04 Mar 2013

How to make an HD camera rig for less than $3K - including the camera!

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Self-made modular HD camera system Self-made modular HD camera system Craig Marshall


Over the past year, I’ve been assembling a great little modular HD video camera which can be used on a tripod, on your shoulder or stripped down for light weight ‘run-n-gun’ applications. It suits both high end ‘pro-sumer’ as well as ‘professional’ HD video applications and I’d like to now share my results with you. A special project report from RedShark contributor Craig Marshall.

My budget was limited to less than $3K total as beyond that figure, the market opens up to include the BMD Cinema and Digital Bolex cameras. Depending on your audience, both of these have potentially greater merit but may suffer substantially increased operating costs over my solution, especially if you venture into the world of DNG digital negative.

My background is as a video professional. Prior to retirement, my work consisted mostly of broadcast TV commercial production. Among some well known clients, I shot and edited every Toyota commercial in a developing South Pacific country for nearly ten years. Later, I became the Australian National Sales Executive for Fujinon broadcast lenses. Now before you rush off and claim I harbour any bias toward Sony gear, I’ll dispute this by stating that when I used to shoot and edit with broadcast quality Betacam SP equipment, I never really liked the ‘look’ of Sony cameras. Instead, I equipped my independently financed production facility with Ikegami broadcast cameras mated to Sony Betacam SP Recorders and fitted Canon and/or Fujinon ‘broadcast’ ENG lenses. (not the similar but inferior ‘professional’ versions) I sourced all these different brand components from around the world, assembled them together ‘in house’ and fine-tuned them to produce pictures which looked great on the country’s National television broadcasts. Trust me on this, I know a good looking picture when I see one.


NEX VG20 16-50mm run-n-gun 3

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Craig Marshall

Retired freelance TV commercial and documentory producer/director/camera/editor

Website: www.HDvideo4K.com

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