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The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros

This is a Public Topic geared towards first-time filmmakers. Professional members of The D-Word will come by and answer your questions about documentary filmmaking.

Riley Morton
Thu 29 Mar 2012Link

i haven't used it – my big concern would be ergonomics. i'd make sure i tried it before committing.


Laura Moire Paglin
Sun 8 Apr 2012Link

Yes – you certainly can't hand hold it without some sort of stabilization (which I'm still working on). I think you can get used to the buttons – although in cold weather, I'd probably find it impossible to use. Just like with the DSLRs you'll need to transcode the footage, which is a pain. You'll need ND filters since there isn't one built in. I'd also probably (and am planning to buy) the Atimos recorder – so you can record in Prores and or have a back up to those flimsy cards.


Kevin Hallagan
Wed 2 May 2012Link

Compared to the cameras you guys have been talking about, I feel foolish asking about the ones I'm looking at.... but I'm going to do it anyway.
I am going to start my first Feature Doc this fall if not sooner, but I honestly only have about $5000 in my bank account and have no car, need to pay for food, rent, etc. so I'm looking at most in the range of the Canon 5D Mark II or the Pentax k-5... Snapsort helped me narrow it down to those two, but something about it makes me feel uncomfortable. I know it's my first doc but I feel like these cameras are just unprofessional. I don't want to be seen as a student making a movie, but I also don't have a car so getting my gear from place t place needs to be a compact operation and I can't afford anything nicer... any suggestions?

thanks
-Kevin

Ps. here's the Snapsort comparison: http://snapsort.com/compare/Canon_EOS_5D_Mark_II-vs-Pentax_K-5


Kevin Wells
Wed 2 May 2012Link

In reply to Kevin Hallagan's post on Wed 2 May 2012 :
If price is a constraint and you want to use a dslr, I would suggest one of the cheaper dslr's. I love my 5D Mark II, but something like a 60D or t3i would work just fine (and have an adjustable lcd screen). Also, the Panasonic GH2 can produce a wonderful image – you have to take the crop factor into account, but it's a nice doc camera as well. For all of these you'll need an external audio recorder – Zoom H4n is great.

I would recommend a shift in thinking over whether a camera is professional or unprofessional. They are tools – if you can get something cheaper that helps you do what you need to, get it. People take cues from how you conduct yourself. And often times, using a dslr helps on a doc shoot because you are hassled less from police, guards, etc because it's unassuming...


Peter Brauer
Wed 2 May 2012Link

What Kevin says is right on. I shoot a 7D and love it most of the time. But the 60D and t3i is nearly as good as the 7d. Spend your money on audio. Get a good mic. Good sound is probably more important to seeming professional. Ultimately its not the camera that will make things look and sound good. Its you. Good luck.


Kevin Hallagan
Thu 3 May 2012Link

thank you, Kevin and Peter. time for me to redirect my camera research.


alyce ornella
Thu 3 May 2012Link

I shoot with the 60D and vintage Soviet lenses w/adapter (which are not the most versatile, and not image stabilized, but all I could afford). The camera is great. Like you, I have no funding at the time and largely shoot/edit/produce alone. You will have to put the most thought into stabilization and audio recording.

For sound, I wear a small 4-channel field mixer around my waist where I can run a shotgun mic (mounted to the camera hotshoe) and wireless lav, then output via stereo cable to the camera input. It'd be better if I had a separate sound person but I usually don't, and after a lot of trial and error this seems to be working best for me.

As soon as I have a spare $600 or so I will get an image stabilized lens, but I have no idea when that will actually happen. Get one of those if you can. I rely on a combination of tripod, monopod w/feet, gorillapod, and rail system shoulder mount (which causes so much pain after using for a couple of hours that I rarely use it).

Also I found with the 60D it's much better to work with one of those magnification mounts you clip on to the LCD screen, this helps you see much easier if you are in focus. I guess you could also use one of those small LCD field monitors if you have somewhere to mount it.

Get a 60D instead of 5D and invest the savings into the other things you'll need.

Edited Thu 3 May 2012 by alyce ornella

Jesse Zook Mann
Fri 4 May 2012Link

Get some credit cards. Buy the camera you want used. Make your movie. Sell camera. Pay off card. Thats what I've done for 10 years. Will be worth having a camera with XLR inputs – I synced 100 hours of 7d footage. It sucked. Bad.


Kevin Hallagan
Mon 7 May 2012Link

so what are everyone's thoughts on a Pentax K-5 with a BeachTek adapter for XLR inputs?


alyce ornella
Mon 7 May 2012Link

I had a Beachtek for a while. I never found the monitoring level to be very good, nor the level indicators to really work. The right channel blew out not too long after I got it. I get much better results using a 4 channel field mixer in a shoulder bag.

Edited Mon 7 May 2012 by alyce ornella

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