nothing new from NAB, so it's down to Canon HF S-100 or Sony HDR-XR520. Advice? - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

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Old April 26th, 2009, 07:05 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Craig Hollenback View Post
We have the 100 and love it!. Works great...fantastic match up for the EX1. Got the 3 year all inclusive warranty...under $100. Highly reccommend the camera.
Best, Craig
BTW we shoot mostly in 30p on both.
Craig

I too have an EX1 and have ordered an HFS100. I'm also probably going to get a JVC HM100 for the CCD and XDCAM and small form factor. How are you dealing with the AVCHD and XDCAM intercutting? Do you use a Mac or PC? I use a Mac and FCP. I plan to shoot with the HFS100 with 30P, just like you.

Thanks for any advice.

-Keith

Last edited by Keith Moreau; April 27th, 2009 at 11:24 AM.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 04:44 AM   #17
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I'm also probably going to get a JVC HM100 for the CMOS and XDCAM and small form factor.
Maybe you thought to write "CCD and XDCAM"...
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Old April 27th, 2009, 12:59 PM   #18
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Ron -
I think the zebras probably were considered to be a "vestigial tail" - no real purpose with the DRO and auto capabilities - the cam seems to me to be smoothing out those "bumps" all by itself, which makes for a pretty well balanced picture so far, with little or no user intervention!

While I like the idea of manual control, I realize that by the time you access the controls and make adjustments, you probably missed the shot - I get the feeling with this li'l guy you'd GET the shot. Obviously nice for the consumer, not sure so much for the "pro", in the sense of the expectation that the operator is supposed to be smarter than the camera! But for "run & gun" or live shoots (or unmanned cam), I see the advantage. Presuming the cam nails the exposure, WB, and focus, you get to concentrate on framing and composition... that makes life a lot easier!

I still probably would set the WB as I don't like that drifting, and I've set the knob to exposure if needed, but already I can see myself feeling comfortable letting the camera automagically adjust.

A couple things I've found - the first time you turn it on after it's been off for a while it takes a bit to start up, but it apparently has a "fast start" mode (not sure yet how long it defaults to that) once you've fired it up, if you turn it back on in a short period of time, the next time it is quite fast - looks like they automated the "quick start" mode that used to be a button on the SR11 and CX12.

The other thing is that the low lux switch is sure twitchy... trying to decide whether to leave it "on" (auto slow shutter basically, doesn't seen to affect better lighted scenes at all), or "off". I'm thinking leaving it on is fairly safe as it only seems to kick in when light is really low, and it still is less noisy than the earlier cameras.

Sony really seems to be putting the work into superior low noise/low light capability (their new HX1 still/video superzoom compact cam looks interesting too), but they are sure taking all the user control away to achieve it! Not sure about the tradeoff, but I think that's what is going on. For now, I'm pretty impressed with the XR, it meets or exceeds my expectations. NOW, can I get the sensor block with some manual control...
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Old April 27th, 2009, 01:04 PM   #19
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I found the camcorderinfo review - or at least the comparison to the HFS100 - puzzling to say the least.

Firstly, it contradicts itself:
"The Canon has the slight edge in performance, outmatching the XR520 in motion, sharpness, and color. [...] The one performance area where the Sony beat out the Canon was in sharpness" - I think that's a mistake and they meant to say noise.

but also it suggests that "The Sony, on the other hand, is probably the camcorder of choice for manual control enthusiasts" which isn't the impression I've got from the comments of most other potential users/buyers.

Finally, I'm findng their low light evaluation kind of harsh: reading their reviews you'd come to the conclusion that the HFS100 and XR520 are no great improvement in low light performance, yet my own experience is that the XR520 is quite a bit better than previous generations of similar cameras in the situations I am shooting in. Perhaps I'm not using them in as low a light situation, so my idea of low-light is different to theirs.

Clearly I have to get my hands on the Sanyo VPC-HD2000 as it seems to be their current low-light leader by a mile.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 01:20 PM   #20
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Dave. I have two uses for the camera, family stuff where I think it will stay in auto and as a wide fixed camera in support of my FX1 for theatre shoots. For the theatre I need it in full manual and that is where the zebras are useful. I do not want it riding up and down. If the lights go up or down that is what I want the camera to show. I really want more latitude so that I can effectively leave it on the same settings throughout the show. I really need something with black stretch and low knee but they don't come on a simple point and shoot cam!!! At the moment I set for the max light level and fix as needed in post. Will see how the XR500 manages this evening.

