Jump to content

What's The Best Camera For Shooting A Low Budget Movie?


fuzzynormal

Recommended Posts

Yeah, someone shot a feature with an iPhone. But to answer your question depends on a few things:

  1. What is your budget!?!
  2. Does the script have night scenes or low light scenes?
  3. What lenses do you have available?
  4. What is the end delivery medium?

1. Low budget movies have to prioritize where the money will be spent, but money is not the only thing you will spend. Time has a value that is very hard to predict, but is the only resource you can't get back! With that in mind, do you go and get that A7S you been dying to get, and have a horrific shoot because you don't have a B cam; or do you get two or three GH3s and greatly speed up shooting? You wanna know a dirty little budget filmakers secret? Grainy video can be forgiven, but bad audio, that is a cardinal SIN!!! Although your budget is tight, under no circumstances should you skimp on audio. Buy a 4 channel Zoom H4n or Tascam 60D (I own one and it's decent for the price) and a bare bones XLR shotgun mike to go with it, and used properly,  it will greatly increase the production value of your film.

2. If you have night scenes and you don't have the budget for lighting you may want a camera that is good at high ISO (A7S, Canon Mark III w/Magic Lantern), but beware of the focus hurdles a full frame camera imposes on you, as they can be significant. Also a Canon Rebel T3i or 60D is decent in low light, but the video quality is not that great.

3. Do you have your shooting script written? If so, what lenses do you need and do you own any? This is where something like a GH3/GH4 or other M43 or mirrorless mount cameras can be helpful as you can mount damn near any glass with cheap adapters.

4. If you are shooting for the web, you have many choices. If you are shooting for Blu-Ray or 1080p then you need a better camera. If you want to master in 4K then well, you are either using one of Panasonics GH4 or LX100. I wouldn't recommend the FZ1000 as it doesn't do DCI 4K (4096x2160) only UHD (3840x2160) and has slower glass than the LX100. If you want 4K and have low light shots to make, I suggest renting/buying the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8. You can go really far with that lens!

Good Luck!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Summer sale BMPCC at $500.

Runner ups:

  • GH4 $1,500
  • BMCC $2,000
  • A7S $2,500

 

Tangerine's use of iPhones is brilliant. Creates buzz for an otherwise passed over film. Marketing is the greatest art.

 

Other thoughts:

  • Use one lens. An f2.8 (with imagine stabilization) zoom is ideal. Use one camera. This will make matching shoots easy.
  • Steal borrow editing styles from your favorites videos and films.
  • Dub the sound in post. It's not ideal but you're making a low budget movie.
  • Scout excessively and write a script that fully exploits your talent and locations.
  • Upload to youtube. Vimeo is nice but limits your audience.
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I'm thinking of doing another short soon.  Because of the subject and story, shooting on a "lo-fi" camera might be a good idea.

I'm more interested in the emotion of the images rather than the technical achievement of them. 

That's fine for some stuff, but not really what I'm aiming for on my next go-round. 

Although, the thought of being able to be production flexible with a low light camera seems very practical. Shooting available with a discriminating eye could be fun. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well it depends on a couple of factors.

1. Who is your cinematographer? If its yourself, then what camera do you want to use? If it's someone else, you can't necessarily force them to use a certain camera.

2. How low a budget? Do you wanna fiddle with RAW? How much will you do post production?

3. What is the style of the film? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

...Time has a value that is very hard to predict, but is the only resource you can't get back! With that in mind, do you go and get that A7S you been dying to get, and have a horrific shoot because you don't have a B cam; or do you get two or three GH3s and greatly speed up shooting? You wanna know a dirty little budget filmakers secret? Grainy video can be forgiven, but bad audio, that is a cardinal SIN!!!

Excellent advice. Also some well-known movies have used basic cameras. Much of Blair Witch Project ($248 million gross) was shot on a $500 consumer-grade RCA Hi-8 Camcorder.

Several movies were shot on the Panasonic AG-DVX100 standard-def camcorder: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panasonic_AG-DVX100

Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Who is your cinematographer? If its yourself, then what camera do you want to use? If it's someone else, you can't necessarily force them to use a certain camera.

2. How low a budget? Do you wanna fiddle with RAW? How much will you do post production?

3. What is the style of the film? 

​1. Me.  Maybe an iPhone simply because it's quirky and because I actually like limitations of equipment; forces one to be creative.

2. $10. No. All of it.

3. Romance

Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW, the price of the camera doesn't fit into the budget of the film.  If/when I buy this camera for this particular use it's going to be used for many other things as well.  My main thing outside of this potential short is making documentaries, so that's a factor.

For me, I do appreciate the suggestion of the Sony A7s; might be the best bet so I can exploit light in more flexible ways.  Doing shots with practical lights on a low-budget film would be a very pragmatic choice, I think.  Also, the idea of shooting handheld with Oly's 5-axis system is exciting. The Digital Bolex is also a player in all this. 

Of course, no wrong or right answers here.  I've never been enamored with super pristine images, so that affects my choices too and opens up many more possibilities.  

Ultimately, I'm of the opinion that if you're a good collaborative creative filmmaker, you can make something decent with whatever gear; the camera matters, but not in such of a big way as some tend to think.  It's just a delivery system to tell the story.  The mailman is part of the process getting a new hardcover novel to the reader, but he's not the author, know what I mean?  

Well, maybe in that metaphor a camera is the copy editor...fact checker?  I dunno, fill in the blanks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Get the Olympus EM-5 II and a decent zoom lens or two with fast apertures. Then grab some cheap LEDs. Do consider lighting before your camera, too many people don't realise that it's No.1 in anything you are filming. They say content is king... but so is light! :) 

​Oh yeah; always do.  I'm more concerned about that than the camera...as you can probably deduce from my posts.

I like to shoot primes though.  Two would be fine.

Link to post
Share on other sites

...Of course, no wrong or right answers here.  I've never been enamored with super pristine images, so that affects my choices too and opens up many more possibilities...

​The get anything you can throw some legacy glass on (Canon FD, Nikon AIS, Minolta) and that will give your images more character (and flare, ghost, etc. :D).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Now that I know it's a romance movie, I strongly suggest a two cam setup. It's very hard to catch those intimate moments, especially when the actors aren't die-hard veterans. Most times you will only get a few takes before things may start to get uncomfortable. So having that alternate angle camera can really be a life-saver. It also adds to the intimacy of a shoot when you do one up CL shots of dialog instead of a whole lot of two up MED shots. That way the actors can just ACT their scene and not worry about the CUT so you can change camera angles. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

How about using that GX7 in your picture? Seems like a great camera for what you are talking about, and you already have one.

​It's actually a GM1, and I have shot a short film on it using a A110 25mm lens.  I was pleased with the results.  

Still, I'd like to experiment with something new and different.  The idea of shooting with an iPhone interests me because of the challenge.  But I do like the suggestion of a low-light camera such as the A7s.  And, as a wild card, maybe do the whole thing hand-held with an Olympus camera... Not sure, but I'll make up my mind soon.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I find my self asking the same question and narrowing it down to the following must have features:

Flat picture profile (A7S, A7Mk II, Nikon D750, GH4, NX1, Black Magic)

4k Recording (A7s, GH4, NX1, Black Magic)

Acceptable autofocus (NX1)

Secondary needs are:

Low light

IBS / or Optical stabilized Primes

So in the end really only one company can deliver I want and that's Sony. We will see what they announce at CP+. a sub $1500 4k mirror-less camera with IBS and S-Log is my dream camera.

If the Samsung NX500 has GammaDR like the NX1, I will be getting at least 2 for my shoot, unless Sony earns my business at CP+

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...