Best camera for an aspiring filmmaker



Well, as the title suggests, I am an aspiring filmmaker.
I'm graduating high school and I'd like to finally purchase my own camera this summer... (in the past I have used cheap digital cameras, super 8mm, an older Sony DV camera that I don't know what happened to, friends' cameras, etc...) So I really have no idea what I should get.

I plan on making a lot of short films while in college, but I would also like to make more professional films, maybe even a feature if I can get it all together. So I want to know - what would be the best camera for me to get as a young filmmaker? I just want to know what camera would be the best investment.

I'll be going to Harvard in the fall - no film production program, but I heard that they are willing to help provide their students with equipment/resources if they want to make a film...? I don't know the validity of that statement, but if anyone knows more about colleges helping with resources and covering expenses for its students' film endeavors, that would be very helpful.

Thanks in advance.


New member
I also might add with the Frame Rate Hack, I also get a 2fps with a 350degree shutter. For those light streak looks.

Here are your frame rate choices. 2,3,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20,22,23,24,26,27,28,30, 32,34,36,38,40,42,44,46,48,50,52,54,56,58,60.



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You know, I've been thinking about the same thing, and I've had many different people give their opinions, based on what works best for them. Some have told me to get a CANON XL2, and others have told me that the PANASONICS, especially the DVX100A are the best, and then one of my buddies has told me JVC. There are so many options to digital based on quality and prices, it's kinda making my head spin :shock: , so other than a panasonic what camcorder do you think I should invest in?


New member
It all depends in what your need is for.

There are A LOT of people out there that will tell you this camera is the best, and that camera is the best and blah blah, BUT just like a lens, each lens will give you a differnt look, and as for an guitar, each will give you a differnt sound. You have to put which on is going to work with your specific need. If you want to make Indi Filmes. Panasonic, if you want to Shoot a realty Show, the JVC and Canon are you ball players. Also Also depends on the look you are trying to go for as well. Luckly this is a student filmmakers, and I hope you are buying this camera to make a film with:) TRUE 24p, TRUE 16:9 even in DV mode. The HVX to me is like a swiss army knife, because it doesso much.

Take peoples opinions and try to match with your needs.


is it true that the Panasonic HVX200 doesn't use tapes, but media cards that cost $1,700 and can only record 8 min at a time?


New member
Come on guys... Recommending that a high school graduate purchase an HVX... Okay, let's just break this down.

Camera - $5,300

P2 Card - $1300 for like, 16min (this is because the whole idea of variable frame rates in digital is that there are no moving components in the card, so it can operate much faster than a DV tape.)

P2 Card Reader - some other ridiculous amount of money, and absolutely necessary for editing footage and post production such things.

So basically by the end, if this kid was to want ot shoot with this camera, it would end up costing about 10k...... Comepletely impractical.

There are much cheaper cameras that offer great results. Maybe not as superior as the HVX, I wouldn't know since I haven't seen the footage.

Basically, natattack, what is your price range? I'm guessing you don't want to spend 10k for a camera outfit.

my recommendations:

pro end:
-Canon XH-A1 (the much much cheaper version of their HD camera)
-Canon XL 2, XL1s
-Panasonic DVX100a or b
-Sony Pd 150 or pd 170

prosumer end:
-Panasonic AG-DVC30
-Sony VX-2100
-Canon GL2
-Sony PDX10 (noted for its DVcam mode)
-Panasonic GS400

These are all reputable cameras for a lot less than the HVX. Although if your budget is $300 then this won't be very helpful. This very abbreviated list goes from about 1,200 and up. Maybe 1,100 used. Good luck.


New member
I think you are forgetting the value of investment, vs hobbyist. I owned 2 XL1s out of High School.. Did 10 or shorts and some video gigs which paid them off.

I would also be VERY careful about talking about prices when you dont know what they are.

Camera $5,299 +FREE HVX Guide Book + FREE 8gig P2 card(Special Just Ended) Dont know if they are going to sxtend, for some odd reason I thought I read that they are... But dont quote me on that. 8gig P2 cards have already dropped price in Eurpoe, and yes you can buy them from there, P2's have no gender. They are Suppose to drop by the end of this month. So the rumor has it.

Again you have to judge for yourself in the matter are you getting into this to make films, to make money, or both?? Make money you SPEND MONEY..

