I hate buying new gear. Wait, let me say this with a bit more information: I hate buying needed gear, expensive gear. Case in point, I need a new video camera, or do I?
The sad thing about video cameras, or any pro use camera that shoots FHD footage is that there isn't any two cameras that you can put next to each other to see which is better in its absolute. Ultimately, each and every camera falls short somewhere. Take my short list, the new GH4 and the older C100. Two very good cameras, for what they do. Is there another camera you can put next to the GH4? Yes, I think the still coming Sony A7S is one, but then that camera doesn't shoot 4K internally? Something you can put next the the C100? Certainly, the C300, but the C300 is heavier and costs three times as much.
It all comes down to which comprises you can live with, and which the project cannot live with. This raises the advise of always, at least, renting a camera before you buy it, or just renting a camera outright. However, many of use freelancers really are in no position to rent before or during, we need to buy at least one, if not two capable cameras that can do a fit within a wide variety of situation. Cameras seem to stand on three legs when it comes to features:
- Feature range
The reason there exists no perfect camera is because there is no amount of money in the world th.at will allow a manufacturer to design a camera in reasonable time to fit your single project needs perfectly, thus compromises are made in ergonomics, feature range and cost. Increase the cost then you likely get better ergonomics and better features. Narrow the feature range and the cost can either go up or down, as well as the ergonomics.
The C100 is a great camera for the event and documentary shooter. Ad to it the Atomos Ninja 2 and you can provide footage to the BBC, given the production is any good of course. Great in low light, Ergonomics, well using a video camera with all the bells and whistles that gets you to get on with capturing the story is just amazing. But then there is one thing that annoys me, especially if this is for the docu-shooter, why the HELL is this C100 not weather sealed?
Case in point, my GH2. I've shot a few events that got dust or dirt in the LCD screen articulation joint. My attempts to clean it didn't help since one day, the image stopped flipping right side up if I flip the screen upside down. GREAT! Not unusable, but annoying.
The GH4, awesome little camera but honestly, I haven't even really shot on a proper video camera and some things about shooting with a DSLR really annoys me.
Ultimately, given my intended career path, projects that are on their way, I have to think a bit longer term, about 18 to 24 months into the future and make a decision based on that since I just can't afford both cameras, but I intend to use either one for the same variation in projects.
There is a lot going for the GH4 that makes it a great camera as my upgrade, but there are a few very strong points that makes the C100 the preferred choice. Have I decided, not even close. My only remaining course of action, and I suppose this is what you learn when you are a freelancer, is to make a list of all the features of both cameras, then decide, given my intended work flow, and possibly some not so intended but likely, which features will allow me to grow my business which in turn will allow me to get the 2nd on the list camera, if it hasn't already been bettered by a new model 6 months down the line.
See the divide between consumer orientated gear and pro gear is a bit wider since the delivery is a bit different and the situations the cameras find themselves in are a bit different. You can do great things with each in either field, but it is about the daily grind, which will make your life easier and still get the job done.
Be it the GH4 or the C100, the last thing I want, which is more important, is having bought which ever camera and thinking, I lost that project, the project that takes me closer to where I want to go, cause I bought the wrong camera.
In life, there is a big difference between our wants and our needs, but there is the same big difference between our needs and our "cannot live without".
And here I thought talking about it would help. Darn it!