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Canon EOS Crop Sensor for HD
APS-C sensor cameras including the 80D, 70D, 7D Mk. II, 7D, EOS M and Rebel models for HD video recording.


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Old September 11th, 2012, 04:11 PM   #1
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Equipment list for Budget Documentary

Hello!

I am buying equipment to shoot a simple, tightly budgeted historical documentary. It will include interviews, clips of public speakers, and some scenic views as well. I have some experience with video editing, but recording equipment is almost completely foreign to me. I already have fairly good wireless audio equipment, thanks to the fact that I am a public speaker, but the video I have to buy completely from scratch. My absolute outside budget for all video equipment is about $2000.

I was going to get two cameras: a DSLR for most of the film, and a mid priced camcorder for a "throw down" that I can use in certain situations where the DSLR will not be workable. I am going to post an EXACT equipment list here, with links, and I would REALLY appreciate your comments/advice.

Camera #1 Canon Rebel T3i : Was going to go with this kit:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004QE0AVU/ref=ox_sc_act_title_9?ie=UTF8&smid=A36VT43W2I07N0
(Contains the Camera, with accessories, and the 18-55mm and 55-250mm IS lenses.) I was going to add to this, the 50mm 1.8 lens, which would be the primary lens for MOST of my shooting...

Camera #2 Canon Vixia HF M50 - Some friends, who know more about this than I do (which is not hard!) tell me that the image sensor on this camera is amazing, and although it does not have all the bells and whistles (zebra stripes, etc.), that it is capable of producing awesome quality video for cheap.

http://www.amazon.com/Canon-VIXIA-Image-Stabilized-Camcorder/dp/B006UMMPMI/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1346290407&sr=1-1&keywords=canon+vixia+m50
Simple light kit with backdrop for intros and interviews:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005VU2PI4/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_4?ie=UTF8&smid=A2ISCC5HPW8KU9
And a shoulder rig kit...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006U1C03S/ref=ox_sc_act_title_5?ie=UTF8&smid=A3JD14OD11FZKR
Please give ANY comments or suggestions! Thanks in advance!
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Old September 11th, 2012, 10:21 PM   #2
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Re: Equipment list for Budget Documentary

Hi
I would definitely avoid using the kit lens and instead opt for a http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EXR0SI/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000EXR0SI&linkCode=as2&tag=sareesh-20
You haven't included audio. I would at least get a http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005HZYZWW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005HZYZWW&linkCode=as2&tag=sareesh-20 kit and a http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001QWBM62/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B001QWBM62&linkCode=as2&tag=sareesh-20 for audio.

If this slightly ups your budget, you can get a http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005WY3TI4/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005WY3TI4&linkCode=as2&tag=sareesh-20 instead of the Canon Vixia. There's no point lowering the potential of one setup to include a spare camera. Either have two equal cameras, or go with the best possible and find a spare. Even an iphone 4S will offer okay video quality.

To get a good idea on how to rig a DSLR, and what you might be missing, take a look at a primer I wrote:Master Guide to Rigging a Nikon D800

Hope this helps.
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Old September 11th, 2012, 10:40 PM   #3
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Re: Equipment list for Budget Documentary

Thanks for your reply! I already have pro-quality audio equipment (multiple shotgun and condenser mikes, lapels, headsets, handhelds, and pretty much everything in between, along with top notch capture and mixing equipment). Every shoot will have a full, separate, setup. Not planning on capturing ANY sound through the cameras...This is definitely covered.

The reason for the spare camera, is that a couple of the things I am doing require continuous filming for an extended period of time, well past the time limit of the DSLR. I also need a small, unobtrusive camera for a couple of shots.The Vixia, from my understanding, has a full size CMOS image sensor, and from what I have seen by looking at test footage, provides good results.

However, as I stated, video is NOT something that I am familiar with. I never heard of the "gopro" before I came here. What is the image quality and max filming duration, compared to the Vixia? If it would work, I would like to look at it...

Going to look at your link now...
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Old September 12th, 2012, 06:09 AM   #4
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Re: Equipment list for Budget Documentary

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Originally Posted by Damon Rambo View Post
The Vixia, from my understanding, has a full size CMOS image sensor,
The Vixia has a 1/3" CCD sensor, while the T3i is an APS-C Sensor. To see the difference, try this wikipedia link: Image sensor format - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Go Pro is all over the internet - you'll get thousands of videos on google. It's made to be tough and shoot full HD, and has many unique uses. Do check it out to see if it fits any of your needs.

