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Can you help recommend a camera/system please


andrew00
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Hey y'all,

I've been out the filming game for a good five, six years now, but am looking to produce some more work for my company. I've not idea what camera system to look at now, so would really appreciate some advice.

I'll be shooting mostly doco style pieces, and want as good quality as I can (i.e. cinematic doco vs video doco if poss), so I'd like a good codec and good colour.

I'll be mostly shooting handheld/on my own, so I'm looking I can run and gun with. Also something with some sort of stabilisation (body/lens) and realistically good auto-focus.

I also want a system that has good, fast, ultra-wide lenses, as that's an aesthetic I prefer (ideal range is around 16mm-21mm).

I've literally no idea if there's a system out there that does that in one package, but I thought I'd ask if anyone can suggest something that does. Thanks everyone!

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If you don't need slow motion, Sony A7III has great AF and 4K 24fps, though the codec is a bit weak. Also the IBIS is horrible IMO, but functional.  If you expose properly you can get great results in resolve with a bit of finesse.

BMPCC cameras require a bunch of rigging and basically no AF-C.

Z-cam is similar, no AF-C, multiple models, some have better footage than others.

GH5 can be great too, I just don't like the colors, contrast, the poor AF, and the deep DOF.  That being said it is quite light and is a workhorse. I just find it hard to work with to get the results I want, though I admit that if you know how to finesse it in post it can look amazing too.

S1h, too expensive and lack of AF.  Apparently good footage but 60p has a crop.

XT-3 does have a bunch of positives, decent af-c, good colors, aps-c sensor, but no IBIS.

Nikon Z series looks terrible to me, everyone here praises it though.  Every single clip I've seen looks weirdly oversharpened, the color is ok though.

"Everyone" (the rest of us not making films) is waiting for something affordable that has good color, good codec, AF-C and 4K 60fps full frame.  Nothing comes close right now, unless you want something like the $15K Canon C500 mark II.  Red Komodo might come close (APS-C).  A7SIII would do it too (maybe), except it's 2 years late and nowhere to be found, I've written it off as it is depressing me too much waiting for it.

So... nothing does it all.  My vote is A7III if you want the full frame look.  Has decent DR, decent color, just poop IBIS, codec, and no 4K60p. The IBIS, at least for me, can add bad random frame shakes that require stabilization in post, but I live with it.

All that being said, you can great results with any of these systems if you work for it, some just make it easier than others depending on what you want.  Good luck!

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Although i shoot with Sony, I would recommend looking at something like a Fuji X-T3 IF YOU ARE WILLING TO USE A GIMBAL.

If you truly need handheld / shoulder rig, then probably look into the cameras by Panasonic or Olympus as they have the best IBIS. The Panasonic GH5 is highly regarded for usability and capability but it lacks a little bit in low light ability and dynamic range. And the AF of the X-T3 is better, although after recent firmware updates, I don't know how much better. Also I don't know if there are ultrawide fast lenses for the GH5. There probably are but I am not familiar enough with them to state either way.

If you need best low light performance or best dynamic range, then the $2,500 Panasonic S1 or the $1,800 Sony a7 III would work, but as noted above, the S1 has questionable autofocs. I don't think they have a fast, ultra-wide lens either. They will release a 16-35 f/4 at around $1,500 but is f/4 fast enough for you??? 

You haven't mentioned what your plans are for recording audio. Some cameras might have audio capabilities that better meet your needs. (Of course, if you record audio externally, then that is another thing.)

Also, do you think you would possibly use a gimbal or an external monitor or recorder?

Also, almost ANY camera can provide "good color" but some require more work in post to get it than others.

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X-T3 is affordable and has one of the best codecs out there in cameras under $5,000 and the images look great with either the built in film looks or graded Log. I think most people would agree. Autofocus is only ok. I can trust it for well lit sit down interviews, but it can be hit and miss for fast action b-roll. Great 60p and usable 120. Not a ton of third party glass, but Fuji's native lenses are nice and not extremely expensive compared to, say, EF mount L glass or Canon's new R mount. It's fine in low light at 1600 and usable up to maybe 8000 if you nail exposure. 

Fuji has an 8-16 F2.8 and a 10-20 F4 plus wide primes. Their lens stabilization is ok, but not amazing.

With the money you'd save over some of the full frame options out there, you could buy a gimbal to get smooth handheld shots or put in on good sticks. I'd say it's worth renting one for a week to see if you like it. That's what I did, and since I made the switch from an 80D I've been happy. 

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3 hours ago, Mark Romero 2 said:

Although i shoot with Sony, I would recommend looking at something like a Fuji X-T3 IF YOU ARE WILLING TO USE A GIMBAL.


Another thought is to buy both a Fuji X-T3 *and* X-H1 for the shots when IBIS is really needed. At least until a X-T4 arrives with IBIS

Otherwise go for a Nikon Z6 or Panasonic GH5

 

If you don't want a mirrorless camera, then consider a Sony FS5 or JVC LS300

3 hours ago, Mark Romero 2 said:

You haven't mentioned what your plans are for recording audio. Some cameras might have audio capabilities that better meet your needs. (Of course, if you record audio externally, then that is another thing.)

