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Old June 1st, 2009, 04:59 AM   #61
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Wolfgang, can you tell me please, if Sony XR500 (or 520) has 50Hz frame rate or hasn't? I can't found this at the camcorder specification.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 01:23 PM   #62
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I just wanted to jump in here and give a total novice opinion. I owned the XR for 3 days before returning it for the Canon. I'll use layman terms because its all I know! This has all been said already but its one more opinion, either way.

1. With proper lighting the Canon beats the Sony easily. I filmed outdoors with both cameras in some great Southern California weather. Basically flowers, plants, insects and whatnot. I had both cameras set to auto with max resolution then burned Blu Ray disks and viewed on a 52" 1080 plasma. The Canon made me say "Wow" literally, the colors and clarity were just awesome and I really dont think you could get better quality from a camera that cost even 10 times more. It looked perfect.

Mind you my technical experience is nil, but I have a good eye and have watched alot of HD programming and Blu Ray movies :)

2. In low light the Canon pretty much sucks. The picture gets grainy too soon. The Sony beats it hands down. But I asked myself if I wanted superior quality in proper or poor lighting. You decide which way you want to go there.

3. The Sony OIS again blows the Canon away. It had a weird feel to me on the Sony like the camera was kind of "behind" what I was doing in terms of speed though. I dont know, I just didnt like it much even though it worked better. The Canon takes a conscious effort to keep smooth which I adapted to pretty quickly and doesnt feel like an effort so much anymore. I found with both cameras I used both hands to film, even the Sony wasnt good enough for my one-handed efforts. I learned to not hold the Camera with my hand so much and let it float in my palm while using my arm for stability and my left hand on the LCD. If you wrap your fingers around the camera, its gonna shake more.

4. I've never been a fan of touch screen LCD's so the Canons navigation stick gets my vote. My hands arent huge either but I still dont like stabbing at those LCD menus trying to get what I want. I really like the way the manual functions are accessed on the Canon too. It took me awhile to learn all the different menu settings, theres alot and they are easy to get to.

5. The still images from the Canon looked better to me, in camera only mode. If you use the function to shoot while filming the images are 6mp compared to 8mp in camera only mode.

6. The software that came with both cameras is garbage IMO. I only use it for the easy import function before going into Premiere.

In conclusion they are both great cameras, the Sony has more range for shooting conditions and is easier to use. I would say for the majority of the consumer population to go with the Sony. For me though, the "Wow factor" of the blu ray disk, and not planning to shoot in low lighting, made the Canon the best choice for me.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 05:26 PM   #63
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I just wanted to jump in here and give a total novice opinion. I owned the XR for 3 days before returning it for the Canon. I'll use layman terms because its all I know! This has all been said already but its one more opinion, either way.

1. With proper lighting the Canon beats the Sony easily. I filmed outdoors with both cameras in some great Southern California weather. Basically flowers, plants, insects and whatnot. I had both cameras set to auto with max resolution then burned Blu Ray disks and viewed on a 52" 1080 plasma. The Canon made me say "Wow" literally, the colors and clarity were just awesome and I really dont think you could get better quality from a camera that cost even 10 times more. It looked perfect.
I have the HF - S100 and while I haven't tested footage from it on my 52" rear-projection TV, I do find its image quality (subjectively speaking) mirrors your experience.

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Mind you my technical experience is nil, but I have a good eye and have watched alot of HD programming and Blu Ray movies :)
I don't have any technical experience either, but I know you don't have to have an engineer's eye to recognize good picture quality.

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2. In low light the Canon pretty much sucks. The picture gets grainy too soon. The Sony beats it hands down. But I asked myself if I wanted superior quality in proper or poor lighting. You decide which way you want to go there.
Agreed, then again, I didn't buy my 'S100 for its low-light performance. I would have expected the Sony to have a bit of lead in image quality, because of their long experience in manufacturing CCD imaging chips for their line of broadcast cameras.

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3. The Sony OIS again blows the Canon away. It had a weird feel to me on the Sony like the camera was kind of "behind" what I was doing in terms of speed though. I dont know, I just didnt like it much even though it worked better. The Canon takes a conscious effort to keep smooth which I adapted to pretty quickly and doesnt feel like an effort so much anymore. I found with both cameras I used both hands to film, even the Sony wasnt good enough for my one-handed efforts. I learned to not hold the Camera with my hand so much and let it float in my palm while using my arm for stability and my left hand on the LCD. If you wrap your fingers around the camera, its gonna shake more.
I'm fairly shaky and find the Canon really needs a tripod to produce the best images. In other words, I think Canon could have done a bit better job with the OIS.

