Which camera to buy for indoor home tutorials ?

Marc73

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I need to film indoor tutorials.

The room has large windows letting in daylight.
the teacher will be in an armchair speaking.

2 to 3 metres distance between camera and subject.

It is mostly fixed at this distance. No zooming or anything.


I have 3-point lighting, so the next step is to choose a camera.
I am hoping for professional quality. (not a point-and-shoot camera).

Is there any advantage of getting a DSLR (with video) or a standard Video Camera ?

Are there any cameras which you would recommend for this?
I'm really hoping for a professional quality.

Budget: $400 to $1,500


I appreciate any help ;)
Thanks
 

MrGuvernment

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Sony A6400 with an add-on mic and a good tripod possibly...most decent DSLR's like the Sony mirrorless cameras are more then good enough and even do 4k.
 

Marc73

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Sony A6400 with an add-on mic and a good tripod possibly...most decent DSLR's like the Sony mirrorless cameras are more then good enough and even do 4k.
Thank you.
I had a quick search on what cameras are popularwith famous YouTubers, and the Canon EOS 70D seems to pop-up a lot.
Have you any experience with it? or would you know how it might compare with the cameras you suggested ?
(again, thank you) ;)
 

UnknownSouljer

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tl;dr at the bottom.

If shot properly any of these options will give excellent results - you could pretty much use any camera to accomplish this (even looking "professional"). Equally as important will be sound and sound quality (I recently started learning music production for fun, and man oh man the irony of some channels having absolutely amazing video work but all of the talking head portions explaining what they're doing in a DAW with absolutely terrible audio is incredibly ironic). The fact that you have very specific requirements and you know how to meet them also makes this purchasing decision easier - I wish giving advice was always as easy and clean. Most people don't know what they want or need and therefore want everything for $300. Anyway.

The a6400 will definitely fit your needs. You could also buy a used a6500 for about half the cost ($800) as a new a6400. The numbering conventions are annoying, so to save you some new time the a6500's model replacement is the a6600.
The a6400 has better autofocus than the a6500 (it's a newer camera) but it's missing things like IBIS (which doesn't matter per se if you're always on a tripod). The AF difference probably won't matter much either for the same reason. The video quality (as in the image itself) will be roughly the same. The a6100, a6300, a6400, a6500, a6600 are basically all using the same sensor. They just differ in terms of processors which is how they differentiate features (and IBIS, only the a6500 and a6600 have IBIS). And some features are artificially eliminated (I wouldn't buy an a6000 or a6100 for this reason, they are incredibly gimped cameras for video). This may be more info than you need, but I'm saying this because it's likely an a6300, a6400, a6500, or a6600 would all meet your current needs. If you ever shot in scenarios where video AF mattered more or you needed to move the camera (say for VLOGS) then other features like IBIS would matter a lot more. But by your current requirements, you don't need them.

Canon has done a similar thing with their upgrades: generally the sensor has stayed the same and each successive model has increased improvements mostly netted from a new processor. The 70D was the first camera in their line to really get decent autofocus and decent video into a cheap camera body. This continued with the 80D and 90D. Personally as a photographer/videographer I wouldn't invest in any of these cameras. Why? In short DSLR's are dead. Not just on Canon but every major company at this point. The market has spoken, the mirrorless continues to rise in terms of purchases and traditional dSLR's are getting sold less and less. As a result, Sony, then Nikon and then Canon have all successively made their top selling cameras (not necessarily their highest level professional cameras) mirrorless. Sony with their A9 (which is a pro level camera) as well as the A7RIV/A7SIII, Canon with the R5 and R6, Nikon with the Z6 and Z7 and coming Z6/Z7 II.

The EF camera mount as a result is dead (Canon has basically already announced they will never make a new camera lens for EF and from now on it's all R-Mount only). Sony has long since made the transition about 5 years ago. And Nikon is more or less following Sony and Canon.

Anyway, so all that said if you want to buy Canon and your goal isn't to buy anything with a future, buying a 70/80/90D is fine. I might even recommend going this method if you're willing to buy everything used (and when you do upgrade you're willing to buy everything over again). Used EF lenses that are not specifically "L" have dropped in price. And 70D's on the used market are also really inexpensive (it is an old cameras with two newer generations).
If you do want to get something with a future, then right now you'd have to buy a Canon in their R line. And unfortunately the current gen cams are too expensive and also overheat during video. The previous generation cams, the "R" and "RP" both do the job, but the "R" has a terrible crop in 4k and the "RP" is limited to 1080p. If you don't want or need 4k then either the R or RP are good cameras. Some people really like Canon's color. I'm personally ambivalent having used both. You'll see plenty of YouTubers and TechTubers using both Sony and Canon systems. I would NOT look at popularity as a reason to buy one system over another.

===

tl;dr: Knowing what I know I'd probably buy a used Sony a6500 in your place. That can be done if you shop around for about $700-$800. I'd then get a solid lens like the 35mm f/1.8 OSS which can be had for about $350 used or the 35mm f/1.8 FE lens which can be had used for around $650 (the FE lens is full frame - get this lens if you plan at some point in the future to upgrade to a full frame camera if you never do, then the cheaper OSS model is fine). For audio I'd actually recommend getting the RODE Wireless Go and a RODE Lavalier Go (they even have a convenient kit with them packaged together here).
-If you want backup and scratch audio and don't mind slightly increasing your complexity to do it - get an audio splitter cable (any 3.5mm y-splitter will do just make sure it's not cheap crap as obviously it doesn't matter how good your audio going into the camera is if your cheap cable crackles and pops) and have the Rode Wireless Go on one channel and buy a coldshoe mounted Shotgun Mic like the Rode VideoMic NTG for the other channel.
-If you need two people talking on camera at once, then you can use the same Y-Splitter and use two Rode Wireless Go's and Rode Lavalier Go's.
-If you want to hide your mics better than what the standard clip will allow, then you can move to a vampire clip. It's not necessary, but allows the mic to be placed anywhere under clothes much more stealthily than a standard clip will (I personally don't like my mics being visible, but it's not the worst thing in the world).

If the camera must be new, then I'd get the a6400, but it's a lot more money for basically the same video quality. I'd still go with the 35mm f/1.8 OSS in that case. Or if you want something a little wider, the 28mm f/2.0 FE (which can be had now for <$300 used if you're looking).
If you want versatility over highest quality optics, then the 18-105mm f/4 OSS will basically cover almost all your focal lengths. I just found that I didn't like its look - much preferring something that allowed for shallower depth of field than it could offer. The look matters way more to me than versatility. As a side note, primes will always rule that arena compared to zooms.
There is also the 16-55mm f/2.8 G lens. Which will still give some zoom versatility and a bit better aperture.
There are also FE f/2.8 Zoom options but they're hard to recommend on a crop sensor camera. But if that doesn't deter you, the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 is well regarded and far less expensive than Sony's options.
 
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MrGuvernment

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^^^ Epic advice, agree 100% down to the T.

I owned a Canon 7D Mark II, the 70D is a good camera yes, but large and likely not needed for what you want to do, i say go mirrorless now, don't bother with the old style ;), Canon is behind the game, or was when i bought my Sony. I was a dedicated Canon guy from my first Rebel DSRL to my 7D Mark II, then I went Sony. I spent months researching until i laned on the 6400.
 
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UnknownSouljer

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I need to film indoor tutorials.

The room has large windows letting in daylight.
the teacher will be in an armchair speaking.

2 to 3 metres distance between camera and subject.

It is mostly fixed at this distance. No zooming or anything.


I have 3-point lighting, so the next step is to choose a camera.
I am hoping for professional quality. (not a point-and-shoot camera).
There were a few questions I didn't answer, all of these I think I covered extensively above, but just to directly answer some of your other questions that others haven't, I'll do those below.
Is there any advantage of getting a DSLR (with video) or a standard Video Camera ?
The big advantage with getting a mirrorless system (not a dSLR at this point for reasons stated in my earlier post) is bang for the buck. Generally in the price range you're going for, the mirrorless sytems will have much bigger sensors (at u4/3, s35, or even full frame) as compared to most DV cams which will likely have 1" sensors or smaller. This has many affects. In short like I said, image quality, but to enumerate - you'll be able to achieve shallower depth of field, and you'll generally have better ISO performance (less noise) at the same levels. Also generally DV cams in this price range will not have interchangeable lenses which matters a lot. Most DV cams at $1500 or less are strapped with lenses that are designed to be jacks of all trades and masters of none. In this case it means a lot of ability to zoom, but really slow apertures further not allowing nice shallow depth of field. They'll also have limited optical sharpness and may be poorer performing in the corners. In terms of optics then, mirrorless cameras are "upgradeable" or at least "changeable" whereas cheap DV cams aren't. Once you get into the realm of $2500+ there are more options for interchangeable lens cinema cameras. [There are a few cameras that ride the line like the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera and a lot of the cheap Chinese options from companies like Z-Cam, but for the purposes of this discussion I'm referring to primarily main line camera makes and models that are designed for people that aren't necessarily DP's with tons of knowledge or experience].

