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Which Camera Today for Indie Feature?


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Hey Guys,

I'm about to shoot my second feature film in Korea in September. It's low budget, and I'm considering buying a camera and some lenses instead of renting. Reasoning is the shoot will only be about three weeks and most of it is in an apartment. I want to test and block the scenes with the DP using the camera over a month before the shoot. This way we will  move faster during the shoot and get everything we need. Since the used market is active here, I will selling everything after the shoot rather then just renting for three weeks and having little time to design the shots with the DP.

I was thinking around $8000 for the camera and possibly one overall zoom lens while renting the other lenses, tripod and accessories otherwise it will make more sense to just rent everything . But even if we rent, with our budget we will not be able to rent an Arri or a high end Red anyway.

I am wasting way too much time researching gear when I need to be editing the script and storyboarding! I know there is a lot of good knowledge in this forum, so I thought maybe some of you guys could point me in the right direction. Thanks.

 

 

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Im going to throw Panasonic into the equation, I just shot a Feature film with 6 Panasonic G7 cameras with Nikon Glass and Metabones XL speedboosters and Gini Rigs cages   G7 in 4k is an ama

Personally, I would not mess with the FS700. I shot with that a lot and the colors and skin tones are just off. Not too sure about the FS5, but I think an F3 is like 1/3 the price and the savings coul

Do you need 4K? Do you need slow motion (beyond 1080 60fps that is)?  No? If so, then get a Sony PMW-F3. Goes for next to nothing secondhand. I own one, will be shooting a feature film this year wi

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7 minutes ago, Policar said:

Rent an Alexa.

Did you read the post? Haha I want to but we can't afford the Alexa pkg in Korea for a three week shoot. The DP will try to get one at a discount at the rental shop but the PD and I need to move on as if that is not a guarantee. The last indie feature my PD worked on was shot on a C100 mk ii. He said the wide shots on the big screen looked soft. Again, Alexa, Epic and Canon C300 mk ii would be great but as of now over budget. This is a microbudget shoot for a script designed around a few characters and one location. I was hoping with enough preparation we can get great images without an Alexa.

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Do you need 4K? Do you need slow motion (beyond 1080 60fps that is)? 

No? If so, then get a Sony PMW-F3. Goes for next to nothing secondhand. I own one, will be shooting a feature film this year with it (hopefully with two at once if we can squeeze buying a 2nd F3 into the budget). 

Get these lenses (all in Nikon F mount of course):

Tokina 11-20mm f2.8

Tokina 28-70mm f2.8

Tokina 80-200mm f2.8 

Nikon 50mm f1.8D

(could swap out for the Sigma 18-35mm f.18 & Sigma 50-100mm f1.8 pair, but would cost quite a lot more, but either choice is reasonable)

You might think you've got plenty left in your $8K budget... but with tripod/recorder/media/accessories/audio/lighting/etc... that will very quickly disappear! 

If you do "need" 4K or slow motion, then get a secondhand Sony FS700 instead. 

 

Third camera I'll mention to consider, is the BMD Micro Cinema Camera, is a wonderful little beast (like a BMPCC v2.0!).

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Hey!

 

how does it come C100 II looking too soft?

As far as I read, it has some of the highest resolving 1080p images around. Heck, my Lumix G6 really has plenty resolution. How big is the screen?

 

Just recently somebody asked about the AF100, a camera with supposely lower dynamic range than a Canon 7D, and lower perceived resolution than a GH2,

if one considers the wisdoms of various internet platforms.

Still, in the recent EOSHD thread about the AF100, a poster came up with the notice that one of the highest adrenalin action films of the last ten years

has been filmed with it- The Raid. There is plenty of BTS footage on the web.

 

So, how big is the screen supposed to be, if C100 with its resolution is not supposed to fit the bill?

I think choice of camera should be yours anyway as you are the DOP.

 

What did you shoot your first feature with? If you´re used to the camera and happy with the results, why not use it again?

