Question by CesFRA: Looking for a professional digital camcorder…?
I am shooting a documentary for a University concerning a medical research study in another country where I will go there and interview doctors and patients and document on the whole situation at these facilities and I am looking for a camera that will be perfect for this situation. They gave me roughly a $ 4000-$ 5000 budget, but I can work with it if I have to go above. I am looking for a digital camcorder. I edit on Sony Vegas or Final Cut Studio, depending on the situation. Please help, I am usually a bit slow when it comes to the technological part of filmmaking and I don’t want to ruin my opportunity to get a great camera, so all of the advice I can get will be greatly appreciated.
Also, a camera that will stay in use after the documentary for movies and short films would be great too, because I do that in my spare time as well. So I need a camera that will be adequate for a documentary as well as for movies and short films.
Answer by Pon
well what you should do is rent the camera. That way you save a lot more money. Invest instead in a nice little 3 point light kit. This will help you more than the camera and I’ll tell you why.
I make shorts and music videos. I’ve learned that its not what camera you have. Everyone and their mother has a camera but not everyone has a light kit and knows how to use it. The lights will make any footage you have look better because you can’t have a movie without light. Interviews will look better, interior scenes and exterior scenes will look better. So buy the lighting kit and rent the camera. If you have the equipment and learn to use it, you can rent it out and possibly get paying gigs as a key grip or a gaffer.
Now, onto the camera. There are a bunch of different selections. Stay away from HD stuff. Its a pain in the arse to light well and color correct in post and it’s not true HD anyway. Get something that is SD. You’ll have a lot more leeway with lighting and color temp and the focus is still great. Now, the cameras. There is the Canon GL-2, great glass, small, compact and a nice picture. The color temp is a bit warmer with Canons. However, the GL2 does not have any XLR inputs which is pretty much necessary for better audio. You can use a pin jack but XLR delivers better quality.
You could also go with the Canon XL1. It gives a bit more of a professional look, its cheaper than the XL2 and has nearly the same features, and it enables interchangable lenses (if you can afford to rent them and need to) as well as better handheld shots since it has a shoulder rest (much more stable shots). Has 2 XLR inputs.
You can also go with the Panasonic DVX100B. Great focus, great glass, great in lower light situations (less grain). The color temp is pretty even overall and has a nice balance. It brings out skin tones nicely without warming the entire shot. You’ll need a good tripod since its around 5 pounds and a bit heavy for hand held shots. It has an 2 XLR connections which is a must have for better audio. Great overall camera.
I tend to stay away from Sony’s because they have a bit of a colder color temp and while they are great cameras (have used a few) they tend to be a little finicky when capturing footage into FCP. I don’t use Vegas cause I hate the program. Finicky, poor workflow, buggy, bad overall system for me.
So there you go. If you would like any more info, just send me a message or IM me and I’d be glad to help you out.
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