Good all-round camera for events & talking heads

SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast
edited June 2016 in Practical Filmmaking

Yes, I'm about to become One Of Those People Who Ask About Cameras.

Yes, I'm posting from the other side of the wall. This feels weird.

So - I'm looking into cameras. Specifically, decent all-round cameras which can handle shooting events (so potentially continuous shots of 1-2 hours), are relatively lightweight (operable by a single person) and can handle audio input (eg from an H4N) on occasion.

Interchangeable lenses aren't essential. 1080p will be delivery and editing format. A decent on-board mic would be a big bonus, though most speakers will be miked to some degree.

Given that this continues to be the best filmmaking community on the internet, I thought I'd pick your brains. Thanks in advance!

(also, how is everyone?)


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,199 Power User

    Aw, your staff badge is revoked! It had lingered. 

    Welcome to the Hitfilm community, User @SimonKJones! ;-)  :-D

    What's your budget? DSLRs can't record longer than 29:59 at a go. For continuous shooting you're probably looking at a video camera. Probably about 3 to 6 pounds. You'll need XLR inputs. Would you rather have buttons and knobs or touchscreen controls? Are you thinking more "Cinematic" or Run and Gun/Event? Your output is 1080, but maybe you want the headroom of 4k for post-cropping? But at lower-end price points you'll trade off low-light for those pixels. Some zoom can really smooth a jump cut of a talking head. Is chroma key important? Something with a 4:2:2 option will key better than 4:2:0. 

    Examine the Canon XA series and the XF 200. Or the Panasonic HMC series. How about one of the little brothers of the Sony you used for tutorials? Familiarity with Sony is a plus if you found the camera easy to use. 

    The Canon XAs are tiny and are more touchscreen and knob than multiple manual controls, but are pretty solid cameras with decent lowlight. 

    I like the ergonomics of the Panny HMC series. Easy to adjust in rapid changing conditions and I like the colors. 

    The Canon XF 200 I've never used, but I like the sexy rotating handle. My XF 305 is my favorite of my cameras, so, if I were buying I would be debating that. 


  • Andy001z
    Andy001z Lord EarthPosts: 3,503 Ambassador

    Welcome back to the dark (I mean light) side, what sort of budget are we talking about here?

    Personally I am good, bit tired, lots of late nights (no not partying, but rather trying to get my 1yr boy asleep). Looking forward to the weather changing back to dry so I can crack on with my Back Garden Project (Tree house).

  • Aladdin4d
    Aladdin4d Posts: 2,466 Enthusiast
    edited June 2016

    @SimonKJones We need more information to answer that question. What are your....... :)

    Seriously though what's your budget, would you prefer handheld or shoulder, expected shooting distance and lighting conditions?

    I'm thinking along the lines of the  Sony NEXEA50M  or the  HXRNX3  as a place to start. I'm uploading a sample from the EA50 and I'll update when it's ready

  • Aladdin4d
    Aladdin4d Posts: 2,466 Enthusiast

    Ok this was shot with the EA50 but I'm not sure what lens was used. I used this clip to give an idea of what the venue and shooting conditions were like.

    On the plus side there aren't really any bad cameras in this class. Everything posted so far would be good and do the job well. I'm going to side with Triem23 on 4k though. It might be nice to have but you'll lose low light performance unless you're willing to spend a lot more. If you have control of the lighting it's no big deal but if you don't then it's a huge deal.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,199 Power User

    That NEXEA50M looks pretty sexy, but I'd need more zoom range. As asked, depends on shooting distance. 

  • Aladdin4d
    Aladdin4d Posts: 2,466 Enthusiast
    edited June 2016


    I'd need more zoom range

    Consider it done. 18-200mm kit lens ;)

    Sony NEX-EA50UH

    The EA50 takes E-mount lenses so there's a pretty good selection. I didn't realize the "M" with the 18-105 was discontinued. one of the damn cameras has been discontinued 

  • RossTrowbridge
    RossTrowbridge Posts: 399 Enthusiast

    If you're more comfortable with the DSLR form factor, you might consider getting something like AtomOS' Ninja Blade to do your recording. It takes an HDMI signal from your camera and records 4:2:2 video. You just need a camera with a clean HDMI out. The nicest thing about it is there isn't a 29:59 time limit on recording. It just keeps going. It takes an SSD, so you can have a ton of storage space. It's 1080p. They have a 4k recorder, but it costs a lot more.

  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast

    Awesome, great places to start. Low light performance is important as I'll rarely have full control over lighting at events. I'll check out all these suggestions and no doubt get back to you.

