Prosumer camera $3-5K budget

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by CarlsonCustoms, Nov 21, 2010.

  1. CarlsonCustoms macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2007
    Been looking at reviews all week but I can't make up my mind.

    I've been tasked with getting a video camera for my company. We are going to be making product videos (probably infront of a greenscreen) and probably some action shooting (gun) videos.

    My boss originally thought about the Canon XL2 but since its only SD we want a HD cam. I'm leaning towards the Canon XL H1A. Any other ideas?

    We have a 3-5K budget to go by. We also need a new DSLR at the same time so that's why I was leaning with the canon so we could maybe eventually use the EF lens converter to use the other lenses.

    So far I think we should go Canon 7D camera and Canon XL H1A video camera.

    We just ordered a new macpro editing machine :

    2.4 8 core macpro
    16 gb ram
    128 boot ssd
    1tb scratch drive
    2tb data drive
    2 27" monitors, 1 20" monitor
    Final Cut Studio

    Any suggestions would be gladly accepted.

  2. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    I'd look into the Sony Ex1. It's the best camera out there in that price range. And if a new one is over your budget, then I'm sure you could find a good used one in that range.

    It also gives you the option of capturing uncompressed through the HD-SDI connection, which would really help out for extensive greenscreen work.
  3. baypharm macrumors 65816


    Nov 15, 2007
  4. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    You're recommending a camera that hasn't even been released yet?
  5. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    If someone was handing out money to me, I'd get a Sony HXRNX5U, a recording unit, 2 wireless mics and a capture card.

    The NX5U is capable of outputting 4:2:2 images via SDI or HDMI and that is apparently better for greenscreening than the recorded 4:2:0 AVCHD. Something to consider.

    I have no idea about still cameras.

    Don't forget to budget for your studio setup: lights, boom mic, stands, screens etc.
  6. Barnzee macrumors regular

    Oct 15, 2010
    Oak Harbor, WA
    The canon 7D shoots HD video too I think. there are several downsides to filming with a DSLR though. The lenses are quite expensive too.
  7. boch82 macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2008
    You can pick up a nice canon 7d which does amazing hd video, a rig and a additional lens or 2 for your budget. PM me and I can provide you with a couple links to some of the videos we shot with our 7d.
  8. CarlsonCustoms thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2007
    Thanks for the suggestions guys.. they are kinda all over the place.

    I think we are going to start off with the 7D and test its video abilities. I'm so far impressed with the 7D footage on the web but I realize that is in pro's hands.

    I think the canon's are out becuase of the tape based recording. The EX1 has been moved pretty high on the list though.

    If going with the 7D we'll order a Zoom H4N for audio with a lav mic and shotgun mic.

    I'll take all the suggestions I can get.

    The EX1 is cool with the memory card but a 16gb card is $400 ish which is high.

    Other then no autofocus and 12min clip times what is the downside to a 7D as a video device?

    We'll mostly have studio shots so no autofocus isn't a huge deal.
  9. Gymnut macrumors 68000


    Apr 18, 2003
    I've shot a few weddings on the 7D, but while you won't be using it in that capacity, a few obvseravtions: battery life on these things are pretty poor; I'd look into getting the battery grip and/or a bunch of batteries if your shoots go for a few hours. You can zoom magnify on the LCD screen to make focusing easier, but it cannot be done while the camera is recording; As such I would highly suggest getting one of the several viewfinder loupes out there: Hoodman, Redrock, Cinevate, Zacuto, etc. Some of them are kind of pricey but worth it, especially if you're shooting outdoors in the sun and can't see the screen due to glare. Occasional problems of overheating and I have encountered a few anomalies with the camera ceasing to record(although I suspect this it had more to with the CF cards).

    You can fly it easily on a Merlin, provided its balanced, and as others have suggested, I'd look into getting some kind of shouldermounted rig if you plan going handheld for very long; Somewhat difficult to get steady shots because the camera is so light.

    Edit: I have a friend who has shot a few music videos with this camera in front of a green screen, and despite the codec's 4:2:0 color space, because the image is so tack sharp, and it was properly lit, keying it hasn't been a problem.
  10. Gymnut macrumors 68000


    Apr 18, 2003
    The use of the H4n is a wise decision because there's no way to monitor audio through the camera and the built-in mic, while decent for what it is, is unusable for post-production; I should note, however, the Zoom H4/H4n's internal clock is not consistent, so you may encounter sync drift over time; so audio may become out of sync over time in your sequence despite picture and audio being locked at the head. A workaround is to record the Zoom's recordings into an audio app such as Pro Tools, or even Audacity, and take that resultant file into your NLE.
  11. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 looks to be the hot video DSLR. It is due for release in December and is already available in Japan apparently. People are starting to post sample video online. Here is one review.
  12. jwheeler macrumors regular

    Jan 14, 2010
    I wonder how much this will go for?
  13. MIDI_EVIL macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2006
    I work for a production company that does a lot of television and and we use P2. We have a HVX2000, a HVX500E and some Sony EX's. The 500E is way out of your range, but the HVX2000 is a beautiful camera.

    P2 is expensive but we're enjoying the format.

    You can record out of an EX3 using a NanoFlash and the bitrate increases dramatically.
  14. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    From that review at least it doesn't sound like much of an upgrade over a hacked GH1, and the rolling shutter issues are worse.

