HOWTO BUY USED SAFELY
Pro video firms like CVP and Wex also have lots of used video cameras, but the leader in used video and stills kit is MPB, which has an easy-to-use website where you can buy kit, as well as sell your old gear to help fund your purchase. It has bases in the UK and US. If you fancy something really unusual and exotic, or picking up a bargain from a liquidation auction, some real gems often come up. One regular auction specialists is SAS, while European Valuations is about to host a huge auction of ex-rental pro video kit.
If you are a natural risk-taker, often you can get things at bargain prices via a private sale on eBay, Craigslist or social media. This is ’sold as seen’ and there is often little comeback if things go wrong. For professional filmmakers, it probably isn’t worth taking the risk. A far more sensible option is to go with a reputable dealer who can offer some sort of guarantee and has checked the kit for faults. That’s crucial, as most cinema cameras are used by professionals – who often baby their kit – rather than keen amateurs. Cinema cameras have a lifetime clock, so you can see how long it’s been used for, but DSLR and mirrorless cameras don’t. A record of howmany shutter actuations the camera has performed is often available, but that won’t be a useful guide for how long it’s been used to shoot video or whether a mirrorless camera has been used with its electronic shutter a lot. And of course, you need to be very careful that the sensor is unscratched. Reputable dealers like Park Cameras, Wilkinson Cameras and Camera World have a number of used DSLR and mirrorless cameras, many formerly owned by amateur stills photographers.
10 Sony A7 III
With the recent launch of the Sony A7S III, you might think we’d recommend buying the older Mark II version as a great used buy. But the A7S II uses five-year-old technology and is outperformed in pretty much every way by the newer Sony A7 III, which is a far more useful camera. For slightly more money than a used A7S II, an A7 III goes for about £1350/$1450, and is a better buy. If you’re thinking of buying an A7S II as purely a video tool, then the A7 III should make you ask tough questions about which to buy. The A7 III is a great camera for video use, with fantastic quality, resolution, tonal range, sharpness and colours. There are no waveforms or 10-bit internal recording, but the 24.2-megapixel A7 III shoots 4K at up to 30p and FHD at up to 120fps with Log and HDR options.
Some top UK used dealers: cameraworld.co.uk cliftoncameras.co.uk cvp.com eurovals.co.uk theflashcentre.com ffordes.com mpb.com parkcameras.com proav.com specialauctionservices.com srsmicrosystems.co.uk wexphotovideo.com wilkinson.co.uk
11 Sony FS5
The Mark II version of the Sony FS5 cinema camera has better colours, higher frame rates and a Raw external option. But the original Super 35 FS5 is now a bargain at about £2200/$2500. Though, another £500/$500 on top usually snares you one with the high frame rate and Raw firmware upgrade. So, you’ve almost got a Mark II version, but it costs a lot less money. The FS5 uses the Super 35 sensor of the big brother FS7 in a smaller body. The compromise is that the FS5’s internal codec is not as high quality as the FS7. But with a firmware upgrade, it can output Raw to an external monitor/recorder. So, it gives the same or even better quality as the FS7 in a cheaper and more portable package. On top of that, it can do 240fps, which is faster than the 180fps FS7.
ABOVE The Sony FS7 has been around for a few years now, but it’s still widely used for high-spec productions
12 Sony FS7
of XQDmemory cards. So, unless you are a regular HDR shooter, a used Sony FS7 is a great buy at about £4000/$4500. If you really want Raw out of it, you need an external recorder and Sony’s own XDCA extension unit, which costs an additional £1800/$2000. But there is a way around that outlay; you can often find these bundled with used FS7s for an additional £1000/$1000.
Just as Sony upgraded the FS5 to the Mark II version, the company also did the same with the successful FS7. The Mark II version has a rotating lens mount, Rec. 2020 colour space and variable ND filter, but the image quality and all the functions remain the same, such as 180fps continuous shooting in HD with no buffering, as well as 4K shooting to a pair
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