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Michael Miramontes

Recommendations for personal camera please

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I'm looking to get into some docu-style film making for my hobbies and other endeavors. I'm not too savvy on cameras these days so I was seeing what ya'll recommended. Are 7d's and 5d's still hard to beat? 

 

I'd prefer something that was:

1. Easy to move around with and conceal

2. interchangeable lenses

3. Priced at no more then $1500

4. Sensors that are great in low/no light. 

 

Any info/tips are appreciated.

 

 

Thanks,

Michael

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I would definitly go wih a second hand Sony A7s (or A7sII if $$$ permits...)

They are the new kids on the block! ;-)

I would put a 35mm 1.4 Rokinon or the Vario Tessar lens on it and a Zacuto gunner or Enforcer to have it more stable against your shoulder.

6 batteries and 1 128Gb SD card.

Happy shooting.

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I shoot with a 5D MkIII, Panasonic GH4, and a Sony FS5. For the budget range you've mentioned, I think a GH4 might suit just fine. Lots of flexibility with millions of lens options, either MFT, or just about anything else with an appropriate adapter.Plus it's got 4K if you want it, though one can be perfectly happy with HD. And it's much smaller than the 5D or any Canon DSLR for that matter. I second Patrick's recommendation on the Rokinon lenses. Very good value for money if you can live without auto-focus, which may be a bit harder to do if you're one-man-banding.

The only caveat is with the GH4 is that its low light performance is not nearly as spectacular as that of the a7s (Mark I or Mark II). Of course, with fast enough lenses, it may not matter that much, unless you're consistently light-deprived. If ultra-low-light performance is your primary consideration, then Patrick is right on with this recommendation for the a7s. It is phenomenal in low light.

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I may be selling my A7S, toying with the idea of upgrading to mk II models.  I have the Sony battery grip, Pro Media Gear L-brackets (for both camera and camera+grip) as well as rubber eyecup (remarkably, this little $20 accessory has made the camera so much more usable - 3rd point of stability and effective light blocker).  It is international version which you can switch between PAL and NTSC modes with latest firmware loaded.  If you are interested in other accessories, I have Metabones C mount adapter, Zeiss 35/2.0 Loxia, Sony 55/1.8 Sonnar, Sony G 70-200/4.0, and Sony XLR-K2M mic/XLR attachment - not necessarily needing to bundle these, but a fair offer would be considered.

_DSC0730.thumb.JPG.9cf65ce234c926ec7ef9dIMG_4393.thumb.JPG.643cf5e5e68deb686d666

There's no such thing as a sensor good in no light.  Even the mighty A7S needs some amount of light to operate in - medium to bright moonlight is enough to bump up ISO to get near - daytime results without too much noise, but cloudy nights or dim moonlight may not be enough to shoot with artificially high exposure.  I generally keep my ISO below 6400, which is very clean.  Once in awhile I might creep up to 12800, and the results can still be acceptable.  Good fast primes are a must if you want to shoot night time.  Another thing I've found, is that the Sony smart zoom feature is great for video - because you can non-destructively punch in digitally without loosing resolution or detail.  Obviously for photography, there's no point in cropping in-camera, but for video which is using a relatively low 1920x1080 image, the smart zoom allows you to intelligently use the 12MP worth of sensor.  I've even found that by using a LANC controller, you get a pseudo power-zoom effect out of your primes... granted it's not variable speed or anything, but can turn your 35mm into a 70mm (or 105mm if shooting crop sensor), somewhat ameliorating the limitation of shooting at night with a fast prime - something to consider for doc usage.  To clarify, it's not going to make your 35 look like a portrait 85, it's just going to look like a 35 that was cropped in without any digital smearing, but for videography the ability to be flexible with focal length on the fly is huge.

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I've actually fallen in love with anamorphic shooting and have been playing around a lot with 16mm C mount lenses, so think most all videography will be done with those (obviously I do this for fun, not professionally).  For photography it's mostly taking pictures of my kids, and even though I've become pretty good at tracking moving targets with manual focus (quite fun and accurate overall with the Loxias smooth focus ring) I've come to accept that I'll probably need to switch over to autofocus lenses - blech.  I like the rendering of the 35 wide open, even better than the arguably sharper 55 Sonnar and any other zeiss 50 or 55mm planar / Sonnar designs.  I'm not too keyed into used market prices.  1300 new, 975 used?

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Hey Michael, if you find this distracting to your thread, let me know and I'll move it to PM (camera sales wouldn't have been assumed to be topical for this place).

 

image.thumb.jpeg.6fdc0e443840604ba6dcc9a

Next to my Angie 17.5-70/f2.2

image.thumb.jpeg.f6f2f7be17bbb255eef9cc4image.thumb.jpeg.a741b616daa57cc3e5b8bc6image.thumb.jpeg.41c4b99ed7d6a78a9f8199d

There's the slightest evidence of brassing from use on the hood.  The glass looks perfect.  The focus ring has small ribs, so there's very minor evidence of marks from use on there, used (barely) but certainly not abused.