    However the ability to capture uncompressed through HDMI might make it worth it alone.
  15. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    If anything it's the lack of sharpness in the Canon DLSRs that is one of their drawbacks, which is due to how these cameras conform a high megapixel image into a 1920x1280 frame or less.

    I have seen some decent keys pulled with their footage, but generally speaking it's still mostly a terrible option for keying.
  16. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    Depends where you are, doesn't it.

    One U.S. vendors pricing.
  17. Arrowk127 macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2010
    I would check out the Panasonic hpx-170. Great small camera to start with and the P2 workflow is nice. It won't give you the shallow depth of field like the dslr's would but it doesn't have all the drawbacks of dslr's. No overheating and xlr inputs.
  18. yayitsezekiel macrumors 6502a


    Aug 1, 2008
    Irvine, CA
    I'd check out the Canon XH-A1S.

    Canon actually just released a whole new line of cameras, so I'd check those out. I love my XH-A1, it's a superb camera. It actually scored #1 for prosumer cameras, so i'd definitely look at those.
  19. musique macrumors regular


    Apr 10, 2009
    If you’re serious about that upper budget limit of $5K I’d be careful about the miscellaneous things. These will wind up costing more than the camera.

    1. LCD field monitor. To make sure your footage is solid before leaving the shoot you need to see it in a reasonably sized (battery powered) monitor. $750
    2. Fluid head tripod. You probably don’t want to put a several thousand-dollar camera on a flimsy tripod. If you want to do pans that give professional results you will need a quality fluid head, like a low-end unit from Sachtler or Gitzo or Miller. $1,000
    3. Audio 1. Are two microphones going to do it? Are you willing to settle for less than great sound? A Zoom H4N, though widely used, does not have quality pre-amps. You might want to think about a three-channel mixer like the 302 from Sound Designs. And, if you have more than three inputs you might consider a Tascam DR-680 or the Edirol R-44, each has 4 or more channels. $2,100
    4. Audio 2. Quality lavalier microphones, transmitters, and receivers will cost you, but will give you quality that less expensive products can’t. Let’s say $250-1000 for a good shotgun, another $500 for a hypercardioid, and another $300 for a pretty good lav. Throw in another $500-600 for a minimum pro-quality transmitter and receiver (Sennheiser G3). Another couple of items that should not be dismissed are microphone shock-protection and windshield screens. A good Rycote system could be another $500 or more. Don’t forget the boom pole and a variety of quality cables, stands, etc. $2,500
    5. One thing not yet considered is lighting. This is a huge area that will make a big difference in the professionalism of your end result. A reasonable and portable lighting kit with stands, softlight boxes, gels, etc. $2,000

    I didn’t want to throw in the added costs of memory cards, quality protective hard cases for much of the gear, soft functional bags for use while shooting, and lots of miscellaneous power cables, power strips, batteries, chargers, audio cables, etc.

    Bottom line: Though the camera might run $2,000 or $3,000 or even $5,000, it’s important not to forget all the equipment you need to make a quality video recording. These things might add an additional $5,000 or $10,000 to your budget. Maybe you could do just fine with a lower end, true pro-sumer camera (Panasonic AG HMC-40 for less than $2,000?) and save some money for “all the other stuff.”

    Good luck.
  20. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    It's important not to forget that plenty of brilliant film/video has been made with minimal equipment. I agree with balancing things out, not spending your entire budget on the camera, but you can manage just fine with less than half of what you've listed.
  21. smokescreen76 macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2010
    You are making a big mistake if you buy a stills camera or any HDV tape based camera. Some of the XDCAM and AVCHD cameras are no good either.

    You said you want to shoot on a green screen for chroma keying. This requires a camera that shoots colour space properly and not completely compressed.

    For this you need a camera that records in a 4:2:2 colour space. At that budget you probably won't find anything other than cameras that have an HD-SDI output. You would then probably then have to capture directly to your computer.

    Do your chroma-key research - you will find that you are going the wrong route.
  22. boch82 macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2008
    I disagree completely with this. I have done chroma keys with cheap SD cameras and have used the 7d and sony ex1 many times for the same purpose. If you understand how to light for green screen and know how to properly work your editing software you can get a perfect key.
  23. boch82 macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2008
    The answer to all of this is that it doesn't matter so much what camera you use. You need to know how to properly use your camera. If you dont know every feature on your camera you are missing out on it fully functionality. Proper lighting will make everything a lot better too.

    the bottom line. Get the best you can for your budget and then read the entire manual and try out every option on that camera.
  24. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    I only slightly disagree. You can get somewhat decent keys with 4:2:0 footage but it still isn't ideal and is far from perfect.

    I think this footage is fine for simple talking head stuff, or where you're not going for a lot of realism.

    But for complex shots where the subject needs to be inserted seamlessly into a scene, or things with a lot of motion, this footage just doesn't cut it.
  25. puckhead193, Nov 24, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2010

    puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004

    Since you want green screen I would recommend the new canon's XF300/XF305 they record native 4:2:2 @50 mbps which is very important for keying.

    I have a Sony NX5U and the pictures are amazing. I have the recording unit and have no problems importing footage via log and Transfer in FCP. It has an HDSDI port so you can hook up a a nano flash and increase the bit-rate and also get the 4:2:2 color space you need for proper keying. If not your keys won't look good.

    I think the NX5U/nano flash would be a better choice and get a nano flash. this way your not limited to the 50mbps with the canon and your spending about the same amount of money.

    Here's a link to two videos I recommend you watch on the nano flash and just how important 4:2:2 is

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