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4. I've never been a fan of touch screen LCD's so the Canons navigation stick gets my vote. My hands arent huge either but I still dont like stabbing at those LCD menus trying to get what I want. I really like the way the manual functions are accessed on the Canon too. It took me awhile to learn all the different menu settings, theres alot and they are easy to get to.
I prefer the Canon's stick-type control too. I actually found the menu structure fairly easy to understand and make use of. Then again, I used to own a Canon HV30 and the basic logic underpinning the menu system on that camera is quite similar to the 'S100.

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5. The still images from the Canon looked better to me, in camera only mode. If you use the function to shoot while filming the images are 6mp compared to 8mp in camera only mode.
I've not really used my 'S100 to capture still images, but the few I have taken with it are OK, but not especially good for an 8MP sensor. I have a Canon Rebel XT digital SLR which has an 8MP sensor and it does somewhat better on the image-quality front.

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6. The software that came with both cameras is garbage IMO. I only use it for the easy import function before going into Premiere.
I don't use Premiere, so I don't need to go through the same pre-rendering process. In Vegas, it's a simple case of importing from the memory card and then dragging and dropping clips onto the timeline.


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In conclusion they are both great cameras, the Sony has more range for shooting conditions and is easier to use. I would say for the majority of the consumer population to go with the Sony. For me though, the "Wow factor" of the blu ray disk, and not planning to shoot in low lighting, made the Canon the best choice for me.
The Sony is ideal for people who want to do nothing more than point and shoot. For people like me, who want more control over shutter speed, aperture and frame rates, the Canon is the way to go.
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Old July 24th, 2009, 12:17 AM   #64
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evaluations of consumer camcorders

Hi guys,

Thanks very much for your informative discussions of these cameras! I'm coming from a somewhat larger camera (Sony FX1) which I'm comfortable with, but it was just too bulky to take on my last family trip. (Not to mention the video from the latest consumer cams seems to be embarrassingly good :-)

I had a brief play with the XR520V in a local store and what worried me most was the autofocus. It seemed to be much slower than what I'm used to even in the well-lit store. Has that also been the impression of you folks that are using this camera for typical camcorder subjects (eg. fast-moving kids)?
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Old July 24th, 2009, 12:58 PM   #65
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John -
It's a pretty typical Sony AF - and if you test against the instant AF of the Canon, it's going to feel slow. I find that while it can hunt a bit at first, once it locks on, it's as good or better than any other Sony I've owned. One of the few things that impressed me about the HV20 I owned briefly was the IAF... it's actually very effective from my experience, and I presume it's retained and improved in the HF-S.

You have to remember that the Sony AF works based on analyzing the image, meaning hard lines and strong contrast = faster focus lock, soft surfaces or low contrast = slower time to lock in. Obviously the XR500, because of the improved low light performance, will focus better than earlier Sonys in poor lighting. But you still can't expect it to "beat" an active system that is sending a "ping" out constantly and listening to the reply to calculate distance (Canon IAF).

Of course IAF won't work if you put an add on lens on the camera (blocks the emitter/receiver), though the Canon also uses image analysis for focus too. I regularly have a WA attached, to get a more usable field of view, so the IAF "advantage" to me wasn't that big a deal, even if the fast focus lock was impressive.


Focus is one place where I LIKE having the Sony touchscreen interface - spot focus/exposure functions are mighty handy when you have a complex image and a shallow DoF or an image where you want to nail the focus on one specific focal plane... or exposure on a otherwise dark part of the image.

Spot focus/exposure allows you to bypass the normal "center weighted" camera defaults, so you get the best of both your "choices", and the cameras "auto" adjust functions - IMO that works rather well, once you learn to use it along with the button/wheel adjustment capability. I can adjust things much faster than with a "joystick" interface, but that comes from using Sony cams for a while - I'm sure a joystick user could become quite fast too!

For family use, it's hard to beat the Sony, just because the low light performance and OIS are highly optimized, as are the auto image adjustments. But, as has been oft repeated, be aware that manual control is limited (but you CAN manage some once you learn the cam).
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Old July 24th, 2009, 06:56 PM   #66
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Spot focus/exposure allows you to bypass the normal "center weighted" camera defaults, so you get the best of both your "choices", and the cameras "auto" adjust functions - IMO that works rather well, once you learn to use it along with the button/wheel adjustment capability.
IMO the spot focus/exposure feature is brilliant. It's very fast to access & I use it much more often than the manual controls when I'm shooting on the run.
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Old August 31st, 2009, 10:10 AM   #67
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One thing that I like about it is the face detection focus. Instant focus is great if your subjects are always in the center. But if you have faces properly composed, the XR500 will detect the face and slowly but surely focus on the face and then follow it! Very useful for every day family shooting with a little cam.
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Old September 1st, 2009, 04:58 AM   #68
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Very useful for ANY shooting with a small cam - Sony seems set upon making the camera smarter than the operator as much as possible. While I still would like to see manual control, or even an override so it was possible to set individual settings for gain/shutter/iris, I have come to appreciate that the camera can probably adjust faster than I ever could... meaning more usable footage with minimal effort.
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Old October 1st, 2009, 09:48 AM   #69
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Wow this is a popular thread - I've been wrestling with this because I want a second cam and these two seem to be at the top of a bunch of people's lists. The issues I'm wrestling with are:

Canon HF-S100
Likes
Flash: SDHC, can get 32 GB cards NOW for less than the price of 16 GB MS Pro Duo

Lowlight performance excellent judging from footage on Vimeo.
Hint: Use 30p, 24p modes.