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Old April 27th, 2009, 06:10 PM   #21
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Ron -
Look forward to your review of "live fire" conditions. I almost wonder if letting the cam ride a bit might not work with this puppy because of the apparent ability to adjust fairly accurately on the fly? It definitely presents a different sort of shooting mentality. Dang I need to go play some more with this thing!

Michael -
Typical of CCI reviews, it will have quite a few inacuracies until they edit it a bit... and I doubt they have clued in to how this camera "works" - it would be really hard to "test" a camera which is adaptive and designed to optimize the picture based upon some unknown internal algorithms. I presume the camera is always attempting to optimize (DRO) and color correct (face detection). It's problematic if one is used to trying to tweak the camera to match your eye, but if the firmware emulates what your eye sees (and so far that's what it looks like to me), it makes any "standard" camera testing protocol somewhat useless... it's like shooting at a fast moving target.

As far as low light, I've seen some very good examples of actual footage shot with the HF-S in low light, it ain't bad, maybe a bit noisier than the XR, and I see differences that swayed me to the XR. I saw some "electrical parade" footage from an XR that blew me away - no noise in the "black" areas to speak of, and good detail in shadows without blowing the highlights of the lights - seemed pretty good to me.

From the way the review read, I don't think they turned on the low lux setting at all. Without it, the camera can match what I can see in a darkened room with my eyes and it's almost noise free, WITH it, you can almost see in the dark, with nominal amounts of noise, very tolerable and usable image quality with noticeably good color.

I find it hard to buy that the Sanyo can beat either of these cameras in real shooting situations, but I suppose it's possible -sometimes you get more than you pay for, might have to catch one on sale sometime and check it out. I'd suspect it would have a hard time matching hte XR when low lux is enabled though.

This is the problem with "reviews" - they have limited time with a camera, so they may or may not figure out nuances and tweaks. Sometimes there's biases too, I don't think CCI has EVER complemented a Sony on low light performance... and having owned several of the cameras, they've been off base...

The OIS and low light/low noise realy sold me on the camera - yeah, I'll whine about lack of manual controls and "pro" features, but other footage I've seen and the limited testing I've had time to do suggest this camera has some good things going on. Just seeing how clean the image is has made me pretty excited - I always find the "creepy crawly" noise (where there's things moving all over any realtively monotone part of the image) annoying. I'm probably being picky, but once you notice it, it really spoils the image for me. That particular noise signature seems to be minimal with the XR, so that works for me.

I've had the chance to try the cam on some of my steady rigs (brackets and shoulder mounts), and between those and the new OIS, I can get some rock solid shots, even when walking or running! Not quite "on rails" but frighteningly close.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 03:08 AM   #22
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So, the question for me is that I have an SR12 that I am very happy with except for the low light performance and noise. Is it worth it to up grade to an XR 520. or are the improvements just marginal?
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Old April 28th, 2009, 09:26 AM   #23
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Quick response to my first shoot with the XR500. The SR11 and XR500 were set with AE at -3, SR11 on manual focus and XR500 on auto including face detect but with smile shutter off, both set at Indoor WB. The show was black background with center white areas for the actors. High contrast not easy. Looking at data code the SR11 at the beginning was at F1.8 and 18db as was the XR500. Grain was clearly visible on the SR11 but the XR500 was perfectly acceptable viewing on my 42' Panasonic Plasma at about 8 feet. Very impressive. As expected when the lights went up and down the XR500 lost focus but was quick to lock on to actors faces and set exposure when lights came up. Most of the time the XR500 was at F2.4 and between 9db to 12db of gain something its not possible to get to in manual control as in manual, iris has to be full open before gain starts just like all the other consumer cameras. It likely did this to improve the depth of field to get all actors in focus. Other than the lights throwing off the focus( which I knew about anyway) I am impressed and will experiment more this evening.
Noise level is significantly less than the SR11 which I was perfectly happy with anyway.
We also used two FX1's and the closeups from the XR500 really challenged the FX1's!!!!!

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Old April 28th, 2009, 09:53 AM   #24
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So, the question for me is that I have an SR12 that I am very happy with except for the low light performance and noise. Is it worth it to up grade to an XR 520. or are the improvements just marginal?
Like night and day, literally. The SR11/12 was a nice step up from the 7 series sensor block, but the jump from the SR to the XR "R" sensor is significant. Look around online, there is a youtube video with comparisons of the 3 cameras showing the noise differences, I did a couple tests side by side, and the XR was much cleaner on both stills and video.

