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Matt Campbell
camera recommendations
on Jan 10, 2011 at 7:49:23 pm

I was reviewing this recent thread (http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/280/4625#4625) and wanted to ask a similar question. Say we were thinking of adding a DSLR camera to our equipment package, I'm curious what would be a good, inexpensive choice. We shoot a lot of interview style videos as well as fun upbeat, energetic feel videos (1-2 min.). We currently have and use our HVX 200 along with a decent Senheiser boom mic.

What I love about these DSLR is the depth of field & low light capabilities. We're thinking along the lines of the Canon 7d but am also curious about the Canon T2i & the Nikon D3100 and others around the 1K price range. Can anyone make some suggestions?

We have a cheap-o lighting kit, so using a DSLR camera along side our kit will help because of the senors. Better so than with out HVX. Also the low-light capabilities of these cameras will greatly help the overall look and composition of the shot.

What I'm looking for is a really nice, inexpensive set up along with mic recommendations. I understand Senheiser makes a nice little camera mounted boom mic.

We're shooting low-budget stuff (interviews and fun videos for web) so we're not looking for anything like the 5D Mark II but still want something with good sensors and good compression quality.

Regarding focus, from what I understand, these cameras are difficult to keep in focus. With interviews, that doesn't concern me a whole lot. But regarding movement and people haming it up for the camera, I want to be able to keep focus. Do any of these cameras offer an auto-focus feature?

Also, does anyone know of some training courses in Philadelphia, NYC area that would help with this transitions to DSLR video?

OS 10.6.3, Mac Pro 2 x 2.66 ghz quad-core intel xenon, 16 gb ram, with BM Intensity Pro card


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Michael Sacci
Re: camera recommendations
on Jan 10, 2011 at 7:59:01 pm

For camera I recommend the 60D over the T2i and even over the 7D. That camera is right at 1K without the lens.

No autofocus on any of the Canon's while shooting you can before you shoot but once you hit record you really have to be in manual. I think the Panasonic GH2 can autofocus with its own lenses but they are really slow for video.

There is a lot more to buy then just the body. Even with a 1K camera you will probably spend another 1-3K easily.

For training there is Richard's Book Still to Motion.

For class room check out http://mewshop.com/courses/course_detail/DSLR%20Intensive%20Workshop/
It is run by Jem, his blog is great and he seems like a great teacher. http://www.thec47.com/


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Matt Campbell
Re: camera recommendations
on Jan 10, 2011 at 8:04:49 pm

Thanks Michael. So for example, with a DSLR camera shooting video, if you have some action shots or things with motion moving towards and/or away from the camera, you really would have to relay on a steady hand to keep focus right? This is just of many concerns I have about switching over. But I'm a quick learner so that helps.

Regarding lens and what not, I fairly confident that the stock lens will be just fine for what we're doing. Again, nothing real high end or broadcast like. Just some recreational type shooting for clients. Thanks.

OS 10.6.3, Mac Pro 2 x 2.66 ghz quad-core intel xenon, 16 gb ram, with BM Intensity Pro card


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Michael Sacci
Re: camera recommendations
on Jan 10, 2011 at 8:30:04 pm

The stock lens can be used but it not a good choice for any video situation. For one it is the hard lens to manually focus that has ever been made, it is also very slow. The IS is a very good thing.

What kills people on focusing is this crazy must have the shallowest DoF ever, if you are having to really follow focus you need depth to get a nice safety zoom.

In the end you can make most things work and the camera you have will always take better images then the one you are saving up for. There is a balance of need, want and money available. You are the only one to know the answer.

Best around system on the canon side, is the 60D with the 24-105 f4 lens. 2K but that is my opinion (it is also what I have).


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Matt Campbell
Re: camera recommendations
on Jan 10, 2011 at 9:49:34 pm

sorry, one more thing. of these camera's which has the better low light capabilities. from what i've found, it looks like the 7D is better and the 5D is best (not that we're looking at the 5D). the reason I ask is for wedding videos. receptions are often dim and or dark with DJ lights and rather than putting an on-camera light on our HVX (which doesn't help much), I'd rather look into something thats better in low light, like one of these HDSLRs.

OS 10.6.3, Mac Pro 2 x 2.66 ghz quad-core intel xenon, 16 gb ram, with BM Intensity Pro card


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Michael Sacci
Re: camera recommendations
on Jan 11, 2011 at 1:08:42 am

7D and 60D would be the same, they both shoot cleaner (less noise ISO than the T2i) 7D, 60D and the T2i have the exact same sensor so the only difference is more ISO choices for the first two, which is a big deal.

5D is better in low light 1D is King.

The HVX doesn't even hold a candle to the T2i with regards to low light. But you still need a fast lens, the stock lens sucks in low light. If you are at 55mm you are wide open with a 5.6mm.


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Matt Campbell
Re: camera recommendations
on Jan 11, 2011 at 2:29:53 pm

Thanks both Michael and Bob. You guys are super helpful. I really like the 60D and that Panay looks pretty sweet too. I think either of these cameras would be a good way for us to break into the HDSLR game.

Does anyone have any sort of comparison, white paper like reading, on compression? Mainly vs. the HVX 200, which already use. I know that the HVX shoots DVCPro HD, and we mainly shoot 720p30 or 24p, and that bit rate is higher than that of the HDSLRs shooting AVCHD H.264. Here's my confusion, I'm not super well versed in all the camera settings but I mainly shoot our interview/internal stuff using the stock Scene file #3, Scene Spark. This has the B.Press gamma and looks pretty good.

However, when compared to our freelancers 7D footage, his looks much better. Now possibly because its full raster @ 1080p. And thats was just raw from the camera, no post color correction work. I'm just really curious to read some comparisons about the 2. The HDSLRs seem more real. Maybe I just need to learn more about the HVX and the settings.

OS 10.6.3, Mac Pro 2 x 2.66 ghz quad-core intel xenon, 16 gb ram, with BM Intensity Pro card


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Bob Farnsworth
Re: camera recommendations
on Jan 11, 2011 at 2:35:20 pm

I think it does no good to compare the two. I own the EX1, 5D Mark II, and GH2. The two dslr's look much more alike than the EX1. And frankly, much better. The dslr's just have much larger sensors and the option of much better glass.


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Bob Farnsworth
Re: camera recommendations
on Jan 10, 2011 at 9:00:49 pm

"We're shooting low-budget stuff (interviews and fun videos for web) so we're not looking for anything like the 5D Mark II but still want something with good sensors and good compression quality."

While availability is difficult, I'm guessing you will find the Panasonic GH2 an ideal choice. It's feature set, including an auto-focus system that is quite impressive, and glass that is much cheaper yet still quite beautiful, will serve your stated needs well. The kit, with camera and 14-140 lens (with IS) and the 20mm 1.7 (IS) will set you back less than 2K as well.

An excellent review of cameras here: http://philipbloom.net/2010/12/07/whichdslr/


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Dennis Hull
Re: camera recommendations
on Jan 15, 2011 at 2:44:22 am

Matt, you mentioned Canon T2i price range and also concern with auto-focus to keep subject in focus. Have you considered Sony SLT A55? It gets good reviews and is one of few DSLR's that provides auto-focus for video--as you note most DSLR's need manual focus for video.

Only reason I mention the Sony is I am considering it and have read a lot about it, but am hoping some forum member has several weeks field experience with the camera and can let us know what field use showed.



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