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Best setup for filming food

1462 Views 12 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  bernhtp
Good morning,

I am new to this forum as of today. I did some searching and couldn't find any recent posts related so ...

I'm looking for a setup where I can shoot food dishes "food network" style.

I don't even know the first thing about cameras. I would like the video to look as real as it does on food network with eye-popping color and clarity.

I know I'm going to need some good soft lighting sources but I don't know anything about cameras so I was hoping someone could recommend the best bang for the buck. I will then rent that setup to make sure it works for me and if so purchase. My budget is below $3K but the lower the better of course.

I'll be shooting indoors, and the dishes will be shot up closes (within 2-3 feet of the dish). there will be not fast action, no sounds requirements, and hardly any change in focus or zoom during the shooting. The camera will basically sit still while the dish rotates on a platform. It's about as simple as it can get. I can do a drop cloth underneath for a soft background if recommended.

What's really important is the color and the experience that's as if you're actually there looking at the dish. I figure once I can get the setup right it'll be dummy proof and I can do it a hundred times.

I really appreciate any pointers as to which camera to look at and what other items I might need (type of lens, etc)

Thank you
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Saw the AX2000 today from Sony. The guy raved about it at the store. I can't imagine that I need to spend $3500 for my needs ... Any thoughts?
As for camcorder the Panasonic TM700 is the consumer Camcorder this year, it is one of the cheaper high-ends as well at under 800 USD. If you want the shallow depth of field (out of focus back ground) you may look into DSLR camera's like the Canon 550D (rebel in the US) or 7D or whatever is the current cam du jour.

For bright colours do you really want softlights? Not well spread (reflected?) big bright light?
I can think of 2 words to describe the AX2000. Rip off!

For $2,795 (at B&H), you can get the HMC150 which adds 720 60p and native 1080 24p.

The AX2000 only does 1080 60i and 1080 24p within 24p.

Originally Posted by donaldk /forum/post/19606246

As for camcorder the Panasonic TM700 is the consumer Camcorder this year, it is one of the cheaper high-ends as well at under 800 USD.

yes..the tm700 is a great cam. But doesn't it have a issue when pointing downwards at certain angles? I would think that issue might come into play with what the op wishes to do?
Since food doesn't move much, is normally shot from a tripod, light and settings are typically constant, it benefits from shallow depth-of-field effects, and shots are fairly tightly scripted and staged, I would think this would be a compelling application for DLSR video where the better usability/ease of camcorders is not as applicable. If you agree with this understanding, the Panasonic GH2 is an inexpensive model that produces great results. See this thread: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1293369
Are you needing video or just still images? Since food doesn't move much. Except on fear factor and survivor.

You're probably better off investing in lights and stuff. I wouldn't plan on being that close to the food, you'll cast shadows on it with the gear. Use the zoom luke... use the zoom.

If you just need still images to be converted to video, a canon S95 might do you. And a couple work lights with matching bulbs.

Originally Posted by trez63 /forum/post/19605201

Saw the AX2000 today from Sony. The guy raved about it at the store. I can't imagine that I need to spend $3500 for my needs ... Any thoughts?

This camera (and the HMC150 as well) is about 3 stops faster than say the TM700. So, either you use lots of light and consumer cam, or you can get away with fewer lights. For your particular case, more lights and a consumer cam seem to be a viable solution. Look into cool LED or fluorescent lights. They are more energy efficient and not as hot.
Thats guys. I'm going to look into the consumer cams more. I "borrowed" a Sony HDR-CX150 from Costco last night and did some experimentation. I think I need something just a tad bit better and a lot more lighting.

Lights seem to be a lot more expensive than I had imagined. Is there an economical way to get good lighting for this application? I see prices like $1000 for a 1' x 1' LED board that can do multiple temps and whatnot but man is that expensive. Looks like I can get an excellent consumer cam for $800. It seems almost silly to spend a lot more on lights but if there isn't an economical option then so be it.
Clamp on work lamps are like $10-$15 each. Put a 75W bulb in them and run like 4 of them to help fade the shadows. Some are rated to 250W bulbs, so the sky is the limit. The big bulbs are like $3-$5 each. Maybe some white linens to soften the light or reflect it from a surface. For basically $100 you should be able to set yourself up pretty good. As long as you have the wiring and power strips needed to run 400W+ out of one socket. And/or the extension cords needed to share the load across your fuse box. You can also get those 1000W halogen work lights with a stand from your local hardware store for $100-ish. It can add up since you generally can't get away with just one light. And you might need something that you can make directional for effect. And you have to rig it somewhere somehow. While taking care not to accidentally melt something useful or set something on fire.

For my DIY (paper) green screen I have a 60W ceiling fan light and 3x work lights. Clamping the work lights to the ceiling fan and book shelves and even some desktop mic stands with goosenecks. 2x work lights with 75W traditional bulbs, 1x with a 150W outdoor bulb. And I have a regular lamp with a quasi coffee table middle ($10 walmart BITD) that I run a 75W bulb in. So 5 lights for my bedroom. 2 of which are solely to light my green screen so the gaps between papers don't make hard to key shadows. And running all of them at once puts off a fair amount of heat.

You can get those white umbrella things for like $30-ish. The rigging for them, that's extra, but as long as you're not casting unwanted shadows you can ******* a lot of that. But once you start filtering the light, you need more wattage to get through the filter(s). Or get something like an Arri Alexa and use a glow stick. There's some impressive gear out there, but lots of ways to get by with less.
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Having something like an FH1 or TM700 that already has decent low light abilities helps a lot in keeping things more green / less wattage. LEDs can put out a lot of light without a lot of wattage or heat. But they're harder to find and more costly to own. If it's not something that you'll be doing often, you might look into renting. Pluses and minuses with not having to store gear that rarely gets used and other things.
How about Sony VG10? It also can produce a shallow DOF which would make your close up food videos really nice. It also has better ergonomics to shoot videos compared to dslr.
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