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Old June 19th, 2007, 12:58 AM   #1
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Noob Question!! I need a new Camcorder

HI Folks !!

Ok, my first post and as I am buying a new Camcorder with a budget of 800 - 1000 feel i need a little advice

I want to go High Definition and can't decide whether to go Tape or AVCHD

I feel I got screwed (!) with MicroMV format and feel very wary of going the same route

Am i right in thinking that AVCHD still isn't widespread with being able to edit?
I would preferably like to edit in Adobe Premiere or Final Cut and wondered if it was coming any time soon.

The idea of tapeless and hard drive (hours of recording via a Sony HDR-SR8 or Sony HDR-SR7 is very appealing), but I don't want to feel like i get stuffed.

I guess what I am trying to say is whether or not i should go with either of these camcorders or play safe and something like Sony HDR-HC7 , or the canon HC20 which also seems to be getting good reviews!

Also, my laptop is this one:
http://www.oninocomputing.co.uk/lapt...vgna297xp.html

it was quite an expensive laptop (2,000) for its time, and although the ram lets it down , if I add 2GB of ram to it) would it be able to cope with editing?

Any thoughts, opinions, advice more than welcomed!

Thanks

Samantha
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Old June 19th, 2007, 03:09 AM   #2
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Hi Samantha ...

Its my first post too !

I dearly wanted to go tapeless for my next camera, a companion and backup for my Sony FX1, which is HDV, and I wanted something a lot more portable but with comparable quality so that I could mix footage between the two (I record Amdram stage shows and the occasional wedding). But HDD and memory card cams all use AVCHD (H.264, a type of MPEG4) and are not HDV and this needs a fairly powerful PC just to play back recordings let alone edit as well. Its also fair to say that AVCHD cannot yet reach the quality of HDV, which is a fairly mature technology and relatively easy to edit even on an old PC like mine. (I use Premiere Pro 1.5 and Cineform Aspect HD, which makes editing HDV on my old 3.2 Ghz P4 very slick and easy.)

So, given the lack of heavyweight editing support for AVCHD, I went for another HDV cam - the Sony HC7 (712 at PRC), which has proved to be almost equal to the bigger FX1 in terms of picture quality despite having only a single CMOS chip. It is tiny, but has a vast range of features and manual overrides which are available through a touch sensitive screen or assignable to a single contol wheel. You could also look at the Canon HV20 which is similar, but without the LANC control.

Your laptop might struggle to edit HDV even with Cineform, but it would not cope with editing raw MPEG2 or AVCHD, and you would definitely need an external firewire drive or e-SATA drive to handle the bigger filesizes of HDV.

So If I were you I would stick with good old HDV, but if you are determined to go AVCHD then you could look at using Cineform (checkout the forum) because there is now a way of converting AVCHD to the Cineform intermediate codec so you can edit in PremPro with a less than state-of-the-art PC.

Good Luck

Tony
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Old June 19th, 2007, 07:57 AM   #3
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HI Tony!
Nice to meet you!

I have considered getting the new Hi Res Mac Book pro 17" as i hoped this and Studio 2 combined would be a good buy, it seems if hi res is goingto be a problem for me to edit then perhaps I should get new kit rather than have a headache with it?

How did you find the HC7 and PRC service's? (I wonder sometimes about internet companies) have also heard of Purely Gadgets as well, but didn't like the way the telephone call I made was handled, so disinterested and it sort of seemed they don't even have stock of ANYTHING !

Not heard much about Cineform, so going to read about it now ;-)

Thanks for the help, opinions and advice , welcome your reply!

Samantha
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Old June 19th, 2007, 08:18 AM   #4
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What kind of stuff are you working on Samantha? I get alot of customers telling me they want to go HD without really considering if its suitable for them yet...