Filmmaker: People who are in the Motion Picture industry shoot a 4gig P2 card, but in 1000ft of film. Then comes the changing of the mags, that takes time.. Well with P2 you pop out and pop another in and there is not changing mags :) BUT that is 4gig cards, We have 2 times as much, 8 gig cards, with 16gigs and 32gig coming VERY shortyly. AND Also lets not forget CinePorter. Removable HDD Hot-swappable, shooting time up to 800 mins AND on top of that, the CinePrter is bascially a GIANT P2, it really is. Runs off P2 card interface.

P2 card readers: You dont need them. Nice try though. Plug in your HVX into computer and switch over the mode and Volume will show up on your desktop, Take the contents and copy to Externall HDD, or Internal HDD, just not your primary, just not wise to edit off your primary. Take the clips Import P2 in Final Cut, and its all good ready for editing. Before importing you can add notes, comments, reel # and the list goes on.. EVEN trim, and select video and or audio for each track.

REMEMBER THIS: This is barley the first 12months of this new technology, and With Cineporter, and P2 cards dropping in price already, I would say that is extremely fast.


New member
I owned 2 XL1s out of High School
all this proves is that you had a lot of money in high school... most high school graduates i know (and I graduated last june), dont have 6 or 7k to spend on a camera with college costs rising.

I wouldn't buy a camera that expensive (HVX) expecting to pay it off with gigs unless I had some sort of reputation already. it's a gamble. I mean, it worked for you, and that's great surjones... But I'm just saying I wouldn't go out of my way to buy an expensive camera and hope to get jobs to pay it off if I just graduated from high school.

Moreoever, you don't need to spend 7k for it to be an "investment" or in order to make good films. Let's not forget the driving point filmmaking: story.

So I understand what you're saying with the HVX as an investment. Maybe an investment for a college graduate. Or someone with a lot of money. But my point really is that very good films can be made without the absolute latest technology.... For a lot cheaper I might add.

You can quibble over prices if you really want... my point in that regard mostly was that it was completely impractical to expect or even entertain the idea that a high school graduate has more than 5k to spend on a camera... Especially when there are very good cameras readily available for a fraction of the cost.

Filmmaker: People who are in the Motion Picture industry shoot a 4gig P2 card, but in 1000ft of film.
But he's NOT in the motion picture industry (the way you see it yet)... And not having the HVX200 doesn't mean that you are incapable of making good films. I'm just bothered by this idea that the best and most expensive technology automatically equals the best film.


New member
Actually I had only a job in high school, (I had no parents) Also no credit, but was able to save and knew what I wanted to do, which in this case, if anyone comes on this site, they most like have Already foudn as well what they want to do. You are right it is a gamble. Life is. Make the gamble and bust your but to make it a cusion. It was becasue I had the camera is the way I got jobs to pay them off, I had no reputation in Los A. and I built a small one when I did Shoots for differnt Cities, School Districts, and some shorts.

What was stating above was just to say EVERYTHING you pour your money into, whether 100 or 100,000.00 It is an investment. IF you are not making money you are looing it.

Quality of picture is an important factor. NOT as important as the story, given, if you can shoot it right why not spend 10k grand and shoot it with 24p and if you want more film look, even rent a 35mm adapter) 10 years ago and even less we had to raise 60k to shoot a 20min short for 16mm. And it was all rental then you got post production ect.. We are blessed to have such an inexpensive opportunity. To make a film under 60k for a FEATURE... but again if you want to do this for a living, unless you have another job you are not going to be able to pay for it. If you have a job and can budget, you can.


New member

I have no interest in this topic getting "personal". I also have no interest in planning out this kids life and how many jobs he should get or how he should manage his finances. To simplify, all I'm saying is that:

1. You don't need an HVX200 in order to be a good filmmaker or make good films, and that there are much cheaper alternatives that still offer very good results.

2. Not very many people have their life planned out right after high school to a degree in which they are able and/or willing to make a 10k investment in film equipment on a gamble.

and that's really all I'm saying.

If you want to write this guy a budget and finance plan on how he can buy an HVX, by all means do so. I was looking at the matter from the simple perspective that he probobly just wants to get a good camera that he can immediately purchase/afford/use without any strings attached.

Maybe natattack could clarify...


