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5k Budget Recommendations

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Hunter Hempen5k Budget Recommendations
by on Apr 29, 2011 at 10:41:10 pm

Not sure if this goes here.

I currently have a budget of 5k to spend on new equipment that will hopefully last for the next 'few' years here. My first order of business is to use all of it in a documentary, and later on various side projects.

My question is, are there any recommendations on cameras, mics, lenses, portable lighting kits, tapes, SD cards, or anything of the like? Don't forget to include the discounted CS5.5 in that number (student)...so I guess that brings it more to 4.5k or something like that.

I'm attempting to figure things such as: two or one camera? two different types of mics? more? less? all i need is "this and that yadda yadda"?

Are there packages out there for this kind of thing, something along the lines of a pricey "starters kit"?

Any advice is well taken.

Thanks,
Hunta

-----
Too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?
-Gaff
-----


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David JohnsonRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on Apr 29, 2011 at 11:55:21 pm

Hey Hunter.
I'm on my way out so can't offer a complete answer, but can mention a couple general things to consider ...

The first is that the appropriate gear depends mostly on specific needs and preferences (not just general types of projects). So, remember that everything else I say is in very general terms ...

[Hunter Hempen] "new equipment ... last for the next 'few' years"
Both hardware manufacturers and software developers are ever increasingly making this harder to do. Twenty years ago, one could buy a top-notch camera/lens combo that would still be top-notch 10+ years later (with proper treatment), but that's nearly impossible today ... a good HD cam is great today, but who knows if everything that's not 3D (or the next big thing) will be considered obsolete a few years from now? So, I understand exactly what you mean and it does make sense to some degree, but also be careful with breaking the bank to over-buy thinking that you'll be set for years to come. The best example of my point is computer hardware ... I use to buy only the highest end computers to make them last for years ... that use to work perfectly, but now I've changed to looking at most every computer as pretty much disposable ... to be completely replaced in a few years, rather than the old method of upgrading.

[Hunter Hempen] "two or one camera?"
Unless buying used, which is a whole other discussion, it's unlikely $5k will get two cams worth having once everything else needed is factored in. Part of what I mean is, in addition to all the things you listed, remember the many things that have to be factored into camera price - case, tripod, batteries, charger, etc. ... and, depending on needs, perhaps more expensive things like additional lenses, lens controllers, etc. Even without the latter, cam accessories alone can easily add up to thousands even for the smaller "pro-sumer" cams.

[Hunter Hempen] "two different types of mics? more? less?"
It's always wise to have two mics (whether both in use or one as back up), but there are a number of factors to consider in whether they should be the same and the factors are very dependent on needs. Two of the same has the important advantage of consistent sound when used together so that alone is often the only deciding factor. Wired or wireless is generally the next question and is also very dependent on needs. Wireless are obviously most flexible, but also consider whether you ever shoot in situations where there's either high probability for wireless interference or where there's no room at all for that risk even if it's low probability (live TV, other critical shoots with zero chance for re-shoot, etc.). Wired are less risky and problematic, but can be limiting depending on the types of shoots you do. You could always buy two of whichever best suits the majority of your needs and rent the other as needed.

Well, I have to run since the wife is giving me the evil eye now. I hope my two pence helps ... I did say my comments wouldn't be complete ... I didn't say they'd be short. ;~)


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Hunter HempenRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on Apr 30, 2011 at 12:16:02 am

David, detailed answers are never turned away in my book, thanks for replying.

To clarify, I am in fact a student, who to make a long story short, got lucky with a 5k offer. In that matter, I do not know a whole lot related to operating equipment with lens controllers, etc. I am aware that those extra batteries are a must on the road, in addition to lens variety, tripods.

I was essentially hoping to get some equipment recommendations for this "small-time" production. We would be traveling on the interstate, frequently, occasionally pulling over to record bits of interaction between the subject (fellow trucker) and his customers. If the company allows, I already planned to purchase a 720p portable-mountable cam (name for that?) to stick in the cab with our guy...
even that damn thing is problematic, considering the SD in HD would only record a few minutes worth of footage in the span of a long shipping day.

To simplify things, lets say, I'm looking at a t2i. Yes, scoff and laugh, I'm not really considering selling my soul for a RED or whatever 20k+ camera the Cow would recommend. I noticed that the t3i was out, which looks favorable, however, it led me to thinking that perhaps I should wait for the next product-line release from Canon?

