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First DSLR for filmmaking


Alphonzo Alegrado
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I'm a filmmaking student and I'm planning to buy my first camera. I've looked at lists for the best cameras to buy, but my price range is within $1000-1500 (I'm willing to shed out a bit more for a really good camera). At first I saw a lot of posts on the Rebel T6s/EOS 760D and it seemed pretty decent. However, upon further research, it seems that the DSLR community thinks Canon is holding back and even stripping way some new technology on their cameras. Then I saw some reviews of the 70D which looked great as well, but it is an older camera. I don't want to buy something that's out of date, or will disappoint me when a far superior camera comes out in the coming months. Lastly, I read about the Samsung NX500 which, spec-wise, seems great. Especially since a lot of people are talking about how 4K is the future and that Canon and Nikon really need to be stepping up their game. But I was wondering, despite it's specs, is the NX500 really a better option than a DSLR? 

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Film-making? Get a Blackmagic Cinema Camera. You can get them used for under 1500 USD. Just watch out for broken SDI-out. If you want something smaller or cheaper, get the Pocket.

 

These aren't run and gun DSLR cameras. (Though the learning curve really isn't that steep.) BUT they give you infinite control over your final image. They give you a chance to make your product better then your competitors. Isn't that crazy? For less money you get something better that no one else will be able to copy.

 

Cinema Camera: https://vimeo.com/9005890

7D: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMJ2UJI4onI

 

The 7D footage isn't graded, the BMCC is. They're both well composed pictures, but to me the BMCC footage is more cinematic. I'm not a diehard Blackmagic fanboy, but they offer the cheapest cameras and the easiest workflows for shooting "digital" negatives which allow you the highest control of the look of your picture.

 

 

One last point. When you shoot RAW video you can set the white balance when you edit. Think about that.

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I am very much against recommending a Blackmagic when you first start out. The sheer volume of support gear you need to make it work is a gigantic hurdle. I think at this point it's actually better to buy a used Hacked GH2/GH3 and buy a couple lights and lenses with your money.

​lol what support gear? You mean a lens and storage? Like with any other DSLR? Plus. why stop at a GH2? You can shoot and edit directly on a phone.... I heard a rumour that, in ancient times, 15 years ago, people were taught cinematography on... film. *shudder*

 

Easy = mediocre. I thought this guy was studying film-making, not TV production. ;)

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The blackmagic has a horrid screen (need to buy an EVF/Moniter), horrific audio inputs (external recorders), poor ergonomics (Shoulder rig needed for handheld)

He said his budget is $1500, you are not going to get a BMCC with the gear needed to use it in common situations for under $1500. GH2/3 is plenty of camera to start shooting on.

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The blackmagic has a horrid screen (need to buy an EVF/Moniter), horrific audio inputs (external recorders), poor ergonomics (Shoulder rig needed for handheld)

He said his budget is $1500, you are not going to get a BMCC with the gear needed to use it in common situations for under $1500. GH2/3 is plenty of camera to start shooting on.

​Zero problems handheld shooting. No cage, just the camera and a lens. This is ProRes too with a single node grade (basically nonthing): https://vimeo.com/44653311

Audio is fine: http://forum.blackmagicdesign.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=17695#p168461

 

My original question stands: why shouldn't he use an iPhone? It has more features and can be edited directly on the phone. It's easier than using a Panasonic DSLR.

 

If anyone thinks I'm being argumentative, consider this: I'm not knocking the GH2/GH3 with wrong information. I'm straight up saying the BMCC and BMPCC will produce a better image than the GH2 and GH3 (4:2:0 vs RAW).

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How many of you, sugesting black magics have actually used them for a longer period of time? I would say that most dslrs would be a beter choice than black magic. For controled shots with pro lights yes, get a black magic, othervise just about anything else.

30 mins of battery life(external power is crucial), ssd drives, a cage is a must, anything above asa 400 is useless, black holes in spotlights...takes pretty pictures, that it does.

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How many of you, sugesting black magics have actually used them for a longer period of time? I would say that most dslrs would be a beter choice than black magic. For controled shots with pro lights yes, get a black magic, othervise just about anything else.

30 mins of battery life(external power is crucial), ssd drives, a cage is a must, anything above asa 400 is useless, black holes in spotlights...takes pretty pictures, that it does.

