Considering the HV20 as my next camera.. at DVinfo.net

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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
For VIXIA / LEGRIA Series (HF G, HF S, HF and HV) consumer camcorders.


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Old December 5th, 2007, 11:51 AM   #1
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Considering the HV20 as my next camera..

I've been shooting with a Canon GL1 for quite some time now and I'm looking to take the leap into the world of HDV (for a price that won't put me in debt for three years). I've been seriously considering purchasing an HV20 as my next camera. The only thing is, there are a few features and design flaws on this camera that I'm not to sure about and I wanted to see what some of you HV20 users are doing to work around some of these quirks...

First off...I hate the stationary design of the viewfinder on this thing and how you can't extend it out at all..what if you want to put a bigger extended life battery on the HV20..you would have no access into the viewfinder..that sux.

also, lack of manual focus ring and crappy zoom control..these are two features on my GL1 that I love..a big burly zoom rocker and nice big rubberized focus ring...these features are non existent on the hv20 and will definitely take some getting used to!

Now, I've been checking out HV20 videos on Vimeo.com for the past couple days and have been absolutely blown away by them. I love the video that this camera produces. Million times better than my GL1 footage (I know its a whole different medium)..It's funny that the GL1 and GL2 are considered Prosumer cams (due to the aformentioned features), and you have this little consumer-looking cam (HV20) that shoots video that's twice as incredible as these standard def cams for half the price.

I guess what I'm getting at is: how many people are getting professional work with these HV20s?? I mean obvioulsy the video they shoot is phenomenal, but as far as camera image goes..it looks like a toy...I think I'd get laughed at if I brought one to a wedding/corporate or live music shoot..I feel like I'd always have to give a disclaimer before a shoot.."it may not look like much, but wait til you see the image this baby produces!!"..maybe I'm just thinking into it too much, but man, I wish I could take the guts out of the HV20 and transplant them into a GL1/2, for a much cooler looking and feelin camera..wishful thinking...In the end though..I feel that video quality outweighs certain design flaws any day...

just some venting,
~brendan
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Old December 5th, 2007, 01:19 PM   #2
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I speak as a GL1 owner, and now a XH-A1 user. And I've used the HV20 a bit.

If you like the GL1 and its form factor and ergonomics, you stand a good chance of being somewhat disappointed with the HV20. The XH-A1 is much better as a serous camcorder fro serious (not point and shoota) use.

However, if you want something small and HDV, and have no need for a lot of professional features, the HV20 is a good choice. While the HV20 provides a great image in decent light, it does not come close to the XH-A1 as light starts to fail or in user controls. A number of folks do have a HV20 in their bag as a second (or back up) camcorder, and use it as a player for capture.

The the primary HV20 advantage is cost, and if you need it, a much smaller size, and the HDMI terminal. On just about all other counts the XH-A1 wins or it is a tie.

FWIW, the current price point of the XH-A1 in constant dollars (corrected for inflation), is roughly the same as the GL1 when it was introduced.

And IMHO, comparing DV-SD to HDV is about like comparing VHS to DV.
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Old December 5th, 2007, 02:24 PM   #3
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I'm a GL1 and HV20 owner... IMO, the HV20 has the advantage over the GL1 in every category except ergonomics. If you're an event shooter, then ergonomics are obviously very important -- you don't want to be fumbling with controls during some non-repeatable event.

If you're comparing the XH-A1 to the HV20, you're talking about a $3000 difference for slightly better image quality and much better ergonomics.

If you're worried about looking professional, then spend that $3k on a 35mm adapter, mattebox, follow focus, and clip-on HD monitor. That will look more professional than the A1, but it will be even more of a hassle to deal with in a live scenario. :)
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Old December 5th, 2007, 02:27 PM   #4
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Professional Camera ?

I don't think you can consider this a professional camera. Can you take professional looking video, yes.

Re: Camera control- With various work arounds, you can maintain a reasonable amount of control on exposure factors including shutter speed, aperature, and gain. That control is not absolute, and at times you are forced to use an automated setting, even in a manual control setting.

Re: Low Light- Not good in 60i, a bit better in 24p, but still not like PD170.