    Lovely to see so many familiar faces. :)

  • MartinMuller
    MartinMuller Posts: 29
    edited July 2016

    Hello! If you look for a handy little camera with great performance and good stabilizer, you should have a look at the panasonic camcorders.

    I've got the panasonic hc-v700 for 3 years now and I have used it most to film journeys, shortfilms and events like musicals, party's and more. If you do not need 4K the camera isn't that expensive and has a mic input (nog XLR though). 

    The camcorder isn't build to adjust setting very fast, but instead works really well with the auto mode. The mic of the camera isn't that bad if there is no wind, but I do suggest some extern microphone. The camera will fit easily in your hand and in your pock and that comes in handy for some events: for example when it rains). 

    I know zooming is bad for the quality, but seriously the stabilizer of this camcorder is awesome. Even when zoomed in you can achieve very sharp and good images. 

    There are many models of this camera but I recommend one with a shoe adapter :)

    Hope this helps a bit


  • Sarasota
    Sarasota Posts: 267 Just Starting Out*
    edited August 2016
  • Stefam
    Stefam Posts: 72


    if operating on a budget and run'n gun form factor and op mode is required I can recommend the Sony AX100. XLR would be possible with add-on shoe, shoots in 4K as well, good low light capability, and quite a good automatic setting but allows manual control as well.

    Only the auto-focus is too slow at times for my taste.


  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast

     Thanks again, guys - many of the options here are great cameras but rather above the budget I'm currently aiming at. The pro cameras all come in at over £2k, whereas I'm likely to be going closer to £1k. I'll investigate a little further down the price ladder...

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,199 Power User

    Check out ebay or other used markets. So many people are flocking to 4k now I bet you can find something more "pro" in your price range. 

    The Panasonic HMC80 currently goes new for about $1500 (about £1100) so should be available used in your budget. 

    My only issue with the camera is it's weak in low light (but has massive gain and great noise reduction). It's a shoulder mount body as well, so it looks more impressive than it really is. 

  • WhiteCranePhoto
    WhiteCranePhoto Posts: 923 Enthusiast

    At that price point, you ought to check out a Pocket Cinema Camera and some fast, used Nikon or Minolta manual focus lenses. Or an SLR Magic HyperPrime for wides. You can find Pocket cinema cameras at pretty good prices (I sold mine for $300) if you look around enough, the media are cheap, and they're very portable. Plop some fast lenses on, and you can do reasonably well in low light as long as you don't mind a shallow depth of field.

    The audio situation on them isn't ideal, but I did shoot a film on one with an output coming from my MixPre-D and got nice, clear audio on camera with it. You just have to be careful about getting the levels right; preamps on the pre-Ursa models are simply bad, so the secret is to use quality preamps on a mixer and run the output to the camera, configure the levels so that you're essentially bypassing the on-board preamps, and you're good. It's advisable to record a backup track externally if you can, in case you clip the recording on camera while you're filming.

    You can usually find some amazing deals on Minolta SLR lenses, some of which are pretty fast, and the majority of which are very good. I got a used Nikon 50mm f/1.4 for around $100 at one point that I still use for photography now and then on my a7r, it was a mainstay in my film kit when I was using the Black Magic cameras.


  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast

    Thanks guys! @WhiteCranePhoto - I was considering one of those this very afternoon, as it happens. Josh has one and I always liked it, and it seemed nicely user friendly considering its capabilities. My main concern with it is battery life, but I'd be running it off the mains for anything major.

    Does it have the 20 minute recording duration issue of DSLRs?

  • WhiteCranePhoto
    WhiteCranePhoto Posts: 923 Enthusiast

    It doesn't... it will happily record until your run out of power or space. It's definitely a camera that you'd want to run with external power, the battery life on them is a joke, and not even a good one.

    It's designed as a cinema camera, and it does that quite well.

    For most uses, ProRes HQ is more than enough, and gives you around an hour on a 64GB SD card.


  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast

    I'm thinking for recording of major events we'll almost always go with an external partner anyway, as that requires multiple camera setups (if you were in the UK, I'd probably be hiring you, @triem23). The in-house stuff is more likely to be talking heads, interviews, b-roll/documentary stuff for highlight reels etc, so the Pocket Camera might actually be a really good candidate, when paired with something like an H4N.

    TRIFLIX Columbus, INPosts: 925 Enthusiast

    Sorry for pluggin myself but...

    essentially, just use website and search for the parameters you need/want. But I am proud of this video and would endorse it even if someone else made it :)