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Old March 5th, 2011, 10:33 AM   #1
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question about cameras


I was very much into indie filmmaking about 5 years ago and then abruptly stopped. I am now looking to direct another project. Unfortunately, I lost a good chunk of my knowledge on cameras and now I am hoping someone could provide me with a quick refresher. I would be eternally grateful if the following questions could be answered. Please bear with me as some of these questions may seem ridiculously simple.

1. What is the "standard" format for indie filmmaking these days? When I was doing it miniDV was the most used format. Is it still miniDV or is it HDV, flash memory or something else?

2. Is miniDV obsolete? If it is not obsolete, why would anyone use miniDV, besides money, when they could use supposed superior formats?

3. Am I correct in understanding that flash memory is by far the most convenient and cost effective, since no tapes are ever required?

4. Are consumer cameras of today superior to prosumer cameras from five years ago?

5. The camera I used for my last project was a Sony DSR-PD150. How relevant or useful is that today?

Any thoughts or info on the above would be much appreciated. Thank you for your time.

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Old March 5th, 2011, 10:06 PM   #2
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Re: question about cameras


MiniDV is out as a format. So many disadvantages when compared to solid state. There's issues of tape dropouts, digitizing, deck and camera tape drive issues. With solid state, dropouts are simply forgotten. And each shot is automatically a separate clip.

Transfer into an edit system is faster than with tape.

If you want your material to have longevity in repurposing, then HD is the way to go.

For what I do I use a sony EX1. But for shoot underwater footage I use a little Canon HF-21 and am impressed with the quality. It's amazing what that consumer camera can do. My only complaint is having to set exposure and focus through menu selections.
Dean Sensui
Exec Producer, Hawaii Goes Fishing
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Old March 6th, 2011, 12:29 AM   #3
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Re: question about cameras

James, I'm going to save you a lot of research time by telling you the standard budget indie film setup today, the equivalent of the DVX in your day, is a rigged Canon DSLR and a Zoom H4n for audio. This will of course lead to a lot of debate about how inferior this setup is to AF100s, GH2s, F3s and other audio tools. I'm not saying this setup is best, but insofar as there is standard, this is standard.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 10:37 AM   #4
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Re: question about cameras

I would also say that in direct response to your question re: consumer cams of today being as good as prosumer cams of 5 years ago that today you can shoot video with a plethora of cameras under $1000 of equal quality to a camera worth 5-8 times that five years ago.
Camera technology has evolved so rapidly that the tiny, handheld consumer HD cameras of today would make filmmakers from a decade ago swoon at the quality.
Cameras have gotten SO good, and SO's exciting times....
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Old March 6th, 2011, 11:06 AM   #5
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Re: question about cameras

It may also help you to start from the end and work backwards.

What or where will your images be displayed on or stored on. What end format do you need, home TV's, Discovery Channel, Indy distribution ?

What editing program are you going to use to create that display ?

Which type of camera files do you need for that editing program?

What abilities does the camera need, low light, lens changing, 1080p ?

I would start with the "Gigantic which camera should I buy thread"
The gigantic "which camera should I buy" thread!

Then I would read all the specs on the pro/ENG cameras at B & H video. You have a lot of reading ahead and decisions to make. The NAB trade show is April 9th through the 14th, Some small indications are that new cameras will make their debut then.

I have just made this trek in the last 6 months. Some main points to learn are discussions on bit rate, 17mbs, 35mbs, 100, 200. Tapeless workflow, working with flash memory instead of tape and then using NLE software to edit.

If you are looking for a camera with good price, ability and top notch image quality as well as good low light, start with the sony PMW EX3, once you learn all the terms associated with it you will have learned a great deal. Read the specs and then learn what they mean.

Sony PMW-EX3 XDCAM EX HD Camcorder PMW-EX3 B&H Photo Video
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Old March 6th, 2011, 12:06 PM   #6
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Re: question about cameras

thanks guys, you've been very helpful. the "gigantic camera thread" is also very useful. in hindsight it would have been more appropriate to just ask my questions there.

thanks again.
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