• DLSR kit for filmmaking (A little dated now)

    There have been a lot of threads recently on this site about people thinking about buying a camera to do some filming and the answers have been pretty consistent: DSLRs.

    For narrative I can only recommend a DLSR for the best most film like results on a budget.



    Of course itís not limited to narrative. Iíve shot documentaries, music videos, short and feature films on these cameras.

    The Canon 5DMKII has the prettiest picture but the 7D is great too.

    I believe the 60D is the best value for money at the moment. There are others from Nikon and Panasonic but Iíve never used them. Combined with some nice old lenses and you'll be able to create a beautiful film look.

    My Vimeo page (http://www.vimeo.com/user4844659/videos) has many examples of a 7D (Which is the same image quality as the 60D) with many various old lenses.

    In each description of the videos I wrote which lenses I used. If you'd like to see what it can look like you can watch them if you wish.

    Or Google will produce many results.

    Accessories
    Accessories you may need are a base plate and rails to mount a follow focus and a matte box.

    You'll also need a decent tripod, and maybe a camera slider to add some dramatic movement to your shots.

    You may also want a handheld rig for those... handheld shots...

    Here's a list of some stuff I've used and can vouch for with prices.

    Camera; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Canon-Digita...1451691&sr=8-2

    Tripod Head; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Manfrotto-Pr...1451724&sr=1-4

    Tripod Legs; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Manfrotto-05...1451840&sr=1-1

    Slider; (Little bit of DIY involved but a great low cost slider, info here: http://www.zazaslider.com/) http://www.amazon.co.uk/W10-40-Syste...1451905&sr=1-1

    Follow Focus; http://www.ebay.ie/itm/Trusmt-Follow...ht_3792wt_1189

    Baseplate/Rig; (Take a chance on a bid with one of these auctions, you'll often get lucky) http://shop.ebay.com/gini-2011/m.htm...d=249681849175

    Lenses
    Ebay is your friend. Old manual primes I have found to be the best, especially for narrative work. I found modern Canon lenses don't stand up to the quality of much much older manual lenses.

    You'll want to build yourself a set of prime lenses for narrative work. You can use zooms if you wish but theyíre usually not as good optically and if you want fast aperture youíll have to pay the price for it.

    If you do decide to choose zooms to go in your kit, make sure itís a constant aperture zoom lens.

    That means that the aperture doesnít change when you zoom on the lens.

    Many of them are F3.5-F4.5 which means at say 50mm itís at F3.5 but if you zoom to 80mm the aperture will be F4.5 resulting in your video going darker.

    So prime lens focal lengths; 28mm 35mm 50mm 85mm 100mm 135mm

    You won't need all of them to start with, build a collection over time.

    Try to go for the lowest F-Stop you can afford but generally F2.8 or lower will be substantial.

    There are also many more focal lengths from 8mm to 1000mm but the ones I mentioned above will be your most used.

    Brands of lenses I can recommend;

    Nikkor (Nikon)

    Olympus Zuiko

    Pentax Takumar

    Jupiter

    Helios

    Mir

    Carl Zeiss Jena

    Most of the above can be had for under Ä100 on E-bay

    And if you can afford them the kings would have to be;

    Contax Zeiss or

    Leica R

    There are many lenses out there, some are sharper than others, some are more contrasty than others.

    And some are just special. Example, The Helios 40-2. Check it out.

    I would use different kinds of lenses for different projects. I have a set of Zuiko lenses that are really sharp that I use mostly for documentary work. I have some Pentax lenses that have great bokeh and contrast that I love to use outside in daylight. I also have my Russian lenses (Jupiter, Helios, Mir) that have a very classic film look to them that Iíve been using regularly for narrative work.

    A great resource on old lenses is here, check out the review and gallery section.

    http://www.mflenses.com/

    All of these lenses can be adapted to a Canon DSLR with a simple adapter that costs between Ä10-Ä40 and can be found on E-bay.

    For example search M42 to EOS adapter.

    Audio
    One thing not to be overlooked, Recording sound into these cameras is not great. In fact generally itís pretty bad. So I recommend you record audio separately and sync it up later in post.

    So if youíre going to sync it up manually donít forget your clapper board/slate!

    You can also use a program called pluraleyes, http://www.singularsoftware.com/pluraleyes.html

    A great cheap device for recording audio is;

    ZOOM H4N: http://www.amazon.co.uk/ZOOM-H4N-REC...2054507&sr=8-1

    Or

    TASCAM Dr-100 http://www.amazon.co.uk/TASCAM-DR-10...097371&sr=8-10

    Youíll also need a microphone and a boom pole. But itís much better if you can get someone else to do your audio who might have their own equipment and can focus solely on that leaving you to focus on your camera work.

