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May 4, 2011 / GreenMan

Do you need that $5,000 camera?

Quality Video Footage on a Budget

Everyone wants the best footage for their videos, but at what cost? Unfortunately, producers don’t go around handing out million dollar checks to every sweet script that flies by.  In fact, now-a-days, most likely you are your own producer, and the budget you have to work with definitely falls under the “indie film” category. But who says that’s a bad thing? The good news is, technology is now on your side. Digital cameras have progressed so much in the past ten years, that nearly anyone can grab a hold of clear, professional looking HD footage. We no longer need to scramble our life savings together to purchase cans of 35mm film roll and rent a high end camera. With editing software being so advanced, we now have the ability to manipulate nearly any footage to look like film. I know, I know, there are, like, hundreds of  film snobs that are “booing” me right now… but sorry guys, it’s true. (Check out my digital vs. film blog for more information). So okay, we’ve established that we no longer need film cameras to produce quality results. Well, now what? There are hundreds of digital cameras out there. Some are $80, and some get up to $15,000… How do you choose?

If you are a low budget filmmaker on the go, and want the quality footage but don’t need the bells and whistles of the studio bad boys (like the RED cameras), you’re in luck because there are many options available to you. Here are a few essential the things you want to look for in a digital video camera: 1) High definition and resolution. You want to watch your videos on your  HD tv, right? Of course. So it only makes sense to shoot your videos in HD. 2) Portability and versatility. You need to be able to cart that thing around with no fuss and very little cords. It should be lightweight and compact, but still able to attach to a tripod or other mount. 3) Memory. You should be able to load a lot of footage onto it before needing to download.

The camera I suggest for getting the most bang for your buck, is the Samsung HMX-H105. It has all the above mentioned features and many more that are very convenient and important. It is an HD camera and shoots video in a high resolution of 1920×1080. It has a 10x optical zoom plus an optical image stabalizer, so you can get close to the action without your footage getting ridiculously blurry. The display screen is a 2.7″ LCD touch screen, which allows you to command all the record and playback functions straight from the viewer. The camera is compact, weighs just under two lbs, and has a soft leather strap with rubber-like grips so you can carry this thing around all day and still be completely comfortable. It hosts 32 GB of flash memory, USB connection, and comes with a rechargeable battery and built in microphone, flashlight, and speakers. The best part is, it comes with a remote so you can hook this thing up to a crane or jib, and still be in complete control over your shot. This little baby even does still photography at a high resolution, and gives you advanced options for shutter speed, white balance, and time lapse. So it’s really the only camera you need to take with you.

I use Samsung HMX-H105 camcorder as an example because it is such a versatile piece of equipment that produces crystal clear HD video, yet still sells at a very reasonable price that won’t break your budget. You can find it over at

I hope this helps break down the digital camera world a little bit. When searching for a digital camcorder, remember the three essentials I listed above. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to get quality professional footage. You can get everything you need and more, all while staying within your budget. So now you can put that money towards something important like hiring that famous actor… or corndogs. Whatever you like. I’m not here to judge.


One Comment

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  1. Page / May 28 2011 4:49 PM

    The big question for me is… can I hook this camera up to my Macbook Pro and Final Cut Pro and import the video directly into Final Cut without any goofy steps or third party conversion tools? That has been my biggest complaint with the USB Canon HD camera that I own. I have to jump through hoops to get the video and sound into FCP even though iMovie has no trouble at all.

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