Trouble tracking down the right camera

MEAD

New member
Hey guys, I'm hoping you can help me track down the rigt camera for me. I'd love to have a huge budget to buy a camera with but the fact of the matter is i don't. I'm trying to assemble enough equipment to shoot on my own and I cant really be blowing it all on a sweet camera. Basicly when I broke it down sound quality is far more important to me than image quality.

I'm looking looking for something cheap with the following features at a price of under $1,000:
3 CCDs
The ability to connect for external audio (even if i need to get an adaptor for XLR)
manual controls
smooth zoom
best low light picture possible

Maybe I'm going in the wrong direction here, but I'd much rather have the extra money for decent sound, a steady cam rig and a fluidhead tripod. I'm not so interested in making my shots look high-budget.
 
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Filmosity

Guest
With those features, especially 3CCDs, you're not likely to find anything under $1000. Unfortunately, you pay more for more features.

I recommend looking at Panasonic or Canon video cameras. While you won't find the prosumer grade cameras to be under $1000, you can find some pretty decent consumer grade cams in that range.

I think you are going in the wrong direction trying to buy a "steadicam" rig (Steadicam, btw, is a brand name). If you're not interested in making your shots look 'high-budget,' then a good tripod, good mic, and good camera are what you really need, not the camera stabilizer.

Good luck.
 

MEAD

New member
Eer thanks. I mispoke a little bit about the high budget part, and I also am aware of the steadicam being a brand name, it was just an easy way to refer to a camera stabilizer system, and by spelling it in the non-brand way i thought it would be understood that it was a general term. Anyways, yeah so Im sacarficing image quality for pretty much every thing else, which can be acheived so much more cheaply im my experience. I really think there is a charm in the grainy digital picture of consumer cameras that says something about me actually being a regular person, it lends a bit of authenticity. I also has the dual effect of making the art behind the movie stand out more since people wont be lulled into the comfort of a pretty image that they expect to seee, they see something not as nice and immediately they are more aware and paying more attention (or leaving the room). So in that sense I said high-budget when I really should have said "Hollywood."

Anyways so yeah Im not trying to find a hot deal on a more expensive camera, I'm really looking at the few brands of consumer priced 3CCD cameras that carry the most manual controls, best low light performace, and the potential to adapt higher quailty external audio devices.
 
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element80

Guest
Re: Trouble tracking down the right camera

MEAD said:
Basicly when I broke it down sound quality is far more important to me than image quality.
One thing to keep in mind is that film/video is a visual medium. You should be more worreid about the image than you are about sound. I would much rather see a silent film with a great image, than one that sounds great, but looks bad, and I'm sure there's a lot of people that would agree with me. Not to mention the fact that if your production sound is bad, you can always ADR in post. There's not much you can do to slavage a bad image.

Also, as far as getting a steadicam rig, even if it's just a cheaper brand, it's still incredibly expensive, and it takes a lot of practice and training to use well. Too many people are under the misconception that mounting a camera on a steadicam automatically makes the picture steady. In reality, an expeirenced camera op shooting handheld will probably give you more pleasing results than an amateur steadicam op. You're better off seeing what you can do to stablize the camera other ways. Practice shooting handheld, use a dolly, get creative. Unless you have some elaborate moving shot that you really need for your film, there's probably a way to get around it without a steadicam.

On a side note, I just noticed that this board censors a lot of words that you wouldn't expect...
 

MEAD

New member
I'm not focusing on sound in a way you might expect. I just want to be able to pickup dialog without too much ambient noise, and without the loudest sound always being that which is facing the camera as it would be with a camera mounted mic on a lower priced camera. Hmm maybe it was too simlistic to say sound was more important, what I meant was that It's more important for the sound quailty to be closer to professional grade than the image quality.

Film is visual, yes, but is everything you see always beautiful? I think it is a little simplistic to believe that a beautiful picture makes a beautiful film. That's fine if you personally wouldnt want to watch a film that was shot on a cheap camera, but I dont think you can extend that asthetic belief to all films. Besides there are other factors contribute to a potent shot such as meaningful composition and camera movements.

Furthermore, if we look at film semiotically, which is to say looking at film as a language. There are beautiful spoken languages and there are not so beautiful ones. Let's compare French to German, French is certainly more pleasing to the ear, but both are perfectly capable of expressing the same kinds of meaning.

It doesn't have to be beautiful as long as it's meaningful in my book.

About the steadicam, I just mean some simple counterbalancing rig, not a pro setup.
 
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Filmosity

Guest
I get what you're saying about the grainy, noisy image, but there's a saying: "Garbage in, Garbage out." In other words, even those movies that use a distorted image use good quality images. If it's something that you really want, then go for it. All I'm trying to say is that you're unlikely to find a 3CCD camera for under $1000.