Would you like to post a link to the trailer of your first feature?

 

Other than that, Sony F3 is a camera a lot of people are admiring. Ironfilm even owns one and has been giving me good

reasons to have it on my radar. I would really like to use one. Right now I´m still learning with my Lumix G6.

 

So Sony PMW F3 it would be for its sensor, ergonomics, external 10bit,

or JVC LS300 for its 1080p 4:2:2 Broadcast codec and additional internal 4K or C300 for its Broadcast codec, sensor, ergos.

All of em have internal NDs. The Sony might cost around 2000-3000 USD, JVC 3000, C300 maybe 4000-5000.

C300 only has EF mount, Sony FZmount and JVC m43mount- tese are more flexible lenswise than EF mount.

 

Oh, don´t rely just on selling the then purchased expensive 8000USD camera equipment over here as your only possible marketplace, because three forummember have been

victims of a scamming account very recently. Trusting a new seller with such amounts of money involved is rather a thing of harder choice or decision since then.

 

cheers

52 minutes ago, IronFilm said:

Do you need 4K? Do you need slow motion (beyond 1080 60fps that is)? 

No? If so, then get a Sony PMW-F3. Goes for next to nothing secondhand. I own one, will be shooting a feature film this year with it (hopefully with two at once if we can squeeze buying a 2nd F3 into the budget). 

 

 

Hey IronFilm,

Do you have some footage you shot with the F3, maybe internal 8bit and external 10bit?

cheers

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The PD said some of the wide shots were soft but overall it looked good. He thinks we should shoot in 4k for more options in post. I'm not the DP but the director so I have some knowledge on camera gear but not a lot. I was thinking of spending around $8000 for just camera and one zoom lens and rent the rest of the camera gear like tripod, monitor, follow focus, mattebox, filters.

I shot my first film on the original Red. It looks okay. It was released theatrically here and lives on in cable and internet downloads. I'm assuming there are better and now cheaper options than that.

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7 hours ago, Hanriverprod said:

Did you read the post? Haha I want to but we can't afford the Alexa pkg in Korea for a three week shoot. The DP will try to get one at a discount at the rental shop but the PD and I need to move on as if that is not a guarantee. The last indie feature my PD worked on was shot on a C100 mk ii. He said the wide shots on the big screen looked soft. Again, Alexa, Epic and Canon C300 mk ii would be great but as of now over budget. This is a microbudget shoot for a script designed around a few characters and one location. I was hoping with enough preparation we can get great images without an Alexa.

The C100 Mk II is sharper than the Alexa (1080p mode vs 1080p mode, but even upscaled to 2k it is arguably sharper, especially if you have an external recorder). The Alexa's 4k is "smoother" and has more resolution, however, and is the best image available affordably.

It's nowhere near as good a camera, but not on the basis of sharpness. I cut between the CX00 and Alexa all the time and part of Canon's more "video" look is its sharper image (more pixels on the sensor and a sharper downscaling algorithm). I would suggest you did something wrong in post if that's your concern. Other concerns (lack of DR, lack of timecode sync) are worthy of consideration.

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Hallo @Hanriverprod,

we posters enjoy some gratifications and incentives to give lengthy answers to help solve problems. At least I do.

So thanks and Likes as well are highly welcome:) Would you like to post a trailer of the film you guys shot on that Red?

Always cool to see stuff. Myself I´m still shooting with my G6. Where are you from? Asking, because renting can be super cheap

in certain parts of the world, in others it might not be possible as others have pointed out.

Coming from the ES post I start to appreciate the benefits of nettiquette a lot more now:)

cheers

 

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1 hour ago, ricardo_sousa11 said:

These would be the ones I'd go to, by priority order :

FS5 + good glass 

FS700+Odissey 

URSA 4.6k

BMCC

IMHO these are future proof and can get you pretty stunning results, specially if you pair them with anamorphics!

