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First Camera! Need help!

TKingPros's picture
Last seen: 10 months 3 days ago
Joined: 06/03/2013 - 3:54pm

I got put into TV Production at my school and I fell in love with video making. (Rising Senior in high school) I love making videos for my school morning show and now that school is coming to a close, I really need to buy my own camera to make videos over summer vacation. I have no idea what type to get. My price range is anywhere up to about $1000-$1200 for everything. One major  thing is that I'm very new so I don't know how to work with audio or lighting well at all. I need a camera that will provide good audio and lighting without too much work on my part because I really don't know the best ways to control that. My goal is to make short films and just small clips to practice different effects. (Editing is my real passion, but I enjoy directing and recording as well) So, what should I get? A high end consumer camera or a low end professional camera? And I don't know if I should get one that uses film or just a built in digital memory. At school I used a digital one. Please help and ask questions if it will help you help me! Thank you everyone!


brunerww's picture
Last seen: 14 hours 46 min ago
Joined: 06/09/2011 - 6:40am
Plus Member

Hi TKingPros - welcome to the world of video!  For your needs, I recommend the $999 Canon XF G20 (backordered at this price, but worth the wait to save yourself $150). This camera is great in low light, so supplemental lighting is a little less critical.  This is a digital camera with 32GB of built in memory, so you don't even have to buy a memory card right away.

 

With the rest of my budget, I would get some extra batteries, a solid fluid head tripod and the $10 Kindle book "How to Shoot Video that Doesn't Suck".

 

The next thing you'll need will be a decent microphone and headphones, an inexpensive boom (and someone to hold it :)) plus some cable to get the mic close to your talent - but the camera and tripod will get you started.

 

Hope this is helpful, and good luck!

 

Bill

Hybrid Camera Revolution

 


TKingPros's picture
Last seen: 10 months 3 days ago
Joined: 06/03/2013 - 3:54pm

Thanks so much! I really appreciate you taking the time to write all of that! I think I have actually looked at that camera before, so I'll definitely check it out!


Brian Collins's picture
Last seen: 1 day 7 hours ago
Joined: 02/12/2013 - 9:38pm

1k goes about... well, nowhere in terms of buying everything you need.  I'd advise begging and borrowing and volunteering at this point.  

If there is a film festival in your town, use that core group as a means to hookup with folks who need an extra hand on a shoot.  Call local production companies and offer to intern.  Many churches have video departments, volunteer your time.  Save your $1000 and learn on someone elses nickel.

 

Brian Collins

Atomic Pictures Inc

Birmingham, AL

www.atomicpix.com



Brian Collins's picture
Last seen: 1 day 7 hours ago
Joined: 02/12/2013 - 9:38pm

Starting out, you will learn more by working with more experienced folks.  Your budget is too low to get more than a basic camera.  Save the cash and learn a little first.

Brian Collins

Atomic Pictures Inc

Birmingham, AL

www.atomicpix.com


brunerww's picture
Last seen: 14 hours 46 min ago
Joined: 06/09/2011 - 6:40am
Plus Member

I have to respectfully disagree.  People have certainly been successful by volunteering and hanging around sets.  But they have also been successful by renting equipment and corraling volunteer help - and others have succeeded by buying used or amateur equipment and experimenting.

 

Lots of folks are out there making great films with $1000 cameras and a few hundred dollars (or pounds):

 

http://www.chrisjonesblog.com/2012/05/top-ten-microbudget-tips-with-a-crew-of-2-and-budget-of-500-what-can-be-achieved-jaw-dropping-work.html

 

I am firmly in the "you learn the most by getting out there and doing it" school of thought.  

 

So buy your camera. "Film" is free (when I started, film stock and processing were a huge expense) - read what the "experts" have to say (but filter it through your own internal lens), prepare, prepare, prepare - then round up some friends and go shoot something.  Even if you read the book I recommended above ("How to Shoot Video that Doesn't Suck") - it will probably suck:)

 

So what? It doesn't matter, try again.  If you have something to say, and you keep at it, you'll get there.

