If you are a videographer or photographer you will use and buy several cameras in your lifetime. Technology gets better and more efficient and we as creatives want the best we can afford. There are several questions you should ask yourself before you plunge your money towards new gear, specifically cameras.
One question that you should ask yourself is, “Will this new camera solve a problem?” I will use an example so you understand. For the past couple of years, I have been shooting with a Canon C100 Cinema EOS camera. I use the camera on a monopod, slider, tripod but not on a stabilizer such as a Steadicam. I have tried and wanted desperately to use it on my Glidecam, however, the combination of it and a lens adds up to approximately four pounds. Four pounds does not seem too heavy, but try holding it steady on a stabilizer for more than three minutes! It gets very very heavy very fast. At times I felt my wrist was going to break and my arms were going to give. So, this was a problem.
The C100 has a very sharp image and I needed another camera to compliment the C100 when I was incorporating stabilizer shots. I used to use a Canon 6D which is a full frame camera that produces fantastic imagery. The 6D just was not sharp enough though. When you use both cameras in a video you can tell that one of them is a tad soft. I needed to fix this and I ended up shopping for a new camera that could match the quality of the Canon C100, but was small and light enough for me to fly on my stabilizer.
Not too long ago I picked up a Panasonic Gh5. This camera produces 4k video that matches very well with the Canon C100. The combination of the Gh5 and a lens is only around two pounds, which is manageable. I have tested the two camera systems and they do match well. I still must color match the Gh5 to match the C100, but the overall experience is great.
Buy the camera when it solves a problem. I couldn’t fly the Canon C100, and the 6D just wasn’t cutting it anymore, so I pulled out my wallet and paid for a new camera.
After purchasing the Gh5 I started to realize how great the imagery was. So, it got me thinking…. The C100 is five years old, a tad heavier, and shoots only 1080. The Gh5 has several of the tools the C100 offers such as waveform monitors, zebras, peaking and it shoots 4k. It got me thinking about replacing the C100 with my new Gh5 for all my video needs. However, before I even think about selling the C100 or just leave it behind, I first needed to test the Gh5 in everyday situations. Shooting flowers in the back yard is a start, but to really understand how a camera can benefit you, you must use it under stressful situations. You need to be able to understand the functions and how it best suits your shooting style. What better way to break in a camera than to offer your services for free? You might think FREE, I have been doing this videography thing for a long time, I don’t give away anything for FREE! I understand you completely. You have been working as a videographer for several years, you have the background and knowledge, but what you don’t have is experience with a camera you want to start placing in your bag to help your produce videos that you can charge people for. Trust me, using a new camera on a free gig is not a big deal. You are testing out gear and if you make a mistake so be it. People only learn from making mistakes. I appreciate and welcome mistakes when I go out with a new piece of equipment, because I grow from it and it makes me a better videographer in the long run.
I want to learn as much as I can about the camera, and how it can be a part of my tool kit for telling stories. After working with the camera a few times, you will also learn where all the buttons are, menus, and create muscle memory which is very important. Not only are you benefiting yourself by shooing a video for free, but you are also making friends and new contacts with the business or organization you are recording for.
Maybe you need to update your review section on your website. You could ask the business for a review of your services; do you really think they are going to say no after you have spent several hours interviewing them and shooting broll for them for free? Who knows, they may call you up for a paid gig later on.
It’s a win win situation. You get to dive deep in a new camera and learn about its pros and cons. What you can and cannot accomplish with it. The free video will help a business thrive and maybe they will post it on their website or Facebook page…. if it’s good, people will ask them who shot it.
So to wrap it up, think before you buy, read the Amazon or B&H comments regarding the camera and ask yourself does it solve any of my problems? How can this camera benefit you in the present as well as in the future? I strongly advice you to use the camera extensively before you use it on a paid gig. I wish you well with your new purchase.
Jeffrey can be contacted at: www.jeffreycookvideography.com
I have been working in television and media for over 18 years. My experience includes news photojournalist, editor, producer and storyteller. I am a five time Telly Award winner.