Micro Shootout: HV10, FX-1, and Canon ZR100 at DVinfo.net

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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
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Old September 24th, 2006, 05:06 PM   #1
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Micro Shootout: HV10, FX-1, and Canon ZR100

so i've been doing a bit of experimenting with the HV10, and i have a few clips which might be of interest.

the first clip is a shoot-out between the HV10 and the FX-1. both of these cameras are on full, out-of-the-box auto settings. no adjustments. i set up a scene using a variety of pinks and reds, and my office has maroons. i really wanted to challenge the color (and did, i think). here is the clip:

http://media.dvinfo.net/canonxh/Shootout.mov

my initial impression is that the FX-1 looked far and away better. sharper, better handling of colors. just no comparison. but then i decided to tweak the HV10. i customized the white balance. i set the aperture manually. and here are the results:

http://media.dvinfo.net/canonxh/WhiteBalance.mov

my findings: using the HV10 manual controls resulted in better handling of color than an auto FX-1. that's pretty impressive, because the out-of-the-box FX-1 settings are pretty reliable. i've always thought of my FX-1 as the ultimate run and gun camera, except for it is quite a bit to lug around everywhere, all the time...

just for fun, i also shot the scene with the trusty Canon ZR-100, which is my deck cam for my higher end DV cameras. just to see how much the HV10 improves upon consumer end DV. and here's the results...

http://media.dvinfo.net/canonxh/ZR100.mov

you can see the ZR-100 lens hunting substantially and the servo ring a-turning. the HV10 handles these things much better in auto mode. but the color space is not that far away from the full auto HV10, to my surprise.

the take away from my little bit of testing--absolutely, positively put a custom white balance on this HV10! its full auto mode is not even suitable for run and gun....you absolutely have to learn the manual controls on this camcorder, otherwise you won't get much improvement (in my opinion) over a standard DV image.

the good news is, that if you tweak this camera properly, you can get an outstanding image at this price point. for me, this camera is primarily my new HDV deck camera. what i was investigating with these experiments was whether i would be able to generate stock footage with it as well. in conclusion, i don't think i would ever use it for intentional B roll in a studio or location shooting environment. it simply won't stand up to a tweaked FX-1 (again, my opinion) or other higher-end camera.

but the good news is, for stock footage, for images that i would not otherwise be able to collect on the fly without having a lot of heavy gear on hand, but that i know i can use in commercial projects (elk or bighorn sheep, for instance, in these parts...or sports events images...), it's a fantastic addition to the line-up. the nearly-perfect pocket-cam for image-only collecting...i do a lot (and i mean a lot!) of stock footage collecting, it is one of the selling points of my biz, so i am pretty happy to have found this camera.

my only other gripe about this camera, so far: it is a battery hog! dang! you don't get much mileage at all from the stock battery. it's like running a Hummer using a scooter's gas tank...

hope this is of some use....

oh, and...same p.s. applies: these are H.264 clips, requires Quicktime 7. i had to pay for flip4mac to watch wmv files. apple provides a windows version of QT 7 for PC for free. so if you want to watch these and don't have QT 7, you can go here for a free download:

http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/win.html
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Old September 24th, 2006, 08:44 PM   #2
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More great info Meryem !

my findings: using the HV10 manual controls resulted in better handling of color than an auto FX-1. that's pretty impressive....

Can you tell us what settings you used on the HV10 ?

And is there any way of storing these settings ?

Cheers.

Lee
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Old September 24th, 2006, 09:56 PM   #3
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the settings aren't complicated enough to store. there are no settings, really, just manual controls for aperture, shutter, and white balance. (none specifically for gain....) my main advice is don't shoot this camera full auto, it won't look substantially better than inexpensive DV. you absolutely must custom white balance. what a world of difference in the footage.

let me point out that the FX-1 is still noticeably sharper--this reality is lost in the compression. but i was surprised to find that the HV10 could handle color so well. i used the Av mode with shutter set at F4 --i closed it up a bit from the rack focus footage, which was shot full wide at F2.8 and it helped the color.

i know that if i custom white balanced the FX-1 and used the manual controls and tweaked the PP settings, i could get a far superior image. in no way do i mean to imply that the HV10 is as good as my FX-1. no effin' way! but that manual HV10 can be better than auto FX-1 in terms of managing color (but not in terms of sharpness, i would add...) was quite surprising to me. i'm happy to be able to collect run and gun stock footage and use this as a deck as well. it's a nice bonus! but it's no substitute for the quality and features available on the higher-end camera.
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Old September 24th, 2006, 11:03 PM   #4
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The color looks so good to me in the white balanced one. Simply gorgeous.
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Old September 25th, 2006, 12:04 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz
let me point out that the FX-1 is still noticeably sharper--this reality is lost in the compression. .
Can you clarify please. Not sure what you mean by this. They both have the same compression so what is happening??
The FX/Z1 are the softest HDV cams made in my opinion. And you say this HV10 doesn't come close in sharpness? I know they have kept the electronic sharpening to a minimum with this mini cam. What detail level are you shooting on the FX1?
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Old September 25th, 2006, 09:20 AM   #6
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ken, i'm able to view this on my 20'' computer, my 13'' monitor and downrezzed to DVD on a 17'' widescreen TV. and i can tell you that compressing to this web image hides the difference in sharpness. compression to the web can conceal things which are revealed in other formats, and i'm telling you (because i can't show you) that the HV10 image is softer than the FX-1 image. and it can't be sharpened in-camera--there's no setting for that.

