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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
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Old April 26th, 2009, 06:48 PM   #1
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Hv30 for pro use?

I am in need of a compact, unobtrusive HD camera and something that records HDV to tape, no memory cards or hard drives. The HV30 also appeals to me because of its 24F recording mode, which I am hoping will be an ok match for my 24p footage from my JVC HD110.

So far the HV30 is the only camera I have found that seems to meet all of my criteria. I am looking for feedback from current HV30 users- specifically is there any reason the HV30 might not work for me or anything I should watch out for? Also- what accessories should I get for the HV30 to make it more suitable for professional use? I am already planning on purchasing a larger lens hood to prevent light from entering the lens at extreme angles and a rode videomic.
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Old April 26th, 2009, 07:27 PM   #2
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I moved from a PD170 to the HV20 about a year ago. It produces a really amazing image for the price. If you can deal with the ergonomics of the tiny beast, I think it will do well for you.
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Old April 26th, 2009, 08:30 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Grunseth View Post
I am in need of a compact, unobtrusive HD camera and something that records HDV to tape, no memory cards or hard drives. The HV30 also appeals to me because of its 24F recording mode, which I am hoping will be an ok match for my 24p footage from my JVC HD110.

So far the HV30 is the only camera I have found that seems to meet all of my criteria. I am looking for feedback from current HV30 users- specifically is there any reason the HV30 might not work for me or anything I should watch out for? Also- what accessories should I get for the HV30 to make it more suitable for professional use? I am already planning on purchasing a larger lens hood to prevent light from entering the lens at extreme angles and a rode videomic.
The HV30 works well for me. I have two. Both have 43-52 mm step-up rings, Rode Videomics, Hama 52 mm wide angle rigid lens hoods, an assortment of 52 mm neutral density and circular polarizer filters, and the FOCUS RING from Irv Design. In addition, when shooting outdoors in bright sunlight I move the videomic to a bracket to give better access to the HV30's small viewfinder. The lcd, even with a hoodman lens hood, isn't that good in bright sunlight. Yesterday I was at a large airshow and the focus ring worked very well with the circular polarizer while following the aerial acrobatics with a real fluid head and tripod. All the accessories are available at B&H, with the exception of Irv's Focus Ring.

The HV30 is a really nice camera. I was able to capture tapes through the firewire while simultanously watching the footage through the HDMI port. Additionally, on indoor shoots I use a 22 inch LCD monitor with HDMI inputs as my preview monitor while shooting, making sharp focus pretty much a non-issue. The HV30 has plenty of manual settings. Most pass through to the preview monitor attached to the HDMI port.

I really like my two HV30s.
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Last edited by Roger Van Duyn; April 26th, 2009 at 08:32 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old April 27th, 2009, 11:09 AM   #4
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I am using 2 Hv30s as well in conjunction with the XH-a1. One HV30 is used as B-Roll. The second HV30 is mounted on Merlin steadicam. Great setup :)
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Old April 27th, 2009, 01:58 PM   #5
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Just out of curiousity, why are you not considering SD or hard-drive cameras?

I had been using a Canon HV20 professionally for the past 2 years, and recently
switched to the Canon HG21. After using the HG21, I would never go back to
any of the Canon HV cameras. The biggest pros for me have been:

- Completely silent camera
- 20 hours of recording via the hard-drive
- No more drop-outs
- MPEG-4 CODEC has far fewer artifacts than the HDV CODEC
- Better audio circuitry ( quieter and better fidelity )
- I can quickly review any previous take and not worry about damaging the tape
- No more tape to buy!

...The only drawback so far has been the necessity of having a powerful computer to handle MPEG-4 video editing with Sony Vegas Pro. ( I built myself a new Intel i7 machine, which I've been wanting for a long time )
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Old April 27th, 2009, 04:11 PM   #6
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Why not?

There are a few reasons I am not considering a hard drive or memory card camera-

The first is that I have a lot of stuff archived on mini-dv tape. I mean A LOT! I want something that is relatively cheap that I can use as a capture deck if I need it.

Secondly a lot of the smaller shoots I do I just hand the tapes over to the editor at the end. Having a hard drive only camera means there is no media to hand over. I could pass off a memory card to the editor, but memory cards are expensive enough I would need to make sure I get it back. Tapes I can hand over without worrying about it.

