More lenses, or a camcorder?
I currently shoot motocross related clips, mostly for youtube and some dvd. Usually 3-4 minute videos with lots of short clips pieced together with music. I love my T2i and the quality I "can" get is very pleasing, but I still struggle with maintaining focus. (although I have improved during the 6 months I've been using it) So my question.... I use a 50mm 1.8 and the kit lenses currently. Would I be better off purchasing some upgraded lenses such as the 50mm 1.4, 24-70mm 2.8, 70-200mm 2.8. Or is there a camcorder that you would recommend for me, that will allow me to use my t2i for the DOF shots but still get "easy focus" similar quality of the action and run and gun shots? One that Ive been looking into is the HMC40, but I am not sure how well this will work with my t2i. Any advice would be appreciated as always!
If focusing is the concern you could do a couple of things: decrease the aperture on your current lens to have a greater depth of field which will give you a greater area of focus (I assume you knew that already and wanted to keep the high aperture to have a shallow dof and more light). Which leads to my other suggestion in getting a follow focus. You can pick up a traditional one for around 150-200.00, or you can use something a lot less expensive like a rubber jar opener or zip tie.
Really depends on your shooting style. Personally I think the kit lenses are pointless because they're so slow. I'd go with short range fast primes- which are $$$ but worth every penny.
Call Box Training.
Featuring the Panasonic GH2 and GoPro HD Hero.
Yeah, I have been having to shoot at F10 and above in order to maintain focus. But when I shoot at F5 and lower, the quality is definitely better, just can't keep it in focus. My goal is to get the same quality I see when shooting wide open during interviews... only while shooting action shots and maintaining focus. I have looked into the follow focus units and will definitely be grabbing one soon. I just wonder if a camcorder might be an easier route to go, for the action. Can I get the same quality without the shallow DOF?
[Chris Barnes] " Can I get the same quality without the shallow DOF?"
Short answer: yes. If you've been trying to shoot full races on a DSLR I'm sure you've had your fair share of aggravation.
You would definitely be better served to shoot races and such with a purpose build video camera that has a servo-zoom lens (they all do). Shoot your 'art' and interviews with the DSLR, and races with the video camera - If there is a race you don't need complete hilts from or during warm-up/time trials... - switch to the DSLR and grab your artsy stuff.
I currently use a Sony EX-3 and Canon 7D combo for this purpose - shooting football and hockey games for promos, teases, HL vids.... This set up is great for someone like myself who has to travel/fly often with my complete kit. I am carry-on with a simple travel edit suite (Macbook Pro+G-RAID...) and both cameras/lenses/monitor... (Tripod, slider, other non-critical gear is checked).
That is an awesome setup, but is there a camcorder that wont cost me 7K and still provide similar quality to a dslr? (not the DOF, just clean sharp images so mixing the footage won't be noticable)
The ex-1 is a great alternative - and I'd actually recomend it to many over the ex-3 as most folks I know who have the ex-3 don't use any of the extra features it has over the ex-1.
You should be able to find a decent deal on a first generation ex-1 (not the newer ex-1R) I've seen them for around the 4K range in a decent package with low hours.
On the cheaper end how about the Sony NX70U. Does 1080p60 in a nice small package. It's got a small sensor, so it will have the deep depth of field you are after. Might be a good fit... You really need to try a couple out though and find what fits you best. If you are near a major market/City you should be able to find a rental house that will have most of the good toys there to play with. They typically will let you come in and test them out on site.
Panasonic has a really good selection of affordable cams as well.
I shoot speedway motorcycles along with other motor sports, including motocross. Over the years, I have lugged large Betacam units around, and then DV Cam. When HD became affordable, I waited for awhile for recording formats to stabilize and then purchased both small format HD cams and DSLRs as well. I do a lot of night shooting handheld and needed some way to capture the moment without always involving an additional camera operator. In addition, my current project requires a lot of footage that will be edited as slo-mo. That means full 1920 x 1080 60p - 1080i does not cut it!
I built 2 custom rigs out of aluminum alloy with 1 cam on top following the action with a remote zoom linked to the IR receiver on the front of the camera via a Toslink cable. The other camera is a DSLR shooting the wide shot at the same time. I wanted something light and compact for the primary camera. The Panasonic TM700, now superseded by the TM 900, is the little giant killer. Amazingly good, fast lens and super picture quality. You will find tons of happy users praising this little jewel on the internet. I have replaced the Panasonic GH2 equipped with a Nikon 1.4 prime with a new Sony A65 with a 1.7 Minolta AF prime. The Panasonic could only do 720 60p, and 1080 24p is not appropriate. The Sony A65 has been working out great, as it's 1080 60p and clean ISO's, OLED viewfinder, etc. are exceptional. This coming winter season is daytime, and I will be trying my 2nd TM700 in place of the DSLR. It will be set a little wider than it's mate, but will still zoom along as it will be getting the same Toslink remote treatment. I know that the TM does not have the usual controls, inputs, etc., but I have worked around that. It does have full manual controls available via touchscreen and/or front ring, and it has full manual audio settings as well. It is nice to always have 2 versions of the same shot to work with in post. By the way, B&H has an incredible sale on the TM900 for $597.00 that ends tomorrow! Here is a link to photos of the rig in it's early stages. Good Luck.
John D. Frey
25 Year owner/operator of two California-based production studios.
Digital West Video Productions of San Luis Obispo and Inland Images of Lake Elsinore