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Old March 3rd, 2010, 12:14 AM   #1
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Canon HFS10 vs the new Sony CX550VE

Hi All - first time poster here

Ok I started off trying to compare the HFS10 to the Sony XR500V - then yesterday when I went into my local Sony Store, they advised that the XR500V is no longer in production and the XR550V and CX550VE will be out next week (I believe the only difference between the XR and CX is that one is HDD and the other is flash).

So here is my thing - I am new to HD cameras. My previous camcorder was a 3CCD Mini-Dv which I bought 7 years ago. I don't understand a lot of the specs and what they mean, but am not a complete newbie.

I have read various threads on both the Sony's and the Canon's and watched many comparison videos online (which in my view can be inaccurate as it's all post production).

The school of thought seems to be - buy the Canon if you are into film making, buy the Sony for point and shoot family videos. I can only afford to buy one camera which will be my primary, but I want it for both. I want to make short movies as well as all the point and shoot stuff family stuff.

People were previously complaining of the bitrate on the Sony which in the newer model is now 24Mbps - I actually have no idea though what the bitrate means in terms of quality. Is 24mbps the same as 24p???

Below I have listed my pro's and con's for each and am hoping that someone with more experience can advise.


Canon HFS 10 Pros:

Cinema mode/setting giving more of a 'movie' feel than 'home-movie' feel. (I really like this idea)
24p and 30p recording
Better quality in daylight
Sharper images
Richer and warmer colours
Full manual controls (although not sure if I would use the majority of them?)

Canon HFS 10 Cons:

No viewfinder
Image stabilisation is not as good as the Sony
Poor low light performance
A lot of tweaking to get a great picture (from what I have read)

Sony CX550VE Pros:

Colour viewfinder
Great stabilisation
Good low light quality
Now 24mbps (is this the same as 24p?)
Big LCD screen
Bigger wide angle lens to now mantch the Canon

Sony CX550VE Cons:

Touchscreen on LCD (not a fan of this over normal menu buttons)
No cinema-modes giving a real movie feel
Less shooting modes/qualities
Compression listed as AVC - not necesarrily a con but is this the same as AVCHD??
Sony brand - which I feel people pay a premium for just like Apple (I am a Mac owner though ;)

I've seen great footage on both (although cannot get a HFS10 to test in hand) which makes the decision even harder. If one was really bad quality the decision would be easy!


Anyway, that's surely a long enough post to get the ball rolling. I am hoping for some help here!
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 01:08 AM   #2
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You have a good grasp of the pros and cons.

Both use AVCHD compression (you will probably need to transcode to a better editing codec -- and I hope your computer isn't 7 years old! ;-)).

To me the real upside of the new Sony is the native wide angle lens. The lens is quite wide out of the box, which means you can shoot without a wide angle adapter (smaller size, less weight, less hassle).

With the HFS10, you'll probably need to add a wide angle adapter for many shooting situations. This means more bulk, weight, and hassle.

The one major weakness of the Sony (in my opinion) is the lack of progressive frame rates. You can deinterlace the footage, but you lose resolution in the process.

So I think your decision will probably be based on whether progressive frame rates or a native wide angle lens are more important to you.
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 01:28 AM   #3
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Hi Michael

Thanks for the info so far - I have a couple of questions...

Does th AVCHD need to be transcoded? Wouldn't this lose quality? My computer is a Macbook Pro just 2 years old and I have on order a Quad Core 27" iMac, so no probs with computing power :o)

As far as I can tell, the wider lens on the Sony takes it to the same as the Canon? Maybe I'm wrong tyhough - have you read that the Sony is now larger?

Progressive frame rates is what I get confused with - I don't really know what this means. I see the Canon saying 24p and 30p, and I see that the Sony now has a bitrate of 24Mbps. So is the 24Mbps also known as 24p or am I talking about completely different things here?

I wish there could just be one fantastic camera that has no cons!
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 03:37 AM   #4
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Hi Andy -

Let's see if I can help clear up a few things...

Both cams are AVCHD, your new quad core should be fine for editing, although I'm not familiar with Macs, a relatively newer quad core should be fine without need to transcode, but ALL components should be recent, as you can have unexpected bottlenecks when "upgrading" parts of a computer...

