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Old January 2nd, 2009, 06:44 PM   #1
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AVCHD a Lie?

I'm starting (way behind at this point) to research a good HD camera. I do mostly wedding videos so low light capabilities are high on the list. HMC150 or XH-A1 or some other camera I'm missing.

However, I found the following article that details AVCHD quality as poor. Can someone shed some light on this for me.

Article link: Are AVCHD camcorders the next HD lie? | George Ou | ZDNet.com
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 06:58 PM   #2
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It's not a lie, just a misunderstanding.

1.) It replaced HDV on consumer cams.
2.) HDV migrated onto pro cams.
3.) The reason for AVCHD on consumer cams is to get more recording time.
4.) One reason for HDV on pro cams is it's less compressed, (tape being the other).
5.) When you want the best recorded quality, you want the least amount of compression. AVCHD is more compressed.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 07:09 PM   #3
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Hi Brian -
A lot changes in a year (that article you cite is from Feb...), and your best bet is to spend some time searching the forums here for a very thorough thrashing about on every possible aspect of image quality...from every camera available...

AVCHD from my experience "looks" better than the HDV I shot from comparable cameras a generation back. I'm sure they've refined HDV a bit more as well...

I'll just make the comment that you can't believe everything you read on the internet, and some of the "opinions" you'll find are worth exactly what you're paying for them, maybe less... Information that's wrong or based on fundamentally flawed data is worse than no data at all.

There are a lot of factors in evaluating image quality, bitrate, noise, lattitude, color fidelity, etc, etc...

FWIW, the Canon A1 is highly regarded, the HMC150 is getting some good feedback, and you should probably add the Sony FX1000 to your "current" list. Search on those three cameras and you'll have PLENTY of solid info from DVinfo members using them for every possible task imaginable...
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 07:23 PM   #4
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Hi Brian............

First to that article.

You'll notice the date was Feb last year, and the cameras being compared were the HG10 and the HV20.

A year ago is an eternity with this gear.

If you go through the specs, the HG10 has a 15mbps data rate.

The newer HG20 has a 24mbps data rate.

I don't have the data to hand for other cameras/ manufacturers but would say there have been similar jumps with them too.

I'm not going into anything else written in the article as I will probably same something highly impolite about both it and the author, suffice it to say, IF it was true a year ago, it ain't now.

[You may draw any conclusion you wish about that "IF".]

AVCHD is going from strength to strength and may well soon see HDV into it's grave, only to be buried in turn by "the next big thing", whatever that may be.

So, having buried that, so to speak, you can go back to your research with full enthusiasm.


CS
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 07:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Roper View Post
It's not a lie, just a misunderstanding.

1.) It replaced HDV on consumer cams.
2.) HDV migrated onto pro cams.
3.) The reason for AVCHD on consumer cams is to get more recording time.
4.) One reason for HDV on pro cams is it's less compressed, (tape being the other).
5.) When you want the best recorded quality, you want the least amount of compression. AVCHD is more compressed.
1) - for better or worse, yes, for th most part, but AVCHD takes a LOT of computer if you're editing - quad core highly recommended...
2) - no real migration, HMC150 is at least in the "pro" sumer class... Canon and Sony have yet to release AVCHD, but of course the EX1 and EX3 are tapeless, albeit a different format.
3) - I only get around 1 Hr. on an 8G memory card (highest Quality), about the same as a tape... BUT I get fast transfer times, no carriage noise, and a more durable overall camera (all three things that are considerations for "consumer" use) I'd guess that by eliminating tape carriage failures, the mfrs collectively eliminate 30-40% of their "warranty" headaches?
4&5) - Compression schemes/algorithms vary... a LOT, and that can make for a wide range of overall quality. In order to handle the HUGE volume of data in a video stream, compression is a necessity, PERIOD. It's just a mater of how much... and how the quality of the final compressed image fares. I think tape is hanging on because it self archives, and that's the ONLY possible reason IMO... and frankly I could care less once I've edited and burned to a final DVD and archived the source to another DVD or 2!