Third is tapes are great for archiving. I can shoot, stash the tape away, and next time I shoot use a new tape. I don't have to worry about copying footage onto an external hard drive for editing or keeping track of what is archived on what drive. Memory cars are still too expensive to use to archive the same way as tapes.

Fourth is mini-dv is fairly universal. I can shoot something in SD mode on a mini-dv tape and know that no matter where I deliver the tape, chances are good they will be able to get the video off of it.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 04:14 PM   #7
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I also have a similar concern for using HDD based recording. I don't know how many hours I can get out of it if I pick the highest quality settings. Then, I just can't imagine what that would be like if I shoot a full day of wedding, then the HDD crashed.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 09:20 AM   #8
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Responding to Adam's points:

1- I would not want to use any of my shooting cameras as a capture / transfer deck because tape heads have a limited life span, and I would rather burn out the heads of an older MiniDV camera than a current one. I use a Sony TRV-38 camera which has a very robust drive mechanism ( much better than any of the Canon HV series ), and can be bought for very little money because nobody wants to use them for shooting.

2- You just hand over digital media files, which most editors will glady accept because you are saving them hours of transfer, so they can start editing your footage right away. If I shoot 8 hours of tape, it's going to be a big hassle for the editor to have to transfer all of this, while it's pretty quick and easy to transfer 8 hours of video from a HDD camera. With my current tapeless system 8 hours of video would take about 30 minutes to transfer to a laptop or a desktop PC.

3- While tapes have a longer life when archiving footage, tapes are also quite fragile. It doesn't take much to cause drop-outs with MiniDV tapes. ( DVCAM is much better in this respect )

4- Tapes are on their way out. I suspect that in 10 years, you will have a lot of trouble finding anything that plays a MiniDV tape, as the world will be pretty much completely digital by then. ( this might even happen within 5 years )


Responding to Taky Cheung:

If you are worried about a HDD crash ( a pretty uncommon event, but not impossible ) then you should be considering an memory card camera, which you can treat the same way you would treat a tape based camera. Some of the corporate shoots I've done with my Canon HG21 camera have a budget of $5K for the two day shoot, so a camera HDD crash would be a small pain in the butt. ( I transfer from the camera to a laptop when there is downtime during the shoot, but so far the HG21 has worked flawlessly )

The biggest drawbacks fro me with the Canon HV series of cameras are:

- Camera noise, which means I have to make sure mics are far enough away from the camera to not pick-up the annoying motor whine. It's so nice to work with a silent camera,
where all the mics record is the sound in your shooting environment.

- Fragility of tapes : Freaking drop-outs are a pain to clean up. I am very hesitant to review anything just shot because of the risk of tape issues.

- Losing a shot because I have to stop and change tapes every 60 or 90 minutes.

- Losing or damaging a tape. It's great to have everything on the camera's hard-drive, so as long as the camera is safe, then all of my footage is safe.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 10:48 AM   #9
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Since I'm mixing footage between XH-A1 and HV30, I would stick with tape transport. Also both in HDV compression instead of mixing HDV and AVCHD in different frame size too.

I agree all the flexibility of using solid-state memory. If I'm buying a camcorder for my vacation trip, I will definitely go with AVCHD. But for professional work, mini-DV tape is still the way to go (for me).

It depends on the kind of work you do, for a full day wedding, there're pretty much don't have any downtime I can copy footage to harddrive. Tape is still a convenient way to go.

Camera noise is never a concern. For professional work, no professionals will use the on-board microphone. You also mount an external pro shotgun mic to it. Camera noise is not an issue at all.

Drop-outs do occur. But I'm shooting with multi-cam. I can easily switch between cam-A to cam-B or vice verse for any drop out. It also depends on the grade of mini-DV tape you use. I'm using Panasonic PQ and AMQ tapes. Dropout still occurs but not often at all.

Changing tape is also not an issue with the multiple cam setup.

Tapes are not fragile. Compare to HDD, tape deck can take shakes and jots. HDD can't handle that.

I have experience desktop and laptop HDD crashed but I never have a tape damaged.

There are pros and cons for each storage medium. If HDD or SDD device works best for you, stick with it. With my current setup, I wouldn't work to mix HDV with AVCHD footage. Using tape is a big plus for me to work on full day wedding. I'm happy with it.
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Old April 29th, 2009, 01:36 PM   #10
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Camera noise is never a concern. For professional work, no professionals will use the on-board microphone. You also mount an external pro shotgun mic to it. Camera noise is not an issue at all.
Actually camera noise is definitely an issue. If you are using a camera mounted mic to record ambient room sound, you don't want to hear the whine of the camera motor. I've also noticed camera whine being picked up when filming a close in interview using a Sanken Cos-11x lavalier mic, which is a fantastic mic, but it will pick-up every sound close to the person being interviewed.

