Researching best 2nd camera options

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    • #74501
      Brother Dan

      Greetings –


      I mainly shoot interviews and eng-type pojects, with my main camera a full-size Panasonic AVCHD cam, and that works well for me. I'm looking to buy a new second cam, and am looking to find something that will add some new options to my arsenal. I want to stay in the $500-$1,000 range if possible.


      I can't seem to find much info on the sound capabilities of many of the DSLR's (some manufacturer's sites don't mention external audio inputs and controls, while some independent reviews only briefly mention them).


      So, I'm hoping some of you may be able to shine some light on things for me.Here are some of the cameras I'm consdering, and why:


      Sony Alpha A77: weatherproof, mini-plug audio in (I can't find info on sound quality or control, though), the stabilizing system.


      Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6: mini-plug audio in, price.


      Canon 7D: appears to have audio in.


      I've looked at many others as well, especially in the Canon line: most of the D series (650D, D5100, D5200, etc.)


      I'm considering camcorders, too, but the depth of field and accompanying bokeh, not to mention size of a DSLR, are big pluses. I'd prefer not to have to use a separate sound recorder, though.


      I generally shoot in 1080p 30fps, but often render in 720p for web and social marketing. So, as a final consideration, if I can get slow motion from the new camera in 1080 (720 would be better than none at all), that would be the icing on the cake.


      So … any thoughts?


    • #210043

      Hi Brother Dan – If you're coming from a Panasonic camcorder, I would avoid Canon DSLRs for video.  You may be surprised to learn, as I was, that their viewfinders blank out when you switch to "Live View" (video) mode.  You may also be surprised to learn than older Canons (like the 7D) lose their autofocus function in Live View.


      I had shot motion pictures for fun and profit on film cameras and camcorders for 40 years before I switched to hybrid still/video cameras in 2010 – and I was shocked by the poor video implementation on Canon DSLRs.


      After a brief experience with Canon, I moved to Panasonic hybrid still/video cameras.  These cameras have Electronic Viewfinders, like camcorders, that continue working when you switch to Motion Picture mode.  They also have fast, silent video-optimized autofocus lenses (to include power zoom lenses).  In addition, the newest Panasonic hybrids (such as the G6, GH3 and GH4) record at 1080/60p (1080/50p in the UK and Europe), which you can conform to 30p, 25p or 24p for slow motion.


      Around $1000, I would try to get the Panasonic GH3, with its splashproof body and headphone jack – plus an inexpensive Sigma 19mm f2.8 to get started.  I use an inexpensive XLR to 3.5mm transformer adapter into mine so I can plug battery powered pro mics into my GH3.  It has a decent preamp and manual audio level control.


      Here is a picture of my GH2 with a pro mic plugged into it via the Hosa adapter (I put an inexpensive pistol grip on it to make it more like one of my old Super 8 cameras :)):



      Here's a picture of the same setup with my GH3:



      Here is what the GH3 can do:















      If $1000 is a hard limit, I would get the Panasonic G6 with the kit lens. It doesn't have the splashproof body or the headphone jack – and it is AVCHD only.  That said, since you're working in AVCHD, losing the GH3's Quicktime .MOV codec won't matter to you. 


      Here is what the G6 can do:
















      Either one of these cameras would be great "B" cameras.


      Hope this is helpful!



      Hybrid Camera Revolution

    • #210050
      Brother Dan

      Hey Bill –


      Thanks for the input, and you've hit the nail on the head: the GH3 with lens is out of budget, and though I like the G6, I'm not sure I can live without manual audio controls and monitoring.


      It seems I keep coming back to the Sony A77, or the Canon t5i. But, the Sony doesn't seem to have manual control of audio and I'd have to install Magic Lantern to get what I want (monitoring and 60fps) from the Canon, and I'm not sure I'm up to that. So, to go DSLR, there are obvious shortcomings inherent in this price range and it looks like I need to buy less than I need and make do for awhile or I may need to stay with a video cam footprint, perhaps the X920 or … ??


      I edit in Premiere Pro, and so far I've been able to import mixed formats with no problem. Most of what I'm looking at shoots AVCHD or H2.64, or maybe MOV, so that's not a big concern.


      Perhaps there's something else I'm overlooking, so any other input is appreciated, from you and/or others …



    • #210152
      Brother Dan

      Hi Bill –


      After all is said and done, I've acquired a G6 with the two lens kit (14-42mm 3.0-5.6f and 45-150mm 4.0-5.6f). I'll likely add a Leica 25mm 1.8 prime lens in the not-too distant future. In addition, I added a Tascam DR-60D, which is a great little unit and gives me everything I need including XLR inputs and a headphone out, and records a back-up file at a lower db setting in case of loud noises, etc.


      I was surprised by how small and lightweight the G6 is (that's NOT a complaint), and the picture quality is great. Now, I just need to memorize how to access all of the functions quickly so I can run and gun when required.


      After using it over the weekend, I've found it has some functions and capabilities that the GH3 doesn't, although I wish it had the weather protection of the GH3.


      So … back out I go for more shots, and then find an appropiate fluid head tripod for it so I can get an occasional pan and/or follow shot.


      Thanks for the help and recommendations.



    • #210067

      Hi Dan – sorry if I was unclear, but the Panasonic G6 does have manual audio level control and on-screen audio meters – what it lacks is a headphone jack.  Sadly, the GH3 is the lowest priced large sensor interchangeable lens camera with a built-in headphone jack.


      If you don't need the large sensor "look" the X920 is a fine camera, especially at current prices.  I have the 2010-era TM900 and it's still a great little machine.


      Personally, I would get the G6 – it produces the best image quality for the money – but if the lack of a headphone jack is a deal-breaker, the X920 will do the job.


      Good luck with your decision!



      Hybrid Camera Revolution

    • #210170

      Congratulations, Dan.  Sounds like a great setup.  Happy shooting!


      All the best,



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