No risk of dropouts, quieter operation, longer operating times (no carriage mech means more battery life), and cameras that fit in your pocket yet get solid Image quality if used thoughtfully... AVCHD is probably here for at least a while, and is a good format for many purposes, once you get the workflow down.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 08:30 PM   #6
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Great info. Thanks guys. Awesome.

I currently use a DVX100a. Great camera. Any tips or suggestions on cameras is welcome. (Although I can't break the already broken bank).

Back to research. . .
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 02:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
3) - I only get around 1 Hr. on an 8G memory card (highest Quality), about the same as a tape... .
AVCHD is used to extend recording time. 8G memory card in your example would only be 43 minutes at HDV bitrates, a tape gives 63 minutes.

AVCHD and HDV both seem destined to occupy the middle ground between AVCHD consumer cams and the higher spec DVCPRO and XDCAM. HDV would not stay there on the merits of PQ, but there remains solid support among NLEs and it's easy to edit.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 08:45 AM   #8
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Brian,

I have owned several HDV camcorders and also a Canon HF100 AVCHD camcorder which I prefer to all of my prior HDV equipment in most respects.

Regarding resolution differences, the crux of the article and comparison you cited, I disagree with the author based on my own experience. I have attached two crops, one from my Canon HV20 and the other from my Canon HF100, of the same subject. The differences are not dramatic, and these are a small portion of much larger frames, so the overall detail differences will not jump out at you, but the very observable difference when viewing the two still and video images is a noticeable improvement in detail when going to AVCHD.

The author of the article failed to acknowledge that the 1920 pixel detail in the AVCHD frame is matched to the sensor's 1920 pixel count for AVCHD, whereas HDV is downsampled to a 1440 pixel width. The extra 480 pixels (which are 33% more than HDV) seen by both the HDV and AVCHD sensors but only stored in the AVCHD frame (but not in the HDV frame except as interpolations) do amount to something......

You need a fast quadcore and a good 1920 by 1080 monitor to adequately see and compare the 2 video clips, but I wil be glad to post or email them if they would help you make direct comparisons.

If your need is for wedding photography and low light, I would say that none of the current consumer AVCHD camcorders is really the right choice. The overall control and performance in audio, low light, and focus control is probably best served with a more professional model.


Larry
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 09:18 AM   #9
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One other comment regarding the cited article:

The author clearly is unaware of very fast capture requirements in other consumer cameras such as the Canon TX-1 which captures HD video in lightly compressed MJPEG format. Unlike the mpeg2/HDV and mpeg4/AVC camcorders, this TX-1 fills an 8GB card in 28 minutes, more than twice the data recording rate of the AVCHD camcorders.
At 44 Mbits/sec, this little pocket Elph Canon model can easily store data at nearly twice the rate required for HDV and nearly 3 times the rate required for 17 Mbit/sec AVCHD.

My point is that these types of cameras and fast SDHC cards have literally been around for years now, and his arguments about data rate and card capacity are entirely outdated and specious.

I seriously question what type of expertise this gentleman has. As "Technical Director for ZD-Net", the author, George Ou appears to lack the understanding neccesary to make his points regarding either resolution or data rate when presenting his claim about AVCHD being "a lie".

Larry
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 12:42 PM   #10
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Larry I agree with you overall but the folly is that we're saying the article is old, therefore no longer relevant, but when it comes to comparing the newer AVCHD cams we ignore that there are only older HDV cams to compare them to.

In the prosumer class are the HMC150 and FX1000/Z5. The Sony by early accounts may have the upper hand for PQ. Is it because of the HDV codec or other reasons? Likely it's not the codecs, why misdirect energy trumpeting one over the other?

In defense of AVCHD, some of the arguments cite the benefit of tapeless workflows sounding a death knell to HDV because of the time is saved from the capture step. But tape capture is an unattended step. My XDCAM workflow is tapeless as well. The time spent editing is far greater.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 01:41 PM   #11
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Tom,

This goes back to an earlier 'debate' Steve Mullen and I engaged in as to whether AVCHD was indeed the wave of the future, and a logical replacement for HDV.