New member
Well all I can say is from this assepct of this users post. This is not person, but my comments are in direct reply to the users options..

but I would also like to make more professional films, maybe even a feature if I can get it all together. So I want to know - what would be the best camera for me to get as a young filmmaker? I just want to know what camera would be the best investment.

I'll be going to Harvard in the fall (Not a cheap school :) And if he is on Scholorship, then more money in his pocket
He never said he doesnt have a budget but wants to know the best investment. Of ocourse the kids going to Hardvard, so he is smart :)

This is a gread open discussion between adults, and people are entitled to their opinion. Respecting peers even though you dont agree is great!

Bryant Falk

New member
PD 50/170

PD 50/170

Just want to let people know that most of the footage you see on TV for those reality shows and run and gun tend to be either the Sony PD 150 or 170. It's that flat washed out look. Good or bad audiences have gotten use to it.

The HVX200 is definately next level. As I am an owner of both the HVX has alot of wonderul pro features but unless your ready to plunk down a cool $6,000, (Not including the cards) I would opt for a Sony as it's so popular and very available.

Have a reason to buy the HVX! A really good reason!


New member
Camera suggestion

Camera suggestion

Stu Maschewitz talks about cameras in his book, "The DV Rebel's Guide." I'd strongly recommend reading his book before you buy a camera.

My choice for a student would be:

HVX200 -- If you can afford it.
DVX100b --
DVX 100a or 100b -- Used

Before you make your final decision, find a way to handle the camera and preferably shoot some footage with the model you are thinking of buying. The camera should feel "right" to you.


New member
PhilipMerica said:
is it true that the Panasonic HVX200 doesn't use tapes, but media cards that cost $1,700 and can only record 8 min at a time?
Yes, on the P2 cards. But the prices for that media will drop and their storage capacities will expand over time.

I also feel obliged to point out that there is a MiniDV deck on this camera, so you can still record to good old MiniDV tapes. What I need to confirm is whether or not you can record hi-def onto MiniDV. My guess is that you won't be able to record certain frame rates onto MiniDV, but I'm not sure. I can't seem to find out - Pansonic's website didn't mention anything about it.


New member
You can record MiniDv, You can not record HD100(DVCProHD) to tape. Actually doesnt suck. The quality of DVCPRO100(HD) has a higher recording BitRate that the tape can records. BUT no need for tape when you GET A FREE 8gig P2card. Also if want longer recoring times, CinePorter will be out in 4 months, and Also P2 cards, (Not that expensive) will drop soon as well.

cesu pro

New member
surjones, what about the firestore? good? bad? indifferent? do you have any experience with it? and is anything else necc. with that setup? or could i get an hvx and a 100gb firestore (about 2000 for those talking about prices) and be good?


New member
Firestore=BAD. I hear and see so many problems with it. I think that a good approach is if you need it for a PAYING JOB, THEN GET IT!! If you need something longer than P2 has to offer, just shoot into your computer. Happends all the time in Los Angeles. Too many of these sisy people complaining. This is a new technology people need to be a little patient and stop complaining.

Something I could not talk about till a little while ago is the CinePorter will offer Removable Hardrives and even the ports will be upgrade able. So lets say in 1 year SATA connection becomes widely used as the FW800 replacement (even though it is available, not many drives offer it.) Anyways, order the new peices and get it replaced and you are good to go. EXCITING!

BUT like I said buyers beware with the Firestore. It is a great device, and had been scared by the CinePorter so the updated firmware has move quickly Q1 2007. But even with that firestore issues seem to be the same amount. So if you can wait 3 months JUNE 07, then wait. But if it is paying gig, weight out your options with having to drop money on the Firestore.

Any questions I will answer.


New member
Good luck finding an editing suite to accomindate that on a consumer market. I know you are only joking, but most people on here dont have adequate knowledge of cameras. So let me explain 2k and 4k.

RED is a camera that is NOT for the consumer, and only for high end Prosumers. After you get the body and a couple high quality lenses you are going to be over the 50k range, THEN add your editing suite, and we wont even talk about the storage you will need, just to edit it, and then archiving it. Also No point in getting 2k and 4k resolutions if you are going to sacrifice the quality by getting crappy lenes.

The HVX is the way to go for Prosumer TRUE High Definition.