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Old April 25th, 2010, 09:37 PM   #1
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Recommend Me a Camera under $1K?

I'm planning on doing a series of short docs (8-15 mins) on muralists and graffiti artists in my areas. They won't be for production or DVD release - just something for the internet, and maybe to pass around locally. The docs would mostly be interviews and footage of people doing graffiti and murals, so the I guess tha majority of footage would be outside in daylight. (We're talking legal graffiti, so no night time stuff.) Of course, there could be unforeseen indoors footage here and there, and I would like as much versatility as my tiny budget can afford. An input and a shoe to mount a mic is mandatory.

I currently have a 7D that I use for photography, along with a good tripod and lenses, and I have a Sennheiser G2 wireless lav from an old project. However, it seems getting the 7D to be a functional as a video camera in anything less than very controlled conditions requires a LOT of accessories that add up to more than I'm willing to spend. I'm not sure the 7D is what I want to use for video.

I have a budget of about $1000 for the camera. I've looked at the Panasonic TM700, and it seems like a good bet, but I'm wondering if there's something else I'm overlooking? Note that HD isn't a must...but it'd be nice!
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Old April 25th, 2010, 09:42 PM   #2
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The Canon HF or HFS line would seem to fit your budget if you wanted to go tapeless.

Or you could go with a HV40 if you wanted to do tape. You can also pick up a HV30 for even less.
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Old April 25th, 2010, 11:47 PM   #3
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The 7D should be fine. Do some tests. You just need to get better audio ( Zoom H4n, around $300, is now standard).
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Old April 26th, 2010, 12:50 AM   #4
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The recording time for the 7D might be a problem for a documentary, or maybe it won't be that big a deal.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 01:02 AM   #5
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Recording time shouldn't be an issue. I believe the 7D does 12 minute clips, and I have a buttload of CF cards, so I think that'll be ok.

My issue with using the 7D is the sound. Yes, I can get a Zoom for $300-350. Then I have to sync the audio. (I'm using Premier, which I'm just learning to use.) But more than that, it's issues such as zooming and focusing. Pretty basic things that aren't as easy with a lens that needs to be manually focused, especially at large apertures where depth of field is small. I see people with rigs for their 7D's, ie. a follow focus, etc., but those are real expensive. I thought about going super cheap with my 7D and an Azden shotgun mic (along with my G2 lav), but the focus & zoom issues are still there. How do you focus and zoom smoothly on a camera lens? I did some tests last week and found it extremely hard to maintain focus on a moving subject, let alone zoom in and out.

If someone has a cheap alternative, please enlighten me. While I'm experienced with photography, I'm brand new to video so I know very little.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 03:56 AM   #6
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Josh,

If you go the DSLR/ZoomH4 route, be sure to check out Pluraleyes, an amazing piece of software that will save you many tedious hours of syncing.

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Old April 26th, 2010, 08:21 AM   #7
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Dom, I'm running Premiere CS4 on a 64 bit PC.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 08:41 AM   #8
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Oh! It's not supported on Premiere yet.

I imagine that will change very soon. Keep an eye out, or contact them and see when it's coming. Can't believe Pluraleyes won't be supported on Adobe.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 09:23 AM   #9
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Josh, I'd go the 7D route bc you already have one so the $1000 you were willing to spend on a new camera could go for a lav and Pluraleyes. Pluraleyes is a great tool and has saved me countless hours syncing footage in post.

Sub $1k cameras are IMO just not going to give you anywhere near the same image quality of the 7D. We use 5D2's exclusively and film mainly weddings and live events and focussing is never an issue for us.. Unless you have a client that requires something like an HD-SDI out to monitor, I would honestly just accessorize your 7D.

Let us know which route you end up going or my curiosity is going to get the better of me! :)

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Old April 26th, 2010, 11:16 AM   #10
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I think another important consideration is the quality of wide-angle lenses that will be far superior on the 7D for shooting murals than you can achieve with a sub-$1000 video camera.
There will certainly be expenses and complication to achieve good audio no matter what camera you pick. As long as you use good practices while shooting and stay organized, the actual syncing isn't technically difficult.
I say spend your $1000 on a good microphone (like AudioTechnica AT875R, Rode NTG-2 or better), a good lav element for your G2 system, a good shockmount, bracket, wind protection, headphones, audio cables and a separate audio recorder (perhaps a lower-priced one than the H4n which I also have), all to go along with your 7D. I've also heard good things about PluralEyes but haven't used it myself.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 07:40 PM   #11
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Ok, once again... I'm on a PC using Premiere. I cannot use Pluraleyes. Also, I already have a G2 wireless lav. I don't think I need an NTG-2 since what I plan on doing is low production. I think I can probably get away with a VideoMic. If, at some point, I decide to do bigger and more serious projects, however, I would definitely invest in a quality mic.

Yes, the 7D definitely will allow me to use better glass than I could ever afford with a video cam. I have a Canon 10-22, a 24-105 L, a 50-250, and a 50mm prime, so I'm set for focal lengths. However, spending hours syncing audio, especially since I'm brand new to Premiere, isn't appealing.

I'm still not sure how you maintain focus on a moving subject while doing video. Maybe it takes tons of practice and a much more experienced hand than mine? Remember, I'm literally brand spanking new to any kind of video.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 07:57 PM   #12
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Josh,

You can get a canon hv 30 used for a song and start learning more about video and editing and then as you gain confidence and experience you can start slowly plugging away at learning how to optimize your 7D.

Most of the people shooting quality video with DSLRs are pretty experienced cameramen!!! there is a lot to learn that is for sure, and you should enjoy the process and not be over taxed to start.

Just my thoughts!!


Oh yea, I have seen some terrific videos shot on an hv30, better than I shot with more expensive equipment before I could master it!!! (And, I am still working at that!)
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Old April 26th, 2010, 09:17 PM   #13
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Dale - Yeah, I think I agree with you. The 7D's learning curve for video is steep, and there seems to be a lot of accessories to buy to make it functional as a decent video camera. Let me see, I'd need a ND filter ($200 at least), a Zoom H4N ($300), a Z-finder ($350). Plus, since I'm using a RC2 plate system for my 7D, I'd need to get a cheap 700RC2 mini video head, or upgrade my plate system to something compatible with a 501HDV or something. That upgrade could be another $300 easily. This doesn't include any type of follow focus or a similar device.

I have looked (online) at the HV30, and the HV40, as well as the more expensive Panasonic TM700K.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 08:15 AM   #14
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Check out Redrock Micro's Captain Stubling rig.
Redrock Micro | "Captain Stubling" DSLR | 8-003-0090

It's a nice little rig, and includes the follow focus. Just slap your 7D on, run that Sennheiser lav into it, and you're ready (I've used a sennheiser G2 with my T2i with no problems, no hiss, nothing). (of course, adding the Z-finder is nice, too...)

No matter how you do it, I'd really recommend building the 7D into a video rig rather than blowing another 1K on a camera for just one project...
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