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Should You Buy Your Own Camera, and If So What?

  • Roland Boyden
  • |
  • JANUARY 31, 2019

PhillyCAM’s X70 XDCAM ’s have been selected to work for as many different kinds of users as possible, and their combination of big 1-inch sensor and camcorder form factor make them a versatile choice. That said, there are plenty of reasons to want your own camera—one that’s available whenever you want it, and can be tailored to your specific needs.

  • $500 - $999 BUDGET

The Canon SL2 is one of the best budget buys out there right now. You can get the same terrific 24MP sensor from the more expensive 80D and you get Dual Pixel AF, which is video autofocus so good that even hardened industry professionals are converting to using it. It does have limitations—there’s no headphone jack, no 4k, and minimal slow-mo—but much of that is made up for by its really filmic image and excellent color right out of the box.

You can buy it in a kit with an acceptable if not exciting 18-55 lens, but adding this $50 prime will get you that really cinematic look. Also, consider this surprisingly good XLR adapter for getting a pro mic into the camera.

ADDITIONAL CAMERA SPECIFICATIONS

 

  • $1,000 - $1450 BUDGET

What about if you need 4k? My go to pick for 4k on a budget is a Panasonic GH4 which you can find for as little as $400 used. It has a stellar 4k image, legendary battery life, a headphone jack, and a fully articulating screen.

It has an extremely adaptable micro-four-thirds mount which allows you to use just about any kind of lens you want by adding a $20 adapter, including cheap vintage lenses like Canon FD, Nikkor, Pentax and more. For starters, this adapter and this lens deliver a high-end look on a minimal budget.

ADDITIONAL CAMERA SPECIFICATIONS

 

  • $1,500 - $2,250 BUDGET

If you’ve got a bit of a bigger budget, consider the newly released Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k. For $1,300 this camera provides Hollywood level RAW video recording in 4k at up to 60fps, great lowlight recording, a bright 5” touch screen with an excellent user interface, an XLR input built right in, a headphone jack, and more.

Bear in mind though that the media for this camera is crazy expensive and it’s a battery hog so you’ll need to buy a better power solution like this one from Core to keep it running for any normal shoot.

ADDITIONAL CAMERA SPECIFICATIONS

 

  • $2,500+ BUDGET

The Sony A7III is the cheapest full frame 4k camera out there right now at $2,000. That means you get a sensor twice as big as in an Arri Alexa! It’s a pro-level stills camera in addition to being a great 4k video camera. It has a headphone jack, great battery life, and the industry standard S-Log 3 picture profile.

My top pick for an all-arounder lens to pair with this camera is this lens Tamron. For filmmaking primes check out Sigma’s ART lenses for Sony E-Mount. And, like MFT, Sony's E-Mount can be adapted with super cheap adapters to take just about any kind of vintage lens.
 

ADDITIONAL CAMERA SPECIFICATIONS