Dude, There is No Perfect Camera

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With the end of the year fast approaching I'm sure there's plenty of working filmmakers just like me who are ready to spend a few bucks on some gear (if for no other reason than to not give that money right to the government in taxes.)

That's why it's at this time of the year more than any other that I see filmmakers posting on forums and twitter that age old question: 

WHAT CAMERA SHOULD I BUY?

Unfortunately, the majority of those asking this question only have one prerequisite: I have x amount of dollars to spend.

Fanboys will immediately jump all over this opportunity to plug their favorite brands:

"Dude, you should get an a7sII - it can see in the dark!"

Cats can see in the dark too, and they're a whole lot cheaper than an a7sII. As a matter of fact, if all your planning on doing with your a7sII is trying to see what you can shoot in the dark, I highly doubt I or anyone else is really interested in watching.

"Dude, you gotta get the Blackmagic URSA Mini, but make sure it's the 4.6k and not the 4k cuz the 4k has  fixed-pattern noise."

Dude, that camera is not even out yet. How can you recommend it?

The problem with the question of what camera to buy is that you need to explain what you plan on doing with that camera and what's important to you. Are you making docs or narrative? Do you light your work or just shoot with what's available? And what's important to you in a camera - if you're reading this I'm assuming you're a filmmaker and you know about the myriad of things we can ponder over from brand to sensor size to codec to 4K to slow motion. 

There are a lot of people who will tell you what camera to buy based on specs. At wolfcrow.com, there are an amazing amount of camera comparisons that are meticulously charted with specs from all sorts of current cameras. You can pour over the cost analysis he does of how much media will cost you per hour and how much battery life you can expect. 

That's all well and good and is most certainly helpful for people who love to pour over spec sheets. But my clients don't understand camera spec sheets and they frankly don't give a shit. They want a well presented video, that looks and sounds good, and has a story. That's something that can be achieved with any camera if you have the talent, but if you don't, then you can own an Arri Alexa and still make steaming crap.

You don't have to agree with my opinion, but I'm sure we can all agree that there is no perfect camera.

*Just so no one yells at me, I have absoultely nothing against the Sony a7sII or any Blackmagic camera. Since I started making films in 2001 I've only owned Canon and Panasonic cameras, but if I were in the market today, which I am, I would give either of those cameras a go.