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Old December 16th, 2008, 10:07 PM   #1
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Sony SR11 or Canon HG20

Well, I wanted to see if anyone has done a true comparison of these cameras. I have SDHC cards right now and to look at adding SMS is not really something I would like to do.

However, if the quality surpasses the HG20, then I would go for it...
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Old December 17th, 2008, 08:11 AM   #2
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Mike, I've done a comparison of the SR12 and HG21, so the comparisons might have some validity. I had, on an earlier occasion, tested my SR12 against an HF10 and wasn't impressed enough to switch from the SR12. I felt the SR12 had better color and there wasn't that much difference in resolution.

However when I tested the HG21 against my SR12, things changed. I thought the HG21 was distinctly sharper and more resolute. I was able to make out small details on my 60" Pioneer Kuro that I could not with my SR12. Comparing clips in an A/B fashion, it was almost as if a haze had been lifted when I watched the HG21 footage. I also found the color was superior on the HG21 as it tended to be more neutral.

The autofocus is better too on the Canon, but that wasn't a surprise to me as I still have my Canon HV20. The bottom line is that I'm selling my SR12 and keeping the HG21.
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Old December 17th, 2008, 06:24 PM   #3
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Ken, you are always onto these things in the most precise way. I really appreciate your observations.
Two things that bother me about the HG21:
The monitor screen is only 200K vs 900K for the SR12. I find I have become very reliant on that HD image for focusing, overall image evaluation, etc. I would hate to give it up.
I also really like the ability to quickly go to MF & ME with the front button/knob control on the SR12. I don't think the HG21 has that feature.
If 24 Mbs AVCHD is going to be the next big thing, I'm sure Sony will deliver an SR14, or some such, fairly soon. Meanwhile, I think I'll hang on to my SR12 for a while.
In some ways, it's more amazing to me than my EX1.
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Old December 17th, 2008, 06:54 PM   #4
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Robert, some good and valid observations. There is no question the LCD screen on the SR12 is superior to the smaller, less resolute screen of the HG21. However, as one who wears reading glasses, I do almost all of my composing & viewing with the viewfinder. Ths was something that would have presented a problem to me with the HF10 which was lacking a viewfinder.

Somewhat of a counterpoint to this is the fact that the smaller LCD screen of the HG21 is brighter and somewhat easier to see in bright sunlight. Truth be told, I don't think any of these screens are worth much in bright sunlight and therefore the need for viewfinders regardless of whether or not you wear reading glasses. For someone who uses the viewfinder almost all the time, there is then no advantage with either camera.

In terms of focusing, the HG21 does come equipped with central magnification for manual focusing. It is really quite easy to achieve an accurate focus with the magnification engaged, however the accuracy of the Canon autofocus is such that there is almost never a need for manual focusing.

As you mentioned, the front mounted wheel on the SR12 is great and something I'd like to see on the Canon. With the Canon you can go quite easily from one mode to another with the joy stick, but this requires the LCD screen to be open. The nice thing about the Canon is that it allows you to have both the LCD and viewfinder operating simultaneously, but I'd still like that front mounted wheel.

The bottom line for me though was the PQ and for this I truly feel the HG21 delivers the goods. It honestly looks (as good as the SR12 footage is) as if a haze has been lifted when you view the same footage on the HG21. I really think much of this is the superior lens on the HG21 and it seems that this is something that Canon has always excelled in.

They are both, without a doubt, great cameras, but I really feel like I'm taking a step forward with the HG21.
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Old December 17th, 2008, 07:07 PM   #5
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THANKS KEN!!

you'll see I responded to you in another online forum just now....I'd been holding off due to obersvations here from you and others about a preferecne for PQ of SR Sonys, and now your observations and opinion of the HG21 FINALLY have my mind made up afte a VERY long time of stalling. (I wanted those alternative frame rates).

Biggest bummer for me on the HG21 is I wish they had kept the joystick to under the thumb like HV30. But not a deal breaker. (Haven't purchased yet). Your observations have been an important, if not essential, part of my decision making process.
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Old December 17th, 2008, 07:57 PM   #6
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Glad it helped you Rob, but as always you should check these cams out yourself to make sure the fit is right. I totally agree that the joystick under the thumb would have been preferable...especially for those that prefer the viewfinder.
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Old December 19th, 2008, 05:58 AM   #7
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Good advice of course Ken. I haven't USED the cameras but have held both for what accumulates over time since their release to almost ages!

No question, lets face it the SR12 is REALLY nice to hold and behold.

But I do want those alternative frame rates and now your observations of better PQ, well, it's not like the HG21 is awful to hold by any stretch (actually I'd say it might be second best after SR11/12, not counting the small cams that don't have a viewfinder, but I can't buy a cam without a viewfinder I'm convinced).

I wonder if they'll release flashdrive smaller cams with a viewfinder ever? (HG21 is my choice though).
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Old December 19th, 2008, 07:18 AM   #8
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Rob, I agree, the HG21 really feels so close to the SR12, I don't think anyone could make a decision simply based on that. I agree 100% that these manufacturers should consider a viewfinder for the flash-only based cams. There are many of us out there that really need a viewfinder and don't want to constantly reach for reading glasses to see the LCD screen...or try and shielf the LCD screen from the sun when conditions are bright.

