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Camera, light and mic recommendation for internet TV show


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I'm a physician and am planning to start an internet TV "channel" where I record 3-6 minute "shows" on a variety of health topics. I will shoot these in my office. In order to make it as easy as possible, I plan to set up a dedicated camera, mic and lights so all I have to do is hit record and sit in the chair.  My total budget for camera, lights and mic is around $1k.

It does not need to double as a still camera, and it doesn't even need to be used for other video purposes (i.e. filming kids, sports, etc.) This camera will just sit on this tripod and film these "shows" - that's its sole purpose.

I have a 5DII that I use for stills and video at home, and that would probably be perfect for this job but I need another camera that can just sit in my office, and another 5DII is 2x my total budget for this.

Here are my criteria:
[*]Excellent HD quality
[*]Good color rendition
[*]External mic jack
[*]Larger sensor/ability to blur background preferred

That last criteria would seem to eliminate most, if not all, camcorders. Since I don't even need a zoom lens with this, I was thinking a DSLR with a fixed lens might be the best choice.  I'm considering a GH2 or NEX-5n with a fast prime, but I'm wondering if there are better options I've missed.  I'm also concerned that the 5n doesn't have an external mic input, which seems crucial here.

Based on my limited research, I'm thinking of a Rode.  But I have no idea which one to get.  Directional? Condensor shotgutn?  Lavalier?  I have an Audio Technica AT-3350 lavalier mic, but I'm not that happy with the audio quality I get with it.  Recommendations here would be very helpful.

I need to keep this fairly simple because the equipment will be stored in my office, and I don't want complicated set-up to be a deterrent to me recording videos.  The point is to make this as simple as possible.  There's a large window with natural light camera left.  I'm considering a single softbox (from skaeser.com?) with an 85W 5,100K CFL camera right, using the window for fill.  Would this be adequate?

Thanks for your help!
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Hey man,

I know you will likely not agree with this, but with a budget of 1000$ I would think the easiest thing is to just bring your 5DII along to the office and spend the rest of the money on a decent 35mm and 50mm prime lenses (if you dont already have those), Zoom H1 or H2n microphone for nice clean audio, and a basic lighting kit with maybe two stands and softboxes. Actually maybe an 85mm lens instead of the 50mm since 5D is full frame and you might need close shots of your face while talking to mix it in with the wider shots.

There is a chance the light coming through that window is not going to be favourable for the video so I wouldn't rely on it. Then again I am no lighting expert but I remember some things from working with Riz Khan back when he did interviews for CNN and AL Jazeerah. His crew would almost always black out the windows and use warm lights from the stands.

Going back to audio, I wouldn't bother about cameras having mic inputs. So much cheaper and simpler to record on a dedicated mic (you are recording in your office so I wouldn't bother with an expensive Rode shotgun) and then sync it afterwards in editing. Zoom H2n has both standard XY stereo recording as well as Mid-Side mode which helps you isolate the noise from the sides and focus on your voice.

If you really want to buy a second camera then I think your budget needs a bump to 2k since $1 is only enough for a GH2 or NEX-5n with one prime.

Just my 2cents
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I appreciate your reply, and I'm no expert so I don't have strong ideas about the best solution one way or the other.

I guess I'd be open to using the 5DII as long as I could figure out a way to quickly set it up.  This really needs to be a "hit the record button and sit down and start talking" sort of thing, because I just don't have the time to fiddle around with a lot of setup every time.  It needs to be easy and fast.  That's why I was leaning toward the idea of a dedicated camera that just sits on the tripod in my office.

I have a 28-75/2.8 (Tamron, often rated higher than Canon's 24-70) and a Sigma 50/1.4 (highest rated 50mm for Canon outside of the Canon 50/1.2L).  If I used the 5DII, I could probably just use the 28-75 zoomed in to 60-75mm for a head and shoulders shot.  I'm not going to be doing multiple lenses or camera angles in a shoot.