Of course if you're going to spend the money to get a cinema camera that's an entirely different story - in your price range though there isn't anything new you can buy. There are a few options you could get used, but it's hard to recommend them for ergonomic reasons - these cameras notoriously had things bodies that aren't easy to work with, odd button placements, terrible/confusing menu systems, and also awful workflows. Still, if you're a nerd (that is to say, someone that really likes to play with cameras in addition to being really tech savvy) you could look into cameras like the Sony FS700R. But that comes with all those caveats I just mentioned plus you'd have to be knowledgeable about cameras and expect to do literally everything manually - exposure triangle (aperture, iso, shutter speed) and focus (no AF) - AND it requires the purchasing of an external recorder like the Atomos Shogun Inferno or Shogun 7 to get 4k and 10-bit and RAW (adding another $800 or so to the cost). If you know nothing about cameras to be asking the questions you are, the answer is this camera is not for you. However if you know your stuff then the quality that can come out of this camera easily bests everything else in its price range (again with the major caveats that you'd have to be a fairly experienced camera operator in order to do so). It has an S35 sensor, the same one found in the FS7, it allows for 10-bit, 4-2-2, DCI-4k in 60fps with 14-stops of dynamic range. That's camera speak for still top of the line. It's just too bad you have to deal with a nightmare.

Barring used cameras like the FS700, the big advantage of getting a DV cam or a cinema camera in your price range is mostly that it won't have a recording limit and ergonomics. Most dslrs and mirrorless systems cap at 30 minutes. For most that's a non issue, you just start the camera again after 30 minutes or more than likely you're not running the camera for 30 minutes anyway because that's a crap ton of data for footage you likely won't use. If you're buying a cinema camera or DV cam worth its salt it should hopefully have much better ergonomics and hard-buttons for all useful functions (rather than having to dig through a menu system). It should also have much better expansion in general for other components, such as places to mount things and professional inputs and outputs. The most notable and important in/out for budget minded shooters is XLR audio. But after that there are other interfaces such as SDI, Timecode, Genlock, and even lens info (like from Cooke). They also generally allow for bigger batteries and numerous other accessories. For you however, most of those other professional features likely don't matter. The only ones that would be relevant would be better ergonomics, and XLR Audio. Some cheaper DV cams though won't even have XLR audio, at which point I would basically say "what's the point"?

tl;dr: Mirrorless systems offer way more bang for the buck in terms of video quality. They lack some ergonomics from their bigger counterparts (and come with a 30 min record limit), but for the budget you have to spend your money goes way farther with a mirrorless system than with a comparable DV cam (allowing for things like swappable lenses and much bigger sensors - offering much better image quality comparatively). The other advantages of the mirrorless camera is it might encourage you to take up photography as a side hobby (it will also allow you to take good photos for your YouTube thumbnails). If you travel at all or you want to take photos just generally in your life that are better than a cell phone, then obviously a mirrorless camera is way more useful than any DV camera (or cinema camera for that matter).
Are there any cameras which you would recommend for this?
I'm really hoping for a professional quality.

Budget: $400 to $1,500
For that, again, check my post above.
I appreciate any help ;)
Thanks
Hopefully I've been thorough (I think I have), I can help you with getting started if and when you make a camera purchase.



^^^ Epic advice, agree 100% down to the T.
Thanks. It's almost like I do this for a living. :ROFLMAO:
I owned a Canon 7D Mark II, the 70D is a good camera yes, but large and likely not needed for what you want to do, i say go mirrorless now, don't bother with the old style ;), Canon is behind the game, or was when i bought my Sony. I was a dedicated Canon guy from my first Rebel DSRL to my 7D Mark II, then I went Sony. I spent months researching until i laned on the 6400.
So much of it also comes down to budget as well as experience too. If you don't/want need autofocus then the Fuji XT-4 becomes a real option or something like a used BMPCC 4k. Certainly for someone who doesn't know anything about cameras (new enough to be asking a question like this is a forum like this) - Sony will more or less offer all the convenience tools and performance one could want. I do wish that Sony had more 10-bit cameras though. I'm waiting for the specs in the A7S3 to trickle down. I could buy that camera, but I want to stretch my budget and dollars a bit more. If the A7C was 10-bit for its price of $1700, it would've been a no brainer (but it's basically an A7III with better autofocus inside an A6*** body). I'd be telling everyone and their mother to buy that camera. The A7IV very likely will be - but there is no telling how long Sony will wait until they release that camera.

Anyway, I say all this to say that it's a really weird time. There is no single camera that has all the specs I want at the price I want. Again the A7S3 is basically the perfect video camera (it really does have everything I want), but it costs $3500. And it took Sony 5 years to release it (thankfully they did and it performs mightily, I was wondering if I had made a mistake and if I should move to another system). As long as we're having to balance budget there are a lot of other options that are also tempting. Still, I would say its undeniable that for the time being Sony has a very compelling mix of features. It's hard to argue with their AF, and still image quality as well as mix of video features.

I too shot on Canon as my first system with a Rebel XTi as my first camera back in 2007 or so. And then I got a 5D2 in 2010 and a 5D3 in 2013. I also rented other cameras like the 7D when I needed two cameras in order to do some shoots. But after the 5D IV came out with terrible 4k, I just realized that Canon wasn't going to release a camera any time soon that made sense for cost versus performance. The 1DX II that came out was a monster in terms of both still and video performance (with class leading AF and 10-bit 4k 60fps) but it's also big, heavy, and costed $6500. For that price I could've bought an FS7 which would've made way more sense in terms of dedicated video camera. Sony made it possible to buy 2 cameras that both shot 4k with good enough AF in 2016 (now their AF is so good it is class leading) for 2/3 the cost of one 1DX II. At this time I'd still say that Sony just barely has the edge in bang for the buck (again depending on if you want/need AF as a feature or not) - but their competition is definitely at their heals. Canon massively dropped the ball on the R5/R6 and then turned around and released the C70. Fuji is becoming a real competitor in the midrange as well (their ergonomics are the best and they have 10-bit with excellent color. It's their video AF that has trouble).

Anyway, a long rant. But the tl;dr again is basically I agree - for price and performance at $2000 and under it's really hard to argue with Sony's current mix of features - if only just. If you don't want or need video then there are tons of other options. But if you shoot both video and stills then it's super hard to beat Sony.
 
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Marc73

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The a6400 will definitely fit your needs. You could also buy a used a6500 for about half the cost ($800) as a new a6400.
I really want to say the biggest 'Thank You' for everything you have written.
I cant imagine how long you spent sharing all of your knowledge with me (and everyone else who gets to read it in the future).
Honestly, thank you for both posts.

Here is a short video comparison I made:


I'm comparing a professional camera crew that filmed the initial lecture.
* but they were expensive, and that's why we want to buy our own equipment and film it ourselves.
I filmed a test version with my cheap 9 year old panasonic camcorder to see how it compares with the professional video.

Do you think if I get the Sony A6500 or A6400 it will be much nearer to the pro-version?
I really like the blury background (which was hard to achieve on my camcorder).

Am I correct that only a fixed lens could achieve this?
or could a slight zoom lens also achieve this?

The reason I asked about a zoom lens is because 'rarely' we may do some close-ups of the teachers hands; and sometimes the teacher is standing up (with her hands raised in the air) and the frame has to incorporate the whiteboard also.

Hopefully my video link above works ;)


One more thing to add is that she will sometimes (or maybe often) be self-recording by herself.
I notice on Amazon they sell a remote control so i'm guessing that covers it ;)

We will be filming over 30 mins, (but I saw a youtube video hack to get around it).. seems quite easy.
I also read that the A6500 can overheat and stops recording, whereas the A6400 does not.

We actually have the Rode Go Mic and Lavalier Go already. But the Lavalier sounds a tad muffled. (so I am sending back the lavalier and seeing if the replacement sounds better).

I'm currently researching the lenses you recommended ;)
*but basically, i'm trying to mimic the look and feel of the 'first segment' of the video that I linked above.
 
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UnknownSouljer

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Sorry in advance for the really long posts. I tried to explain everything in a detailed way, but I'm not terribly good at being concise. I hope you'll still find it useful.
I really want to say the biggest 'Thank You' for everything you have written.
I cant imagine how long you spent sharing all of your knowledge with me (and everyone else who gets to read it in the future).
Honestly, thank you for both posts.
Hey, you're welcome. I just like trying to help people. Especially for this subject that is near and dear to my heart.
Here is a short video comparison I made:

Cool. Getting to workout my nihongo watching your clips.

