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Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k

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Terry Stone
Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 19, 2009 at 12:27:16 am

Hi everyone,
In the past I have worked with a Panasonic HVX200 and an external Firestor hard drive when green screening. However, now the company where I am at is looking to start their own green screen set up and they have a $3000 budget for the camera. Unfortunately the HVX200 is way over that budget. Does anyone have a sub $3000 camcorder to recommend that is best/suitable for green screening the way the HVX200 is?

Any help is greatly appreciated

thank you!


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Chris Durham
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 19, 2009 at 5:36:50 pm

Well, I'd hardly call the HVX a decent camera for keying (I hardly call it a decent camera - it's over-rated and over-priced). You're going to have a hard time finding much in that range that's really all that good for the task. The Sony's have 4:2:2 chroma but those are out of your range, and some of the mid-range P2 cameras have it as well. For sub-3k you're not going to get the best in chromakeying. If you want something in that price range the competes very favorably with the HVX go for the Canon XH-A1. It's discontinued, but you can still get them new at b&h for around $2,700.


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Terry Stone
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 19, 2009 at 5:35:30 pm

Hi Chirs,
Thanks very much for the suggestion. It is really important that we get the best possible camera to use for keying for the money - it doesn't necessarily have to be like the HVX200, I just like the HVX200 green screen abilities.
Does anyone have any other recommendations

Best,
Helena


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 19, 2009 at 7:09:13 pm

Have you thought about a used HVX200?

Jason Jenkins

Flowmotion Media

Video production... with style!


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Terry Stone
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 19, 2009 at 7:57:00 pm

I think they will be hesitant to buy a used one unless sit comes with a warranty. I dont believe you can buy a use done with a warranty?


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Tim Kolb
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 20, 2009 at 3:24:24 am

Well...

You'll have to compromise somewhere. A really cheap new camcorder or a semi-cheap used camcorder.

A camcorder for $3K can only be the "least bad" for green screen. None of these cameras in this price category are recording to a format that is ideal for green screen.

If you can get a 3 sensor camcorder, that would be better than a single sensor.

$3K just isn't much money for a camera acquiring VFX footage of any kind.




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Michael Stamp
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 20, 2009 at 5:04:19 pm

I have limited experience with green screen, and I know this camera isn't in the same league as a regular video camera, but what about the Canon 5d Mark ii for shooting green screen video?


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Chris Durham
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 20, 2009 at 6:04:35 pm

5DmkII puts out an h.264 encoded image, certainly not suited for VFX, compositing, or keying. It also doesn't do 24 frames which is what I imagine a lot of work will be in.


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Tim Kolb
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 20, 2009 at 6:09:02 pm

I'd agree. The Canon still camera is certainly capable of great images, but the output format is aggressively compressed which certainly won't help compositing...




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Eric Peterson
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 20, 2009 at 8:06:40 pm

Why not buy a small Canon or Panasonic camera with HDMI out and connect that to an Intensity Pro card. Bypass tape altogether and record to the hard drive in Pro Res or some uncompressed format. That file would be much better to key from.



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Zechariah Stamp
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 20, 2009 at 9:54:32 pm

True the 5dII doesn't do 24fps, but am I correct in thinking that a higher frame rate and progressive scan is better for green screening?
Awhile back I did some green screening with a Sony Handycam that shot 1080HD at 30i, after deinterlacing it, it looked okay, better than what I got from my Canon XL2.

Oh, that Sony Handycam used mpeg4 compression, which would work better mpeg4 or h.264?

Thanks,
Zechariah Stamp


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Chris Durham
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 21, 2009 at 2:44:24 pm

Frame rate shouldn't have anything to do with the quality of the key. My listing that as a consideration was for 2 considerations: 1) Clients are likely to want keying for 24p, 30p, and 60i to match whatever format they're using; and 2) 24 frames is 6 less per second to process - 20% faster

Of course you can handle either issue with more work, but versatility in the camera is king.

