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Selecting the Right Camera for Your Film Project

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 9/30/2009

Here are some detailed tips for selecting the perfect camera for your film or video project.

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    Choosing a Video Camera

    Selecting what type of motion camera you want for your specific project can be difficult, but usually the markers for what you are going to want will be built into your idea. The limitations and benefits of every video or film format usually lends itself to a type of film or video project. This means that many of the types of film projects that you may want to produce had their inception with the technology that is available, so there is a road map for what has been successful. At the same time, the limit / benefit ratio is going to be seen is exactly the type of versatility you want, specifics of imaging, and dozens of other factors. Here are a few things to consider when selecting the type of camera you want to use.

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    Film Versus Video

    Film is expensive. No matter what type of film camera you are going to use it is going to cost you an incredible amount of money. The film stock itself at cheapest can be well over ten times what digital video tapes will cost, and even more in comparison to digital storage devices like portable hard drives or memory cards. Then you have to consider that the film must be processed. After that you usually will have to take the film somewhere to have it digitally converted.

    The price for black and white 16 mm film is unreasonable for most productions, and the cost of 35 mm film is impossible for anyone without massive financial backing. If you want to use film camera then make sure that it is worth it and you have the means to support it. If not, digital video is an egalitarian force in the new millennium and should be the first place to go.

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    SD Versus HD

    The same financial estimate must be made within the digital video world. Are you going to buy your camera, or rent it? Should you use standard definition digital video or high definition? The answers to this rely on the over all length of your production. If your planned production will take more than a few weeks then renting a digital video camera may be unreasonably expensive. Also factor into this if you are going to make more than one film.

    The big choice here is between standard definition and high definition, and the rule now is that high definition is always the better choice in the long run. This still may not ring true for your purposes. If you cannot afford a system that will edit and disseminate HD video then you may want to think otherwise. This is especially true if you are using older non-linear editing software, have limited storage space, or less than optimum computing power. If your film is headed to internet streaming distribution, cellular phones, or other low resolution areas then you may not want to waste the money on an HD camera.

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    Camera Size

    The size of the camera is a major consideration as well. 35 mm cameras are massive and require large crews. Digital video cameras are very light and versatile, but that can sometimes increase their instability. You have to sacrifice one element to get the other, so decide what is most important to you. Remember, at times a smaller digital video camera will cause you to be taken less seriously by people.

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    Camera Features

    Within the camera field that you have decided upon (Whether it is film or digital) you are going to still have to consider the specs. Look at the chipset to see what kind of imaging it has. Compare the amount of zoom capable and make sure it has detailed settings for everything you need. See if the LCD screen is clear and movable. Check out all cameras quickly on the types of images you will be filming mostly.