Thread: WHICH IS THE BEST USED CAMERA INVESTMENT UNDER $10000 ? -Newbie

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  1. #1 WHICH IS THE BEST USED CAMERA INVESTMENT UNDER $10000 ? -Newbie 
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    Hi everyone, I have a liking for cinematography and videography, and currently looking to invest under $10,000 in a decent, USED professional camera package, that I can learn how to operate very well and potentially rent out and make some money, or getting small gigs with it.


    So my questions regarding the cameras below are as follows:

    1) what would be a better buy in your professional opinion based on these camera packages and why?

    2) What will be a good step below these camera's in terms of quality and lifetime value?

    3) Are these prices reasonable?

    4) Which of these will you grab off the shelf?

    5) Is there a better option that I am not aware of?



    First, I found a Sony F5 package for $6500, ready to shoot with 4K upgrade and viewfinder. Lenses extra. Under 400hrs.

    Also, a Canon C300MK 2 package selling for $8000

    Next, the Red Epic M X ready to shoot package for $9500 shipped.

    Then, Arri Alexa EV / Alexa Classic (with high speed license) selling for about $8500, with memory and about 1300hr. No batteries.

    Sony Fs7 MK1 selling for about $6000, with hand grip, viewfinder and batteries. No lens, no memory.

    Finally, a PMW F55 package, ready to shoot for $10000.


    Your opinions will be greatly appreciated as I am looking to pull the trigger within the coming week. Thanks

    Ps, I am new to the forum.
    Last edited by Takor Arrey; 08-24-2019 at 05:45 AM.
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Karim D. Ghantous's Avatar
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    I don't have a direct answer, but I have a few things to say that may or may not be helpful.

    I do not currently own a cinema camera. But if I did, I'd be tempted by two choices:

    - Blackmagic
    - RED

    The reasons are simple: relatively affordable, potent, portable. RED RAW is the closest digital format there is to film. You do need to know what you're doing. And that's exactly the point. If you have experience with RED files, you have a skill that many people don't have. If you can competently use a RED camera, you can easily handle anything else.

    Maybe rent an Epic for a week or two first, though. This is something that I intend to do down the line, purely for my own curiosity. I'm not sure if I'll ever need to know how to use a high end cinema camera, but one never knows. :-)
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    I'd strongly recommend renting and seeing what works for you.

    Also see if your clients want 4k delivery or not and how your computer/NLE handles playback of various formats.

    I've worked pretty extensively with most of those cameras (or footage from them) in a professional setting. And I think the reason for that is because there's no simple answer and different productions favor different strengths. I can tell you which is better in a given area, but not overall because they all have strengths and weaknesses.

    Also, be cognizant of which forum you're on.
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    I where in your position a many years ago. I've used Canon 5D Mark 3 for a long time running on a Glidecam. Many people told me to look at Canon 300 or Sony FS5 but where they the cameras I really wanted ? where they the workflow I really wanted .. no they where not .. what did I want .. I wanted RED because I wanted to capture in raw .

    You really in the end have to look at what you really want . What you will be happy with using. Camera bodies loose there value faster then the glass . Someone told me that the glass you use for many many years but during that time you will have used many camera bodies . and there is no perfect camera bodies .

    for me I wanted a true cinema camera, I wanted to capture cinema quality images and I wanted to capture in raw ... I also wanted the raw workflow to be easy and just work . And I wanted modularity .. Thats why I went DSMC2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karim D. Ghantous View Post
    I don't have a direct answer, but I have a few things to say that may or may not be helpful.

    I do not currently own a cinema camera. But if I did, I'd be tempted by two choices:

    - Blackmagic
    - RED

    The reasons are simple: relatively affordable, potent, portable. RED RAW is the closest digital format there is to film. You do need to know what you're doing. And that's exactly the point. If you have experience with RED files, you have a skill that many people don't have. If you can competently use a RED camera, you can easily handle anything else.

    Maybe rent an Epic for a week or two first, though. This is something that I intend to do down the line, purely for my own curiosity. I'm not sure if I'll ever need to know how to use a high end cinema camera, but one never knows. :-)



    Thank you Karim, renting out the cameras sounds like a good idea and seeing that easy rental will cost me a minimum $300-$500 x 6 , that makes it about 1/4 of my budget already. Also, from what I get, RED cameras will fly off the shelf more easily compared to other brands in the cinema realm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt W. View Post
    I'd strongly recommend renting and seeing what works for you.

    Also see if your clients want 4k delivery or not and how your computer/NLE handles playback of various formats.

    I've worked pretty extensively with most of those cameras (or footage from them) in a professional setting. And I think the reason for that is because there's no simple answer and different productions favor different strengths. I can tell you which is better in a given area, but not overall because they all have strengths and weaknesses.

    Also, be cognizant of which forum you're on.


    Thank you Matt, From working with most the camera that I listed, which one did you find more versatile to shoot with in terms of workflow, cost to carry and form factor?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Takor Arrey View Post
    Hi everyone, I have a liking for cinematography and videography, and currently looking to invest under $10,000 in a decent, USED professional camera package, that I can learn how to operate very well and potentially rent out and make some money, or getting small gigs with it.
    About that...

