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Old October 20th, 2007, 08:34 AM   #1
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Which Camera Should I Get Now For Low Budget Filmmaking?

Ok. I am wanting to shoot a horror pilot. Awhile back I was going to get a DVX100A/B, but the price at the time (around $3,500), but just too much for me to spend even though I had the money. So, now I am debating between a few cameras:

1: Panasonic DVX100B
2: Canon HV20
3: Canon XL2
4: Sony VX2100

Each have their pros and cons:

DVX100B has a great film like quality, but the price is high. Low light seems to look good.

XL-2 has a great pro look that I think will be taken more seriously. Not sure how good low light is compared to the Panny.

HV20 has the lowed price by far with 1080p resolution at 24p and cinema gamma, but less manual controls and less of a pro look. Low light seems ok. The con with this is I'll have to get a new PC. Is the 24p HD worth it over the other cams for filmmaking? How does it compare as far film look? I saw some footage that looked incredible, but I've hear it has some kind of motion shutter problem.

Sony VX2100 - Great low light I hear, but Sony's generally seem to have a cold digital look. Not sure how much better low light is than the rest. Con is no 24p. 30p should look nice though.

The pilot will have a fair bit of night/dark scenes, but some bright and colorful day scenes as well.

Is there anything else I should consider? I want to achieve the most film like look. I'm guessing the DVX100B is still the camera to get for that, bu the HD resolution of the HV20 is appealing too. I might do some greenscreening if that means anything.

What do you all think I should get?
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Old October 20th, 2007, 12:43 PM   #2
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Get this one:

http://www.sony.co.uk/view/ShowProdu...tegory=HDD+HDV

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Old October 20th, 2007, 01:28 PM   #3
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I don't understand how you can think the price of the DVX is high, but you don't mention it with the XL2...
XL2 is more expensive then the DVX... (well, in Belgium it's still around 4000-45000 euros!!)

Or a used XL1s maybe?
btw: you will achieve the film look primarily because of the way you shoot, and light... and some postproduction color correction... not by the camera itself - although it can help in some areas.

Btw: you can deinterlace your footage afterwards also...

Look at the Canon XH A1, it's a killer in the area of price-quality.
HDV, 24f, good lens, ...
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Old October 20th, 2007, 01:53 PM   #4
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You'll get better results with an HV20 and a decent set of lights than any of these with no lights.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 03:27 PM   #5
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I have a Canon XL2 and love it, but I agree with what other posters have said, it'll be a blow your whole wad deal and if you're going to do that, maybe you should look at something that shoots SD & HDV.

Emre is right. Don't get caught up in the whole resolution thing. A while back there were a couple of posts in "Show Your Work". One was this little short, poorly lit, shot on HDV and the guy posted this huge list all about the resolution details, camera used, the crew (endless references to the "DoP" and "cinematographer").
The other was a little short called "Junipero" which was shot on an XL2. There's lots of details at their own websites about how did what, but when he posted here he just put up a little link without any fan fare. It looked fantastic.
If you're in this because you want to eventually be a camera op, video guy, freelance video producer or whatever (which is fine) then every piece of equipment you buy you'll be wanting to try and future proof a little on the basis that it may cater to someone's needs other that your own ( a future clients, for example).
On the other hand, if you want to make a little horror short in the first steps of becoming an indie flimmarker, then spend your money only where you have to. You don't need HD or a new computer. Plenty of people have shot great looking fims in SD with cameras like the XL2, and taken them all the way to DVD distribution. You can do a hell of a lot with just a $300 dollar Mini DV camera. Just make sure you:
-Tell a great story.
-work with good actors.
-work with your technical limitations, not against them. Crappy pans on your tripod? Don't pan. Can't manually focus? Then don't attempt rack focus shots.
-don't try and fake everything in post. Cheezy looking effects are not going to convince someone you're shooting at night when really you're shooting in broad daylight. The effects in Junipero are well done, but took a lot of time from what I understand.