It doesn't look terrible. It's perfectly serviceable, I wouldn't die or anything if whatever I had to watch looked like that. For a 9 year old camera I'd say the footage holds up well. You're also probably using it in a fully automatic mode and also the autofocus isn't terribly great either. But by manually controlling exposure and setting manual focus you could probably still do all your production work on that camera without issue. It would likely save you a lot of money and be "good enough" for what you're trying to accomplish. Especially if all you're ever going to do is film someone with a whiteboard.
I'm comparing a professional camera crew that filmed the initial lecture.
* but they were expensive, and that's why we want to buy our own equipment and film it ourselves.
I filmed a test version with an old holiday camcorder to see how it compares with the professional video.
There's a lot that goes into the economics of having someone film things for you. Mostly that you don't have to learn anything. Videography is a skillset. It's the reason why you hire someone to photograph your wedding (or video your wedding), other than of course it's impractical to do yourselves - but also that you're paying for this skill. Understanding what looks good and also understanding the tools to get the most out of them. Anyone can buy a drill press, a bandsaw, a set of files, a joiner, and other tools. But few craftsmen can make a chest of drawers that will last 200+ years - especially not one that will look good throughout its useful life.

Without trying to sound condescending (that really isn't my intent) the biggest issue you're going to have isn't whether or not these tools can look good. It's going to be whether or not you understand the tools to be able to get the desired result. I basically started working as a photographer for 5 years before moving to video. And even though I had a solid understanding of the exposure triangle and portrait photography (including lighting), it was a big journey to learn videography. There are a lot of components - first there is all the stuff to learn with the camera (and if you make mistakes here, many of them aren't fixable later in post) and then there is the post work - not only understanding the technical aspect of it (color correction, grading, etc) but also the art of it. It's really easy to just make an edit that includes everything - but often if you do, you'll create a piece that's incredibly dry that no one wants to actually watch.

Over the course of two years every aspect of what I just mentioned I learned a lot in. I filmed some fairly large pieces for some small organizations and there was definitely no greater teacher than experience. But still after two years I can say that I continuously not only learned more about the process but also even about the cameras themselves. I've shot with basically every picture profile. I've gone through every settings over and over again. I've struggled in post with wanting to allow shots to linger because I love them but realizing more and more that that didn't necessarily serve the piece. And these are all skills that you'll never know or see in a finished piece of work. I feel like I still have a huge amount to learn. And it's likely that I'll still be learning things I consider primary to the skill over the course of the next 10 years or so - and after that I'll continue to learn but I feel like it will likely become more incremental at that point.

I realize you're just trying to shoot a lecture on a tripod of a static subject. But even with something this simple you can make it look fantastic or drab just from how you use the tools - from lighting, to camera placement (angle, distance, etc), focal length, camera settings (exposure triangle), etc. I could make a static subject look 5 different ways easily by manipulating those tools. Probably 20 or more if I really thought about it. It's what makes certain talking heads look really good, and other ones look boring and flat. For some of both of those, look below.

Here are some examples:
A shot a short piece with a New Zealander Chef named Brent Soutcombe. He's worked around the world and won the Chef of the Nation Award in Australia in the 90s. Met the prime minister and everything.
Basically I got invited to a very nice personal dinner where he taught cooking skills - the interview I shot at the end hand held totally impromptu. So it's after he worked for 3+ hours and was sweaty around hot stoves and it's not in the most incredible of locations (also with no lighting). Still I stand by the piece - not only in terms of quality but it taught me a massive amount about video. It also has earned me a standing invite to his home in Brisbane, Australia - so he was also definitely pleased - though at the time of shooting I don't think he was nearly as excited as after he saw the completed piece.
To be clear this whole piece was shot on the a6500, with a couple of shots mixed in from a A7R2 (but you won't be able to tell them apart). Audio from the talking head was filmed with a Rode Wireless Go and Lav Mic.
You'll see plenty of shallow depth of field here. Most of it was shot at around f/2.8. There are what I would call technical errors in this piece. If I could shoot it again knowing what I know now, I could make it look at least 1-2 steps better than it already does - mostly from choosing a better in camera profile. I used SLOG3 for about a year. I later realized what a mistake that was - it gave me a lot of noise unnecessarily. The same thing can be said for a few other pieces I've linked up - notably the last video below. Now I know that it's preferable to shoot in SLOG2 on 8-bit cameras for maximum dynamic range, or HLG3 or Cine1/Cine2 if I want an image that requires less grading - all of which are far less noisy. But these are things I literally had to learn and work through and why the tests below were so important for me to understand the camera - because I guess I have a hard head and I had to learn for myself.

If you want to see something a bit less stylized I have shot camera tests over and over again as I have tried to learn things about my cameras, here is one near where I live. I hike these hills fairly often:
This is shot in HLG3 and even at ISO 8000 to 12800 I found the noise to be acceptable. Some of those night scenes are in near pitch black and I still got what I would consider a usable image even if a bit noisy. Believe me when I say a camcorder would do far worse.

And here was a day out with friends over the summer - this is again much less stylized. I just used a corrective lut and then a look lut. It was more about practicing shooting and also testing SLOG2 as well as practicing editing (as in clip sequencing and clip length - not color grading). As a result the images are a bit indulgent (they hold for a decently long time). If you want to see the best shots, skip to around the middle of the video (the beginning is a little slow).

The last two pieces above I want to stress were just for fun. The point for me was more about specifically learning more about my cameras and the editing process. This is a 10,000 hours deal.

If you want to see more of my professional work specifically - here are some pieces I've shot for a small Christian Missions Organization (I'm their primary photographer/videographer). This first piece was basically to a bi-lingual church in Yokohama. It's intentionally incredibly short because it was designed to setup our Director who addressed the church immediately afterwards. It uses the simplest language intentionally to be as easy to understand in two languages. Obviously what our organization does is more nuanced.
(All shot on a6500 - highly color graded and very stylized - the voice over on this is not on the Rode Wireless Go, it's using a Rode NTG2 into a Zoom audio recorder).

Here is a testimony video with interviews. If you wanted to hear the audio from the Rode Wireless Go and a Lav Mic and see more footage. It's also very long and intended for people that really wanted to hear where their money went - and therefore would be invested in hearing about the trip.
(All talking heads on the a6500, and primarily a6500 while in Japan - but with the nature of a trip like this I used whatever footage I could. Some of it was shot on team members iPhones and an admin member with an a6000 also got portions of clips or stills with the other team that I wasn't with - but when making a doc, or really any video piece, story is way more important than pure video quality - and I think I represented that well here). Also shot on SLOG3, which makes me wince. This video would probably be at least 2x cleaner if I would've shot it in either HLG or SLOG2.
Do you think if I get the Sony A6500 or A6400 it will be much nearer to the pro-version?
EDIT: I just reread your question, but I'll leave my other response below just in case anyone cares. The A6500 and the A6400 will look very similar. They both have the same sensor. The big difference with the newer A6400/A6600 is the processor. The newer processor allows for better AF. And Sony also did other incremental improvements; over time they have changed their color science as they've been trying to get what people perceive as more pleasing skin tones out of the box - so in theory the a6400 should have a nicer starting place with footage than the a6500. To me it's about cost/benefit. From a pure "image quality" standpoint there isn't enough difference to me in order to buy the A6400 (to be clear, you may not even see a difference the changes to color science are minute - everything else about how the image is put together is exactly the same between the two cameras). However if you want HLG3, better autofocus, the flip up selfie screen that's also brighter when shooting 4k, no 30 minute recording limit, better "overheating performance", and slightly better color science then the a6400's additional cost for those features might be worth it. The A6500 basically will look the same and cost less - I suggested it to you primarily on the basis of cost - balanced with the fact that you from the beginning stated you would just be shooting 100% on a tripod. If you ever shoot while not on a tripod the a6500 also has the benefit of IBIS, which you would have to step up to the a6600 to get if you wanted all the newer features.

(This is my original response below, which I now realize wasn't what you were asking).
Without getting too far into it what your understanding of "pro" isn't what you think it is. If you mean "do you think you can get good image quality" then the answer is "yes" - but again as I've stated before that "yes" requires knowledge. A $3000 camera doesn't make a good photographer any more than $20,000 worth of tools makes you an auto mechanic. It all comes with your knowledge of the subject. An experienced carpenter could probably build a house with <$2000 worth of tools (it might take him longer, but the point is he could do it and it would be to code). You could give me $40k worth of tools and I'd never be able to build a house.

I realize that isn't the answer you "want to hear" but if you're expecting that a $100k camera setup magically makes your video look good - it doesn't. And I've been around $100k camera setups (in my case the Arri Alexa Mini with Cooke Optics 2x Anamorphic lenses, fully built out - smallHD monitors, Anton Bauer Batteries, etc. I've also worked with people with Red Epic W's and the like). If you know what you're doing, you can make anything look good (you can watch Apple's commercials that are "shot on iPhone" or Lady Gaga's music video also shot on iPhone, clearly done for publicity reasons). I don't recommend using an iPhone for production work, but again, if you want to take the time - you can make it look good. If you don't know what you're doing then it's very easy to make nothing look good.

