Camera Exercise #2: The Best Fit Camera

Summary: Ryan gives you five real life scenarios from his own experience, and asks you to recommend the best fit camera for each situation.

Length: 3:42 minutes

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Depth of Field, Part 1: How Aperture and ISO Affect Focus
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 6: Five Tips For A Successful Shoot
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 5: Lighting Six High Speed Sets
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 4: Common Lighting Problems
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 3: Camera Operation & Workflow
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 2: Frame Rate
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 1: Introduction
12 Crucial Questions Before Lighting Your Set (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 15)
Negative Fill: The Best Kept Secret (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 08)
4 replies
  1. DonaldC203
    DonaldC203 says:

    Hello and I’m just curious about the possible answers to this exercise. Can you post some of your decisions here so we can sorta check ourselves? Could you explain why you made the decisions you did and how they worked out and if you would have done anything different as you look back? Thanks!

    • Tim
      Tim says:

      It is more of a thought exercise, without any “right” answers. Things to think about are: the amount of time it takes to transfer media, storage space for all of the media (which costs money), time to grade the footage since some cameras require you to grade any footage from the camera, what resolution do you need to shoot at, what quality does the delivery method require (YouTube, DVD, theater, tv require different quality and resolution), how long does it take to build the camera, does the camera require higher end lenses, what is the cost to rent the camera and lens package.

      #1) YouTube video, lower budget, fast turn around. Probably no grading or minimal grading.
      #2) Web or TV so quality needs to be better. (The question has dated cameras, so think of current camera options.) The 5DM3 doesn’t have audio input, so sound would have to be sync’d. At the time the Sony Z1U is a decent option with audio input; also you don’t have to transfer media since it is tape-based. The Red Scarlet has a great image, but transfer rates and cost would be an issue. Th PHX500 uses P2 cards (expensive) so you would need to transfer the media before mailing, which means time.
      #3 If it might be shown at a film festival (even if it is only a dream), you need to have better quality. If there might be a colorist, you can use a camera that records in log or RAW (or both). However, if they aren’t sure they need a colorist, you might not have this option. If mostly interiors, there will be lights in the budget; also think about how much light the camera and lens package need.
      #4 Web based, ultra low budget. Use what you have, such as a DSLR camera.
      #5 Good budget, high quality image required. You’ll have a crew (camera and lights, along with a colorist in post) so you can go with more complex lights and camera. Since it could be on tv, your resolution needs to be higher.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Kevinlien
    Kevinlien says:

    I’m currently in Scenerio 3 which has been an amazing opportunity. Right now, we are considering camera systems and here are my options so far:

    Disclaimer: The producer would like to use multi-cam to speed shooting up.

    1) Sony A7s Mk2 with Atomos Shoguns
    2) Sony Fs7’s

    My dilemma comes from the fact that I currently own an A7S2 and feel really comfortable with the camera already. I own some gear already that compliments it and I feel experienced using it on gimbals and such. However, this is a made for TV feature film and my experience lies only with web video content up to this point and I am skeptical if they will produce the quality that matches up to other TV movies.

    With the Sony FS7’s, I am confident that their quality would be up to par but I have never used this camera system. As well, it extends our budget which reduces the amount of other equipment we can afford/rent which is another deficit.

    Just wanted to get your opinion on this guys, as I am really enjoying the content you guys are producing. It’s a life saver and I’m learning so much!

    Kevin Lien

    • Tim
      Tim says:

      Congrats on the opportunity!

      That’s a tricky dilemma. The three issues you focus on are 1) ease of use 2) quality, and 3) cost.

      1) Ease of Use: Using a DSLR for a feature does add complexity, since you have to have a few more accessories. If you have an audio person recording the audio separately, then the lack of XLR inputs on the A7SII isn’t an issue. (There are adapters, but this adds to the build and potential problems.) If you are comfortable with that and already own the accessories, then that is much less of an issue. On top of this, if you are doing multi-cam, this complexity gets doubled or tripled. If you have ACs to build the cameras each day, and they do a good job, then you should be fine with the A7SII. On a stressful shoot, especially if this is your first feature, it might be better sticking with what you know instead of throwing in the “unknown tech” variable.
      2) Image Quality: The FS7 is 10-bit, so image quality will be slightly better. There is debate how much better this quality is. If you have a good colorist, this also plays into the quality.
      3) Cost: The cost of the FS7 goes beyond the camera. If you’re recording 10-bit, you’ll need more media and back-up drives. Your DIT (digital imaging tech) will also be spending more time transferring the footage. So take that into account as you look at cost.

      From what you’ve said, I think sticking with the A7SII would be your better bet on this specific project.

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