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Field Documentary Camera Recommendations?

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Tom Bits
Field Documentary Camera Recommendations?
on Feb 12, 2016 at 5:18:47 am


I’m finding my GH4 lacking for a few things that just don't work for me for filming video:

#1 - difficulty in achieving a shallow depth of field
#2 - terrible performance in low light

I’m looking for advice on a reccomendation for DSLR camera that would better suit my needs.

I’m looking for some advice on buying a field DSLR camera for wildlife, doc filmmaking. I’m selling the GH4 due to it’s low light limitations as well as difficulty in achieving a shallow depth of field w/ 3/4 sensor. Does anyone have advice on a camera which would fit the following requirements. I have about 4k for camera + lenses and am happy to buy an older, used model. I personally love Canon’s image but am open to other manufacturers.

I work outdoors, on boats and am always shooting on-the-fly without lights or set-up so I need a camera that can handle low light. I also like to shoot my interviews and cutaways with a very shallow depth of field. I also need a camera that I can put into a housing and shoot underwater with in relatively low light conditions.

Here are my needs in a camera:

- good in low light,
- large sensor size (so shallow depth of field is easily acheivable)
- ability to shoot at high frame rates internally
- affordable used lenses available
- good autofocus
- be a a good field camera
- timelapse capabiliies
- capabilities to produce a filmic look

I live in a remote area and rarely make it to the city so it’s hard to lay my hands on many of the newer cameras, so advice would be helpful. I'm new to this forum so I'm in the wrong place just point me in the right direction to where I can find some great, informed, opinions on this.

thank-you, Tom

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Todd Terry
Re: Field Documentary Camera Recommendations?
on Feb 12, 2016 at 6:19:04 am

I'm going to get on my usual soapbox and rant about using the wrong tool... using a wrench when you need a screwdriver.

You list all of these needs and features and requirements for video work, and want to know which DSLR to consider... but you didn't mention shooting needing to shoot stills even once. So why are you considering a DSLR? Why not go for a proper video camera?

For the needs you have, specs you require, and money you can spend... I'd say the C100 is a hands-down great choice. That will do everything you ask, shoot great images, and do it with the ease of a camera designed to shoot moving imagines... not the clunky made-do method of using a still camera that also just happens to shoot video.

But... it's not a DSLR.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Tom Bits
Re: Field Documentary Camera Recommendations?
on Feb 12, 2016 at 6:32:42 am

Thank Todd

I'm not set on a DSLR, and I don't particularily need stills. I guess I say DSLR because what I need is a small camera body with interchangeable lens. If the C100 fits the bill.... The one thing I'm really having a hard time of letting go with the GH4 is the 96fps


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Bob Roberts
Re: Field Documentary Camera Recommendations?
on Mar 21, 2016 at 1:22:49 pm

Check the Sony A7sII. Will do what you need plus has interchangeable lenses. Small and easy to handle. You can take production still with it during the shoot. If you have any buddies that are into old Leica camera's you may have a source of good glass to boot.

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