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Used Arri Alexa Classic/Plus or used Red Epic-X or new Red Scarlet-W 5K? Which camera do you recommend for my friend for a feature film who has £15k?

Which camera do you recommend for my friend for a feature film who has £15k budget? Used Arri Alexa Classic/Plus or used Red Epic-X or new Red Scarlet-W 5K?

  • I'd suggest looking at renting, as whichever used body you buy, you'll need to rent glassware, grip, lights, etc., anyway, and the cost of hiring a body is low when renting that lot in a package.

    8 months ago
  • 100%. Rent

    8 months ago
  • Yes. Rent. You don't know the history of a 2nd hand camera. Rented one will be well maintained.

    8 months ago
  • Also, with regard to low budget, I would seriously considerr hiring the new Varicam LT. Its higher ISO of 5000 (it has two native ISOs: 800 and 5000) is really impressive which can mean smaller lighting packages, less time between set-ups (increasing the number of set-ups by 10-12 a day) and, if you are shooting exterior, increases your shooting day into the evening. So great financial savings. Pictures look good too!

    8 months ago
  • Rent. Spend that saved money on production insurance.

    8 months ago
  • Agreed,Varicam dual native iso is both unique and useful but if it all boils down to absolute picture quality and your final delivery can be serviced by the max 2880 x 1620 Raw output of the Alexa Classic (or 2880 x 2160 Plus 4:3)
    it's a no-brainer in my opinion.

    8 months ago
  • Thanks Paul, Dan, Mark, Ben and Paddy.
    The equipment is already owned is Zeiss super-speed Cp2 T.15 set, Lighting kits from HMI to kino flows to LED panels, Jib, tracks, sound kits etc. and budget can be increased up-to £18000 but is Arri Alexa Classic or plus (max 2880 x 1620 Raw output) really worth it now? How long we can use it for cinema screen? or its obsolete already? As used camera body is available around 10-15k in market and there are plenty of feature films made on this, or go for new Red Scarlet-W with RED DRAGON 13.8 MP/ REDCODE RAW at 5K Full Format up to 50 fps. What do you prefer in £15-18k? except rent any option to purchase in this budget?

    8 months ago
  • Wouldn't say Alexa Classic is obsolete. Except its no good for Netflix/Amazon. What about Ursa Mini 4.6K? Picture quality far exceeds its cost.

    8 months ago
    • Amazon now accept Alexa for its productions. Also, Netflix will accept Alexa for Netflix for Netflix original movies, although not series. So a relaxation of the 4K rule.

      7 months ago
  • Seriously, I can't get over this kind of producing mindset. DO NOT buy your kit. It makes no sense whatsoever.

    So you're going to buy a used Red Dragon at 15K - which may break - and then you won't have any cash to either send it in for repair or rent another one to replace it. You're also going to put relatively crappy lenses on it (and a set of CP2's T1.5 is only 3 (and no wide)) and insist on your crew using all the kit you own instead of their own kits which they're spent years building and which WORK.

    I can guarantee you that a decent gaffer will come in and say "okay, so you have a few HMI's and Kinos, that'll do for something, but what about the wind-ups, fabrics, 20 x 20 and 8 x 8 frames, knuckles, cardelinis, y-cords 100 metres of 16 amp cable etc etc". In other words, whatever kit you think you own, you do NOT own a useable amount of it for anything approaching a professional level production with professional crew.

    Cut deals with rental houses and hire-in your kit. Use your money more wisely. To me this is a classic example of thinking that money and kit can make a decent film. They cannot.

    8 months ago
  • I agree with Jamie. Always rent. Digital sensors are like film stocks, no sensor is right for everything and no sensor is better than any of the others in its class. With digital the camera/lens choise will vary dependant on what you are shooting, in the same way that, with film, it is the stock/lens choise that varies according to what you are shooting. If you buy, you are effectively binding the DOPs hands and he/she will not be able to do his/her best work for you.

    8 months ago
  • Think about it. On a feature of 2, 5, or 10 million - why don't they buy their gear? They always rent.

    8 months ago
  • I totally agree... but having Editing facilities and Camera etc kits sometime low budget producers hire you as director thinking that they'll save budget.
    So guys, may be at this occasion if we have no choice except purchasing camera, please suggest me Used Alexa Classic/Plus or Used Red Epic X or New Scarlet W...???

    8 months ago
    • What does your DP prefer? The Scarlet W has a nice sensor (I think the same as the Red Dragon, so if you have any experience with that camera, the image will be similar). Of course, that depends on the glass as well. I'm personally wary of buying any used electronics, but especially something so sensitive as a camera. The Alexa came out about 5 years ago, I think, so that camera might have a lot of wear and tear.

      If I were buying a used camera, I'd certainly get my DP to do tests on each camera I was considering. It's really not as simple as asking us, as not all things are equal when buying used equipment.

      8 months ago
    • "having Editing facilities and Camera etc kits sometime low budget producers hire you as director thinking that they'll save budget."
      So guys, may be at this occasion if we have no choice except purchasing camera..."

