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Old May 24th, 2008, 10:55 PM   #1
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AVCHD vs. 3-chip

I know it's hard to compare different cameras, let alone different formats/chips, etc. But I've been really interested in these AVCHD cameras. I've been very happy with my very heavy XL2/mini35 rig but to be honest it seems like heavy/old tech. I shoot lots of still photo and love to use my oddball Nikons with my XL2.

I know it's apples and oranges in many ways but the bottom line... how do these new generation cameras stack up? I'll absolutely be doing my own tests to see but what's the CW on this? Is the XL2 replaceable by a compact camcorder?
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Old May 24th, 2008, 11:50 PM   #2
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Replace in what context?

I'm going to suggest that the image quality might very well be "better", obviously the resolution should be up a notch or two. Single CMOS can produce a very nice accurate color range...

Manual controls... well, good luck on that part.

I guess you'd really have to define what you're trying to do - the small AVCHD cams do an amazing job for their size and price point, and have some manual features of varying accessability...

Look around at some of the video shot with these micro monsters, it's definitely not "your father's video camera", and we've come a long way in a short few years.

Can you shoot "serious" video with them? I'd venture that many people are doing just that... Can they replace a much larger cam? Yes and no would be the correct answer.

I don't see a significant loss of image quality in many situations between my 1-2 year old 3CMOS FX7, the slightly older FX1 and Z1U (3CCD) I owned for a while and my little CX7 and SR11 (1 CMOS) - used properly, I can get great quality from the "little" cams under most circumstances. The FX7 is still a more controllable cam, but it doesn't get a lot of use because lugging it around all the time is silly next to one of the little ones. Low light the bigger cams do a bit better, but it's a relative thing. I'm not unhappy with what the small ones do, and I'll live with the limitations for the most part to have a cam at my fingertips.

I will say that the SR11 is "fun" to shoot with and edit - mixed with CX7's I can shoot multicam and have a project finished in no time flat, or do short videos quickly (almost before I would get around to transferring tapes...). It's a different vibe, and works for me, might not for someone else.

Hope that helps a bit... One nice thing is you can pick up one of these little "pocket rockets" for under a grand. It's a low price to find out if it works for YOU, and you can resell it for most of what you paid if you hate it!
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Old May 25th, 2008, 06:50 AM   #3
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I agree with Dave. Comparing my SR11 with my FX1 there is very little difference that may go to the SR11!!!!! In difficult lighting conditions the FX1 wins because there is more control and a little better low light performance. The 1920 x1080 SR11 picture has stunning depth to the image with the newer imager and DSP. Shot a dance show last week with my wife using the SR11 and I used the FX1 with my old SR7 as full stage cam. Images are beautiful from all three and really can't tell the difference other than one was wide one was mid and the other closeup. If Sony comes out with a camera with better manual controls I will get it. I would like independent gain control, shock less controls for aperture and gain, audio controls etc. But for the price these new cams are great. As a family cam they are very convenient being able to view clips easily, can't record over something you wanted to keep, logging software keeps by date time etc. The Sony software allows one to make an AVCHD or SD DVD, slow but convenient.
Josh the stills from the cams won't be up to the Nikon but they can be taken while shooting or with better resolution in still mode. Very acceptable.

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Old May 25th, 2008, 07:32 AM   #4
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I'll chime in to agree with both Dave and Ron. I've had the FX1 and FX7 and actually find my SR12 to produce videos with more depth than either. I think we've come a long way with single chip, high quality cams. I've seen numerous instances where a single chip cam can actually produce better colors than a 3-chip cam. The old '3-chips produce superior color' rule is out the window in my opinion. Sure, everything else being even, 3-chips will still rule, but you never find that scenario.

Smart engineering can produce amazing results with just one CMOS sensor.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 10:48 AM   #5
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The Panasonic SD9 is a 3-CCD cam with 1/6-inch sensors and a global shutter
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Old May 25th, 2008, 03:26 PM   #6
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I am going to mention that on the canons at least you can lock the exposure/gain or lack of gain and shutter, so if you are using a 35mm adapter and lens, you can lock it at wide open and the correct shutter speed for you and adjust focus and iris through the lens like you woudl normally. In this situation you will see a better image than a SD 3 chip camera, but you will notice locking the cameras exposure wide open at 0 gain gives you about 100-120iso equivalent, whereas the larger 3 chips are closer to 320-400 iso equivalent. That said if you have enough light the image quality is stunning from these little cameras.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 10:22 PM   #7
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Just have to be aware of CMOS rolling shutter issues..and if you can live with that - or avoid it - I think you might like these small cams.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 12:48 AM   #8
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"rolling shutter" or progressive exposure or whatever you want to call it is a non issue if you know it's there and control you camera moves as you really should anyway. It's disconcerting at first, and maybe even seems like a fatal flaw the first time you see a flash event bridge across frames... or notice verticals angled across the pan... or see the stretch/compression from too fast vertical movement...

I think that it's the CAMERA movement that is the crucial factor rather than the speed of the object - I'm sure there's a "physics 201" explanation for that, but it's sufficient to be aware that you need good camera technique to shoot HD...

As for the "dream camera", anyone else feel like a larger version of the SR11 sensor (maybe a 1/2 or 3x 1/3), similar electronics, and manual controls ala the FX7 would be a real knockout cam? Put a bigger lens to pull in more light and some control over the "auto" functions and I think it'd be a winner!
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Old May 26th, 2008, 07:37 AM   #9
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OH YEAH, DAVE. That would be a great camcorder. Too bad I already spent my money on the SR11. But if the price was low enough, I could sacrifice and get an updated "FX11".

