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Old September 26th, 2016, 10:11 AM   #1
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One-man-team - Looking For Advice.

Hi All.

Hope everyone is well.

I've been looking for a new camera to shoot a super-age-low-budget documentary on.

So far i'm stuck on the Canon XM2 (As my friend only has a budget of 250 for the camera)

The reason i like this camera so much is the body and that it is essentially an all in one solution. I shoot with it before (years ago mind) and the audio was pretty solid.

Is there anything else out there with the same body "type" that i should consider for that price? Or even if it's a little more. I need the all-in-one and would like to probably take the camera off his hands at the end of the project and use it for many other small aged projects.

What do you advise?

Thanks in advance!
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Old September 26th, 2016, 04:37 PM   #2
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Re: One-man-team - Looking For Advice.

Hi Aaron and welcome to the forum :-)

The XM2 was a fine camera in it's day, but is pretty old school these days. It will be limited to the minidv format which will not be on a par in resolution with a modern digial camera. You will also need a computer equipped with a firewire input for image transferring, which will probably mean an older pc.

For the sort of price you are talking about, you will only be able to get a similar used camera or a budget consumer level new one. There are a number of cameras from Panasonic, Sony and Canon around the 500 mark which would give you a modern camera with recording to an SD card for fast video transfer and full HD image quality. You will also have digital audio and probably better low light performance etc. You could also look at bridge cameras if you don't mind a dslr type body shape and a maximum continuous recording time of 30 minutes.

I use a couple of Panasonic FZ1000s which are bridge cameras and can also film in 4K and can give high quality results for comparatively low price. You also get all the modern performance upgrades that won't be available with the XM2.

Roger
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Old September 26th, 2016, 08:12 PM   #3
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Re: One-man-team - Looking For Advice.

I second that!

The FZ series do have a DSLR format which takes a bit of getting used to but what I have on mine is a simple aluminium bar under the camera and then two LED light plastic handles on each end which makes it more "video camera like" ..In fact when doing stills even, I find that the handles make the camera easy to hold. If you are on a tripod it's also a good idea to stick the tripod on a nice wheeled dolly ..I have had a dolly sitting at home for ages and used it last weekend and it was really awesome to be able to move your fixed camera quickly to a new position. The FZ1000 is a great camera and within budget ...the newer FZ2000/2500 is a lot nicer but not really necessary I'm getting one simply cos it has the ability to output HDMI for my live broadcasts and record at the same time but I've used the FZ1000's on many weddings and have been delighted with the results .... What you save in buying MiniDV tapes will almost pay for a new camera!!
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Old September 27th, 2016, 07:12 AM   #4
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Re: One-man-team - Looking For Advice.

Hi Chris,

Funny you should mention the tripod dolly as I dug mine out this week, I had forgotten how easy it is at the reception to quickly wheel it to a new position.

Aaron I forgot to mention that the FZ1000 doesn't just record in 4k, you can also select HD or SD recording in mpeg 4 or avchd in various bitrates/quality. The optical stabilisation is also a massive improvement on what you are used to if you shoot handheld. It also takes superb still pics.

Roger
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Old September 27th, 2016, 07:38 AM   #5
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Re: One-man-team - Looking For Advice.

Hi Roger

I even used it at the ceremony on Saturday! It was pretty smooth even on a carpet that the bride walked down on laid over the lawn and it sure beats picking up the whole tripod and camera when a guest decides to block you .. I just smoothly moved it away and down the carpet ...Why I haven't been using it heaven knows but I suspect it because it takes a little longer to undo the 3 threads that keep the feet on the base...once that's done it's a breeze and on live stream shoots where I need to shoot continuous including the signing it's easy to steer your rig towards the signing table and then back up the carpet for the bridal party exit. It comes with me at all weddings now!! As you say at the reception it's even better and you can adjust camera position very easily during speeches too if you need a better angle and I'm now tempted to try a rolling shot on the dance floor when the couple do their first dance.

Yep grab an FZ1000 (or two) but if you use it hand held make a simple rig for smoother shots and the 6 axis stabilizer will make it look like it was on a stedicam !! I do handheld shots while Im moving around the couple in a circle and even slowed down 50% they are amazing!!
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Old September 27th, 2016, 08:49 AM   #6
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Re: One-man-team - Looking For Advice.

I wouldn't bother with a xm2 to be honest, thats like going back to the stoneage + like has been mentioned here the added cost of minidv tapes + having to deal with dropouts.
The FZ1000 could be a very cheap alternative with no competition at it's current pricepoint and now the FZ2000 is around the corner I"m sure you will find even better deals before it is discontinued so I would not wait too long to make a choice or you even might get a good deal on a second hand one. Also if you want to sell the fz1000 you still can and recover a part of the purchase cost, the xm2 however will be worthless.
The xm2 didn't have xlr so I guess that's not on your list of priorities but you can always add a xlrbox to the fz1000 but you can't do that on the xm2 if you ever have plans on using a mike with xlr connection.
Eventhough the FZ1000 has a different formfactor then the XM2 you will quickly find out it's much easier to handle because it's so light and small which also makes it a great travelcompanion.
I don't own the camera so can't give you any first hand expereince but Roger and Chris can and I"m sure theyll answer any more questions about usability that you might have.
One last note though in regard to the stabiliser, while some camera's have made great progress on stabilising your shots they are no substitute for a real steadicam like Chris mentioned, with some post work you can mimic some small steadicam movements but don't expect circling a person or couple will look anywhere near as smooth as a steadicam, for that you still need a gimbal or real steadicam.
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Old September 27th, 2016, 05:17 PM   #7
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Re: One-man-team - Looking For Advice.

