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Craig Alan
Looking for new camcorders with best image quality.
on Feb 12, 2017 at 8:28:56 pm

The Sony A7S/R mirrorless cams are getting a lot of attention as having perhaps the best image quality for video short of an Alexa. After looking into it, I find the Sony FS7 line and perhaps the Sony 55 and F5 lines? have similar sensors. Obviously form factors and ergonomics vary with price. Looking for a complete camcorder kits for under $20,000 each. I also have a nice collection of Canon cinema lenses that I use on a Canon Mark lll and am upgrading to a mark lV. Also fits an URSA which is a brick of a camcorder and really requires a lot of light. But does get nice shots.

This is where I'm at; just asking around. Hoping the cow folk could throw in their suggestions for the best image quality and production friendly camcorders in the under $20,000 bracket including a zoom lens but can use the cinema lenses and all the add ons the new stuff seems to need. I plan to get a couple of Atomos recorders when shooting 4K.

I plan to get a couple of the Sony As7/R mirrorless cams regardless just cause it would make a great low weight travel cam. But waiting for feedback on the possibilities for heavier investments.

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.


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Todd Terry
Re: Looking for new camcorders with best image quality.
on Feb 13, 2017 at 4:15:50 pm

I'm going to suggest something completely different that's not on your list but seems like it would fit perfectly.

In my opinion (and yes, just an opinion). the Canon C300 Mark II is the camera that rivals the Alexa, probably much moreso than some of the others on your list.

I have used the C300 (not the Mark II) since they first came out and it has been my favorite camera ever. In all likelihood the Mark II will be my next camera.

Some plusses... it is a "real" video camera designed to shoot video... not a DSLR or mirrorless still camera that is being tasked to do something it wasn't primarily designed for. DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are great tools, but to me a still camera is still a wrench when you really need a screwdriver.

Also, it's well within your price point... due to competition Canon has really dropped the price, the body is now only $12K.

And biggest plus of all... you said you already had Canon cine lenses.

Another plus, it will record 4K internally, so you can save your money on those Atmos recorders.

And lastly in that line of plusses... the picture just can't be beat. Period.

Now the negatives...

It's a lot bigger than something like a little A7, but that just comes with the territory... if you want a "real" video camera, you're going to pay for some of that with size.

The last contention is a zoom lens, which you said you want. You won't get that body and a reallygood zoom lens for your $20K, no matter what the camera...if you are wanting a real cine zoom. In fact, you won't even get the lens itself for that much. Really good and real cine zooms are going to be more expensive than that (the two that I'd love to have, but don't own, are pushing $50K each... which is why I don't own them). But you could get a lower-end or DSLR-designed zoom or two within that range which might serve perfectly fine depending on your needs... but they might not be super fast, and wouldn't have the features that a real cine zoom has.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Craig Alan
Re: Looking for new camcorders with best image quality.
on Feb 13, 2017 at 5:39:04 pm

Thanks Tod. Of course I'm not comparing the Sony Alpha a7S Mirrorless Digital Camera to a camcorder other than the quality of the sensor. the comparison is the Sony PXW-FS7M2 XDCAM Super 35 Camera System or one of the other variations of this cam kit (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?sts=ma&Ns=p_PRICE_2%7c1&setNs=p_PRICE_2%7c1&N=0&srtclk=sort&Ntt=sony+fs7) to the Canon C300 Mark II. Yours is the first recommendation for the Canon over the Sony line I've gotten.
I know the Canon c300 (before 4k became the standard) was highly recommended but pricey.

And Yes I understand that I can't afford a cinema quality zoom. I just want an ENG quality zoom for general purpose.

I'll do a search for reviews on the c300 mark ll and see what comes up. I've gotten so many recommendations on the FS7 including seeing some really beautiful footage.

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.


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Craig Alan
Re: Looking for new camcorders with best image quality.
on Feb 13, 2017 at 5:43:09 pm

Thanks Tod. Of course I'm not comparing the Sony Alpha a7S Mirrorless Digital Camera to a camcorder other than the quality of the sensor. the comparison is the Sony PXW-FS7M2 XDCAM Super 35 Camera System or one of the other variations of this cam kit (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?sts=ma&Ns=p_PRICE_2%7c1&setNs=p_PRICE_2%7c1&N=0&srtclk=sort&Ntt=sony+fs7) to the Canon C300 Mark II. Yours is the first recommendation for the Canon over the Sony line I've gotten.
I know the Canon c300 (before 4k became the standard) was highly recommended but pricey.

And Yes I understand that I can't afford a cinema quality zoom. I just want an ENG quality zoom for general purpose.

