 14mm (like a 7mm or 10mm) if you want to shoot skateboard videos... Or, something longer then 42 mm (like 100mm... well, you get the idea). But wait, there's a special trick that GH2 has that allows you to push in on the sensor to get a 2X telephoto zoom. It's kind of like digital zoom but it actually just grabs the middle 1920x1080 pixels of the full 16 megapixel image and gives you a 1:1 pixel ratio. So it is for all practical purposes a regular 2X zoom with the flick of a switch.

One thing I also wanted to say about the Nikon lens you picked out. That lens is pretty expensive due in part to a lot of features that you wouldn't even be able to use on that camera. So, you need to keep in mind that even though Nikon lenses and Canon lenses and whatever lenses can be adapted to micro 4/3, the GH2 won't be able to use auto focus, in-body aperture control or optical image stabilization. Only the full manual lenses are of any use. If you really want those features, take a look at the Panasonic micro 4/3 lenses out there. They are expensive but very sharp.

If you don't care about auto control, cruse ebay for old lenses. Search for "Nikon F mount", "Canon FD mount", "minolta MD", "Pentax PK", "Olympus OM" and "M42". These are all manual lens mounts and in general, pretty safe for the GH2. I have PK, F, and MD adaptors for my lenses and they all work great.

The last thing I wanted to add was, if you have money burning a whole in your pocket, think about investing in some of the other tools you might need. Like a really nice tripod or a follow focus rig ( [url="http://www.amazon.com/Camera-Shoulder-Support-Handles-Standard/dp/B008MTRGJY/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=2JCTXBQZ88F4F&coliid=IXXSDLH9NRU1G"]I've had my eye on this[/url] ) or a nice veriable-ND filter with some stepper rings. Reflectors, lights, soft boxes, etc, etc...


[edit: hmmm. Looks like I took so long responding that two other got there before I could! :-D]
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[quote name='galenb' timestamp='1348989982' post='19221']The last thing I wanted to add was, if you have money burning a whole in your pocket, think about investing in some of the other tools you might need. Like a really nice tripod or a follow focus rig ( [url="http://www.amazon.com/Camera-Shoulder-Support-Handles-Standard/dp/B008MTRGJY/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=2JCTXBQZ88F4F&coliid=IXXSDLH9NRU1G"]I've had my eye on this[/url] ) or a nice veriable-ND filter with some stepper rings. Reflectors, lights, soft boxes, etc, etc...[/quote]

Another advantage - if you think about it thoroughly - above classic VDSLRs is the GH2s EVF. In most respects, it works like a Zacuto EVF, which costs almost as much as a whole GH2 body. The small size and weight of the GH2 enables you to use the most basic rigs. Certainly you can forgo a follow focus. Without the need for a follow focus, you won't need rails. Without rod support, you can buy (or DIY) the most basic shoulder support for under 100 $/€. This all sounds naive? I had a Letus rig once, with follow focus, external monitor and everything. It was a pain in the ass, because there is no such thing as a perfect rig. Look at my avatar, I do the same with 3-point-stabilization (right hand on grip, rubber eyepiece on eye, left hand on lens, focussing). Reduce to the maximum.
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Try the ciecio7 adapters. You can find them on ebay, they are handmade and very good. Canon FD glass is also pretty nice and cheap. Or use the the other recommended lenses.

If you want to take still pictures only i would choose the canon 60d over the gh2. If you want to film, i would go 100% for the gh2. Unfortunately there is a real canon-fan-boy culture out there. Just like with apple, partly its more about the hype. So some canon people tend to bash people who dont share their cult. Of course i know some pretty cool and nice canon users, too :-)

If the canon 5dmkiii would cost the same as the gh2, then i would go for the 5d, but the 5d costs 4 times as much as the gh2.
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Thanks so much for the help guys...

Ok I am going to drop the kit lens, purchase the 14mm pancake, (which will actually be 28mm right?) and then one older prime lens. On ebay it is only like 50 bucks for canon fd 28mm f/2.8, is this a good combination/call?

And right on about getting different gear than the lens. Maybe I should say screw the pancake and spend that money on that follow focus rig. What would be the advantage/purpose of the nd variable filter?
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wait with the follow focus rig.

For the start you need some decent primes and a decent tripod. Without a decent tripod you wont do good. Then later you can think about a decent microphone. But primes and tripod first. The gh2 onboard mic is ok for the start, not for professional work of course.

I suggest you get a wide lens (14mm) and 28 or 35mm. Then perhaps a lens like 85mm. The kit lens is not that bad if you can get it cheaply. ND filters you need for filming with shallow depth of field during the day or with a lot of sunlight.

But i tell you, you will need patience to get used to all kind of settings and till you find out how things work. It took me quite a while when i entered the DSLR-world (although technically the gh2 is not a dslr) to start figuring out which option does what. This forum is a good place to learn about things. Same as personal-view. But always try to search the forums first, because most of the starting questions have been asked many times.
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