The problem most budget filmmaker/photographers face today is wanting a truly hybrid solution for both videos and photos that doesn't break the bank. My films and photos generally involve adventure and travel, so having a camera that is budget friendly, compact and produces quality images in both video and photo is key!
Lets talk about Micro 4/3's:
Micro 4/3's is a great system for filmmakers and offers a bunch of lens options. Cameras like the GH3,GH2,GH1,G6,G7,GX7,GM1 can all be had for under well under $1000, they all give you decent video performance but lack in the photography aspect of things. Smaller sensors and lower megapixels (only up to 16mp) don't make for the best photography cameras. I've owned the Panasonic GH3 and although it was a good camera, heres are some things about it that I liked and what I didn't like. The Good: High bitrates in MOV, 60p at 1080, headphone jack, weather sealed and great battery life! And heres whats not so good: No focus peaking, small sensor, bad lowlight performance, deeper depth of field and less than desirable photo quality. All of the Panasonic cameras have a mixture of these draw backs, for instance I could just get the Panasonic G6, its pretty cheap and has my much desired focus peaking feature, but I give up weather sealing, headphone jack and bitrate options. Thats why I'm not looking into buying another Micro 4/3 camera in the future.
(A quick side note is that I owned a Blackmagic pocket cinema camera for 3 months, I loved the codec, focus peaking, flat profile and RAW option but basically hated everything else. The really small sensor, crappy lowlight, horrible battery life, and cost of accessories needed just to make it work, was not worth it! Not to mention it cant take stills.)
Lets talk about Canon's:
Canon Cameras kickstarted the DSLR filmmaking revolution but over the last few years they've almost completely died off. You'll rarely see filmmakers shooting documentaries or weddings using canon dslr's anymore, and that mostly due to the poor image quality (compared to the competition) and the lack of features (again, compared to the competition). The last canon camera I've owned was the little eos-m, and it was good for what it was, a compact super 35mm sensor camera with a mic jack and focus peaking (thanks to magic lantern) and 18mp photos. But at the end of the day you're still just getting basic 7D/t4i looking footage thats really just "OK" and not on the same level as the competition.
And then there's Sony:
I'll just come out and say it, I've really disliked Sony for a really long time! At least as far as there sub $1200 camera market. The way Sony cameras reproduce color, the horrid menu's and they're lack of any mic jack or audio features have always made me think of Sony as the "tourist brand". That being said, when Philip bloom and Andrew Reid started talking about the inexpensive Sony A6000, and had lots of good to say about it, I got very interested. Sony mirrorless cameras like the NEX line up have had "okay" image quality with not so good codecs, mostly AVCHD. They almost always lack a mic jack, headphone jack and any kind of LOG or flat profile. The A6000 is no exception, but its image quality is actually really good! For photos its boasting a crazy 11fps and 24mp sensor with stupid good autofocus! For video its giving us 1080p at 24p, 30p and 60p. Up until recently it was only spitting out AVCHD at 24mbs, which as we all know is a pretty crappy codec if you wanna do any kind of grading and it also is a bit harder to edit with, but a few months back Sony did us a solid and gave us a firmware upgrade which lets you shoot in XAVC-s, a much more robust codec that clocks in at 50mbs instead of the 24mbs that AVCHD gave us. That was a huge improvement to me and is making me seriously consider getting that camera, especially now that it can be had for around $400! The good about the A6000: Super 35mm sensor, great image quality, decent codec, versatile lens mount, ergonomic body, great for stills! The bad: No mic jack, no headphone jack, known to overheat, not weather sealed and no flat profile.
Its true there is no perfect camera for us lower budget filmamker/photographers, but I think it comes down to what you wanna compromise on. For me the A6000 looks like a promising investment, it would be my first Sony since my handycam days and if the new A6100 or A7000 fixed the issues that the A6000 has, then investing in the Sony system might be the way to go, especially since they are already dominating the pro $2500 and above market!
Thanks for reading!
- Nigel Barros