Just in this one post I've shown a cross section of my video work from near when I started to much more recently. And just by making the mistake of using SLOG3 I ended up with a bunch of noise in some of my videos. And that was just from misunderstanding one thing. And it came down to not understanding certain things about my camera as well as not understanding certain things about specific profiles. I'm willing to show those mistakes because obviously I can't fix them now and also because I'm still proud of the work I accomplished. It also directly shows that the quality you get out of a camera comes down to what you know. Because most of what I've shown here was all taken on the same camera.
I really like the blury background (which was hard to achieve on my camcorder).
Yes. The "blurry background" you're referring to is what I using technical language called "shallow depth of field", which is a preference, not necessarily to be used all the time. It refers to a thin plane of focus. Focus can only ever be one one thing. By changing the Aperture it's possible to have a thin plane of focus all the way to a deep plane of focus (where everything appears to be in focus because the focal plane is so large) called "deep depth of field". This is in conjunction with the distance of the object from the camera and also the focal length. I won't get into the technical reasons why (frankly it's not important) but the closer the object is physically to the camera the shallower the plane of the depth of field. And also the longer lens you use, the shallower the depth of field. By combining these three things: a wide aperture, having your object be closer, and focal length (longer lenses giving shallower depth of field), it's possible to have really defocused backgrounds, again if that is what you prefer and if that serves the shot.

You generally will not be able to obtain this on camcorders as easily. This is because their sensors are so small that it effectively increases aperture (again, technical, not going to get into the reasons why) and their lenses are "slow" meaning they already start with further closed down apertures. Two factors that make getting shallow depth of field very difficult if not impossible. You still have the ability to move the camera physically closer to the subject and you can also use their zoom lenses to a longer focal length which will help, but obviously there is only so close you can move your camera and how long a focal length you can use. Everything in photos and videos is a compromise, in this particular case, you really need to be able to get your entire subject in frame with her whiteboard. You might be able to achieve shallow depth of field on just her eyes by zooming in all the way and moving the camera so close it's on just her eyes, but obviously that shot wouldn't serve any purpose or help you at all - in this particular case, your compromises are the distance you can get from your subject, and the focal lengths you can use to frame your subject - and this is with the givens that you can't open your aperture any wider than it already is and you can't change the sensor size on your camcorder (this is what I mean by everything in photo/video is a compromise, the choices you make are based around the restraints you have).

Again - all of this technical understanding is skill set - knowing the tools and knowing the craft. The good news is as you learn these two things more and more successive cameras and why things work the way they do will become more obvious and easy to understand. But the learning curve is definitely a lot more steep than it initially appears.
Am I correct that only a fixed lens could achieve this?
or could a slight zoom lens also achieve this?
They both can. The factors that allow shallow depth of field are covered above. Factors that affect this are: sensor size, aperture, focal length, distance to the subject.

Prime lenses generally are preferable to zoom lenses if very shallow depth of field is desired. Prime lenses generally speaking will always have a much wider Aperture than zooms do. This again is technical, but the short answer is that zooms are significantly more complex and require a range of focal lengths to be opened up to whereas primes do not.
To put it simply, prime lenses are better than zooms when it comes to picture quality. This is a general statement obviously there are very cheap primes and very expensive zooms. However I'd argue the 35mm lenses I suggested in previous posts will give you better optical quality than a zoom lens that costs 3x as much (such as the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM which is a $2000 lens versus the 35mm which is "only" $350 or $650 depending on which one you buy).

Primes are generally sharper, faster (photo/video speak for meaning wider aperture), lighter, with less distortion, and sharper corners than equivalent zooms. Primes are basically the choice for anyone looking to get maximum quality. There is literally only one reason why Zooms exist: versatility (and I suppose cost, obviously 5 primes cost more than one zoom... again generally). Obviously Zooms have a range of focal lengths, which if you're in situations where lens switching isn't possible then zooms may be preferable. They are also preferred by hobbyists that have the mistaken belief that versatility is better than maximum quality. I definitely put my money where my mouth is on this, I much prefer traveling and shooting on a single prime all day than ever touching a zoom.

I won't lie to you, you're talking to a prime evangelist, but the proof is definitely in the pudding (if you want you can look up lens charts and reviews all day, primes are all technically better than zooms). 99.9% of Hollywood is all prime lenses (the other small amount is b-movies or people wanting to use a very particular vintage zoom for whatever reason or if the show is very stylized like the Office using "snap zooms" to imitate a documentary). If you're looking for artists that are photographers, I'd say 90% or more are shooting on primes. Zooms are generally for people who want a walking around lens - these days mostly consumers, and people that prefer zooms in the event space (weddings, sports, photojournalism, documentary) - but even in those spaces there are plenty that still prefer primes. There are some exceptions to this rule (like there is to most any rule), most photographers/videographers will have a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens in their bag somewhere, but for the general commonly used focal lengths of 21/24/28/35/50/85, prime is generally preferred over a single 24-70mm zoom.
 
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UnknownSouljer

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The reason I asked about a zoom lens is because 'rarely' we may do some close-ups of the teachers hands; and sometimes the teacher is standing up (with her hands raised in the air) and the frame has to incorporate the whiteboard also.
Right. The workflow for this isn't that you zoom in or out. You move the camera. In the photo/video world, the very old joke is: "zoom with your feet".

In the example of all the work shot of Brent Southcombe above, it's all using this principle. All of it was shot handheld or with a gimbal. If I wanted a closer shot it meant I was closer to the subject. And if I wanted a wider shot, I was further away. Again, like I say this to me is a far more preferable compromise than using what I would consider to be an optically inferior zoom.
One more thing to add is that she will sometimes be self-recording.
I notice on Amazon they sell a remote control so i'm guessing that covers it ;)
This is one option. You can also just start and stop the camera with your hand and then cut out the part you don't want to use. I'm not saying that way is better or more convenient, just cheaper. In other words there are many methods to achieving the same thing.
We will be filming over 30 mins, (but I saw a youtube video hack to get around it).. seems quite easy.
You'll be filming more than 30 minutes at a time with no cuts at all for any reason (like you expect this person to be flawless and require zero takes and that you won't edit it together)? And you expect that people will watch that more than 30 minutes through with no editing for time? There are only a few people that can do that and situations that I know are like that. Generally it's for people shooting things live. Sermons are another item. But without trying to tell you your business, obviously you know your intended audience better than I do, I would say you're risking being very boring and very dry if you have a talking head for >5-10 minutes. Let alone a lecture that's greater than 30 (unless this is literally curriculum for school, but you'll have students that learn better if the content isn't dry). But even in the case of things like sermons there are at least multiple cameras as well as things like slides to transition to. Keep in mind files sizes though. If you're recording an hour at 100Mb/s, you're going to have roughly 70GB worth of data to deal with.

Still again, even without using a method to install apps onto the camera. Like I said before, you can literally just start the camera again after it stops from 30 minutes and then just edit the two clips together (meaning you'd have an hour or do this as many times as necessary). While that may not be a compromise you like, I would argue it's a preferable compromise in comparison to using a cheap DV cam, which I also have used. Like the Sony AX53 - which has inferior optics (a really poor zoom lens), and a much smaller sensor and worse AF.

The A6400 like you mention also doesn't have this limitation. If its worth it to spend the extra money for that feature then do so. If that will honestly save you time then it might be preferable; I personally don't view this limitation as being a major issue, but again I stress you'll be using this camera so if you need that feature in order to work in your workflow then at that point is worth it to spend the money.

I also did forget to mention this in my earlier post, but the one thing that really bugged me about the a6500 is that the screen is dim in 4k. That was only a problem in direct sunlight, if you're shooting indoors all the time it won't be a problem (I never found it to be, and trust me I did a lot) - but there were plenty of times that I shot outdoors blind with the camera, only knowing generally how the shots were framed. But I was able to do that because I knew how the camera worked and I know what my focal lengths look like. The A6400 doesn't have that problem - with a much brighter screen. It also has a flip up screen which may help with framing if you're shooting selfie style. Still it won't be enough if you have things in the hotshoe (the screen would be blocked in that case). If you're serious about doing production all the time, then I expect you'd eventually move to using an external monitor. But that can be discussed later.

You'll also want to either invest in what's called a dummy battery or a fast charger with a long Micro USB cable. This will prevent you from needing to swap batteries. Or buying extra batteries - of which either of these cameras will chew through. Each battery will give less than an hour of recording time. Attaching the camera "to the wall" will allow "infinite" battery life.
I also read that the A6500 can overheat and stops recording, whereas the A6400 does not.
The A6500 doesn't really overheat. I shot on one for over two years. Including one Summer in Japan in 2018 - which was basically the hottest summer they had in well over a decade. Everyone kept apologizing to us about it (which I thought was hilarious, because it's not like they can control the weather). I filmed outside in direct sun (for short periods and of course a lot not in direct sun... definitely protect your camera) and indoors in hot non-air-conditioned gyms. Again I stress in basically 90-105 degree weather with 100% humidity: all without issue. Basically over half of my work is outdoors, including a huge amount of things involving travel. I would say the only problem you'd ever have with overheating is if the camera is in direct sunlight (so not just hot, specifically direct sunlight) in 90+ degree weather and you're doing very long takes. In shade in the same weather you likely wouldn't have a problem. You stated that you'll just be shooting indoors all the time, I assume in an air-conditioned environment. Lets say that you keep the AC at 79F. There is no way the camera will overheat in those conditions. You could shoot all day continuously and you won't have a problem.