I completely agree with not mixing solidstate with tape, but you sound like you consider the ACVHD CODEC to be lower quality compared to the HDV CODEC, when the truth is exactly the oposite.

Here is Panasonic's take on the ACVHD vs HDV issue: Panasonic AVCCAM
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Old April 29th, 2009, 01:42 PM   #11
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Of course camera noise is a concern if you use the on-board mic, cheap mic, or mic mount too close to the tape transport.

It doesn't matter how advance AVCHD is, the conversation started many using XH-A1 as main cam. and it's natural to get HV30 as a B-Roll cam (inexpensive alternative) to avoid mixing AVCHD and HDV footage.

Again, I agree with all the good things you said about AVCHD. if I am getting a cam for my personal use, vacation stuff, I would definitely get an AVCHD cam. I hate the real time capturing from tape to computer. However, for professional work at weddings, MiniDV is still the way to go for me.
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 06:13 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Guy McLoughlin View Post
Responding to Adam's points:

1- I would not want to use any of my shooting cameras as a capture / transfer deck because tape heads have a limited life span, and I would rather burn out the heads of an older MiniDV camera than a current one. I use a Sony TRV-38 camera which has a very robust drive mechanism ( much better than any of the Canon HV series ), and can be bought for very little money because nobody wants to use them for shooting.

2- You just hand over digital media files, which most editors will glady accept because you are saving them hours of transfer, so they can start editing your footage right away. If I shoot 8 hours of tape, it's going to be a big hassle for the editor to have to transfer all of this, while it's pretty quick and easy to transfer 8 hours of video from a HDD camera. With my current tapeless system 8 hours of video would take about 30 minutes to transfer to a laptop or a desktop PC.

3- While tapes have a longer life when archiving footage, tapes are also quite fragile. It doesn't take much to cause drop-outs with MiniDV tapes. ( DVCAM is much better in this respect )

4- Tapes are on their way out. I suspect that in 10 years, you will have a lot of trouble finding anything that plays a MiniDV tape, as the world will be pretty much completely digital by then. ( this might even happen within 5 years )

In response to Guy's points-

1. I am aware that using a camera as a capture deck is not an ideal situation. However, I do not need to capture off of tape that often. However, when it does crop up it would be nice to have something around that could get the job done. The HV30 is cheaper than many stand alone capture decks, plus it can shoot video. If I had an older mini-dv camera around I would use that, but I don't. The HV30 is cheap enough I can consider it a "throw away camera". I can use it as a capture deck, throw it around, hand it over to an inexperienced shooter, and if it breaks I can just buy a new one.

2. Handing over digital media files can be difficult when the editor and I are in entirely different parts of the country. Not all editors are set up to receive large file transfers via FTP, and I am afraid of shipping off a hard drive or memory cards. If the editor was local, handing over the files wouldn't be an issue- but usually when I hand over the footage it is because the editor is located a long ways from me. Personally I prefer to use my JVC ProHD cams with the firestore drives and work completely tapeless. However, sometimes sending video on tape is really the easiest way to get footage across the country.

3. I am very aware of the fragility of tapes for archiving. For most the work I do, archiving really isn't that important. However, tapes are still nice in that once you shoot the footage is there, stored on tape... it takes no extra steps to archive. No copying the footage to a separate drive or having to make dubs. Just shoot, capture, put the tape on the shelf. No extra steps.

4. I welcome the day that tapes are gone. Already I try to do as much as possible using firestore drives and only going to tape when I absolutely have to. With the HV30 I am not looking for a camera that I will be using 5-10 years from now. I will be happy if it lasts me a year or two. I just want a cheap throw away camera that I can abuse, but still gives me decent quality HD video. Preferably video that I can cut together with my ProHD footage with acceptable results.
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Old May 3rd, 2009, 07:47 AM   #13
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HDV actually has fewer compression artifacts than MPEG 4 or AVCHD. In future AVCHD or MPEG4 cameras may up the data rate but for now HDV is superior to MPEG 4 at a domestic level.
You may never need to buy tapes again with your HDD camera but anyone doing work even slightly professionally will want to keep their rushes and buying tapes is easier and cheaper than buying HardDrives. I can shoot on tape, edit in Final Cut or Avid and output back to tape. I then can keep my project file (a very small file containing all the project information) on a Hard Drive and delete all the footage knowing that if I need to recall the Project, FCP or AVID will re digitise my tapes and restore the edit/Project. It's just not feesable to keep all your rushes on Hard Drive for archive.
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Old May 4th, 2009, 04:33 PM   #14
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HDV actually has fewer compression artifacts than MPEG 4 or AVCHD.
Where did you get this idea from ?