For sheer extreme tininess and cuteness the new MixPre3 Gen2 is a good choice for the solo operator, otherwise get a Zoom F8n, MixPre10 Gen2 or a secondhand Sound Devices 633 (they're going dirt cheap now!) if you want to specialize in sound but you've got no real budget. (or Zaxcom Nova / Sound Devices 833 if you're going pro)

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7 hours ago, andrew00 said:

...so I'd like a good codec and good colour...with some sort of stabilisation (body/lens) and realistically good auto-focus...also want a system that has good, fast, ultra-wide lenses

Ah, yes. The perfect system that doesn't exist...

Maybe, take a look at Canon EOS R.

X-H1 stabilizer is as good as A7III, i.e, not great.
A7III codec is lacking.
X-T3 doesn't have IBIS and it's H.265 files are, currently, heavy on editing rig.
GH5 lacks good reliable autofocus and extreme shallow DoF if thats important to you.
EM1.2 has good autofocus, decent color, good lens selection but has the same DoF compromise as GH5 as well as only offering 8-bit codec and weak LOG recording.

This is why Canon needs to release a C100 Mark 3.

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Regarding fast lenses for the GH5.. There's the 7.5mm f2 Laowa (15mm f4 FF equivalent) and the 10mm f0.95 Voigtlander (20mm f1.9 FF equivalent) but they're the only two I know of that are "fast" in a DoF sense.

If you want fast from an exposure point of view but don't care about DoF then there are probably some other f2.8 lenses around that might suit. Definitely no fast wide zooms though.

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Handheld by yourself?  Suggest that Olympus with their IBIS is a good bet. I also use a GH5.  Good codec and color, imho. Useable IBIS, but inferior to Olympus.

AF?  Myself, I'm not a fan of AF, like a bit of human wabi-sabi in the shots.

Maybe consider buying a set of three old manual primes with a straight dumb adapter and speed booster. You'll get 6 focal lengths from 3 lenses...and you can get those lenses cheap too.  More than enough to give you cinematic options.

Throw in a variable ND with step up rings and it can travel across your glass --making run and gun a LOT more pragmatic. 

I'm not a fan of how variable ND mucks the image a bit, but the trade off is worth it. 

I have an old EOS Sigma 10-20mm wide and when adapted with the speed booster it's an expansive field of view. 

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@andrew00 

+1 for what @fuzzynormal said about the whole setup.

I have GH5 and shoot with three manual lenses (in my case, Laowa 7.5mm f2, Voigtlander 17.5mm and 42.5mm f0.95).  I don't mind the MF imperfections, but I also find that the AF kings (canon and Sony) don't AF exactly how I would like and the only way to really control the speed at which things change on a shot to shot basis is MF.

A GH5, three vintage manual primes and the two adapters is excellent advice.  I'd add to that to consider the Russian lenses as they are much better value-for-money than things like FD or MD glass, or even the Takumars, because all those are much better known.  I bought an m42 speed booster for about $150 and as far as I can tell it's great optically, so you don't have to put up the $600+ for a metabones, or even for a viltrox.  I'd also suggest that you get Manfrott Xume magnetic filter holders so you can just clip and unclip you ND across your lenses too. 

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6 hours ago, kye said:

I'd also suggest that you get Manfrott Xume magnetic filter holders

I have these as well. But you have to be careful on wide angle lenses as they will cause vignetting when used with a step up ring. At least that is my experience using a 77-82mm step up ring and a XUME adapter with my 10-25mm. Slight vignette at 10mm but is gone at 11-12mm.

Id also like to add, you could always rent some cameras to try the setup before committing to dropping several thousand dollars.

Don't discount Olympus with something like the EM1 mark 2. It’s the only MFT camera with good PDAF, excellent IBIS (without the warp when EIS is on), and can get decent Shallow DoF with autofocus with one of their f/1.2 primes.

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On 12/6/2019 at 4:39 PM, andrew00 said:

I'll be shooting mostly doco style pieces, and want as good quality as I can (i.e. cinematic doco vs video doco if poss), so I'd like a good codec and good colour.

I'll be mostly shooting handheld/on my own, so I'm looking I can run and gun with. Also something with some sort of stabilisation (body/lens) and realistically good auto-focus.

I also want a system that has good, fast, ultra-wide lenses, as that's an aesthetic I prefer (ideal range is around 16mm-21mm).

I've literally no idea if there's a system out there that does that in one package, but I thought I'd ask if anyone can suggest something that does. Thanks everyone!

Good codec & colour & stabilisation - GH5 or X-H1

Run & gun with really good AF - Not those :) Maybe a Sony or a Canon, but then you make trade offs over other important specs (like colour, or 10bit, or stabilisation).