Given that the t3i/t2i are under 1k, I figured I could pull two of those off...though I don't know if that's necessary.

As for the rest, types of mics, recommended brands, etc, I was purely leaving open to everyone else.

-----
Too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?
-Gaff
-----


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David JohnsonRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on Apr 30, 2011 at 3:51:40 pm

Hunter,

First, I don't scoff and laugh at anything ... the devil is always in the details and I couldn't possibly know enough about the situation to make that kind of judgment from a couple forum posts.

I know several people who swear by them, but I'm not very fluent in the DSLR line and was thinking more in terms of traditional video production since you mentioned documentary and side projects. In other words, I certainly wouldn't recommend a Red or other high-end cam for the types of needs you've now given more detail on, but was originally thinking along the lines of what I call handycams ... the relatively small (but larger than DSLR) HDV and similar type cams that typically run in the $2k-$6k range. It's also now more clear that things like lens controllers, etc. aren't at all necessary.

[Hunter Hempen] "portable-mountable cam (name for that?) to stick in the cab"
Most footage shot in those situations is from some type of POV cam (Point of View). I'm not recommending against DSLR, but for the needs you described, you might also look at the GoPro line:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=GoPro&N=0&InitialSearch=yes
I haven't used them, but know several people who shoot amazing footage with them and love them for shooting high-quality footage in tight quarters ... and they're very cheap.

About mics, I tend to like Azden wireless mics and Sony wired mics, but as with any gear, all manufacturers make both good and not-as-good models of everything so its' not really about brand ... you generally get what you pay for. They're more expensive than the ones you pointed to, but the Sony 88B and Azden 330LT or 310LT are among my preferences. On the one hand, it seems that shooting on the road like you described would make most sense with wireless. On the other hand, truck cabs, truck stops, etc., may have high incidence of wireless interference so I'd find a way to test for that if I were you (borrow or rent the wireless you plan to buy for a day or two?). Also note that shotguns tend to pick up a lot of ambient sound and noise and it seems trucks, highways, truck stops, etc. would be very noisy places.

I hope that helps ... I know I've only given you things to consider, rather than definitive recommendations, but my opinion is that's usually all one can do without full knowledge of the details of the situation. So, I tend to just offer thoughts on factors the person may not have considered, but probably should.


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Hunter HempenRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on Apr 30, 2011 at 2:06:58 am

David, detailed answers are never turned away in my book, thanks for replying.

To clarify, I am in fact a student, who to make a long story short, got lucky with a 5k offer. In that matter, I do not know a whole lot related to operating equipment with lens controllers, etc. I am aware that those extra batteries are a must on the road, in addition to lens variety, tripods.

I was essentially hoping to get some equipment recommendations for this "small-time" production. We would be traveling on the interstate, frequently, occasionally pulling over to record bits of interaction between the subject (fellow trucker) and his customers. If the company allows, I already planned to purchase a 720p portable-mountable cam (name for that?) to stick in the cab with our guy...
even that damn thing is problematic, considering the SD in HD would only record a few minutes worth of footage in the span of a long shipping day.

To simplify things, lets say, I'm looking at a t2i. Yes, scoff and laugh, I'm not really considering selling my soul for a RED or whatever 20k+ camera the Cow would recommend. I noticed that the t3i was out, which looks favorable, however, it led me to thinking that perhaps I should wait for the next product-line release from Canon?

Given that the t3i/t2i are under 1k, I figured I could pull two of those off...though I don't know if that's necessary.

----Actually, here's a real quick list I threw together. God knows something isn't compatible in there :P


------

Canon T3i DSLR ($852):

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&safe=off&rlz=1G1ASUS_ENUS407&b...

CS5.5 ($449):

https://store1.adobe.com/cfusion/store/index.cfm?store=OLS-EDU&PID=2159997#...


Lavalier Microphone ($179):

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/49318-REG/Sony_ECM44B_ECM_44B_Omni_Di...


Battery accessories ($62.85):

http://www.ebatts.com/canon_rebel-t3i_digital-camera_accessories.aspx

http://www.amazon.com/EOS-Rebel-Digital-Battery-adapters/dp/B004NEH03E


Azden Shotgun Mic ($226):

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/495302-REG/Audio_Technica_AT875R_AT87...