 

Best,

 

Bill

 


Ron West's picture
Last seen: 1 month 3 weeks ago
Joined: 01/30/2013 - 9:57am

Good on ya, Bill. Yeah; go for it. Depending on where you are, you absolutely can rent more pro gear as you need it. If you have the drive, do it. I've taught film, but formal training isn't the only way to go. Likely, you'll find that you want to grab some course work as you get into it, but maybe not. 

 

Bill's right; it's important to act on the idea, rather than put it off. We're in an era where the field is open as it's never been. Jump in.

 

Cheers,

Ron


Ron West's picture
Last seen: 1 month 3 weeks ago
Joined: 01/30/2013 - 9:57am

Hey TKingPros,

 

We get used to thinking in terms of images, and that's appropriate, but crappy audio drags down any image or sequence you may get, and no amount of skilled or creative editing will compensate. Oh, and onboard audio sucks. So, along with the mic, boom, and cable, invest in a Tascam digital recorder. Even a little DR-1, at $140 or so, will vastly improve your audio quality. Better, the new DR-60D will see you through in top style. You can find them for $300, and worth every buck.

 

Cheers,

Ron 


Dawud Freed's picture
Last seen: 5 months 5 days ago
Joined: 02/11/2013 - 9:14am

I agree with Bill, no need to go full hog, especially when you're just starting out.

 

People have made films with iphones!

It's the talent, not the equipment that makes the 'art'.

 

It's better to experiment with a cheap/low cost camera(w/video capability) or camcorder than an expensive one(yes, $999 is expensive when your budget is 1000-1200).

 

Or you could get a t2i or t3i refurb or cheap on the open market. Or borrow from your parents or friends.

 

Next, and more important is to get a good sound recorder. You can get a dr-40, h4n, etc. Also a good boom would help an a couple of wired or wireless lavs(wireless preferred).

 

I'd actually put MORE money towards sound equipment than video equipment. People are more forgiving of a bad picture, but not of bad sound.

 

 

Or just start out make silent films, which is actually better when learning your craft (you can focus on learning more about shot selection, framing, etc. rather than worrying about capturing dialogue or if a dog or plane ruined your take).

 

Another, more important thing than a good camera is good lighting. If you can afford it, get some decent but low cost lighting, also get some reflectors.

 

Get a good tripod and tripod head.

 

Get gaffer's tape.

 

Get sandbags.

 

Finally, save about half your budget towards future CRAFT services for your projects(when you have other crew and cast)! The key to a sucessful shoot and to get people to work on future projects! :P

Family Friendly Media @ Dawud Freed Media


Brian Collins's picture
Last seen: 1 day 7 hours ago
Joined: 02/12/2013 - 9:38pm

 

We all have opinions based on our experience but ultimately you have to decide what's best for you. Here is my War And Peace length explanation of my opinion.   I’m still not sold as to why a high school student needs to be dropping hard earned cash on gear.  Here's my path to working in the business for the last 30 years.

 


1- Started running sound at church since 3rd grade.  Started out on 4 channel amps and was doing live music with 16 inputs, multiple monitor mixes by the time I went to college.  By today's standards, that's pretty lame but we are talking about the 70's.

 

2- Studied mass comm. in college.  While in college, I worked on as a camera assistant on a feature, did live sports, freelanced with ESPN, interned at a local news station, ran sound in a campus theatre, worked on a short directed by Joel Douglas and lensed by a guy who did second unit on several Spielberg films.  The 1st ac later shot high school musical.  The 1st ac on the feature offered me a gig in the camera dept of Miami Vice, which I turned down to stay in school.  Do you see the pattern?  I plugged into every paying and non-paying gig out there to learn and network.  I took a job running live sound on a nationally broadcast cable show and then started running master control.  That led to doing satellite uplinks for ESPN, World News Tonight - all while in college.

 

3- a full time audio job opened up and I took it at the same network.  I worked my tail off nights and weekends to learn every piece of gear in house.  Everybody left at 5:30, not me.  I worked into a producing gig and traveled the US and oversees a few times to produce dozens of live national events and documentaries.  Not happy with how other people were editing our projects, I started learning how to run one of the most amazing edit suites I've ever seen.  The state of the art digital effects device of the day was the Ampex ADO.  I learned the thing from top to bottom and the effects I programmed were used on Entertainment Tonight for years.   I stayed there for 8 years until I had learned everything I could possibly learn. 

