With so many cameras on the market today, how do you know which one is right for your film?
Here’s the simple answer. Pick the one that gives you the best look, that you have access to, and that costs you the least. The look verses the cost is the universal problem that everyone struggles with in this industry because usually the more expensive the camera, the better the look. On your first film just be happy to get a camera. Wait until a later film to worry about the format.
High Definition or HD Cameras
There are many HD cameras out there today that give you a good image quality, but there are some that are sort of the industry standard for independent film that you should consider.
Panasonic makes a wide variety of HD cameras from the Varicam all the way to the smaller prosumer cameras. My personal preference for shooting an independent film with Panasonic Cameras is the Varicam, but that does not mean you have to use it. It is the most expensive Panasonic to rent but the best image they offer.
Sony also makes a wide variety of HD cameras from the CineAlta down to prosumer cameras. Of these my personal preference is the CineAlta, once again the most expensive of the Sony cameras to rent, but the best image they offer.
35mm and 16mm Film Cameras
In my opinion there is nothing quite like the look of film and it is still the greatest medium to film on. Most larger movies are still shot on 35mm film but for your purposes this may be out of reach. Do not be discouraged if you cannot shoot on film. For your first film you probably shouldn’t anyway. There are a lot of different film cameras out there but for your purposes I will just list the main two companies you would probably deal with.
Panavision is a camera rental house that rents their own camera systems and lenses to filmmakers.
They have a wide variety of Panavision Brand Camera bodies and lenses that can suit anything you want to film. They also carry all the additional pieces needed for any part that fits every camera they own.
Originally Arri was a 35mm and 16mm film camera company that sold cameras to individuals. You will find that a lot of DP’s owned a 435 Camera, one of the work horses of the industry in 35mm. They also made a 16mmSR3 that was their 16mm camera and was used on sets quite often.
2K, 4K and beyond cameras
There are quite a few different types of cameras out there for high end movies and low budget independent films. Most of the independent filmmakers and are using the same type of cameras that the big studios because the cost has come down dramatically. Look into using Arri Alexa, Red, Canon Cinema Cameras as your best choices for your next film.