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a7S, GH4, BMPCC - Choice Schematic


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Interesting developments lately, particularly with the a7s.  I guess much of the back and forth is over perspective and much of that is determined by what you already own and need?


Maybe people can offer civil advice for those of use in each of the following positions (feel free to add perspectives I am not keenly aware of)


1. I own MFT gear and have a hacked gh2 but love the look of 5d3 raw but am not sure which way to go.  The GH4 is clearly the sharpest of the lot but the colors and the ability to push in post may be limited.  Do I go GH4 and step up my color game or do I move to either a7s or 5d3 for FF look?


2. I own canon glass and have a 5d3.  I have yet to jump into raw but am thinking about it.  Should I go get some Komputerbays and ride high or sell the 5d3 and purchase an a7s or gh4?  I love the look of raw but fear its file sizes and workflow.  Maybe there are easy workflows and storage ideas I am unaware of.


3. I have nothing and starting out fresh.  I have seen amazing footage from all cameras, I don't know where to begin.  I'd like to do both docs and narrative filming.



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EOSHD Pro Color 5 for Sony cameras EOSHD Z LOG for Nikon CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

IMHO, Any of them are fine and you'll be able to do what you want to do.  Those that worry endlessly about the tech are missing their chance to just get out the damn door and go shoot something creative and compelling; making work that demands to be reckoned with.


Now, it's understood that lots of people just love having new gear and seeing how perfect they can make their footage.  That's why I've looked at seemingly endless shots of London, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, and L.A. over the past few years.


And even though I love playing with new toys, I'm of the mind that trying to perfect one's storytelling rather than the image is far and away a much more important endeavor.  Nothing trumps skill and ability.  I like to craft the narrative more than the image...even though I like to get the best image possible as well.


Nowadays, I just pick the gear that fits the project.  RAW in a film shoot production is slow but viable and sometimes worth the hassle.  For docs, I'd shoot compressed and utilize the easy storage.  


But it's all just options, y'know?


Doing a doc in low-light?  Consider the Sony.  Making a real estate video?  How about the GH4?  Shooting a short film on a shoe string?  That BMPC sure would help...  Gotta fly a cam or stick it on a kayak?  Go-Pro.  Can only do handheld and you need steady shots?  How about that Oly OM-D? etc.


Ultimately, if you got talent you can make a great film with an iPhone.

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Great points all.  One thing I am coming to learn and have not attempted much of yet is color grading (using LUTs etc.)  Some of the worst footage is by average schmoes like me who post poorly recorded and edited footage albeit 5d3 raw, a7s, or gh4.  I have seen some pretty great work and the common theme is excellent coloring...that seems to separate video look from cinema look.  I think the nuance is that some cameras grade better than others.


Maybe that should be part of the discussion.  What has the best pliability in terms of grading in post?  5d3 raw? a7s? gh4? etc?

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I have seen amazing footage from all cameras


Well, that's where it all boils down to, isn't it. They're all more or less good enough, and it's up to you to pick the one (the system) that fits your needs, your workflow desires and/or in your budget. Even with things like RAW, it's rather subjective, and what you wish to accomplish.


I know this is not too helpful to an "average schmo like you" (or me), but that's how the cookie crumbles. We all need to do the hard work ourselves, and others can't really help that much. Rather than repeating what fuzzynormal already said in the three first paragraphs of his comment above, I got to admit I tend to agree with him on that, and I recommend people to read that once again. 


So just go and get one, any one, and start shooting. Your needs, your wallet, your decision.

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I have committed to shooting raw with the 5D3 and invested in this system. If I can't make something good with this camera, then I can't make something good with any camera. I agree that color grading is what sets people's work apart and my choice is also an investment in myself to take the time to learn how to grade properly.


The full-frame sensor of the 5D3 turns almost any cheap lens that I use with it into a virtual Voigtlander Nokton in terms of light transmission and shallow DOF. If I want the look, it's there without much additional cost, and that has a lot of value to me.


There are irritating things about the shooting raw on narrative projects with the 5D3. I have been systematically attacking them to make this a more usable camera. Here are the major ones, and how I am dealing with them:

  1. CF cards. I bought a Komputerbay 1066x 256GB card. It hit my wallet, but this way I can get 48 minutes of raw 1080P, and this is plenty for me. No corrupted frames so far. I don't even think about it anymore.
  2. Batteries. I have a handful of Canon LP-E6s. They are so-so in terms of battery life. For shooting with a larger rig or tripod, I bought one of these to power both my camera and my SmallHD monitor simultaneously: http://www.ebay.com/itm/161336168920
  3. Lack of flip-out LCD or viewfinder. Shooting with a loupe (in my case a Kinotehnik LCDVF) and a pistol grip is freeing, comfortable, and very battery-friendly. There are also solutions like this:http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=937481&gclid=CPeksIHL2b8CFVFp7AodEAsAdg&is=REG&Q=&A=details
  4. Workflow. RawMagic 1.21 is a breeze to work with. It removes vertical stripes automatically, joins spanned files and syncs audio, and it does it FAST. Thomas Worth is always improving it, so there have been frequent updates in recent months.
  5. Storage space. I'm still working on this one. I am experimenting with CineLog in Resolve to replicate Alexa Log-C as closely as possible, and then exporting the files as ProResHQ for the edit. If this works like I think it will, I won't have to hang on to the raw files anymore.

In closing, I believe in Magic Lantern. If you look at the changelog for any of the nightly builds, you'll see that they are always hard at work trying to perfect their software. There are improvements on a daily basis. No one knows what tomorrow's build will bring.

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color grading is what sets people's work apart


I'll agree to that up to a point.  For instance, color grading is only one aspect of the image.  I'm always concerned with it, but I would't consider it my top priority.  Composition is at the top of the list for me.


Still, it's all cumulative.  And if you're striving for the best, the devil's in the details.

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IMHO, Any of them are fine and you'll be able to do what you want to do.  Those that worry endlessly about the tech are missing their chance to just get out the damn door and go shoot something creative and compelling; making work that demands to be reckoned with.

I think I need to remind myself of this at times.  I like the "get out the damn door and go shoot something". :)


Some of us may even be guilty of spending more time evaluating and comparing camera gear, than we do selecting a wife or husband.  :o



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Flip a coin, choose a camera you can afford and what your computer can process without exploding.
Stop reading blog posts about which camera is 'best'....none of them are perfect, they never will be.....ever.

Everyone expects a 'unicorn camera' for nothing these days...it's crazy.

I can only comment on shooting 5D3 ML raw and 35mm film.
5d3 raw It is probably the closest (and cheaper alternative) to shooting film In my opinion, slightly clunky processing and large file sizes demand that you shoot in moderation and forces discipline upon you. Dare I say it, teaching the considered craft of filmmaking as well as giving a great deal of latitude in the image to learn about grading and colour correction.

A telecine from film negative is pretty much exactly the workflow with ML raw, but thousands of times cheaper!

Well worth you trying Magic lantern on your 5d3 and see how you get on with it, this will be much cheaper option, as you already own that camera. If the workflow is too inconvenient to your needs, I'd personally recommend a7s as the next best thing for approximating the 5d3 raw look.

GH4 if you want everything in focus and you like your images 'a bit too sharp' - I'm teasing, but I personally think the images from that camera are pretty dull. Probably decent choice for doco work, but only because of that small sensor making the depth of field large enough for Stevie Wonder to focus with.

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