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Minimalistic Filmmaking


meudig
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Hey there,

I've been lurking this forum for quite a while but finally decided to create an avatar to make this thread (somewhat inspired by Andrew's blog post "Pro cameras are not as creatively liberating").

I always thought I would be working towards that huge, cinematic rig. With 15mm rods, matteboxes, external monitors, follow-focuses and v-mount batteries etc...
And a couple of months ago I decided to take the first step. I sold my old trusty t3i/600D along with the 18-55mm kit lens, to instead pick up a used BMPCC.
(Somehow I still made it out with 20 dollars in profit?).

I started outfitting the BMPCC with accessories. I already had a cage and a handle that came with it. I didn't really want to, but I couldn't see it useful as a true compact
camera. Battery and audio needed upgrading (in-camera preamp wasn't even able to record decent ambience without hiss and white noise), 
and quickly I learned to despise handheld shooting - something I always used to love and prefer.

Long story short, in the essence of the "new gear syndrome" (I saw a better term somewhere but I can't remember it) ,I have decided to cut my filmmaking gear considerably - starting with the BMPCC rig.

Now to my question; what minimal cameras/gear/rigs do you guys like use for run and gun, your morning walks, street or travel shooting? (Essentially, your NOT proffessional work). And why?

 

-meudig

p.s.

This is not supposed to be "What camera should I buy"-thread, but if any of you have any ideas about a nice, cheap (400-650$ used) camera with decent in-camera preamp and the ability to monitor audio without any add-ons, I'd be thankful! 
I've been looking at the E-M5 Mark II (which allows you to monitor audio with the additional grip), and the IBIS seems amazing.

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I really liked the e-m5 Mark ii. And have seen some great stuff shot with it. The IBIS is better than the Panasonic's version and the 1080p is decent. So if you don't need 4K, it's a solid choice with a good Flat Profile for some post work. 

Another benefit, if you decide to shoot dual sound later on, the em5m2 will send a tone signal to the Olympus LS100 Field Recorder for ease of synching the audio and video in post. Plus it has a really nice organic look with good color.

The D5500 or D7200 are good choices with clean 1080p and good DR.

For 4K and your budget, the GX85 or G85 are good. The internal audio isn't going to be great but none of the cameras at this price point will be. Maybe a GH4.., I've heard it's internal audio is decent, probably better with a preamp. 

Oh yeah, if you don't mind smaller sensors, both the RX10ii and the FZ2500 are good cameras and they both have headphone inputs. The RX10ii audio sounded pretty good with the Rode Video Micro plugged directly into the camera. 

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I just reread your post and I wanted to add that I have the D5500 and have considered selling it once a month for the past 3 or 4 months, but then I use it, or look at some old footage and I realize why I keep on keeping it. The Nikon Flat Profile is so nice with just enough latitude to handle some grading. The image is clean, with good dynamic range. However, it does not have a headphone input but the D7200 does and basically has the same IQ as the D5500 with a couple extra bells and whistles.

I've also had 2 FZ2500s and the all-I 1080p out of that camera is really nice. Both times I've returned it, because I didn't think I wanted it or needed it and both times I have regretted it. It's seriously a little cinema camera with a built in lens. It has decent IS, a mic and headphone input, 4K and 1080p, high frame rates that can be recorded/exported at 24p. It has a slow/quick function that with the push of a button can go from regular speed to slow motion, or regular speed to fast motion, while recording for as long as you press the button. You can set the shutter speed to the shutter angle of 180 degrees so if you want to change to 60p or 72p or 96p, etc... it will always be in the proper shutter speed for cinematic motion blur, it has 3 strengths of built in, body selectable NDs, decent AF Tracking... not great but not bad. The small sensor and lens can be kinda annoying for shallow depth shots, but they are possible. For a travel camera or run and gun cinema camera, it is pretty cool. Dang, now I want another one... LOL.

Thw Olympus I bought out of boredom one day because the price was so low. I was very impressed with the IBIS... it really is that good. The 1080p was decent, it just felt kind of redundant with my D5500 and 5D3, so I sold it. But it's small and well built with a good screen and as mentioned before, amazing IBIS.