I'll do a search for reviews on the c300 mark ll






don't bother with review but scroll through and look at footage.

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.


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Blaise Douros
Re: Looking for new camcorders with best image quality.
on Feb 13, 2017 at 4:56:19 pm

If you're getting the Sony A7 series cameras, then the FS7 (or FS7ii) is a total no-brainer as first camera. The dynamic range is killer. It's a "real" camera, so should make Todd happy ☺ But it's also significantly cheaper than the C300ii, and is actually often used as a B camera with the Alexa because the dynamic range is similar.

It shoots 4K natively, in an Slog2 or Slog3 gamma that can be replicated across all your A7 cameras for more consistent grading. The E-mount can easily take your Canon glass with a Metabones adapter (get a Speedbooster, it's fantastic to have an extra stop on every lens you own). Two native XLR inputs, with the option to add a K2M or K1M for four XLR channels. In 1080p, the FS7 has overcrank up to 180 fps, which is AWESOME to have, let me tell you.

I have been shooting the FS7 for quite a while now, and it is a stellar camera. You will not be disappointed if you get one.

Todd has good points about easy lens compatibility with your existing glass, but IMHO, the FS7 is more capable all-around, costs less, and worth the very slight extra hassle of the Metabones. I hear a lot from C300 shooters about the ease of use and good out-of-the-box color, but if you plan to do much in the way of color grading, I think the FS7 might be a better choice.


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Craig Alan
Re: Looking for new camcorders with best image quality.
on Feb 13, 2017 at 5:54:57 pm

Hi Blaise, That's where I had landed after 2 days of searching.

What do you think of the next gen?
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?sts=ma&Ns=p_PRICE_2%7c1&setNs=p_PRICE...

and yes the Sony lenses from the reviews indicate a weakness. They just don't manually focus well. So the Metabones is a must and is suppose to work well. The Bloom review even says he uses a speed ? one to get a full frame image which he prefers and is on the DSLR.

How advanced is the color correction process? I know its an art in and of itself but can you learn an easy post practice to color correct to get the equivalent of "out-of-the-box color"?

Being a user, what should be bought to complete the kit? I'd like a basic zoom if the Sony one is not the best choice. And accessories that are needed/you'd recommend. Thanks.

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.


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Todd Terry
Re: Looking for new camcorders with best image quality.
on Feb 13, 2017 at 6:19:31 pm

I'll just chime in with one quick last thing....

I don't like to over-obsess about specs too much... these days all cameras are technically great. The only worthwhile test instruments at this point are your two eyeballs... so that's what you have to please. There's definitely a Sony "look" just like there is an Alexa look, a Canon look, and so on. It just depends on what you prefer. I'm not a big fan of the Sony look, although I know many people are, which is fine. I am a huge fan of the Canon look, and my current and last three cameras have been Canons, and my next one will be too, most likely. Before that, I shot Sonys. Before the last camera or two I also shot a great deal of 35mm film, and to me the Canons are what come closest to giving me that organic look and feel. Totally just a personal preference... to me Sonys always have an electronic look to them rather than a more organic look, but that's fine with some, and perhaps many people even desire it.

I'm a lot more concerned about the glass being used than the body it is attached to (the lens I use daily, and have for many years, are worth many times more - both emotionally and financially - than any body they are ever attached to). The lenses you use are the most important piece of the puzzle, and if you love the glass you have then whatever camera can happily use them will probably do you just fine, and that's when you look at features, not "specs." That's another reason I'm a Canon guy... I'm old school, I like buttons and switches and Canon isn't afraid to cram a couple of dozen physical buttons on the body, whereas many others make you dig into on-screen menus to control those things. I hate menus with a passion, ergo I'm a Canon guy. If that isn't a factor for you, then certainly take that out of the mix.

The link to that FS7 looks like a pretty good package and is of course dirt cheap which is a huge bonus... but me being me the first thing I looked at was the glass. That zoom they have bundled with it has a very wide range, which is good... but it is slooooooow as molasses (largest aperature is f/4!) so if you shoot a lot of interiors, low light in general, or are a fan of shallow depths of field, you're going to want to make sure you have a way to attach your primes instead.