Re: Focus control: First of all, the instant auto focus actually is pretty darn good. You can in point at the subject you want in focus, it will instantly focus, then turn autofocus off at the push of a button, and it will keep that focus. Second, I made a wheel device to give more control of the little focus wheel. Others have made some pretty nice looking ones.

Re: Professional look... camera just doesn't look that profession. You can dress it up, though, to get a better professional image.
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Old December 5th, 2007, 06:06 PM   #5
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What do you want to accomplish with it?

I think you have to answer this question first. If you want outstanding image quality in a small form factor than the HV 20 meets those needs. If you are interested in a camera with lots of manual controls and the look and feel of a top-end pro rig, this is definitely not what you want.

It's a wonderful entry point tool but it will never give you all the features of the higher end devices. But you have to determine whether you really need those features or just covet them because other people have the big rigs. I say that as a coveter myself, but the HV 20 does all I ask of it in terms of image quality so it meets my needs. I'm a novice but people think I shot my little films on a pro rig based on the image.

The audio is the weak link I think. There are work-arounds (ones that you'd probably want to do even with a higher quality camera such as having a mixer) but again you have to know what you want to accomplish before you choose. There are people turning out wonderful product with this. I use the small size to my advantage so people don't feel intimidated.

As for focus, the viewfinder etc, no device is going to be perfect. But the HV 20 is about as good as you'll get in this price range. I'd make the purchase again and--when I do upgrade to a pro rig I will keep this as a second camera.

Cheers
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Old December 6th, 2007, 12:06 AM   #6
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Like most people have said, it totally depends on what's important to you, and how you'll be using the camera.

I own 2 HV20's and use them in professional production (even National Ads) exclusively. I consider it an UPGRADE from my 5000 dollar (at the time) JVC HD100.

Granted, the ergonomics and "professional" features are seriously lacking, it produces OUTSTANDING looking footage for 700 bucks. That's of course coming out of the HDMI port and capturing uncompressed or with Cineform. But of course this comes with it's fair share of hassle.

Can't really answer this question without assessing your requirements and operating circumstances. But there's absolutely no doubt this camera can spit out an image. I basically use the camera for it's fantastic CMOS chip and use other devices for just about everything else. Brevis in front, HDMI capture station in the rear, Monitor on top, audio seperately.

Hope this helps you somewhat. Feel free to ask questions, and if you're interested i can point you to some work produced from the hv20.

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Old December 6th, 2007, 12:39 AM   #7
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Definitely don't bother with the on-camera mics OR the mic input. Across the board, professional camera or not, it's usually best to shoot double system.
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Old December 6th, 2007, 02:16 AM   #8
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We shot this in the 2007 San Fransico 48 Hour film contest using the HV20, a Letus35a adapter, and captured sound with a Beachtek adapter single system. Mic was the Sennhieser ME66.

This is YouTube version, but its not the best sound reproduction, but you can get an idea. Had a great sound guy with field mixer feeding my camera.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s3hDShqe18
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Old December 6th, 2007, 10:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Syverson View Post
Definitely don't bother with the on-camera mics OR the mic input. Across the board, professional camera or not, it's usually best to shoot double system.
I agree with the need for a separate audio system for serious applications Ben, but is there a specific reason not to use the mic jack on the hv20 (bad sound?)...I have a Rode Videomic, that I like to use for more candid videos, and I always get great sound with it through the mic jack of my GL1. please advise..

~brendan
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Old December 6th, 2007, 10:48 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dale Backus View Post
That's of course coming out of the HDMI port and capturing uncompressed or with Cineform. But of course this comes with it's fair share of hassle.
Dale, HDV shooting is definately a whole new world for me..Could you briefly describe the processes of uncompressed capturing via HDMI or cineform?? thanks!

To answer your questions..at this point, i am mainly doing some weddings, live music and some comedy sketch writing with some friends (which we hope to produce in the near future)..I would definately consider myself an amateur when it comes to video production..(I come from an audio production background..), but I am extremely interested in video production and learning all I can about it (I'm a knowledge soaking "sponge"), so thanks everyone for your input and advice!

i guess I have just been spoiled by some of the "pro" features and ergonomics of my GL1 and I consider the HV20, a step-down physically as a camera, but it is definitely a step up quality-wise in terms of the image. After seeing a lot of people's HV20 setups, I'm fairly certain I could work around some of the limitations of this camera and make good things happen (as my knowledge and technique progresses also)..