      Kamran, we want to help, but you're not making any sense man...! You mean they're paying your friend 15K and they're expecting him to bring all the kit with him?

      Anyway... there is no simple answer to your question. If your DP is good then he or she will have a preference that takes into account the specifics of the story you're telling, and the budget to hand. Any second-hand camera that has no warranty is a potential money pit if the sensor goes (you're talking over £10K on an Alexa Classic). If you use owned kit then you have no fallback and no insurance policy (in the heat of the moment) if it goes wrong. The advice of everyone here is to rent, and you'd likely spend a good lot less than £15K...!

      Good luck!

      Jamie

      8 months ago
  • Give the money to a decent experienced DP (via the production dept!) and get him/her to cut a rental deal with their regular suppliers. (Sorry if that reply's been covered before.)

    8 months ago
  • Thanks Karel, Jamie and Dan.

    Dan, still need to finalise a DP. I understand your concerns about used kit.

    I think now people are purchasing cameras with multiple recording media options means can record raw and proress both together, to save time of post; Like all new RED DSMC2 cameras and Arri Alex SXT. So the cheapest option I could find is www.red.com/products/scarlet-w#tech-spec...

    8 months ago
  • Yes, Scarlet is likely to be your cheapest option.But take the above opinions into account. Just be prepared to have another huge hire bill once you hit pre-production and HOD's learn that you still have one-third of a lighting package and two-thirds of a camera package! Good luck though man!
    Jamie

    8 months ago
    • Just to add some context, the hire of the body is almost free these days when you take the lenses, grip, lamps etc from a hire company. I think I paid under a grand a week for the very latest Alexa shooting kit with open gate licenses, etc.

      8 months ago
    • What Paddy said.

      I'm really confused by your reasoning to buy, Kam. In 30 years, I've never experienced a producer hiring a director because he had all the gear. Below the line people, sure. But never above the line.

      8 months ago
  • I still don't understand why people think that it's a good idea to spend their production budget to buy a camera when they want to make a film. One guy told me that he wanted to save $100,000 to make a film, and his plan was to start by buying a Red Dragon (which shows a lock of konwledge, since Red has several cameras with Dragon sensors).

    The flaw is that so many people think that buying a Red or Arri camera will make a better film. It won't; to get a better film you need better lighting, authentic performances, good storytelling, and good art direction.

    I bought my camera so that I can shoot with it pretty much whenever I need to, like on climbing trips, my upcoming Himalayas trekking trip, and also on passion projects. I'm also shooting a feature film this summer (possibly two), and the fact that I own a very good camera is saving the production money. I do also plan on generating additional revenue with rentals, but that's part of why I bought the camera.

    All that said, none of those appear to apply to you, so buying the camera isn't really a win in your case. You'd be better of renting, and saving your money for art direction, lighting and grip gear, makeup, and catering.

    8 months ago
  • Totally agree. I often get told (when being asked to do a freebie): The rushes will look good because we're going to be shooting with an Alexa, Red etc etc. No they won't! It is the guy using it that makes the good pictures; not the camera. I once saw the BTS for a short shot with a Sony FS700, all the highlights were blown out and it was black and white. They said they made it black and white because the rushes were so bad. The young DOP said it was because the camera wasn't as good as an Arri or a Red. Rubbish! I once used a FS700 as a B Camera to an Alexa on a Music Video and it was fine; intercut very well. The rushes were so bad on this short because the young DOP didn't know what he was doing. Give him an Alexa 65 and the rushes would still look bad. Give Dion Beebe a Canon 5D and he will make his rushes sing!

    8 months ago
    • Agreed, that is definitely rubbish -- the FS700 has huge dynamic range... anyone should be able to get at least decent results with it even without much experience and/or talent. I've seen lots of great footage made with FS series cameras.

      7 months ago
  • BLACK MAGIC PRODUCTION CAMERA! WITH SOME CANON CINE LENSES! DONT GO RED UNLESS YOU HAVE A BUDGET OF ABOUT £40,000 BECAUSE THE AFTER COST IS CRAZY! SAME WITH ARRI, BLACK MAGIC WILL DO THE TRICK AND IT HAS GLOBAL SHUTTER, THE RED DOESNT.

    7 months ago
    • Not a Canon fan. I'd go for Xeen or Celere lenses.

      7 months ago
    • Global shutter isn't nearly as important as some people seem to think it is. Most of Arri's and Red's cameras have rolling shutter.
      BMD's cinema cameras are generally preferable for filmmaking than the production cameras; the global shutter rarely matters and most of the time when it does, it's because you're doing something you shouldn't. They do have different color rendition than the production camera, and a more forgiving highlight rolloff; you get less resolution, unless you opt for an Ursa Mini 4.6K, in which case you pay more to get the nice color along with the resolution.

      And probably 90% of what you'd end up shooting in the next year or two will probably in HD or 2K anyway.

      7 months ago
  • Boy I missed a conversation here... It's absolutely madness to buy expensive kit for just one or two films. It's ego, pure and simple. Pay your crew g*d damn it as well as insurance. Feed people well. Spend extra on making the script shine. Don't go spend it on a bloody camera!
    Jeez!

