Canon HV30 vs. Canon HF100 vs. (a Sony?) 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 April 6th, 2008, 11:05 PM   #1
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Canon HV30 vs. Canon HF100 vs. (a Sony?)

I am in the market for a new camcorder - this time HD.

I have studied forum posts, read reviews, and questions remain...

1. I have heard great things about the Canon HV30 (but never saw any footage). I heard this camcorder beats everything in its price range in HDV. It is my current favorite. Is this true?

2. I have read the comparison of HV30 and HF10/100. The text says the image quality is almost the same. But the images they give you don't support this claim.

I have the impression, that the hv30 is sharper, shows more detail, has better blacks, and better edge definition. Would you say this is correct?

3. If I intend to do panning and tracking, should I still go for HDV rather than AVCHD?

4. I want to use my microphone, a Sennheiser me-66 (with an XLR adapter, of course). Is this possible with both cameras?

5. How do those camcorders record sound? Good enough quality?

6. Can you recommend any Sony camcorders, and how would they compare? A friend of mine has a few CX-7, and he loves them, but I read they are noisy in low light.

Lots of questions, I know. I hope I'm not overdoing it at post number 2.

Thanks!

Ps: I edit on Final Cut Studio 2.
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Old April 7th, 2008, 08:18 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Sean James View Post
1. I have heard great things about the Canon HV30 (but never saw any footage). I heard this camcorder beats everything in its price range in HDV. It is my current favorite. Is this true?
Totally subjective question unfortunately. I've used the HV20 and I think it produces an incredible image. In my opinion the AVCHD encoders just aren't *quite* up to speed yet. Everytime I see a hi-rez screenshot from an AVCHD cam I can just tell its lower bitrate MPEG4. I'm actually not a fan of MPEG2 by any means, but as it stands right now the real-time MPEG2 encoders are extremely refined and well developed. The latest round of AVCHD cams have certainly closed the gap and I bet in another one or two generations AVCHD cams will overtake HDV cams in quality. So for *right now*, I'd recommend the HV30 for best image quality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean James View Post
2. I have read the comparison of HV30 and HF10/100. The text says the image quality is almost the same. But the images they give you don't support this claim.

I have the impression, that the hv30 is sharper, shows more detail, has better blacks, and better edge definition. Would you say this is correct?
See my response to #1.

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Originally Posted by Sean James View Post
3. If I intend to do panning and tracking, should I still go for HDV rather than AVCHD?
Should be no discernable difference, I wouldn't personally factor that into the decision.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean James View Post
4. I want to use my microphone, a Sennheiser me-66 (with an XLR adapter, of course). Is this possible with both cameras?
Hmm... check the accessory shoes on these cams. I think Sony moved to a proprietary shoe, and Canon's F10/100 may have done so as well. I think the HV30 has a normal shoe for easier mounting. You may have to get one of those accessory arms that screws into the tripod mount and put the mic on that. I'm not familiar with the ME-66, but obviously these cams don't have XLR inputs so you'll need to work that. If the mic can run under battery power then you can probably squeeze buy with a simple XLR->1/8th cable (I've gotten these from B&H).

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Originally Posted by Sean James View Post
5. How do those camcorders record sound? Good enough quality?
Er... well they're adequate. What are your expectations? With an external mic it should sound pretty good, but these cams don't feature very high end electronics, so don't expect them to sound like $2,000 field recorders :)

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Originally Posted by Sean James View Post
6. Can you recommend any Sony camcorders, and how would they compare? A friend of mine has a few CX-7, and he loves them, but I read they are noisy in low light.
I'm a Canon guy, so I have no clue. Sony is certainly a competent company and can produce outstanding product when they choose to. I still remember shooting with the TRV900 - groundbreaking!


Before deciding on a cam, you might want to hit some of your electronics retailers and try them out in person. See how they handle, check out where the inputs are, verify the accessory shoe sizes, use the menu systems, etc...
And bring your own SD card and DV tape and try recording some video onto those from the different cams and take the footage home to see how you like it. And don't forget about features; do you need 24P or not? 30P? How much manual control do you need? And if the cam you're looking at has the manual controls you want, are they easy to get to or buried somewhere in a menu?

What's the point in buying the HV30 if you hate how it handles? Or maybe you buy the Sony but hate the menus with a passion? Extracting the very last bit of best possible image quality isn't *always* the only priority :) For example, while I think the HV30 is still the best consumer HD cam out right now, I'd probably by the F100 for normal home video use. I'm sure the AVCHD footage coming from it will still look fantastic on my HDTV and I LOVE the idea of simple solid state recording.
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Old April 7th, 2008, 09:00 AM   #3
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Excellent post Philip, much appreciated...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Williams View Post
I think Sony moved to a proprietary shoe, and Canon's F10/100 may have done so as well.
Canon have definitely done so on the HF series.