Quote:
I have considered getting the new Hi Res Mac Book pro 17" as i hoped this and Studio 2 combined would be a good buy
This would be a great buy - but you'd find it a chore editing with AVCHD as you'd have to transpose all the footage to a format that FCP reads. Although having said that if you're only spending 800 - 1000 on a camera you'll be looking at the very lowest end of the HD market, you may be better off buying an older macbook, cheaper software and a better HDV camera - but without more info on what you're shooting/editing aims are its hard to give spot on advice.

I'll drop you a message with my direct line here if you want some good, slightly more dynamic advice :)
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Old June 19th, 2007, 10:00 AM   #5
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Samantha ...

By their own admission, PRC are box shifters, but they were very helpful and have a good showroom in Romford. Oddly, the Sony HC7 was only available from the showroom, so I had a long drive on a Bank Holiday Monday to pick it up.

The HC7 is a great little palmcorder - excellent picture quality, autofocus hunts a bit and the LCD a bit dim in daylight. You can manually control iris, shutter speed, WB but not gain throught the LCD panel or assign any one of them to the fiddly control wheel on the lens barrel. Fantastic quality and features for the price but its not exactly a Pro camera, and Jamie is right to suggest a better camera for the work you do. PRC was selling the Sony FX7 ( the 'consumer' verion of the V1) for around 1700 when I last looked. This is about the cheapest HDV camcorder with 'Pro' features.

As for shooting HDV, I've been doing it exclusively for two and a half years, producing everything in HD for my own use and downscaling to SD for my customers. I love HD and couldn't bear to shoot and watch anything less than than the best image quality. For me SD is history !

Tony
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Old June 19th, 2007, 10:08 AM   #6
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Quote:
and Jamie is right to suggest a better camera for the work you do. PRC was selling the Sony FX7 ( the 'consumer' verion of the V1) for around 1700 when I last looked. This is about the cheapest HDV camcorder with 'Pro' features.
If you're after Pro features on a low end HD then its between the FX7e (as mentioned) and the A1e - which includes 2 XLR inputs, ships with a much better external mic and has much better pro features than the FX. The main difference is probably the CMOS - because the A1 is so small it only has a 1/3" single CMOS chip, whereas the FX runs 3 'ClearVid' CMOS.

This advice is probably throwing up more questions for you so like I said feel free to give me a call on the number in that email - its a slow afternoon!
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Old June 20th, 2007, 02:06 AM   #7
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HI Folks

Had to turn my machines off yesterday because of the storms....

Ok, Appreciate your comments, and I still am getting the idea that AVCHD is still probably a format to avoid for now

I had considered the HDR-FX7 HDV Camcorder: with its RCA audio inputs rather than the professionally-oriented XLR audio inputs, is there anything else which predominantly sets it apart?

As for filming, ideally I would like to get more into developing music videos for clients (on a small scale) but also wouldn't mind something to capture my 1 years olds escapades

I do get "focus magazine" and have considered getting or trying for an accreditation so it is something i would like to take seriously.

Big price diff for me between the HC7/HV20 and the FX7 and trying to read between the differences is a tad confusing...

My concern on Cnet which states: "Each of the HDR-FX7's sensors has a lower resolution than the HDR-HC3's, though " http://reviews.cnet.co.uk/camcorders...9283420,00.htm

So does this mean that the overall Quality (resolution) is better on the HC3 (and the HC7 obviously which i was considering which has since superseded it) - as there is a 1,000 between them then its

I have had about three camcorders in 6 years - i made the mistake of investing in a DCRIPip7 micro MV camcorder which doesn't work (is it worth repairing ha ha!) and having to revert back to an older but solid camcorder and the investment of three High Definition TV's means HiDef is something i definatelty want to shoot

Why, Oh WHY! doesn't AVCHD have better support in editing?

Shooting editing aims:
I look at FC Studio 2 and its something I would really love to buy and get into....

Hope to win the lottery as well!

Thanks for the offer of phone help! I will continue to try and sift through things and may take you up on that ! although the advice on forums leaves a footprint for others which i always think is better for others to help make up their minds as i guess others have similar problems!