The SR is no slouch, but there were some noise issues (better than most but still annoying to someone who's picky and notices every flaw...). The XR steps up very well in low light and reduced noise, I think you'll find the difference to be an easy choice. If you're just shooting in "good" light, probably wouldn't matter much, but low light, BIG difference! I'll have to try to shoot some short clips and stills (still were more noticeable to me) later.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 10:03 AM   #25
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Ron -
Sounds like the XR performed well. Any chance that the cams are far enough from the "stage" that you could set manual focus so it doesn't hunt on that first light burst?

I've noticed that it seems like these cameras do something like re-focusing to short distance first as a "default", then hunt in from there - perhaps by design, figuring that the most important object will be in the foreground? I've noticed that when the auto focus loses track, it almost always goes right to the blurriest setting, waiting for something to give it enough detail to resolve - sometimes a quick zoom out/zoom in "fixes" it by giving it an idea of where the focal plane is... probably could be improved by firmware "sleeping" at the last focal point if it loses the ability to resolve, THEN going on a hunt if needed once it starts getting enough data again.

Not too surprised to hear the XR gave the FX a run for the money, the two generations of sensor tech have shown us a few improvements!
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Old April 28th, 2009, 10:48 AM   #26
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Dave, I too would love a feature that told the camera to hold focus if light dropped too. That would be great for a camera like the XR500. In our shoot the XR500 was closer to the stage and the SR11 in manual focus at the back. I may be tempted tonight to have the SR11 in full manual as usual so that I don't get into the grain issue on blackouts but leave the XR500 in auto as I think the picture is an improvement over the SR11. Now if only Sony would make a camera between the FX1000 and XR500, three CMOS, AVCHD with manual control as well as all the auto features of the XR500!!!!

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Old April 28th, 2009, 02:53 PM   #27
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I'd be happy with single CMOS and the rest of those features...

I think Sony may be an a design fork - I suspect it's hard to have a camera/firmware that is highly automated/intelligent and have a "manual override"... same comentary as my suspicion on the CCI tests. So far I'm happy with the auto decisions, got to do more shooting to see if there are any things I dislike about the cameras "shooting style", but so far so good.

The trick will be to use this new "R" sensor construction (and I don't think they used in the FX1000, or at least they didn't advertise it?), the auto intelligence, yet provide the ability to control/override specific settings on demand without mucking up the good results of the AI.

I've got the knob/button set to exposure, seems to work the best so far for overriding the camera decision process.

For focus, have you tried using the spot focus for adjustment? I *think* that would lock the range once set, and you could adjust if needed by just having the op point to the next focus point.

edit - just tried it, and yep, it locks the focus at the last point focused on - you could lock it by pointing as needed, and it also can be set back to auto with the little "button" on the lower right - you can swich back and forth as needed until you "end" the spot focus session.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 04:58 PM   #28
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My normal operation of the SR11 has been to set focus using the spot focus( and leave this screen on the LCD) and use exposure to set the manual exposure with the button. I think that if you do that with the XR500 you will lock out all the nice automatic features as there will be nothing left for the camera to control. This is why I tried AE shift since this will leave everything in auto allowing the camera to modify the exposure during face recognition etc. I in fact checked with the fellow who used the XR500 for me last night and he said he left everything in auto because he too wanted to see how the camera controlled everything. So it was in full auto not AE -3 as I previously stated.

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Old April 28th, 2009, 07:07 PM   #29
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Focus should only lock the lens, not exposure... and AE shift should leave everything else fluid, from what I can tell - there are little icons on the screen for most things, and if the camera cannot achieve those functions they get a "no" symbol in yellow ("O" with a scratch through it). I just noticed if you use digital zoom (it's better on this one that earlier cams, but still rather not use it...), once zoom kicks in, face detect and smile shutter lock out.

One of the tricks is figuring out how a new camera works all around, takes a bit to suss out, definitely more time than most of the review sites give 'em! Oh the fun of new toys!
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Old April 28th, 2009, 08:17 PM   #30
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things are fine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Moreau View Post
Craig

I too have an EX1 and have ordered an HFS100. I'm also probably going to get a JVC HM100 for the CCD and XDCAM and small form factor. How are you dealing with the AVCHD and XDCAM intercutting? Do you use a Mac or PC? I use a Mac and FCP. I plan to shoot with the HFS100 with 30P, just like you.

Thanks for any advice.

-Keith
We use FCP 6.0? and things are fine....big files, but all works well.
Best, Craig
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