Also worth considering, the new Canon 60D.
I stand behind @House of Leaves on their advice.
All the fetish that is related to a particular tool vanishes after you have used it seriously.
Your primary concern should be directed towards ideas, messages, formal decisions – in a word what will make you an interesting creator – not towards the ephemeral tools that you will use and what fashion you think you should follow.
Being worried about what tool to use is like contemplating the hand that points at the moon…
Any camera you buy will be outdated in 6 months, the only thing that will last forever is your ideas.
Any idea in the world can be filmed by any camera in the world (we’re not talking about post-processing here).
I own more than 50 cameras in super-8mm, 16mm, 35mm, digital and videotape (i never paid more than 50$ on a camera, i’d rather buy film to shoot on!), I have made more than 100 short films (some for practice, some turned out ok), and of course when you can pick from a wide range of tools you will think “ok, maybe this camera would be better in this or this situation”, but sometimes you’re wrong in your choice and you have to make the film no matter what, and also sometimes you need a set of three or four cameras to achieve different effects, but in the end when you watch the film it should just be interesting by the combination of images, rhythm, music, acting, etc., not just images.
@ FabulousRice 100% agree. Very well articulated. Thank you for bringing us back to the very point that is so easily strayed from. It’s easy to be seduced by technology these days. I’m guilty of it as well.
I think the short film that made the biggest impression on an audience for me was the one I shot with a PixelVision camera. It was shown at the Arclight Cinema in Los Angeles in front of an audience of 500 people. It stood against films that were shot on 35mm with budgets. But the audience responded very well to my little experiment. It stood out because it was different.
I hate to be cliche here, but the quote attributed to Orson Welles couldn’t be more appropriate: “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations”.
Ahhh, Bill, I am totally jealous of your PixelVision experimentation. I love PixelVision pieces, but those apparati be hard to come by. Is your piece accessible somewhere so that I may see it?
Also, have you ever seen Glass Jaw by Michael O’Reilly? Great stuff.
And, in spirit of the conversation here, a quote from my Technical Introduction to Video Production Teacher:
“Painters don’t debate what’s the best brush to use. They try to find the brush that’s appropriate to the painting.”
And a quote from my Hollywood-based coworker:
“The best camera is the one that gets the image.”
How much is your budget? I don’t agree with hiring all these people to do one thing each – you’re doing a short and you don’t need to be spending money on people who are just standing around. It’s more mouths to feed and it’s not necessary.
@ POLARISDIB, here’s the Pixelvision piece:
“I own more than 50 cameras in super-8mm…”
Do you still have any super 8 cameras? I’ve been trying to hunt one of those bad-boys down for ages. Working ones are actually getting quite rare. My father used to have one back in the 1970’s, but…
In any case yes, it’s always more important to be creative and original… I think that’s where the OuLiPo literary movement is coming from.
P.S. This is off-topic, but I don’t think it would be worth making an entire topic on… In any case, would anyone be interested in some sort of collaborative film project on the forums? I know about Subvex, but I was thinking more like a game. Basically, everyone contributes to make up a workable movie idea given certain technical limitations (like, for example, D5/D7 only with 10-15 minutes maximum run time and a budget of a thousand dollars). Could be interesting, and you could see if anyone takes up the challenge to actually make the movie. Thoughts? For some reason, this sounds to me like the kind of thing House of Leaves might take an interest in…
@Anonymouse : yes, those 50 cameras work. I have a list of the working ones with pictures that I am ready to submit soon if you are interested.
@Anonymouse: I should be getting a 60D soon, so I may be interested in a collaboration. Just keep me posted.
DSLRs vs film. The Great Camera Shoot-out of 2010, courtesy of Zacuto.
@BILL TOTOLO Does the 60D has 24p?
“24p” is just a tongue-friendly way of expressing our NTSC frame rate, which is actually 23.976. Imagine if we had to say that all the time? Bummer.
“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.”
“That automatically means you shouldn’t even attempt to get a decent camera since it doesn’t matter at all so don’t even begin to ask.”
-Random filmmaking forum “experts”
So I guess Orson Welles just walked into the studio equipment room and said, “Gimme whatever you got! The tool doesn’t matter, so the cheaper the better!” And if he were alive today he would use his cell phone to shoot all of his films…
Thank god no one did that back then, all the Criterion stuff would look like crap.