I also can't imagine doing any critical focusing if you go manual with a cam that has only an LCD screen. Perhaps some can, but I sure can't.

One other thing I've been noticing is that the HG21 has better image stabilization, which becomes evident when you're fully zoomed.
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Old December 19th, 2008, 12:15 PM   #9
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However when I tested the HG21 against my SR12, things changed. I thought the HG21 was distinctly sharper and more resolute. I was able to make out small details on my 60" Pioneer Kuro that I could not with my SR12. Comparing clips in an A/B fashion, it was almost as if a haze had been lifted when I watched the HG21 footage. I also found the color was superior on the HG21 as it tended to be more neutral.
Are you using 24Mbps with the HG21?

And, if so, do you notice any difference in editing performance? (A while back some asked this question and I don't think it was answered.)

Have you found anyway software that records 24Mbps to BD and 24Mbps to red-laser? (The latter should be possible as the red-laser AVCHD spec is a maximum of 25Mbps.)
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Old December 19th, 2008, 12:19 PM   #10
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Are you using 24Mbps with the HG21?

And, if so, do you notice any difference in editing performance? (A while back some asked this question and I don't think it was answered.)

Have you found anyway software that records 24Mbps to BD and 24Mbps to red-laser? (The latter should be possible as the red-laser AVCHD spec is a maximum of 25Mbps.)
I am using 24mbps, but I don't see too much difference between 17 & 24, but I'll probably still stay with 24.

I haven't done any editing and probably won't in the near future with this. But I did try and import footage to Edius 5. Although I can get it to play back quite smoothly in WMP, Edius struggles with the native clips. I haven't considered any other software.
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Old December 21st, 2008, 04:11 AM   #11
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Just FYI I don't need glasses but still INSIST on the need for a viewfinder. I know you can make out what's on the screen of the LCD in sunlight, but I don't want to "make out" what's on the screen, I want to SEE clearly what's going on lighting wise, exposure, etc. Sure LCD screens are great to have of course, but not at the expense of a viewfinder. I've been constantly surprized over the last ten years or so at the total dumbing down of your basic camcorder in terms of:

1) No viewfinders
2) No FOCUS RING / Manual Focus or reduced to joystick / similar
3) No ZOOM ring

These used to be BASIC and they made producing even basic videos easy and fun. I used to love zipping the zoom ring at the exact speed I want, slow or lighning fast. I guess it's a matter of cost of course, but what an interesting ten years...blazing technology and picture quality forward, reducing the size of consumer cams, and stripping them of the above three things that ten years ago would have been unacceptable.
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Old December 21st, 2008, 04:16 AM   #12
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And with that, I forgot to ask my question which is:

Ken (and anyone), I've mad my choice and happily pruchased the HG21, coming soon.

But I do wonder, what is the recording of MOTION like on these AVCHD cameras lately, compared to tape cameras like HV30?
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Old December 21st, 2008, 08:19 AM   #13
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I haven't done any editing and probably won't in the near future with this. But I did try and import footage to Edius 5. Although I can get it to play back quite smoothly in WMP, Edius struggles with the native clips. I haven't considered any other software.
I use Edius too and to edit video from my SR11 I need to convert to HQ which then is realtime, file gets about 4 times bigger of course!!!. I normally edit multicam with two FX1's and the SR11. I don't convert the HDV though. Vegas Pro8 will play realtime on the timeline but at reduced resolution depending on the processor you have. For family stuff shot on my SR11 and my daughters SR7 I use Vegas. Much faster for single track editing and output to DVD Architect 5.0 for Bluray or SD DVD is easy too.
As to camera choices I stay with Sony because of the Lanc control for tripod use.
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Old December 21st, 2008, 08:32 AM   #14
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And with that, I forgot to ask my question which is:

Ken (and anyone), I've mad my choice and happily pruchased the HG21, coming soon.

But I do wonder, what is the recording of MOTION like on these AVCHD cameras lately, compared to tape cameras like HV30?
I see little difference between the video from the FX1 and the SR11 as far as motion is concerned. Hand held or on a tripod. However closeups of fast action in high definition played back on LCD's don't come over too well!!! Certainly moving from 4x3 to 16x9 it is better to let the motion take place in the camera view rather than pan fast or go in close Even for interlace it seems more pleasing to use more of a film style technique. This is as much to take account of the display technology as anything else. Wider shots for movement across the screen , closeups when there is little movement, is what I have come to do now. About what I did shooting Super8 film 40 years ago!!!!

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Old December 21st, 2008, 10:43 AM   #15
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And with that, I forgot to ask my question which is:

Ken (and anyone), I've mad my choice and happily pruchased the HG21, coming soon.

But I do wonder, what is the recording of MOTION like on these AVCHD cameras lately, compared to tape cameras like HV30?
Rob, to be honest, I can't see a difference between recording motion with the HG21 and my HV20 (which I still have). Perhaps the recording of fine detail in motion would suffer a bit with data rates less than 24mbps, but I stick to 24mbps since it's there.

I think you'll be very happy with the cam.
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