But as I said, at this point, they are all great cameras though.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Craig Alan
Re: Looking for new camcorders with best image quality.
on Feb 13, 2017 at 7:28:39 pm

Todd, you make some excellent points and there is a long history behind this. My first two camcorders lines were Sony 200/150/170 and we had one XL2 and bunch of Canon minicams. The XL2 was my go to cam if I wanted an artistic feel. It was not film though it came closer to film than the Sony for sure. Sony was rugged and reliable. The Canon head needed adjusting every year. It was also a huge pain when it came to ingesting into FCP. Canon apparently had a different firewire standard than Apple. But the shots seemed more painted and less digital looking. And yes the controls were so much better on the Canon. Great audio controls built in with real knobs and well organized. The shape was a bit odd for shoulder mount. But neither was designed well for this.
I am a huge fan of the Canon DSLRs. 5D in all its variations. Though I've used it for video its not really designed for it.
The 1DX is suppose to be pretty good in this regard and we are getting one.
Not a huge fan of the EF mount but love the glass and less expensive than the other choices and I never had a lens get messed up by this less solid mount. Including the 70-200mm which I have used a lot. Though now-a-days I prefer the 24-70mm. That's just a taste thing.

Did you look at the sample shots from the FS7? I think they look really good. To me it doesn't look digital, has a very natural look to it.

Do you have a link for some sample footage from the 300 mark ll?

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.


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Todd Terry
Re: Looking for new camcorders with best image quality.
on Feb 13, 2017 at 8:26:53 pm

Hey Craig...

No I didn't look at samples... I'm directing on location today so while it is easy for me to type, I'm not where I can see screens well enough to judge any footage.

Nor do I have any handy links to C300 Mark II samples, but I think they should be easily Googleable.

One reason I haven't moved to the Mark II is lenses. I love love my lenses (have used them for years though several cameras now) and don't want to give them up. Yes I could use them on the Mark II, if I got the PL mount body (which I have now) instead of the EF mount body.... but.... one of the reasons to go Mark II would be to take advantage of all the good things like focusing aids that would require EF lenses. So I'd have to get a whole new set of cine primes in EF mount. That'd be several tens of thousands of dollars in new glass (probably easily $100K to get what I really wanted), so that's a roadblock. I could sell my cine primes to help fund that little excursion, but that'd made me cry. The only upside is that the lenses have appreciated a fair bit. Cine lenses (especially those of a certain type and vintage) are just about the only piece of hardware in our business that doesn't plummet in value the second you drive it off the lot... so I could sell them for a fair bit more than I paid for them... but I reeeeaaaly don't want to do that.

I think glass is one of the reasons I'm a hardcore Canon guy and not a Sony guy (aside from all the buttons!). Sony makes really good cameras... but they do not make very good lenses (which is totally understandable... they are an electronics company, not an optics company). Of course you don't have to use Sony lenses, but a lot of people who shoot with Sony bodies simply do. It's a hard thing to define, but native Sony lenses just look very clinical and sterile to me, they definitely tend to run on the cool side and are very contrasty. Contrasty lenses are a good thing, but there's a fine line between contrasty and too contrasty and I think a lot of them cross that line for me. I like Canon lenses a lot better.... but then again I don't shoot with Canon lenses either...ha. I'd be happy with a Sony body, but it would certainly depend on the glass I put on it. It definitely wouldn't be Sony glass.

Of course, just my personal pref....

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Blaise Douros
Re: Looking for new camcorders with best image quality.
on Feb 14, 2017 at 12:03:57 am

I agree with you, Todd, in that I much prefer Canon glass to Sony. I was a hardcore Canon guy for many years. That's why I'm using the Metabones Speedbooster to convert my Canon glass for use on the FS7.

I think the one place you're also right, Todd, is that the C300 has a nicer right-out-of-the-box look. Canon's processing algorithms pump up the reds in their imagery which tends to make people look very nice. Sony leans heavily on the green channel for luma data, and it often makes their footage have that very slight greenish cast which I associate with the older Sony cameras.

That said, the FS7 Mk1 (which is what I use) doesn't have that problem. The ungraded, out-of-the-box look in Custom mode is actually really nice, and I use it all the time when I'm on a project without the time for detailed grading. I've shot it in 1080P next to the 5DIII, and it makes the 5DIII footage look like hot garbage in terms of detail.

Now, over to you, Craig.

First, lens adaptation: the Speedbooster is a cool thing--it's an EF to E mount adapter with electronics to allow the camera body to control the EF glass. It also has a focal reducer that collimates the lens down to the Super-35 sensor on the FS7; what that means is that all the light that normally would fall on a full-frame sensor is concentrated onto the APS-C/Super-35 sensor in the FS7. The result is a full-frame equivalent FOV, with the added bonus of an additional stop of light. So F4 lenses become F2.8 lenses. Metabones also makes a non-speedboosting adapter with no optics. I have both, and the Speedbooster basically lives on the camera body, since I have no E-mount glass.

