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View Full Version : Good starter camera to buy?



erica
04-05-2010, 12:05 PM
I graduated last year from my degree in film-making and the main focus of my work at university was cinematography. I'm looking to buy my first own camera but there are so many to choose from, I don't know where to start. With the wide variety out there, review sites are becoming confusing so I'm hoping to get some personal recommendations.

My budget is about 3k-3.5k and I have some extra set aside for support gear. I'm going to start off using it to shoot music videos for bands who need them (as it is the music video industry I'm hoping to eventually work in) and hopefully the low-budget feature written by my partner-in-crime if we manage to get some money for it. I'm really just looking for a good, all-round camera to get me started off.

I was looking at the Canon XH-A1s but with the new model coming out later in the year I don't think it would be a wise choice just now. Also, I have been advised not to invest in HDV at the moment as more and more people move over to non-tape formats. I would like something that gives me the option to film on HDV or a memory card, but if I had to pick one over the other I would go for memory card. It has been suggested to me that I buy a DSLR and while I'm open to that, I really would prefer a good camcorder that will last me a few years. I'm having a hard time knowing what the best I could get for my budget would be and obviosly as it's such a big investment I don't want to get something I would later regret.

If anybody has any recommendations I would be most grateful! I've probably forgotten to add something so if you need to know more about my requirements please let me know :) Thanks!

Andrew McCarrick
04-06-2010, 12:08 AM
You could probably find the Panasonic HPX170 (HPX171) for that price (minus VAT). Price of P2 Cards might be an issue though... The next step down from there, from Panasonic, is the HMC150 (HMC151), which records to SDHC cards. The HPX170 would be my first choice though.

Rausch
04-06-2010, 12:28 AM
Wow. We're in the same boat.

As someone who has used the Canon XH-A1 extensively, HDV is not a format that you want to invest in for many reasons. I LOVE tape because it is archival, but HDV is super compressed and that camera doesn't offer multiple frame-rates like other cameras.

I'm actually in the market soon to purchase (possibly) a Canon 5D Mark II. I shoot primarily music videos and things with short takes (note: the camera can currently only shoot 12 minutes of continuous footage). If you have that kind of budget, get the 5D Mark II. With the new firmware update, you now have manual audio control and a working histogram feature (amongst other things).

I have used that camera for stop motion animation and for shooting video and highly recommend it.

erica
04-06-2010, 06:57 AM
Thank you Andrew, I will look into the Panasonic ones although HPX170 looks to be a bit too expensive, unfortunately. I will check out the HMC150 and see what sort of price I can get on that.

Rausch, thank you for your comments. I'm tempted to get an SLR but the 12 minute limit may be a little restrictive and I don't know if I want to tie myself to that. I know that a lot of SLRs have excellent HD video recording functions, but I do think I will end up sticking to a standard camcorder. I will definitely buy a DSLR in the future at some point, if only for my photography hobby (I was looking at the 550D).

stip
04-06-2010, 08:25 AM
Music videos? Low budget feature? Do me a favour, reconsider chosing camcorder over DSLR.

erica
04-06-2010, 08:41 AM
OK, thank you, I appreciate your comments, but the whole idea of shooting video on a DSLR is very new to me as I always, always shot on camcorders and 16mm cameras during my degree - I'm totally open to it though, that's why I came here for advice, if someone would be so kind as to explain the benefits to me that might help me in my decision. As I say, this is a whole new idea for me! I obviously want to learn more and invest in the best equipment for myself. My concern is that going to a music video shoot armed with a DSLR may not seem very professional (please, excuse me if that seems like an ignorant comment, as I say, this isn't something that I've done before or that was suggested to me at film school).

In addition, the money for the camera has been invested in me by someone else, it's not my money to spend how I choose. The investor has stipulated that I spend it on a video camera so I need to be able to back myself up if I don't intend to do that. I need to buy something to start me off on my career, obviously as I work my way up and get more paid jobs I'll be renting or using clients' cameras, but for now this is for me and any projects - paid or unpaid - that come my way.

stip
04-06-2010, 11:37 AM
Search vimeo or this forum for Canon T2i footage. Even when buying a good, fast (zoom) lens with it, it's much cheaper than any prosumer camcorder. You'll have Full HD 24/25/30 fps or HD 50/60 fps for slo motion. You'll have full manual control over shutter, ISO and aperture, good low light performance and shallow depth of field due to the large sensor (similar to the depth of field of Super 35mm motion film).
It's just perfect for music videos as the only real downside is audio recording and maybe the need for some stabilization (shoulder support / rig).