Of course you’re thinking about what camera to get! You’re looking for something with good quality that is within your budget? Good for you! So why all the lecturing here? Fetishising your equipment is probably not the most productive thing to do, no, but why the hell not get a decent image if you can afford it. Plus, Kubrick was a technology freak and last I heard he made a few good movies, too.
Back on topic, not even sure if the original guy is still around by now, forget about the Canon stuff. Research the hacked Panasonic GH1, aka GH13. It’s way cheaper than a 5D, has an articulating LCD, 24P, can be adapted to just about any lens (meaning you can get some very good ones for cheap), and, when hacked, can rival the mighty 5D. I got mine for well under $1000, lens included. Just note that some newer ones cannot be hacked thanks to Panasonic locking down the newer firmware.
Or wait for more reviews of the GH2, which should have better low-light shooting and uncompressed HDMI out (that would allow some very amazing quality footage).
$1000 for a camera with decent image? I definitely gotta check that out, thanks for the info. I was actually taking the Orson Welles quote real seriously, not to the cell phone extent, but to the extent where I was considering using any random camcorders I could gather up from my friends. Once again my focus is on the camera, your comment was the wake-up call I needed.
Good, glad I could be of assistance. Just remember, do some research before buying and either look for a pre-hacked one (if you don’t wait for the GH2) or be aware of the store/seller’s return policy if you buy it new just in case you get one that’s unhackable. I got mine used (although it only had less than 100 shutter actuations) at BH Photo and it has worked perfectly.
Then take the money you saved and get a decent sound recorder (like the Zoom H4N) and a decent mic kit. As for lenses, I got an MD to M43 adapter and got myself a Minolta Rokkor 50MM f/1.4 lens for $20 and a 24MM F/2.4 for $60.
Check out this thread for a 5D comparison (it’s generally as good as or better than the 5D except for in low-light situations): http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?214113-gh13-and-5d-mark-2-IQ-and-DR-comparison
Then take a look around the same forum because it’s basically a DIY filmmaking goldmine. You can get good results fairly inexpensively, just research it and be aware of the limitations (and these kinds of limitations are the kind Welles was talking about, not artificial ones you place on yourself).
If you really do have the budget to get some decent equipment, then great! If not, that’s when you steal a cell phone from a homeless man in order to make your movie. Or, at least, that’s how I see it. ;-)
Don’t listen to the naysayers. DSLRs are the way to go. I saw someone in this thread recommend the HVX or (shudders) the DVX. My question would be why? The DSLRs look better. They are right about the lenses, though. A good prime lens will cost close to $350 but when really good “prosumer” HD cams cost upwards of $4,500-$5,000, you’re still saving money. Prior to purchasing my 7D, I had an HD camcorder with a shotgun mic attached to it, so audio was recorded directly to tape and while that is convenient, I don’t find using an external audio device (like a Zoom H4N) to be that big of a deal. Get a clapper board, keep track of your takes and syncing up audio and video really isn’t that difficult.
The sensor heating up is one of my main complaints but it’s only happened to me a couple of times. It is a problem but it’s not one that is going to really hurt your production.
I’m going to assume you’re going to make the right choice and get a DSLR, so I’ll break down getting a 5D, 7D or 60D. The 5D utilizes a full frame sensor and has a shallow depth of field (the season finale of House shot on it, mainly because they wanted to utilize the shallow depth of field). So if you’re looking for some really intense close-ups, the 5D would probably be most ideal. I think the 7D is the best “all-around” camera. It’s got the slo mo mode (60 fps) the 5D doesn’t have. The 60D (and also the T2i for that matter) have the same size sensor as the 7D but the main differences are that you don’t have as many ISO options with the “lower” grade cameras and the bodies aren’t as bulky.
Finally, the key to making a truly professional looking video is post-production. Know and love programs like After Effects and plug in programs like Magic Bullet. Color correction and Magic Bullet Look Suite will be the determining factor in really making your videos pop. I’m at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena right now studying Broadcast Cinema and we’ve had numerous production companies come in and tell us it’s all about the 5D, 7D and the RED Camera. Panasonic has a camcorder out called the AG-AF100 that utilizes the image quality of the DSLRs but has the features of a traditional camcorder. However, it will be at least two years before those have taken over. So the DSLRs are it. Anybody that tells you differently, especially since you’re an indie filmmaker on a budget, is simply wrong.
So the DSLRs are it. Anybody that tells you differently, especially since you’re an indie filmmaker on a budget, is simply wrong.