The new Sonys are due shortly, XR has a big hard drive, should be just a tad larger and weigh a tiny bit more than the CX, which uses flash memory. Otherwise they are comparable, both add manual control (which Sony had oversimplified in the opinion of many users, so manual control is a welcome return!), the new lens is approximately a 30mm equivalent, which is fairly wide field of view (earlier Sony cams were 46mm equivalent, and I believe the Canon cams are comparable to those earlier cams).

I think you're mixing up a big lens and filter thread with the field of view... Canon has 58mm threads and glass that seems huge, while Sony has 37mm threading and looks smaller, yet performs well. We will have to see how this new lens range works when the cameras actually become available.

There's some debate as to whether a lens range that has more "wide" on the wide end but less telephoto range is 'better" - will probably depend on your use, but I'll be glad to not feel like I need a WA in my bag. By my calculation the 550's will "natively" have the same angle/field of view as the 500's with a .7x WA attached.



To better compare, you should look at Canon's new top of the line HF-S21, which replaces the HF-S11, which was a essentially an "upgraded" HF-S10. The HF-S21 squares off against the CX550V pretty closely. Both "top of the line" Sony and Canon have 3.5" LCDs, viewfinders, and pretty good feature sets... on pure specs, it's a close horserace.

24Mbps refers to the data bitrate used for recording - there were some complaints about companies not using the "full" bitrate AVCHD was rated for, now it appears everyone will access the max bitrate (24Mbps). Basically it just means more data in the stream while recording. Earlier Sony cams maxxed at 16Mbps - personally, the video looked fine to me, but I guess maybe 24Mbps will be a bit better...

Sonys record 60i, meaning 60 interlaced frames per second. Canon allows you to use alternative frame rates, 24p and 30p wrapped in the 60i stream, and on the HF-S21 native 24p, meaning effectively 24 "progressive" or complete frames (pictures) per second.

You can find plently of debates on the pros and cons of the various methods of recording the image... there's no "right answer", although you'll hear plenty of people say that you HAVE to record 24p to get that "film look"... IMO with proper color work in post you'll get a "look", and you can render out to 24p.

I don't like the stutter/strobing that seems to go with the "p" footage, and it sticks out to me (not in a good way). Lots of others feel that the lack of 24p is a fatal flaw in the Sony cams... and higher end Sonys DO have the alternative frame rates... just not the "consumer" Sonys.

I have seen a review of the HF-S21, and it's too early for any reviews of the XR/CX550V... they compared against the CX500V (a camera I've got and am fairly impressed with), which held up pretty well considering. The Sony OIS still should be superior, and the low light capabilities of the Sony should be superior (when set properly - I still don't understand why one prominent "review" site can't seem to find the Sony low lux modes! It's not THAT hard...).

Presuming the lens is good, the new XR/CX550V's should be pretty potent little cameras. But to be quite honest, there are a LOT of really good little HD cameras that have come out in the last few years, Sony Canon and Panasonic have released some very good cameras any way you slice it.

Keep in mind these little cameras have their place and offer some serious "bang for your currency unit", but they are still small, consumer oriented devices. Still, what you can buy today is quite impressive, and you can shoot some great video with 'em!
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 09:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C.S. Michael View Post
.........
The one major weakness of the Sony (in my opinion) is the lack of progressive frame rates. You can deinterlace the footage, but you lose resolution in the process.
.........
The open question there is "what is the actual value of having progressive frame rates vs interlaced video in this context?". I'm taking 1080i clips and they look great on PCs and HDTVs both, so any deinterlacing problems in those two contexts are such that I can't detect them. What kind of video do I have to be taking and what kind of videographer do I have to be stylistically to have lack of progressive frame rates being a real issue in terms of me not getting the results I want? I'm not trying to be argumentative, I've just never really had anyone answer that question to my satisfaction yet, and I'm very technically oriented while still being very results oriented empirically. Why do I need progressive frame rates? Remove from that question cinematic modes like 24p - I know for a fact that I'm not interested in the "film look" so it's not a valid answer in this context. I guess I'm asking "why do I need 60p?".
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 09:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Goodyear View Post
........
Sony CX550VE Pros:

Good low light quality
........
I think arguably these cams have the best low-light quality out there in their niches, and this should maybe be "Great low light quality". With three prior camcorders, I basically didn't film indoors unless it was broad daylight. Now (with a CX500V), I'll do it whenever there's something I want to capture. And the reports from lots of other users of the already released 500 series cams are in many cases much more enthusiastic than what I just said. Sony nailed this one in 2009, I think.
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 11:39 PM   #7
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I agree that Sony have nailed the low light - some of the videos look stunning in these situations. While youcan never trust Youtube videos showing testing, I downloaded some full quality clips from both cameras on a side by side test, and the Sony was amazing.

