Welcome to part two of our extensive filmmaking equipment guide for budget buyers. In this section, we will be moving up to the mid-range level where our overall price will reach up to £2,500-£4,000/$3,500-$6,000
Even though we have increased our budget, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to upgrade everything. As stated in the low-budget section, the idea of these lists is to spend as little as possible while obtaining excellent equipment.
Camera and Lenses.
We’re going to remove the 550D and jump up to the GH4(£899/$1,200). This is already a £750/$1000 increase to our budget but do not worry; it’s justified. Before we go under the hood, let’s have a look at the physical elements this camera has.
The GH4 has weather sealing. Though this doesn’t mean you can go deep-sea diving with it, it does mean that rain and dust will have a hard time finding its way into the camera. The DSLR also shoots at 4k; while I believe that 4k isn’t a necessity for DIY filmmakers, it does give the option to reframe when in post production. Again, this is something that should be avoided. It is recommended to set up the exact shot you need rather than relying on the ability to fix it in post. However, the option is always there if a problem arises.
The GH4 also has a vari-angle screen that is touch sensitive. When the successor to the 550d came out, there was a lot of attention brought to the and had a vari-angle screen. I quickly dismissed it at as a gimmick, but honestly having the ability to look at the screen without getting into awkward positions is a point winner. However, a downside to the GH4’s flip-screen is whatever the screen is coated with it makes it almost virtually impossible to see what’s on the screen in direct sunlight.
Regarding image quality, the GH4 can record 1080p at up to 200mbs while the 550d outputs at 40mbs. This will leave you with a lot more legroom when it comes to grading and image correction.
The Gh4 is also a relatively new camera on the marketplace, and with that, they have incorporated a lot of features that older DSLR’s were missing. Such as a mic input, HDMI feed, and a headphone jack.
The GH4 boasts an impressive 90fps while maintaining 1080p, which is a lot better than what a few of high-grade Canon DSLRs offer. The ability to shoot at this frame rate will offer up many more storytelling techniques without the visual compromise.
The problem with a GH4 is that it has a micro four thirds mount. That means a lot of Canon and Nikon glass won’t naturally fit the camera. Therefore, you will need an adapter. You can buy an adapter online for relatively next to nothing. For an adapter at this price you can expect a few issues. One being that it will increase the crop factor because it’s pushing the lens further away from the sensor, and you also won’t be able to change the aperture as there are no in-house electronics. Not being able to adjust the aperture isn’t a great position to be in if you don’t have a lens with manual aperture control.
Therefore, it is advisable to get a Metabones Speed Booster (£530/$700). This has a built-in electronic control that can change the aperture of a third party lens.
Now, you may be thinking, why spend an extra $500 on an adapter? Why not buy a camera that fits a lens straight away? Well, the speed booster increases the aperture of a lens by one stop, and it also reduces the crop factor by 0.71. This lands the field of view close to what a Super 35mm camera has, making the GH4 into something super.
For the lens recommendations, I highly suggest investing into Sigma’s mid-range lens collection.
The Sigma 50mm 1.4 £299/$325
The Sigma 24mm 1.8 Macro £488/$549.
The Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Macro £674/$1,000.
These lenses are great. Very durable and weather resistant, they produce a beautiful shallow depth of field and, the wide and the telephoto also double up as macro lenses so you can get in extra close for precise detail. They also all have a dual focus mechanism that means even on auto-focus you can manually change the focus. It’s surprising how useful that feature is.
I had to part way with these lenses as I needed to obtain a kit that had manual aperture control, and to this day, I still miss them.
We’re going to upgrade the recorder from the DR-100 to the DR-100 Mk II.
The Dr-100 Mk II (£200/$300) has improved pre-amps and if you’ve watched the IndieTips tutorial on audio, you know that a preamp helps hold back the noise while obtaining clean audio. Very useful. The Mk II also has clamps for the XLR connections which will stop the XLR being accidentally yanked out of the input.
We’re also going to upgrade the microphone to a RODE NTG3 (£400/$699). It’s hard to explain why without trying to diminish the rep of the NTG2. For a budget microphone the NTG2 is great, and for the extra bucks, the NTG3 is even better. It’s almost like comparing last generations gaming console to this generation. The Xbox360 or PlayStation 3 were both great systems and still hold their merits. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 both outdo their precursors, but they don’t make them obsolete. The NTG3 has a much warmer feel to it and requires less gain on the recorder.
We’re going to keep the LEDs from the previous section but remove the cheap eBay 800ws.
A set of two Arri 300ws (£325/$450) and one Arri 150w (£300/$300) will put you in a position to start crafting beautiful imagery with cinematic lighting. The ARRI Fresnel series is ideal for use where compact, lightweight tungsten Fresnel spotlights are required, especially in small studios where grid height is a problem. Their short focal length, wide angle lenses produce impressive light output and good light distribution over the full beam area.
Our tripod and DSLR backpack will remain where they currently sit. However, we will be adding the Glidecam HD4000 to this section ($589).
The Glidecam Hd 4000 is an entry into the world of Steadicams for the DSLR. You place the DSLR on top, correct the balance, then with a bit of practice, you’ll be able to glide in and out of shots like a pro. The one downside is that you won’t be able to touch the camera once the balance is set, no focus pulling nor adjusting the settings. It’ll throw off the balance. With this in mind, you’ll only really be able to shoot with a wide lens with a small aperture so everything remains in focus.
Grand total = $6112.
Grand Total = £4535
The individual prices in the list were taken from the stock Amazon RRP, which is usually quite steep in comparison with the 3rd party sellers and used versions which can go for up to 30% off the listed price. So please take the overall price listed here with a grain of salt, you can still get everything for a lot cheaper than the final amount shown here.