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Old August 9th, 2008, 11:57 AM   #1
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Sony SR12 or Canon HF10?

I'm looking at up (down) grading from my VX2100 to a smaller HD unit. I don't really do any pro work with my setup and it's all getting a bit of a burden carrying it around now that my primary useage has changed. Smaller now is the key factor, as well as HD, as well as budget.

Tapeless appeals more and more to me each day, I'd love not to have to capture. These are the two models I'm looking at. My main concern is the low light quality. Because of the consumer category of both cameras (my understanding) they won't be as good as the vx2100, but are they acceptable?

The biggest put-off with the SR12 is that (again my understanding) it has no controls to alter shutter and aperture priority, which I'd like to be able to do, I like to have some control. Or is this really important?

I know that the Sony has a bigger hard disk in it and the Canon is flash and card based, but 32gb (dual 16gb) at a time with upgrades via cards is acceptable, as I never really need more than 4 hours when shooting in a day anyway, and my laptop is almost always with me.

Trouble is, my local camera shop has to order in both models for me to look at, requiring a deposit which I'm not prepared to do; so what is the feel of the cameras like? do they feel well built, or are they cheap plasticy with small fiddley knobs and buttons?

So, which shall it be. I've finally convinced myself to sell all my gear and go with one of these two. Please if someone can aid my decision I'd be most grateful. I'm not really in a position to buy outright for a test without selling my vx so if I make the wrong decision I'd be without.

Thanks fine people!

Regards,

Russ
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Old August 9th, 2008, 12:24 PM   #2
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Codec editing capability and raw footage storage are issues you also have to be concerned about. I have shot both, and there is something safe about knowing you have tape to back up what's on your hard drives. If you are not going to be dedicated to storing and updating digital storage devices, you might want to consider staying with tape.

I have the HV20. It does not get close to my VX2000 in light gathering capability, but it is way ahead in image quaility. You are just going to have to deal with lighting up a shot more....
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Old August 9th, 2008, 12:44 PM   #3
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Cheers Chris.
Don't know if I've wasted anyone's time but I've just found the HV30 and rather like it. Will it do what I want in terms of control and image quality?

I didn't mention before that I make short films and wildlife. Nothing more than for myself. I can't afford to get a HD prosumer camera, and the HV30 looks like it will tick all my boxes.
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Old August 9th, 2008, 01:58 PM   #4
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As Chris mentioned, an HV20 (HV30 or any other consumer HD camera) is not going to even come close to offering the same kind of low light performance as a VX2100.

As far as manual control, consumer cameras are pretty weak there too, although you can control exposure and gain with the Canons in a round about way. I don't know about the Sonys.
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Old August 9th, 2008, 05:41 PM   #5
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Russ -
Low light is relative, the SR11/12 is not going to be up to your current cam, but it's not terrible, same goes for HC9 or HV20 (if you end up prefering tape). ANY of the small cams are going to have limited controls, I think the HC9 has a bit more, buried in the menus though...

This is the challenge that everyone is facing - buy a "consumer" cam with a lot of automatic functions that work "mostly good", but you've got little control, or spend a bundle to get the control, and a lareger form factor.

The accolades will go to the first manufacturer that gives basic manual control in one of these "handy" cams... The form factor is great for so many uses, and the quality is pretty amazing when you consider the price and size, but EVERYONE around here would love to see just a tad more control...

All compromises aside, I'm getting good results with the SR11, tapeless is great, and I'm learning how to squeeze a bit more out of the camera than it was designed for...

One thing you might want to consider doing is going to the manufacturers web sites and downloading the manuals for any camera you're considering - while not the same as "hands on", you can at least find out what features are (or are not) on a specific camera. That may help...
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Old August 9th, 2008, 10:10 PM   #6
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Just came back from a baloon festival on L.I. I shot some footage at dusk and semi-dark using twilight mode and saw virtually no noise in the video. So the SR12 really isn't too bad in low light, especially for an HD cam. But since I've got a VX2000 & VX2100, I can attest that it certainly isn't in that league, but really not bad at all when compared to other HD cams.
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Old August 9th, 2008, 10:41 PM   #7
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I'm experimenting this weekend with an HF100 (same as HF10 but with no internal memory) and SR12.

Extra settings on the HF100, like Tv mode and Cinemode, are nice to have. The autofocus is superior to that on the SR12 -- it's really impressive, fast and accurate. The Canon has phenomenal close-up (macro) ability, which the SR12 has so far not been able to match.

On the other hand, the SR12 has significantly better color accuracy. I have to pay careful attention to white balance with the HF100. With the SR12 I wouldn't even bother except that I'm testing it. I wonder what Sony knows that Canon doesn't, or does Canon just really like blue? :) The Sony also has neat extras like 3 seconds of slow-motion, a little dial for manual focus & exposure (better than the Canon's joystick), and zebra striping.