In regards to the whole progressive vs interlaced argument (and I'm still not sure where I stand on the issue until I am educated more), if you filmed in interlaced mode, why would you then need to de-interlace? I don't get it.... sorry if I sound like I do not know what I am talking about!
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Old March 4th, 2010, 07:07 AM   #8
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You don't need to de-interlace. DVD's and most Bluray are interlaced. All TV's are set up to display interlace because that is the broadcast standard in most places. Some HD is 720P60 but most is 1080i. Deinterlacing on LCD and plasma is getting better ( the sets need to deinterlace because they are progressive at 60Hz in NA at least 50 in PAL).
IF you are shooting just for PC it may be different but for normal TV I think interlace is just fine and until we get 60p then it will be what i shoot.

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Old March 4th, 2010, 11:24 AM   #9
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I've seen people say that TVs use interlaced display technology and "computers" (presumably the graphics card, the monitor, or both) always use progressive display technology. You've answered the "why" for the TVs - to match broadcast specs, though I'm wondering if those are outdated for satellite high-def feeds.

But is the general bottom line that sometimes you need to de-interlace because your target output technology only accepts or works with progressive signals? With TVs generally using interlaced and PC monitors and/or graphics cards generally using progressive?

And then there's deinterlacing for upload to YouTube because they require it... <g>
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Old March 4th, 2010, 12:22 PM   #10
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One other camera for your consideration is the upcoming Panasonic HDC-TM700K (and its sibling, the HDC-HS700). It's priced in the same ballpark (around $1000 U.S.) as the HFS10 and the CX550V.

It's being touted as the world's first 60P camcorder. The HDC-TM700K will shoot 1080P 60P (not 60i, 60P).

Its 35mm lens is significantly wider than the Canon, though apparently not quite as wide as the Sony.

The Panasonic HDC-TM700K offers fully manual controls and a focus ring.

The Panny cameras will be available this spring, so those of you holding out for 60P won't have to wait long.
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Old March 4th, 2010, 05:06 PM   #11
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Just to be clear, the HDC-TM700 does both 60i and 60p. Based on the photos I've seen, 60p is enabled via a button on the left side (under the LCD when folded back). 60i is limited to 17Mbps, but 60p is rated at 28Mbps. Low light is supposedly on a par with the Sony, but we won't know for sure until we see some reviews.
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Old March 5th, 2010, 12:24 PM   #12
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The TM700 also does 1920x1080 24p but with pull-down added.
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Old March 16th, 2010, 01:53 AM   #13
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If you browse YouTube, some videos taken with Japanese TM700 cameras are now being posted. I'm impressed with what I've seen so far.

With three sensors, manual controls, a focus/iris ring, progressive frame rates, and a 35mm wide angle f1.5 lens, the TM700 looks very appealing. I am brand agnostic (own Sony, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, etc.), but this year it looks like Panasonic gets my money.

The estimated ship date of the TM700 in the United States is mid-April.
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Old March 16th, 2010, 01:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Goodyear View Post
.................
Anyway, that's surely a long enough post to get the ball rolling. I am hoping for some help here!
Re the Sony and Panny models, this thread looks pertinent:

Sony HDR-CX550V or Panasonic HDC-TM700? - Page 3 - AVS Forum
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Old March 16th, 2010, 03:36 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
Sonys record 60i, meaning 60 interlaced frames per second.
Actually, it means 60 interlaced fields per second. One field, consisting of all of the odd scan lines in a frame, is recorded in 1/60th of a second, while in the next 1/60th of a second, the other field, consisting of all of the even scan lines in a frame, is recorded. These two fields are combined to create a frame.

When people edit interlaced video on a progressive screen (most computers), they get freaked out when they see interlacing artifacts, but when displayed on a HDTV, there is no problem.
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