As for color, there's a learning curve in shooting log footage, and because Slog3 gamma has such a wide gamut, it will take some practice. In the end, LUTs will be your saving grace in one way or another. The FS7 allows you to apply a LUT to the viewfinder, while still recording Slog3 to the card. This allows you to see the normal exposure while still recording the log footage, retaining the dynamic range for post. Alternately, you can learn how to just expose for Slog3 in the viewfinder using the waveform monitor.

In post, you'll use LUTs to get yourself most of the way to a good grade. You can then tweak it from there. It took me a few projects to really understand how to expose and process log footage, especially under run-and-gun documentary-type conditions. But once you do, it gives you a lot of power in post that you never would have with a camera shooting a straight Rec709 gamma profile: you're basically shooting HDR.

And of course, you don't have to shoot in Slog. You can shoot in Custom mode with a Rec709 gamma, and the camera will act just like a standard video camera.

As far as accessories: I'm not a V-mount or Gold mount battery user, so I just bought several of the largest batteries available for the system. Other FS7 shooters have mentioned that the V-mount add-on makes the camera balance a bit better on your shoulder, as it adds some counterweight. So if you have some investment in big batteries, I'd say go ahead.

Forget the handle arm that comes with it--Sony's arm assembly is junk. Buy the Shape FS7 handle.

The standard viewfinder on the FS7 MkI isn't too hot. If you have the cash to get a replacement, go for it. Otherwise, it's fine--not horrible, not great, just fine. I am not sure if they've improved it on the II, but it looks pretty similar.

As far as walk-around ENG-style lenses, the only one I use that fits that bill is the 24-105 F4L. It's a really useful focal length on the Speedbooster. I have not used any E-mount lenses, including the kit lens which I didn't buy because of its boneheadedly stupid 28-135mm focal length on Super-35, so I can't speak to autofocusing or servo zooms. Frankly, the 24-70 (I think you mentioned that you had that?) would work for most of that stuff, especially paired with the 70-200.

Does that answer enough of your questions? What else do you need to know?


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Craig Alan
Re: Looking for new camcorders with best image quality.
on Feb 14, 2017 at 4:26:58 am

Speedbooster is a cool thing

Was on my list for the very reasons you mentioned.

But once you do, it gives you a lot of power in post that you never would have with a camera shooting a straight Rec709 gamma profile: you're basically shooting HDR.

Need to experience it before I’ll get it. I'll be back.

And of course, you don't have to shoot in Slog. You can shoot in Custom mode with a Rec709 gamma, and the camera will act just like a standard video camera.

Thanks will use that as a fail safe.
But will learn the other.

So if you have some investment in big batteries, I'd say go ahead.

Already have a set for my new kino flo select on order so I’ll look into that

Forget the handle arm that comes with it--Sony's arm assembly is junk. Buy the Shape FS7 handle.

Sony specifically mentions this in their updates in the mark ll. Which is more a structure upgrade than anything else. Locking mount and better quality build.


The standard viewfinder on the FS7 MkI isn't too hot. If you have the cash to get a replacement, go for it. Otherwise, it's fine--not horrible, not great, just fine. I am not sure if they've improved it on the II, but it looks pretty similar.

Looks the same to me. I’ll look into it. But plan to mount a Shogun monitor recorder but only as an option.

Frankly, the 24-70 (I think you mentioned that you had that?) would work for most of that stuff, especially paired with the 70-200.

was looking for an autofocus lens to avoid pull focus on run and gun shoots. But that’s not what you do. So instead do you have a pull focus system like a Zacuto kit with rails, pull focus control, mountain plate and so worth?

Any other add ons you decided you needed?

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.


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Blaise Douros
Re: Looking for new camcorders with best image quality.
on Feb 14, 2017 at 4:39:41 pm

Re: the Slog3; since you're planning to get the A7sII anyway, you can play with it on that camera.

The Shogun would be a great monitor, but won't work well as a shoulder-mount solution--for that, you'll need to use the eyepiece.

As far as focusing goes, I have to go extremely light, fast, and low-profile for a lot of my doc shoots, so I don't use a follow focus knob. I just have my grubby hands RIGHT ON THE LENS. I know, it's barbaric. But I've gotten used to it over the years. Especially when using a zoom lens, it keeps me one step closer to the lens so I can react fast.

The only other add-on I have is the K2M XLR add-on, which allow me to bring in four channels of XLR audio if I need to.

Again, though, I don't shoot much narrative or even commercial type work. It's mostly documentary style or fast-turnaround corporate. There are lots of guys who will give you a much more comprehensive kit list for the FS7.


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