CHRIS: I enjoyed the "Milestones" video, looked great, even for Youtube.. I read in the comments that the cut was pre-color correction..do you have a link to the CC'ed version??

Thanks again everyone!
~brendan
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Old December 6th, 2007, 12:09 PM   #11
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The specific reasons to avoid the Mic jacks on the HV20 are: the A/D converter is consumer-grade, the camera's pre-amps are noisy, it tethers the camera and the mic (annoying), and you wind up compressing your audio heavily as part of the HDV standard. Nothing specific about the HV20, just general reasons to avoid on-camera sound.

All that said, the on-board audio is a massive step UP from the GL1, because on the HV20, you can lock the gain settings and then adjust them up and down. The GL1 only has auto gain control.
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Old December 6th, 2007, 01:37 PM   #12
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Milestones film was retitled and reedited to "Reasons to Celebrate": Another SD version is here, and producer is tracking down the HD version, and may be able to give link.

http://crackle.com/c/Shorts/Reasons_...te/2028026/#ml
=fk%3DReasons%2520to%2520Celebrate%26fx%3D%26o%3D7
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Old December 6th, 2007, 02:30 PM   #13
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Actyally HV20 has better picture quality than XH A1 when there`s enough light.
No 3CCD related chromatic aberrations and vertical light streaks, everything is just plain perfect even in low light actually. I`ve tried to brake up the HDV compression on that cam put it`s short GOP is hard to beat when compared to Sony`s long GOP.

Cheers,
T
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Old December 6th, 2007, 05:16 PM   #14
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Brendan,

If you're just getting into the insane world of video production, HDV will probably be just fine for you. It looks great, don't get me wrong, but if you're doing a lot of post effects work, keying, etc, the extra bandwidth REALLY makes a difference. HDV starts really visually degrading under high motion instances (it basically looks at a few frames per second and interpolates the remainder of frames somehow - not totally educated on this).

Weddings and Comedy things are probably just fine. HOWEVER, i probably wouldn't recommend this camera for a lot of live event shooting because of the poor ergonomics and manual control. Doesn't mean it can't be done though. If you're doing Weddings with plenty of light or outdoors, the HV20 would be fine. The image quality is just so remarkable it's worth living with the downsides (especiallly for the cost).

As for the HDMI recording. The purpose of it, is obviously beat the quality of HDV. HDV has a bitrate of 4:2:0, and it's actually 1440x1080. When you come out the HDMI port, you're getting 4:2:2 and a full 1920x1080. This really helps when keying and processing the footage. You also have a ton more latitude in the footage. Brightening up dark images and overal color correction is hugely improved. If you looked at a still image of the same thing recorded using the two methods side by side, few could tell a difference. But once you start processing it in the least, the differences REALLY jump out at you.

To do this though, you need a capable computer with the Blackmagic Intensity Card, an HDMI cable and any other accessories (monitor power etc). Then, you pay the 600 bucks or whatever for Cineform, and you're recording FANTASTIC looking footage inside and out at 8mb a sec. Not bad.

If you want more details on anything, let me know. Hope this helps.

Dale
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Old December 6th, 2007, 10:02 PM   #15
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Yes for Production

I just worked on a set where an HV20 along with a 35mm adapter, and HDMI capture were all used. A commerical promotional video, and yes, it worked great - all shot at 24P, and yes, it's true 24P when it's reverse-telecined.

The client loves it ;)

As for HDV, it's great as well - all B-Roll was shot in HDV and intercut with the uncompressed stuff - on SD screens (as the final product will be in SD) no one can tell the HDV footage is lesser than the uncompressed footage.

The HV20 will not automatically make anyone who buys it a pro, but if a pro picks it up, learns it's quirks, then it can produce great stuff.

My suggestion: just go and buy one! We're all here to support you..
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