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11 hours ago, Tom Visser said:

I like the rendering of the 35 wide open, even better than the arguably sharper 55 Sonnar and any other zeiss 50 or 55mm planar / Sonnar designs.  I'm not too keyed into used market prices.  1300 new, 975 used?

That is _so_ tempting. But I'm going to have to sell something before I can consider it. Sadly, I've already exhausted my 2016 camera gear budget.

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Hey Michael, most of the pertinent info has been stated above. I'm a GH4 owner and I dig mine. This a7s is very good in low light but I like my GH4 for all but low low light. If you want you can borrow mine for a day and play w it. There is a GH5 rumor about one being announced this year at NAB. If that's the case there will be a lot of GH4's for sale.

CrewC

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Here's my A7S with movie button accessory.  I obviously like the Promediagear grips, they make the best L brackets IMHO.  I recommend Arca brackets for all photography and light videography/doc shooting, quicker, lighter, and smaller than professional video plates.  GH4 is a great camera too.  It has a much smaller sensor, which in my opinion is not a disadvantage for videography.  It can also do some neat things like support timecode with the SDI attachment.  You can shoot in 4K 4:3 mode which is pretty cool.  A7S needs an external recorder to shoot 4K.  The fully articulating screen on the GH4 is also pretty trick, although I find I'm doing most of my shooting through the EVF, which is a much higher quality image.  The A7S kills pretty much everything out there for low light though.  Note on size / weight... the smaller / lighter the camera, the easier it is to move around low-profile, but the harder it is to keep the camera stable for handheld.  Big heavy cameras are inherently more stable because they respond less to your natural jitter.  The A7S and GH4 type of cameras are nice and small, but it's nice to be able to build them up a bit bigger with battery grips and add mass without having to resort to a full on video rig - which definitely turns your camera into an attraction and not a subtle little unobtrusive point and shoot affair.  It's also nice to have a place to firmly hold your camera, especially with larger lenses.

image.thumb.jpeg.9a17f5792a58718c9c61ab2image.thumb.jpeg.6ab5fe2f1b3a132404918f7image.thumb.jpeg.794a136e9410b44e4e607abimage.thumb.jpeg.5b0fb602953e352ba7a4c75

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1 hour ago, old school said:

Hey Michael, most of the pertinent info has been stated above. I'm a GH4 owner and I dig mine. This a7s is very good in low light but I like my GH4 for all but low low light. If you want you can borrow mine for a day and play w it. There is a GH5 rumor about one being announced this year at NAB. If that's the case there will be a lot of GH4's for sale.

CrewC

I appreciate it Crew. I'll hit you up if I decide I need a test run.

 

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A new new kid in the block...

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1222744-REG/sony_ilce6300_b_alpha_a63000_mirrorless_digital.html

Some impressive features for a "cheap" camera.

 

I usually use small cameras (Bmpcc, a7s, 5d...) with a "gunner" wich keeps the formfactor small and helps you to get the necessary stabilisation with your body. I put another battery (audioroots 49wh) with an dummy adaptator for the a7s and a G3 reciever to get the sound from the sound recorder.

 

3178506da82c32465eac765467fbeceb.jpg

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I 2nd the a7 series suggestions.  I use an A7r (which I'm about to sell) and an A7r ii.  They both have fantastic dynamic range and great performance in low light.  I mostly shoot stills not video, but I know the video capabilities of these cameras are great.  Small and light enough to not be intrusive or hard to carry.  The main downfall is short battery life.  Some of my recent shots from the a7r ii can be seen here:

http://wanderinglens.net

 

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Panasonic GX7 here. Very happy with the results. I have been a Panasonic user since GH1. The one downside of Panasonic is lenses have a lot of distortion that is being corrected in the camera. But if you want to work with RAW image it gets a little more complicated since raw images don't have the in camera correction. The same applies to video.

 

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13 minutes ago, RadoStefanov said:

Panasonic GX7 here. Very happy with the results. I have been a Panasonic user since GH1. The one downside of Panasonic is lenses have a lot of distortion that is being corrected in the camera. But if you want to work with RAW image it gets a little more complicated since raw images don't have the in camera correction. The same applies to video.

Rolling shutter on these sony cameras is horrible. And the price is ridiculous.

They've been worth every penny I spent so far.  For the quality, they are worth the money. Value is in the eye of the beholder.

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I think bottom line - there's lots of good options out there and at the end of the day, the person behind the camera is the limiting factor.  Not to say that just any 'ole camera will do, as obviously some are much better suited than others, but pretty much every camera out there has a target audience and performs superbly (except the Canon XC10).  A few one-hits on cameras I own, have owned, or am curious about (and in the OP's price target)...

