What is your dream camera?

TRIFLIX Columbus, INPosts: 927 Enthusiast
edited August 2016 in Practical Filmmaking

I've been hunting for "The Best" camera for nearly a year now and I've yet to see anything that wows... Everything just seems so lacking in the world of Semi-Pro Cinema (Under $4000 USD). It got me thinking, what specs would make me happy?!?

I went started writing all the specs that I think would make the best Semi-Pro camera:

  • ACP-S but Full Frame Preferred
  • 120fps @1080p
  • 60fps @ 2k (No Crop
  • Fast/Accurate Auto Focus
  • Fast/Accurate Auto Iso
  • Internal Stabilization
  • Good lowlight
  • XLR input
  • Hot shoe mounts that don't hinder LCD Selfie Mode
  • 3" Fully Articulating LCD
  • Responsive Touch Screen
  • Audio Meter
  • Focus Peaking
  • 13 Stops of DR
  • Intended for Filmming
  • Smart Lens compatible
  • Lens Mount (EF or Sony)
  • Low Lag Video Monitoring (HDMI and Bluetooth, or wifi)
  • SD cards (Heck I'd be happy paying premium and going C-Fast)
  • Capture Formats (ProRes, Sony format, RAW, JPG)
  • 5lbs with kit lens
  • $2300 ($2700 w/ Fast OIS f 2.4 24-150 lens)
  • $500 Preorder (Product will ship with Ring light for desired lens mount, 256gb SD Card, Sennheiser MKE 600, Lens filters/cleaning kit)

Keep in mind all Blackmagic products come with DaVinci Resolve Pro for free...

So what do you think? Does this camera exist and I just over looked it? Maybe you have something different in mind in terms of the perfect camera... please share your thoughts :)

Might send this to Blackmagic, Sony, Panasonic and Canon if it goes well.



  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,603 Ambassador

    We don't have what you want in that price range yet. Plus, I think a 4K sensor is more what you want. 

    Closest thing to what you want is an Ursa Mini 4k EF mount. If I had 10 grand for cameras, I would get two of those, kit one out for handheld, leave the other on sticks and use what's left for cards. 

    Or I'd grab a pair of Sony a7s IIs and some Metabones adaptors for existing Canon glass and another couple of lenses. Again, kit one for handheld, one for sticks. 

    TRIFLIX Columbus, INPosts: 927 Enthusiast

    The BM Ursa mini is pribably the best production camera out right now however it has pretty sad lowlight capabilities and weights a little too much for a run/gun.

    The A7Rii and A7Sii are pretty amazing at the moment but their jump from a $500 NX500, $1100 GH4, or even a $1000 A6300 isn't justifable able :(

    The price to performane just doesnt seem practical... however that is completely subjective :)

    I do agree that with 10K both of those options are probably the best at the moment! @triem23

    To be honest I'd be happy paying $3000 -$4000 if the camera I described shot 4k in addition to my first points.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,603 Ambassador

    Yeah, but once you do enough events you're not allowed to light, the a7s II low-light is worth the price..

    The Ursa Mini is 5 lbs. With the shoulder kit and a viewfinder, that's about 8lbs. Not bad. I shoot concerts, sports and rodeos (note, rodeos involve climbing fences) handheld on Panasonic HPX 300s and those bad boys are 12 lbs, plus whatever drag I have from my plex cable (yeah, I never get a flipping cable grip). Sony DSR 570 is 14 lbs. 

    8lbs is a walk in the park! Not as nice as a Canon XF-305 (6.5 lbs), but put a shoulder pad on that and... 8 lbs! 

    TRIFLIX Columbus, INPosts: 927 Enthusiast
    edited August 2016

    Should have specified... The weight limit was in regards to 3-axis gimbals, most gimbals under $2000 dont support more than 5lbs. I am building one for $400 that supports 5.5lbs.

    From what I hear the a6300 currently holds the record for fastest consumer level AF and the A7Rii with best Lowlight.... practically 'see in the dark' lowlight.

    Curious to know hold the best DR values for consumer to semi-pro level. @triem23

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,603 Ambassador

    Oh. Yeah. I'm not a fan of gimbals. They put all the weight in front without an expensive support vest that costs more than the Gimbal! For narrative work, awesome (lots of short shots and downtime) , but not what I would use for run and gun event work. I've had times where I literally have shot for 3 hours in a multicam situation where, for legal reasons (I was also "evidence" camera) I was never allowed to take my camera off the man I was shooting. No way I could do that with a gimbal. Lotta times I would drop down and get that camera on my knee for a rest. Which also got this cool low angle with some nice chandeliers in BG. 