If you want a DSLR, take a look at the http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0043VE27Y/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0043VE27Y&linkCode=as2&tag=sareesh-20 over the T3i - it has better video quality (does not line skip) and does not have the 12 min recording limit.

All said and done, though, I would choose a camera like the http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004HW7DY8/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B004HW7DY8&linkCode=as2&tag=sareesh-20 or even http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003WQMSOU/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B003WQMSOU&linkCode=as2&tag=sareesh-20 (or 20 or 30) over a DSLR for documentary work. These cameras would save you a world of pain that DSLRs bring to the table.
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Old September 12th, 2012, 10:39 AM   #5
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Re: Equipment list for Budget Documentary

Thanks again for the great info. I will DEFINITELY look at the Panasonic.

I had considered both of the prosumer camcorders you suggest; my problem with them, is the low light performance of both of these, looking at sample footage, is horrific. The pictures get very grainy in anything less than great lighting conditions; compared to the DSLR, which, with a proper lens, is still crisp. About 1/3 of the shots are going to be in fairly dimly lit auditoriums...
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Old September 12th, 2012, 08:45 PM   #6
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Re: Equipment list for Budget Documentary

O.K.:

Took another look at the Sony VG20. Someone offered me a deal on one (1400 with lenses), so I am thinking of doing that. However, I still have a need for a DSLR, and the Canon t3i would put me too far over budget.

So.... I am thinking of taking the 1400 dollar deal, and buying a Nikon D3100. It is much cheaper that the t3i (600 bucks, and the kit lenses, from what I understand, are actually worth having, unlike the Canon kit lenses...). This will give me the extra camera I need, but the image quality will be much closer between the two. I will be a little over budget with the add-ons, but I can make it... Also, with a 30 dollar adapter, I would be able to use my Nikon lenses on the VG20...

What do you think? Care to speak to the quality of the D3100? The test footage and stills I saw were quite good...
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Old September 12th, 2012, 11:11 PM   #7
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Re: Equipment list for Budget Documentary

The D3100 is pure aggravation for video - but is a great stills camera. I personally own a T2i, and I wrestled with the idea of that vs the D5100 at the time of buying - there's no comparison for video.

If I were desperate, I would buy a used GH2 or new T2i instead of a D3100.

I would buy cheap Nikon manual lenses with adapters for the GH2. I recommend a 28mm f/2 and a 35mm f/2 (it will give you a 35mm full frame equivalent of 56mm and 70mm) IF you are going the GH2 route - great for those interviews that you can shoot at f/2,8 at ISO 800. These lenses cost about $200 to $400 depending on the condition.

Don't be swayed by internet still photography reviews for lenses. A kit lens is more than enough for video work - remember that both Canon and Nikon DSLRs line-skip, which means their video resolution, even though supposedly 1080p, is only about 700 vertically, at best. That's the beauty of the GH2 DSLR - it actually gives you 1080p.

A GH2 with kit lens - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0043VE27Y/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0043VE27Y&linkCode=as2&tag=sareesh-20
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005J5TZWK/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005J5TZWK&linkCode=as2&tag=sareesh-20
Two Nikon manual lenses (better than f/2) with adapters - $600
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005WY3TI4/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005WY3TI4&linkCode=as2&tag=sareesh-20 - for wide angle and emergencies

Or, get an XA10 and a Gopro HD for backup. Not bad at all for $2,000!
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Old September 13th, 2012, 07:52 AM   #8
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Re: Equipment list for Budget Documentary

Hmmmm. Lot to think about, and not much time to think!

I was curious what your beef with the Nikon 3100 is? Sorry if I am pestering you: this is just a BIG purchase for us, and I would really prefer to get this right...
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Old September 13th, 2012, 08:49 AM   #9
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Re: Equipment list for Budget Documentary

Look at getting a variable ND filter and a loupe for filming outdoors.
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Old September 13th, 2012, 09:24 AM   #10
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Re: Equipment list for Budget Documentary

Here's my forum discussion: D5100 or 550D [Archive] - The Digital Video Information Network

It's the ergonomics - the D3100 makes good images, at a lower bit rate (21 Mbps vs 44 Mbps on the Canon), but acceptable.

