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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 November 13th, 2009, 05:16 PM   #1
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Appropriate for covert shooting?

I am a documentary filmmaker and shoot primarily with Panasonic cameras (HPX500 and HVX200a)... I have contracted to make a film which will require some covert shooting and I need a camera (actually two or three cameras) that looks like a consumer camera but shoots images that will be included in a longer film shot with the Panasonics...

I have read all the reviews and specs of the small Canons and am a little unsure which to get... I don't have a problem with HDV (I used to have an XL H1, which I really liked) but since I've gotten used to working tapeless it wouldn't bother me to work with flash media either.

24p is important, but it doesn't have to intercut directly with the other cameras...

Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 05:39 PM   #2
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Thread title changed from "A question" to "appropriate for covert shooting?"

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The VIXIA HV series camcorders are indeed unobtrusive and will yield very high quality HD images.

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Old November 14th, 2009, 03:36 PM   #3
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Hi Steve,

I'm using a Kodak ZX1 for the very same purposes.

Have a look at the quality of the shots at:

kodak zx1 - Google Videos

It's quite amazing what you can get out of that little camera in near HD. Only thing is: KEEP THE THING QUIET - ie - ANY jerks or moves will be punished in your finished video. But for the price, you can't beat the picture quality...

Maybe a better idea of the pic quality is this clip (remember to turn HD on):
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Old November 15th, 2009, 10:19 AM   #4
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Peter, thanks for your response, and I totally agree - I recently bought a Kodak Zi8 (at Best Buy of all places, not my usual source for video equipment) and am totally amazed at the quality that comes out of that thing!

Unfortunately, I need a true 24p for this project... I do have Magic Bullet, and use it occasionally to convert 30p and 1080i, but it doesn't look as good as when the material is originated that way.

I've gravitated here to the Canon site because they seem to go "deeper" down the prosumer and consumer line with cameras that offer 24p...

I'm just unsure which one of them offers the best image compatibility with the higher end cameras for the price - And, since I may need to hand these things out to people with little or no shooting experience, which one has the best automatic features at 24p (for example auto-focus is typically unreliable at 24p).
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Old November 15th, 2009, 07:20 PM   #5
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Try the Panasonic LX3 - pocketable great-looking 24p (720 though)
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Old November 15th, 2009, 08:26 PM   #6
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You could do worse than the Canon. I have an HF100 which is discontinued and is the low end of their HD flashcam range. Great pix and the sound isn't bad but I've only really used it as a speed shot cam for motor racing. Low light is pretty good too. Very similar overall to my HV30 and matches my XH A1 well.

If you want to actually use the camera after this shoot you might want to look into the HF S models. More manual controls but the spend is more.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 08:39 PM   #7
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The Canon HF200 is a great little camera with amazing image quality for the size. It has the best image stabilization of the very small cameras I've tried, and is more or less useable handheld - but like all small cameras, it really needs to be on a tripod. Like all the Canon small cameras, it records 24p on a 60i stream. It has some control over the image (which you need, because the default setting is pretty harsh.) AVCHD if you can handle that workflow. Less than $600. A lot of manual controls are through a five-way joystick that drives some people completely insane, but others like. And it definitely looks amateur. I'm not sure how covert you need to be, but like a lot of really small cameras, you have to shoot with the screen open and lit up - there's no viewfinder.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 10:00 AM   #8
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Thanks again for the responses.. I am one of those people who is confused by simplicity - after decades of shooting film cameras with the inherent complexity of magazine loading, sound-syncing, exposure reading etc, I am totally lost with "point-and-shoot" devices.

So far my choice seems to be between the HF200 and the HV40 - approximately the same street value, affordable enough to buy three and consider them expendable - with advantages and disadvantages to both...

The 200 uses flash cards, so in the case of the camera being confiscated, the card could be removed and stashed easily. It is also very funkily "amateurish" looking, which is a major plus. (Professionals, at least the ones I know, seldom use flip-out LCDs). The thing I haven't been able to find out is - Is it possible to simultaneously record on both the internal memory and the flash card? That could be important.

The 40, being HDV, means a tape, which is larger - but it has the Cinema mode which I know from personal experience (XL H1) cuts well with the Panasonic cameras, and it offers 24p native, which also makes it more useable with the 720/24pn I generally shoot with. But even though it is more amateurish-looking than, say, an A-1, it is more likely to be on the radar of security guard types because it is so often used for just this purpose.

I have a few more weeks to decide, so I will keep researching and watching this site.
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