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Video set-up (camera + lens) around $1000?


thehebrewhammer
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I'm trying to get a new filmmaker set up with a camera and a lens, and have about $1,400 USD to spend.

I'm looking at a used Panasonic G85 or XH1 if I can find it. I like the idea of IBIS but I suppose that's a bit of an extravagance. I'd like to save a bit of money for a shotgun mic, an ND filter, and some batteries.

What are some alternatives? How would you kit out a new filmmaker on this budget?

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It's really hard to recommend a M43 camera right now with so much uncertainty. Still, the G85 is a great camera. If you pick that up and get a couple prime lenses you'll be able to do pretty well with it. The G9, if you can afford it, is even better though the recording limits are why I never got one but if you're not doing events or anything like they you are unlikely to need to record longer anyway. You also might even be able to get a GH5 and a prime lens for the $1000 mark. 

I don't have a ton of experience with the X-H1 but I'd maybe look at the X-T3. The IBIS in the X-H1 wasn't great in the first place, as I recall. 

The Canon M50 might be an option too, maybe? 

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57 minutes ago, newfoundmass said:

It's really hard to recommend a M43 camera right now with so much uncertainty. Still, the G85 is a great camera. If you pick that up and get a couple prime lenses you'll be able to do pretty well with it. The G9, if you can afford it, is even better though the recording limits are why I never got one but if you're not doing events or anything like they you are unlikely to need to record longer anyway. You also might even be able to get a GH5 and a prime lens for the $1000 mark. 

I don't have a ton of experience with the X-H1 but I'd maybe look at the X-T3. The IBIS in the X-H1 wasn't great in the first place, as I recall. 

The Canon M50 might be an option too, maybe? 

If IBIS isn't a must, I second the notion of getting an X-T3, especially used. It's a great camera. I use mine all the time in combination with my T4, and the latest firmware beefs it up to close to X-T4 performance. The T3 is a better video camera than the H1, even though the H1 was supposed to be their top range APS-C body. Unfortunately, I'm seeing the T3 body only for just over a grand, so it'd be a bit more for a lens, the 18-55 F2.6/4 being an excellent everyday zoom for video with stabilization.  

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What exactly are they going to be filming?

Do they need 4K?

How important will AF be?

Are you sure a shotgun mic is going to be the right choice for them? (Either they will need to be vlogging with the camera at arm's length, or they will need the shotgun mic to be boomed within 2 feet of the person talking). Maybe a lav mic (or several lav mics) will work better for their needs.

BTW: I find that INDOORS I have better luck recording decent audio using a Cardioid / Hyper-Cardioid mic than a shotgun mic (again, boomed over talent). Outdoors, the other way around.

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2 hours ago, Mark Romero 2 said:

What exactly are they going to be filming?

I think they'll be doing documentary work in the far north. Likely pretty rough on gear.
 

2 hours ago, Mark Romero 2 said:

Do they need 4K?

How important will AF be?

I don't think they need 4k, but they seem to want it. At this price the options are pretty interesting for 1080 cameras - including even something like a c100.

I don't think they will rely on AF.

Regarding your sound points, I have to admit I've never been great at sound. I was thinking of getting them a Deity V3 and calling it a day, just so they can start with something better than in-camera sound.

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3 hours ago, thehebrewhammer said:

I think they'll be doing documentary work in the far north. Likely pretty rough on gear.
 

I don't think they need 4k, but they seem to want it. At this price the options are pretty interesting for 1080 cameras - including even something like a c100.

I don't think they will rely on AF.

Regarding your sound points, I have to admit I've never been great at sound. I was thinking of getting them a Deity V3 and calling it a day, just so they can start with something better than in-camera sound.

Hopefully @IronFilm will chime in on the audio side of things.

But yeah, if you just want to get them ONE mic / something simple, then getting a shotgun mic might be ok to start them out. They will have to learn when to use it on camera (when vlogging, mostly), when to boom it (and how to boom it), and when to unplug it and just rely on the camera's in-body mics. 

Personal Hall of Shame Moment: I once tried to record a concert with a shotgun mic. It was not pretty.

