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Author Topic: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions  (Read 2266 times)

Lee Douglas

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Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
« on: November 06, 2021, 07:45:51 PM »

I have a couple of friends who produce jazz shows through grants and crowd sourcing.  Funds are always tight and I provide back line on occasion.  The have live stream events and record them viewing later.  They have a hodge podge of HDMI cameras that are fed into an HDMI video production switcher.  The video typically looks good, apart from some white balance issues. But they're missing a decent camera with a smooth zoom and a fluid pan, along with an operator that know who should be featured at any given time.  You know like a sound guy that knows who is soloing.  That's where I think I could help.  So I'm looking for a camera and tri-pod set up that would do the job.  I'm not concerned about audio or storage, although I suspect anything suggested would do both rather well.  Used is perfectly acceptable.  A robust HDMI output and user selectable output resolution would probably be important.  I'm an idiot when it comes to video, so school me and make a few suggestions! 
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2021, 02:20:16 AM »

Not cheap, but look into PTZ Optics cameras.
They can be controlled via ethernet with multiple presets for position, and focus.
Hit a button and it goes to the spot.
Switch to wide camera, hit preset, and go to the PTZ when it gets there.
No at camera operator needed.
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Erik Jerde

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Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2021, 09:05:18 AM »

I have a couple of friends who produce jazz shows through grants and crowd sourcing.  Funds are always tight and I provide back line on occasion.  The have live stream events and record them viewing later.  They have a hodge podge of HDMI cameras that are fed into an HDMI video production switcher.  The video typically looks good, apart from some white balance issues. But they're missing a decent camera with a smooth zoom and a fluid pan, along with an operator that know who should be featured at any given time.  You know like a sound guy that knows who is soloing.  That's where I think I could help.  So I'm looking for a camera and tri-pod set up that would do the job.  I'm not concerned about audio or storage, although I suspect anything suggested would do both rather well.  Used is perfectly acceptable.  A robust HDMI output and user selectable output resolution would probably be important.  I'm an idiot when it comes to video, so school me and make a few suggestions!

The ability to smoothly pan/tilt and zoom is going to be related to the quality of the tripod youíre using.  Better tripods are sold as a separate set of legs (sticks) and head.  For what youíre doing youíll probably be fine finding them in combination though.  You want a true fluid head not some cheap friction one.  Heads are speced for a weight range and you want to keep your camera setup - everything going on the tripod head - inside that weight range.  You will need to use controls on the head as well as camera position to balance the head.  The idea is that a balanced head allows the operator to tilt the camera up or down then let go and it stays put.  There will be drag controls for pan and tilt which allow the operator to control how much force is needed to move the head.  Itís operator preference but when properly setup it will allow the operator to smoothly pan and tilt the camera around.

Smooth zoom and focus is a function of having a remote control on the pan arm so that the operator doesnít have to ever touch the actual camera.  For the level camera youíre looking at itís usually a green 1/8Ē trs (or trrs - I canít remember exactly) port on the camera.  I canít remember the protocol name but itís not proprietary.  Good ones can often acceptably approach the focus/zoom performance that true broadcast cameras give for the type of work youíre doing.

Youíll probably also need an operator display since the on-camera displays usually are tiny and poorly positioned for working from a tripod.  Many of these will just pass through the signal unmolested.  They will often offer additional display features to help the operator like zebra, focus peaking, framing overlays etc.

If itís in your budget consider a camera that supports HD-SDI.  Itís a much more reliable transport method.  Throw a decimator MD-HX on the end of it and you can convert to HDMI with available up/down/cross conversion if needed.

Donít underestimate the work it takes to be a good camera op.  Iíve seen very talented audio folks poo-poo the job right till they try to do it.
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Mike Caldwell

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Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2021, 10:54:27 AM »

Everything Eric just said!

A fluid head tripod that has some weight to it is a must.
Actually a camera that has weight to it is easier and smoother to use.
If shooting handheld I always liked a camera with some weight to it.

As far as cameras go when you start getting into cameras that include XLR
inputs that is the first step into a pro'ish camera, the next step gets into
cameras that have the mentioned SDI outputs. From then on the sky's the limit
on what you want to spend.

For longer HDMI runs the fiber optic HDMI cables work well, SDI uses RG6 coax.
Black Magic makes some good SDI to HDMI converters.

Maybe think about a person who directs the camera shots so the operators can be ready
for the shot they need to get.
Then you'll need an intercom system.

