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Header image for article Introducing "4K for $10K" with Jem Schofield

Introducing "4K for $10K" with Jem Schofield

As a Director of Photography and producer/director, there are lots digital cinema cameras to choose from. There are a number of options that meet the needs of many DPs, camera operators, media companies, and in-house production departments, are capable of UHD 4K HDR acquisition, and cost less than $10,000. In addition, many of these cameras have capabilities that go well beyond that spec. But, which camera do you choose for your next production?

As a regular contributor to AbelCine's blog, I thought a series that focused on these cameras would be valuable to not only myself but to a large part of the industry that uses cameras in this price range. AbelCine was into the idea, so we started by determining the base criteria for the candidate cameras. Watch the video to learn more about our process.

Jem Schofield: Behind the Scenes

Criteria

  • Internal recording options include at least UHD 4K at 30fps
  • Camera system (with battery and monitor/EVF, but not media and lenses) costs less than $10K US
  • Super 35mm sensor or larger
  • Single-system sound: XLR audio inputs, monitoring, adjustment
  • Built-in ND system
  • Log gamma and wide color gamut recording options
4K for $10K: Behind the Scenes

Cameras

And, here are the cameras I'll be covering in greater detail in the rest of the series:


New episodes will be released weekly, each covering one of the selected cameras. I will break down each camera's core features (hardware and software), and where I see it fitting in Small to No Crew production environments. Along with the AbelCine team, I will highlight three identical shooting scenarios for each camera and provide source footage that you can download to help in making an informed decision about which camera, or cameras, might be right for your productions.

4K for $10K: Behind the Scenes

Process

In order to keep the test footage results consistent for each of the cameras, we used the same lenses for all of the tests (ZEISS CP.3 primes). We also exposed each camera to its recommended exposure level using an 18% gray card and a waveform monitor. While there may be very slight variations in the light levels and the composition in the test footage (due to minor changes in terms of ambient light and also each of the camera’s sensors), we worked hard to make them as consistent as possible in real world environments.

Creating this series confirmed, once again, that there is no perfect camera system. Each has its perceived strengths and weaknesses, which are different for each operator. That must-have, killer feature in one camera may or may not even be of interest to certain people when considering cameras that are right for them.

Each of the six cameras is capable of producing amazing results in many different production environments. We have come so far in just a short period of time, in terms of the tools that are available to us to create high resolution and high dynamic range moving images at such a reasonable price point.

In my opinion, there have never been better tools available to us that what we have right now, and I foresee that continuing into the future. The fact that there are six cameras today that are all capable of our base criteria is remarkable. The uniqueness of each means that we get to choose the right tool for the right job.

Putting together a series like this wasn’t easy. A tremendous amount of planning, production and post went into it from both theC47 team (Jem Schofield, Jessica Schofield and Kenneth Potts) and the AbelCine team (with key contributions from Jeff Lee, Cody Tankersley, Geoff Smith, Claire Orpeza, and Rich & Pete Abel). So, be sure to tune in regularly for each and every episode of the 4K for $10K Camera Series.

 

AbelCine encourages comments on our blog posts, as long as they are relevant and respectful in tone. To further professional dialog, we strongly encourage the use of real names. We reserve the right to remove any comments that violate our comment policy.

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