As far as codecs go I'd guess that HDV is better than either h.264 or MPEG4, but really we're looking for the best worst case here, right? A sub-3k camera for keying is a matter of compromise to begin with. The 5dII isn't ready for prime time in pro video, let alone VFX applications. I'd still consider it a value add on a still camera.


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Terry Stone
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 27, 2009 at 4:47:26 am

I appreciate everyone's help very much

Unfortunately I am still a bit lost

will just about any camera, even a prosumer one be able to record uncompressed footage to an intensity pro card?


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Richard Herd
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 22, 2009 at 7:11:21 pm

[Chris Durham] "I hardly call it a decent camera - it's over-rated and over-priced)"

I disagree completely. It far exceeds being merely a decent camera, but I'm not here to market and advertise for Panasonic. Just that there are varied opinions on the cow.


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Alan Lloyd
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 21, 2009 at 4:29:22 pm

No camera will do a good greenscreen job if the lighting is not good.

I've pulled good greenscreens with an XL-2 when the green is even and well-saturated, with minimal tweaking in post.

Record to hard drive using something like OnLocation, and use the scopes to verify the proper lighting for a good key.

Do they understand this? If not, help them.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on May 22, 2009 at 12:47:54 am

Just my own opinion.

1. It's not the camera, so much as the format you shoot and post in, that will influence the quality of the green screen.

2. A great camera will still not give great mattes if the screen isn't properly LIT, and I feel this is more important than camera choice. Don't be afraid to spend what you NEED to for good lighting. You get most of your money back at resale when you invest in pro lighting gear.

3. You can purchase after-market warranties on used gear. B&H offers some, for example.

4. You can generally rent a much better camera than you can afford to BUY, dollar-for-dollar. Depending how many times a week you need it, how fast you need it, and for how long you shoot, it may well make better financial sense to just rent or lease a better camera. Why not make each green screen job PAY for the specific rental as you need it, and stop worrying? Few Hollywood DP's own all their cameras, I'm told. They don't because that's not good business.


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Niels leslie Pringle
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on Jun 21, 2009 at 9:47:41 am

I'm thinking of buying teh Mark II 5D for just that reason. I've seen great results with greenscreen test on the Mark II. Just make sure you light it correctly.


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Martyn Lenthall
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on Jul 30, 2014 at 7:30:21 pm

I kid you not - I have just spent about 10 hours trying to find a 'budget' camcorder that only needs 2 features.
1. HD recording
2. Mic input

There are lots on the market for £350 ($500) but I didn't want to spend that kind of money.

CAMCORDER MANUFACTURERS - look at the number of people searching Google for a budget camcorder with a mic in !!

This is the path I have taken - I have read about 100 camera reviews, checked and double checked the manufacturers specs (a lot of websites say mic input when they do not have one) for all 100 cameras, then looked for a youtube video that showed the mic input an then finally tried to find one that (a) didn't need to be imported from the US and get charges £100 customs duty (b) was available.

I hope that my hard (and stressful) work can be of some use to you - here is the model I have bought (and yes it DEFINITELY HD and has an input for the mic) and I paid just £110 ($170) for it:
Toshiba Camileo X400

<a href="http://amzn.to/1qLdn7x“>BUY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM</a>

<a href="http://amzn.to/1obD3lP“>BUY IN THE UNITED STATES</a>


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Rick Wise
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on Jul 30, 2014 at 8:25:46 pm

Interesting information, amazing price. However, on the US Amazon site, a significant number of people complained that auto focus hunts for focus throughout the shot and there's supposedly no way to turn it off and go manual. How is the camera working for you?

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Martyn Lenthall
Re: Best Green Screen Camera for under $3k
on Jul 30, 2014 at 9:24:14 pm

The autofocus is fine - no problems at all.

The only downfall with the camera is the internal mic - but as I bought it specifically to use an external mic, this isn't an issue for me.


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