1/2.3" 4K GoPro Hero w/ Back-Bone Ribcage mod - experimenting with D (8mm) and C (16mm) mount lenses.  clean HDMI

1/1.7" 1080p Pentax Q-S1 - experimenting with D and C mount lenses

S16 / 1" 1080p Black Magic Micro Cinema Camera - no LCD/EVF, weird form factor, not released and unknown if it ever will be before being superseded, typical Black Magic support / vaporware, but first affordable global shutter option (not talking old CCD options here), need speed booster or S16 glass.  clean HDMI

S16 / 1" 1080p Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera - for those with a hard on for RAW or ProRes in-camera codec, but seems like there are a lot better options out there for most people.  Need speed booster or S16 glass.  clean HDMI

4/3" 4K Panasonic GX8 - interesting option above GH4 for photography, due to IBIS, and cool tilt EVF (like GX7 before)

4/3" 4K Panasonic GH4 - heavy duty video wonder cam with fully articulating LCD.  clean HDMI

4/3" 1080p Olympus PEN-F - getting a lot of flack as a "hipster" cam and price, but has IBIS and fully articulating LCD, might be a good b-roll cam and specialty shooter - could see it useful for backtracking, tracking, or following shots.  77mb/s codec ain't too shabby.  clean HDMI

APS-C 4K Sony A6300 - newly announced 4K wonder cam from Sony with high bitrate, only lacking IBIS to make it perfect.  Might ship in March.  clean HDMI

APS-C 1080p Fuji X-Pro2 - NOT known as a video camera, but movie capabilities purported to be much better than PRO1 and for me personally, this represents the perfect mechanical / user layout of controls.  Has film simulations and it's Fuji... so they should be pretty spot on.

35mm FF - not really in your price range unless used - could do a 2nd hand 5DmkII if you already have a lot of Canon glass, but otherwise mirrorless seems the way to go.  A7S - king of low light, best when shot APS-C crop.  A7Sii - way more expensive, adds IBIS, tweaks color, same sensor, best when shot FF.  A7, A7II, A7R - mostly designed for video, photography only with occasional home video'ish use.  A7Rii - just as much of a beast at video as A7S/A7Sii, slightly lower low-light performance (but still great), best when shot APS-C.

1 hour ago, Wandering Ear said:

I 2nd the a7 series suggestions.  I use an A7r (which I'm about to sell) and an A7r ii.  They both have fantastic dynamic range and great performance in low light.  I mostly shoot stills not video, but I know the video capabilities of these cameras are great.  Small and light enough to not be intrusive or hard to carry.  The main downfall is short battery life.  Some of my recent shots from the a7r ii can be seen here:

http://wanderinglens.net

 

awesome shots man

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Hi Tom,

I'm really enjoying my A7S and checking your posts out (nice photos btw) I see you have nice looking eye cup - what brand/model is it?

The other question I have for any A7S shooters is about grading (video), any recommendations? I'm using FCPX (despite its detractors) - I like the paradigm and pasting attributes is handy, but there are so many plugins etc available any pointers appreciated.

Other than a varied assortment of glass, I use an Edlekrone flextilt head as intended but also as for hand holding. For reference audio I've rigged an okm binaural set onto the outside of a pair of hd25s with a bit of wind protection. They're not so bad, but the usual caveats apply for binaural set-ups.

Kind Regards,

dr.

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It's a generic brand from eBay, but is soft rubber and well made, unlike a cheaper one had bought and disposed of in the past

http://www.ebay.com/ulk/itm/191752127737

it made a world of difference for me.  I have a Hoodman unit on back order for like 6 months now, got tired of waiting and purchased this one in the interim.

I hate grading, I'm not a professional, nor do I have an eye for it.  I sort of like to get the look I want while I'm shooting, so don't use any of the log profiles, just not my cup of tea.  I did purchase the standalone Film Convert software - like it so far, but not really certain it is necessary for my workflow (or lack there of).  If I ever need something competently graded, that's when I'd hire a pro I guess.  I never really understood the complex log / de-log approach, especially on the A7's relatively crappy 8 bit 4:2:0 codec - it would be akin to recording MP3 ISO's at really low levels and trying to get a good post mix, rather than just going for it and committing to a good sound / look during acquisition.  If your the tweaky post type of guy that wants to heavily grade stuff, maybe that's a point for the black magic and GH4 route, which support more robust codecs.

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I'm definitely not the tweaky post type of guy either - it seems to involve having very expensive monitors for 1 thing and a patience for staring at screens beyond where I'm at. I guess if there was 1 complaint about the A7S it would be the out of camera 'skin' tones compared to canon/nikon but this is a subjective thing, a bit like the conversations people used to have about kodak and fuji stock. I also think there is a lot of over graded stuff out there, but then sometimes I quite the look of some of the 'flatter' profiles with just a bit of adjustment in camera.

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