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Looking to upgrade my camera package, and am in serious need of advice...

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William Ball
Looking to upgrade my camera package, and am in serious need of advice...
on Sep 29, 2011 at 3:06:20 pm


I've been stashing away money for the last year or so, with the intent to upgrade my camera package. I primarily do low level (local) commercial work, with some random freelance gigs to supplement my income. I've been shooting with the HPX-170 for a while now, and it still does the trick... but I'd like to take things to the next level (in terms of production value), in order to attract some higher end clients. I figured that, if I go the DSLR route, I can also expand my business into still work as well (something that my video clients are always asking me to do for them). I've been looking primarily at the 5d or 7d, but there are a few things making my decision difficult. First of all, I shoot for a few ski/snowboard companies in the winter, and may be using the camera to shoot for posters (large print) so the full frame of 5d is appealing, but video of skiing/snowboarding also necessitates variable frame rates for slo-mo. So my first question is, does the 7d cut it?... or does the jump in image quality from the 5d to the 7d justify spending the extra dough?

If it makes more sense to go with the 5d, would I be able to produce close-enough to matchable slo mo video on something like a 60d or T2i/T3i when the shot requires it? I figure I could share my lens package between the two bodys.

And then, just to complicate things a bit more, would it make more sense to just go with the Af100, since I do primarily video work anyway? I'm planning on keeping the HPX, so I could always use that for audio in conjunction with the DSLR... or get a Zoom, etc., but it sure would be nice if the new cam had XLR inputs, a nice viewfinder, LCD, waveform, and so on. The best comparison I've found of my two options is here:

Thanks for taking the time to read this tome, and thanks in advance for any advice.

William Ball

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Brent Dunn
Re: Looking to upgrade my camera package, and am in serious need of advice...
on Sep 29, 2011 at 3:55:51 pm

Personally, I've been recommending to everyone who will listen, to purchase the Panasonic AF 100. A hybrid of the DSLR and cinema quality cameras.

It's nice to have a DSLR if you're both a still photographer that does video. But you are the opposite with video being your primary business. If you have the budget, buy the AF 100 and a Canon 60D or 7D for the Stills. Of course the 5D MK II full sensor does have better detail in it's video and images.

Brent Dunn
Owner / Director / Editor
DunnRight Films
Video Marketing

Sony EX-1,
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 7D
Mac Pro Tower, Quad Core,
with Final Cut Studio

HP i7 Quad laptop
Adobe CS-5 Production Suite

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Fred Dorsett
Re: Looking to upgrade my camera package, and am in serious need of advice...
on Sep 29, 2011 at 4:07:45 pm

Hi William

If the choice is between an AF100 and a 5D, it's a no brainer !
The AF100 will give you far greater flexibility for video work.

Then hire or buy a panny 4/3 stills body for when you need to do a stills shoot. You can use the same glass that you are going to buy for the AF100 on the 4/3 body.

Job done !!

Good luck with it. You are going to love the AF100 !!!

Best regards,

Canon & Zeiss glass.

Adobe Production Premium CS5.
Autodesk Maya.
Stop Motion Pro.
Avid Pro Tools.

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Jason Jenkins
Re: Looking to upgrade my camera package, and am in serious need of advice...
on Sep 29, 2011 at 5:12:30 pm

Or... you can do what I do; get a GH2 for your everyday cam and photo shoots --then when you need a little more (like 1080p 60fps) you can rent an AF100 and all the glass you use on the GH2 will cross over perfectly.

My original plan was to buy a GH2 and an AF100, but I found that the GH2, with the proper accessories, (most of which I already had) works so well for almost everything, that I just rent the AF100 on the rare occasion that I need it.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

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Phil Balsdon
Re: Looking to upgrade my camera package, and am in serious need of advice...
on Sep 29, 2011 at 11:59:57 pm

Re Canon choices, a very experienced DoP friend who owns a 5D and a 7D said to me prior to my purchase of an HDSLR 18 months back, "If your work is mainly stills go with the 5D, if it's video the 7D (and now 60D) has better options". This was good advice, I went with the 7D.

The ability of the 7D (or 60D etc) to shoot 720p at faster frame rates could be very beneficial for your winter sports coverage. On the other hand the 5D performs better in lower light and will give more extreme "bokeh" than the smaller sensors of the other cameras. The 5D will give much better regular still images.

This said a good HDSLR kit will set you back more than a regular video camera such as your HPX-170. To get the most benefit from an HDSLR you need good lenses with a wide f stop. You need a dual sound record system and a better viewfinder than the LCD on the back of the camera. You'll need some form of ND filtering, probably a variable ND for shooting outdoors. If you buy a 5D and a second Canon HDSLR with the smaller sensor you'll need alternatives for lenses at the wide end of the scale for the 5D and these will be expensive. If you choose a 7D over a 60D or the 5D you'll need something like a Beachtek DXA-SLR to control the horrendous Auto Level in the camera because there are no firmware alternatives for this model.

Finally you be wise to wait until after 3 November because Canon a making some announcements between now and then, this may also include some form of pure video large sensor camera (seeing as one of the events on 3 November is in Hollywood I would expect it is more relevant to the movie business).

This all said I much prefer the look I get from my 7D and the advantages of it's compactness over my 1/3" chip video camera, and I'm prepared to overlook the less convenient video workflow features such as dual system sound, external filters and continually changing lenses of the system to achieve the results.

Cinematographer, Steadicam Operator, Final Cut Pro Post Production.

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