You may not need IBIS for ultra wide lenses. Shake is not as noticeable at wide angle. Also IBIS tends not to play very well with ultra wide focal lengths - warping / distortion can be present.

X-T3 with 18-55mm F2.8-4 OIS makes for a good run & gun documentary cam. The optical stabilisation should be enough for ya.

Olympus E-M1 II with firmware update and their 12mm F2 is also a good bet.

I'd avoid the EOS R it's a bit naff if you want 4K and wide angle due to the big crop and lack of good wide EF-S lenses.

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On 12/6/2019 at 8:39 AM, andrew00 said:

I'll be shooting mostly doco style pieces, and want as good quality as I can (i.e. cinematic doco vs video doco if poss), so I'd like a good codec and good colour.

Forgot to mention that one of the keys to having good color is to have good lighting.

What sort of lighting conditions do you expect to be in? Will you able / willing to light scenes as well?

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1 hour ago, Andrew Reid said:

IBIS tends not to play very well with ultra wide focal lengths - warping / distortion

Yes.  In my experience, it's best to just turn it off once you're below a FF equiv of 16mm.  Unless you're trying to get completely static shots while hand-held only.  Otherwise, no IBIS on the wides.

BTW, Optical stabilization with FUJI lenses is good.  But then you're locked into buying FUJI lenses on those bodies.

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If you are not using it for stills I would buy something like a Fs5 or canon c series for the battery, built-in nd filter and specially audio options giving you much better quality because you will easily operate a lav mic and direction or on board. 

But if you choose a stills camera It's nice to understand the stabilizing aesthetic options you get: oly and Panasonic ibis is very effective for static shots and substitutes monopods in a way but not nice for moving, following characters, as it looks very unnatural for me. Stabilized glass in general and canon digital in body stabilisation look much more organic from what I've seen and experienced.

I've been on a similar hunt for a hybrid system but specially with a 24mm 1.4 POV in mind. On fuji side you have a great 16mm 1.4 lens and an ok 12mm f2 rokinon. they are not stabilised ( but as andrew said maybe for such a wide FOV it won't be necessary),  so you could think about the X-H1 instead of x-t3,  but I would not buy a camera just for ibis. if you want really shallow and wider than 24mm maybe you will have to take aps-c out of the equation while the 20mm 1.4 sigma for FF and 10mm 0.95 for the gh5 may be good options. If you are ok with 2.8, I find sigma 11-16mm quite cinematic and it could be great paired with an x-t3 or EOS -R in 4k . (1.5 and 1.8 crop, respectivelly).

I think only sony and canon have really reliable autofocus, but if you don't use gimbal manual will be better. That said, Canon's servo auto focus while using manual has been really useful In my experience  with doc. I don't know about hybridfocus operation on sony and fuji. 

x-t3, eos R and gh5 will probably give you the best codec and colors. But you may find that sony slog2 is more than enough. It's really amazing for controled enviroments, altough I would not be happy using it for doc as I would be more worried than  using Canon log or Fuji F-log. If you don't inted using external monitors it's nice to see "in camera internal lut" as canon has, I don't know if other brands offer this while using log. They probably have. 

Other things to have in mind:

-ND:Canon' eos R with nd filter adapter can be extremelly practical for doc IMO.

-battery life: A7III, canon eos R and sony a6500 have good battery life. You can be annoyed with fuji or Panasonic for not so great batteries. 

- Audio won't be great, that sucks and if you compromise a proper doc camera than I don't know much how the preamps differ on this stills cameras. I've seen the fuji have good audio codecs and you have a finer control over the preamps, but I also have to search that. 

Sorry for the long text, I've been reading for months trying to decide which system to jump and for now, altough I find the sony image amazing for controlled enviroment and fuji much sexier, smaller and appealing for several reasons, I've decided to go with a EOS R since I consider shooting in 1080p and the 4k crop doesn't bother me more than it would on the fujis ( and it seems like a stills cameraon par with the a7iii and z series). Also cheaper to find good enough glass. Canon feels more sturdy,  I have friends who had problems with both fuji and sony . It also has sensor protection ( altough only works without the adapter. if the adapter is on, the sensor is exposed to dust just like all the other mirrorless). I don't care about higher than 60fps not to say 24fps, so that is not in my equations, but something for you to consider. Let us know your findings.


 

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Blackmagic Pocket 4K/6K range, no other camera system gives you that, colour-wise, robust codec but especially similar interface where your productivity shines against those nonsensical Japanese menus, will bring you a unique PLEASURE to shoot with and don't worry too much about their incipient AF, also because that focus assist is a breeze, you won't find anything better and you'll easily nail focus there.

 

Finally...

MFT or crop (S35) formats are enough to look like your outcome cinematic enough to match Hollywood stuff coupled to the right (much affordable and handy on MFT side as well endless) glass.

Add a light gimbal to overcome lack of IBIS and you're done ; )

 

I've simply stopped to use my dozen Panasonic cameras, only to make you understand how glad I am with such camera system : -)

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