So i guess its down to
Sony HC7
FX1/7
Canon HV20

not checked out JVC's out yet either -so if any thoughts on these it would be great

I don't know why but I keep getting "lured" back by Hard Drives and AVCHD, just feel a bit staggered they haven't sorted out the editing aspect.

My other question is what do you guys think of the extended warranties?


again, much appreciated
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Old June 20th, 2007, 04:34 AM   #8
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Hi again Samantha ...

I wish I'd had an HD camcorder when my kids were young. Despite being restricted by a very bulky VHS portable system, I recorded the kids growing up at every opportunity, and the recordings, (now on DVD) are priceless.
Its amazing just how much you forget about kids when they are young, but the videos bring it all back.
My daughter is still proud of her 'music' video that I shot on VHS when she was barely a year old - she's 25 now and has the video on DVD.

So an HC7 would be ideal for those baby pics being so portable - you'll find you will take it to places the FX7 or bigger cams will never go because they
are that much bulkier. Also being a 'consumer' cam, it has bizzare features such as nightshot with infrared light for shooting in the dark and also a 6 megapixel still facility.

The consensus about the FX7 is that its 3 CMOS chips give very good HD resolution, possibly better than the old FX1, but that CMOS is noiser in low light, and I've seen evidence of this with my HC7 which is noticeably noiser than my FX1 in low light (often the only way I can tell the difference). But the FX7 does have a x20 zoom, which is unusual at this price.

JVC only have their new HD7 in this price range. Its a bit of a maverick because its a hard-drive machine with memory card slots that records in an MPEG2 format that is not compatible with HDV without a lot
of faffing about with file conversion. On paper it should have been the best cam of its type but there are doubts about image quality and ease of editing.

Don't go oveboard on specs - nothing is perfect and whatever you buy will have its faults, and the forums are full of people who delight in telling you what they are. Just forget the numbers, buy something and start enjoying the image quality !

Also don't worry about XLR input - if you are serious about audio you'll be mixing/recording externally (I use an Alesis firewire mixer) and combiining audio and video in post, or feeding a mix to the cam through its mini-jack.

As for AVCHD, you could do as I did with HDV - just buy the camcorder, enjoy the gorgeous HD images and wait for the editing technology to catch up over the next year, as it surely will.
Then you can buy the most suitable hardware and software combination to edit your growing collection of AVCHD recordings.

Good to hear you read 'Focus'. I'm an IOV member (no.A0128) and find the monthly meetings invaluable for meeting other with the same interest, ranging from old blokes with a hobby through to people running their own video businesses.
It all helps to keep the enthusiasm going, and theres also the annual IOV trade show in October, when you can get yours hands on the kit and ask questions. I bought my FX1 at a trade show 2 minutes after laying hands on one for the first time - seeing a live HD feed on a big plasma clinched it !

So, bottom line - buy an HC7/HV20 or maybe the new SR7 AVCHD cam, get your HD experience chasing the toddler with it and worry about the editing bit later. Only a video geek is going to notice that your using a 'consumer' cam and not a 'pro' cam from the images alone, and with skill and practice you can make it do most of the things the pro cams can do anyway.

Tony
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Old June 20th, 2007, 05:15 AM   #9
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Thanks Tony for your advice! Nice to speak to someone who doesn't find it unusual for a female to be doing this, as I got some stick on an American forum

I am steering to a HC7 , the FX7 issues in low light can surely be overcome with additional lighting in any case I guess?

The FX7 with 20x Optical? thats outstanding! Will have to have another look at this later tdoday

have also read some Shaky reviews on JVC , so may avoid!

will google about Alesis firewire mixer, sounds interesting and something I may want to add to the mix!

I did several times consider submitting a video for the accreditation, but not sure if I am good enough, even though been doing it for ten years now, i guess i don't feel as confident.....

