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Old January 23rd, 2013, 11:31 PM   #1
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Video Kit Recommendations

I will be putting together a few different video kits for the college I am working at and could use some outside advice - either with features I should be considering with each choice, or actual gear suggestions, (with reasoning behind the recommendations), or links to online articles that may be helpful to me.

Here is what I kind of had in mind for the kits:

The first “kit” would be a video camera that has good quality video and audio, but above all must be dead simple to use. This camera would be lent out and then used by people with little or no shooting experience – it would be ideal to be able to give them a camera and tripod (with case & batteries/charger) with a few simple instructions and they would be on their way - so basically auto everything with decent end results. Also media storage should be very straight forwards – I am thinking something like SD cards as they are readily available and can be used with almost any computer. This is the kit I am most unsure of as I have absolutely no idea what’s currently out on the market. I would think I’m not going to go too pricey with these as we would purchase more than a half dozen or and they would most likely get a lot of use/abuse.


The second package would be DSLR based, primarily for stills, though may get used for video – especially as backup to the higher end kit. Looking for something user friendly - though aimed at an end user who does have DSLR/photography experience.

The third would be a semi-professional level camera kit that will be used to make high quality training and corporate videos, documentary work, and possibly even some narrative storytelling. I am currently leaning toward using something like Canon for the sake of sharing lenses between the DSLR and this camera. (Currently considering C100-300)

I have no idea what kind of price range would be acceptable to the school at this time, but I plan on presenting them with a couple of different packages/price options for the last two kits.

At the moment I am just looking at the cameras themselves, (though I will be looking into lenses, lights, sticks, maybe sliders and jibs, etc. as well so any and all feedback/advice is welcome).

Also I would appreciate if you are making a recommendation on gear - why you would recommend it - (resolution, lens mount, XLR outs, ease of use, low light capabilities etc).

Thanks

Last edited by Phil Douglas; January 24th, 2013 at 12:32 AM.
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Old January 24th, 2013, 12:36 AM   #2
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Re: Video Kit Recommendations

Welcome Phil. Asking all those questions in one post is too tough, you'll have to ask in the various forums, audio, lights etc. and check the archives.

Also if it's college, you'll probably find the students have a few ideas too.
But be aware it's been shown that students and expensive cameras don't go together.
Try getting a local camera shop to sponsor your project.

Cheers.
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Old January 24th, 2013, 07:22 AM   #3
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Re: Video Kit Recommendations

I'd tend to agree with the Canon for the third category - the C300 if you can afford it, the C100 if you can't. :-) The C300 also has the benefit of a codec considered full broadcast standard, which may or may not be a consideration.

That probably argues in favour of a Canon DSLR for category 2 for lens compatability reasons, something like the 550D?

And then what about the Canon XF100 for category 1? Full auto mode but with the possibility of more manual operation for more advanced users? They would also have the benefit of codec compatability with a C300? Not SD cards, but at least Compact Flash and likewise compataible with the C300.

Beware of going too cheap - may seem a good idea at first, but all too often cheap=not very robust and what seems a good deal at first can turn out more expensive in the long term.
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Old January 24th, 2013, 07:51 AM   #4
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Re: Video Kit Recommendations

Personally, I wouldn't hobble things by tying the video kit to the others or the DSLR kit to the "semi-pro" kit. Sharing lenses between the latter two means you can't have two crews out at the same time that both need the same lenses. So I wouldn't tie them together either. I think over time, it's easier to maintain and do spot upgrades if the three are independent of each other.

One exception might be for the DSLR and "Semi-pro" to use the same codec. There's options in both Sony and Canon if you want the same brand but you could, for example, go Canon DSLR (AVCHD) and and Sony FS-100 (AVCHD) for multibrands or a C-100 to stay within Canon. Sony also has decent DSLRs so you have options. The Canon C-100 though has built-in ND filters whereas the FS-100 doesn't. JVC has some models that are getting good reviews so take a look at them.