 

At this point I would not even consider the 4.6K, It looks great on paper but BM is still working the bugs out and you might end up with a bad one with the Magenta issues they are having. There are other issues as well so at least in my opinion it is better to wait a bit and let them refine it some more. 

I would recommend that unless there is a specific thing you absolutely need on a newer camera is to pick up a used older one like the F3 that IronFilm pointed out. There where great cameras years ago that are still great, you can pick them up at bargin prices and they are completed. Firmware updates have fixed all the issues and they have been around long enough to know if they are truely reliable or not. You don't need the latest and greatest. 

I would say an F3 if you don't need 4K wtih external recorder and a Cooke 20-100mm T3.1(lenses are a better investment than cameras). This lens is a great lens, very vercitile, you can shoot an entire feature with it, and can be found for around $4000 but might take some patience. You can have a package that will deliever fantastic images for around $6000-$7000 leaving some budget left for other things. If you go the F3 route make sure it has the paid slog upgrade as it enabled 3G out the sdi giving you more recorder options. 

This setup is large and heavy though so not a run and gun solution.

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10 hours ago, Hanriverprod said:

Hey Guys,

I'm about to shoot my second feature film in Korea in September. It's low budget, and I'm considering buying a camera and some lenses instead of renting. Reasoning is the shoot will only be about three weeks and most of it is in an apartment. I want to test and block the scenes with the DP using the camera over a month before the shoot. This way we will  move faster during the shoot and get everything we need. Since the used market is active here, I will selling everything after the shoot rather then just renting for three weeks and having little time to design the shots with the DP.

I was thinking around $8000 for the camera and possibly one overall zoom lens while renting the other lenses, tripod and accessories otherwise it will make more sense to just rent everything . But even if we rent, with our budget we will not be able to rent an Arri or a high end Red anyway.

I am wasting way too much time researching gear when I need to be editing the script and storyboarding! I know there is a lot of good knowledge in this forum, so I thought maybe some of you guys could point me in the right direction. Thanks.

 

 

If you have that kind of money you are in a GREAT position as $8k for a camera is exceptionally well given todays technology. I would definitely look into the 

*Sony FS5

or

*Blackmagic 4.6k

 

It makes no sense to shoot a project in any lesser camera sub 1080p and limit yourself, I would definitely shoot any and everything at 4k resolution or better.

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If you're shooting in an apartment, you have control over lighting, movement, blocking, etc. So your priority should be the best image quality. For low budget, I'd say it's the Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6K. It does have a couple issues: don't shoot past f8 to avoid magenta corners (but you control lighting so no big deal) and some reports about noisy audio preamps - but that doesn't matter, because you should be using better audio for a feature anyways. Even a couple hundred bucks will get you better audio than what's in $10K, $20K cameras.  

Just remember, all of these cheaper cameras have drawbacks. But for a feature? The URSA Mini 4.6K will be the easiest to get a filmic and cinematic look for its price range. It does not look like "video" because of its dynamic range, motion cadence, grain structure, thick codec, etc.  

Personally, I think even the Canons DSLR's don't quite look filmic or cinematic. Even the 1DC. It's praised for skin tones among the small cameras, but you should check out how the ursa mini 4.6k captures people's skin. Obviously as human beings, we're tuned to those details more than the whiskers of a cat. And the blackmagic just takes it to another level as far as transparency, detail, tonality - it hangs with the big boys like RED and Alexa. You should get a high quality monitor or the best 4K TV (hey you're in Korea ;)) you can find, and check out the footage. We did, and we were blown away. But it's not the best camera for any situation.

But it comes down to your story, crew, and your own preferences. 

In fact, I would spend a few hundred dollars to rent a couple cameras for even a weekend....Have the DP, camera op, DIT, even editor, and of course the director, to figure out what works the best for you guys.

Go on a date before getting hitched. Could save you a ton of money down the line.