Tim McCulloch

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Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2021, 11:27:44 AM »

The ability to smoothly pan/tilt and zoom is going to be related to the quality of the tripod youíre using.  Better tripods are sold as a separate set of legs (sticks) and head.  For what youíre doing youíll probably be fine finding them in combination though.  You want a true fluid head not some cheap friction one.  Heads are speced for a weight range and you want to keep your camera setup - everything going on the tripod head - inside that weight range.  You will need to use controls on the head as well as camera position to balance the head.  The idea is that a balanced head allows the operator to tilt the camera up or down then let go and it stays put.  There will be drag controls for pan and tilt which allow the operator to control how much force is needed to move the head.  Itís operator preference but when properly setup it will allow the operator to smoothly pan and tilt the camera around.

Smooth zoom and focus is a function of having a remote control on the pan arm so that the operator doesnít have to ever touch the actual camera.  For the level camera youíre looking at itís usually a green 1/8Ē trs (or trrs - I canít remember exactly) port on the camera.  I canít remember the protocol name but itís not proprietary.  Good ones can often acceptably approach the focus/zoom performance that true broadcast cameras give for the type of work youíre doing.

Youíll probably also need an operator display since the on-camera displays usually are tiny and poorly positioned for working from a tripod.  Many of these will just pass through the signal unmolested.  They will often offer additional display features to help the operator like zebra, focus peaking, framing overlays etc.

If itís in your budget consider a camera that supports HD-SDI.  Itís a much more reliable transport method.  Throw a decimator MD-HX on the end of it and you can convert to HDMI with available up/down/cross conversion if needed.

Donít underestimate the work it takes to be a good camera op.  Iíve seen very talented audio folks poo-poo the job right till they try to do it.

All the above.  And for the LX folks - camera operation is a lot more than "reverse follow spot".

Like with audio the right answer to Lee's question is "it depends..."  You might get away with a Canon Vixia R-8x camcorder (has a clean HDMI output) or you might need something more like a DSLR or "studio" camera to have lens choices.  Then you might want a camera cage, rail system if you're using long lenses or teleprompter/eye contact device, etc.

Having a PGM return feed is useful if the director is calling a 2 up, so you can see your camera framing in context...

Plus everything Mike Caldwell mentions above. :)
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Lee Douglas

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Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2021, 11:59:15 AM »

Thanks for the advice so far.  I hadn't thought about the PGM return feed.  Especially since there isn't likely to be an intercom at these shows.  I do know that there is an art to it, much like there more to sound than just moving the faders.  I especially like the reverse follow spot analogy.  Any suggestions of brands and models I should be considering?
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Erik Jerde

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Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2021, 12:04:24 PM »

Thanks for the advice so far.  I hadn't thought about the PGM return feed.  Especially since there isn't likely to be an intercom at these shows.  I do know that there is an art to it, much like there more to sound than just moving the faders.  I especially like the reverse follow spot analogy.  Any suggestions of brands and models I should be considering?

Whatís your budget?
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Lee Douglas

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Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2021, 12:36:36 PM »

I don't have one yet.  I don't have any idea of what's out there.  I've looked at Red cameras, which are way too much for this endeavor.  The DJi RONIN 4D looks cool, but has more bells and whistles than I would ever need for this project and still more than I want to spend. I'm trying improve their product at the most reasonable cost to myself. 
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2021, 01:41:32 PM »

I don't have one yet.  I don't have any idea of what's out there.  I've looked at Red cameras, which are way too much for this endeavor.  The DJi RONIN 4D looks cool, but has more bells and whistles than I would ever need for this project and still more than I want to spend. I'm trying improve their product at the most reasonable cost to myself.
The new BlackMagic Studio Camera Pros have communication, and with another dodad can run EVERYTHING through an ethernet cable.
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Events.  Stage, PA, Lighting and Backline rentals.
Chauvet dealer.  Home of the Angler.
Inventor.  And now, Streaming Video!

Mike Caldwell

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Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2021, 07:36:56 PM »

You need to get a budget number and the actual goal that they want to achieve then see if the goal and budget are in the same place.

For a pro'ish basics figure $2000 for a camera and $300 for tripod.
You can add a zero to each of those prices real fast!



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Re: Semi Pro Camera Suggestions
¬ę Reply #9 on: November 08, 2021, 07:36:56 PM ¬Ľ


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