A different camera?
Hello, nice to meet you! :)
I've been using a Panasonic GH2 and wanted to switch now to a Canon 5D Mark III in order to make cinematographic movies.
However, I started asking around if it would be better to use a Cine Camera instead, since that's what I want to make - cinematographic material.
Everybody jumped in recommending the Canon C500 or the Red Epic Dragon - both very nice cameras. However, the battery life and storage options are not exactly okay for me.
Since our "crew" is made up of two people who film long movies, with long scenes and long shooting days, spending thousands of dollars on battery packs and countless storage SSDs seems unwise.
What would be the next best thing? I wrote down a list of what I'm looking for in terms of style and personal preference, could you please help me out?
The Perfect Cinematographic Camera:
- Full Frame CMOS
- 24 FPS (or 23.976) at 1/48 (or 1/50)
- Interchangeable manual Prime Lenses
(I'm open to suggestions as to what manual video-lenses would be sharp and good; I don't need auto-focus, but I do need a 16mm, 35mm and 85mm with manual focus)
- Settings that would allow a Cinestyle look (grey/desaturated look that allows advanced post-production adjustments)
- Long battery life (1.5 Hrs minimum)
- Separately sold Official Batteries (this may sound weird but, as an example, GH2 doesn't have its own line of separately sold batteries - I only found bootlegs and cheap imitations)
- SD Card Support (or any type of storage, really, as long as it can store more than 1 Hr of 1080p footage)
- No noise (or very, very low) on high ISO settings - to be more specific, I noticed that my GH2 gets noisy even below 800 iso. Can we find something much better than this? Let's say very, very low noise on 3200?
- Implicitly, it must perform well in low light
- Must be good for long shoots (30 minutes, no pause, without the risk of overheating the sensor or frying something)
- File format can be MOV or M2T/MTS (but it shouldn't be MP4, as my editing software doesn't react nicely to MP4 files)
- All of the above should be obtained without the use of hacks
If it helps, the image I am looking for is this:
I'm not looking for 4K or fancy stuff. Good lenses, good cam, good battery, good storage with the tiny requirements above.
Is there such a camera for a.... um... professional-amateur such as myself? :)
[Andrei Constantinescu] "Is there such a camera for a.... um... professional-amateur such as myself? :)"
Buy a used 5D Mark III, or wait until the Mark IV announcement (supposedly at the end of this month) and get it even cheaper.
You could also easily go with the 5D Mark II if you like the quality of the footage in the YouTube video you linked.
If you want the most out of a 5D Mark III you can install MagicLantern on an SD card and shoot 14bit RAW instead of h.264. It's basically shooting RAW CinemaDNG. You can post process everything because it is RAW, white balance, exposure, etc. It is a specific work flow but the results are stunning.
If you are doing long takes and not doing a lot of camera moves, you can get a dummy battery from Canon that then plugs into AC power so you can shoot with no battery drain. Remember that the DSLRs from Canon can't shoot longer takes than 29 minutes 29 seconds.
For Camera Accessories - Monitors and Batteries
What's your budget?
My instinct would be to recommend something like the Sony FS5, which is a great balance between a true cinema camera with prices that aren't as outrageous as the REDs and Canon C-series. It shoots in a high-bitrate log color space to .mxf format on SDXC cards. Super-35 sensor (APS-C), and the E-mount can take basically any lens you'd ever want, with the right adapter; this opens the door to vintage manual SLR glass. Native ISO of 2000, very little noise when rated higher.
If that's too rich for your blood, the A7S or A7SII, with the Sony K2M XLR attachment, will do very similar stuff, with a 30-minute record limit since it's "technically" a stills camera. Full-frame, too. Amazing low-light performance.
Full-frame is not necessary, though--in fact, most cinema cameras, including RED, Arri, etc, shoot Super-35, which is basically APS-C.
Both of these options provide basic 4K, as well, so they're future proof. For myself, I'm using the FS7 (the big brother of the FS5), and have only shot 4K a handful of times. It's still the best camera I've ever used, and I'm immensely happy with it.
[Andrei Constantinescu] "Is there such a camera for a.... um... professional-amateur such as myself? :) "
I don't think there's a camera at any budget level that would meet all the criteria you listed. The above mentioned cameras are good to check into depending on what you're willing to sacrifice and what you're willing to spend.
Canon 5D2, 5D3 or wait for the Canon 5D4 (likely announced next week, released shortly after)
Canon 1DX Mark II
Canon C100 Mark II
Used/New Canon C300 Mark I (Mark II is great but at $12K.....you decide)
Song FS5 or FS7
Thank you very much for your answers! I appreciate you took the time to suggest various cameras to me.
I took a look at everything you said and, so far, the FS5 seems to provide the right balance. However its downside would be that it feels a bit too... "documentary-like". The image it offers is stunning, indeed, yet all the demos and short films I saw that were shot with it gave off an awkward feel. Less Hollywood, more History Channel.
Perhaps all the directors of said films just happened to use settings different from what I'm looking for and the camera is really good, yet strangely enough I noticed that it didn't provide the cinestyle flat look that I would need. Hm...
Gary, thank you for your recommendation. Money is not a problem, at least not for the camera. I'm aiming at the best of the best, that would allow me the versatility of the criteria I wrote.
Initially I jumped at a Red Epic, but the complexity vs the end result seemed to not be worth the hassle. If I spend 2 hours on the set just to setup a single shot... I'd rather go with the 5D Mark III. :D
Warren, I didn't know about the dummy battery. Awesome advice, thank you! I know the Canon DSLR are limited to 29m59s of shooting. That is perfectly acceptable. I wanted to know if there was such a camera that would offer the high image quality of Canon DSLRs and a longer filming time.
Blaise, the budget depends on the camera. So let's say it is limited to around... I dunno... $100,000.
No, I'm not rich :) I'm just interested in finding out what camera would suit my workflow best so I can make an optimal plan to gather money (or maybe a bank loan) and buy it.
Thank you for the various options. I took a look at them and, when it comes to image quality, indeed the Sony A7SII looks amazing. However, the Canon 5D Mark III feels a teeny tiny bit more close-to-home.
When compared with the image given by a Red Epic, which one do you think could come closer to it? Example:
Ryan, " I don't think there's a camera at any budget level that would meet all the criteria you listed."
I'm starting to see that, yeah... Your recommendation (thank you!) seems to gravitate towards what most people are saying, so at least I know I'm in the ballpark.
If I would sacrifice anything, I guess it would be the "lack of time". I'd rather be able to prepare a shot and film it in 30-45 minutes, than sit for hours to get the camera working properly.
Since I'm aiming for Full HD, 24FPS, I'll probably go with the 5D Mark III and invest more in proper glass. What do you guys think?
I suggest you take a look at the youtube link in this post - for this is the final image I'd be looking for. Any chance I can get close to that with a 5D Mark III or should I go for a completely different brand?
Thank you SO much for taking the time to answer. I love learning new stuff from you.
[Andrei Constantinescu] "I suggest you take a look at the youtube link in this post - for this is the final image I'd be looking for. "
You will not achieve the final image you are looking for because you think the camera makes the difference. The camera has little to do with the look from the link you posted. That is more lighting and art direction. I would advise that you keep your GH2 and instead raise money to hire a good gaffer and a set designer/art director.
This was a film shot on the same GH2 you already own.
The lenses you mentioned will cost way more than the 5d. B&h has a three lens kit for 14,000. Check the mm prices you need. The 5d m4 was just released.
Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.