Just take a look at the AVCHD Panasonic link I provided: Panasonic AVCCAM

I know from my own experience that the MPEG4/AVCHD codec shows much less artifacting than the HDV codec does when recording fast moving objects.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Sal View Post
In future AVCHD or MPEG4 cameras may up the data rate but for now HDV is superior to MPEG 4 at a domestic level.
Again Panasonic ( and myself ) would disagree with you on this.

Much of the work I do shooting at local hospitals occurs under very badly lit conditions, and I noticed a significant improvement in the image quality when I switched from using a Canon HV20/30 to a HG21 camera.

After using the HG21 for a few months now, I would never go back to using any of the HV cameras, mainly for image quality and no more tape issues.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Sal View Post
You may never need to buy tapes again with your HDD camera but anyone doing work even slightly professionally will want to keep their rushes and buying tapes is easier and cheaper than buying HardDrives.
For myself, adding the cost of a hard-drive to give to the client is tiny expense relative to the production costs of any video shoot I've done. The cheapest external hard-drive I can buy here in Toronto costs $65 for a 160 GB drive, which would hold about 30+ hours of raw AVCHD video. This is completely comparable to the cost of shooting 30 good quality MiniDV tapes.

Verbatim FireLite 160GB USB Portable Hard Drive (USBFLB160)
Canada Computers - Hard Drives > External Drives : Verbatim FireLite 160GB USB Portable Hard Drive (USBFLB160).
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Old May 4th, 2009, 10:21 PM   #15
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I have used both formats quite a bit and until now have not seen a domestic AVCHD camera that outshines HDV. All the cams I have used have shown more compression artifacts than HDV on fast motion.

"Just take a look at the AVCHD Panasonic link I provided: Panasonic AVCCAM"

If you looked at that link you would see that it is demonstrating AVCCAM.

AVCCAM is a different version of AVCHD that your Canon records. As you can see by the line of cameras Panasonic shows the AVCCAM Cameras are significantly more expensive that the HV30 Adam is looking at. Adam may have the budget for one of these but considering he stated he was looking at an HV30 I would doubt this.

"Again Panasonic ( and myself ) would disagree with you on this. "

Of course Panasonic would disagree. They are pushing AVCHD and AVCCAM. They dont produce HDV cameras so it is in their interest to rubbish all the others. Please dont rely on a test done by a manufacturer. They are going to try to push their own format.

"After using the HG21 for a few months now, I would never go back to using any of the HV cameras, mainly for image quality and no more tape issues"

If it works for you then that's great. To be honest, I have been shooting with my Z1 for 4 years now and can say I have never had a tape issue. I only use cheap Sony Premium DV Tapes and not one drop out in the hundreds of tapes I have shot. In this time I have had to replace 3 external Lacie Hard Drives due to drive failure. I have dropped dv tapes off a shelf and they have worked fine not the same can be said about hard drives. Again, if you have found a format and workflow you are happy with, go with it.


"For myself, adding the cost of a hard-drive to give to the client is tiny expense relative to the production costs of any video shoot I've done. The cheapest external hard-drive I can buy here in Toronto costs $65 for a 160 GB drive, which would hold about 30+ hours of raw AVCHD video. This is completely comparable to the cost of shooting 30 good quality MiniDV tapes."

I would not hand over my rushes to the client unless a was out as a freelance cameraman for the day with my Z1 or 570. For all other jobs that I shoot and edit in house I only give the client a tape or disc of the final product. Clients cannot be trusted storing footage/projects.

I am not trying to rubbish your workflow but just raising issues that a new user may not think about. Professionally, there is a reason that the Sony Z1 is still used in most run gun style TV shoots. It may not be the best cam out there picture quality wise (compared to HVX200 and others) but the workflow is the easiest to handle at an affordable price and thats why the Z5 has stuck with tape.

Not sure what is going on with the multiquote function but it wouldn't work hence the " marks.
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