Wow, loaded title huh?
Even though we technically can’t spend the next four hours discussing all of the different cameras and camera platforms that can be used by the indie filmmaker, we will layout some different types and some of the different platforms that we use.
DSLRs are great for those who wish to get into both photography and video. I would consider them nice entry platforms (IMO) since they can be picked up online, in departments stores and in camera shops (at okay prices). They do have some issues (on the video side) in lieu of low light conditions and rolling shutter, but with the filmmaker’s creative talents, these can be counteracted. There are many different cameras out there, but these are the ones that we use.
Canon T3i: Definitely a nice camera to start off, the package runs approximately $700 and has the capability of shooting 18 MP (photo) and HD 1080 (video).
Nikon D3100: Also not a bad camera, runs about $650 and shoots 14.4 MP (photo) and HD 1080 (video).
Canon T4i: A little bit more in price at $900, the T4i is a cropped DSLR rated at 18 MP for photo and shoots both HD 720 (60 fps) & 1080 (24 & 30 fps) for video.
Pro Video Cameras:
When we get into Pro Video, we usually deal with Sony and Panasonic cameras; but the Black Magic camera is by far our favorite. Keep in mind that these cameras are not cheap and are hell if you get them wet or drop em.
Panasonic AG-AC90: We typically use this camera for some actions shots and slowing time down (since we can over crank the 1080p footage to 60 fps) and later emulate 120 fps in post. It also has dual XLR inputs for good audio input without using a converter box.
Sony NEX-EA50UH: This is used primarily for ‘studio’ shoots or interviews since it is a bit larger than the typical ProCam and seems to have a more balanced weight (of a little over 3 pounds). It also has dual XLR inputs for running boom mics or lapels (if you are not running separate audio). It also has the ability to output timecodes from video.
Sony PMW-200 XDCAM: Not a bad camera, has the ability for timecode input and output, and features 3 x 1/2″ CMOS sensors. However due to a lack of XLR inputs and a slight weight problem (close to 6 pounds), this camera is usually kept on a jib, dolly or tripod. Another big downside to this camera is that it require SXs cards for capturing video (and they are not cheap).
Panasonic AG-HMC150: Aside from our GoPro cameras, this camera is usually abused and films a lot of our ‘action’ shots and sequences. It’s a stable, decent sized and a good quality camera. It features 3 x 1/3″ CCD sensors and a Leica Lens, films up to 60 fps @ 1080, and shoots rather well in lower light conditions (advertised at 3 Lux). It also features XLR inputs and records to SDHC cards.
Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera: By far, one of my favorite camera systems yet (aside from the uber-expensive RED platform). It features a 12 bit/2.5k RAW resolution possibility, EF lens mount, 5″ touchscreen monitor, 13 stops of Dynamic Range and the easy ability to enter Metadata directly to the footage in camera. It records to any 2.5″ Solid State Hard Drive instead of special cards (like the Sony PMW-200). Downsides: no XLR inputs and only 1/4″ analog audio inputs.
GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition: Mountable to almost anything and everything! Although these are technically able to film up to 4k resolution, we have never pushed past 1080 (for the moment), so we can’t really comment on their 4k and 2.7k capabilities. They’re robust, compact and waterproof (in the waterproof casing); we love the built in WIFI feature and constantly use our iPhones (via the GoPro App) to set up the shots and start recording. Definitely worth spending $400.