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Thread: Please help me choose a camera - max budget around 700

  1. #1

    Default Please help me choose a camera - max budget around 700

    I'm looking for a camera to start experimenting with filmmaking, I already have some still photography experience but video is new to me. My max budget is about 700 although ideally I'd be looking for something around 500 - 600.

    I was looking at camcorders to start but I'm worried that I won't be able to get a good shallow DOF blur or cinematic look with what is available in my price range. So first, am I right to be leaning toward a DSLR?

    What's most important to me is good manual controls, true HD recording at 1080 and the ability to achieve a cinematic feel. If I choose a camcorder could I add depth of field type blur in post? Or is a DSLR the best way to go for my needs?

    If so, which DSLR should I go for? I was thinking of the EOS 60D or the t2i - is the latter camera the same as the 550D as i have seen people talking about them as if they are the same? Any help or recommendations greatly appreciated - there's a lot of choice out there and I don't want to make a decision I regret later on...

  2. #2

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    Hi and welcome,

    There are many reasons why people can easily spend 1K-4K just on a single video camera on it's own to achieve that stunning look. 700 "may" get you somewhere, the question is where do you want to go with it?

    I could buy a Jumbo Jet that will fly me around the world...Or I can buy a scooter that will get me to work. One costs another would be
    Why don't you post a picture of "how good" you want your video's to look?

  3. #3

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    This is similar to the sort of look I would like to be able to achieve, it has something of a film feel to it whereas the camcorder footage I have seen in my price range tends to look more "home movie" in appearance - crisp but huge depth of field and simply not very "natural" looking. I'm aware that the video below has been colour corrected too but that's something I plan to do anyway.

    Canon 60d Cinematic Look - YouTube

    I'm not dead set on the 60D at all though, just something that will deliver a similar or better result. In a nutshell I want to get as professional a result as possible within my budget. Also I know there are certain drawbacks with the DSLR route, but as far as I can tell a camcorder of a similar price to the 60D can't deliver a comparable "film-like" quality so I'm willing to deal with some inconvenience for the benefit of being able to use different lenses and in particular have a decent control over depth of field using manual settings. This is something I'm used to in still photography and I don't want to sacrifice that ability. Any advice on similar devices or other options I might not have considered would be great

  4. #4

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    Idealy you should save up and buy a proper video camera if you want to shoot video but at your price range the 550D or 600D is probabley the best thing to go for to achieve the Shallow DoF you are after. These are only really "entry level" cameras but I'm sure they do a good job for what they are. On top of the camera you will need at least a couple of lenses like a 50mm prime and some sort of a zoom. Then there is the sound side of videos DSLRs are rubbish on the sound front so look for a seperate digital sound recorder like the Zoom H2.

    Buy the way you can get a shallow DoF with any camera if you know how to use it.

  5. #5
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    You don't get a "cinematic look" from any camera. Not even a 35mm Panavision.

    You get a cinematic look by a combination of composition, lighting, framing and acting ability.

    The example you quote looks like kids playing with a camcorder, even though the depth of field is shallow. It's not about the equipment, it's about how you use it. I would suggest getting a proper camcorder, make a few films with it then start fiddling with the technology. as Midnight pointed out, if you buy a DSLR you will also need lenses and sound recording equipment which will push your expenses way over your budget.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rembrandt Rob View Post
    You don't get a "cinematic look" from any camera. Not even a 35mm Panavision.

    You get a cinematic look by a combination of composition, lighting, framing and acting ability.
    Sure you're right, but what I'm specifically asking about is the highest quality footage I can achieve within my budget.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rembrandt Rob View Post
    The example you quote looks like kids playing with a camcorder, even though the depth of field is shallow. It's not about the equipment, it's about how you use it. I would suggest getting a proper camcorder, make a few films with it then start fiddling with the technology. as Midnight pointed out, if you buy a DSLR you will also need lenses and sound recording equipment which will push your expenses way over your budget.
    I posted it because it's shot with the 60d and it's one of the cameras I'm considering, it's just to show the sort of quality I'm after. The budget I posted is just for the camera, I'm not including sound etc. in that. If I go for a camcorder instead would you say I could achieve the same sort of quality? I understand what you're saying about it not being about the equipment but at the same time I need advice on what equipment to buy Would you be able to recommend a camcorder that would be a good alternative to the DSLRs I mentioned?

  7. #7
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    When they came out I thought that the video DSLR would mean the death of the camcorder. Now I'm convinced that the DSLR will become a bit of a one-night-stand. It's "in" at the moment but these fashions come and go. A few years ago it was fisheye lenses, then grad filters, then the "tilt effect" and currently it's shallow Depth of Field.

    Don't get me wrong, the DSLR can produce lovely pictures but you have to work within its limitations (and there are a lot of them). DSLRs have problems with movement, focus, moire and artifacts. If everything is relatively still, movements kept to a minimum, the scene chosen carefully and the lighting right, a DSLR will (almost) match the most expensive camcorder. Which is why it's used a lot as the second camera in interviews.

    If I compare the "quality" of a Canon HF11 consumer camcorder with the "quality" of a DSLR... the camcorder wins hands down.

    So, if you only want a shallow depth of field, then a DSLR will get you that. If you want a camera to carry all the time which will take excellent stills and very good video - get a DSLR. For anything else you will find that a dedicated camcorder will probably be a more flexible option.

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