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Best $5K-6K camera for night skylines/cityscapes?

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Christopher Slat
Best $5K-6K camera for night skylines/cityscapes?
on Aug 22, 2012 at 3:08:09 pm

Hello! I'm a longtime lurker/reader but this is my first post. I'm hoping this is the best forum for my question but the solution might not be a DSLR.

My company shoots a lot of nighttime cityscapes, especially skylines (for skylines, the camera is typically across a river from the city at night). We want to achieve really clean images of the city similar to what you might see on "Monday Night Football" or Letterman/Leno.

Currently the only camera we have in-house is a Canon XHA1. We've contracted other videographers using other camcorders and DSLRs but night footage is always too dark, muddy, or grainy.

We're not doing time-lapse and we'd like to keep shutter speeds as short as possible.

We have a $6000 budget (firm) for new equipment that will deliver better performance in low light. Can we even get an approximate "Monday Night Football" look on this budget? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


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Steve Crow
Re: Best $5K-6K camera for night skylines/cityscapes?
on Aug 22, 2012 at 5:12:32 pm

Just a few thoughts really . What it seems you need is a full frame sensor to gather as much light as possible combined with high ISO. It seems at your price point a DSLR like the Canon 5D MII is really one of your few available choices Also be realistic about what can be achieved on a prosumer budget vs national network shooters and their gear

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Steve Crow
Re: Best $5K-6K camera for night skylines/cityscapes?
on Aug 22, 2012 at 7:55:15 pm

Actually I forgot to mention the Black Magic Cinema Camera as another option you have in that price range - a very nice option too

Here is a presentation given by a filmmaker in Australia who had been the only person (I believe) allowed to film with the pre-production model

http://www.dslrnewsshooter.com/2012/08/22/dp-john-brawley-gives-an-overview...

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Rob Manning
Re: Best $5K-6K camera for night skylines/cityscapes?
on Aug 22, 2012 at 6:55:05 pm

Hi Chris,

Question, are these static shots, slow panning, or are they fast zooms and lateral motion?

That and what lenses will be employed?

RM


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Christopher Slat
Re: Best $5K-6K camera for night skylines/cityscapes?
on Aug 22, 2012 at 7:23:58 pm

Rob,

The shots are a mix of static and slow pans. No fast camera motion at all. But some shots might include street traffic or moving elements passing through the frame.

We have no lenses and that would probably fall within the budget as well. Recommendations are welcome.

The ability to have slow zooms would be ideal, as we'll often get close on a building, but any sort of adjustable lens would work and we could just edit to and from the CU instead of zooming.

Thanks!



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Michael Hendrix
Re: Best $5K-6K camera for night skylines/cityscapes?
on Aug 22, 2012 at 8:31:34 pm

I would say the 5dmkIII is the best choice, with a prime lens or two with 1.4 or 1.8 apeture. The glass can be as important as the camera.

the other option if you have to go video is look at the new Sony PMW-200. It come sout Sept 15, records 4:2:2 and has a 1/2" sensor. It will be pushing your price range, I think B&H list it at around $6300.



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Bill Bruner
Re: Best $5K-6K camera for night skylines/cityscapes?
on Aug 23, 2012 at 1:42:49 am

Christopher - you may want to consider the $5400 Sony NEX-FS100. The thing can almost see in the dark (watch in 1080p):



















And you may find this low light test between the FS100 and a Canon 5D MkII useful:

Hope this is helpful,

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution

P.S. - just saw that the camera is $4200 at B&H until December 31st!


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Christopher Slat
Re: Best $5K-6K camera for night skylines/cityscapes?
on Aug 23, 2012 at 3:42:29 pm

Much thanks to everyone for the advice. I really like the footage from the Sony NEX-FS100, especially the Ocean Drive clip.

I think the FS100 is my favorite so far but hopefully we can wait for September and see what people can do with the Blackmagic. In the meantime I'll try to get my hands on a MarkII/MarkIII and try it out.

If anyone has any other thoughts, or reasons why the FS100 isn't a good choice, let me know. Thanks again.



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Rob Manning
Re: Best $5K-6K camera for night skylines/cityscapes?
on Aug 23, 2012 at 8:02:22 pm

My DP friend is off the road (shoots RED) his personal gear of late, FS100 and the crop frame Sony DSLR with translucent viewfinder.

He's had this rig since before Creatasphere last fall.

At dinner he told me he will be selling both to buy the D800 and the Ninja 2, all in one, 4.2.2 and less to carry.

He never sold his 80-200 f/2.8 and will get a couple other Nikon zooms, wide and mid. Since I've known him he's had Nikon, 60D, 7D, selling off gear and glass to get the Sony stuff.

HTH's

RM


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Brent Dunn
Re: Best $5K-6K camera for night skylines/cityscapes?
on Sep 4, 2012 at 4:12:16 pm

The canon 5D Mk III shoots amazing footage in low light. I've seen images using an ISO lf 7000 with no grain.

Sony's new FS 700 is also great in low light, but it will squeeze your budget if you also need to buy lenses.

Brent Dunn
Owner / Director / Editor
DunnRight Films
DunnRight Video.com
Video Marketing Toolbox.net

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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Christopher Slat
Re: Best $5K-6K camera for night skylines/cityscapes?
on Sep 11, 2012 at 4:13:13 pm

Okay, following up: it came down to the Canon 5D Mk3 and the Sony FS100. I think we're going with the FS100 for reasons that mostly come down to the pros and cons of DSLRs.

I was really impressed with the FS100 footage above in this thread, and the low light section of test was incredible as well:

The low light test starts at about 17:00 and the FS100 is at about 22:00. It really can see in the dark. The guy's in a dark room and he almost looks interview-lit, with minimal noise.

Also, his "test" has some shots of a skyline/bridge and they look decent:

So we're going with that and the kit lens for now. Then hopefully get a faster quality lens after some tests. Thanks everyone for the help, and maybe I'll post again once I start getting some footage.



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