    If you want to learn to operate a camera very well, you need to be on shoots that provide real opportunity to learn and critically evaluate. Which means you need friends who need extra camera operators. You can decide whether you want to make friends with SONY people, Canon people, RED people, etc., but if you are not practicing--and practicing a lot--with real equipment on real shoots, you will most likely become very good at things that might seem interesting to you but which have no real value in the market.

    As to rental, it is true that if all somebody wants to do is to evaluate a camera body for a lens test or two, then all you need to offer is a good price for your camera body. But if you look at the rental market, and specifically what people do when they go to a rental house, they browse for all kinds of things that will ultimately make up a package: lens mounts, plates, rods, wires, adapters, flags, media, batteries, etc. And they offer a staging area where customers can actually build and test the package they plan to shoot with to be absolutely sure that (1) they have the right kit, (2) it all works, and (3) any problems can be immediately addressed.
    Unless you can supply everything around the camera body (i.e., your "ready to shoot" package fully meets the renter's "ready to shoot" needs), customers are going to look for the one-stop-shop that gives them the peace of mind that they have everything they need, including service/replacements if things go wrong.

    My advice would be to prioritize gaining experience by working with others, which will greatly inform (1) how to become a proficient operator, (2) what clients are really looking for in the gear/experience continuum, and (3) what sort of equipment and business model is best for YOU to transform your passion into something that helps pay for itself.
    Michael Tiemann, Chapel Hill NC

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    Thank you Michael, your point makes sense. People won't rent if it doesn't work for them. I can DSLR shoot already and would like to move beyond the DSLR realm. No one in my community has a cinema camera and rental houses are not close by. So most just settle for rigged up DSLRs. My big issue is understanding which one of these cameras have you found to be more versatile to shoot with in terms of workflow, cost to carry and form factor?
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  9. #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by Takor Arrey View Post
    Thank you Karim, renting out the cameras sounds like a good idea and seeing that easy rental will cost me a minimum $300-$500 x 6 , that makes it about 1/4 of my budget already. Also, from what I get, RED cameras will fly off the shelf more easily compared to other brands in the cinema realm.
    Not at all. ARRI is most rented cinema camera. Canon C200/C300/C500 is probably most-rented run-and-gun. SONY and Panasonic both more popular than RED.

    RED is a specialized tool, highly prized for what it can do. But there has to be a sizeable number of people who know RED really well and need to rent because (1) too much of a bother to transport their own, (2) they need a second or third camera to supplement their primary. If those people are not prevalent in your market, you will be limited to renting to the occasional Inquisitor like yourself who just wants to tick that box before they die. It's not a very robust market.
    Michael Tiemann, Chapel Hill NC

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  10. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Takor Arrey View Post
    Thank you Matt, From working with most the camera that I listed, which one did you find more versatile to shoot with in terms of workflow, cost to carry and form factor?
    Short answer: Alexa or FS7, but it depends.

    95%+ of the work I do is Alexa, but I mostly work in post. Increasingly I'm seeing 3.2k footage more often than 2k or 1080p, which might be a sign that the older Alexas incapable of shooting open gate mode are renting less and less often.

    I almost never get FS7 footage, but my friends who are owner/ops or working in corporate seem to love it and I see them around. But it's a different market-corporate and/or reality, I'm guessing, is where that camera lands. Sort of a C300 successor. The Sony image is okay, but I don't love it.

    I haven't used an Epic MX since IPP2 was released, but when I was shooting with it, I found it lacking in dynamic range and low light ability compared with its contemporaries and compared with what's available today it's imo a bit long in the tooth. Good image when lit right, though. I worked with the Dragon a few years later and found it to be a lot better, still not great with low light but much better dynamic range and better color. I don't know to what extent it's IPP2 and to what extent it's the new sensor, but whatever it is, I'd try it out for yourself. YMMV. The MX sensor is a generation (or half generation) behind the C300 Mk 1 so it's just fallen prey to time. Arri is in a different category because the ALEV 3 is doing its own thing in the highlights by merging exposures. You're losing resolution with that sensor, especially relative to Red, but even today nothing has the highlight dynamic range the Alexa has and I find it the easiest thing to transition to if you're used to shooting film. Dead in the water if your client wants 4k, though.

    The Alexa is also my favorite camera to work with in post, but I don't like how it's battery-hungry and big. I don't like the Alexa Mini form factor from an owner/op perspective, although, ironically, I bought a less capable camera with the same form factor. Repairs are also very expensive and they do go down from time to time. So the Alexa is a tough one. IMO nothing gets close to it in terms of dynamic range and tonality, but you might be working with a 2k camera in a 4k market and have expensive repairs and a camera that's a pain to operate without an assistant. I do like the Amira form factor, but the price remains high.

    In LA I see a lot of Reds and they would be hard to rent out imo. In a smaller market, everyone might want one if you buy it. Again, I think the newer sensors are significantly ahead of the MX. Nothing wrong with it, but like the Alexas that only shoot 2k, the rental market might be saturated with them.

    The Sonys are just kind of boring and okay imo, but SLOG 3 can produce a nice image.

    I really like the image from the Varicam LT and the price point and that it has true 4k and dual ISO, but haven't shot with that camera, just worked with it in post and researched buying one. And the EVF brings it to $15k new.

    I strongly recommend renting locally. It'll give you an idea of your competition, too.
    Last edited by Matt W.; 08-24-2019 at 09:21 AM.
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