If you're into color grading, the RX10ii is a nice choice. sLog2, high frame rates, good audio, well built, decent image stabilization. I'm not a great colorist and in the end I decided against it. 

The GX85 is a fun little camera but it doesn't have a mic input, let alone a headphone input, so it may not be of interest to you. But the IBIS is good with manual lenses and the recent CineLikeD hack is really nice as well. And it's cheap.

Anyway, I hope this helps and good luck in finding a camera that fits your needs.

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A minimal, run-and-gun rig with the BMPCC is possible. This is my setup:

  • Always have 4 charged batteries with you + a small charger to plug into the wall somewhere if necessary. Original Nikon EN-EL20 batteries last substantially longer than off-brand batteries (including Blackmagic's own batteries); a fully charged battery should give you about 30 mins of continuous shooting.
  • Use a 256GB Sandisk Extreme Pro card, with enough capacity to shoot 1:20 hours raw or 2:50 hours ProResHQ footage.
  • Use one, compact, fast, affordable, run-and-gun lens; excellent options are (a) the Samyang 12mm/f2 MFT, (b) the Sigma 30mm/f1.4 (old version is fine) + Metabones 0.58x Pocket SpeedBooster, (c) the Sigma 18-50mm/f2.8 + Pocket Speedbooster.
  • Always have an IR cut filter on the lens, have an ND filter ready to screw on if necessary. (Using the Manfrotto Xume magnetic filter system makes things easier.) Hoya is a recommended brand; B+W, Heliopan, Marumi are fine, too.
  • Use one of the following three good, compact & inexpensive mic solutions: (a) a Rode Videomicro [the $60 mini mic, needs no batteries, works decently on the BMPCC], (b) a Zoom H1 as both an external recorder and an external mic+preamp wired with a minijack cable to the line-in of the BMPCC; (c) an Ohrwurm Audio binaural mic [fantastic sound with the BMPCC, since it needs minimal preamplification and sounds great in general].
  • Use one of the following compact and inexpensive stabilizers: (a) a vintage chestpod as they were manufactured in the 70s/80s for 8mm and 16mm cameras, for example by Braun and for the Krasnogorsk-3 camera; (b) the $30 Cowboy Studios Shoulder rig, probably the best handheld stabilizer there is, (c) the Cullmann Cruiser travelpod.
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@mercer

Thank you very much for your input! Some of your examples I've looked at, some - the nikons in particular - I've never looked twice at (having been a devoted canon user since 2011, stupid huh?).

I did own the GX80/85 for about two weeks before I sent it back when I realised I was getting a great deal on the BMPCC. I have to say the 4K looked amazing, but for my intents and purposes I'm going to stay with 1080p for quite a while and It seemed to lack in the 1080p department. Trust me I tend to not obsess over IQ or pixel peep, but the GH3 level 1080p seem to be quite superior. Maybe a nice, used GH3 or even GX7 would be a nice option.

The RX10 ii is also a nice option that I hadn't considered. I do own the first two model RX100's and quite enjoy them still to this day. The RX10 ii might be a great addition to them. :)

I recently found the E-M5 Mark II along with the grip accessories on auction, starting out at 535$, which seems like quite a nice deal. I'll see how far it goes.

 

@cantsin

Thanks alot for sharing your setup! I've tried something similar, with the 1020mAh off-brand batteries aswell as a 5000-something mAh Juicebox battery (JBMP-01). I also use a small foldable tripod which can be somewhat converted to a shoulder rig (inspired by Burling). Real talk; it will take alot for me to go back to big tripods which doesn't fold into a 35cm (13" or something, right?) stick that fits my INTO my backpack.

I've also tried the videomicro, but it doesn't produce anything useable without an external preamp, at least on my specific camera. A Zoom H1 or entry Tascam models makes alot of sense. I have paired the camera with a Zoom H5 accompanied with a sennheiser shotgun mic (can't remember the model at this point in time) that I am able to borrow from my university whenever I need for more serious work, and it has performed very well.

The BMPCC truly is an amazing camera, and it's been fun learning the workflow and playing around with it. But I can't really personally justify having it when I'd much rather take my RX100 II when going out (which of course also lacks in the audio department).

