Cameras – There are many camera options available.
Film stock cameras of 35 and 16 Millimeter are still preferred over digital by many film makers. Remember though that this is visual art so getting the emotions of your actors can be done with any camera so keep honing your skills at getting good performances from your actors.
Lighting is always important for the best quality footage from all cameras. Instead of buying an expensive camera for a production, you may consider renting one. There are many companies that also offer crew with their equipment of course at an additional cost.
In my opinion, if there is debate over whether to use Film stock or digital for your project and you want to push this as a major motion film, unless you are using a Red, a Viper or a Sony F23, go with 35mm Film stock and use a good quality lens.
The main reason for this is that unless you are a director already established and with a reputation, using digital video may be considered “Not as Professional”. This is a stigma that video unfortunately still has, especially with people trying to break into the industry and who tend to only use video.
You’ve worked hard and done your best to make a film. If the 35MM project costs more to shoot then sell it for more when it’s finished. There are deals to get 35 film stock if you are a student. Get a student ID by enrolling in a community college.
Shoot in 35mm but do the cutting/editing in digital. You can get the 35 mm transferred to digital via a process called Telecine. If you still want to use digital video go with a good(The best you can afford) high definition camera. Right now my preference under 10,000 would be the Panasonic HVX 200A.
The Sony PMW EX1 is also getting very good reviews although the HVX200A is a bit more popular.
For you who are adamant about using digital video I will mention a couple of things about some high end digital video cameras. The camera that George Lucus used on Star Wars was a Sony HDW 900 modified by Panavision with a new lens and control. Sony came out later with the HDC 950 which was an improvement to the 900.
Currently, Sonys highest standard for shooting feature films with digital is the F23. Another two exciting digital cameras are the Red and the Viper. The Red is advertised to be the cheapest of the three and boasts to have the highest quality.
For the pro line of lower end camcorders you may consider a 35mm lens to give you a good depth of field. Because cameras go out of date so quickly, do to ever evolving technology, you may consider renting for a project.
From entry level up to high end cameras keep in mind that due to many people having access to large screens, high Definition (HD) is becoming the norm. Standard Definition can appear a bit grainy on these larger screens.