Watch some user footage of the camcorders and DSLRs you're interested in and judge for yourself. More and more professional music videos are shot with DSLRs, so don't think it's not professional to come to set with one. "Kings and Queens" from 30 Seconds To Mars for example was shot mainly with a Canon 7D (which has the same video as the newer and cheaper T2i).

erica
04-06-2010, 06:25 PM
Thanks very much, that's really helpful - you're definitely swaying me and I'm going to do some reading up on them and check out some sample footage.

erica
04-07-2010, 06:14 AM
OK, I am really starting to be convinced by a DSLR after looking into it some more. In terms of video and audio and what I want to use it for, is there a world of difference between the 550D, 7D and 5D Mark II? If I end up getting one I will buy at least one other lens in addition to the kit lens.

Thanks for all the advice and help!

stip
04-07-2010, 06:36 AM
You can say that 7D and 550D have equal video, 7D is the better stills camera and therefore more expensive. 5DmkII is a full frame camera, though it's the oldest video capable DSLR from Canon it's image quality may still be a little better than the others, but it's quite expensive and you'll need full-frame lenses. You can adjust audio level manually though as far as I know.
For lenses, you will want to have ones with a wide aperture, starting from 1.2 to 2.8, so you can shoot in lower light environments (the Canon EF 50mm 1.8 is a great, fast lens and at around 100$ a real bargain).
There are many threads here about lenses for video for the cameras you named. Remember that 7D and 550D have a crop factor of x1.6, so a 24mm lens will have an actual field of view of a 38mm lens on these sensors.

Maybe you want to go to a store and try these cameras with lenses, then search internet for best prices.

wish you the best

erica
04-07-2010, 07:31 AM
Awesome, thanks so much. I'll do some digging in the DSLR sections on here. I'm planning on going to a store later in the week to try the cameras out and see which I like best.

Thanks for all your help :)

Otis Grapsas
04-08-2010, 10:43 AM
Maybe you want to go to a store and try these cameras with lenses, then search internet for best prices.



That's not very fair to the store. A demo camera in house costs a little money and quite a lot of time and is a valuable service. If you make use of that service, it makes sense to get the camera from the store thaat offered it. It supports the practice of having cameras in demo and it helps keep real stores in business.

stip
04-08-2010, 04:51 PM
That's not very fair to the store. A demo camera in house costs a little money and quite a lot of time and is a valuable service. If you make use of that service, it makes sense to get the camera from the store thaat offered it. It supports the practice of having cameras in demo and it helps keep real stores in business.


You're absolutely right Otis!
When I wrote it I was thinking about a huge consumer electronics store chain here in Germany/Europe, it just happens to be the place where I go to try out things, they have a very aggressiv marketing policy and don't care giving smaller stores a hard time, so I don't have a bad conscience testing there but buying somewhere else.

Totally off topic, but speaking of supporting the "small ones", you may want to check out
http://www.ecosia.org/
it's a search engine which donates 80% of it's advertising income to World Wildlife Fund in order to save the rainforest and the servers are powered with "green" energy. WWF confirmed this, so I dumped Google and hope it helps :)

Otis Grapsas
04-08-2010, 06:52 PM
You're absolutely right Otis!
When I wrote it I was thinking about a huge consumer electronics store chain here in Germany/Europe, it just happens to be the place where I go to try out things, they have a very aggressiv marketing policy and don't care giving smaller stores a hard time, so I don't have a bad conscience testing there but buying somewhere else.:)

You have a point there:)

Back on topic, I would recommend one of the affordable Panasonic CCD models. Music videos sometimes require very creative camera motion and strobes/flashes. Rolling shutter CMOS performs poorly on that, with jello and split frames respectively. On the other hand, you can have any type of light hitting the lens without worrying about smear.

marlena21
04-14-2010, 01:49 AM
You have a point there:)

Back on topic, I would recommend one of the affordable Panasonic CCD models. Music videos sometimes require very creative brand viagra (http://www.buybrandnameviagra.com/) camera motion and strobes/flashes. Rolling shutter CMOS performs poorly on that, with jello and split frames respectively. On the other hand, you can have any type of light hitting the lens without worrying about smear.
When I buying such things I'm always using google. Try to find people opinions in other forums