 

Again, thanks to both of you. I'll let you know if I reach any conclusion. :)

 

-meudig

 

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For the Pocket, buy the Zacuto Pocket viewfinder. You can press the very big and comfortable rubber eyepiece to your eye and thereby have an additional stabilisation point. Use a pistol grip or screw together a grip to the side (like here, unfortunately the free Dropbox doesn't render image links any longer), which is better for heavy lenses (I recommend the Sigma 18-35 with Nikon Pocket speedbooster). Mounted on a QRP, steel parts and screws cost below 10 bucks.

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7 hours ago, meudig said:

@mercer

Thank you very much for your input! Some of your examples I've looked at, some - the nikons in particular - I've never looked twice at (having been a devoted canon user since 2011, stupid huh?).

I did own the GX80/85 for about two weeks before I sent it back when I realised I was getting a great deal on the BMPCC. I have to say the 4K looked amazing, but for my intents and purposes I'm going to stay with 1080p for quite a while and It seemed to lack in the 1080p department. Trust me I tend to not obsess over IQ or pixel peep, but the GH3 level 1080p seem to be quite superior. Maybe a nice, used GH3 or even GX7 would be a nice option.

The RX10 ii is also a nice option that I hadn't considered. I do own the first two model RX100's and quite enjoy them still to this day. The RX10 ii might be a great addition to them. :)

I recently found the E-M5 Mark II along with the grip accessories on auction, starting out at 535$, which seems like quite a nice deal. I'll see how far it goes.

I'm not much of a pixel peeper myself. I went through all of the 4K cameras, I can afford, and found I actually like 1080p better.

It really just comes down to features that are important to you. If IBIS is on the top of your list, then the e-m5 Mark ii is probably your best choice at that price point. And yeah, with the grip, that's a really good price. But I must say, although the image is nice, there isn't anything particularly special about it either... it's better than a lot of choices because it feels more organic than digital, but it's also a little vanilla. But in a good way. With my brief time with it, I was left feeling unsure about the overall image quality. I guess it wasn't an inspiring image and it didn't wow me like other cameras do. But that's really subjective because I have seen some great footage shot by John Brawley with one. 

The RX10ii is a lot of fun and there is some really good footage out there to prove it. If you don't need the 4K, sLog2 and cine profiles, or 120fps, you could save some coin and get the original RX10. It has the same lens, same build quality with mic in and headphone input.

As I said, in the end I became spoiled by Full Frame Raw, so it is hard for me to get excited about other cameras... or to keep my excitement, which is why I keep bringing up the D5500. It's hard to recommend it because with video, it really is an utterly, stupid implementation by Nikon. But it also is a really nice video file in the Super 35mm format. The colors are brilliant with great dynamic range. And it will also natively mount some of the best manual lenses of all time... with some limitations and yet again... some annoyances as well. In the end it feels more cinematic than a lot of the other choices at its price point.

Also, another factor is lens choice. Almost any lens ever made can be adapted to the Olympus, so that's a big plus as well.

At this low budget, there isn't a perfect camera, trust me... I have tested 17 cameras over the past two years and weirdly enough, my two favorites are my most expensive purchase... and my least expensive purchase.

I know you weren't asking this, but if I had your budget, I would probably get two cameras... the original RX10 (unless I could find a steal on the RX10ii to get 4K and the extra pictures profiles) and a D5500. With those two cameras, anything could be filmed. If I were choosing one, I'd obviously go with the D5500/D5600, or if IBIS was my most major concern, the Olympus can't be beat.

And finally, if I wanted an all in one camera and lens, I'd choose the FZ2500 over the RX10 i and ii. 

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Sorry, I just reread my own post and I'm unsure I was helpful at all. But apparently I do like to talk about cheap camera options.

And with that I should add... since you do have a Canon background, you would probably find the 80D as a great option as well. Better 1080p than your t3i with its high bitrate all-i, great lens adaptability, the best AF around with Tracking and Touch AF that could rival a Hollywood focus puller.

I know I probably shouldn't have said the C word around here, but I have recently found this video that was shot with the 80D and think it looks great and is just more proof that any camera, in the right hands, is probably good enough nowadays...