I don't doubt the FZ1000 is an outstanding camera, but even at its current price in the US of just under $800, it's way over the OP's stated budget of 250 ($325).

I certainly agree about not attempting to use a tape-based, standard definition camera.

If they are buying a new camera and trying to stick closer to their budget, I think you're going to be limited to a consumer HD camcorder.

However, if you pick out a model with an external microphone jack and good image stabilization you can do some very good work with that type of camera.

As already mentioned, an inexpensive bracket, a cheap handle, an audio adapter, etc. and you can make a basic camera go a long way.

A couple of current models like I'm suggesting if they are really limited in budget are:
Canon VIXIA HF R600
Canon VIXIA HF R700
Each about $300 in the US.

A camera currently just under $600 in the US is:
Panasonic HC-V770K

I'm not trying to start a camera debate, just posting some other suggestions if the FZ1000 proves too expensive for consideration by the OP.

I shot many projects over 4 years with the high-consumer-grade Canon Vixia HF11 and was always pleased with the results.
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Old September 27th, 2016, 11:43 PM   #8
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Re: One-man-team - Looking For Advice.

Where i live its 630 dollar exl tax and there is currently nothing similar available with the same featureset at the same pricepoint bit if us price is close to 800 then i agree it gets too far of budget, I guess the main advantage of this camera compared to real videocameras is that you can take photos with it as well
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Old September 28th, 2016, 04:50 AM   #9
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Re: One-man-team - Looking For Advice.

Hi Roger. Thank you for the welcome here!

One of the reasons i was interested in the XM2 was the body. I really enjoy the structure and on-the-fly ability of them compared to say a DSLR in which i shot my first feature. As-well as the ability to shoot relatively decent audio. I'm trying to also keep things tied together nicely for the back-end work flow and want to avoid audio syncing and the like, I'm not aware of the differences between digital audio and say audio captured from MiniDV, maybe you could elaborate for me.

Another thing to note is that i'm not worried about resolution or the film looking quite aged (If [it is there [resolution] of course i'll take it). but i found in my last feature my roles were heavily spread out and my continuing attempts to keep the footage looking beautiful took away from my deeper focus on the story/characters. Something that i want to heavily focus on this time around. My inspiration for the look is more based on documentaries such as "Radiant Child" based on Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Am i looking in the wrong direction? I also see the tape-deck capture issue as something that could potential run up costs and more.. I really really want to focus on AUDIO quality within the price. which i could put up to around 300 (around that price anyway)

In regards to the second post. I'd probably rather avoid 4K for now. I don't have a computer capable of handling that sort of media. I know in PP you can possibly drop the quality down to 1/16 but i have no person experience with this (I've only ever been able to drop the quality down to 1/4) . And don't want to end up having to buy a new computer for this project!

As a side question (slightly off topic) with my last film. I shot in PAL 25 FPS and i'm having trouble dropping frames to 24 FPS without judder. (Maybe my PP is out-dated) what is the general recommendation on these forums?


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Chris,

Thanks for responding. I'd be interested in seeing a picture of your set-up and cost.


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Noa,

Thanks for your advice. I tend on this documentary being quite jerky and cut happy. Like the older style observational docs we have seen over the years. Although when it comes to recommended and low cost stabilisation tool; what would you recommend.. Remember budget is an ISSUE here!.


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Jay, Thanks for sharing your ideas.

i'm going to look into those camera and your response about budget is certainly true.

Do these inbuilt stabilisers create any of the warping that post tools do? If so i'd probably be avoiding them.
Do you have any detailed analysing on the cameras your recommended and also i'd be interested to hear more information about the accessories (if your inclined) especially when it comes to sound.

In regards to my previous responses to the other posts, do you have any other thoughts?

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Once again, thank you to everyone.
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Old September 29th, 2016, 08:07 AM   #10
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Re: One-man-team - Looking For Advice.

Hi Aaron

Since budget is such an important criteria have you considered a used camera ..unlike MiniDV cameras, card based cameras really have nothing to wear out (like drives and capstans) so they work for many years. I was dead against the first DSLR cameras as things like auto focus were no-existent but nowdays the image quality and even autofocus is remarkably good and put on a nice rig you essentially have a form factor that is more video than stills. In fact I don't like using my bride cameras even for stills as it stands and tend to use the mini rig for both media. Look around eBay and you will come up with something a lot cheaper than retail that will do the job!!

This is all I use under my camera for handheld shots New FZ1000 rig for Handheld
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Old September 29th, 2016, 10:31 AM   #11
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Re: One-man-team - Looking For Advice.

Chris, this camera is to expensive for this project. I shot my last project using a 7D, but i'm ready to step away from DLSR for this project, considering the low budget and shooting style of the documentary i need to prioritises audio quality.

I've accepted that i'll probably be using a consumer camera, this is fine.

Jay made some great recommendations. But now i'm realising i need one that can hold an external mic that can possibly turned into a very low budget rig.

What are my options for under 250 the cheaper the better at this point!

Picture quality at 1080p is fine.
I need 24/25 fps shooting 24 is preferred.
I need a good microphone at a low cost within my budget.

What do we think?
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Old September 29th, 2016, 11:00 AM   #12
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Re: One-man-team - Looking For Advice.

Generally, audio is more important than video. For a really low budget doc, I'd use a cell phone. There are clip on lenses if you need a tighter angle. The shooter probably needs a cell phone anyway, which can be financed, so the budget is effectively zero.

Due to the high volume of phones/pads, accessories are cheap. You can get an XLR adapter for an iPhone for about $40. That leaves more money for a good mic.

It wouldn't be the right approach for all projects, but it's one way to keep the budget low. It's also very low profile, which can be an advantage in some circumstances.
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