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Another thing to consider is how you'll be lighting and shooting- would you be better off getting two or three cheaper cams, lighting/blocking differently, and shooting multi-cam? There's a member here named Andy Lee who's shooting a feature with a fleet of Panasonic G6s, each rigged with Nikon glass. Usually using 2-3 cams per scene. There's a thread here somewhere with some BTS pics to illustrate what I'm talking about.

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I'd highly recommend a Sony F5 package - I don't know the local pricing, but I'd imagine you should be able to quite easily rent a full production kit (including matte box, FF, head/legs etc.) with a basic primes set (Zeiss CP2s or maybe Cooke Minis) within your budget.

Failing that, an FS7 package. Both allow you to shoot 4k Slog3 (or REC709 if you really need).

Again, I don't know the local pricing, but most rental houses will allow you take gear for test shoots if you have an existing relationship, or have committed to a long term rental.

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12 hours ago, independent said:

In fact, I would spend a few hundred dollars to rent a couple cameras for even a weekend....Have the DP, camera op, DIT, even editor, and of course the director, to figure out what works the best for you guys.

 

2 hours ago, jax_rox said:

Again, I don't know the local pricing, but most rental houses will allow you take gear for test shoots if you have an existing relationship, or have committed to a long term rental.

lots of good thoughts on cameras, image quality is super subjective so ill leave that alone

rent before you buy! or buy from a place with a great return policy so you have plenty of time to get a feel for the cam :) 

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18 hours ago, dhessel said:

At this point I would not even consider the 4.6K, It looks great on paper but BM is still working the bugs out and you might end up with a bad one with the Magenta issues they are having. There are other issues as well so at least in my opinion it is better to wait a bit and let them refine it some more. 

I would recommend that unless there is a specific thing you absolutely need on a newer camera is to pick up a used older one like the F3 that IronFilm pointed out. There where great cameras years ago that are still great, you can pick them up at bargin prices and they are completed. Firmware updates have fixed all the issues and they have been around long enough to know if they are truely reliable or not. You don't need the latest and greatest. 

I would say an F3 if you don't need 4K wtih external recorder and a Cooke 20-100mm T3.1(lenses are a better investment than cameras). This lens is a great lens, very vercitile, you can shoot an entire feature with it, and can be found for around $4000 but might take some patience. You can have a package that will deliever fantastic images for around $6000-$7000 leaving some budget left for other things. If you go the F3 route make sure it has the paid slog upgrade as it enabled 3G out the sdi giving you more recorder options. 

This setup is large and heavy though so not a run and gun solution.

The magenta corner thing is way overblown. It was a big topic in the BMD forums but in reality very few people had a bad unit. The ones that did went to the forum to express frustration. They've fixed the global magenta cast with a firmware update. There's a new firmware OS update coming soon that is amazing. You'll be able to monitor with LUTS on the camera. Shoot in multiple ProRes resolutions. 4:3 for anamorphic. 15 stops of DR! It's a great camera for narrative film making IMO.

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Hey guys thanks for all the great info here. I'm actually a little surprised so many people are recommending Sony cameras. I'm not sure if it's skin tone is good for a narrative piece focusing on drama and a little comedy. I see people grading the sony raw images online and it looks either hazy or with a color cast like magenta or green. I'm thinking it must be hard to color correct sony slog2-3 and people end up with overall color issues. My DP has shot with the Fs7 and he liked it but even his film looked hazy and kind of lifeless to me, and this was with a proper color correction. Like the image is too flat and they try to add some life in the skin and it ends up magenta. I don't see this issue with Canon or Alexa. I had some green casts on my first film on the Red which was hard to fix in post. We can only budget one week for color correction on our budget, so I was thinking either Canon or Blackmagic. I think Canon 1DC is not made for film production so it might cause issues while I'm hesitant about ending up with a Ursa Mini with a magenta problem.

But it seems like most people here trust Sony's workflow. I guess I have to rethink some of my options. Again thanks for all your advice. I appreciate it.

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