    TRIFLIX Columbus, INPosts: 927 Enthusiast
    edited August 2016

    The world most interesting man, everyone. I found him. He's right here. @Triem23

    I guess what I want is a hybrid camera then... which is a niche market... and as we all know... large companies avoid the niche markets. I'll just have to wait for a GH5 to come out or next generation of Blackmagic's when their lowlight is better.

    Screw Samsung for leaving the NX1 without a successor! That camera would have ate anything on the market. They should have never went proprietary lens mount. 

    Canon is being carried by their lenses, tbh their recent cameras are just kind of 'average.' Nikon D750 is awesome but 2 years old and a little dated...

    With the exception of the cameras we mentioned above the industry just  feels stale... Really counting on the "Craft Camera" to pull through as the first modular camera. Then I could build it however I want... but with a premium cost :/

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,603 Ambassador

    *Ahem* RED is the first modular camera. But Craft is exciting. 

    Canon's XC-10 would be exciting if it wasn't fixed lens. 

    TRIFLIX Columbus, INPosts: 927 Enthusiast

    In regards to the XC My thought's exactly but... 

    In regards to Red... ehh, technically yes... but not in the same sense. It's like comparing a prebuilt computer to buying parts and assembling them. 

    Are they both 'modular'... yes. But in a different sense. If I had the money, I would get a RED over craft though:)

  • Aladdin4d
    Aladdin4d Posts: 2,481 Enthusiast

    More random thoughts.........

    Any camera is modular. You have to rig it along with any other gear making it just one piece of the whole. Seriously, we don't keep the camera when we upgrade. What we keep is the glass and accessories like mics, audio recorders, external recorders blah blah blah. Even a RED or Craft just ends up being a part of the whole.

    I'm totally in lust with the whole a7 family. The only things that would change that are 1) Canon responds with an affordable version of the ME20F-SH  or 2) Sony makes a different form factor camera. They've already dropped the sensor into a security cam.  @Triem23 is totally right on this - when you can't control the lighting you NEED a camera like one of the a7's.

    Gimbals can be great in certain situations but they get real expensive real quick, are a lot of extra weight and bulk to haul around and present certain difficulties. Real world example - You get the camera rigged to the Ronin,  the Ronin rigged to  the vest  and take a couple of tests to confirm everything is working the way you want to. You're ready to take on the world except the Venti Americano and bran muffin you picked up at Starbucks on the way to the shoot are coming back to haunt and you need to find a restroom ASAP.  The whole time you're removing the gimbal gear and headed to the restroom you'll be asking yourself "Why didn't I just get a DJI Osmo?" 

    Get a BMD Video Assist 4k!  It adds a lot of the stuff on your list without having to have it all in one camera.

    • Dual recorders using low cost SD cards
    • ProRes and DNx recording formats
    • SDI/HDMI recording trigger plus LANC port
    • XLR inputs (mini) - Yes it records audio too.
    • Zebra, Focus Peaking and Focus Zoom
    • Levels Histogram
    • Touchscreen
    • Works as a (ahem) low latency video monitor
    • Choose your own articulating arm
    • Who needs Selfie mode with one of these?

    Don't pay the premium for CFast 2.0 cards. CFast 2.0 is pin for pin (except power) identical to SATA III. Get an Atoch C2S  instead or make your own adapter as some others on the BMD forums have done. I actually have a couple of old Maxell iVDR  units left over from the firewire HDV days. I gutted one to use as an SSD power supply and rigged up a standard SATA cable to a CFast card shell kit.  It's never been tested with a camera yet but it does work over a PC CFast card interface.

    TRIFLIX Columbus, INPosts: 927 Enthusiast
    edited August 2016

    "Who needs Selfie mode with one of these?"

    Vloggers that care about quality :(@Aladdin4d

    A7Rii vs A7sii (interpret it how you choose)

    • AutoFocus: A7Rii
    • Metabones: R > S
    • Better Internal Temp: A7Sii
    • Low light: A7Sii
    • More Video Options: A7Sii
    • 120fps @ HD: A7Sii
  • FilmTech
    FilmTech Posts: 385 Enthusiast

    I love my Gh4, Although it doesn't have the exact specs you are looking for but I would definitely recommend it.