Way to brilliantly counter my argument, chief. Let me guess, you bought a really expensive SD camcorder two years ago and now you’re kicking yourself and trying to justify it with “Well, those DSLR cameras aren’t THAT great, anyway!”
So which is it? The PD150 or the DVX? I’ve worked with both cameras and gotten good results but when I see scorn for the DSLRs, it baffles me. Being pissed off because they made your gear completely obsolete in less than a year is the only logical explanation for not liking them or discouraging others from using them.
“Panasonic has a camcorder out called the AG-AF100 that utilizes the image quality of the DSLRs but has the features of a traditional camcorder. However, it will be at least two years before those have taken over.”
Or you can get the GH2, which is very much the same in many ways, and is a DSLR. ;-)
Well, DSLR’s aren’t really mean’t to be used as video cameras per se and so in general, the most specialized camera will be the best (for what you’re doing). In this sense, something like the HVX or the DVX is better. However, there are other considerations (like cost). Buying a DSLR is far les expensive (even after all the lenses) and far more easily transportable. Downsides are sound (notably) and a bunch of other stuff already mentioned.
As you yourself admitted, Michael, post-production is really what’s important, so why all the hating about cameras? Besides, people are very willing to overlook crude production values etc. so long as you have a compelling story. Focus on that and go with the most conservative, economical solution for the project.
“Well, DSLR’s aren’t really mean’t to be used as video cameras per se and so in general, the most specialized camera will be the best (for what you’re doing).”
How so? They take high-quality video using high-quality interchangeable lenses. In that sense they are more like a “real” movie camera than a camcorder. Get the GH2, record through the output onto a drive or capture unit and get uncompressed 1080P and now this camera not intended to take videos is giving you extremely high-quality video for a very good price.
How is a seven plus year old DV camera (the DVX) better than a camera that has full HD and great depth of field? Prior to this revolution with the DSLRs, I was planning on upgrading to the HVX but again, I like the image quality of the DSLRs better, as do many others.
And the only real downside is the sound but if you’re making (or at least attempting to make a legitimate film), you’ll want a separate sound track anyway, so it’s a moot point.
But let’s summarize your argument. Despite superior image quality to the HVX (I dare anyone to prove otherwise) and cheaper cost, DSLRs still aren’t the way to go for an indie filmmaker? Makes perfect sense, Anonymouse.
Austin, I’m glad you get it. Do you have a GH2? If so, do you have a Vimeo or YouTube page where I can see some of your work? I haven’t seen that camera in action yet. My buddy at film school just picked up the Nikon D7000 and the results he gets are quite nice.
No I don’t, wish I did. I just do my homework before I spout off. ;-)
For examples, check out: http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/forumdisplay.php?179-GH1-GH2-Still-and-Motion-Gallery
The GH2 should easily do better with video than the D7000.
“But let’s summarize your argument. Despite superior image quality to the HVX (I dare anyone to prove otherwise) and cheaper cost, DSLRs still aren’t the way to go for an indie filmmaker? Makes perfect sense, Anonymouse.”
To be perfectly frank, I’m on your side. I personally have a 7D, as yourself. In most cases however, the more specialized the camera is to your task, the “better” it will be. As I stated above, cost is an issue for many film makers- I was never arguing that. In fact, I said the exact opposite. I quote: “However, there are other considerations (like cost). Buying a DSLR is far les expensive (even after all the lenses) and far more easily transportable.” I also never said DSLR’s weren’t the “way to go for an indie film maker.” All I did was weigh in on both sides. As for your issues with the HVX/ DVX, I was merely using the examples of regular motion piture cameras that you yourself gave. I quote: “I saw someone in this thread recommend the HVX or (shudders) the DVX. My question would be why?”
To be perfectly clear, I actually lean towards DSLRs. That doesen’t change the fact that normal motion picture cameras are specifically designed for the task while (most if not all) DSLRs are designed for… big surprise, still photography. I wasn’t saying they’re not usful for shooting motion pictures. You yourself note many of their major qualities. All I’ve done throughout this thread was to weigh the pro’s and the con’s.
scorn for the DSLRs
Scorn? Where did you catch scorn, exactly? I’m the one who posted that link to that Zacuto shoot-out. These are remarkable instruments, and I believe I made that point previously. If not, there, the point was just made. At any rate, you were no doubt too enthused by the wisdom of those emissaries from various production houses to have noticed. My main issue with your beloved dslr’s is one of form factor. I’m not interested in shooting anything with a stills camera but stills. Neither am I interested in rigging such a device with a lot of expensive crap in order to achieve what a proper video camera does out of the box. If it suits you, knock yourself out. Use what you like, sport.