I shoot corporate videos, and for the longest time, I used just a little ZR10 camera. But I pushed it to its limits, worked within its limitations, and rented gear like fluid head tripods for the projects I did. It's been my experience that the time and effort that goes into pre-planning and pre-production has far more to do with the final image "quality" of a film than the camera's resolution.
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Old October 21st, 2007, 01:06 PM   #6
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I would get an HV20 and an 35mm adaptor, like the Brevis

- Ends up costing ya just over $2k, but combine these two devices together and you have yourself a very nice cinema device.

see this video: http://www.cinevate.com/images/brevisonice.wmv
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Old October 21st, 2007, 01:51 PM   #7
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Seems a strange mix of cameras, sizes, prices and specifications Corey. You have a proper HDV 16:9 camera in there up against standard definition machinery from another age. I can't believe your horror pilot will be shot in 4:3, so however good the VX2100 and the DVX100 are, you'll have to discount these (although the VX is best in the gloom by far, it doesn't do 30p as you suggest, it does a useless 12.5p (PAL)).

The HV20 may look like a 'picnic cam' but is impressive in its spec and performance. If you're after a film look this has to be the one simply because it has far better resolution. As you say, you'll need to edit and output HD on a new pc.

Selling on the SD cams will be a lot more difficult in this HDV age, yet the Canon HV is cheap enough to make it's up-front cost the same as the XL's first year depreciation.

Is there anything else you should consider? How about Canon's A1? Or a second hand Z1? Both have proper knobs, buttons and levers, and I can't see you delving into tiny screen-access menu pages (HV) on set for long.

tom.
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Old October 21st, 2007, 02:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Cowley View Post
I would get an HV20 and an 35mm adaptor, like the Brevis

- Ends up costing ya just over $2k, but combine these two devices together and you have yourself a very nice cinema device.

see this video: http://www.cinevate.com/images/brevisonice.wmv
I'm going to agree with you, and suggest, as Emre did, that the rest of the money be spent on lights and microphone equipment... which will really pay off.
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Old October 21st, 2007, 05:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
Seems a strange mix of cameras, sizes, prices and specifications Corey. You have a proper HDV 16:9 camera in there up against standard definition machinery from another age. I can't believe your horror pilot will be shot in 4:3, so however good the VX2100 and the DVX100 are, you'll have to discount these (although the VX is best in the gloom by far, it doesn't do 30p as you suggest, it does a useless 12.5p (PAL)).

The HV20 may look like a 'picnic cam' but is impressive in its spec and performance. If you're after a film look this has to be the one simply because it has far better resolution. As you say, you'll need to edit and output HD on a new pc.

Selling on the SD cams will be a lot more difficult in this HDV age, yet the Canon HV is cheap enough to make it's up-front cost the same as the XL's first year depreciation.

Is there anything else you should consider? How about Canon's A1? Or a second hand Z1? Both have proper knobs, buttons and levers, and I can't see you delving into tiny screen-access menu pages (HV) on set for long.

tom.

It is strange, but they all offer something different. I was once dead set on the DVX100A/B for its film look, but I am also budget conscious and maybe HD will be better in some ways. I like to have a bit of control over the image compared to what the HV20 offers. I want something good for greenscreening too.

I realize lighting and all that stuff is important. I like the XL2 for shallow reasons. The way it looks. lol. It looks like people would take the camera more seriously. It just looks "PRO". The Sony, is known for incredible low light, and I do have to shoot dark scenes.

BTW, I will be shooting in 16:9 even if it's a 4:3 camera. The DVX10 has 16:9 modes. A black bar mode and stretch mode, I beleive.

I do like manual picture controls. I don't want to feell too limited. I have seen some very impresseive HV20 footage, but I have also heard some bad things about certain issues it has.
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Old October 21st, 2007, 05:15 PM   #10
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I'd love to have an Andromeda DVX100. I've seen the images it can produce and it is jaw dropping. I am not rich though. So, that is definitely out.