Again the A6400/A6600 improved on the a6500 in terms of temps, which the A6500 improved upon the A6300. If you plan on buying the A6400 for its longer recording limit then the peace of mind in terms of overheating will be a side benefit. To be clear, every camera in the world overheats. It's just a matter of what conditions get it there. I would say that what it takes to get the A6500 to overheat is within "acceptable range" but if your primary shooting scenario is in the deserts of Africa with no shade then obviously it might not be the camera for you. Indoors in a temperature controlled environment, again I would stress isn't an issue.
We actually have the Rode Go Mic and Lavalier Go already. But the Lavalier sounds a tad muffled. (maybe better without the lavalier)
It's all about mic placement. I have this setup. Its used in both the Brent Southcombe interview and also in the interviews in the last video piece. I would definitely not recommend using the Wireless Go by itself. Its onboard mic is only passable at best. There is at least an order of magnitude better quality out of the lav versus using the Wireless Go's mic.

I'd also say that if the audio you're referring to is represented in your comparison video, it sounds pretty good with my headphones on. If you want to make it more punchy then generally audio is enhanced in post - your starting signal is quite good. There are plugins for this if you don't want to learn how to do it manually. Final Cut Pro as an example literally has a plugin called "Voice Over Enhancement" that comes with the program. Premiere and other NLE's have equivalent free plugins. And if you're more into learning audio you could manipulate the frequencies by hand using an equalizer with at least 9 bands (or you can be more fancy with a parametric EQ) in conjunction with other tools like a compressor or multi-band compressor. I would say I've personally just scratched the surface with audio. I'm learning about Foley, mixing, and how to use post tools to create more dynamic audio - this is a whole topic in itself and there is a reason why there are pros in Hollywood that audio is all they do. All this to say, every commercial, TV show, and film you've ever watched has had someone alter the audio characteristics and control the mix - which has a big effect on how a completed project sounds. If your expectation is that it's possible to have any audio setup sound like Hollywood out of the box, you'll likely always be disappointed. Even with very expensive setups like they're using they work on their audio.
In a live setting (like live music or the news or whatever) they use very large mixing boards to process the audio - tweaking levels in specific frequency ranges and controlling the mix. It's more limited in a live setting in comparison to what can be done with post work, but the point is you're still not hearing unprocessed audio in a live setting. Some level of work has to be done if you want a particular sound. None of this may be even necessary though. I would say your recording sounds "good enough" and I wouldn't worry about it if you don't want to put in extra work - I just said what I said to illustrate that your expectations may not be reasonable or achieveable. You could get better audio out of different equipment and taking more time during setup, perhaps getting you closer to what you desire without needing to process in post but that's a whole other set of costs. I and bman212121 in another thread talked about getting a shotgun mic and using an external audio recorder for another user, and that might be closer to the sound you're looking for. That would cost you anywhere from $300-$5000+ to accomplish depending on what you want. Weighing this with cost/benefit, is it worth it to increase your setup time and drastically increase cost for the audio improvement? That's a pretty hard call to make. If this is your job, yes, if not then maybe not.
 
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Marc73

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Again,,, honestly, I can't describe how informative and helpful your post has been. (it was very nice watching the Brent Soutcombe video and also the lovely images on your SanDiego beach trip).

Primes are generally sharper, faster (photo/video speak for meaning wider aperture), lighter, with less distortion, and sharper corners than equivalent zooms. Primes are basically the choice for anyone looking to get maximum quality. Obviously Zooms have a range of focal lengths, which if you're in situations where lens switching isn't possible then zooms may be preferable. They are also preferred by hobbyists that have the mistaken belief that versatility is better than maximum quality. I definitely put my money where my mouth is on this, I much prefer traveling and shooting on a single prime all day than ever touching a zoom.
As I understand, a prime lens will have a shallow depth of field (background blur). But how about a zoom lens with a very small range? would this also be able to get the background blur because the range of depth is not so deep ?
Also (from what you said previously), the prime lens is fixed. So, if my subject is 2 or 2.5 meters away, and then I "zoom with my feet" and film about 0.5 or 1 metres away from her, will it be out of focus (because the lens is unable to focus on a subject so near).
Basically i'm trying to work out if I can get away with one lens.
From what you have said, i'd prefer to get a prime lens (as it seems i will get a better image, and the background blur which she wants). But I got slightly confused when you mentioned the "zoom with your feet" because the distance between camera and subject will have changed, thus making the image out of focus ? (or have i misunderstood this)?

You'll be filming more than 30 minutes at a time with no cuts at all for any reason (like you expect this person to be flawless and require zero takes and that you won't edit it together). Unless this is literally curriculum for school, but you'll have students that learn better if the content isn't dry.
Good question.
yes, its a paid curriculum. Her students will watch about 2 videos per week. (each video is about an hour). They can watch the videos in stages... (resume where they left off). And amazingly, she is incredible at speaking without making too many mistakes.
Actually, I wanted to ask, (with the A6500 or A6400), if she was to self-shoot; (provided the camera is set up for her room and lighting), will it be a case of switching on the camera and hitting the record button for her. ie: are the auto settings quite good already?
or can I set up a profile for her to switch to (each time she films)? I want to make it as easy as possible for her.
She is already good at using the microhone and lighting. The last thing is the camera. if she can press record and do her lecture; do you think the camera will provide a decent image? (i have taken on board what you said about not relying on the equipment to produce professional video without an operator who knows what they are doing). But if she self shoots, then its unlikely it will get technical.


invest in what's called a dummy battery or a fast charger with a long Micro USB cable. This will prevent you from needing to swap battery
I searched these online. Thanks. and I notice the camera also has a usb socket. is that also a possibility to charge via usb while filming?

Keep in mind files sizes though. If you're recording an hour at 100Mb/s, you're going to have roughly 70GB worth of data to deal with.
when I compare the HD on my old panasonic camcorder with HD on a good modern camera and with HD on my phone, they all look very different. I notice that the better the camera, the better the HD looks (despite the dimensions all being the same).
So, I was assuming (perhaps wrongly) that I wont need to film in 4K because normal HD will look very good anyway.
The video will be viewed on laptops (not TV) so I dont think 4K filming will be necessary. But I guessed that a good camera will produce a really nice picture in standard HD. (far nicer than the HD produced on my old camcorder).
 

UnknownSouljer

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Again,,, honestly, I can't describe how informative and helpful your post has been. (it was very nice watching the Brent Soutcombe video and also the lovely images on your SanDiego beach trip).
I'm really bad at taking compliments, but I'm trying to get better. I'll just go with: thank you! (Oof that was scary).
As I understand, a prime lens will have a shallow depth of field (background blur). But how about a zoom lens with a very small range? would this also be able to get the background blur because the range of depth is not so deep ?
This is a function of Aperture, not based around whether it has a big zoom range or not.

Aperture's are listed as one of the specs on the box of any lens you buy. For an example, I suggested the 35mm f/1.8mm OSS E-Mount lens or the 35mm f/1.8 FE lens. The "f/1.8" is the size of the maximum aperture. The smaller the number, the wider the lens is capable of opening. The most expensive zooms are generally no faster than f/2.8. And most (especially the ones you'd be shopping for in your price range) would likely be between f/4.0 or f/5.6. Again, there is a level of technical knowledge here - I'll try to explain the relevant part of the exposure triangle here.

In photography and video light is measured in "stops". And there are three variables that control how much light your sensor (or back in the day your film stock) receives light. There is Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO (or ASA/film speed). Aperture controls the iris in the lens, how big and small it can get (it's that circular blade looking thing that people like to show opening and closing). Shutter speed controls the duration that the shutter is open for, usually measured in fractions of a second (the shutter is what determines how long the sensor receives light). And ISO is a measurement of how sensitive the sensor or film is (otherwise known in the digital world as gain, increasing gain increases sensitivity).

Via each of these controls you can increase or decrease the amount of light and hopefully find some level of balance and get the 'correct' exposure you want. - I won't explain shutter speed and ISO, but just know that as you go up and down their scales they too go up and down in terms of stops of light and that either doubles or halves the amount of light your sensor receives (or is sensitive to). Aperture's full stops are f/1.0, f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6... and the scale keeps going up actually. Some lenses can stop down to a minimum aperture of f/32. Each move on that scale is "a stop" of light. Going to the right that means your camera lets in half as much light or going one move a direction to the left you've doubled the amount of light coming in.

The difference between an f/1.8 lens and an f/4.0 lens is over 2 stops of difference: f/2.0 to f2.8 to f/4.0 (I just showed full stops, on your camera it actually allows for 1/3rd increments - but just for the sake of basics just the full stops makes it easier). I don't expect you to quite understand what this means yet - but it's a lot less light and with its more closed maximum aperture of f/4.0 - that means it's more than 4x less light***. You're halving the light and halving it again. If you're looking for a blurry background you'll have a lot more trouble obtaining it. Not impossible if your focal length is long and you're close, but like I mentioned before, you can only get so close and have your focal length be so long until your shot isn't really usable.