Anonymouse, fair enough. Weighing the options are good but in my mind, the only real drawback is the audio. People earlier in the thread mentioned rolling shutter and what not but how “bad” that looks is truly debatable. Hell, there were a few things that threw me off about the RED until they updated the sensor but that didn’t stop major Hollywood films from using it. So when I read “Well, the camera has flaw X,” I just find those aspects debatable and that the pros still greatly outweigh the cons.
Caiomhin, I guess my point is that from what I’ve seen, the DSLRs are a step above these camcorders that so many, myself included, held in high regard. And I should clarify that I don’t dislike said camcorders or think they are bad instruments but I just feel they have been surpassed. What is your definition of a “proper” video camera?
What is your definition of a “proper” video camera?
One in which form follows function. I understand that is horribly quaint and so last century, and therefore flies in the face of present-day, hyper-consumerist desire, but there it is.
P.S., that DVX, which was so rudely derided, was the instrument of choice by Pedro Costa for photographing his Fontinhas trilogy, and by Lav Diaz on several of his works, not to mention James Longley’s Oscar nominated “Iraq In Fragments”, I could name others. Now, before you accuse me of advocating a rejection of everything since SD, know that is not what I’m suggesting. What I am suggesting is that we maybe try to exercise some measured perspective when consigning this or that to obsolescence, rather than rabidly grabbing for the new.
P.P.S., Monte Hellman’s “Road To Nowhere” was photographed using a Canon 5D. From the clips I’ve seen, cinematographer Joseph Civit’s work is stunning. I can’t wait to see it.
I’m not familiar with the Costa and Diaz films that used it but that Longley short is at least four years old. Again, I’m not calling the DVX a bad camera but compared to what’s come out in the last couple of years, it’s an obsolete model. That’s pretty much confirmed by its own company, Panansonic, who released the HVX, the proper HD version of it. And it’s also Panasonic who are stepping up what the DSLRs are doing by putting the image quality in a “proper” camcorder in the form of the AG-AF100.
So I hardly think I was “rudely deriding” the camera but in the year 2011, you’re truly comfortable telling an up and coming filmmaker that a camera that shoots in SD and is almost a decade old is a good choice to start shooting on? Really?
And yet that DVX continues to sell. It is used as both an “A” and as a “B” camera. It’s used not exclusively by hobbyists, but at the professional level, as well. I can’t imagine what’s wrong with the people who continue to use this camera. What on earth are they thinking?
I’ll betcha Jan Crittenden, Product Manager at Panasonic won’t call the DVX “obsolete”. She’ll likely call it an “alternative”, and a very good one, at that.
you’re truly comfortable telling an up and coming filmmaker that a camera that shoots in SD and is almost a decade old is a good choice to start shooting on?Really?
You’re kidding, right? Why wouldn’t I rec that camera to “an up and coming filmmaker”? That’s precisely the person I would recommend it to. That person is only going to host his/her work on Vimeo, or some such place (do I give a shit that someone photographed his opus on a Red camera, to be deposited on Vimeo and to die there? Please.) Or they’re going to be out learning and experimenting, as they should be (as opposed to "ooing and “ahing” over shallow depth of field). It requires some consideration in its operation, but as it’s being mastered one is learning all kinds of things. Also, it shoots 24p, and its workflow is straightforward. And its build is true to form. So, yeah, I’d recommend it rather than something else that’s going to cost someone additional expense in order to sufficiently kit-out the goddamn thing before any kind of work can commence. Then, after this up and coming filmmaker’s apprenticeship (apprenticeship: there’s a concept!) is complete, he can hit dad up for an EX1, 5D or whatever is the latest-hottest piece of merch. Happy shopping!
Have you done the math on something like the 7D? It’s still cheaper than your precious DVX, even after you’ve bought a good lens for it. Hell, up until about three years ago, B&H was offering a Super VHS camera in their catalog. Clearly outdated technology still being available is proof that it’s still relevant and is being used. I haven’t seen anyone use the DVX in years, dude. Again, it’s a good camera but when you can get an objectively superior looking image for under two grand, why in God’s name would you buy a DVX?
And name dropping? Really?
Well, William Q. Fitzwilly at Canon agrees that the DVX had its heyday but superior cameras that are even more affordable have surpassed it, so those are the alternative now.