Digital Video Forum

Digital Video Forum Discuss camcorders, HD video, HD DSLRs, video editing, DV software, and video techniques. Your DV forum moderator is Skyman.
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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2009

    Best digital camera for me £2,000-£10,000?

    Hello all.

    Just a quick (and potentially stupid) request for information:

    I would like to buy a film camera, which one is best.

    Ok, (to make an unanswerable/dopey question slightly less dopey, and almost answerable) ... for what purpose, and at what price point am I looking at?

    Like I said I donít know or have any knowledge base in this area. But I know what I want.

    Itís being used to video stand up comedy. And at a level of recording that should be good enough to release in some form or other onto DVD. After buying this I will probably be buying Apple Final Cut Studio. Or whichever editing suite is best on the Mac.

    So I would like:

    Superb Sound. Needs to be built in. As thereís no boom operator. So a really good, broadcast quality in built mic.

    And needless to say brilliant picture.

    The camera will be Ďlocked offí, so it will just be pointing at an area where I hope all the action will happen. Not sure if this makes a difference. There being no camera man.

    Security. How do I stop someone walking off with the camera?

    Hard drive. I want to record many shows. And just transfer any Ďgoodí ones onto the Mac. And just record over all the ones that donít make the grade. So Iím guessing I donít want tape, but some kind of hard drive. Ideally enough space to record for at least 6-7 hours. As we have multiple shows on some nights.

    Battery life? Will it always need to be plugged in. Or do camera batteries last longer than my parentsí old VHS camcorder? Battery life of 6-7 hours in record mode?

    The camera will also be used to record sketches and the like.

    And are there any other things I need to think of/ask?

    Like lighting? Is there a better type of camera for what will be in effect recording action on a fully lit stage?

    I think thatís the techno stuff out of the way.

    I canít stress how much I would love the camera to be top/best there is.

    But thatís all down to price.

    I would love to spend no more than £2,000.

    But if thatís too low, then I could go to a max of about £10,000.

    Though my girlfriend may never talk to me again.

    So I would love to know, if thereís an awesome camera at around £2,000. £5,000. And £10,000.

    Those are the three sorts of price ranges Iím looking at.

    I really do appreciate you reading this, and anyone who chips in with advice, or even just abuse for my naivety/and balls in asking other people to do all my Ďleg workí. I have to make this clear, I donít have any clue about cameras. So any and all help, however simple/obvious it may seem to you, will be really helpful.

    Hmm, now Iíve Ďouttedí myself as being film camera challenged I bet I get a deluge of people trying to sell me an ĎEtch-a-Sketchí for ten grand.

    Thanks again,

    All the best.


    P.S. Iím in London (UK) so film in PAL

  2. #2
    Moderator Skyman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

    Re: Best digital camera for me £2,000-£10,000?

    Have a read of the mini dv vs dvd thread (the link is in my signature) as this explains a bit about all the different formats. You are looking at a couple of issues, but non of them are insurmountable. Firstly camera quality, well a braodcast (3ccd) sd camera will give you dvd quality video, but for your job I would be looking at prosumer and upwards cameras. This means that you will be looking at cameras that take mini dv tape (tape is higher quality) or if your budget can stretch digibeta or dvcam cameras. Personally I would be looking at the canon xl2 and sony fx 100 as a minimum. You may need to buy a microphone but I am assuming that this will be recorded at a live venue. Normally it wouldn't be too difficult to get a line out from the house pa to your camera (but you need to make sure the camera has the line level input / adapter - sometimes it is an accessory) lighting wise again you will probably just use whatever the house lights are, but this does mean you need to white balance the camera first, so a good white balance board is going to be important. Battery life, well with pro cameras you can often get a battery that is good for a couple of hours, but again in a venue I would be erring on using house mains power. A solid video tripod is essential, preferably one with a nice fluid head from manfrotto or miller. oh and make sure the camera has a decent zoom, again position wise it if it is unattended it is most likely going to sit somewhere near the sound desk so you need to bring the action up. again with the better cameras you can change lenses so you can customise all of this.

    Ok I think that covers everything you are asking about. Now I would do this differently if you want quality results. The camera is only half the story, but as I said anything above prosumer level is going to be ok for your task, so you can save a bit of money there. This means that you can use two cameras. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that watching a video from one perspective only gets very boring very fast, but the second is that a lot of comediens use facial expressions etc to convey meaning and at the same time rarely stay still. So having a camera at the back of the room recording a static wide shot whilst having an operated camera focused closely on the performer gives you options in the edit suite. Incidentally most decent editing applications will be able to automatically handle multi cam shoots. The one this that is essential here is a good audio track, so getting the sound from the desk is important if you don't have a boom operator. it also means that you can either record the audio to a dat tape (digital audio tape) or send it to one of the cameras and use the mic on the second camera to record atmos sound (the audience laughing, the rooms echo etc. mixing these in editing will give you the quality you want with a much more natural effect. Again in an even better world 3-4 cameras one working on a head and shoulders close up able to follow the performer, one working on a mid waist level shot again following the performer and a wide shot of the performance area if known or the entire stage if not. The fourth camera would be a roving cam getting "pick up shots" of audience reactions etc and unusual angles of the performer. One - two cameras will give you a youtube quality production unless the camera operator/s are very talented (you would have to have both the close and mid/far cameras able to follow the performer and pan for crowd reactions etc which would also probably require a vision controller to tell the camera operators what to look for so that they both didn't accidentally turn away from the performer at a crucial time) and or the comedian is very very talented, otherwise the audience is going to lose interest far to rapidly. Hire a couple of DVD's of live comics and see if you can work out how many cameras they used.

    As for skit recording, one camera operator and the time to make many takes of the skit from different camera angles / positions is going to help a lot.
    Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur

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