AGC / Manual Audio Gain Control

Less expensive

Dislikes:
10x Zoom

No Viewfinder - Need to get Viewfinder cover

Can’t change SDHC card while on tripod mount

Sony HDR-XR500V

Likes:
Lowlight performance excellent good judging from footage on Vimeo

12x Zoom

Bigger LCD - Wonderful

Viewfinder

Access to everything while on tripod mount

Compatible with Wide, Tele Adapters I already have

Compatible with SportPak I already have

Footage will likely blend better with footage from the Sony HDR-HC9 I already have

Dislikes
Flash: MS Pro Duo, can get 16 GB cards NOW, 32 GB not available.

AGC Only Sound

No ability to set shutter, aperture.

No progressive modes

More expensive.
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Old October 2nd, 2009, 01:18 AM   #70
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Bill -
Unless you're going to be recording to the MS Duo, the XR series Hard disk will give you far more capacity than a "flash" camcorder. 8GB cards (good for 1 hour) are fairly reasonable, I saw the 16G ones at Frys for around $70, and you CAN switch the camera to record to the MS Duo instead of the HDD...

Sony recently released the CX500V and CX520V, which ARE flash based, but you lose the VF and get a smaller LCD, so I fail to see how the slightly smaller size is that big an advantage.

If you've already got accessories for the HC9, they should all cross to the XR, and you'll find the image quality significantly better.

As for the rest of your list, those are things you'll just have to decide for yourself. Personally the bigger LCD, viewfinder, superb low light performance and excellent OIS do the trick for me. And I've picked up XR500V's fairly reasonable secondhand, whereas the Canons don't seem to come up that often...
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Old October 2nd, 2009, 02:19 AM   #71
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Dave,

I'll probably end up going with the XR500V, but who among us doesn't like keeping our options open?

I did notice today at Fry's Electronics that a Patriot Brand 16 GB SDHC Class 6 card was $33.00
I don't think Sony is going to hit that kind of pricing anytime soon.
But I'd be real happy to be wrong...Oh please, please, please...

I appreciate the larger capacity of the XR500V hard drive over flash memory.
But a 32 GB card in the Canon HF-S100 would handily cover the events I do, so I'm
good either way as far as capacity is concerned.

From a reliability point of view, I appreciate the no moving parts of a Flash card.
And I'm not the sort to allow footage to endlessly accumulate on the hard drive.

What probably bugs me the most is the XR500V having fewer options in the menu than the HC9. So with the HC9 I have control over shutter speed and can do either AGC Audio OR Manual Linear Gain Audio...but can't with the XR500V bugs the heck out of me. So the XR500V is a more advanced camera (sensor, codec), higher price, with fewer user controls - what's up with that Sony? And why are you expecting your advanced amateur users to be happy with that?
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Old October 2nd, 2009, 05:34 AM   #72
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Dave,


And I'm not the sort to allow footage to endlessly accumulate on the hard drive.

What probably bugs me the most is the XR500V having fewer options in the menu than the HC9. So with the HC9 I have control over shutter speed and can do either AGC Audio OR Manual Linear Gain Audio...but can't with the XR500V bugs the heck out of me. So the XR500V is a more advanced camera (sensor, codec), higher price, with fewer user controls - what's up with that Sony? And why are you expecting your advanced amateur users to be happy with that?
One advantage for the real amateur is the ability to store on the hard drive. The XR520 for instance may have enough storage for the life of the camera!!!!
I agree about the gap that Sony now has in the camera line-up. With the Panasonic HMC40, Sony really do not have a competitive product in their line-up. I for one wish they did and am waiting to see what they do before upgrading from my FX1 as I would really like a more capable XR500 rather than the FX1000. A three chip AVCHD would be great!!!

Ron Evans
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Old October 2nd, 2009, 12:06 PM   #73
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One advantage for the real amateur is the ability to store on the hard drive. The XR520 for instance may have enough storage for the life of the camera!!!!
The disadvantage is all those people who are going to lose everything they ever shot because they never offloaded/backed up their footage and the hard drive just died. Or the camera got stolen. Or <whatever>.