Quote:
Extracting the very last bit of best possible image quality isn't *always* the only priority :)
The post of the day goes to you, and it's not yet even 9am here... thanks again,
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Old April 7th, 2008, 11:45 AM   #4
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The only thing I would add is that both the HV & HF series cameras have an external mic in but neither have XLR inputs. A Beachtek, Juicedlink, or other adaptor would be needed for XLR mics. As for as a proprietary shoe goes, that would only come into play if you were using a hot shoe mic, which it doesn't sound like you are, so I would say the proprietary shoe on the HF series is not a con as for as connecting your XLR mic of choice to the camera.

I just bought my second HV camera, an HV30 and feel that both of the HV cameras do very well for a consumer camcorder. I am following the HF type of cameras very closely and would love to see reviews comparing the control functions of them to the HV's. If they both had the same control ability, I wouldn't hesitate to purchase the HF10/100 to get into the AVCHD fray. Like was previously stated, I feel certain that AVCHD technology is going to replace tape in the not too distant future. I love the idea of almost instant capture to the NLE. A good laptop and a spare memory chip would be essential for doing field recording with the HF type camcorders.
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Old April 7th, 2008, 11:53 AM   #5
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Controlling an HV is easier than an HF because the Function button and omni selector joystick are conveniently located on the back of the HV camera body and therefore are more easily accessible by the right thumb, whereas on the HF these controls are on the flip-out LCD panel, requiring two hands to manipulate (one to hold the camera, the other to maneuver through the controls).
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Old April 7th, 2008, 11:54 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by John Hotze View Post
As for as a proprietary shoe goes, that would only come into play if you were using a hot shoe mic, which it doesn't sound like you are, so I would say the proprietary shoe on the HF series is not a con as for as connecting your XLR mic of choice to the camera.
Actually the shoe size is different, so any standard shoe mounted mics or mic holders are incompatable.
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Old April 7th, 2008, 01:35 PM   #7
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And bring your own SD card and DV tape and try recording some video onto those from the different cams and take the footage home to see how you like it.
I've also been shopping for camcorders and have a question about this. I have taken footage from AVCHD cams home on an SD card and viewed them with no problem, but with HDV, I only have an older DV camcorder. So, can I use a DV camcorder to get the data off of an HDV tape? I realize that the camcorder won't be able to *play* the tape, but will it pass the raw data through to the the firewire port so I can capture it on a computer?
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Old April 7th, 2008, 03:22 PM   #8
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So, can I use a DV camcorder to get the data off of an HDV tape?
Sorry, won't work :(
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Old April 7th, 2008, 03:28 PM   #9
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Sorry, won't work :(
I was guessing that might be so, but I thought I'd ask, just in case. Thanks for the info.
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Old April 7th, 2008, 03:41 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Philip Williams View Post
Totally subjective question unfortunately. I've used the HV20 and I think it produces an incredible image. In my opinion the AVCHD encoders just aren't *quite* up to speed yet. Everytime I see a hi-rez screenshot from an AVCHD cam I can just tell its lower bitrate MPEG4. I'm actually not a fan of MPEG2 by any means, but as it stands right now the real-time MPEG2 encoders are extremely refined and well developed. The latest round of AVCHD cams have certainly closed the gap and I bet in another one or two generations AVCHD cams will overtake HDV cams in quality. So for *right now*, I'd recommend the HV30 for best image quality.


See my response to #1.


Should be no discernable difference, I wouldn't personally factor that into the decision.


Hmm... check the accessory shoes on these cams. I think Sony moved to a proprietary shoe, and Canon's F10/100 may have done so as well. I think the HV30 has a normal shoe for easier mounting. You may have to get one of those accessory arms that screws into the tripod mount and put the mic on that. I'm not familiar with the ME-66, but obviously these cams don't have XLR inputs so you'll need to work that. If the mic can run under battery power then you can probably squeeze buy with a simple XLR->1/8th cable (I've gotten these from B&H).


Er... well they're adequate. What are your expectations? With an external mic it should sound pretty good, but these cams don't feature very high end electronics, so don't expect them to sound like $2,000 field recorders :)


I'm a Canon guy, so I have no clue. Sony is certainly a competent company and can produce outstanding product when they choose to. I still remember shooting with the TRV900 - groundbreaking!


Before deciding on a cam, you might want to hit some of your electronics retailers and try them out in person. See how they handle, check out where the inputs are, verify the accessory shoe sizes, use the menu systems, etc...
And bring your own SD card and DV tape and try recording some video onto those from the different cams and take the footage home to see how you like it. And don't forget about features; do you need 24P or not? 30P? How much manual control do you need? And if the cam you're looking at has the manual controls you want, are they easy to get to or buried somewhere in a menu?

