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Old February 22nd, 2012, 04:16 PM   #1
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XF100, XA10, or NX5U for potential broadcast usage?

XF100, XA10, or NX5U for potential broadcast usage?

Hi Gang,

Here's the scoop.

1) What I'm doing:

Basically, I'm putting together a TV show pilot, where I'll be traveling around the country with a skeleton crew of freelancers/interns and doing a bunch of interviews...and will be shopping out my show to networks after getting the first few episodes and sizzle reel footage in the can for Season 1...instead of waiting for it to be commissioned in advance and picked-up. (Yes... I recognize that this may be a foolish way to go about doing this, but I'm following my dream and the adventure will be a blast regardless. I have to see this through.) This is my first time at the rodeo, and please chime in if I'm heading for trouble here, as I'm just starting my tiny in-house production company that will be dedicated solely for filming this particular program.

2) The siren call of the HDSLR world:

Anyhow, I will also admit that I got very into the whole HDSLR thing for the past 18 months, and plunked lots of money down on a used 5D and a refurbished 60D...and spent a lot more on wonderful used lenses, HDSLR rig equipment, good lighting, good sound, and so forth. Nothing has been a waste so far, as the HDSLR photography has been mind-blowing in the least bit -- and the resale value of much of it is still the same if things are a bust.

If I was putting together a narrative driven film, I'd be all set. However, this is television, with a lot of running around in addition to the interviews. I know that the standards of many networks are a minimum of a 4:2:2 color space. Additionally, the rolling shutter and lack of auto-focus with the 4:2:0 HDSLR cams aren't acceptable with fast footage (such as outdoors, or from a moving vehicle). I'm coming to realize that I'd really benefit from a good "A" cam to use in conjunction with the HDSLR stuff I've got, and I'm worried that no network will take my project seriously unless reasonable equipment is used.

3) ...which leads me to the subject of this post:

That being said...do I go with:

- a used XA10 (4:2:0), maybe around $1600?
- a used Sony NX5U (4:2:0; 4:2:2 HD-SDI out but would require an astronomically expensive recorder) about $3K.
- I could just go buy a new XF100 (4:2:2) for $3K.

Any thoughts out there on if I should just get a XF100 and be done with it? Given that I'll be on the road a lot, renting doesn't seem worth it. If the show is a bust, I'd rather just resell any cam to recoup as much money as I can. The XF100 is the same price as the NX5U, and has one chip instead of three... but has the 4:2:2 color space that higher-end networks want to see. Plus, the NXCAM has been out for 2 years now.

Or, am I better off just spending about half and get the used XA10, and worrying about upgrading if a network picks up my show? Obviously, a XA10 would be a LOT easier on my budget.
Or, maybe I'm better off spending about double and capturing 4:2:2 from the very start?


Again, I've learned so much from the online forums here for the past two years, and I'm finally making my "in-house" production team and show a reality. I'm just at the point that I'm recognizing that my HDSLR workflow will look great (heck..."Portlandia" was filmed using the 5D and it looks amazing...but it's narrative and not docu/reality-style) but I don't want to cut off my options as to what networks might pick up my show if it's not recorded correctly in the first place.

Any thoughts on any of this, please let me know. I'm here to learn, not a film-school grad, and have big dreams (and a limited budget like everyone else.) If I go over $3K on the camera, I'm pushing my luck with paying for the rest of the production as a travel-based show is obviously expensive.

Many thanks in advance!

- Seth
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Old February 22nd, 2012, 07:31 PM   #2
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Re: XF100, XA10, or NX5U for potential broadcast usage?

Seth, since you are on the XF forum you're likely to get an XF answer. But seriously, I would just buy an XF100 and get on with it. It will do everything you want, it is easy to learn and use, and the video quality is really good. I'm coming from a 5D, and after using the XF100 the 5D is a very distant B camera - I use the 5D only if there's a very real purpose like for narrow depth of focus, or for very low light. For editing, the MXF 4:2:2 is very forgiving and a joy to work with - it will make your job on the road much easier.
Charles W. Hull is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 25th, 2012, 09:46 AM   #3
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Boston, MA
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Re: XF100, XA10, or NX5U for potential broadcast usage?

Thanks, Charles! That's very reassuring.

Anything that I'd need to do to get the footage to match the 5D/60D/T2i?

- Seth
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