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... and am waiting to see what they do before upgrading from my FX1 as I would really like a more capable XR500 rather than the FX1000. A three chip AVCHD would be great!!!
Do you really think a three chip sensor block has a prayer of showing up in a consumer level form factor/product?

I'd be thrilled if Sony enlarged the sensor to 1/2 inch and upped the bitrate to 25 Mbps. And put my missing menu options back.
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Old October 2nd, 2009, 02:24 PM   #74
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Well I didn't mean that they just stored video on the camera. My daughter backs up everything to the PC, often makes DVD but still has all the video on the camera so that she can show people anytime. That is the way I would expect most people that I have talked to would use the camera. This is the advantage of AVCHD on hard drive and the ease of selecting clips for view.
As far as a three chip. Sony used to make prosumer three chips, it would be nice if they did again though I would be happy with a big single chip with all the manual controls. In good light the XR500 gives a better picture than the FX1 and I hope for an AVCHD camera with the same capabilities as the FX1000 in a slightly smaller package.
The Panasonic HMC40 comes close and I was hoping that Sony would view this as competition and provide a nice competitive product.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 07:35 AM   #75
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I think that comment applies to all these camcorders from Sony , Canon and Panasonic. If you want a camera for professional film making these are not your choice. Get a Sony Z5, Canon XL or Panasonic HMC150 or better. The cameras we are talking about here are for consumer use and maybe as a backup( unattended "B" camera) to the more professional models.
Ron Evans
I agree with your sentiments (and others here) regarding purpose governing the purchasing decision. Most of the "live-event" projects I've done, I've been able to shoot A, B & C footage over different performances to cut together differing angles etc. (I only have the 1 Z5, so don't currently have multi-cam option - well, until now) and they have been mostly dim/stage/night type lighting - hence my going for the Z5 for it's low-light capabilities (It's brilliant by the way!). Anyway, cutting to the chase, I am about to film a one-off event on a non-existant budget (a 4 hour rock concert for talented kids), so don't have the advantage of filming several performances for 'B' roll etc.

I therefore finally decided I needed a second/back-up cam (on a limited budget) so I started looking at these cams for a 'B' cam I could set up and leave unattended for the duration. Whilst it would be nice to get another Z5+MCRK1, my budget would no way stretch to that so I started thinking a top-end consumer cam could be the way to go - with the added advantage that it would be way more practical for holiday/family type stuff too! The audio side was less of an issue, as on-camera audio is crap for this type of work. It's seperately miked up to an Edirol R-44.

After a lot of reading/research I also narrowed it down to the Sony v. Canon and, whilst I knew I wouldn't get the same results from either camera (as my Z5) I was already leaning towards the Sony on the basis of better colour matching (G lens and Exmoor) and the better low-light capability. So armed, I took a trip down to the local outlet for a hands-on comparison.


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I couldn't agree more.
I find the manufacturer's sites and review articles useful for obtaining specs and a general notion about a particular camera, but the extensive dialog available on this forum, the wealth of personal experiences & observations, really gives me a feel for what to expect from a particular product.
I usually have a specific set of personal objectives I am looking to fulfill when I purchase a camera, as opposed to finding the "best" camera- if there even is such a thing. All of these detailed posts allow me to gain some scrutiny of the particular issues that are most important to me, and really help me make an informed decision.
I have seldom been disappointed or caught by surprise when I finally get the item in my hands.
Likewise, I used a combination of this forum and reviews/specs to initially narrow down the options but specifically wanted to check the low-light noise/depth and how well the colour balance would match the Z5 without loads of cc. in post. So, down at the local outlet, wandering around the shop shooting under differing lighting/subject-detail/distances etc. I was very impressed with the colours/sharpness/noise. The real test (for my proposed usage) would be how it fared under crap lighting conditions. A trip down the dingy, covered, dark alleyway down the side of the shop showed up exactly what I expected - the Canon couldn't cope but, whilst it could no way compare with the Z5, the HDR-XR520 produced a very low-noise (standard setting) image, with good shadow detail and slightly more shadow detail but much noisier image on 'low-light' setting. My inclination would be to use the 'normal' setting (keeping the noise down) and adjust gamma in post where necessary.

Conclusion:
For my proposed use, the XR520 won hands-down over the Canon. Quite honestly, even if my budget could have stretched to an FX1000, I would have probably still gone for the XR520, for the simple reason I need to be able to film continuously for several hours and to do that with the FX1000 (or another Z5), I would have needed to factor in another MRCK1 as well (adding another 800 or so) - and it's a lot easier to carry around on holiday etc.!

The proof will be in the pudding though, so it will be interesting to see the results from the up-coming concert (shame I couldn't go a third cam too!). I'll let you know how it turns out. The concert is on 15th December so, hopefully, I'll be able to get something up on vimeo soon after that.
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