 

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1 hour ago, mercer said:

Sorry, I just reread my own post and I'm unsure I was helpful at all. But apparently I do like to talk about cheap camera options.

You are very helpful, and yes, so do I. I tend to enjoy seeing great work on cheap or unconventional cameras more so than good work on (more) expensive, proffessional cameras. ("great" in this sense is of course both subjective, as well as relative).

You did turn me onto bridge cameras, and I have been researching them for the last couple of hours. Both the RX10 ii and the FZ2500 are very attractive with their log profiles. And as you say, the original RX10 would save me quite the bit of cash, I found an auction for it and I will be watching it carefully.

Nikon is a world of cameras that I've never explored before, but oh my, the ones you suggested really does produce stunning video.

I am able to borrow Canon 70Ds and 80Ds from the University, and I do like them, especially the 80D since it has a headphone jack. They do seem to have a long "shelf life" though, and hard to find good deals on.

I really liked that video aswell, reminds me of the opening of The 400 Blows.

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48 minutes ago, Neumann Films said:

GH5, Lumix 12-35mm f 2.8 IS, a Rode Video Mic with Windscreen, and a Tiffen Variable ND.  That's all most people should ever need.  Amazing quality, ability to go handheld with 5 axis stabilization, good enough audio.  So liberating.

I just picked up a GH5, and still getting the hang of it. But so far I love the size, quality and weight of it. I'm really looking forward to using it on some projects to see what I can do with it. I am looking to do some anamorphic stuff with it though, which is counter to the size/weight equation. But I do not think there is a way to get around giant anamorphic lenses, not for true anamorphic anyway. But that aside, I can agree with the GH5 being a solid choice for small run n gun style shooting.

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I have the pocket and the GH4. Both are great for walk around shooting. Which one I take depends on how much I also want to take stills. 

For video, I prefer the pocket. Shooting raw is so nice for run and gun outdoor stuff. Rokinon 12 f2 is my goto lens. I'd opt for the 12-35 panasonic if I had it.

SLR magic Vari ND.  I have 5 batteries, but even with that many, it's annoying to have to swap batteries all the time. I recently started bringing the juicebox magic power with me. It's a bit unsightly, but it does mount on (or below) the camera. The added weight helps with handheld shooting, and I can just leave the camera on all day. It's so much nicer to just pick up and shoot at a moment's notice without turning it on and off to conserve the tiny batteries. 

 

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Uuuh, so many great suggestions! I have D5500 for a year and enjoy the image. But i realy like that liberating possibilities, that comes with 5 axis IBIS. So i just purchased GX85 and original 12-35. But a havent seen any great examples with this camera and not certain about image. I`m plan to buy cheap focal reducer and some vintage lenses for shallower DOF and more cinematic look. But again im not certain can i get simmilar image i have with d5500.
What about AF on Oly? I plan to buy gimbal, so AF is important for me.
I just want to learn more, experimenting more, so i look for IBIS to free my hands and creativity.

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On 13.7.2017 at 4:27 PM, mercer said:

Sorry, I just reread my own post and I'm unsure I was helpful at all. But apparently I do like to talk about cheap camera options.

And with that I should add... since you do have a Canon background, you would probably find the 80D as a great option as well. Better 1080p than your t3i with its high bitrate all-i, great lens adaptability, the best AF around with Tracking and Touch AF that could rival a Hollywood focus puller.

I know I probably shouldn't have said the C word around here, but I have recently found this video that was shot with the 80D and think it looks great and is just more proof that any camera, in the right hands, is probably good enough nowadays...

 

 

Hey Glenn, awesome find. Visually one of the best DSLM/R cinema verite style narrative shorts I´ve seen in months, if not the best. The montage is stunning, leaving more impact on me than the highly acclaimed eyecandy piece "Towers of Turkey". Thanks for showing, very inspiring piece for every single no/low budget filmlover/maker. Colors are magnificient.

@meudig, Panasonic G85, better HD than GX85 and mic in. IBIS, 4K, 60p, strong 8bit codec, CineD, nice colors. It doesn´t have audio out though.

 

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