Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

submit your photo


Hall of Fame
View past winners from this year

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Take the 2-minute tour ×
Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I know this forum is for photography, but I decided to post here anyway being a StackOverflow user. I'm going to shoot my first short film. I need suggestions on buying a camera. Here are the things I'm looking for:

  • Ability to shoot telephoto and wide-angle shots
  • Ability to shoot for slow-motion (If fps can be configured, then great!)
  • Hard-disk storage with good storage memory
  • Long battery life
  • Ability to attach an external mic
  • 720p HD is fine if not full HD
  • Ability to export videos to MP4 or other standard formats
  • Budget: $500 +/- $100, but I can afford more if it's really worth it

I have no knowledge when it comes to shooting videos or taking pictures. Some of the things I mentioned may not be even possible - like, I think I need separate lenses for telephoto and wide-angle shots.

Thanks for your suggestions!

share|improve this question
    
I wanted to add these tags to my questions, 'camcorder hd short-film low-budget', but I wasn't allowed to since I have less than 150 reps. Can someone please delete hdr tag and add these? Thanks. –  Srikanth Oct 6 '10 at 16:38
    
Done. –  jrista Oct 6 '10 at 16:43
    
Are you looking for a still camera that can shoot video, or a video camera that may or may not take stills? –  D. Lambert Oct 6 '10 at 17:05
    
Hmm, IMO this is off-topic given the current community decision: meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/28/… –  Reid Oct 6 '10 at 23:48
    
@jrista: Thanks. @D. Lambert: I'm looking for a video camera that may not take stills. @Reid: Thanks for that. I hope that Q&A site comes out soon. –  Srikanth Oct 8 '10 at 18:04
add comment

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

On the cheap, the Olymnpus PEN E-PL1 can be an option:

  1. Ability to shoot telephoto and wide-angle shots - YES

  2. Ability to shoot for slow-motion (If fps can be configured, then great!) - NO (But I have a Casio EX-FH100 and the slowmo at 400 fps is mind boggling) However, shooting this camera with the Diorama art filter on gives the video a stop motion/time lapse look

  3. Hard-disk storage with good storage memory - SOMEWHAT (Support up to 32 GB SDHC)

  4. Long battery life - NO (Extra OEM batteries are cheap at 5 bucks a pop at Amazon)

  5. Ability to attach an external mic - YES (Get the SEMA-1 Adapter; hooked mine to a Senheiser mic)

  6. 720p HD is fine if not full HD - YES

  7. Ability to export videos to MP4 or other standard formats - YES

  8. Budget: $500 +/- $100, but I can afford more if it's really worth it - WITHIN

Olympus shot the ad for that camera using the camera itself. If they can shoot an ad using it, it's probably good enough for you. Talk about eating your own dog food. Check out their ad:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2E25em-brl8

share|improve this answer
    
This camera looks great for my requirements, except for one thing that bothers me: max. HD recording time is just 7 minutes (because of 2GB AVI format's limit). What I couldn't find out from the specifications is if that's the limit for a single file or for the entire camera? I guess it's just for a single file. So let's say if I have 16 GB of memory free on the camera, does that mean I can shoot 8 videos each of 7 minutes in length? Thanks a lot for the suggestion, it is very helpful. –  Srikanth Oct 8 '10 at 19:07
    
@artknish It's a single file limitation. You can shoot multiple 2 GB files on a single card; space permitting. Up to 16 takes of 7 minutes each (112 mins. total) if you have a 32 GB card. Anyway, most movies, even professional ones, are shot in short takes; 2-3 minutes max. A seven minute take is considered exceptional. I doubt you'll reach that length. Small takes are also easier to post process. –  GeneQ Oct 9 '10 at 8:27
    
BTW, the following is an example what you can do with in slightly more than 6 minutes without any cuts (one continuos take); talent permitting of course: youtube.com/watch?v=MnSIp76CvUI –  GeneQ Oct 9 '10 at 8:30
    
Thanks for confirming that. Most probably, I'm going with this camera. Love that 6+ minutes continuous take; fantastic location, too. It reminded me of this fight scene from Oldboy: youtube.com/watch?v=Wha0brbb_44 (starts after 30 seconds - warning: it's a bit violent). –  Srikanth Oct 9 '10 at 9:40
add comment

At the risk of being controversial, I'd suggest a good quality stills camera, that offers HD video capability; something like the Canon T2i (in the US) which appears to be a bit above your budget at around 750 USD. With the larger sensor in a DSLR, you'll be able to get more of a cinematic effect with wide apertures, and the associated shallow depth of field. Don't forget that there have been a number of high profile shows filmed along similar principles.