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Old May 27th, 2008, 07:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
I think that it's the CAMERA movement that is the crucial factor rather than the speed of the object - I'm sure there's a "physics 201" explanation for that
Dave, I think the physics 101 explanation for that is simply that even a small amount of angular camera motion (panning) can generate the equivalent of very fast linear motion at a large distance, especially at high zoom ratios. What's even worse is that everything in the image is moving during a pan, so the rolling shutter artifacts are easier to see compared to a single moving object. If you do a great deal of shooting at outdoor sporting events and cannot avoid fast pans, you really might be better off with a CCD-based camcorder, but otherwise I agree that controlling camera motion will minimize artifacts.

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As for the "dream camera", anyone else feel like a larger version of the SR11 sensor (maybe a 1/2 or 3x 1/3), similar electronics, and manual controls ala the FX7 would be a real knockout cam? Put a bigger lens to pull in more light and some control over the "auto" functions and I think it'd be a winner!
I agree. I hope there will be an evolution in the consumer camcorder market similar to what is now occurring in still cameras - that is, modestly priced DSLR's are bringing larger sensors and better performance to the high end of the consumer digital camera market. They are a little bigger and heavier than the previous small-sensor "bridge" cameras, but most people are willing to accept that for the added performance.
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Old May 28th, 2008, 11:36 AM   #11
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As a complete newbie to AVCHD format, I can only go by my new camera, the Panasonic HDC-SD9. It's realy really small & so leight weight. Has 3CCD, doesn't like a poorly lit scene, but captures video so well on a SD card. It's replacing my ageing Panasonic MX300 3CCD Mini DV cam & makes the later look like something Noah invented when he first stepped off the ark!

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Old July 5th, 2008, 10:23 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by David Saraceno View Post
The Panasonic SD9 is a 3-CCD cam with 1/6-inch sensors and a global shutter
Just picked up this camera (when Circuit City was doing their $250 discount on it). LOVE IT!
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Old July 6th, 2008, 07:33 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Ken Ross View Post
Smart engineering can produce amazing results with just one CMOS sensor.
Yes it can! Of course, all CMOS chips aren't the same. Not only in size and number of pixels, but in technology. The new Pana with it's 1/6" chips and 1/2MB pixel count (although there are 3 chips) has gotten -- as expected -- a bad review. Canon with larger chips and megapixels -- does much better. In fact, even without EXMOR, it beats Sony at both sharpness and sensitivity.

But, as I've been researching Sony's EXMOR ClearVid CMOS chips one moves into a whole new more advanced level of CMOS technology. "It's not your father's CMOS anymore." Not only does an A/D per column lower noise -- the new 6:1:1 filter pattern increases sensitivity.

Sony’s ClearVid system delivers 4 extra Green samples using a 4x2 arrangement. Because the human eye is most sensitive to green, the extra samples of Green increase the sensitivity of CMOS chip. Using extra Green samples avoids infringing on a Kodak’s patented version of its own Bayer filter that uses panchromatic, i.e., clear filters in a 4x4 arrangement. The new filter system demands higher pixel counts which Sony delivers with a nearly 6 MP 4:3 chip that uses a 4MP 16:9 window for video.

I'd assume Sony has patents on both EXMOR and it's filter system -- so I'm not sure how JVC, and Panasonic will be able to match Sony's CMOS chips. JVC is free to buy from anybody -- including Sony as it has in the past. Pana may punt, not only because they may not have the CMOS technology, but because they can RIGHTLY point-out that CCDs do not have rolling shutter artifacts. (Not sure why they switched to CMOS on their consumer camcorder as staying with CCDs would have given them a unique advantage.)

I'm more and more impressed with the SR11. I've been working on HOW to push it further into "pro" use because I'm not sure Sony consumer will pop-out a $2500 "VX2100" version. And, if the Sony pro group does, they'll jack the price to the V1 level.

However, if Canon adds a VF then things may shift to Canon.
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Last edited by Steve Mullen; July 6th, 2008 at 09:09 PM.
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Old July 8th, 2008, 01:59 PM   #14
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(Not sure why they switched to CMOS on their consumer camcorder as staying with CCDs would have given them a unique advantage.)
In the consumer market, I would guess the main answer might be cost/performance. As you pointed out, the Panasonic SD9 has gotten poorer reviews than Sony and Canon, primarily because of its low light performance. For a given imager size, CMOS sensors seem to provide better low light performance, so their options are either increasing the size of their CCDs or switching to CMOS. Low light performance is much more in the minds of 99% of consumers than rolling shutter issues, so it may not be too bad of a tradeoff for Panasonic, marketing-wise.

What I wonder is why Panasonic (and JVC for that matter) doesn't experiment with single ship cameras in the consumer market space. They should be even cheaper to manufacture given the lack of the precision beam splitter, and while three chips in a consumer cam may have given a PQ advantage 10 years ago, that isn't the case today.

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However, if Canon adds a VF then things may shift to Canon.
I agree with this. For some of us who spend significant time filming outdoors, a VF is really a necessity since even the best autoexposure and focus don't always do what you want. It's nice that Sony has kept a VF with the SR cams and that Pana is putting one on the SD100. Hopefully Canon will see enough competitive pressure to put a VF on whatever follows the HF100.

Last edited by Dave Rosky; July 8th, 2008 at 02:31 PM.
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Old July 11th, 2008, 04:13 PM   #15
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Steve, as they say in French, "I didn't need no research paper to see how low the noise was on the new breed of Sonys". I've said on this forum from day one that no other consumer cam out there can match the virtually professional noise levels the SR12/11 can attain. I'll take a small hit in sharpness vs the Canon for a more professional looking image any day of the week.
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