    I hope thatís all the information youíll need to go out and buy your first camera, get set up and start shooting.
    Comments 16 Comments
    1. Ann Marie's Avatar
      Ann Marie -
      thanks Alex, very informative! I'm delving into the world of dslr at the moment, so i'm looking forward to building a lens collection (addiction offically started...).. great article! Ann Marie
    1. Tom91's Avatar
      Tom91 -
      Nice write up Alec. I strongly suggest this be stickied in the cinematography section as there are constantly identical threads popping up from people looking for the best affordable camera to shoot their film on. And when it comes to affordable narrative filmmaking, you can't beat DSLRs right now.
    1. DarkWindowFilm's Avatar
      DarkWindowFilm -
      simply brilliant informative to coin a phrase

      you cant beat that advise right now
    1. lizzieie's Avatar
      lizzieie -
      Really useful information thanks very much for posting this.
    1. John McC's Avatar
      John McC -
      Bought a Contax Zeiss (28mm 2.8 Distagon) based another post you did and its a fantastic lens. Good guide and cheers for the write up.

      Nofilmschool.com/dslr has another great dslr guide and http://alexandrebuisse.org/resources/photo-class for photography in general.

      Cheers
    1. archdesign88's Avatar
      archdesign88 -
      Hi Alec, your mail box is full. Thanks for the reply and your useful article. The lenses from Russia are really attractive, but i did came across some articles mentioned about problem of using these lenses with adapters. I checked with canon shop behind Brown Thomas, they are not selling the adapter as lots of potential problem. So far i haven't found any site mention about which adapter suit what lens and why, looks like more search need to be done on my side.
      I watch some of your videos in vimeo, very nice. Thanks again!
    1. Alec Moore's Avatar
      Alec Moore -
      Quote Originally Posted by archdesign88 View Post
      Hi Alec, your mail box is full. Thanks for the reply and your useful article. The lenses from Russia are really attractive, but i did came across some articles mentioned about problem of using these lenses with adapters. I checked with canon shop behind Brown Thomas, they are not selling the adapter as lots of potential problem. So far i haven't found any site mention about which adapter suit what lens and why, looks like more search need to be done on my side.
      I watch some of your videos in vimeo, very nice. Thanks again!
      I'used many m42 lenses on Canon cameras 7D's and 5D's.
      I haven't some across any problem yet
    1. archdesign88's Avatar
      archdesign88 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alec Moore View Post
      I'used many m42 lenses on Canon cameras 7D's and 5D's.
      I haven't some across any problem yet
      Which type of M42 adapter you are using? Is there any reference to their web site? Thanks again!
    1. Alec Moore's Avatar
      Alec Moore -
      Quote Originally Posted by archdesign88 View Post
      Which type of M42 adapter you are using? Is there any reference to their web site? Thanks again!
      Generic standard cheap adapter,

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/pentax-Zeiss...3618481&sr=8-1
    1. Cipiatone's Avatar
      Cipiatone -
      I'm using a PB mount for my 60D with Praktica Lenses, some Pentagon, some Carl Zeiss, I got a bundle of lenses with a Praktica BCA camera 10 years ago for £50 - result!
    1. Alec Moore's Avatar
      Alec Moore -
      Quote Originally Posted by Cipiatone View Post
      I'm using a PB mount for my 60D with Praktica Lenses, some Pentagon, some Carl Zeiss, I got a bundle of lenses with a Praktica BCA camera 10 years ago for £50 - result!
      NICE!! I love bargains like that if you can find them, I was in Camera Exchange on Georges St a few months back and managed to get a 35mm Super Takumar for a tenner, snatched it before he had time to think about what is was
    1. edGFC's Avatar
      edGFC -
      Great to get some nuts n bolts info about buying DSLRs. Thanks Alec.
    1. simonpwood's Avatar
      simonpwood -
      Great article. I've finally taken the plunge and bought a T3i. Now to figure out how to use it....
    1. Patrick Rock's Avatar
      Patrick Rock -
      Great piece, looking to invest on some improved gear, im using an s2000 at the mo.its bloody awful but im unemployed so its that or nothing!
    1. erolnm's Avatar
      erolnm -
      Great article and very informative! I have a full Canon 5D MKII DSLR kit if anyone would like to hire: www.erolmustafov.eu
    1. Reverie Films's Avatar
      Reverie Films -
      great info, hoping to get my hands into the Helios 40-2 lenses
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