    6 months ago
  • I totally agree with going the hiring route ***in this instance***. However, hiring filming equipment is not the be all and end all and in many cases is not entirely the correct approach. For example, I bought my own camera kit (Sony F55) primarily because I want to be able to film at any time I want and for however long I wish - in other words, convenience for my own productions whatever they may be at any given time. Sometimes I work for free on low (or no) budget indie productions and use my camera for those productions if they interest me and if my own camera is indeed the correct tool for the job. But that's as far as it goes because I still advise hiring the rest of the gear such as lighting, cabling, sound equipemnt etc. The point I am trying to make here is the extent to which one adopts the hiring route surely depends on filming requirements over time and not blindly embrace it beyond being a general rule of the film industry - hence the term 'owner operator'.

    6 months ago
    • Yes I agree from the point of view of 'owner operator' - it makes sense for a camera guy/gal to own their kit if they do a lot of work. But not for a filmmaker/producer on a single project or even two or three. Owner operators may do 20 or 30 jobs a year (maybe) and then the cost justifies the means.

      6 months ago
    • @Lee 'Wozy' Warren
      I completely agree with you on this from the standpoint/perpective of a filmmaker/producer because the financial imperatives (the bottom line) are very different.

      6 months ago
  • If one can get a whole bunch of benefits that outweigh the advantages of hiring from in house owned equipment then it's justified. At Moving Vision we've always maintained an inhouse production and post production facility, even back in the day when it really was expencive. These days the cost of a powerful end to end post production facility is so low it's just not an issue. The people who drive it though very much are. The thing with cameras over the last few years is the pace of technological change and the demands of audiences and distributors. It was great when for a whole decade or more Betacam SP was the standard. There's some kit that doesn't go out of fashion, even where newer and better kit has emerged, such as lighting, grips and lenses. Many DOP's own such gear but not a high end camera. We'll go as far as investing £10k in a well proven EBU speced 4K capable camera that we know will get a lot of use from because we need the flexibility of instant access, sometimes at literally a moments notice. As Mark rightly maintains, it's the operator and production design that make a production good or bad. People way over stress the impact of differing cameras on outcomes. In the right hands truly great films can be shot on relatively low end cameras. When it comes to features though, it's usually paint by numbers with the best tools one can get hold of over a fixed and preordained period. Hiring the kit for such projects, unless perhaps one is giant corporation, is a no brainer on so many levels.

    6 months ago
  • I haven't been in the film making business very long, since 2007 in fact and as a result of an industrial accident forcing a change of career. At present I'm only interested is shorts for my own projects. Prior to that event I was a computer programmer since '77 and photography was nothing more than a serious hobby. The feeling I get though, given my limited experience, is that just as a Director or DoP might decide on a particular camera sensor to achieve a desired 'look', the viewing audience actually appreciates the subtle sensor nuances as a 'percieved' and positive aesthetic yet possibly without realizing it. This would (possibly unknowingly) influence opinions of the film to a degree and ergo - ultimately someone's balance sheet. Now if I am right, in this case I would like to use this thought as the premise of the point I wish to make in that, surely in and of itself this conclusion wholly justifies hiring the correct equipment even if other filming equipment is already owned. For example, I've had to defend my advise of using my own F55 in favour of hiring an Alexa by way of my reasoning that the F55 won't go anywhere near the stated desire for the look of a Bogart or James Cagney film even with a low pass filter installed, at which point, if positions don't change, I walk away and involve myself no further with that project - free or otherwise. I'd welcome opinions on my trail of thought especially as I've done my homework so I know I'm asking the right people...but possibly in the wrong place with my luck!

    6 months ago
  • Too much resolution or issues of colour and contrast latitude that are beyond the pedestal/knee and other adjustments available on camera settings are often well within the finishing, grading and colour scope of post produnction. Achieving a very specific look ought not be as prescriptive a barrier to most higher end cameeras by balancing all of the visual elements that are adjustable.

    6 months ago
  • Yes, if the kit you own is not right for the job you should say so. If Production decides to ignore your advice (ie: they are only interested in you because you have a camera and not in your skill) then, its your choice to walk away or not. I would probably walk. The problem is many filmmakers (especially inexperienced ones) think a camera is just a camera. As I've said elsewhere, different camera sensors should be seen as different film stocks. Each sensor (or film stock) will result in a different look (even when paired with exactly the same lenses) and it is the different looks that subconsciously affect the audiance and help tell the story. Which is why cinematography is so important. Its true, as John says, that things can be taken further in post (after all, that is what grading/colour timing is all about) but only on high end cameras (on lower end ones the information needed is probably not there). I've always been an advocate of doing as much as possible in camera.

    6 months ago
    • Thanks for the feedback Mark. I appreciate the value of what your are saying. I suppose the long and short of it for me is the fact that the biggest issue I have with the film industry is the extent to which so many people are not willing to put the time in and study the art much less the hard-nosed business side of it all. Yet their expectations are not in line with the realities whose realization comes about from actual experience. Now I feel better about walking.

      6 months ago