Help me pick a camera (or two) for a small theatre company

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by RedTomato, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    .. London ..
    #1
    Video geniuses, help me with this one please.

    We are a small non-profit theatre company that works with actors who use sign-language (the actors are both deaf and hearing).

    Our current camera (a decent Canon tape DV camera) has broken down so I am looking for a new one quite quickly.

    I need:

    1. A very simple way of filming and playing back / copying the best bits of rehearsals

    2. A camera that films the final production as high quality as possible given the budget, with a final release on standard-def format.

    I'm not sure if one camera can satisfy both situations, so I'm thinking something like a Flip for option 1, and a cheap but decent in low light flash-based HD camera for option 2.

    - sound doesn't matter as the dialogue is all physical.

    - for the same reason, it has to be pretty good at capturing the subtle details of movement and motion.

    - We don't film much at all. An entire day of rehearsals will end with less than 30 mins filmed. We only film the best bits / the end-of-day run-through. A production is about 100 minutes, filmed in one go, on one night.

    - rehearsals is in bright light, but a production is always in low light (theatre lighting is much lower than film lighting) so it needs to show good quality and low noise / smooth motion in low light.

    - we use very little zoom or panning in both rehearsals and production filming. Just stick the camera on the tripod and leave it there.

    -For rehearsals, auto-mode is good enough.
    -For production, I set up the camera on the tripod, lock it down, fixed manual focus, white balance, sometimes spotlight mode, tweak the gain / noise, iris, and generally babysit it through the performance.

    - The rehearsal camera has to be incredibly, stupidly easy to setup and use. I can't always be there, and I want a video camera that lets the non-technical people here easily transfer files to our macbooks for review and easily make copies on DVD or flashdrives to give to the actors for home review.

    My budget is about £600. ($1000) Going a bit under would be better.

    Like I said, I don't think 1 camera can cover both situations, but I'm happy to be proved wrong.

    I'm thinking a 60i or 60p HD camera would be good for capturing smooth movement in productions, but all the reviews I have read say the cheap ones are poor and noisy in low light, which is a no-no for me as productions are always in low light.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. zachsilvey macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    Battle Ground
    #2
    You want to get the biggest physical sensor size for the money. Theatre means low light so you want to be able to bump up the gain without introducing too much noise and a flip will not deliver that. I have a Flip and get crazy noise in bright daylight.

    Consider a Nikon D90 or D5000, because you aren't really in need of super fast auto-foucs and a D90 has a huge sensor compared to a "camcorder".
     
  3. anthemus macrumors regular

    anthemus

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2009
    Location:
    Denver
    #3
    Here's an affordable VDSLR option. Includes two lenses and should perform better than most video cameras in low-light. Shoot with an ISO of 1250/1600.

    Also it can be dual purpose allowing you to grab high quality stills when needed.

    A Price: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...A=details&Q=&sku=651672&is=REG#specifications

    Reviews: http://forum.digitalcamerareview.com/showthread.php?t=13334

    http://pentaxdslrs.blogspot.com/2009/09/surprise-new-pentax-k-x-124-mp-cmos.html

    Only question I can't seem to find or answer is how long the video record time is? Or if its limited only to the amount of storage.
     
  4. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #4
    I think the recording time is going to be the killer for a DSLR solution (especially in European models which are artificially capped to 29m59s). 100min is a long time for a single card even w/o the Euro limit.


    Lethal
     
  5. zachsilvey macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    Battle Ground
    #5
    I didn't even think of the record time limitation. The Nikons are limited to 5 min because of sensor heat. Canons don't have a time limitation other than storage which really isn't a huge issue because you can get a 32gb sd card these days.
     
  6. RedTomato thread starter macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    .. London ..
    #6
    The Flip (non-HD even) would only be for rehearsals as it's easy for non-technical folk to use. (Performance filming would be with a more high spec camera.)

    Rehearsals are all indoors with reasonable lighting. But I've seen a couple posts saying the workflow isn't all that easy with Apple.

    I need a very simple easy to use camera for non-technical people to use in rehearsals. Non-HD is fine. Remember they need to be able to quickly review or copy the footage on laptop too.

    That's a very interesting idea. We need a decent stills camera too, and I could combine the two budgets. A DSLR might be inappropriate for rehearsal filming, but it would do for stills and performance filming.

    With the DV camera, I had to do a rapid tape change in the middle of the show. Sometimes I could cover it with a second DV camera, but the image quality didn't really match.

    Is it possible to disable the DLSR Euro limit? What about Zach's suggestion of the Canons having no limit?

    Many thanks for your ideas.
     
  7. anthemus macrumors regular

    anthemus

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2009
    Location:
    Denver
    #7
  8. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #8
    Are you sure about the lack of a limit on the Canons? I might have googled into a old page, but according to Canon the 5D is limited to 29m59s or 4gigs per clip (whichever comes first). I couldn't find numbers on the 7D but the 4gigs is a FAT32 limitation so I assume it applies to the 7D as well. 4gigs will get you about 12 minutes of HD so even with a 32gig card you'd still need to swap in a fresh one for a 100min show.


    Lethal
     
  9. zachsilvey macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    Battle Ground
    #9
    There is a 4 gig limit on fat32 but they said that HD wasn't necessary. A card swap would be almost instantaneous and could be done during a scene change or intermission.
     
  10. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #10
    If shooting SD is okay then I guess the big thing is to find a camera that doesn't have the 29m59s recording cap.


    Lethal
     
  11. RedTomato thread starter macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    .. London ..
    #11
    I was in a hurry to get something, and we have a first night tomorrow so I've gone for this:

    Canon Legria S100

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Canon-LEGRIA-S100-Camcorder-Widescreen/dp/B001P30CYK

    £600, and was camcorderinfo.com's runner up for camera of the year. (the winner was over my budget).

    http://www.camcorderinfo.co.uk/content/Camcorderinfo-com-Select-Awards-2009-37268.htm

    I have no experience with vDSLRs and dealing with their lenses and little ways will take me some time, so I've gone for a simple (by comparison) camcorder. Amazon will overnight it for £8 and it should arrive by 1pm tomorrow.
     
  12. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #12
    For what you want the shallow depth of field from a DSLR would probably a negative anyway. I mean, I assume you'd want to keep as much of the stage and actors in focus as possible.


    Lethal
     

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