Even the cheapest of primes are commonly f/2.0 or faster (for later YouTube material you can see prime lenses that are in excess of f/0.95). Whereas some of the most expensive zooms are f/2.8 (I mentioned the $2000 Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM before, but Canon and Nikon have equivalents that are also roughly $2000). Canon recently released an f/2.0 Zoom, but it weighs a ton and costs $3000 (it takes some big pieces of glass to let f/2.0 worth of light in on a zoom lens). There are other factors in terms of image quality other than just Aperture. But getting shallow depth of field in terms of a lens: the two most influential factors are focal length and maximum aperture.

Can you get at least a little bit of an out of focus background at f/2.8 or f/4.0? The answer is yes, using some of the other tools (focal length, subject distance, sensor size), but it won't be as pronounced. Every stop down you go on aperture the deeper your plane of focus becomes.
Also (from what you said previously), the prime lens is fixed. So, if my subject is 2 or 2.5 meters away, and then I "zoom with my feet" and film about 0.5 or 1 metres away from her, will it be out of focus (because the lens is unable to focus on a subject so near).
What you're referring to is minimum focus distance. Different lenses have different minimum focus distances. You'll find that most mirrorless and dslr lenses have a minimum focus distance between .5-1 meter with some examples being .3 meters. Which is much better than what you likely currently have on your camcorder.

There are also specialty lenses called "macro lenses" that are designed to magnify small objects. Some macro lenses can focus at distances as short as 5cm in order to have maximum magnification of your subject. In case you were wondering how people take photos of bugs or perhaps shots of just people's eyeballs or whatever. I bring up macro lenses simply to illustrate another way that there are different distances that different lenses can focus at. I wouldn't suggest a macro lens for your first lens or perhaps even your 5th one, unless you needed a macro lens for a specific purpose.
Basically i'm trying to work out if I can get away with one lens.
You definitely can. Despite what most people think before using a prime - primes are not restrictive in the ways people think they are. In a lot of ways it actually frees the mind because you're focused more on what can you achieve with the focal length you have rather than trying to figure out backwards which length and what you're trying to capture. It sounds counter intuitive but the elimination of that variable makes the process faster. I've done entire weekend trips with just one lens and one body - especially if I'm just shooting casually.

When photographing for ON THE MISSION (or any event) - I'm generally on one lens for at least an hour or more - focal length is more decided by the look I want to achieve and the convenience of that length depending on how close I can get to the subjects. Then to get the framing I want I simply move closer or farther away or around or whatever I need to do. This is colloquially called "getting the shot". Regardless of if you're on a zoom or a prime, you'll have to move. But being on a prime will definitely make you proactive and be thinking about maximizing whatever focal length you're currently shooting on. Literally every shot in all of those videos in that previous post was all prime lenses.

When shooting photos on the street I might use a single lens all day. And often times if I'm out and about carrying a camera that is indeed what I'm doing. A great advantage of primes is their light weight; no matter what anyone says, carrying 2.5kg doesn't sound like a lot until you carry it for 8 hours. Then losing even 200g suddenly becomes incredibly meaningful.
From what you have said, i'd prefer to get a prime lens (as it seems i will get a better image, and the background blur which she wants). But I got slightly confused when you mentioned the "zoom with your feet" because the distance between camera and subject will have changed, thus making the image out of focus ? (or have i misunderstood this)?
That will depend again on minimum focus distance like mentioned above. The bigger issue will be whether you actually can move forward and still have a frame you want. Because obviously the focal length won't change. As you move towards her, she'll become bigger (or whatever subject you're filming will become bigger). At some point you'll be too close to have a frame you like... well either that or like you mention you won't be able to focus the camera. So you'll be balancing the practicality of a frame you like with trying to achieve shallower depth of field. Where you compromise on that will determine your final look. In practice that can be just as simple as choosing whatever framing you like and just being okay with the level of background blur your have. Or move your set so that things you don't want to be in focus are further away (meaning that they are therefore further away from your single plane of focus, meaning they'll be more blurry). Or you can choose to be really precise with your focal length, your aperture choice, set design, on down the line. It's up to you how involved you want it to be.

===

***While how much light a lens gathers via aperture isn't the same thing as shallow depth of field, they are inter-related however. As technical as I'm getting, I'm still not really discussing angle of light and how that affects DOF. But for the purposes of these discussions linking stops of light on Aperture to depth of field is "close enough". And knowing that a slower f/2.8 and f/4.0 lens won't be able to get as shallow depth of field compared to f/2.0 or f/1.4 is the relevant info.
 
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UnknownSouljer

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Good question.
yes, its a paid curriculum. Her students will watch about 2 videos per week. (each video is about an hour). They can watch the videos in stages... (resume where they left off). And amazingly, she is incredible at speaking without making too many mistakes.
Public speaking or even speaking in front of a camera isn't a skill set I have. It takes a lot of work and talent to be good at it. And I watch people do some type of public speaking every week.
Actually, I wanted to ask, (with the A6500 or A6400), if she was to self-shoot; (provided the camera is set up for her room and lighting), will it be a case of switching on the camera and hitting the record button for her. ie: are the auto settings quite good already?
Yes and no. If you want the best the camera can provide for you then you'll have to set it up manually. I assume the automatic mode will get you an okay job. I honestly haven't used a fully automatic mode in a very long time.

For a long explanation on why you should use manual modes and not automatic ones read below. But feel free to skip it and read the next response, which I think will be a relief in comparison with the long explanation.

Have you ever wondered how the camera knows you've actually gotten a proper exposure and it's not over exposed or underexposed? The camera does this by averaging the entire frame and making it come out to 18% grey (exposing up or down until it reaches that level). Some researcher figured it out and generally 18% grey in the total frame is on average what the camera should expose to. But there are a million ways to get there. I very briefly talked about the exposure triangle: Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO - the camera more or less is choosing those settings at random (or with some level of pre-programming) attempting to get your exposure level to 18% grey.

I very briefly mentioned how Aperture controls your depth of field. If you let the camera decide it could choose wide open at f/1.4 (if you have a nice expensive lens that opens that wide) or it could choose f/16. Again, I don't precisely expect you to know what that means, but in that case you could either be looking at razor thin depth of field all the way to everything looks like its in focus. And everywhere in-between. This is complicated by the fact that the camera can't possibly know if 18% grey is relevant to what you're photographing. A very common problem example of this is photographing a woman wearing a wedding dress in a white room. Can you already see why that's a problem? The camera will try to average what it sees to that 18% grey and most scenes obviously aren't white on white on white. So it will underexpose that scene and make that bright beautiful white dress look dark or muddled grey. You can also have the opposite problem - when photographing at night automatic modes will try to make everything bright. So instead of having pitch black, suddenly your photo looks grey and noisy (which is a different problem regarding ISO, but it would happen in that case regardless).

When shooting outdoors in bright sunlight, automatic modes do a pretty good job. Even though you won't be controlling your aperture in program mode. But they'll generally at least have a good looking exposure. But in not perfect shooting situations, cameras can and will get stuff wrong. And I could list at least half a dozen shooting scenarios I'm in all the time that a camera will mess up on in an automatic mode. Having a strong backlight is another good example. Try photographing someone indoors with sunlight pouring in behind them from a window. Outside might look okay, but the person will appear like a black silhouette.

This is just a primer. But I hope it illustrates why people shoot in manual - which is to be able to control the final look - including the exposure and also things like depth of field (either shallow or deep depending on what serves your purposes). By examples were also really basic. To give the camera manufacturers some credit, there have been really big advancements in auto-exposure over the past 10 years. Most cameras have multiple detection modes and even AI to figure out what you're photographing and try to expose properly for that scene. As an example, if your camera detects a face, it will likely attempt to make sure the face is properly exposed and "trust" that if the face is exposed correctly the rest of the scene will be too - it might even take that a step further and also analyze the whole scene at the same time as well and try to average the two. But even with these improvements, cameras are far from fool proof.

Here are the basics of how people expose their camera for video manually:
People who understand the craft won't let the camera choose, but will use the tools inside the camera to gain the exposure they want. Generally selecting the Aperture first (because aperture determines depth of field, and generally it will control the look of your image the most), locking the shutter to 180 degrees (we'll talk about that later) and compensating the gain of the ISO up and down to get the exposure they want. There are empirical tools inside of cameras that help photographers do this. The most basic is the light meter. It has "zero" in the middle and then on the left and right it will go up and down in 1 stop increments.
On the camera it will look something like this:
((-3..-2..-1..0..+1..+2..+3)).
"0" again is that 18% middle grey that the camera calculates as "proper exposure". But like those earlier examples I mentioned, you as the photographer will know better. If you have a white dress in a white room: it might need to be at +1 or +2 or even +3. If you're shooting in the middle of the night, it might need to be -2 to be correct in terms of what your eye sees. Part of knowing how to expose the camera comes from experience and knowing how it reacts.