But you can't use manual controls freely, if I remember correctly. You'll have to lock the manual controls prior to going into video mode. It's a very convoluted way of working, which for $500 I don't see the point - especially since the GH2 and T2i is not that expensive, and offers much better video controls.

And I'm not sure it has any audio inputs, but if you're recording sound separately, that's okay - you might want to use a clapper to line up your audio and video. How many hours of footage will you shoot? Are you comfortable lining each one of them up prior to editing?

My personal opinion is to get the best camera for your budget. Either an XA10 (which can do everything) or a GH2/T2i (if you have to have a DSLR). A VG10+D3100 is two compromises too many. I don't know, if you are okay with it then who can say otherwise? It all boils down to how comfortable you are with that setup.

Personally I would buy only one camera setup with this budget. If I was compelled to I might buy one new GH2 and one used GH2 and some good Nikon manual lenses. This way, at least I don't have to worry about matching anything.
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Old September 13th, 2012, 11:00 AM   #11
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Re: Equipment list for Budget Documentary

I am definitely not going with the XA10, particularly not by itself. Its low light performance, from every bit of footage I can find, is abysmal, and even in good light it seems to still have that "camcorder" look that you get from the small 1/3 CMOS sensor (in fact, according to Canon it has the same sensor as the new line of Vixia consumer cams, which I listed above...).

The VG20 actually seems to match the DSLR's in quality in everything but low light conditions (something I don't understand, since the VG20 has a beefy sensor...), and produce passable results.

The GH2 is tempting...but the darn range of lenses is just frustrating. Losing an F stop with an adapter is not attractive either. Seems that no matter what I do, I am going to have to compromise on something...frustrating. I wish their were a DSLR with the filming capabilities of the GH2, but with the lenses of the Canon or Nikon....
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Old September 13th, 2012, 12:01 PM   #12
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Re: Equipment list for Budget Documentary

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Wood View Post
Look at getting a variable ND filter and a loupe for filming outdoors.
Thanks! I will.
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Old September 13th, 2012, 12:10 PM   #13
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Re: Equipment list for Budget Documentary

I just realized that I am getting far away from my original intent, and jumping all over the place. I simply LOVE the image quality of the Canon, which was the original reason for choosing it.

That said, what I need to replace is the smaller camcorder; the image quality will be too great a disparity. The replacement needs to: #1 Produce decent imaging, and #2 Be able to record for longer periods of time, and #3 Preferably have an passable auto-focus feature. This said, I said to myself, why not replace the camcorder with the Gh-2? It produces excellent video from what I can tell by looking at dozens of sample videos (though I would argue it does not have the rich crispness of the Canon t2i/3i)...in fact, I would say the video is better than either the XA10 (which personally, seems to be sub-par), OR the VG 20. The Gh-2 has the added benefit of Bokeh and depth of field I could not get on a Camcorder, while having the longer recording ability and decent autofocus of the camcorder. Also, I can get an adapter and swap out my canon lenses....

Last, this would allow for multiple angle shots. I think this is the option I am going to go with, as it gives e everything that I am looking for, and will only be a couple hundred more than my original estimate...
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Old September 13th, 2012, 10:03 PM   #14
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Re: Equipment list for Budget Documentary

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Losing an F stop with an adapter is not attractive either.
How do you do that? As far as I know an adapter does not cut out any light! Here's an example of F-mount to M4/2: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003G49V70/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B003G49V70&linkCode=as2&tag=sareesh-20. It has guaranteed infinity focus, which Chinese adapters don't guarantee (But provide, nonetheless - I own a few myself).

You'll find cheap Nikon glass on keh or adorama. Here's a zoom lens that I love: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004LZTV0K/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B004LZTV0K&linkCode=as2&tag=sareesh-20. $25!

Don't worry about Nikon manual lenses - they are of excellent quality - just make sure you get a clean glass (no fungus or scratches - smooth focus ring and aperture ring, etc).

Tell me how it goes.
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Old September 13th, 2012, 10:12 PM   #15
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Re: Equipment list for Budget Documentary

I am sure you would know better than I...but I had read that increasing barrel length reduces light, and thus affects f stop.
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