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The £3-£4K Market


martinmcgreal
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So, I’m looking to make a camera purchase around Feb/March in the £3,000 to £4,000 market, new or used, as an upgrade to my current pocket camera. It will be mainly for narrative work/passion projects, so I want a ‘cinema’ camera as per say .. w/ the following specs;

13+ stops Dynamic Range

4K (2x Anamorphic Friendly)

Solid Colour Science

Minimum 10 bit 4:2:2 (Internal, Ideally)

Good Low-Light

Happy to lose a stop of dynamic range in exchange for good solid low-light. I’ve looked at the popular options, shall we say, and nothing appears to be ticking every box - except say a used MX, which is tempting, but its size, age and miles on the clock makes you think twice .. 

I can’t warm to Sony’s colour science, and Blackmagic’s 4K cameras, excluding the 4.6K, aren’t low-light cameras either. Sadly, the 4.6K is out of my price range too, given it's closer to £6K once fully kitted, right? My taste in Blackmagic’s image has soured somewhat too - these systems produce fantastically clinical/sharp images, however I want an image more on the softer/milkier side straight out of the sensor. I appreciate this can be influenced through choice of glass/filters, but you get my gist .. 

May well be worth me delaying a purchase even longer until NAB or the GH5’s release, though I can’t see the latter ticking the above boxes? Alternatively, perhaps I’m scowling the market for a camera with the above specs that just isn’t available in my price range? 

Cheers

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3 minutes ago, martinmcgreal said:

So, I’m looking to make a camera purchase around Feb/March in the £3,000 to £4,000 market, new or used, as an upgrade to my current pocket camera. It will be mainly for narrative work/passion projects, so I want a ‘cinema’ camera as per say .. w/ the following specs;

13+ stops Dynamic Range

4K (2x Anamorphic Friendly)

Solid Colour Science

Minimum 10 bit 4:2:2 (Internal, Ideally)

Good Low-Light

Happy to lose a stop of dynamic range in exchange for good solid low-light. I’ve looked at the popular options, shall we say, and nothing appears to be ticking every box - except say a used MX, which is tempting, but its size, age and miles on the clock makes you think twice .. 

I can’t warm to Sony’s colour science, and Blackmagic’s 4K cameras, excluding the 4.6K, aren’t low-light cameras either. Sadly, the 4.6K is out of my price range too, given it's closer to £6K once fully kitted, right? My taste in Blackmagic’s image has soured somewhat too - these systems produce fantastically clinical/sharp images, however I want an image more on the softer/milkier side straight out of the sensor. I appreciate this can be influenced through choice of glass/filters, but you get my jist .. 

May well be worth me delaying a purchase even longer until NAB or the GH5’s release, though I can’t see the latter ticking the above boxes? Alternatively, perhaps I’m scowling the market for a camera with the above specs that just isn’t available in my price range? 

Cheers

GH5 plus good lighting.

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+1 for the FS700 - and if you don't need high frame rates in 10 bit or raw you can go Atomos for the recorder and save a fair bit. I was certainly able to get this combination earlier this year (s/h FS700) at roughly £3700 including a couple of SSDs and a few spare batteries. An even cheaper camera option that ticks quite a few boxes would be the Sony F3 with the relevant upgrades.

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4 hours ago, Davey said:

GH5 plus good lighting.

We'll have to wait and see. I can afford a camera double the price of what the GH5 will likely retail for, so as such, can probably purchase a superior camera. 

3 hours ago, Jimmy said:

You might just be able to get a FS700 + Odyssey 07Q at around £4k.

That checks a hell of alot of boxes, and with raw or raw to prores, you can get past the sony colour issues pretty easily.

4K, 120fps, decent low light, raw, 12+ stops DR... much smaller than Red ONE.

2 hours ago, Tim Sewell said:

+1 for the FS700 - and if you don't need high frame rates in 10 bit or raw you can go Atomos for the recorder and save a fair bit. I was certainly able to get this combination earlier this year (s/h FS700) at roughly £3700 including a couple of SSDs and a few spare batteries. An even cheaper camera option that ticks quite a few boxes would be the Sony F3 with the relevant upgrades.