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&rlz=1G1ASUS_ENUS407&q=Azden+SG...

Opteka Stabilizer ($100):

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&safe=off&q=dslr+stabilizer&bav...


Total: $1,868.85 approx.

-----
Too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?
-Gaff
-----


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Hunter HempenRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on Apr 30, 2011 at 2:07:46 am

Ah, and throw in a few extra hundred or three for HD SD cards and what-not...taxes/fees I guess.

-----
Too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?
-Gaff
-----


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Andrew RendellRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on Apr 30, 2011 at 10:40:10 am

There are a couple of audio issues with the Cannon DSLRs - they don't have professional XLR connectors, so you need an adapter box (e.g., Beachtek) or a separate sound mixer/recorder, and they have an AGC circuit which you'll need to turn off/defeat (which might be via a software hack or hardware).


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Mark SuszkoRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on May 1, 2011 at 12:53:43 am

Really, the job dictates the equipment.

A road-based trucker documentary is going to need
some go-pro cameras for nice HD POV shots, inside and out, these are in the $300 range and I would get at least two, plus a brace of memory for them. Each night you will offload their footage to a laptop with external RAID hard drive.

Your main camera for shooting the interviews could eat that entire 5K budget and more. But go to B&H's web site and do a comparative search on cameras in the $2k range. I would not advise a beginner or low-timer to go the DSLR route, but to instead use a shoulder-riding form factor camera, with proper audio inputs and a robust recording system. The new cams from Sony and Panasonic give you the best features of a DSLR without any of the drawbacks.

Audio wise, impromptu interviewing rarely has time to stop and plant a wireless on the people talking, and it takes them out of the moment to pause everything to hook them up, so a second person running a shotgun mic, with a pistol grip and telescopic fishpole boom, is the way to go. You could put a wireless transmitter on that shotgun, so the audio man can move around apart from the shooter. Over that short of a distance even a poor wireless performs pretty well. But hardwired using 3-pin XLR cables is bulletproof and cheaper.

You will need a tripod for occasional sit-sown shots as well as pretty establishing and b-roll shots. One of the things I hated about Gasland was that too much of it was hand-held and shaky for no reason.

Lighting on the road, the best bet considering power and weight needs is an LED lightpanel on the camera, preferably on a short arm to the side of the camera, instead of right on top. Your boom guy might also carry a separate LED panel on battery, the side lighting, away from the camera will look a lot better on screen. Downside is the LED stuff is very costly. But halogen on the road requires more battery than you can afford.


How long a period is this documentary covering? If it is a week or less, I think I'd use the money to rent most of the stuff. You get more stuff, or better stuff, for the same amount of money renting than owning.


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Hunter HempenRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on May 1, 2011 at 6:10:33 am

[The new cams from Sony and Panasonic give you the best features of a DSLR without any of the drawbacks]
By this do you mean CMOS cameras such as the following?:
http://www.adorama.com/PCAGHMC40.html?utm_term=Other&utm_medium=Shopping%20...

I've noticed that HD CCD cams tend to be considerably more expensive in the market place. Don't know if that always rings true in the industry; just something I noticed.

I was banking equally towards this one...and as some responses have mentioned, "Handicams" actually have XLR connectors, which efficiently eliminates the need to audio sync later with a DSLR.

Only downside I see is that just one Panny costs nearly as much as two t2i's. Meh.

Also, tangent question, the whole 7D, t2i, 5D were released a while ago...I've heard that the new line of Canons would possibly be more video-friendly? Any crazy estimations as to when Canon might release the next generation? (kindofa stupid question, considering the future is obviously unknown)

Any opinions on wireless lavalier? Any resident customers our guy would approach might feel better if the cameras ran at a distance - compared to In-Your-Face. A wireless lavalier might give us a good opportunity to hear the trucker crystal clear in conversation, thought I wonder how well the customer three feet away will pick up.
(That and I will consider frequency issues).

I believe the documentary would span all summer; not an everyday shoot, just here or there each week when the unique shipping route arises.