    Although if price wasn't an issue... those Red cameras look pretty 'Epic'

  • Aladdin4d
    Aladdin4d Posts: 2,481 Enthusiast

    @TriFlixFilms  And the difference in quality between a small flip up LCD and a Video Assist (or other monitor) set up facing you would be?? I guess I'm just not getting what the loss would be. 

    TRIFLIX Columbus, INPosts: 927 Enthusiast
    edited August 2016

    @Aladdin4d Portability. Once you start throwing lights, mics, external reordered, external view finders its not really something you can have slung on your hip for 8 hours a day. 

    Its find the balance between functional and portability. Audio is key. Ever see a vlog with continuous bad audio? You hit the X in about 10 seconds unless the content is A1.

    I guess if I were to rate importance of things for a vlog (greatest to least) set up it would be:

    1. Good picture/Visually pleasing/60fps (A lot can be repaired in post though) UPDATE: 24fps
    1. Selfie tilt LCD or fully articulating (You need to see framing until you become aquatinted with your camera... which can take weeks)
    2. Audio input (Makes things more compact reducing need for audio recorder)
    3. Hot Shoe shouldn't hinder the user from seeing the screen (Otherwise you might as well get a BMPCC or BMMCC)
    4. Lowlight capabilities (Ring-Lights are a great substitute since they attack to the lens and don't take away from the lens of attached mic)
    5. After this everything else is just a bonus such as: HDR, Recording codecs, 120FPS, and basically everything else we both listed above haha

    Now I got an idea for a new episode hahaha

    @FilmTech If they release a GH5 that will be my first pick haha

  • FilmTech
    FilmTech Posts: 385 Enthusiast

    @TriFlixFilms If the rumors are true (fingers crossed) 4k 60fps, 5k 24-30fps, better low light, Raw Video... I hope it's true.

    TRIFLIX Columbus, INPosts: 927 Enthusiast
    edited August 2016

    I just hope they upgrade to Full Frame and gain 120fps @1080p... maybe even 240fps. I don't see myself shooting any higher than 2k. I usually go through a full 256gb SD card every month in 1080p so 5k is a little ahead for now :)@FilmTech

    Improved lowlight, internal stabilization, some more dynamic range would be nice as well. I'd happily sell my NX500 and spend $1700-$2300 on that new GH4. I just need a camera that competes with the NX1.. I don't want to keep buying into a dead brand :(

    GH4 vs NX1:


    A7Sii vs NX1:


    I should have bought them when they were on sale for $750 w/ a lens but now they are back up to $1600


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,603 Ambassador

    I'm going to disagree with 60p in most cases. Unless your vlog is sporty activity like skating it's a waste of bandwidth. If it's a talking head video its a TOTAL waste of bandwidth. Go for 24.

    I should note that something like a BMD Video Assist or a Atomos Shogun has the advantage of being larger than 3", has a built in recorder and can be tethered via cable so you have the option of putting your selfie screen somewhere other than on the side of the camera.

    But, different folk have different wishlists. :-)

    TRIFLIX Columbus, INPosts: 927 Enthusiast

    Its always subjective, there is no right or wrong answers. That's the beauty of it :)

    Luckily I am an engineer, if I really want to design cameras I just need apply to  one of the leading companies hahaha

  • Aladdin4d
    Aladdin4d Posts: 2,481 Enthusiast

    @TriFlixFilms Avoiding extra bulk is important but with the Video Assist you don't need an external audio recorder or video recorder or have to limit yourself only to cameras with a fully articulated screen. As an extreme example you could get weight of the camera body down to less than half a pound.  (not an endorsement, just an example) I guess that's why I'm not really "getting it"

  • Rennestone
    Rennestone Posts: 2
    edited August 2016

    Currently I still paying my Canon E0S 5D Mark III (recommended by NatGeo photographers), which is a awesome camera, is just take a time to focus and shoot is about 0.2 second, and rises to 0.4 second under poorer lighting conditions, so I like it. But definitely my dream camera it will be a Canon 100-400mm IS L II, that is powerful!!!!!

  • WhiteCranePhoto
    WhiteCranePhoto Posts: 924 Enthusiast

    A few things to keep in mind...

