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Old September 23rd, 2009, 09:37 AM   #1
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Best and Cheapest Rig for a Poor College Student?

Hey all,



First post, woot woot! I hope this is the right section, there are so many sections! So, I'm a relatively new film maker. That is, I've been into film/tv all my life, and I've done quite a lot of promotional videos for my schools (interviews, informational, etc.). However, I really wanna get into doing some short/independent films. I've always wanted to do this, but I've never had enough access to a camera to do so. I've been able to use college cameras in the past, but that just makes my life quite difficult.

What I want is my own setup that would be within the $1,000-1,500 dollar range. A professional quality camera would be lovely, however my income just cannot survive shelling out that kind of money (around $1,500 to $5,000) on a camera alone.

So, I was thinking I could get a smaller camera that has a few important features, and some accessories to start out with. I've done hours upon hours upon hours of research on this. I've looked at everything from hard drive cameras to flash card to miniDv. Right now, my main choice would probably be the following:

Canon HV20 -- approximately $500-650
Jag35 DOF non-vibrating adapter -- $119 (after shipping)
Canon FD 50mm f1.4 lens - Approximately $80
Rode Videomic -- Approximately $140


With that initial setup I'm looking at spending approximately $900 dollars, give or take. What are your thoughts on this? Is there something better for around the same price range? Or should I switch out a component for something else? I also looked into hard drive/flash drive cameras, but from the research I did it seems MiniDV is the way to go unless I'm willing to spend more than what my college tuition costs :P Thoughts would be greatly appreciated! :)



Thanks,
- Tommy
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 12:13 PM   #2
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I can suggest a similar setup, which we provided to reporters and others needing a simple mini-dv rig. We issued the HV20, which is out print and is up to HV40 now; very similar cameras....the Canon 0.7 wide angle adapter, a Beechtec DXA2s xlr adapter; Sennheiser MKE400 mike (much better size for the camera than the Videomike, and a nice piece of work in its own right); Sennheiser G2 (now g3) wireless mike set (transmitter, receiver, and lavalier); Matthews M25 tripod; Tenba carrying case. This setup didn't include any lighting, as we had compact Lowell kits which were checked out separately when needed. / Battle Vaughan /retired videographer / miamiherald.com

PS: the consumer hard drive cameras often have some difficult-to-capture/edit codec; the flash (avchd) cameras are the coming thing, have some practical advantages over tape, but require really powerful edit stations, as the codec is very processor-intensive. The HV series cameras do a nice job of hdv or sd video, you can get tapes at any drug store in a pinch, and the tape becomes your archive. Still a very practical solution for people in your position, imho.

Don't shortchange your audio, audio is 70% of a video, the saying goes...and you definitely need a video tripod. The HV cameras don't offer much latitude to attach accessories, so on-camera lighting is somewhat limited (there is a tiny 4-watt Canon accessory light, waste of time imho). As you go you may want to add a softbox or umbrella lights, depending on your needs... the Jag gadget will probably only get in your way, it has little practical value beyond letting you use old still camera lenses to limit depth of field, fine if you need reeeely long equivalent lenses and want to play "film producer" instead of making videos.....my two cents /bv

Last edited by Battle Vaughan; September 23rd, 2009 at 12:25 PM. Reason: addendi
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Old September 24th, 2009, 08:26 AM   #3
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Maybe a Lumix GH1.
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Old September 24th, 2009, 09:59 AM   #4
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Do you really need HD? Would you consider used equipment? Just guessing that your dollar would go farther with a used SD camera (PD-150, XL-1s, VX-2000, etc)? That might leave you more money for other things like a decent tripod, etc.
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Old September 24th, 2009, 05:04 PM   #5
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Well, HD is really important for me. I've concluded that for the price I'm willing to pay $400-600, I probably won't find a much better camera with the features I want. And the problem with the Lumix GH1 is that it costs more than what I'm willing to spend on an entire starting rig.

And on the aspect of the Jag, I want it because I don't care if I'm using "old still camera lenses", it's still possible to get some very nice images with it. I don't have the money to buy a camera that is capable of having lenses interchanged, so I want the Jag. Thanks for thoughts, friends. Any more input would be greatly appreciated! :)
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Old September 24th, 2009, 05:48 PM   #6
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I agree with Battle Vaughan - Audio and a tripod are far more important than the 35mm adaptor. 95% of the audience WILL NOT conciously notice the difference in background bokeh but 100% WILL notice if the audio is bad or the images are shaky. Also remember that if you want to use the 35mm adaptor you will also probably need to use rails... more $$$!

If you need shallow depth of field you can cheat by moving further away and zooming in more. And the way you use lighting and composition will go much further to help you create beautiful looking images than using an adaptor.

My suggestion would be the HV30/40, a beachtek or juicedlink (spend the extra for one with phantom power... I wish i had!), rode ntg-2, mathews M25 or Libec TH-650 tripod, and a couple of spare batteries.

And if budget is your biggest concern, get the camera 2nd hand. In a years time when you've got a bit more cash you can upgrade to a GH1 or an FX7 or something else, and everything in the kit will still work with the new camera - unlike the Jag35ST which will only work with smaller cameras.
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Old September 24th, 2009, 10:29 PM   #7
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Well, with lighting, I can get and use a lighting kit from my college. They have one and they rarely use it, so for now I don't plan on spending money on one of my own. And, the same for a tripod, at least for the next couple months.

