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Where can I buy a camera, microphone, and lights without breaking the bank?

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Jeffrey GansenWhere can I buy a camera, microphone, and lights without breaking the bank?
by on Feb 28, 2009 at 5:19:04 am

I am starting my own business and am in need of a HD camera, 2 wireless lav mics, 2 stick mics, and at least a 3 point light kit. Is there any companies you guys recommend to purchase this stuff without spending a lot? Thanks in advance, Jeff G


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Mick HaenslerRe: Where can I buy a camera, microphone, and lights without breaking the bank?
by on Feb 28, 2009 at 2:41:19 pm

What do you consider a lot? It's impossible to answer your querie without knowing what your budget is.

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media


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Franklin McMahonRe: Where can I buy a camera, microphone, and lights without breaking the bank?
by on Feb 28, 2009 at 2:57:50 pm


I've had great luck with http://www.buydig.com/ - they always have one of the lowest prices. Other than than B&H is always a solid bet.

Problem with buying an HD setup is you want it pretty impressive looking to "show" for clients and shoots. You don't want to go in to a shoot with a client with a little dinky camcorder, even though a lot of the small palm HD camcorders, especially from Sony and Canon, have fantastic image quality and are quite usable for mid-range production.

The way around this is to offer two packages to clients, the "compact" package and "premiere" package. The premiere costs twice as much. The client will ask what the difference is, and be honest, not much. So they will almost always go with the smaller package to save cash. That way when the small camcorder arrives for the shoot they know that is the one they requested. If they have a big budget and want the big guns, just rent a bigger camera.

Also when looking at purchasing the items look at ramping up one while dialing down another feature-wise. For example, if you get a cam with better low-light and dynamic range, you can get by with less lights, if you spend more on a quality wireless lav set, you may not even need the stick mics.

Frank

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David GhastRe: Where can I buy a camera, microphone, and lights without breaking the bank?
by on Feb 28, 2009 at 10:51:08 pm

Hollow out an arri 35 case and stick a small palmcorder inside, then charge your clients panavision prices.



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cowcowcowcowcow
Chris BlairRe: Where can I buy a camera, microphone, and lights without breaking the bank?
by on Mar 1, 2009 at 5:16:58 pm

No offense intended here...but if you're starting a production company and don't have a detailed list of equipment specs and know where to look for equipment, you might want to find someone locally to help you.

Unless of course you plan to rent a lot of stuff outside what you own for projects. When we opened our company 13 years ago, we started pretty basic, but we still spent over $125,000 on equipment. There were just 2 of us and we had 1 NLE system and one shooting package (BetaSP with 2 small light kits (Arri and Lowell), shotgun, boom pole and basket, wireless kit, 2 wired lavs, gels, diffusion, electrical cabling, video/audio cabling, a connector kit (for changing male to female on most cables or changing say xlr to 1/4"), tripod and head, hand-made gobos and maybe a few other grip accessories bought at Home Depot. It didn't take long to realize, "we gotta get some more equipment!" Things like C-stands, sandbags, multi-tap electrical cables, 220 to 110 turnarounds, DC to AC inverters, diffusion panels and frames, flags and frames etc. I could go on for 2 more paragraphs.

Anyway...I don't think you can beat B&H for service and rarely on price...BUT...you have to know what you want or it's easy to buy something and realize once you get it that it's not exactly what you needed.



Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Mark SuszkoRe: Where can I buy a camera, microphone, and lights without breaking the bank?
by on Mar 2, 2009 at 2:58:41 pm

Look to get the lights and mics used. Lights are often a great value bought used. If you have a good rental outfit in town, renting the camera just for when you need it can be more economical in certain situations, and you always have the right camera for the particular job.

As far as what Franklin mentioned about good cameras that look small and unimpressive to the uninitiated, I think this is why so many people new to the business load up a small camera unnecessarily with matte boxes, remote focus controls, French Flags and a set of rods, etc. This makes what did look like a consumer camcorder into something that looks "Hollywood". "Oooh, your camera has barn doors on the front of it, you must know what you're doing!"

I think in too many cases, that stuff is all for show. I would always rather do grad filters and the like in post, the only filtration I would likely ever use in the field is an ND filter. I find the sun shield on the camera as-is is almost always adequate for preventing lens flare and I don't shoot everything into the sun to the point I need a French Flag all the time. I pull my own focus and don't need whips. On the few occasions I need more shade, I can gaffer tape some black foil on top for that shot and "git er done".


There's hype and posing, and there's getting actual results. The former might get you a gig once.

The latter is the only thing that keeps them coming back.


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Steve WargoRe: Where can I buy a camera, microphone, and lights without breaking the bank?
by on Mar 4, 2009 at 7:40:25 am

E-Bay I have bought an incredible amount of good stuff on E-Bay. Haven't been happy every time but several things have been a steal.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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