    1) Cameras made for film generally aren't geared toward low light.

    2) Cameras made for high speed generally are going to cost quite a bit more than the likes of Black Magic.

    3) Look at Kinefinity

    4) The best production camera on the market isn't from Black Magic. It's from Arri, though Panavision is going to give them some major competition when they release the Millenium DXL it seems.

    5) If you plan on doing much with VFX, you probably should avoid settling for a camera that only records in an 8 bit codec. It won't bother you much at first, but over time it will get on your nerves. (A7s/A7sII). And recording externally doesn't magically create more data; the extra payload is just zero padding.

    6) Look at buying used

    7) Account for lenses, you'll need those -- though you don't have to go to PL mount for quality lenses any more

    8) AF is rarely a good idea in filmmaking. It's usually a hassle rather than a help, and very few cameras made for filmmaking do AF at all, and most of those that do, do so poorly. Canon seems to have pulled it off... but the cost for entry for that model is $12,000 right now while they're running their $4000 discount.

    9) A used Ursa Mini 4.6K might fit you budget... just be sure to check the sensor for magentca cast problems before plunking down bux for it.


    TRIFLIX Columbus, INPosts: 927 Enthusiast
    edited August 2016

    Yeah... haha defiantly above the entry level spec there my friend haha... I was referring to under $4000 but those are all great points. Personally I don't see myself dropping over 10K on a camera and accessories even if I was getting a 12 month ROI. Anytime you start trying to edit over 4k you require a computer able to handle it i.e. usually over 10k itself and you are likely to buy it rather than build it since warranties are desired. 

    I still don't like shooting 4k... I already go through 256gb of footage @ 1080p in a month.

    Long term, if I was renting equipment for a project sure... sounds great! That type of film has never really interested me though. I prefer run and gun shoot (not just for vlogging) but that indie vibe of filming. Just friends making content that generates enough money to eat Little Caesars pizza every night.  

    Keep in mind, I am 20 y/o and don't have to support anyone else.

    I love the Corridor Digital approach and have come to loathe Rocket Rump. I will always favor indie over larger budget productions :) 

    All in all the craziest I would go as low end RED camera and even then I'd likely grab A7Sii before that and spend the extra money on hiring better cast/prop design. Ehhh... actually I like make convincing props so spend it on a sound engineer.

    If you are in the film industry using Alexa's then props to you, man. Must be nice :)@WhiteCranePhoto

  • WhiteCranePhoto
    WhiteCranePhoto Posts: 924 Enthusiast
    edited August 2016

    Nah, I'm aspiring to Alexas... currently shooting on a Scarlet. :)

    It IS better to put the money into sound, art design, and props... cameras don't make movies, and the quality of most independent films is inhibited by their scripts, lighting, and lack of direction or any real thought about composition. None of those require high end cameras...

    4K is only worth it if you're shooting on a Red at 8:1 and you're aiming for Netflix or similar distribution. For just about everything else, HD or 2K is fine... which means that so is a Black Magic Pocket cinema camera. :)

    TRIFLIX Columbus, INPosts: 927 Enthusiast

    @WHiteCranePhoto Thoughts on the BM Micro Camera?

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,603 Ambassador

    Shane Hilburt did a Q&A for Film Riot last year discussing how he shot a Fast & Furious with a Canon C100, C300 and GoPro, so, yeah, it's talent more than tools. I've worked on shows shot on RED that looked terrible and seen things shot on a Canon t3i that looked fantastic. As I've noted before, I am not that big a fan of 4k. Basically, 4k is there to post crop for 1080p or if your film is going into theaters for 50-foot wide screens. Otherwise you're wasting storage. (And Netfix/YouTube 4k streams are laughably small-bitrate)

    @WhiteCranePhoto how's the Scarlett treating you? I've only been on shows using Red Ones and was underwhelmed by a camera that we has to shut off and ice down every 45 minutes. We lost so much shoot time to overheating we lost an actor, and I ended up playing the part (Death, in a robe with a mask). Oddly enough in the final edit the entire scene, except one shot, was my takes. The giveaway was Death's phone changing from iPhone to Samsung. 

  • @WhiteCranePhoto  While I understand your point about investing in good story, actors, props, locations, etc, and all of that is something filmmakers need to make a prime focus, to be clear without a camera you have a stage play, not a movie.  The camera is a very important tool, and should be thought about carefully for what purpose it will serve, as is evident in this thread.

