Which camera ? Which camera ?? WHICH CAMERA!!! ???

OK, so as NAB 2011 draws near… This seems to be the year that everything is going to change — Or at least in the worlds of broadcast and cinematography…

There are so many things I hope to get out of NAB this year. Will Canon come out with their new HD FF35 camera? What’s up with the 5Dmk3? Will RED deliver the Scarlet and the EPIC-S? Will Sony have all the specs out for the FS100 and some units to play with? Where is Birger Engineering in their development on a EF to E-mount adapter for Canon lenses on the Sony PMW-F3? Ninja or Samurai? NanoFlash or AJA Ki Pro Mini?… House payment or GEAR!!!! (wait. I think I’ve gone too far =)

So here’s what’s been going through my head for the last several weeks:

What’s the best camera for the work I do and can it last me for the next 5 years? (5 years??) What it needs to have:

  • 10bit HD-SDI and/or HDMI 4:2:2 uncompressed output – Clean
  • Card based recording system that is or can be adapted to SDHC form factor cards
  • APS-C or larger sensor – S35 or FF35
  • XLR audio and proper controls with LINE and MIC input level choices
  • Timecode IN (and out)
  • Good headphone monitoring
  • Oh yeah… interchangeable lenses =)
Things that would be nice:
  • ENG / EFP Servo ZOOM lens
  • ND stages
  • Picture profiles and the ability to store them and load to other cameras
  • Edit ready format to drop right into my NLE and grading
  • Composite video output for fast attaching to Steadicams and the like
  • SSD storage options
Of course this list could go on for days. But lets look at the top contenders for under $20K
…And yes I did rate them according to their estimated MSRP =) All of the cameras should be able to be configured sub 20K but you can accessorize them to your heart’s content.

I have widdled it down like this for me:

  • I have an EX3, a LETUS extreme, a 5Dmk2 with nice lens kit and accessories.
  • I use a 17″ JVC HD-SDI monitor for my clients on-set.
  • I use a Marshall 7″ HD-SDI monitor on the camera for me.
  • Shallow DoF is starting to become more prevalent with my clients and their projects.
  • Most are editing on Final Cut Pro (FCP) but are not willing to spend a lot of time converting or syncing.
  • Apple is going to SDHC slots and cards
UPDATE: Apple is releasing FCP-X WOO HOOOO!!! To use this year’s catch phrase “Game Changer”!!! If all works as it should the new ingest (or lack of need to) path for FCP will help with a lot of these concerns. DSLRs up to the RED will supposedly work – straight in – Yeah!!!

For a brief moment I thought I had it figured out… Nope. I’m leaning towards the Sony offerings but … I don’t know. If the economy picks up a little more and the projects start coming in on a regular basis again, I think I am heavily considering the Sony F3. The S-Log feature and the familiarity is just a really good thing. WIth my EX3 as a second unit I can get away with a lot on 2 camera stacked shots that will be finishing in HD. And I have a few colleagues that have or are considering the F3 so there would be a pool of F3’s to dip into if needed.

The other factor that is starting to creep into the equation is the deliverables. Great tools like the Cinedeck, Convergent Design’s Gemini 4:4:4, AJA KI Pro and KI Pro Mini and the offerings from Atomos – Ninja and Samurai. These all allow us to extent the life of our current cameras and bring new tricks to our future projects.

Check back soon. I will have a whole new spin on this – I’m sure =)

Until next time, good shooting,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *