People often ask us about what kind of production equipment we use on our films and photo projects. We actually started out on nothing more than an iPhone and used a towel closet for a sound studio. We have been building ShadowCast Studios ever since then and now have an extensive collection of production equipment at our disposal. The key to building a studio is to continuously reinvest in yourself and your work. This is how we've grown over the past several years.
Today we are going to take a look at the main production cameras we're using on our projects as of 2022. This won't include all of our gear, but it will show you the cameras that are fundamental to our projects and used regularly on our shoots. These are the workhorses of our projects.
The Canon C100 Mark II cinema camera was our second camera which we upgraded to after using the Canon 60D, which was our original setup, for about a year or so after we first started our studio. Despite being limited to full HD 1080 resolution recording, the Canon C100 Mark II continues to be an outstanding camera and a workhorse on many of our video production projects to this day.
Unlike a DSLR, the C100 MKII is made specifically for video and only video. It offer many valuable video-related features which few, if any, DSLRs provide. It provide a number of audio options for you to work with ranging from built-in camera mics to external XLR phantom powered inputs with manual gain controls. The channels can record independently from two separate sources which gives you a lot more flexibility in post-production. The full-frame sensor captures 4K video, which is down-scaled to 1080p in-camera. Dual SD card slots means that you can record simultaneously to two cards or in relay, so that recording is automatically switched to the second card when the first is full.
It also offers Canon's C-log color profile which allows you to record a very flat image so you have more room to work with it when color correcting and grading in post. You can apply a LUT to the preview in-camera, which won't be recorded, but gives you an idea of what your log profile footage will look like once corrected. This is also very useful for when you have clients on-set watching over your shoulder.
Another great feature the C100 MKII offers is the angle setting. Film professionals used to using cinema cameras will likely be more familiar with angle as opposed to exposure. Basically, angle is a cinema version of exposure. You can select to use exposure/shutter speed settings if you prefer, but we prefer using the angle setting. The great part about using angle instead of shutter speed is that you can always insure that you exposure is exactly double your frame rate by simply setting the angle to 180 degrees. As long as the angle is 180 degrees, your exposure will be exactly double the frame rate.
The reason for having your exposure double your frame rate is that this gives you the most realistic motion blur in your footage. So if your frame rate is 24 fps, ideally you should set your shutter speed to 48. Most cameras don't offer a setting of 48 though, so you'd have to settle for 50. However, angle simplifies this process by simply letting you set the angle to 180 degrees, giving you perfect exposure at any frame rate.
The Canon 5D Mark IV is our primary DSLR camera and we use it for both photography and video productions. It can capture up to 4K resolution video footage at a max frame rate of 30fps, 1080 Full HD resolution footage at up to 60fps, and 720 HD up to 120fps. It is a much lighter camera than the C100 Mark II; so the 5D Mark IV is typically the camera we prefer to use on our motorized 3-axis gimbal stabilizer or other handheld stabilization systems where weight can be an issue.
There are two file storage card options on the Canon 5D Mk IV. It has a standard SD card slot and a CFast card slot. A CFast card is a memory card which offers high write speeds. You need this extra speed when recording the large 4K video files. Most standard SD cards can't write files fast enough to keep up with the 4K footage recording. If your card is too slow, the buffer will fill up and the camera will automatically stop recording. Using a CFast card when recording in 4K will help prevent that from happening.
This is also a great still photography camera, producing 6744 x 4502 RAW image files. The camera has built-in intervalometer functions in the settings. This lets you set it to automatically take still a photo repeatedly at a set interval you select. It makes shooting a timelapse very easy and convenient.
Like the C100 Mk II, the 5D Mk IV is equipped with Canon's dual-pixel auto focus system and can auto focus during video recording. Newer versions of the 5D Mark IV come with Canon's C-Log color space option which is really helpful for giving your footage that cinematic look in post-production through color correction. If you purchased one that was made before the addition of the C-Log feature, you can send your 5D Mark IV to Canon and have it installed for a small fee plus the shipping costs.
The GoPro HERO 10 may be small in size, but it offers very big capabilities. It can capture video in resolutions up to 5.3K and can record 60 frames per second (fps) at max resolution. This means you can capture slow motion 5.3K video. At 4K resolution, it can record 120fps slow motion. Resolutions below 4K have the option to record slow motion video at 240fps. That's about 8 times slower than real life when played back at 24fps in post-production.
If you had an early-generation GoPro camera and weren't impressed by it's performance, newer models like the HERO 10 will change your mind. With the right settings, this camera can produce very beautiful and cinematic shots. We regularly use it in production alongside cameras like our 5D MKIV and C100 MKII.
Along with video the GoPro HERO 10 can capture timelapses, hyperlapses, and photos, all with very high quality. It also has timelapse features specifically built for night timelapses. This is great if you want to capture a starry night sky in timelapse format or other nighttime scenes. Photos can be captured as standard JPEGs or you have the option to capture RAW images as well.
GoPros are traditionally action cameras and they have all the functionality you would expect from one. This includes video stabilization. The HERO 10 offers GoPro's unique "Hypersmooth 4.0" stabilization system. It does an outstanding job of stabilizing even the shakiest shots. GoPros are also known for being very rugged cameras. The HERO 10 is no acceptation. It is waterproof, dust-proof, and shock resistant. It will also automatically switch between microphones to compensate for wind noise. This feature can be bypassed if desired though, or you can set the camera save raw audio files.
The HERO 10 is able to accept external attachments, such as a microphone attachment, extended battery, and a light attachment. We don't use any of these on ours at this time. It is nice to have the ability to if needed though.
This is the latest addition to our studio as of the time of writing this article. The DJI Mavic 3 CINE is a very powerful camera drone. It films in resolutions up to 5.1K. In slow-motion mode, it can capture 4K video at 120fps. A recent update added the ability to film up to 200fps in 1920x1080 resolution.
The Mavic 3 CINE also features DJI's D-Log color profile for flat recording. Though even in the normal profile, this drone captures colors very accurately. Footage can be recorded to a mirco SD card or directly to a 1TB SSD drive built into the drone itself.
The primary reason for having a built-in SSD drive is to support one of the highlight features of the Mavic 3 CINE. That feature is RAW video recording in ProRes format. Having the ability to film RAW video will be a huge plus for any filmmaker or videographer. Recording footage in RAW format will create huge files though, with even a few minutes worth of footage being close to or above 100 gigabytes. Therefore, it's best to spilt your footage into shorter takes if you plan on filming in RAW.
If you prefer to keep the file size smaller, you can also record high quality footage with HVEC or H.264 encoding.
Photos can be shot in RAW and JPEG format on the Mavic 3. It includes several photo modes. We make great use of the auto exposure bracketing (AEB) mode for shooting HDR photos. You can also use a timed photo mode to capture timelapses, or shoot them as hyperlapses under the video settings. It can also shoot various panoramic shots and stitch them together for you automatically.
These are the primary production cameras we're using right now in 2022! We'll post new blogs as we upgrade and get new cameras over the future years. If you'd like to know about more of our equipment, such as what motion control or stabilization systems we use, let us know in the comments!
If you're interested in any of these cameras, check them out at the links provided for each one. If you decide to purchase any of them, you'll be helping to support our work, because we'll receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Thanks for reading! We encourage you to check out more of our blog posts for additional production tips, advice, and lessons! See some of our related posts below.
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