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Cinematography : Camera Suggestions for an After School Club by Duane Keaton

Duane Keaton

Camera Suggestions for an After School Club

Suggestions for a good camera for short films and documentaries? I run an after school filmmaking club which shows our films at a local theater as the school's dramatic production each year. We currently use a Canon SL1 which does alright, but I keep wondering if we could do better for something around $1000 that could give us a better cinematic look- meaning would look better on a theater screen. I read an article about what cameras the filmmakers from Sundance use and that said they use quite a variety of DSLRs, professional camcorders, even iPhones. Any thoughts?

Erich Kemp

Hey Duane - I love recommending the Canon Eos M to folks. Canon discontinued their mirrorless camera in 2012, and it's selling on Amazon for $250: http://www.amazon.com/Canon-EOS-Compact-System-Camera/dp/B00B2A1KEC I've read its image is comparable to a Rebel t2 or t3i. I love mine, and feel like it's a hidden gem not too many are aware of. Since it's mirrorless, there are many glass-less adapters available, for fitting older lenses. That's what I do, and I've never spent more than $200 on a lens (and I've got 18 - 300 covered in mostly primes.) Granted, they're all manual, but that's fun for me. I've shot a bunch of shorter-form stuff, so if this is what you're looking for, I can send over examples. There are also lots of footage/tests on YouTube. I'm confident it'll hold up nicely with projection - when I watch footage from a blu-ray on a 50" LED TV, looks great. Like I said, I love pitching this camera to people, and hope it's what you're looking for. -EK

Joe Becker

Black Magic makes a nice one for about a grand, but there are numerous cams out there. You might want to go to your local Best Buy, and a few other electronics stores where you can hold the cameras in your hand and get a feel for what you like. You'll also want to check lens features. Are they removable? If not, does it zoom? If so, what's the zoom range? What's the ease of use? How does it do in low light. Can you control iris, shutter speed, frame rates, white balance...? And, of course, what does footage from this camera look like on a big screen? Sony, Panasonic, and others make great cams at incredibly low prices these days. here's a link so you can see the Black Magic cam. the quality is awesome, and you can use your existing Canon lenses. like any other camer, it has its drawbacks. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=964117&gclid=Cj0K...

Joe Becker

WOW Eric, that sounds awesome! I might buy a few of those.

Erich Kemp

Yes Joe, get them before they're all gone! M2 and M3 weren't released in the US and aren't as cheap.

Duane Keaton

Thanks for these suggestions. I have thought about a cinema camera like the Black Magic but was turned off by the bad reviews. If you don't mind to take a look. Here's a PSA we did, it's only a minute long. It's one of the better looking ones we've done. It was shot with the Canon SL1 with the Canon 28mm f/2.8 lens. That's the best set up we have right now and I just think we can do better. I guess what I want is nice bokeh- better than what we can do right now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDSqNnjszEs

Erich Kemp

Hey Duane, that's a great PSA. The bokeh is coming from the lens itself, and for $250 and a $40 adapter, you can use that lens on the Canon M. I'm more into video than photography, so I don't know what features were left off the M versus a full-sized DSLR. But, for video, at this price, there is no other. Here's a short film I shot with it and various older lenses: (contains profane language) https://vimeo.com/127446214

Joost Ahrens

For a better quality and a more cinematic look I think you should invest in lenses and lights. And for cameras I can only go with the others and recommend Blackmagic! I am shooting mostly with the Ursa and Production camera. They really do deliver a great image quality and the skin tones and highlight roll off are amazing in my opinion.

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