For the video kit, it strikes me that you are looking at an under $2k price point. I'd sort the list at B&H and research the ones that peak your interest.
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Old January 24th, 2013, 12:50 PM   #5
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Re: Video Kit Recommendations

Phil - sounds like you got an interesting job. I'm envious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan Black View Post
But be aware it's been shown that students and expensive cameras don't go together.
Alan: Hmmm..... I wouldn't even limit it to 'expensive' cameras!

Suggestion: Looking ahead to when the gear is on board and it gets checked out (it will be tracked, won't it?), it would be good to have gear boxes for basically everything, especially anything of value and anything that can get damaged.

Maybe partner with a local high school shop class to make up some plywood boxes and get some foam for the insides. Foam cutouts for everything - camera, charger, spare battery pack, white card(?), memory, what ever.

Battery: the cameras usually come with a minimalist battery so you'll want a large capacity battery and they tend to cost quite a bit. Generic aftermarket batteries have a mixed record. Just read people's comments on-line and I've been burned myself with "OEM" batteries I got off eBay that turned out to not be OEM. In fact, they turned out to be worse than the old batteries I was wanting to replace! OEM batteries tend to be VERY expensive compared to aftermarket ones.

The boxes should have a carrying handle, nothing fancy just a cad-plated steel handle that's easy to get one's hands into. The outside can be varnished or painted and with an ID number. The inside can have a vinyl coated instruction sheet(s). As grandma used to say, "A place for everything, and everything in it's place." Good words to go by even for college kids. Makes it easier to keep track of everything when you can look in the box and see that every hole is filled with the right thing.

Tripods: Have padded carrying bags.

Storage cabinet key: Keep all the valuable items in a locked storage cabinet and make sure that others don't know where the key is or that the combination isn't passed around. I've had bad past experience with people knowing where the key is kept and things turning up missing. Don't trust everybody.

Specialty and accessory gear: Quick release plates, light stand brackets, Glide Cam, XLR cables, etc., try to have boxes or containers for this too. Same as above, try to have foam cutouts for everything so you can just look at the container to see if anything is missing.

If the gear is kept protected it will look newer longer and hopefully the students will take better care of it.
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Old January 24th, 2013, 02:57 PM   #6
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Re: Video Kit Recommendations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Wilson View Post
Personally, I wouldn't hobble things by tying the video kit to the others or the DSLR kit to the "semi-pro" kit. Sharing lenses between the latter two means you can't have two crews out at the same time that both need the same lenses.
I have to disagree - you may just want to get one each of some speciality lenses for occasional use, and it makes sense to have compatability so they can be used for either stills or higher end video. Likewise with breakages - the video kit might get a lens broken, a still camera kit might have a faulty body. If there's compatability between the systems you can make one good item out of two halves!

May not be the end of the world, but I can see nothing to lose by such compatability, and possibly things to gain.
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Old January 25th, 2013, 11:59 AM   #7
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Re: Video Kit Recommendations

Wow - thanks for all the great advice. Some good suggestions about batteries, cases, using the same codecs, and not cheaping out for the low end kit. Gives me lots to look into - and leaves me feeling that there certainly are other factors that I am not considering as well.

I would ideally like to get a number of decent quality lenses for both the semi-pro kit and the DSLR kits (there may be a few DSLR kits, not sure) - and keeping with EF mounts may allow me to do this without an insane amount of money being spent. (A part of me is thinking that it may be difficult to sell the concept to someone with no camera/photography experience the idea of spending $10k on a camera that doesn't even come with a lens - so lens sharing may come across as a huge plus - especially considering David's comment on breakage).

To clarify the "kits" a bit further:
The students would not have access to any of the equipment except the basic video camera kits (of course having said that, in 6 months, who knows - policies change), staff and faculty would have access to those cameras as well as the DSLR's, and the upper end kit would be used primarily by myself, with a few exceptions for experienced users - again just faculty and staff.

Keep the suggestions coming - especially regarding elements I may not have considered yet. I am use to acquiring equipment for my own use, or renting for a specific project, this is all new to me.
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