share|improve this answer
    
A video enabled DSLR plus wide angle and telephoto lenses, large capacity memory card would be hard ot come by for $600. –  Matt Grum Oct 6 '10 at 19:40
    
@Matt well, there was the "I can afford more if it's really worth it" bit –  Rowland Shaw Oct 6 '10 at 19:56
    
It's actually $850 (on Amazon) + I guess there will be tax on top of that. I don't know much about the lenses except at very high level on what they do; for what I know, they're pretty costly, too. I guess it may all come around $1200. Also, I need to buy a Tripod, an external Mic, and I don't know what else for the short that I'm planning. Hmm.. Tough but I need to learn and know more about this camera to appreciate it and convince myself to buy it. Otherwise, I may just go with GeneQ's suggestion: Olympus PEN E-PL1. Thanks for your suggestion! –  Srikanth Oct 8 '10 at 18:37
    
@artknish I'm sure the link I'd linked to had them for closer to 750 USD? –  Rowland Shaw Oct 8 '10 at 19:01
    
Ah, yes, now I see it. When I first clicked the link here, I quickly scrolled down and went to Amazon and stayed there for a long time reading the user reviews. The price over there was around $850. –  Srikanth Oct 8 '10 at 20:54
add comment

Assuming that you are, in fact, looking for a still camera that can shoot video, this is a tough combination of requirements. I'm not sure if you're going to find one camera that does all these things. The just-announced Nikon D3100 may be one of the best fits out there, though it's a little North of your budget. There are a few other options that are well North of your budget.

Here are some thoughts on specific requirements:

  • For slow-motion, you might want to look at Casio - they've got some cameras that are supposed to be able to do this (though they're not DSLR's).
  • Not too many cameras have external mic jacks yet. Canon's 5D, 7D, and T2i, plus Nikon's D3100 (and probably a few more) have mic jacks. This feature is just starting to work its way down into entry-level cameras.
  • Still cameras write to flash cards, not HDD's. At one point, there were mini HDD's (Microdrives) that fit the form factor of a Compact Flash type II card, but I believe these have fallen off in popularity as "native" CF memory became more affordable.
share|improve this answer
    
@D. Lamber: I was looking for a video camera that need not shoot still pictures. Thanks for the Nikon D3100 suggestion. I will see if that works for me. –  Srikanth Oct 8 '10 at 19:16
add comment

Sticking with the stills camera the shoots video (I'm afraid that's probably all you'll get from us lot)...

The Casio Exilim EX-FH25 is the only camera I know of to do proper slow motion, albeit at at lower than HD. It ticks a lot of the boxes, only really falls down on mic jack:

  • Ability to shoot telephoto and wide-angle shots Yes 20x zoom 26-520mm equiv.
  • Ability to shoot for slow-motion (If fps can be configured, then great!) Yes configurable up to 120fps at 640x480 up to 1000fps at 224x64
  • Hard-disk storage with good storage memory No, but high capacity SDHC cards are available)
  • Long battery life Yes (takes AA batteries)
  • Ability to attach an external mic No, may be a deal breaker
  • 720p HD is fine if not full HD Yes
  • Ability to export videos to MP4 or other standard formats Motion JPEG, will need converting
  • Budget: $500 +/- $100, but I can afford more if it's really worth it Yes $350
share|improve this answer
    
I concur. The Exilims are fantastic at slow-mo. Love my EX-FH100 and EX-FH20 before that. But what you're suggesting is heretical to CaNikon folks. What a Casio, isn't that a toy? LOL. Did a short martial arts training vid with Olympus PEN + EX-FH100 + Senheiser Mic + Homemade Steadicam mount + Final Cut = Priceless –  GeneQ Oct 7 '10 at 16:23
    
A lot of the amatuer shorts that I've seen had fantastic video but really bad audio. In my opinion, having good audio quality is more important than great video quality for a movie if there's a compromise between the two. This, too, is an alien territory for me, but I guess having an external mic may get me started towards the route of audio quality. –  Srikanth Oct 8 '10 at 19:24
    
@GeneQ: Do you have your martial video uploaded for public viewing somewhere? I would be interested to see it. –  Srikanth Oct 8 '10 at 19:26
    
It's not ideal but you could record the audio separately and sync it in post. For me as a photographer visuals are more important to me, having said that very few of the DSLR videos I've seen have live audio, it's mostly soundtracks. –  Matt Grum Oct 8 '10 at 20:52
    
@artknish Sorry, I don't own the copyright to do that. Did it for a local martial arts school. However, some Japanese ladies have posted something similar to what I did : youtube.com/watch?v=uMh_qhosrg8&feature=related –  GeneQ Oct 9 '10 at 8:45
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.