​I use it on paid gigs: product videography and real estate. Do you own any of the Blackmagic cameras? Have you used one for more than a few days?

 

Blackholes have been fixed since before early 2014: http://www.eoshd.com/2013/09/blackmagic-fix-black-hole-white-orbs-new-firmware-sensor-calibration/

Again, all hand held video, for a paid gig:  https://vimeo.com/44653311

Totally wrong about ISO too, here it is, straight from the manual...

 

iso.png

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I don`t own one, the production I work for owns 2 of the Production ones, one 3 months old one 7 months old, black holes are still on both of them. I have shot a full seasson of a TV series and a full lenght movie on them and in many cases I would prefer a 550D. I don`t care what the manual says, when I`m the one grading the footage as well...asa800 is useless on a production camera, but It`s good on the pocket. As I said, in ideal conditions it`s takes pretty images, but it`s very impractical. If we wouldn`t have 1.3 zeiss lenses we would be in alot of trouble, and even now I magine how much fun I had pulling focus at 1.8-1.3.

anyway, 1000-1500$ will not get him a body and a half decent lens to go with it, let alone a battery pack, SDD/enough cards to shoot anything full lenght.

 

 

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I don`t own one, the production I work for owns 2 of the Production ones, one 3 months old one 7 months old, black holes are still on both of them. I have shot a full seasson of a TV series and a full lenght movie on them and in many cases I would prefer a 550D. I don`t care what the manual says, when I`m the one grading the footage as well...asa800 is useless on a production camera, but It`s good on the pocket. As I said, in ideal conditions it`s takes pretty images, but it`s very impractical. If we wouldn`t have 1.3 zeiss lenses we would be in alot of trouble, and even now I magine how much fun I had pulling focus at 1.8-1.3.

anyway, 1000-1500$ will not get him a body and a half decent lens to go with it, let alone a battery pack, SDD/enough cards to shoot anything full lenght.

Take a look at that picture again. Notice two different ISOs? Production Camera and Cinema Camera have entirely different sensors. The 4K sensor is shit. 4K at the cost of worse DR and shadows with FPN. It's why the Cinema Camera is still so popular. The Pocket and Cinema Camera have the exact same sensor in different bodies. PC outputs 1080, CC outputs 1350.

 

Anyway, my point to the OP was that there are products available in his price range capable of a cinematic picture. I'm not saying the BMPCC or BMCC is the best choice, but easy doesn't necessarily equate to better. An iPhone 6 Plus or Lumia 1020 are the easiest, yet it doesn't make them the best choice, why? Because we arbitrarily draw the line with our opinions... it doesn't have X, Y, Z, so it's not as good.

If I was studying film making, I'd want to work with a product and medium that will translate into real world experience and land me a job. If a camera forces me to grade, expose and light carefully... isn't that a great tool? It teaches you to slow the fuck down and pay attention to what you're doing. A DSLR allows you to fast forward and gloss over the small decisions that determine what your product looks like.

 

If a 5D3 wasn't so tricky at first to shoot RAW and was in his price range, I'd be suggesting that camera over the Blackmagic ones.

 

Alphonzo, you have to be better then your peers. And usually that means having to work harder. Put that time in now, while you have time to learn (time at school and age.) Choose a camera that will out of the gate make your work different.

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andrgl vs. the rest of world. :-)

 

don't invest too much in a body just now, there's a lot more to come and nothing is for eternity

or even better: don't buy anything, before you know what you are doing

rent it/borrow it/steal it first

 

PS: let's see and wait if he could get two BMs for the of price of one in three/six months...

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Some of the best low budget indy films I've seen in the past few years have been shot on a T2i.  And that camera has inferior IQ.  So, you know, it really is what you do with the story and your cinematography.  All elements of a production matter, and I love a nice new camera a much as anyone, but camera gear making or breaking one's success?  No, I don't abide by that notion.

andrgl is being facetious with that iPhone rhetoric, but the reality is such that any modern imaging device in the hands of a competent user is a viable tool.

If you're a film making student of any accomplishment I'm sure you've noticed that some off your classmates are more capable than others.  Why is that?  Because of the camera they use or because of their ability, their curiosity, their ambition.