Also, element80 is correct about the steady cam. Even the simplest rigs take a lot of practice to use well, so unless you have a lot of time to practice, why bother? Especially if you're looking to get this dirty, grainy image, why not complete the image with a slightly shaky handheld? If you're deadset on getting one, even the cheap ones aren't that cheap. A basic Glidecam can go for around $400. You could do a Google search for "Homebuilt stabilizers" and see what you get there.

My main point here is that there's a reason movies are made the way they are. I'm not saying you can't break the rules, but most of the rules have already been broken, and the best ways to do things have already been done.

Keep an open mind to what we're saying here...Just because we don't necessarily agree with you doesn't mean you shouldn't try.
 

MEAD

New member
Oh I understand guys, and I'm am also interested in how to make a beautiful shot. I just think you are being narrow minded. Too many filmmakers obsess about the picture quality. It's like having a beautiful image is something that should just be taken for granted when in fact a movie may not call for such beauty. I mean look at some modern pop music, does everything have to be so fucking produced? Maybe Dylan's terrible voice belting out Blowin' in the Wind onto an 8 track is more meaningful, more beauitful. Maybe I'm weird that i can watch "poor quality" videos on youtube and find something more true in them than in a big budget Hollywood film. I think the film quality itself can act semiotically and hold a complex meaning, but this is film theory and this isnt a forum about film theroy, so Ill lay this to rest. Thanks for the replies guys.
 

MarkG

New member
would much rather see a silent film with a great image, than one that sounds great, but looks bad, and I'm sure there's a lot of people that would agree with me.
Now try selling a silent movie and see how many people agree.

Personally I've worked on dozens of low-budget movies and the single biggest problem between them was poor sound. Far more people will watch a movie that looks OK and has good sound than a movie that looks great and has awful sound... you can alway try to improve your picture in post, it's much harder to fix bad sound unless you re-record all the lines that are unusable; and doing that takes plenty of time and money in itself.

It's also worth remembering that most people were happy with VHS for twenty years; even a cheap DV camera will give a better picture than that, if it's shot with some attention to lighting and graded competently.
 
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Filmosity

Guest
If you're not concerned with image quality, why do you want a 3CCD camera?
 

MEAD

New member
I am concerned with image quality to an extent, I want the best picture possible for the lowest possible price. I am familiar with a couple of cheaper consumer 3CCD cameras panasonic put out but I was unaware their other specs, or if another company made better units in the same price range. Clearly you pay for picture quailty, but the huge price gap between cameras of lower quality and those closer to professional is too big for my budget, and its not worth me obsessing about.
 
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Filmosity

Guest
Ok, so I did a quick search using your criteria and found that Panasonic indeed does make some sub $1000 3CCD camcorders. I like Panasonic camcorders. They reproduce colors nicely. Unfortunately, they don't have XLR mic inputs. You can, however buy an adapter (I think Beachtek makes it) that will take XLR inputs and combine them to a stereo mini plug that goes into the jack. If you do some careful shopping (staying away from some bad black & grey market sellers) you can get both of these for under $1000. I didn't find any with manual controls, though. Like I said, more features = more money.
 

MEAD

New member
Ah cool thanks man! I was holding out for some manual features but i guess it wont happen at that price.
 

Lazlo

New member
I want the best picture possible for the lowest possible price.
Don't we all...

Clearly you pay for picture quailty, but the huge price gap between cameras of lower quality and those closer to professional is too big for my budget, and its not worth me obsessing about.
The gap isn't as much as you might think. For instance. You could get a completely decent 3CCD camcorder with full manual and a few professional features for about 1200. Pretty much, As soon as you get above $1000, the quality of the camcorder (generally) goes up exponentially, with semi-pro cameras going for anything between 1400-2000 and pros going as high you want... possibly it could be a thought to save up for a semi-pro camera. The creative control goes far beyond f-stop, shutterspeed, focal length and the basics. You can fine tune the image in terms of sharpness, master ped., color temperature to name a few. The idea being that you can create your own unique look for whatever film your making. And yes, if you wanted you could make it look really grainy and haphazard if you wanted. The poing being that you can make a good camera look "homevideoish" if that is your desire, but it would be very difficult to make a consumer cameras footage amazing. Not impossible by any means, of course good lighting and camerawork can do wonders, but if your really into filmmaking, then you'll probobly outgrow a consumer camera fairly quickly and want to experiment with more control and options at your fingertips that a consumer camera can't offer.

Just remember, its not all about CCD's. A lot of it is optics, make sure you get a reputable and reliable lens. For instance, Leica and Canon make great lenses. And its pretty importnat to make sure that the camera has manual features, because when you get into the very consumer cameras, a lot of them have an automatic gain that enacts when you get into low light situations, making the quality of the image pretty bad... Even if that's the look your going for, you probobly do want to have control over it instead of leaving it to chance.
 
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