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Bang for buck with a tight tight budget, you still can't beat a Panasonic G85. You might even want to go cheaper, and check out a G7, leaves more spare dollars in the budget (which will disappear faster than you think). 
 

2 hours ago, Mark Romero 2 said:

Hopefully @IronFilm will chime in on the audio side of things.

Just spend zero dollars on audio, and get someone else to do it instead. 

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13 hours ago, Mr. Freeze said:

Maybe a Panasonic G9 with a Panasonic 12-60mm f3.5-5.6 from the used market

That would be my suggestion too - better build and video quality than the G85, although if the budget is really tight the G85 is perfectly good camera (I own both of them, so can directly compare).

9 hours ago, thehebrewhammer said:

I think they'll be doing documentary work in the far north. Likely pretty rough on gear.

....Then the G9 is probably a better choice than the G85 due to better weather sealing & build quality.

As a slightly 'off the wall' suggestion for harsh conditions, what about a used Olympus E-M1 mk 2 with one of the Oly 'pro' lenses e.g. the 12-40mm F2.8. Smaller and lighter than the G9, with excellent IBIS and 4k video capability (including 237Mbps DCI 4k at 24 fps), and phase-detect autofocus.

The G9 has overall better video quality though (especially at 1080p).

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The Fujifilm X-T3 + 18-55mm f2.8-4 is a great combination. Great colors, great codec options, beautiful image, good for photography too. No IBIS though. 

Panasonic G9 with a kit lens or G85 with the 12-60mm f2.8-4 are good options as well. Personally I have never used the G85 but heard many praise it. I have used the G9 for a long time and the image quality is very very nice. The Panasonic cameras have very bad AF though. May not be suitable for total beginners. 

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49 minutes ago, aaa123jc said:

The Panasonic cameras have very bad AF though. May not be suitable for total beginners. 

I think a lot depends on your 'use case' - personally I don't need to focus-track people/faces or use shallow depth of field very often, and I find the G9 video C-AF to be perfectly usable for the sort of outdoors run-and-gun handheld filming that I do (as an amateur). It helps that I almost always shoot at 50p/60p which definitely makes DFD work better.

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XT3 with 18-55mm will get you the best image at this price point. The 18-55mm gives great stabilization for handheld work. Shooting with fully manual lenses will be a jittery mess unless you are shooting pretty wide. If you are willing to go used you can probably get an XT3 for around $800, lens for $300 or so, and that gives you cash for some accessories. 

IBIS is nice on a G85 but the image isn't nearly as good. Depends what you want. 

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Yes, actually, I’d also go XT3 with 18-55.

I always forget that lens is both OIS and dirt cheap, but really very good.

Used, should come in on budget and the body was my workhorse for 2 years.

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The XT3 seems like a good bet. 

FWIW, I'm currently using a EM10iii I bought new/refurbished for $300 and I also have a used Oly 12-40mm pro.  $500 now-a-days.  The 4K and IBIS are nice.  Plus, the body IBIS allows me to use vintage glass and still have stabilization. 

Olympus never seems to be a popular choice.  Not sure why.  I think some folks balk at the smaller sensor, but I also use a speed-booster so that kinda makes the system s35'ish. These mid-tier Oly cams have been a good value to me.

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I'd steer them towards either a C100 or an FS700. Either of those cameras are a steal for the prices they go for.

They'll save money on audio and ND filters because it's all built in. And they'll learn how to use all of that stuff properly with minimal fuss.

FS700 is more versatile with lots of frame rates, option to record 4K externally, etc. Canon has a better "straight out of the box" colour profile but is limited to 24/25/30fps @ 1080p. C100 also has auto-focus if it's had the firmware update, but learning to focus manually is best for any cam.

If they're going the budget route then a lens adapter for the FS700 would be a good idea, either to use electronic EF lenses or old manual primes (m42, Nikon, etc), as native E mount lenses might blow their budget out pretty quick.

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I also had the inclination toward a C100, but when I owned one I found the codec too thin and found it was hard to operate in very cold environments due to lcd lag. Then I got a Gh5, felt like I was getting a similar image, but the trade off was the file sizes.

I think what I end up choosing will be totally determined by what's available in my local second hand market.

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