I'm definitely going to buy the camera used. The thing with the HV30 or 40 is that I don't see any major differences for me to spend the rather large amount of extra money. Also, why would I need rails if I was going to use a DOF adapter? I realize the image will be inverted, but I can compensate for that easily enough.

I don't plan on upgrading my camera though until I have to. Unless, by chance of miracle or something, I have a major shift in my life and starting getting a bunch of professional projects, I won't have a need to upgrade my camera for a while. I'm not new to the field, but I am new to having all my own equipment and shooting short films and what have you.

In short, I can get some other essentials such as the lighting kit and tripod from my college, at least temporarily. I know I need lighting and composition for a great shot, but I'm also a perfectionist. I want to achieve the film look as close as possible on as low as possible a budget. Almost all the mics you guys have linked me to have been a lot more expensive. Such as the NTG-2, not to mention I'd also need a boom pole/mounting device. And the Beachtek also really kills my price.

I'm not counting on this to be my final rig mind you, I want to get all these accessories as I go. I said I could go up to $1,500, but that's only if I absolutely have to. I really wanna keep it around $900-1,000. And once you start adding in Beachteks and more expensive mics the price begins to really blow the lid of my capping point.

So, yeah, I'll probably end up in the end with all these accessories...but even if I save around $200 for lens and adapter, that will only get me a microphone that I can't use because I don't have the XLR adapter.
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Old September 24th, 2009, 11:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy Kraft View Post
Also, why would I need rails if I was going to use a DOF adapter?
You need rails to support the adapter and lenses.
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Old September 25th, 2009, 03:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy Kraft View Post
Also, why would I need rails if I was going to use a DOF adapter?
Two reasons: (1) so the weight of the lens doesn't snap the threads clean off the front of the tiny little HV20 and (2) so that when you place the whole rig onto a tripod it will be balanced rather than toppling lens-first onto the concrete!
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Old September 25th, 2009, 07:49 AM   #10
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With the limited budget you are talking about you should really forget the DOF adapter. As mentioned there is more to it then the adapter alone (rails, tripod etc). I can only adhere to the other contributors that sound makes more than half your video. Or rather it can break the whole of your film if it is not done right. The camera itself is the least of your worries. There is a bunch of camera's that give a decent HD image. Sound and sound control is almast always neglected. Read more on the audio part of this forum.
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Old September 25th, 2009, 11:33 AM   #11
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I wholly agree with you guys on the audio situation. However, the part I don't understand is that if I don't get the lens and adapter, the $150-200 I'll save from that would not get me both a microphone and adapter. The only way that could happen is if I didn't buy the Rode Videomic, but then I would have to find another mic that is XLR, and probably not a shotgun.

Thoughts on that? I was going to get the videomic, but if I didn't get that, should I get something other than a shotgun that is XLR compatible? Maybe a mic I could put on a boom? The only problem with that is adding in the cost of a boom.
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Old September 25th, 2009, 01:22 PM   #12
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I think you will be fine with an HV 20. Since I bought my HV30 I've only used my Standard def vx-2000 once or twice for a wedding.

The HV30 can produce some really nice results with good lighting and support...but then again pretty much any camera can. Don't expect to be able to pull off a rack focus easily though.

If you want to check out a clip from my hv30 click this link.

YouTube - Cave Documentry Part 1

It's not the most interesting piece, but almost all the shots where with the canon. The wide shots of the interview were with a Sony hdv camera. One more thing, when I shot at 24fps I spent another $130 on cineform so I wouldn't have to take my project into After Effects to remove the pulldown.
http://www.cineform.com/neoscene/
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Old September 25th, 2009, 03:20 PM   #13
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Is there any reason to not use After Effects for removing pulldown? It's not difficult at all, and it may be a little more time consuming, but if it saves me a $130 bucks I don't have a problem with taking some extra time.
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Old September 25th, 2009, 05:47 PM   #14
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Both the Audio Technica AT-897 and the Rode NTG-2 are available in kits from B & H for $270. The Beachtek DXA-4 is $150 so is only $80 more than if you were to get the Videomic and the adaptor - it would give you a stepping stone towards great audio and will be a combination that will last way beyond your HV20.
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Old September 25th, 2009, 08:57 PM   #15
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That's not too bad. For sake of budget at the moment, couldn't I just get the NTG-2 that comes with XLR to 1/8" mini cable? The Beachtek has no preamp on it, as far as I'm aware. So, if I get the XLR to 1/8" mini cable, I don't really see why I would need the Beachtek, especially since the HV20 has manual audio control. The only reason I could see that I would need a Beachtek would be if I wanted to a use a second mic, but you guys might have some other thoughts on it.

I also currently own a Shure SM58 microphone that I've used for recording music. Would it be possible to use this mic for recording in conjunction with the NTG-2, perhaps on a boom or some such? Would it be good to combine these two mics? If I were to do that, then yes I realize I'd need a Beachtek. Otherwise if I'm going to use a 1 mic setup, I'm not sure why I'd need the Beachtek for now. If I was going to use the Shure mic at all, I'd probably have to go with the JuicedLink because it has the preamp, but that's around the same price point as the Beachtek anyhow.

Also does anyone have any good recommendations on a cheap boom pole?

Last edited by Tommy Kraft; September 25th, 2009 at 10:53 PM.
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