Newbie Camera Needs
HELP! I have decided to put 40 years of hobby to work and dip my toe in the professional videography industry. I would like to start small and build as experience allows, and I am attempting the start-up on a shoestring budget. I am soliciting suggestions for a dependable first lead camera, miniDV and flash card if possible, HD with good audio and low light capabilities. I already have two Canon HV30's to serve as backups/slaves/multiple locations but am seeking something better than the prosumer offerings. My budget is $5000 and I'll probably buy from eBay or craigslist.
I have reviewed dozens of camcorders and narrowed my choices to Canon XH-A1, Canon XF 100HD, Sony HVR ZSU and Panasonic AG HVX200. However, after discovering Creative Cow and reading many of the posts I chose to toss my ego out the window and ask for some help and suggestions. Camcorders, audio, lighting, tripods, editing software...I'll take whatever suggestions you care to post.
Thanks in advance for your time & patience with a "newbie".
I took a similar path as you back in the summer of 2009, starting with two HV30s I already had.
Instead of the latest and greatest, I providentially came across a good deal on a used XH-A1, with wireless microphones, pelican case etc. The two HV-30s matched up well with the A1.
Plus, there was an unexpected benefit. Several videography hand over the tape clients specified standard definition mini-DV in the specs, and the XH-A1 shoots that too, in addition to HDV.
Also, a large corporate client that I had twelve jobs with wanted standard def, 4:3 aspect ratio in files uploaded to their servers. Although they took guys with any camera, provided the files were converted to their specs, there is much less work involved if the original footage is shot that way to begin with. You will find that time is money in a business, and it's not an easy business. Plus, that client liked, and paid extra, if you could send in original tapes to their facility too.
Tape isn't quite dead yet, at least in my area. I've since added another used Canon XH-A1S in new condition at a fraction of the cost of the latest and greatest. Business loans are hard to come by. If you're paying for your startup yourself, don't dig too deep a hole to climb out of. Be careful with cash flow. Expect to spend a lot of time marketing your business. Networking (as in the good ole boy style of networking, AKA "smoozing" with prospects) and strategic pro-bono work has been the most effective marketing strategy for me, at least so far. Clients are careful, they want real value.