-----
Too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?
-Gaff
-----


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Craig SeemanRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on May 1, 2011 at 8:00:57 pm

[Hunter Hempen] "Only downside I see is that just one Panny costs nearly as much as two t2i's. Meh. "

If you're looking at Canon DSLRs for cost savings you may be looking at in the wrong way. They serve specific functions. The ability to have shallow depth of field and extreme low light sensitivity. They can also be used surreptitiously for B-Roll since you're less likely to get stopped in some places.That also means the ability to change lenses (adds to cost). Don't forget the additional audio recorder. Then there's the rest of the kit you'd need to be able to properly focus and hold the camera. There's the 12 minute record limit, the aliasing and moire in certain circumstances, the risk of overheating. It's not the camera for day to day run and gun doc shooting.


[Hunter Hempen] "[The new cams from Sony and Panasonic give you the best features of a DSLR without any of the drawbacks]"

Panasonic AF100
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/731509-REG/Panasonic_AG_AF100_AG_AF10...

Sony FS100
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/761578-REG/Sony_NEX_FS100U_NEX_FS100E...

Sony VG10 (many would say DSLR would be more flexible than this)
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/717535-REG/Sony_NEX_VG10_NEX_VG10_Int...

[Hunter Hempen] "Any opinions on wireless lavalier?"

Sennheiser EW100
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/618735-REG/Sennheiser_EW_100_ENG_G3_A...

You can use either the wireless lav or wireless hand held transmitter. You can get a wire for your hand held mic if wireless is giving you a problem on a hand held interview. If you're not going to do news style hand held interviews you can just go with the wireless lav.



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Hunter HempenRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on May 2, 2011 at 2:20:10 am

Thanks for the input.
Unfortunately, most of those suggested go over 5k...hence the name of the thread..

-----
Too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?
-Gaff
-----


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Craig SeemanRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on May 2, 2011 at 3:40:23 am

You have to be realistic about both cost and what that limits you to.

DSLR is going to nearly as much once you add all the things to actually make it usable as a video camera and you'll still have the 12 minute limit and if the camera overheats you'll be dead in the water.

Beachtek Audio in to DSLR - $399
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/674344-REG/Beachtek_DXA_SLR_DXA_SLR_A...

or
Zoom recorder $369
double system sound and sync in post
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/731495-REG/Zoom_H4N_H4N_On_Camera_DSL...

PluralEyes $149
so you'd need to add this software for double system sound sync
http://www.singularsoftware.com/pluraleyes.html

Red Rock Shoulder mount - $469
for steady hand held work.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/673395-REG/Redrock_Micro_8_003_0022_m...

Zacuto eye piece - $252
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/682689-REG/Zacuto_Z_FIND_JR_Z_Finder_...

Tiffen ND filters since there's none built in - $55
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/674639-REG/Tiffen_58DIGEK3_58mm_Digit...

Maybe this Tamron lens - $459
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/423714-REG/Tamron_AF016C700_17_50mm_f...

So your DSLR could be over $2000 with ancillary gear and you haven't factored in the cost of a good fast lens for shallow depth of field shooting as the stock lens with the t3i is not. All this gear will take longer to set up then just using an inexpensive 3 chip camera with lens and XLR built in. Don't forget there's no zoom control and you may need to buy a follow focus as well if you're shooting a moving subject.

The Canon XA10 would be a more practical camera choice at $2000
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/749467-REG/Canon_4922B002_XA10_HD_Pro...

With the Audio Technica shotgun - $197
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/495302-REG/Audio_Technica_AT875R_AT87...



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Mark SuszkoRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on May 2, 2011 at 4:21:32 am

I can tell you as an ENG shooter, a short DOF is nothing but a PITA when doing run-and-gun work. It is great for doc shooting where eveyrthing is well-controlled and planned, not so much when you are being totally spontaneous and candid.


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Alan LloydRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on May 1, 2011 at 5:02:16 pm

If you're looking in terms of longevity, rent cameras, buy lighting and sound gear.


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grinner hesterRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on May 1, 2011 at 11:54:46 pm

rent as required until you learn what you need...



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Richard HerdRe: 5k Budget Recommendations
by on May 2, 2011 at 6:27:19 pm

the new canon xa10 looks like it might fit your needs:

-- XLR inputs
-- manual aperture/shutter
-- small footprint

It's hard to overestimate how important the microphone is.


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