Someone else recommended an H2n so I'll definitely look into that.  Am also considering 1-2 softboxes.  I have several reflectors already, so maybe a softbox + window fill + reflector would be adequate.  On another forum, folks are saying that if I use a 5,600K CFL it will mix well with daylight from the window.
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Well then you already have all the lenses plus the camera! I think all you need to do is find somebody who is an expert with 5DII video for quick setup (Not me!) Then you buy the lighting and a Zoom H2n or similar and you'll be good to go :) probably for less than 1k too.

If you wanted super easy and fast this would work: [url=http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/q3/]http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/q3/[/url]

...but of course this won't give you anywhere near the quality of the 5DII + a separate mic.
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Hi, Switters,

I shot a low budget web series last summer using 3 hacked GH1s, Rode video mics on cameras and a couple of Sennheiser wireless lavs recording to a Zoom for audio. You can see some of it here: [url=http://www.inthedriversseatonline.com]www.inthedriversseatonline.com[/url]. So don't be afraid of using a hacked GH1 or GH2! Both are available at pretty good prices.

I have recently been using a Zoom H1 for audio. It is an excellent option at a reasonable cost (about $100). Combined with a Rode video mic placed just out of frame you get quality audio recording without the hassle of lavs.

A no-frills option for lights is to build them! You can use easily available parts (I went to Lowes). A cheap multi-light bathroom fixture ($18 for six sockets), a plug, and a half dozen 100w-equivalent fluorescent bulbs (daylight balanced), a couple of broom storage clips or clamps, and about 20 minutes of time will get you a 600 watt fluorescent soft light. Use a couple of black foam core sheets for spill control and you are in business for under $50 per light. (Clamp lights with the 100watt flo bulbs are also useful and cheap.)

Hope this helps!
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Thanks Jamie and Amro,

As far as the camera goes, I was thinking that I could set up the shot with the 5DII the first time using manual focus (obviously I'd need someone else to either sit where I would sit, or focus while I'm sitting) and then put some kind of a mark on the manual focus ring to indicate where it should be.  Then, on video day, I bring the 5DII with me to work, stick it on the tripod, twist the focus ring to where the mark is, and then turn on video mode.  Should be good to go, I think - and that way I can avoid buying a new camera and lenses and spend that money on lights and audio.

I think I'm unfamiliar with how to use Zoom mics, because I thought they were mics themselves?  You're suggesting using a Rode video mic + a Zoom.  I'm not exactly sure how that works.  Do you plug the Rode video mic into the Zoom instead of the 5DII?  What's the advantage of doing it that way instead of just plugging it into the 5DII/putting it on the hot shoe?
Is there any reason not to get a Zoom H2n and just use that, rather than a Rode + H1 (which would be more expensive)?

Thanks again.
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I came across an article that answered my question about the benefit of recording to a Zoom device instead of using in-camera audio: more control over gain levels.  [url=http://dpexperience.com/2010/02/12/recording-audio-with-your-video-dslr-part-i/]http://dpexperience.com/2010/02/12/recording-audio-with-your-video-dslr-part-i/[/url]
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When people talk about hooking up one mic to a Zoom, I think they usually mean hooking it up to an H4n (that model has 2 preamps and you can connect any mic to it as an option)

I also think you should just go ahead and grab a Zoom H1. The H2n has a lot more options but I don't think you need them for what you want.

Check out this video, it can give you a general idea how to get the results you want:

[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNEv65ljbLM#ws]My Video Setup: Canon 60D + Zoom H1 = Win.[/url]
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Cool, thanks for that.  I saw an article on another site that suggested a combo of the H1 + AT-3350 lavalier mic.  I already have the 3350, and get decent audio with it plugged in to the 5DII, but apparently the quality will be a lot higher when it's plugged into the H1.  I'm all for using what I already have if possible!
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The H1 has a mini-jack input for a microphone, and the Rode Video mic has a mini plug. While the stereo mics on the H1 are great, they do not have the same distance coverage as the shotgun and so might not be ideal for some shooting situations.

Be sure you have plenty of light if you go with your "pre-focused" 5d2 plan. You will always have to do a fine tune on the focus when you set up anyway, but especially if you have to open the aperture and shrink the Focus depth. Even if you leave everything set up all the time, you will need to make adjustments for how you are sitting each time, exact chair placement, if someone has bumped the tripod, etc.

Hope this helps!
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