There are also other tools to help gain proper exposure. One is called "zebras". Caucasian faces fall at 70% roughly in a well lit environment. So you can set your zebras from 65-75% and when the face is in that range, you know that the face is correctly exposed (there will be stripes on that area showing you that that is in that area). This is an over simplification again, but an illustration of how the tools in a camera help photographers and videographers get images to be at the right levels in a non-automatic mode.
or can I set up a profile for her to switch to (each time she films)? I want to make it as easy as possible for her.
She is already good at using the microhone and lighting. The last thing is the camera. if she can press record and do her lecture; do you think the camera will provide a decent image? (i have taken on board what you said about not relying on the equipment to produce professional video without an operator who knows what they are doing). But if she self shoots, then its unlikely it will get technical.
So here's the good news: if you just leave your camera on the tripod and you have all your settings dialed in just right and all your lighting and everything else never changes, then yes, you could have her literally just be able to turn on the camera and press the record button.

It might take a little bit of time fiddle faddling with settings, getting the exposure where you want it, having a nice framing, etc etc, but after you do, if you never touch it or move it - and the light never changes and the settings never change then, yes absolutely the camera will just sit there diligently willing to repeat itself.
I searched these online. Thanks. and I notice the camera also has a usb socket. is that also a possibility to charge via usb while filming?
Yes. I have charged via USB and believe it or not, these a6*** cameras don't even come with a battery charger in the box. They expect you to charge the cameras battery while it's in the camera via a USB cable. Having used one of these cameras, it's the dumbest way to do it because if you're shooting in the field these cameras chew through batteries. I had 2 cameras that took NP-FW50 batteries and between the two of them I had 12. So it's definitely not a convenient way to recharge your batteries, so I kind of am annoyed with Sony that they cheaped out on a battery charger. (The good news is that third party batteries are cheap and of decent quality).

The issue you may have is I'm not 100% sure how many watts the USB connection is capable of taking (definitely do your own research before going down this route). I can tell you for sure that 5w is not enough to keep the camera powered on indefinitely, I've done that with an Apple charger I just happened to have on hand. Eventually the battery will run out; but it will take much longer. I'm not 100% certain if it will take 12w or 18w. The dummy battery will for sure be able to power the camera indefinitely provided it is strapped to an appropriate wall wart giving it proper amperage/wattage/voltage.
when I compare the HD on my old panasonic camcorder with HD on a good modern camera and with HD on my phone, they all look very different. I notice that the better the camera, the better the HD looks (despite the dimensions all being the same).
So, I was assuming (perhaps wrongly) that I wont need to film in 4K because normal HD will look very good anyway.
The video will be viewed on laptops (not TV) so I dont think 4K filming will be necessary. But I guessed that a good camera will produce a really nice picture in standard HD. (far nicer than the HD produced on my old camcorder).
The short answer is "yes". But like all of this stuff, it depends. It might blow some peoples minds that were born after the year 1995, but the Star Wars Prequels were all filmed on Sony cameras that only shot 1080p. However those cameras were top of the line for their day (literally costing $100k) and the 1080p that came out of those cameras is a lot nicer than most cameras you see today. In terms of consumer cameras, that 1080p still looks better than a lot of 4k cameras - even including in terms of resolution. Because resolution is more than just how many pixels a camera has, it's also how much of the image was actually resolved (and also how the bayer pattern was processed amongst other things). In short what I'm saying is: you can have really nice 1080p or really crappy 1080p. It comes down to the sensor design and the image processing chain. Turns out if you make really good and expensive ones they last. But it's these differences that are the reasons why an Arri Alexa costs 10-40x what a consumer camera does despite being only 2.8k resolution (for the classic or a Mini) or in the case of a bigger sensor Mini LF, 4.5k. If I told people that so many of the shows they love and movies they love were actually shot on sensors that are <4k and then upscaled to 4k it would likely blow their minds.

The 4k out of all of the a6300/a6400/a6500/a6600, all said and done is pretty good. It obtains a sharp image from downsampling, which helps it a lot. Unfortunately the 1080p from those cameras is much softer looking - because the way it obtains 1080p is by literally skipping lines of pixels on the sensor. Not through downsampling or pixel averaging. It's "passable" but compared to cameras that shoot native 1080p with 1:1 pixels, it's softer. However, if you watched those videos above, you saw plenty of 1080p footage mixed with 4k (1080p is the only way to get slow-mo on these cameras, basically you lower the resolution to get higher frame-rate). For people looking for it, it's noticeable. It isn't nearly as nice and crispy as the 4k. There is a really big difference between shooting the 1080p natively and shooting in 4k and then rendering your final in 1080p. Rendering down to 1080p from 4k from this camera will look many times better despite in theory them being "the same resolution".

However again, compromises. If there isn't a benefit to shooting in 4k, you need smaller file sizes, it's all just lectures and talking heads anyway, then 1080p might be enough (even average ho-hum 1080p). Not to go off the rails here - but if you don't need 4k, you could get a cheaper camera, or get a different camera that has a better mixture of features that are useful for you. The Canon EOS R or EOS RP might be a better fit. You'll get access to full frame, a better flippy screen, Canon color, and better ergonomics. I'm not saying this to trip you up. But basically like I'm hopefully illustrating is that different cameras have different strengths and weaknesses. And depnding on what you need from your tools a specific tool might be better or worse for your use case. If you need 4k at this price point though, then Sony definitely can't be beat.
 
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UnknownSouljer

Supreme [H]ardness
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Messages
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I will note that if you want to do this a lot cheaper and want to use automatic modes that are simple, you could just not go down this path at all. I may have illustrated too well, that going down this path - there's a lot of info.

A camera like the Sony ZV-1 might be a better choice for you. It's cheaper and its lens might be fast enough for you. Looking back this just must be waaaay too much information and time for you if you just want to film something. It won't have the most shallow depth of field (small sensor - but it literally has an automatic background blur button on the top of the camera - which for you might be just what you want) or absolute image quality, but it will be more than good enough. It also will be comparable in terms of automatic modes.

If you want to learn how to shoot in manual modes with that camera, you still will be able to. It does have a zoom lens giving versatility. And the eye AF and other tech in the camera is basically the same as the a6400.
 
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Marc73

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Oct 13, 2020
Messages
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Thank you again for the major educational lesson. (i did read it in its entirety). And, I 'more-or-less' understood most of what you said ;)
I had to search and google certain things and watched a couple of youtube videos to better understand what you had been saying.

If there isn't a benefit to shooting in 4k, you need smaller file sizes, it's all just lectures and talking heads anyway, then 1080p might be enough (even average ho-hum 1080p). Not to go off the rails here - but if you don't need 4k, you could get a cheaper camera
I think, because of the file sizes, i'm happy to film in HD (rather than 4k). I dont really want to end up with a 50 to 70GB file
I will be opening files into Premiere; Adding a bit of branding and exporting as H.264 MP4. (I want to avoid doing brightness/colour adjustments because I will be handing these tasks over to another person.. so I want it to be as uncomplicated as possible).
The final file will be uploaded to Vimeo.
Students mostly watch on laptops, and I really doubt 4K is necessary. But, I do like the idea if the camera sensor is a good one. (as you said, the HD from a good sensor is better than the HD from a bad sensor).

I saw that the A6400 has various HD modes.
The lowest is: HD 30p 16M /25p 16M (which is about 8GB per hour).

It's funny because (on my youtube searches), somehow the Sony ZV-1 popped up. I was a few comparison videos between the A6400 to the ZV-1. But i'm not sure how I felt about the sample videos I looked at.
Also, the Sony RX-100 range also came up.. but I dont think its suitable.
You also mentioned the Sony Canon EOS R, and RP. The 'R' is very expensive, and the RP has a lot of negative reviews on youtube (from dissatisfied youtubers).

I do appreciate you saying that maybe a cheaper camera could be more suitable. And of course its a very welcome suggestion.
The main point is that the whiteboard should be clearly legible, and it would be lovely to get the shallow depth of field blur in the background.

Here is the original (professionally recorded) clip of the teacher, without my cheap version added on the end.


If I said that the background blur is important, then would you lean towards the A6400 with maybe the 35mm f/1.8 OSS lens.
Another lens I came across is: Sigma 35mm f/1.4

* Please dont feel the need to write large amounts. I dont want you to spend too much of your time on this. You have been incredibly helpful, but also I feel bad to have used up so much of your time. I'm sure you have other things to do. So please dont feel bad about giving bullet-point responses. You have given me so much info already. So, really i'm completely satisfied with bullet point answers ;)
If there is anything I can do in return for you (like maybe health & nutrition advice) then please feel free to ask me ;)

Kind regards,
Marc
 

UnknownSouljer

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Sep 24, 2001
Messages
6,728
Thank you again for the major educational lesson. (i did read it in its entirety). And, I 'more-or-less' understood most of what you said ;)
I had to search and google certain things and watched a couple of youtube videos to better understand what you had been saying.
The internet is great. Formalized education is being erroded constantly by it as the information for basically everything is freely available. My entire photography/videography career is based on this free education.
I think, because of the file sizes, i'm happy to film in HD (rather than 4k). I dont really want to end up with a 50 to 70GB file
For sure. Whatever camera you buy, you'll probably want to mess with its various profiles to make sure that whatever look you get straight of camera looks nice. I mention this more below, but you may then just want to get a camera with really nice 1080p.
I will be opening files into Premiere; Adding a bit of branding and exporting as H.264 MP4. (I want to avoid doing brightness/colour adjustments because I will be handing these tasks over to another person.. so I want it to be as uncomplicated as possible).
I agree. Of course if this other person has an editing experience, there are a lot of adjustments that can be done relatively quickly with minimum effort that will improve upon what you've shot already (I mentioned things like using an audio plugin as an example - an experienced editor will also be able to cut and paste over an over a "look" also minimizing editing time). It is quite wise actually that you want to get things as good as possible straight out of camera.