All that said, those Panasonic GX7's, GM1's and G6's are really cheap right now.

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Choose a camera that will out of the gate make your work different.

With everything being pretty dang equal IQ wise these days, I don't really agree with that.  But that's me.  I think I'd rather work on story, style, directing, etc.  I believe those are the things that really matter and impress viewers if one is trying to establish a creative film career.

However, if you're trying to impress colleagues that specialize as camera technicians I suppose it's a different story.

I just don't think that the path to being an accomplished filmmaker follows the technical side of things as much as many assume it does.  You got to walk down that road, sure, but it's not where you should do the most of your traveling.

So say I.  (aka: not an accomplished filmmaker)

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A BMPCC (*NOT* BMCC or BMPC4K!)  *could be* the right first camera for a a very keen filmmaking student (which maybe he is? After all he is here posting on EOSHD).

 

However, the average filmmaking student would be much better off served getting an A5100 / A6000 / G6 / GX7 / D5200 / NX500

 

Or if they're a rich student (such things exist??) An A7s / GH4 / NX1 instead. 

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Just get arri Alexa or red dragon get what you can afford man and learn how to tell story and art of film making all the cameras are shit if you cant tell a story if i was you i would get black magic 2.5k comes with resolve and bunch of ssd from ebay that 4k crap everybody is masturbating about is bull shit  yes yes i know you can stabilize and track and do other shit with 4k but if you need to stabilize u image then maybe rethink you shoot. 4 k is way out there nobody can afford 4k monitors now 4k is like 3d all the hype but we don't really care if you shoot on 4k WHAT WE CARE IS CAN YOU TELL A STORY? CAN YOU KEEP ME INTERESTED blah blah blah blah its a PENIS i mean BOY

 

HERE Black Magic Camera 2.5K + SDI/HDMI converter + Rig + Sony Battery Kit  2.5k davinchi resolve for your raw grading ALL $2000

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Black-Magic-Camera-2-5K-SDI-HDMI-converter-Rig-Sony-Battery-Kit-/331496976369?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4d2ec26ff1

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That all depends: what stage are you at in your education, and what do you want to learn?

If you want to keep it simple and learn storytelling, lighting, and composition without the encumbrance of a big technical learning curve, I've found the RX10 to be a great learning tool. A do-it-all lens, good quality, helpful features, stabilization for handheld shots. It's a simple camera that gets out of the way and lets you work. 

On the other hand, maybe you want to be a colorist/AC/DoP. Maybe you have more experience with the basics and want to get more technical with your education. In that case, I think the BMPCC makes a ton of sense. It's cheap--you can get a full kit, ready to shoot for $650 if you hunt for used deals--it has great image quality, and it's the digital equivalent of shooting 16mm film, which has been used to train film students for decades.

If you want something in between or have a particular style that requires something these cameras lack, the G6, D5300, A6000, LX100, or GX7 are probably the best options. They're affordable, offer great image quality, and have established user bases to draw on for tips and tricks.


Without knowing your style, your taste, or where you are in the learning process, it's hard to get more specific. The best way to decide on a camera, as always, is to go search them on Vimeo and see what you like. Ultimately, they're your films. The look should be borne out of what you like, not what someone on the internet told you.

Best of luck!

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I'd get the Blackmagic Pocket but wait till after NAB in about a month. Actually, B & H is currently offering a very good deal on the Pocket if you have to have something right now: you get the camera, a 64 GB card, an extra battery, and the Panasonic 14-140 for just under $1,000. Don't know if they ship to Spain. But I'd still prefer to wait and see if the original Pocket settles in at $500 after NAB- if a new one is announced. For me, the Blackmagic produces a much more cinematic image than anything at a comparable price. There is something really special about the footage coming out of the Pocket. Link to the B & H deal: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1021120-REG/blackmagic_design_pocket_cinema_camera_and.html

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If you want more information on the Blackmagic Pocket's ins and outs, I'd recommend checking out Shane Hurlbut's tests:

https://www.hurlbutvisuals.com/blog/?s=blackmagic+

Mattias Burling's reviews and tutorials:

 

 


And the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera series on DrewNetwork:

https://www.youtube.com/user/drewnetwork/search?query=blackmagic+pocket
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