 



4-For the next 8 years I worked as a staff editor at a production company and did thousands of commercials for regional and local accounts.  

 

5-Then and only then did I buy my first piece of gear.  For the past 15 years I've owned a my own production company and when I finally bought, I bought big and dropped about $750,000 and built a facility equipped to do the work I had trained to do.  We've done national spots for Sun Sweet Prunes, DIY Network, HGTV, a video that aired on MTV, work for the US Army, US Postal Service, Crystal Geyser Water and more hospitals and car dealers than I can count.  I don't care what part of the country you live in, I absolutely guarantee you've seen one of our spots.

Look, I was fortunate to be at the right place many, many times but buying gear doesn't make you a director any more than buying a guitar makes you a rock star.  There are so many opportunities to train on someone else's nickel, why not avail you of those chances first?  Test the waters and learn what you really need, how to use THEN buy it. I don't know anything about you or where you live but in Birmingham, Alabama where I live, there are at least 4 major churches with top shelf gear.  My church has a 3 M/E Sony switcher, 5 cameras with stadium lenses, a couple of final cut suites, a studio with multiple HD camera options, c-stands, kinos, wireless mics, etc. We have a recording studio with an amazing Pro-Tools setup and fibre running all over campus so we can route audio and video at will.  We have Whole Hog lighting consoles and moving fixtures.  We have probably 5 digital consoles with at least 24 channels and enough portable gear to do a decent sized festival stage.  Another church here in town has a couple of Reds.  There’s a church in town with a 20 foot crane with remote head. There are churches equipped like this in most larger cities.  Honestly, where else can get ready access to this level of gear as a student?  We have had 3 guys from our church in the past 5 or 6 years get enough experience to get jobs at Disney World working on their biggest shows.  One guy is doing particularly well and is one of their top 3 lighting designers in Florida.  

 

Sure you can buy a camera and grab your buddies and make a movie that you put on YouTube or you can get plugged in with folks who can prepare you for something more.  There is no offense intended to anyone or what they are doing with video but understand that there is a very clear delineation between folks who do national and regional work and those who do event work and enter clips into local contests.  Which do you want to be if indeed this is what you want to make a career?  Based on my experience, getting out there and working on real jobs in a professional environment is statistically the better path to success.
  Are there exceptions?  Sure.  The problem is that far too often mom, dad and your buddies will think every piece of crap you do is fantastic.  As you are learning, you desperately need ongoing and honest feedback. 

 

Want to make movies over the summer, use your parent’s camera, an iPhone or check out a camera from your school but there is no compelling reason IMO to spend a penny until you know if this is really something you want to do or just a hobby of the week.  If it is a passion, jump in and start paying your dues.

 

Opinions are like butt holes... we all have them and they all stink.  You’ll figure out what’s best for you.  :)



 

 

Brian Collins

Atomic Pictures Inc

Birmingham, AL

www.atomicpix.com



paulanderegg's picture
Last seen: 10 months 6 days ago
Joined: 02/23/2012 - 7:37am

The G20 is a top notch camera, lots of manual controls as well.  The only thing it doesn't do is 1080p, so you would have to be happy with interlaced video.  I was shopping for a $1000 camera, and I cut the G20 because it didn't have 1080p, also cut the JVC PX100 because it's video quality was terrible.  I am currently deciding between the Panasonic x920 and Sony PJ710v....both just under $1000 at B&H.  I will be keeping the one that performs best in low light, and has the easiest to access and use manual controls.  Since you love editing, you will wind up loving manual controls.  Think of each shot as cutting, and each press of the record button is exporiting/rendering.  :)


dellwovideo's picture
Last seen: 1 month 6 days ago
Joined: 05/20/2011 - 6:35pm

Do you mean it doesn't have 1080p60? Or 1080p at all? The specs say it's got 1080 at 30p with is pretty standard. The sensor is a fullHD 1080 sensor.

 

If you're going for the film look you'll porbably be shooting in 24p anyway. Higher frame rates are great for bumping down to 24p for slow motion. I've got 720 60p on my T3i and it looks awesomely crisp. But 24 just 'feels' better for narative work (in my opinion, not an open invite to argue the point.)