I've seen very convincing film looks from the DVX100 and even one from the HV20. Combined with a shallow depth of field adapter and good color grading the DVX100A/B can produce a nice movie look. The rest have their own advantages. So, that is why I'm stumped.

BTW, I don't think anyone here believes they can make DV or HDV look identical to film, so they aren't idiots. It's about trying to get the most acceptable "movie look". As close as one can get for how much one has to spend. Obviously, part of that depends on lighting, framing and all of that, but part of it depends on the camera.
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Old October 21st, 2007, 06:21 PM   #11
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Corey,
You're on the right track. A camera doesn't make you a film maker. A combination of talent, desire, resourcefulness, sweat, blood, etc. with some sort of camera does. What ever camera you end up getting, learn all it can do and push it to its limits.

When making your choice, consider that "film look" is subjective, There are many ways to achieve it and not one way is film. From the cameras you listed, I think the HV-20 is the best choice. It has a great image and is inexpensive for its image quality (and shoots 16:9 native). Don't worry about looking professional to be taken seriously. If your work is good, you'll be taken seriously. HDV is fine, again if your work is good from a filmmaker standpoint, it won't matter what format you use. My advice would be to get the camera and a tripod first. Go make some test shots with it and play with them in post until you get the look you want for your horror pilot. From there, you can decide on a DOF adapter if you need one and also on what lighting and audio gear you'll need as well.

An idiot is one with more money then brains. An idiot has the latest, greatest gear and can't make a home movie with it. Don't be an idiot.
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 08:09 AM   #12
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Folks who have been following this thread will notice that we've pulled a particular post out of public view... one which referred to a large part of our forum audience as "idiots" and then proceeded to say how much everything sucks... this format; that camera; those people etc.

Please be advised that those kinds of inflammatory statements never last long around here -- in fact, I started this web site specifically to get away from that sorry mentality -- so in the future, please do NOT respond to that sort of post. Just report it, using the "report bad post" button found at the lower left of every post in any given thread.

Some long-time contributing members here will see that their replies to that inflammatory post are gone as well. When we yank a flame, we also have to take out direct responses to that flame, so once again, please do not respond to flames; it's just a waste of your time and ours. It's certainly okay to reply indirectly, as Josh Laronge does in his post above, and if you can master that approach then by all means go for it. But meanwhile the main thing that troubles me about this particular thread isn't the offending flamer so much as the replies it drew -- please don't reply to flames -- just report them using our anonymous system.

We now return to the topic of this thread (off-topic responses will be withdrawn from public view). Thanks in advance,
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 01:29 PM   #13
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The HV20 is enticing, though I have heard the workflow is terrible in the way it represents the 24P HD format. It'll add a few steps, but for a better final product.

On the suggestion of the XL1s, I really didn't like using my XL1 when I had it, but some people do. Be wary, at least, I'd say. (I think the XL2 is better enough it may not be as much of a concern.)


Also, if you are planning to really shoot a TV pilot, forget all of the SD cams and go HD, either the HV20 or another option. TV stations won't take anything that isn't HD now. However, if it is just a proof of concept (ie a "pilot" that will never air and is only meant to show them the idea) or just for fun, then SD would be a possibility.
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 02:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
TV stations won't take anything that isn't HD now.
I don't think that's true. Most over-the-air broadcast will be in SD, even after the transition to digital broadcasting.

There are many TV series currently in production that are in SD.

A lot of broadcast delivery is being done on betaSP and digital betacam. (Though it can make sense to shoot and finish in HD even if you are delivering SD. You do this either because the cameras are better, or you anticipate selling your program in the future.)
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Old October 23rd, 2007, 10:12 PM   #15
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I shot with a VX2000 for several years, and it did do very well in low-light, but I always felt like I had to do more to the image to get it to look how I wanted it to look. Using a DVX100 and now a Canon XH-A1, I feel like it's a bit easier to get the look I want in-camera, leading to fewer necessary tweaks in post.

That's just my opinion, though, and it may be based largely on my technical incompetence.
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