’90s film quality camcorders?

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    • #58971


      I'm looking for a camcorder that records in a certain quality. To cut the story short, I want to make short films and I want the quality and feel of the images to resemble those of a 1990's film.
      Here's two scenes of very famous movies that capture the quality and atmosphere I'm talking about:
      Reservoir Dogs
      Pulp Fiction
      Now I know both movies must have been recorded with expensive, professional cameras. But as I'm a broke student, I'm looking for a cheap alternative that will record in a similar style/atmosphere/quality.
      I'm also a huge noob on camcorders, so is it just down to the camcorder or is it the lenses that produce the quality, etc?
      Thanks a lot for reading this, if you have any suggestions please let me know. 
    • #207223

      The " look " of such movies is a combination of things, not the least of which is the fact that they were shot on film . . . .  by VERY well paid DP's who have a bag of tricks up their sleeve which it's taken half-a-lifetime to perfect. Video ain't film. Lighting requirements for each is drastically different. Even the best of the best would find it challenging to make a video have a look anywhere close to the look film can produce. Since most camera manufacturers strive to make cameras which can produce bright, vivid, sharp, saturated images, it takes a lot of trickery to make them look otherwise. Lighting is the most fundamental influence on a movie's " look ". Beyond that there are other techniques such as focus, framing, dolly instead of zoom, and even lense filters.My advice would be that if you want to shoot dramatic productions, hire on to a feature crew and stick close to the camera department . . . . or buy a decent camcorder and spend a whole lotta time tinkering until you approach the look you're after.Rick Crampton

    • #207230

      Hi bubbrubb – in addition to the production values provided by lighting, makeup, wardrobe and acting, the "filmic" qualities you see in the clips above come from the Super 35mm film format's 2K+ resolution, shallow depth of field and 15 or so stops of dynamic range.  Film is also "gradeable" – which means that the colors can be altered in post-processing to match the filmmaker's vision.


      The least expensive digital camera with a film-like resolution (1.9K) sensor size (Super 16) and dynamic range (13 stops) is the $995 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.  Because of its dynamic range, it is almost as "gradeable" as film. It was introduced a few weeks ago, so there is only one test video online, but it is a lot more film-like than most video cameras:



      Its more expensive $2995 big brother has a sensor closer to Hollywood size and shoots at a more film-like 2.5K of resolution.  Here is what it can do with good color grading:




      The most expensive camera of this type is the new $3995 Blackmagic Production Camera.  It has a  Hollywood film-sized Super 35mm sensor and shoots at 4K, but it has slightly less dynamic range than its little brothers.  Sadly, because the camera is so new, there is no sample video available.


      Hope this is helpful,



      Hybrid Camera Revolution

    • #207253

      As I posted over at avsforum:


      Hi bubbrubb – here is a new Panasonic GH3 clip, shot with an anamorphic (widescreen) lens, that comes pretty close '90s film 'look' (if you pretend the Citroen is a Chevy :)):


    • #207260

      I like your name bubbrubb, WHISTLES GO WOOO!

      I feel like i saw a rap music video where they did this really well on the vimeo staff picks a while back, anyone know what i'm talking about?

      I'm interested in hearing more about this look too, let me know what you find πŸ˜€

    • #207262
      AvatarAviv Vana

      gldnears is dead on. Nicely said my man.

    • #207932

      As a relative noob, I do just want to comment about my hobby horse. Flicker….no..that's not the name of the horse, sorry.


      Apart from the really good advice given here (I do a lot of still photography and the same sort of stuff applies)….

      ….24fps progressive (non-interlaced) video will never look as smooth as 24 FPS film. Film has flicker, but 24-25 fps video has a sort of "toggle" between each frame and the one that precedes it, which is more than just frame trasnsition in film. I have asked and asked about this and fought to get rid of it, but have only made small progress. Sony's Vegas tried a "smart" function that tried to bnlur it to stop the flicker. They still have it there, but everybody disables it as it's just woeful. I have found that I either need to use interlaced (often not possible for playback) or 50-60fps progressive (also often not possible on slower machines/youtube etc), to get film-smooth appearance. I have seen a lot of articles saying that you shold shoot 23.997 (24) fps to get it looking like film. Even at my low level I find this simplistic and in my opinion misleading.

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