i'm not saying the HV10 lacks sharpness. that would be putting words in my mouth that i did not say. on the contrary, for the price point of this camera, it's great...just not as sharp as the FX-1. the results of my testing, again in my opinion, is that HV10 handles color space as well as an FX-1 but that it is simply not as sharp. this is not a knock on the HV10, just what i'm observing. as a result, yes, i will use this to collect stock footage--no one will notice the difference in sharpness on say, a 3-second shot of an elk or an eagle. but i would not use it deliberately as B-roll because i have other cameras (and still plan to purchase other cameras) which exceed the available performance on this one. still, this has many excellent uses, and i'm delighted with it, mostly. it can do more than i expected (my expectations were to use it as a deck).

hope this clarifies...
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Old September 25th, 2006, 11:37 AM   #7
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Meryem

First, thanks for all the information so far, it has been very useful.

Could you post a single full sized frame of the HV10 / FX1 footage you shot so we can see the difference in the sharpness ?

Thanks

Lee
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Old September 25th, 2006, 03:31 PM   #8
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sorry, lee, i already trashed those files, since i got the info i was looking for...i taped over one of the two tapes i used as well this morning....
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Old September 25th, 2006, 09:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz
sorry, lee, i already trashed those files, since i got the info i was looking for...i taped over one of the two tapes i used as well this morning....

Damn!!!

You gotta be quick 'round here ! :)

Would it be at all possible for you to grab a second or two of the same scene and post a single full resolution frame from each camera so we can see the difference in the sharpness.

Cheers, this would help so much in my buying decision !!!!!!!!

Thanks in advance


Lee.
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Old September 26th, 2006, 12:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz
the first clip is a shoot-out between the HV10 and the FX-1.
Thanks, I'd say this confirms what some of us have been saying for a while now: just because H.264 is an efficient compression algorithm doesn't mean that all H.264 cameras will blow away all HDV cameras. I think I'll stick with HDV until I can save up for "Red."

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Old September 26th, 2006, 12:36 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Wilson
Would it be at all possible for you to grab a second or two of the same scene and post a single full resolution frame from each camera so we can see the difference in the sharpness.
I would like to second the request. A simple side by side shot out the window would do just fine. If the detail setting of the FX1 could be noted that would be a great help putting everything in perspective.
Thanks
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Old September 26th, 2006, 01:16 AM   #12
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if i can get around to it on a weekend, i will. no promises though. what you're requesting may sound simple to you, but it's not for me, because i actually have to focus my time and energy on running the business and raising my child.
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Old September 26th, 2006, 03:08 AM   #13
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>just because H.264 is an efficient compression algorithm doesn't mean that >all H.264 cameras will blow away all HDV cameras.

I really wish the HDV cameras had an H.264 option for superior compression to tape, as well as MPEG 1 Layer 3 for audio. If we're decompressing MPEG2 for anything, then I don't think it matters that H.264 is the original compression. MPEG-2 just seems so OLD.
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Old September 26th, 2006, 09:16 AM   #14
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don't count mpeg2 out yet. It still has a lot of fire left in it. While in theory AVCHD may be better at this stage it is not. It is only a theory at this time unless you are encoding a clean uncompressed source with the highest settings like on a HD movie disk. Realtime AVCHD hardware encoders for cameras are not that good yet and may not be for a few years yet. If you shoot with AVCHD today you will end up with equal or less quality with a format that will be very hard and slow to edit. Heck it is hard enough trying to make a mpeg2 hardware encoder work in realtime and keep a high level of quality let alone AVCHD.
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Old September 26th, 2006, 09:36 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz
if i can get around to it on a weekend, i will. no promises though. what you're requesting may sound simple to you, but it's not for me, because i actually have to focus my time and energy on running the business and raising my child.

Appologies Meryem as you had done such a good and involved job with your original post I thought you may have a spare 5 minutes to shoot a couple of seconds to illustrate your findings.

No worry, I don't want to take your attentions away from your business and child, once again thanks for your detailed information/movies and comparisons so far.


Cheers

Lee
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