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Best DSLR cameras for today's Indie docs

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Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
Best DSLR cameras for today's Indie docs
on Jun 27, 2014 at 6:29:08 pm


I am working with a Nikon D3200 and would like to start using it to shoot my next documentary.

I would like to swap the lens out to the Nikon Lens 2470 2.8 or the F4.

But I would like to make sure it can hold up for broadcast quality standards like say...PBS.

What do you think?



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Rob Manning
Re: Best DSLR cameras for today's Indie docs
on Jun 28, 2014 at 7:37:09 am
Last Edited By Rob Manning on Jun 28, 2014 at 7:39:08 am

Hi Rachel,

This body does not record uncompressed through the HDMI port to a Ninja etc.(less compressed but sub sampling luma and chroma, 4.2.2) as I recall, but I might be wrong.

Meaning the data stream will be in a .mov wrapper, H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding.

Also, it is a 1.5 DX crop format so the 70-200 becomes a 106.5-300 but the fixed f/2.8 aperture is a plus.

The broadcast specifications for PBS are likely listed on their site and your final edit will need to go through a rendering and that re-compresses (Sorenson Squeeze etc.).

One way to approach the footage is to convert it into ProRes if on a MAC, or for both PC and MAC, convert it into AVID DNxHD, or GoPro's CineForm codec.

The D3200 is a tool if used with limitations in mind, off camera audio, set lighting, and too many other conditional nuances to mention here.

If you are already a film maker great, otherwise check out the book From Still to Motion, a hands on guidebook for the craft authored by four of the Creative Cow luminaries.


Rob Manning

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JP Pelc
Re: Best DSLR cameras for today's Indie docs
on Jul 1, 2014 at 2:09:28 pm

To be honest "broadcast quality standards" is a relative term. Some things on broadcast look great, some look terrible. You are somewhat limited by shooting on a DSLR as they all shoot highly compressed footage that doesn't room for much color correction. Regardless, if you light well you can still get really solid footage.

I'm not sure what lens you have now but if it is a kit lens, I would definitely recommend getting a 24-70 f/2.8. Good glass is just as important as a good camera (if not more).

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