So you can still record both 4K and RAW in 24, 25, 30fps etc to the Atmos?

Is there any way of purchasing an external recorder that isn't a monitor, but can still record the above formats? I have a SmallHD 501, which I absolutely love, and plan to continue using, granted whatever I upgrade to has HDMI out - so running 2x monitors seems a little overkill, all be it they'd have difference uses of course, one for operating, the other for essential external recording .. 

The FS700 is a solid suggestion though. Would you guys say the image out of the sensor leans more towards the Alexa/RED's in terms of that soft, clean, smooth cinematic feel to the image, or more towards the blackmagics, with that tack sharp, clinical and almost thin feel to the image, with a hint of grain? I assume the former, however I've yet had the opportunity to sit through hundreds of FS700 videos - as you do - and make a decent judgement .. 

Cheers

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The Atomos (Shogun series) will go to 30p 4K Sony raw to ProRes. CDNG to the same framerate & resolution is supposed to arrive via firmware update. I'm not aware of any monitor-less recorder other than the ridiculously expensive Sony one that can achieve the same with this camera.

I certainly regard the FS700's image (via the Atomos) as having a cinematic feel to it more reminiscent of the cinema cameras you mention. I viewed quite a few videos before buying it that made me feel this way and later, when I'm on my own laptop, I'll post a link to a handy listing of them. It has to be said, however, that the F3 has more of a reputation as the 'poor man's Alexa'.

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41 minutes ago, Tim Sewell said:

The Atomos (Shogun series) will go to 30p 4K Sony raw to ProRes. CDNG to the same framerate & resolution is supposed to arrive via firmware update. I'm not aware of any monitor-less recorder other than the ridiculously expensive Sony one that can achieve the same with this camera.

I certainly regard the FS700's image (via the Atomos) as having a cinematic feel to it more reminiscent of the cinema cameras you mention. I viewed quite a few videos before buying it that made me feel this way and later, when I'm on my own laptop, I'll post a link to a handy listing of them. It has to be said, however, that the F3 has more of a reputation as the 'poor man's Alexa'.

Cheers.

The Sony F3 produces stunning results, but I'm looking to shoot 2x anamorphic w/ a 2.66 delivery, as such, need the extra resolution to compensate for cropping - and as we know, the F3 only shoots 2K. 

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Thanks guys. 

If anybody could provide some solid examples of the FS700 best in action, cinematically, that would be fantastic. Little underwhelmed from the footage I've seen thus far. Take the following example - the creator is purposely trying to disprove that the 700 looks 'video-ish' with this piece, yet ironically only further strengthens the argument, in my opinion. All be it, the piece is firstly, poorly lit, and secondly, completely ungraded, but it still has that 'Sony' look to the image, and lacks that organic cinematic softness the MX so effortlessly delivers for case in point.

https://vimeo.com/45847664

(Not hasty enough to judge a camera solely on half an hours worth of viewing footage, of course, but I'm unconvinced as of now)

An important spec so often overlooked is motion cadence too - a camera can have all the specs listed in my original post, and be in the hands of a talented dp, but if the motion feels video-ish, then your forever fighting a losing battle attempting to delivery truly cinematic feeling images, in my opinion. This is where the MX delivers, perhaps more strongly than anything else in its price-range? 

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If I drop my demand for 4K, then the C100ii/300 models fit my needs perfectly .. They produce that soft, clean, smooth image straight out of the sensor, great colour (always loved canon's colour), the dynamic range I want, terrific low-light, and 10 bit 4:2:2 when recording to the Ninja .. Add a 1.5x Anamorphic and I'm good to go! 

I can afford the C100 MKii, and probably the C300 at a push .. If I opt with the former however, I can invest more towards glass .. What do you guys reckon? 

