But it just looks so shiny
June 4, 2013 4:19 AM   Subscribe

I need a new phone. I also want to start getting into filmmaking. I happened to stumble across the Nokia 808 Pureview, which looks like it covers both criteria, and is pretty awesome to boot! But my more tech-savvy friend said that the phone itself wasn't great, and I might as well get a separate phone and camera. You may assume (quite rightly) that I have next to no knowledge of technology. Please advise this total noob on what to get :)

I'd pretty much be using the phone for SMS, calls, Facebooking, and that really addictive Candy Crush game. My friend said that once I get a smartphone I'll definitely end up getting into more of its capabilities, so I'll want something top-end like the Galaxy S4. Is this true?

As for filming, I know the best thing for me to start is to mess around with a cheap camera (even the one on a smartphone), but the perfectionist in me wants to invest in a really good camera, so I only have to buy something once. If I end up making short films I want them to have a cinematic feel and be of the highest quality possible. But unfortunately, my limited student budget won't be able to afford much. I don't know, am I just jumping the gun here?

TL;DR I felt like the Nokia 808 combination of great camera + workable smartphone was perfect for me (and it's pretty cheap too). But if it's advisable to get separate gadgets, what what would you recommend I buy? (For cameras my budget would be <$500).

I'm in Australia, if that changes anything.
posted by cucumber patch to Technology (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you want to get into film-making, then you do it by making films with whatever you have to hand, not by obsessing over technological choices.

That said, if you want to make films on the cheap, you're probably better off picking up a second hand SLR with decent film capability than using a phone camera. (The 'highest quality possible' is way out of your budget). The best quality you can achieve within your budget is always going to be with a full-size camera with a suitable lens, not a smartphone camera, with it's small sensor & lens.

On the other hand, I'm sure there are people out there who have made fantastic short films with their smartphone cameras: they just explored the limitations of the technology and worked within them to tell the story they wanted to tell. Do you have stories you want to film? In that case get on it, and quit waiting for the right bit of technology, because there's always something better out there.
posted by pharm at 4:36 AM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

When you're getting started with any kind of creative work, from writing to photography to music making, spend the least amount of money you can to get started until you know exactly what you want and why.

It'll probably take you a year or so of experimentation and learning the ropes until you figure that out.
posted by empath at 4:45 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

The 808 runs on Symbian which does not have Candy Crush, neither does Windows Phone 8 (the other OS mostly likely to be found on Nokia phones).

This list highlights, more or less, the phones with the best cameras at the moment. (The prices are off-contract.) I think it undervalues the HTC One (and many more reviewers think it's just as good as the Samsung, if not better). And the Iphone is due for a refresh very soon. So, if you are tempted by that hold off for a bit.

Nokia has been working very hard to produce good phones with very good cameras, and if that's the only/main concern you'll definitely want to give them a good look. That said, WP8 doesn't have as many apps as Android or iPhone. So there is a trade-off. But WP8 is gaining market share (it's a very distant 3rd place right now), so in a year or two the situation might not be too bad. (The 920 isn't actually the latest Nokia phone, look for the 928.)

I might suggest using the 30-day return window policy. Try out a WP8 phone and if the lack of apps bothers you get one of the other more popular phones.
posted by oddman at 4:57 AM on June 4, 2013

Why don't you just buy a used camcorder? A zoom lens seems important.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:05 AM on June 4, 2013

I would look at it this way:

You need a new phone. Get a phone with a good camera so you can dick around and find out if you actually are into the filming you think you want to get into.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:12 AM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you're going to be at all serious about filmmaking, you're going to want something more robust than is currently offered on any phone. For one thing, you want its functions to work now, and even the fastest smartphones are noticeably slower to respond to commands than even relatively old digital cameras. Further, digital video takes up a lot of space. Most smartphones only have a few dozen gigs of storage, and you'll easily fill that up quickly. You'll want something designed to offload and transfer lots of data on a regular basis, and smartphones aren't really for that. Flipping out sim cards is far more of a production with a phone than any camera.

Get yourself a phone, if you need one. Then drop a few dozen bucks on a used digital camcorder. Right tool for the job.
posted by valkyryn at 5:17 AM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

2nd'ing used digital camcorder. You won't get close to "cinematic" quality for anything less than $1000+ (when all told with accessories you need) anyway.
Technological limitations can force you to be more creative and test your commitment to learning the medium (while saving a little money)!
posted by starman at 5:34 AM on June 4, 2013

Get a phone, but only for phone stuff. Even the best phone is going to be very clumsy for actually making a film.

I would skip the camcorder too. The lenses tend to be pretty cruddy, and they always look like home movies.

Your cheapest bet for something that you could make nice looking film with, i think, would be to pick up a used Canon Rebel T2i or T3i (600D i think in .au) and a 50mm 1.8 lens.. Both will shoot in 1080p, though the articulating screen on the T3i is a nice upgrade for video. You should be able to to get the camera and a lens for <>

I would for sure spend the time to write my first couple film projects before I went and spent the money on gear though. The tech toys are the fun bit (for me anyway), actually creating a story or a project is the real work you should wrap your brain around first.
posted by Sleddog_Afterburn at 10:10 AM on June 4, 2013

Get a separate camera for film making.

If you're not a tech junkie, you can probably skimp on getting the top of the line smartphone. A slightly older Samsung Galaxy or an iPhone 3GS should be good enough for your needs for a lot less money.
posted by sockpuppetdirect at 1:16 PM on June 4, 2013

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