2013 Super35mm Documentary Camera Rigs Under $10k


Let’s say you intend to shoot a vérité-style documentary, and you want to use a super35mm sensor camera because you like the improved image quality, low-light capability, dynamic range etc that you get over a small sensor camera. Let’s say you have a max budget of $10,000 for the camera, not including lights/mics/tripod/etc. Let’s say that you are pissed off because every camera under $10k seems to be crippled or imperfect in one way or another.

What do you choose?


Pros & Cons

I have narrowed my search to the C100, FS700, BMCC, FS100, 5D3, & GH2.

Canon C100

Pros: Great lowlight/high ISO performance, good for shooting with available light. Nice skintones, pleasing “baked-in” look. Excellent resolution/sharpness. Same sensor as C300 and uncompressed HDMI 8-bit 4:2:2 output same as C300. ND filters built-in. Compatible with NY/LA rental-house infrastructure. Cache record feature useful for docs. Interval record / in-cam timelapse. Cool side-handle, decent ergonomics. No timecode I/O, but free-run TC embedded in HDMI. LOG. Low-weight 2.2LBs, can be handheld decently well with sidegrip without any shouler rig, unlike FS700, FS100, 5D3, etc. Also the Abelcine HDx35 B4 adapter will soon be released in EF mount, but I was told there are no plans for a Sony E-mount (especially not now that Sony made their own B4 adapter.)

Cons: No 60p, not even at 720p! HDMI instead of SDI is a sketchy connector. Documentary lens choices really lacking for super35mm EF mount IMO. AVCHD is a PITA to work with in post, and AVCHD codec has some quality issues. (AVCHD cons solved by using external recorder.)

Sony FS700

Pros: Best pro I think is lens options, it can use Sony quasi-ENG lenses like the Sony 18-105 f/4, Zeiss 16-70 f/4, and Canon 24-105 w/ speedbooster. Records 60fps slowmo along with 240fps burst slowmo at 1080p. S-LOG2 now is pretty impressive. It is possible to upgrade the Oddyssey to record 4K through it’s quality SDI port. Has ND filters. Good IQ/low-light. LOG. Weight is 3.7 lb body only.

Without 4K recording I feel like it looks soft compared to C100, Sony color profile seem colder/less beautiful (although this may be fixed with FilmConvert, good grading and external recording.) High ISOs/noise don’t look anything as good as C100 or even 5D3. No timecode I/O, but free-run TC embedded in HDMI.« Continue »

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