    Lots of good info in this topic.  Everyone has different needs and desires for their dream camera, and it's cool to see so many options out there for different needs.  For me, I went with a Scarlet a few years back and love it.  The big things for me, which others seem to dislike, are the 4k and raw capabilities of it.  VFX is where I live most of the time, and the flexibility I get makes my job so much easier.  Working with dslrs years ago showed me, as WhiteCranePhoto said earlier, that low quality compressed footage is a nightmare to deal with in post, most obvious when adding vfx or manipulating the image.  And 4k footage is wonderful for tracking and roto work, and looks even better on all the 4k tv's and monitors that people are getting these days.  Having moved on to work with footage from RED cameras, as well as high end Sony's (F65, F55, F5), everything got so much better.  Though I've grown to dislike working with Sony footage because of the colors, and the annoying diagonal patterns in F65 footage, the RED stuff is still great to work with.  I've gone on a couple shoots recently that were very much run and gun with a RED Epic, and it's amazing how fast people can move, shooting 5k and turning out a commercial a day or two later.

    As I see it, it all depends on what your end goal is, because there are plenty of awesome options out there now for everyone.

    4k is something interesting to think about as well.  I know a bunch of people who are buying 4k screens of various types, and none of them work in the video realm.  Some want them them for games, others photos and movies, others productivity, but the fact that they will probably be watching video content on them at some point, especially as manufacturers move that route, makes it very interesting when one thinks about, not just higher resolution for downsampling and reframing, but actually delivering that resolution for the audience who will be seeing it.  Food for though.

  • WhiteCranePhoto
    WhiteCranePhoto Posts: 924 Enthusiast
    edited August 2016

    It's not actually mine... Red is lending it to me while I await my long-delayed Scarlet-W... so there are some ergonomic issues like we're using a SmallHD 502 as the monitor, and some functions don't work so well on that, like Gioview. Also, the 502 eats batteries and uses those pitiful Canon LPE6 batteries that don't last long, and take forever to charge.

    Other than that though, it's been great. It has ridiculous dynamic range (Dragon), and especially with my lighting, wonderful color. I don't have much by way of high speed options, and it's raw only, so reducing record resolution means windowing the sensor. Hence I'm shooting everything in 5K, even stuff that I'd rather not shoot at that high resolution, but it's 8:1 Redcode, so it's not crazy huge.



  • WhiteCranePhoto
    WhiteCranePhoto Posts: 924 Enthusiast


    I wasn't saying that cameras aren't important, just that you don't have to spend a lot of money on them to get excellent results any more. A Pocket cinema camera can deliver a great image, given quality lighting and composition and that sort of thing, even with just decent lenses.

    4K is coming, but it's not here yet. Even now, hardly any films even intended for 4K theaters are mastered in 4K. It's not worth it to jump into 4K when you're getting or if it means compromising on other aspects of production, like lighting and art direction.

    Compromise on those and you could shoot it with an Alexa or a Millenium DXL and still get lousy results that no one wants to see.


  • @WhiteCranePhoto  Yes, I get your point and completely agree.  I just felt the wording made it seem like the camera wasn't important and wanted to clarify.  Knowing your camera is more important than having the best camera in existence, and making sure the other aspects of projects don't suffer just because you want the best camera is important.  As you said, the Pocket cinema camera can do great.  A friend of mine has one and has shot some great looking stuff with it because he knows how to use it.

    It's true, most of the films that will be released at the start for 4k bluray are just upscaled 2k masters, even though some were shot at 4k.  But it does depend on what you're doing.  4k isn't necessary for everyone, but there are people out there who really need it, like me and a bunch of the people I work with.  Just need to know your specific project needs and what camera will fulfill that best for you.

    TRIFLIX Columbus, INPosts: 927 Enthusiast

    If your primary audience is YouTube my analytics show less that 90% of my audience is mobile users so really... 720 could be enough but I like 2k - 4k for cropping in post :)

  • WhiteCranePhoto
    WhiteCranePhoto Posts: 924 Enthusiast

    Cropping in post is sloppy cinematography.

    There are exceptions... but it's better to learn to use your frame rather than shoot sloppy compositions and crop it into something less sloppy in post.