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EOS HDSLR or M4/3 for doc platform?

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Anthony Sims Jr.
EOS HDSLR or M4/3 for doc platform?
on Mar 19, 2011 at 2:48:56 pm

I'm afraid this post teeters on the edge of another "what DSLR should I buy" post, but be that as it may...

I've just taken my occasional freelance video gig and turned it into my full-time/self-incorporated gig.

For the past three years, I've shot lower cost stuff with Canon HF10s mated to a Redrock Micro M2 with a few Nikon F-mount lenses. It was great fun, nice for a little extra money, and the stakes were generally low for the jobs. I've used the same setup for my first two jobs as an independent.

But it's clear to me that I've got to make some investments in more efficient, flexible, professional equipment if I'm going to grow my business the way I want.

And so I'm trying to decide which camera to buy.

HDSLRs are a given for me. I like/want/need a camera that on one hand can be inconspicuous and highly mobile, but with rails and attachments can do serious set work (mostly documentary interviews, in my case).

I owned a few Canon 35mm SLR cameras when I was in film school, shot regularly with an XL1s when it was the belle of the ball, and generally like Canon reliability/colorimetry/usability/etc. I'm also a big fan of Canon's glass.

So with the above in mind, I all but decided that the 7D was the best way for me to start: affordable, weatherproof, and with lots of users already out there to provide technical and professional support.

However, when I dug a little deeper into the 7D's suitability for doc work, I ran into what might be a dealbreaker: the 12min limit on takes.

I should mention here that my entire business is predicated on selling short, documentary webisodes to business owners, organizations, etc. Much of what I do involves trying to get an interview subject to drop his or her guard and say something really honest, and I'm afraid the distraction of having to re-start video over and over will cost me capturing a critical moment.

So I began reading up on Micro 4/3, specifically the Panasonic GH2, which seems immune to many of the idiosyncracies I've mentioned, but is likewise removed from what I really love/want/admire about Canon.

While M4/3 seems to be growing in terms of community, accessories and respect (and the Voigtlander 25mm F/0.95 lens is just amazing), it's just too new for me to feel really comfortable investing in it as a platform around which to build a kit.

My initial purchase will be around $5,000. For that amount, I hoped to get an HDSLR body and three good lenses: a fast prime, a reasonably fast wide-angle zoom, and a reasonably fast telephoto zoom.

If I could somehow predict that: a) Canon would eliminate per-take limits in the very near future; or b) that M4/3 was going to continue its growth and become a robust, flexible digital cinema platform, then obviously this would be an easier decision.

Any advice (specifically with regards to either format's documentary suitability) is greatly appreciated.


Jr.


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Andrew Wilson
Re: EOS HDSLR or M4/3 for doc platform?
on Mar 20, 2011 at 12:02:00 pm

Dslr cameras aren't designed to be workhorse video production cameras. They take great images and I use a t2i as a second camera. My primary camera is a Sony EX-1. If I were shopping today with a 5k budget, I would be seriously considering the Panasonic AF100.

Andrew Wilson
WestView Digital Video & Design
http://www.westviewdigital.com


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Anthony Sims Jr.
Re: EOS HDSLR or M4/3 for doc platform?
on Mar 20, 2011 at 4:29:15 pm

AF100 seems great, and should I go the M4/3 route, it will probably be the second camera I buy.

But with glass being my financial (and personal) priority, a DSLR will be my first camera purchase, for sure.

Notwithstanding worries about the relative infancy of M4/3, I can see myself first buying the GH2 along with some fast lenses, then adding the AF100 body as cash flow allows.

Thanks for the feedback!


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