Panasonic Gh4

Jan 172014

Lets see, where did I leave off? Oh yea, I settled with a used Canon T3i, a vintage M42 lens, a Slik Pro 700 DX tripod (you can get the Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro tripod instead), and that was about it.  Read here to see what my $500 film gear budget consisted of. If I had a $1000 budget would I regret any of those purchases? Not really. So lets finish off my set up with an infusion of $500.

Fancier FT-717AH ePhoto INC 717AH ($70)

Obviously we must make use of our tripod (from our $500 film gear budget shopping spree), so lets add a tripod head. This is the best pan head you can get for under $100.

Sony PCM M10 ($210)

Next we need to address any audio shortfalls. Audio is what will set your videos apart. A lot of people go for the Zoom H4n or Tascam DR40 because they have a lot of bells and whistles. The Sony PCM M10 is a better recorder than both of those models, and so I will opt for the Sony PCM M10.

The reason for getting the PCM M10 is that when you pour more money into your audio gear, the PCM M10 will not need upgrading; it has excellent build quality, analog level controls, and preamps that embarrass the H4N. Oh yeah, and the on-board mics are of better quality. The only thing that is missing is phantom power. I  guarantee if you buy a PCM M10, and then eventually get a phantom power box like a Denecke PS-1A, you will have audio that sounds 5x better than the H4n (and it only cost you an extra $100).

As always, do not buy audio gear if you do not have the man power to make use of it. If you want slightly better audio that is easy to manage, just get a Zoom H1 and plug a lavalier into it.

Rode NTG 2 (Under $200 used)

Since the PCM M10 can’t power your typical microphones via phantom power, you will need a microphone that has battery power.

Rode PG2 – Pistol Grip Shock Mount ($80)
Rode Dead Cat Wind Muff for NTG-1 and NTG-2 ($40)
Kopul LMT100 – Low to High Impedance Matching Transformer ($20)

Or, get a Hosa Technology Mini Stereo Male to 3-pin XLR instead of the Kopul ($10)

A Rode Dead Cat, pistol grip, and an XLR to mini stereo plug (make sure it has a low to high impedance matching transformer) will run you another $115, used or $140 new.

Oops, we went a bit over $1000. But you know what? If we need to stick to the $1000 budget, then forget the pistol grip, XLR to mini stereo, and Dead Cat. Just have a non functioning microphone for a bit while you save up more money for even more gear.

What Does ~$1000 Worth of DSLR Gear Buy You?

Canon T3i ($300 used)
M42 lens: Pentax Super Takumar 35mm F3.5 ($70 used)
Slik Pro 700 DX tripod ($100 new)
Fancier FT-717AH ePhoto INC 717AH ($70 new)
Sony PCM M10 ($210 new)
Rode NTG 2 (Under $200 used)
Rode PG2 – Pistol Grip Shock Mount ($80 new)
Rode Dead Cat Wind Muff for NTG-1 and NTG-2 ($40 new)
Kopul LMT100 – Low to High Impedance Matching Transformer ($20 new)
Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier ($20 new)
SD Card ($20)

The grand total for all of this is $1130, but if you find good used prices on the PCM M10, the Fancier tripod head, the Dead Cat, and the PG2 Pistol Grip you can get the price down closer to $1000. In fact if you ditch the Sony PCM M10 and go with a cheap recorder like a Zoom H1 or a Tascam DR-07 or Tascam DR-05, you can get your budget down to $1000 easy.

You get a solid, minimalist set up. You have a solid tripod, a decent pan head, a decent DSLR, a decent lens, and a respectable audio set up (way better than the guys withe Rode VideoMic/Zoom H4n combo).

If you were to take the money you spent on audio and put it towards lenses, you’d have some nice lenses, but no audio. If you don’t wanna screw around with audio, and rather slap on a track of music to your footage, then I would recommend getting a Tokina 11-16 F2.8 or a Samyang 14mm 2.8. They are two of the more popular wide angle lens for crop bodies, and they will go nicely with the 35mm or 50mm Takumar primes that I recommended from the $500 budget article.

Should I Get a GH2 Instead of Canon?

It really depends on the lenses you are willing to use. The advantages of a hacked GH2 are blown out of proportion. A Canon body with Magic Lantern is very powerful… and you get to enjoy all the Canon glass. If you shoot photos and videos, there is no question; Canon is better.

A used GH2 will run you a bit more than a used T3i or T2i.

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