And of course the SR12 has a viewfinder. I've used the HF100 at the beach on a couple of sunny days, and did not have any trouble seeing how the shot was framed, but it can be tough to tell how the colors and exposure are doing.

Both cameras feel pretty good once you get used to the tiny size. Sony's zoom has better action. I find the Canon more comfortable overall but it's close.

I'm probably going to stick with the HF100 because I'm already used to it and I can live with the color differences most of the time. As long as I remember to change the white balance I can get it pretty close. I expect to have to color-correct some of it.

Is there anything specific you want to know? I'm going to be playing with both of them tomorrow.

I've never used a professional camera. Don't know if that describes the VX2100 or not. But I do know that cameras of this size have limits. Their images look way better if you're focused on a subject with a short DOF -- background blurry, or even blown out. Anything to give the compression an easy choice about which bits to throw away, so it can spend most of the bitstream on a limited part of the picture. If you zoom out and go for the panoramic scenery shot, where everything has equal priority, the picture quality degradation is noticable. Same is probably true for the HV20/30, maybe not quite as much.
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Old August 9th, 2008, 10:41 PM   #8
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I shot some footage at dusk and semi-dark using twilight mode and saw virtually no noise in the video. So the SR12 really isn't too bad in low light, especially for an HD cam.
Ken makes a good point. There is camera sensitivity and camera noise. The SR12 is a VERY quiet camcorder. The picture will be darker than the VX series -- but it will LOOK GOOD. And, if you can use a LitePanel -- now only about $350 -- you may find it workable.

PS: If you go to the "other" major review site you'll see a constant stream of comments slamming the lack of controls.

My hope is that JVC has actually read several years of positive comments on the HD7 controls, focus ring, and Fujinon lens. They now seem to be using a last generation 4x4 Bayer Clearvid from Sony. And, they have the wonderful 30Mbps VBR MPEG-2 and AVCHD codec. If they want, they could update the HD7.

I also suspect the pro division will release a a handheld using Sony's 3ClearVid chips. Essentially a harddisk/SD card version of the V1.
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Old August 10th, 2008, 09:59 AM   #9
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On the other hand, the SR12 has significantly better color accuracy. I have to pay careful attention to white balance with the HF100. With the SR12 I wouldn't even bother except that I'm testing it. I wonder what Sony knows that Canon doesn't, or does Canon just really like blue? :) The Sony also has neat extras like 3 seconds of slow-motion, a little dial for manual focus & exposure (better than the Canon's joystick), and zebra striping.
Rich, nice comparison and I agree with most of your points. However I really don't think the color balance of the HF10/100 is a Canon design philosophy. Having had both the HV10 and HV20, I never saw color errors of the magnitude seen in the HF10/100. Yes, I certainly got the occasional magenta sky with both the HV10 & HV20, but it didn't happen with a high enough degree of frequency that I found it bothersome. More importantly, other colors didn't look 'odd' and the overall color balance was such that it rarely called attention to itself.

I'm hoping that Canon corrects this in the HF11. The clips I've seen thus far look promising, but we'll see when the camera hits the stores.

The other issue for me with the HF10/100 is that of dynamic range. It tends to blow out highlights too quickly. This too was something I didn't see with the HV10 & HV20. So hopefully the greater bitrate will give Canon the ability to provide a greater dynamic range. We shall see.

Hey, and how about an HF12 with a viewfinder!!!! :)
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Old August 10th, 2008, 01:52 PM   #10
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All good stuff, lots of pointers to the pro's and con's.

Is it too much to want a camera with some degree of manual controls in a small package and budget? While at the end of the day all I want to do now is to shoot good general video without having to worry about carrying round a huge bag of tricks and drawing attention to myself in the process...

The HV30 looks the promising contender, I'm reading alot into AVCHD editing and (thanks to Steve Mullen) told me a spec of PC I'd need to comfortably edit with. Which I don't have and can't really afford either.

So, alas, Tape is will be for at least the next couple of years, until AVCHD becomes less troublesome or quad-core machines enter my budget.

Thanks

Russ
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Old August 10th, 2008, 04:14 PM   #11
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Which I don't have and can't really afford either.
Russ
Today I'm going to try editing AVCHD with the Sony VAIO that has a 2.5GHz DUAL core. (Thank you Ken -- this VAIO is way beyond the chunky VAIO I had a decade ago. And, Vista is fine! IMHO the anti PC, anti Vista bias is nonsense. Mac owners, which I am, really need to stop bashing something they have no CURRENT experience with. (I even have Avid Express Pro running in XP compatibility mode.)