I was and am still quite convinced that AVCHD has a distinct possibility of remaining strictly a consumer format, and I personally recognize that HDV has a great deal to recommend it over AVCHD for professional and prosumer use. I hardly view the Panasonic 24Mbit/sec prosumer model as a significant turning point, and have, after looking at 24Mbit/sec AVC content from camcorders, generally been underwhelmed by it.

The boundary between the two formats will, no doubt, continue to blur, as the performances become more similar and the camera feature sets begin to overlap more. But we are nowehere near the day, as far as I can tell, where a serious videographer with an XDCam is going to replace it with AVCHD. It has been my contention from day zero here that AVCHD is a low cost and affordable format with low cost (AVCHD) distribution intended for consumer use, and I personally regard the attempts to move HDV content onto AVCHD to be mostly a bad move, despite some "pro" tools allowing such a move to be performed.

I continue to urge serious videographers to go with HDV, and will do so until Japan Incorporated pushes the marketing vector in the direction of AVCHD for pro use. This day may never really happen, but companies like Canon and Sony and Panasonic certainly want to always keep their options open. Some big 3 CCD camcorders from them with interchageable lenses and AVC Intra rather than Inter compression would be a good indication of their motives.

Larry
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 06:14 PM   #12
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I think it comes down to a practical issue - you take a look at everyone here who HAS one or more of the little AVCHD "pocket rockets", and the level of satisfaction - it's pretty high... and I think most would admit that they hated the idea and thought the "toys" were not going to be much of worth...

Tape vs. solid state... each has its points...

HDV vs. AVCHD... again each has its points...

I've looked at lots of comparison footage, and allowing for stuff obviously botched/butchered in post, plus all the stuff I've shot in both AVCHD and HDV along the way, I'm happier with the AVCHD image quality.

It's not perfect, but it still blows away stuff from even a couple of years ago... jump in the old time machine and go back 5 years and show it to someone and tell them it was shot with a sub $1K camera that fits in your pocket, and they'd say you're crazy.

I'm getting final results that are better than most commercial broadcast quality, and that's nothing to sneeze at. I see lots of far worse material making it to the little screen. And what's more, from what I've seen, you have to go up the price mountain a significant amount before you get any "better" (meaning someone who is fairly serious about image quality would notice) complete novices wouldn't notice anything IMO...

What is available in the sub $1K "consumer" market is some pretty capable hardware, considering you have to spend 5-7 times + (or more) to get a small incremental improvement in image quality, notwithstanding manual controls and the better low light performance that comes with bigger better glass...

The REAL question to me is where are the cameras in the $1k to $3K price range?? Something like an AVCHD HD TRV900... for 1500-2000. The reissued FX7, however fondly I regard that camera, is several years old... and as already stated, that's a lifetime in this technology.

I can't fathom why it's not possible for the manufacturers to see the market for a cam with usable manual controls but still small and easy to drag around...
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Old January 4th, 2009, 01:41 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
I can't fathom why it's not possible for the manufacturers to see the market for a cam with usable manual controls but still small and easy to drag around...
I've found a great alternative -- a "D"SLR.

Fat focus ring
Dial exposure control
LCD and VF
BOTH 720p30 and 1920x1080i60
5-second pre-record buffer
Mic jack
Time-lapse
300 frames-per-second slo-mo (actually up to 1200fps)
Great low-light sensitivity
Photographic quality video -- frames of video look just like still pix
Uses a slightly smaller Sony EXMOR CMOS chip than the Sony EX1/EX3
Near universal software support for its H.264/AVC -- NOT AVCHD
ALSO -- a great still camera
Under $1000

Read about the EX-F1 at: Photo for HD Video (D-SLR and others) - The Digital Video Information Network
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Old January 4th, 2009, 03:29 AM   #14
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AVC INTRA 50 / 100

I think AVC INTRA 50/100 should also be considered in this thread's overall discussion.


ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/pub/Panasoni...tra%20FAQs.pdf


Greetings
Third World.
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Old January 4th, 2009, 03:37 AM   #15
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AVC INTRA 50 / 100


Sorry about the problematic PDF link

HTML VERSION /

Getting started with the industry?s most advanced compression technology
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