What's the point in buying the HV30 if you hate how it handles? Or maybe you buy the Sony but hate the menus with a passion? Extracting the very last bit of best possible image quality isn't *always* the only priority :) For example, while I think the HV30 is still the best consumer HD cam out right now, I'd probably by the F100 for normal home video use. I'm sure the AVCHD footage coming from it will still look fantastic on my HDTV and I LOVE the idea of simple solid state recording.
Thank you for this detailed response!

Yes, the HF100 has some proprietary shoe, I found out. But as long as I can plug in my microphone with the 1/8 adapter, I'm fine with that, even though not thrilled.

Very good comment about liking the handling. I will go out and see. I'm used to Panasonic menus, and also like how they are operated.

I am also very much tempted by tapeless recording. I played around with a friend's Sony cx-7, and it is really great to operate. But I heard bad things about its low light ability.
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Old April 7th, 2008, 03:44 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Philip Williams View Post
Before deciding on a cam, you might want to hit some of your electronics retailers and try them out in person. See how they handle, check out where the inputs are, verify the accessory shoe sizes, use the menu systems, etc...
And bring your own SD card and DV tape and try recording some video onto those from the different cams and take the footage home to see how you like it.

(...)

Extracting the very last bit of best possible image quality isn't *always* the only priority :)
Just wanted to extract two key points I want to take into close consideration.

Especially the comment about the maximum image quality. What's the point of "best quality" if you hate how it operates.

Thanks again!
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Old April 7th, 2008, 03:46 PM   #12
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Controlling an HV is easier than an HF because the Function button and omni selector joystick are conveniently located on the back of the HV camera body and therefore are more easily accessible by the right thumb, whereas on the HF these controls are on the flip-out LCD panel, requiring two hands to manipulate (one to hold the camera, the other to maneuver through the controls).
Good point! I'll check that out.
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Old April 7th, 2008, 04:08 PM   #13
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Just wanted to extract two key points I want to take into close consideration.

Especially the comment about the maximum image quality. What's the point of "best quality" if you hate how it operates.

Thanks again!
As a fellow camera shopper, I would just add one thing. I've been looking at and testing a number of camcorders in the stores, and one thing I've decided is that you pretty much have to ignore almost any subjective things you may have read on popular review sites. Most of these high end consumer cameras have decent image quality. The differences, although discernible, are often fairly small. This is all personal opinion of course, but I think some of these review sites have become a disservice to consumers by making huge deals out of sometimes very small differences and making people feel uncomfortable buying a camera that they like.

As with still photography, the biggest single effect on how good your video will look will be your own creativity and skill.

As others have said, rank your features and see which camera you seem the most comfortable with. I'm relatively new to video, but I've been doing non-professional still photography for 35 years and I've almost never owned cameras that were the most popular, or that were Pop Photo's camera of the year, yet I feel I've been happier for it because the cameras I bought matched my own style.
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Old April 7th, 2008, 04:46 PM   #14
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...I think some of these review sites have become a disservice to consumers by making huge deals out of sometimes very small differences and making people feel uncomfortable buying a camera that they like.
Yes, yes, yes -- *thank you* for articulating a major point that I've been trying to make around here for years! Much appreciated,
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Old April 7th, 2008, 08:02 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Dave Rosky View Post
As a fellow camera shopper, I would just add one thing. I've been looking at and testing a number of camcorders in the stores, and one thing I've decided is that you pretty much have to ignore almost any subjective things you may have read on popular review sites. Most of these high end consumer cameras have decent image quality. The differences, although discernible, are often fairly small. This is all personal opinion of course, but I think some of these review sites have become a disservice to consumers by making huge deals out of sometimes very small differences and making people feel uncomfortable buying a camera that they like.

As with still photography, the biggest single effect on how good your video will look will be your own creativity and skill.

As others have said, rank your features and see which camera you seem the most comfortable with. I'm relatively new to video, but I've been doing non-professional still photography for 35 years and I've almost never owned cameras that were the most popular, or that were Pop Photo's camera of the year, yet I feel I've been happier for it because the cameras I bought matched my own style.
Wonderful comments.

I also wonder sometimes how those judgements come together, and why every test site seems to have their favorite brands. And I wonder how reliable those frame grabs are that sometimes accompany those reviews.

This discussion takes very interesting turns.


So I will go out in the next week and get my hand on real life camcorders and let you all know what I encountered.

PS: So far I have only owned Panasonic camcorders (which I liked). But I'm open to any brand.
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