I wonder if Media Composer will also run,

In a few days I should be able to post some numbers.
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Old August 10th, 2008, 04:16 PM   #12
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Russ -

You can edit AVCHD on a dual core, renders just take forever... haven't rendered out on my Q6600 yet, but already can see the diff on the timeline, so looking forward to checking out render speeds... Frankly a dual core is a bit "slow" even with HDV, but you can manage if you're patient. Speed is relative, you just need enough to allow reasonably smooth editing. Renders, just press the button, let it run overnight...


Yes, according to the manufacturers, it IS to much to ask for a bit of manual control... sigh.

I was playing with my FX7 for a bit, torn on whether to keep or sell it. As I fiddled with the settings and realized how easy the cam was to control, I was looking at an SR11... I'm thrilled with the image quality from the SR11, no doubt about that whatsoever (I think it might even be a bit "better" than the FX7 being a generation later), and tapeless is SOOOO much simpler for me, but DANG, I'm about ready to go out in the shop and try to figure out a way to Frankenstein these two cameras together!!!! I want small size (within reason), but please give me some access to the controls I know have to be in there for the camera to function - all I need is an interface, Scotty!!!

I can SEE the camera in my mind, I can SEE the necessary configuration and components, and it's obvious from these boards the market is there... sigh...
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Old August 10th, 2008, 05:16 PM   #13
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Today I'm going to try editing AVCHD with the Sony VAIO that has a 2.5GHz DUAL core. (Thank you Ken -- this VAIO is way beyond the chunky VAIO I had a decade ago. And, Vista is fine! IMHO the anti PC, anti Vista bias is nonsense. Mac owners, which I am, really need to stop bashing something they have no CURRENT experience with. (I even have Avid Express Pro running in XP compatibility mode.)

I wonder if Media Composer will also run,

In a few days I should be able to post some numbers.
Couldn't agree more Steve! My new Sony 2.4 gig dual core running Vista, at least from a playback standpoint, is very buttery. I find getting smooth playback of AVCHD is challenging for many computers and the 2.4 certainly does that job. I haven't done any real AVCHD editing, so I don't know how render times, layers etc. do with a setup like mine. I suspect multiple video layers won't do too well and I know render times will be longish. Your 2.5 should be just a bit better.
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Old August 17th, 2008, 03:47 AM   #14
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All,
There are alot of different factors concerned with moving to AVCHD, I currently own a dual core AMD64 4400+ which is rather good with DV. Never had anything to do with HDV, but I may have mentioned that, after reading about the power AVCHD takes up it may be better to stick with tapes, for me, I like to know I can backup my raw footage on tape in case I want to do a recut.

Of course, with a little bit of one-off (ish) expense, I could start burning to blu-ray...

What's the capacity (in hours) of a BR disk anyway? but then again, aren't they expensive at the moment, wouldn't I just be making a 10 coaster if I never, ever, used that footage again? Don't know if there is any portable solid state storage that big yet, is there? at least something more value for money than write-once Blue-Ray.

Aah, decisions decisions...

The HV30 has a better degree of manual controls than the Sony's doesn't it? At least has an AP program.
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Old August 17th, 2008, 09:34 AM   #15
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All,
There are alot of different factors concerned with moving to AVCHD, I currently own a dual core AMD64 4400+ which is rather good with DV. Never had anything to do with HDV, but I may have mentioned that, after reading about the power AVCHD takes up it may be better to stick with tapes, for me, I like to know I can backup my raw footage on tape in case I want to do a recut.

Of course, with a little bit of one-off (ish) expense, I could start burning to blu-ray...

What's the capacity (in hours) of a BR disk anyway? but then again, aren't they expensive at the moment, wouldn't I just be making a 10 coaster if I never, ever, used that footage again? Don't know if there is any portable solid state storage that big yet, is there? at least something more value for money than write-once Blue-Ray.

Aah, decisions decisions...

The HV30 has a better degree of manual controls than the Sony's doesn't it? At least has an AP program.
Russ, your setup is exactly what I use for my main DV editing system running Edius Pro 4.6. In that configuration it really flies and mutliple video layers with filters & such pose no issue. However that very same computer can't play AVCHD files without stuttering severely. So with your equipment I would stay away from AVCHD unless you plan on upgrading your computer.

As far as burning AVCHD files, there seems to be some misconception that they have to be burned to BR disks. Such is not the case since a DVD-R will work equally as well. Obviously you'll have less capacity, but since DVD-Rs are dirt cheap, it might be a good alternative. BR discs can be had for anywhere from $9-$14.

You can also convert your AVCHD to other formats and then to tape if you so choose. My favorite program, Edius Pro, will import AVCHD but will not export to AVCHD in the current version. So in that case I could simply convert to HDV and then output to tape.
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