Nb. Could I run a dual HDMI out of the C100 1 x HDMI out? One running the Ninja, one the SmallHD 501? Alternatively, could I run the SmallHD 501 from the Ninja's ports? 

 

 

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1 hour ago, martinmcgreal said:

If I drop my demand for 4K, then the C100ii/300 models fit my needs perfectly .. They produce that soft, clean, smooth image straight out of the sensor, great colour (always loved canon's colour), the dynamic range I want, terrific low-light, and 10 bit 4:2:2 when recording to the Ninja .. Add a 1.5x Anamorphic and I'm good to go! 

I can afford the C100 MKii, and probably the C300 at a push .. If I opt with the former however, I can invest more towards glass .. What do you guys reckon? 

Nb. Could I run a dual HDMI out of the C100 1 x HDMI out? One running the Ninja, one the SmallHD 501? Alternatively, could I run the SmallHD 501 from the Ninja's ports? 

 

 

Forget that .. 8bit output only right? Such a deal breaker .. 

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F3 seems to tick the most of your boxes. 10-bit 4:4:4, insane DR, excellent in low light, 60p, great motion cadence, impressive battery life, XLRs, and can be had for ~$1500. 

Otherwise, the Kinemini with 4K upgrade will fulfill most of your wish list, although its low light performance isn't up to the F3's standard.

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F3 would be a good pick. Another option for 'cinematic' on a smaller budget is the Digital Bolex D16 -some of the best colour and motion cadence out there.  Its a pretty complete package with 12 bit 4:4:4 internal raw and HDMI output (bolex log), global shutter, good DR, XLR's and there is a lot of nice s16 glass out there.

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yeah if you can find a good RED mx for that price, I would go for the RED MX. Only downside for me is its size, as I can not use it on my ronin-m. Otherwise I would be doing the same. Guess I have to wait until the RED Epic-x prices drop below 4k, or over a year when I might buy a used kinefinity terra. So probably the GH5 will be my next purchase in the meantime.

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If I'm willing to drop my resolution requirements to 2K, which I'm sensing I may indeed have to, then the F3 is the best bang for buck, no question. But I want to exhaust the 4K market first .. 

Whilst the motion cadence on the Bolex is incredibly cinematic, the cameras image isn't that dissimilar to the pocket's, with that 35mm film look; the exact look I'm hoping to move away from with this upgrade. As previously stated, I'm looking for a more softer, cleaner, and smoother looking image, more digital/alike to the Alexa/RED's, than 35mm film .. 

2 hours ago, Snowfun said:

Is the question "can anyone persuade me not to buy the MX?"

Ha! Yes, essentially .. Something which can challenge the MX's cinematic qualities, but that's far more user friendly. I'll probably opt with an MX if I can find one with low hours on the clock, and then to avoid additional weight, just keep it as stripped down as possible.

The KineMini 4K is an interesting one .. Ticks every single box as stated, but its difficult finding decently graded footage of this thing online - making you question whether that's a user error or the cameras colour science. I assume the former, but I'd like to see the some solid cinematic evidence that thing system is as good as it looks on paper ..  

Still pee'd off about forgetting the C100ii/300 can only output 8-bit. With the F3, it's probably the closest system on the market to delivering the 'image' I'm looking for .. If I hold out until NAB, I can probably look closer to the £6K market, but worth noting I also want to invest up to £2,000 in some new glass, so probably wise I keep looking in the current price-range for a system .. 

So, as of now, it's either the MX or F3, or the GH5, granted it's vastly better in low-light than the GH4, which I sense it may not be. Is there anything else I've missed? Like I say, willing to drop my demands for 4K if needs be, which should open up a few other options? 

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5DmkIII ML RAW? Not exactly a cinema camera or ticking the boxes. But Andrii's stuff for example I just really like...

It seems to compliment your appreciation for what Canon's doing and that 'soft, clean, smooth cinematic feel to the image' in combination with the bitdepth you're after. Trading in some specs on paper for pleasant results.

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