That will be a function of nailing exposure and using a profile in the camera that already has a finished "look" - and hopefully that look is something that you like (as you won't have control over it).
The final file will be uploaded to Vimeo.
Students mostly watch on laptops, and I really doubt 4K is necessary. But, I do like the idea if the camera sensor is a good one. (as you said, the HD from a good sensor is better than the HD from a bad sensor).

I saw that the A6400 has various HD modes.
The lowest is: HD 30p 16M /25p 16M (which is about 8GB per hour).
Indeed. Keep in mind though that compression (bit-rate) is directly tied to the quality you'll get out of your final image. Just like with mp3's, there is a trade-off between 128kbps and 320kbps and of course lossless. It's the same ideas at play here with video.
You'll likely want to do some level of tests to make sure as you go down in bit-rate you're still getting what you consider to be a "good enough" image.
It's funny because (on my youtube searches), somehow the Sony ZV-1 popped up. I was a few comparison videos between the A6400 to the ZV-1. But i'm not sure how I felt about the sample videos I looked at.
It's a camera that is marketed incredibly well. Because of Sony being the best bang for the buck in 4k for a while - they've more or less had a certain portion of the market cornered. The ZV-1 is basically the camera that they're using to continue dominating in the space for people that aren't necessarily as camera savvy. Their marketing videos basically emphasize "quality" and "ease of use" for people making 'content' for Youtube.

It's a good camera for this purpose and price bracket. If you want to see a comprehensive review from basically my favorite documentary YouTube film maker online, you can watch the excessively long review from Philip Bloom here:
I think it will give a fairly comprehensive overview of how good the camera is in most of its scenarios. He talks about a lot of things you likely won't care about - he covers vlogging doing walk and talks. But even during those segments you can see the out of focus background - and you can see if that's "good enough" for you (keep in mind how close his face is to the camera though, remember, subject distance is one of the things that affects background blur, faster lenses can achieve more background blur when the subject is farther away, which will be the case when you're filming your pieces).
The most relevant section in general for your shooting scenarios will be 18:00 and on. He actually talks about the auto-exposure modes, auto-metering modes, and auto-background blur modes. All of those will be directly relevant to your interests.
Also, the Sony RX-100 range also came up.. but I dont think its suitable.
It would definitely get the job done. I've considered getting both the ZV-1 and RX100 (really the RX1 - but they haven't updated it in 4 years and I don't think the value is there) as secondary cameras. They have the advantage of being very small and portable while packing some nice image quality - especially for the money. Which is advantageous in a lot of scenarios.
You also mentioned the Sony Canon EOS R, and RP. The 'R' is very expensive, and the RP has a lot of negative reviews on youtube (from dissatisfied youtubers).
They both should have dropped in price by like a lot.

The R and RP weren't totally well received and understood by most people (specifically in terms of video, for photos only they are both generally well regarded). Canon for about 6-7 years was having a huge problem with processor and sensor design and it took them a long time to design something that could keep up with the rest of the market place. They are the biggest camera manufacturer in the world by far, so it was only a matter of time before they rectified it - but it wasn't easy. Even now that they have, their two new examples the R5 and R6 achieve what few cameras can, but overheat profusely due to the failings in engineering to properly cool them.

I say this to say the R and the RP didn't have the highest headlining features when they came out 2-3 years ago and both cameras were judged by their peers. They are limited in terms of resolution and and how the R has to crop in on 4k (very undesirable) - but if you ignore the 4k conversation, what they offer in 1080p is quite good. Canon's other trump card has been for a long time AF. Their dual-pixel AF system is generally unique to them and is a process improvement that all the other major brands don't have (even without this though, Sony have managed to have class leading autofocus in their latest cameras - The ZV-1 and a6400 will be comparable or better in this regard. Dual Pixel AF isn't foolproof but at the time those two cameras came out, it was class leading. In other words, I'm just expanding on what I was saying before - if you don't need 4k or certain other features, then other features that certain cameras offer you might be a better fit.

There is no "best camera" - it's just cameras that fit what you need for the money. That's why so many options in the market do exist and can exist, because what different people need their camera to do is different. For shooting video in a mirror-less system, that discussion is easy - if you want/need AF in video then it's either Sony or Canon. But if you don't, wow, I could list 6-8 other cameras that have amazing picture quality or other features that make them compelling choices.

The RP then is "only" 1080p. But like I said before, it will have Canon's color science, a nice flip out screen, bigger full frame sensor (meaning shallower depth of field amongst other benefits compared to the a6400 and ZV-1), and nice AF. You likely can find one used for <$1000. Honestly though, buying the ZV-1 might just save you a bunch of hassle.
I do appreciate you saying that maybe a cheaper camera could be more suitable. And of course its a very welcome suggestion.
The main point is that the whiteboard should be clearly legible, and it would be lovely to get the shallow depth of field blur in the background.

Here is the original (professionally recorded) clip of the teacher, without my cheap version added on the end.

That will be dependent on how well your 1080p is resolved. If you do get the a6400 and shoot in 1080p, hopefully the image will still be sharp enough to be legible. It should be - obviously though the 4k has a great advantage there. As well as in this case being very sharp 4k versus much softer 1080p (again due to pixel skipping, not because an inherent 1080p problem).
If I said that the background blur is important, then would you lean towards the A6400 with maybe the 35mm f/1.8 OSS lens.
Another lens I came across is: Sigma 35mm f/1.4
I would skip the Sigma. It's heavy, huge, and the AF isn't very good on it for video (for stills it is more than adequate). It will cause you to have a lot of headaches. I would get one of the two 35mm I mentioned. I would only get the FE lens if at some point in the future you want to move to a full frame camera. That's a whole other discussion, but the short answer is we've been mostly looking at Super 35 (abbreviated "s35" or also called "crop frame") sensors. There are sensors that are even bigger called "full frame" (sometimes called just "35mm", which is confusing because "super 35" is the smaller size). The big benefit there is: better depth of field control and larger pixels (generally meaning better at gathering light - which has a host of positive effects). Full frame is 1.5x bigger than Super 35. The FE lens is designed to have an image that is big enough to project onto a full frame sensor. The OSS lens is not. That's the reason for the price difference. In other words the FE lens will have an upgrade path to full frame if eventually you want to go that route - the OSS lens never will and you'd have to rebuy or only use s35 cameras in the future. Both lenses will look exactly the same while on a Super 35 sensor though in terms of their field of view. 35mm is 35mm (people get really confused about this, they apply the crop of their lens to the crop of the sensor and it doesn't work that way).

Don't let that stress you out though. I buy and sell camera gear yearly. I basically also buy everything used as money is my pocket is more valuable to me than new camera smell. And these lenses will likely retain much of their resale value (especially if you bought them used to begin with). So buying the OSS now, and selling it later to buy an FE lens should you ever want to in the future is also a viable option. For your budget I wouldn't recommend stepping into a full frame camera now. From a cost/benefit perspective the value isn't there for you yet (and video isn't really even a hobby for you, its just an ends to a means). And I'm also sure you already understand there is always going to be bigger/nicer/better cameras to upgrade to unless you're spending absurd amounts of cash. The R and the RP do have full frame sensors though - which like I was mentioning before is a benefit of going that route if you only need 1080p. But otherwise I can't really think of a camera that I would recommend in your budget that's full frame over the Super 35 a6400.

Even in regards to this, maybe checkout the ZV-1 review (The Philip Bloom video shows this at 18:00). It really might be a good fit in terms of an automatic camera that takes the least amount of effort to use.
* Please dont feel the need to write large amounts. I dont want you to spend too much of your time on this. You have been incredibly helpful, but also I feel bad to have used up so much of your time. I'm sure you have other things to do. So please dont feel bad about giving bullet-point responses. You have given me so much info already. So, really i'm completely satisfied with bullet point answers ;)
If there is anything I can do in return for you (like maybe health & nutrition advice) then please feel free to ask me ;)
I really try not to. But like I said before, I have trouble with being concise. I have a tendency to really want my language to be precise and I don't know a way of doing that that is short. My great fear is giving a general answer and someone taking it as something specific. I'm not saying that's rational, I'm just saying that's how I am.
Kind regards,
Marc
Good luck on your search,
Jeremiah Bostwick
 
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