In tough times, it’s difficult to splurge on brand-new kit, so we’ve picked 12 of the best used cameras right now
WORDS ADAM DUCKWORTH
T here is no denying we are in a golden age for video camera technology. Full-frame cameras, resolution up to 12K, internal Raw recording, advanced AF, fast frame rates, in-body image stabilisation and instant live streaming are just some of the advances in recent years. But of course, cameras that were the latest in high-tech wizardry a short time ago don’t suddenly lose the ability tomake great movies. As editor of Pro Moviemaker , I get to play with lots of the latest and greatest kit, but for my own work withmy own kit, it’s all been with previous-generation equipment at best. And I have had no complaints from clients –which is, of course, what it’s all about. With the global pandemic making it tougher than ever for many to have enough cash flow to justify new cameras, cheaper alternatives canmake sense. The most obvious of this is to buy your cameras used, then the original buyer will have suffered from the largest depreciation, especially on high-end kit. Of course, new equipment comes with warranties and you can claim the VAT back if you are registered, but it makes sense to check out the used kit. What a savvy filmmaker needs to do is consider what their kit absolutely must do, and not be tempted to overspend just to get the latest and greatest. Lots of filmmakers don’t need 4K, especially if your work is delivered in HD or for web or social media use. Shooting in 4K is good for cropping, if you are editing in 1080p or for future-proofing your content, but is it really essential? It’s the same for HDR workflow, Raw output, live streaming and super-slowmotion. Nice to have, but it might make little difference to your work and certainly might not be worth the expense right now.
ABOVE The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K isn’t too expensive new and is even more of a bargain buy when it’s used
1 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K may be overshadowed by the newer 6K version, which uses a larger Super 35 sensor instead of the Micro Four Thirds chip, but it’s scarily cheap, with used versions going for about £800/$1000. For that, you become the owner of a camera that can record DCI 4K in formats that include Raw, Apple ProRes, lossless Cinema DNG and Avid DNxHD. With a firmware update, it can shoot up to 80fps in 2.8K Raw for 4:3 anamorphic and 75fps in 4K Raw in 2.4:1 widescreen. For slow motion, it shoots 120fps in 2.6K, but there is a crop. The sensor is a Dual Native 400/ 3200 ISO unit that goes up to 25,600 ISO. It has a five-inch touchscreen and mini XLR inputs, and records to internal CFast 2.0 and AD cards or an external USB-C drive. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K really is very capable, albeit not really pocket-sized.
And by the time you factor in the extra cost of memory cards, SSD drives, hard disk space, new batteries and even new lenses, the cost of a camera is more than just the asking price of the body. There are lots of cameras on the used market, but some make far better buys than others. Of course, you can usually buy the very latest cameras used, too, but the savings often aren’t huge. When a manufacturer launches a newmodel, it oftenmeans there is an instant drop in price on the older versions of the camera, whichmakes it very attractive – especially if there isn’t a huge change in spec. Some cameras are still current, but may be overshadowed by more recent releases that make them a particular bargain used. Here, we name what we feel are the 12 best used interchangeable-lens cameras that make
“Don’t overspend to get the latest and greatest”
loads of sense for the filmmaker on a budget. In alphabetical order…
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