More from the new DSLR FILM NOOB Channel.

The number one question that comes in is “What camera should I buy?”. That question is usually followed up with a list of expensive cameras and a request to recommend the best camera out of the lineup. The answer isn’t as easy as saying you should by (insert camera name here). I’m using the Kodak Zi8 here as an example because it’s a sub $100 1080p camera, but this demonstration applies to most modern low price HD cameras on the market.

There are a lot of factors to consider before you spend your hard earned money on a camera. The two major factors depend mostly on what you are planning to film and how much money you have to spend. If you have $10,000 to spend there are countless options, but if you only have a few hundred dollars to spend, you aren’t necessarily doomed to horrible video quality and you still have the ability to create good content.

People often focus in (pun intended) on the camera as the most important part of film making. Other equally or even more important items like lighting, audio, and motion get overlooked. The Kodak Zi8 is by no means a power house camera but by taking into consideration it’s limitations (i.e. 50-800 ISO sensor rating and fixed focus f2.8 61 mm lens) you can avoid pit falls and take advantage of it’s strengths. This is true for most cameras.

Cheap 1080p sensors can produce very good video with the proper amount of light. In the case above I have enough lighting that the camera can shoot at about 200 ISO which means the sensor doesn’t have to struggle to capture the image. More light also means less digital noise caused by gain applied to the image which means the footage looks better. Low price $200 lighting kits with 3 or 4 fixtures can do more for the quality of your footage then $500 spent on a camera body or lens and when that camera becomes outdated, the lighting kit will still be useful.

Audio can make a big difference. Most new cameras have 3.5mm inputs with level controls built in. I filmed this video with the audio recorded directly into the Kodak Zi8 using it’s 3.5mm jack and the built in audio control adjustment. The audio might not sound quit as good as some of my other videos but it’s much better then what the camera would have captured with it’s built in mic. Even a cheap wireless mic can add a lot of production value to the audio quality in your film. Again something like a wireless mic can be useful through multiple camera upgrades.

When you read the word “motion” above you probably thought it was a type-o. When I say motion I’m referring to support structures for camera movement. A fluid pan & tilt head, jib, or camera slider can add camera motion to your shots and that motion gives your film the look of production value. Hand held “shaky cam” can sometimes be used to properly convey emotion but if it’s constantly used through out a film it often takes away from the viewing experience.

The point I’m getting at here is that if you’re on a tight budget, consider investing your money in lighting, audio, and motion first before you take the dive into high end camera gear. The usefulness of those items will out last your camera in the long run.


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