Is there any real difference in zoom quality ibetween the Sony HDR-SR7 and the HC7......

my heart tells me AVCHD, my brain says avoid :)
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Old June 20th, 2007, 06:13 AM   #10
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Vegas and Canopus Edius PRO 4 will edit AVCHD as well as some of the more consumer programs from Pinnacle and Ulead.

Ron E ans
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Old June 20th, 2007, 07:37 AM   #11
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Samantha ...

I never use lights. They dazzle people and completely kill any atmosphere quite apart from being a pain to carry and set up - you just have to put up with the low light noisiness inherent in the CMOS sensors in the FX7/HC7/SR7 etc. Its just another thing the geeks will point a finger at, but when it comes down to it, your eye is drawn to the subject in the shot and ignores the noise inthe shadows. I shot the 'first dance' at Wedding with my FX1 where the lighting was very poor but I set it to maximum gain, dropped the shutter to speed to 1/25th and circled round the couple as they danced.
Yes it was noisy, but I got the shot and the customer loved it.

Looking at the spec of the SR7 it seems to be identical to the HC7, so the choice is down to which recorder you have bolted to the side ! They both have mic. and headphone sockets and I know the HC7 works well with the Alesis mixer as long as you use manual level control on the cam.
Alternatively, for around 150 you can buy a Beachtek adaptor that lets you plug two XLR mics into the mini-jack.

As Ron point out, there are already some edit solutions for AVCHD, but you'll need a serious hardware upgrade to handle it - anything dual-core should be OK. Of course, you can have the best of both worlds by plugging your HC7/FX7 into your existing laptop and recording direct to disk, leaving the tape as a backup. Not as portable as a HDD camcorder, but its what I'm going to do next for stage work in order to avoid the pain of capturing from HDV tape.

Accreditation with the IOV is fine, but I've not bothered with it since gaining Membership. You can still join the IOV as an associate and get the qualifiications later if you want.

Tony.
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Old June 20th, 2007, 12:55 PM   #12
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I have just picked up a SR7 to use as general camera and second cam to my FX1. Only had it an hour or so but the picture both inside the house and outside of trees etc is really impressive. I too will use laptop to record directly from the FX1 to save capturing when the new CS3 Premiere comes out. I will do some more tests this weekend comparing to the FX1.

Ron Evans
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Old June 20th, 2007, 02:33 PM   #13
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Nice one Ron !
Any idea yet how you are going to get your AVCHD footage into Premiere CS3 ?
Does the cam come with any software that might help ?

Tony
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Old June 20th, 2007, 06:40 PM   #14
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My main editing software is Edius and I don't think I will change. CS3 has On Location ( DV Rack HD, upgrade cost for CS3 is less than DV Rack HD!!!!) and Encore that I will use but likely not Premiere itself, though Cineform will also convert I think.

Ron Evans
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Old June 20th, 2007, 08:43 PM   #15
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I have tested the SR7 a little more this evening and have the following to offer. Viewing the data code, images taken below 6db of gain are just lovely. The camera uses too much gain up when things get dark making the image a lot brighter than reality, this applied gain gives the encoder a problem and the image suffer badly. This however is not reality and bringing the exposure down to make the picture more like real and things sort themselves out again. This is unfortunate because the poor user who just leaves it in auto will not get the best picture( as expected!!!). Again looking at the data code auto tries to keep the aperture at F4.8, varying shutter speed with gain at 0 db. Closeups of a flower gave data code of 60th, F2.4 and 3db of gain in auto!!! The image was beautiful!!!
Moving around in darker areas to force the use of gain it looks like gain above 9db starts to give problems to the encoder.
Will do some more testing tomorrow but I am pleased so far with what I expected from this camera and it is very convenient. I will compare to a HC96 I have which I think may have a very similar performance as it too sort of falls apart above 9 db and is a lot worse above 12db than the SR7. In comparison my FX1 is quite usable at 12db and visually acceptable even at 18db for a dark party scene.

Ron Evans
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