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New Contributor
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎06-28-2015

What camera should I use for filming?

I didn't know where else to ask this question and since Canon is a popular camera provider for filmmakers, I thought I would try here. 

 

I'm a very amatuer filmer but I enjoy filming a lot as a hobby. Someday I would like to purchase a better camera because currently I have a Samsung compact camera that for what it is, takes excellent HD footage but I am limited with it. 

 

I mostly want a camera that can focus near and far and has hookups for a mic. It doesn't have to be high-end and I certaintly don't have a big budget. I was mostly just curious if you could get a decent filming camera under $300 that can focus (like blurring the background as it sees near and then far). I'm not expecting a super supreme camera, just an upgrade. When I went to Best Buy, the ones with the focus dial on the lense was running $800 and up.

 

Thanks in advance!  

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VIP
Posts: 13,036
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: What camera should I use for filming?

OK get this;

Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR Camera with 18-135mm STM Lens Video Kit.

 

There is no decent or quality camera for $300 bucks.  Not even a used one unless you are very lucky.  Of course it does depend on your deffinition of the word "decent".

 

Even the Canon G series is going to be more than $300 bucks.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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Valued Contributor
Posts: 458
Registered: ‎10-12-2013

Re: What camera should I use for filming?

The Canon PowerShot cameras don't usually have mic inputs, except on the high end models, and as was stated, $300.00 isn't going to get you a decent camera. The issue is also that Canon doesn't seem to put the higher res video (4K) in the compact cameras. The T5i is probably your best bet as Ebiggs pointed out. Also, the compact cameras don't have the aperture range and larger sensors to get those blurry backgrounds that you are after, unless you have a fair amount of space between the subject and the background. Unfortumately, this is a very expensive hobby, and it's getting more so every day. You might try a refurbished camera; I've had very good luck with mine and it saved me hundreds of dollars over a new one.

 

Steve M.

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Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,847
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: What camera should I use for filming?

"blurring the background" involves use of equipment and exposure settiings to create a shallow range at which subjects appear to be in acceptable focus... but outside of that range the image will not be focused.  That "range" is referred to as the "depth of field" or just "DoF" for short.

 

Creating shallow DoF requies a camera with a large sensor (due to the nature of physics, the smaller the imaging chip in the camera, the less this effect is possible.  You need a camera with a large chip -- which is why DSLR cameras are very popular.  Any camera with an APS-C size sensor (roughly 23mm by 15mm) can pull this off nicely.

 

But you also need a lens that pull it off.  This requires a combination of a long focal lens and a low focal ratio (the focal ratio is the ratio of the lens focal length divided by the lens' diameter of clear aperture (the area through which the light may pass.)  

 

It turns out lots of characterstics of the lens will affect the particular quality of this blur.  The "quality" (not to be confused with the intensity) is referred to as "bokeh".  Not all lenses (even lenses with the same specs regarding focal lengths and focal ratios) will produce the same quality blur.

 

Zoom lenses that can offer long-ish focal lengths and provide low fixed focal ratios (e.g. f/2.8 zooms) do this nicely.  But those lenses are all roughly $1000 or more (for just the lens... that doesn't include the cost of the camera.)

 

There are some non-zoom lenses (A lens that does not "zoom" is referred to as a "prime" lens.) which are much more affordable.  E.g. the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM would do a very nice job and costs a little over $300 (I didn't check the price). There's a much more economical version... Canon introduced a new version of their EF 50mm f/1.8 with the STM focus motors (the "STM" motors are exceptionally quiet -- so quiet that the internal mic on the camera typically cannot pickup the noise of the focus motors moving.)  That lens wont be able to get quite as much intensity of blur as the f/1.4 version... but the f/1.8 version is VERY affordable... at only $125 it's a bargain.

 

Lastly, how you position your subjects and background are important.  The closer the subject is to the lens, the easier it is to create that shallow DoF.  And the farther away the background is behind your subject... the more strongly out of focus it will be.  If you put a subject directly in front of a wall, that wall will only be very slightly out of focus.  But if you put your subject at a very close distance to the camera and then quite a large distance between your subject and your background, then it's much easier to get a tack-sharp subject and a strongly blurred background.

 

One of the really nice things about DSLR cameras is that they're really just the base part of an overall camera "system".  When you use point & shoot camera, the lens is permanently attached.  The point & shoot does whatever it does... and over the years there's really not much you can do to change anything.  But a DSLR camera has removeable lenses and the ability to leverage numerous accessories.  This means all you need is enough to buy the base camera and a single "kit" lens to get you started.  That will not satisfy what you'd like to do with video (it wont produce a particularly high quality nor strong out of focus blur effect -- you'll have some effect but it will be very weak.)  But over time you save and buy another lens (like that 50mm f/1.8 STM lens).  Eventually you can upgrade the camera body ... but you get to keep using all the lenses you've accumulated, etc.  

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
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Frequent Contributor
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎07-19-2014

Re: What camera should I use for filming?

I picked up a Canon T3i with 50mm f/1.8 lens for $300 at a garage sale, so that's not completely true.

 

I would look at a used T3i/T4i, or possibly refurbished. You'll probably need closer to $500 than $300, but you don't need to spend $1000 or more, at least.

______________________________
I'm a cinematographer in Chicago using mostly Canon gear. I also founded MKE Production Rental in Milwaukee.
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