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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old May 1st, 2009, 11:22 PM   #1
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$5000 Budget

Hello, I am in the market for a new camera. Seems that the XH-A1s is the best camera and I will likly be purchasing soon but I will also be getting a tripod, case, batteries, maybe a mic and a light too.
I will be making a step up from a sony sr12, but have been into photography for years and have been wanting more manual controls. Seems like there is a lot of good information here and I dont want to get the wrong equipment if there is a better deals or products out there.
One thing I am concerned about is using tapes, instead of a hard drive or card but at this price range it looks like my options are limited.

Any advice is appreciated
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 06:26 AM   #2
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The tape versus tapeless quandary is getting harder to suss out right now. Flashcams are quickly gaining critical mass and will overtake tape cams in the foreseeable future. AVCHD editing can necessitate big computer upgrades to processor and memory so there are associated costs there.

I think were on the threshold of a technological transformation and in the next 6-12 months we will see some significant tapeless cameras at this level. Canon will likely be amongst the last to release one. JVC have a couple out now that may be worth a look. Tape, at this level, is quickly falling out of favor. So rather than investing yesterday's format, it might be worth waiting a while to see what's next.
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 06:38 AM   #3
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Tripp offers excellent advice, as usual... however, if you're waiting, you're not creating. If you have a need now, then now is the right time to buy. Make the camera pay for itself and then sell it later on to move up to the next new format.
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 09:36 AM   #4
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Tapes

They may seem like a thing of the past. But in almost all professional areas of the industry, we still record on tape (or simultaneously on tape and hard-drive). Imagine getting that perfect shot, unreplicatable. You put it on your computer or external hard-drive. What if that hard drive dies suddenly. It's nice to know anything worth having is sitting on your shelf. It is a slightly slower workflow but when I was working in news with 5 o'clock deadlines everyday and tons of stress, we still edited from tape (now P2). The point, weigh all the values of tape and tapeless, either way, back-up the important stuff!
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 11:04 AM   #5
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Xh a1

All good info. I agree a lot with both Chris Hurd and Matt Abramson. If your waiting then your not creating, and tape-less isn't necessarily a bad thing (you can always buy hard drives for the XH-A1)

I personally generally wait for the next newest thing, but generally it comes with a new price tag as well. Right now if you were looking for the XH-A1 you can find it for just around $3000 (In original box from a trusted web page), Which leaves you open to buy the tripod, case, batteries, and a microphone.

As far as personal experiences, I would recommend a Bogen Manfrotto tripod (Dont go cheap on your tripod). A relatively nice one can run you around $500. I would also Recommend the Snaps for the legs Verse Screws (I've had a good number of screws break on me).

For a Microphone I have always loved the sound of Sennheiser Microphones, they can be a little pricey, but you can find some cheaper kits on BH for $800 - $1000 (with a boom pole, microphone, XLR cables, etc). BUT i always recommend doing research on anything you buy. Read as many reviews as you can! especially microphones, there are a lot of technical elements as far as how directional they are and what not.

As far as battery, I almost never need to use a second battery. It's always smart to have 2 or 3, but depending on what your using the camera for (personal stuff or work), you might be able to get away with just one (but I DO recommend at least 2)

The case really depends on what you do. I like hard cases (such as pelican) because I do a good bit of travel and I like to be able to throw the case around and stack without needing to worry.

I hope this helps.

Also I personally own a XH-A1 which i have been heavily impressed with (as are many other people), BUT i would still take Stew's advice and look into upcoming technology's, and what cameras are to come. I would do it even if you don't think your going to wait (its always good to know)
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 12:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Abramson View Post
What if that hard drive dies suddenly.
This is a standard arguement against solid state, and I don't buy it. I'll admit to being as lazy about doing backups as the next guy, but at the price of hard drives these days, especially vs the cost of all the other stuff we buy to acquire and process our images, there is NO EXCUSE (except the aforementioned laziness) not to have at least two backups of every file you care about, ideally stored in separate locations. Backup of data files is so simple: edit>>copy, go do something else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Abramson View Post
But in almost all professional areas of the industry, we still record on tape...
Nothing wrong with tape as an source archive, as long as you're also willing to make sure that you'll have something to play it on in 10, 20, 30 years or more. Pro studios will. Many of us hobbiests or small business owners might not prefer to. Tape will be around the professional market much longer than the amateur and prosumer markets because the bigger the business, the more cost analysis goes into the decision, and part of that equation is the existing tape archives, but eventually its time will end.

Tape or solid state, your choice at this point. I think the main thing is whether the camera suits you in terms of its capabilities and usability...so make sure to put hands on the camera before hands on your wallet.
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 02:07 PM   #7
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Thank you all for the fast responses and great advice. I do need a camera and be familiar with it by mid june. My current camera has a hard drive and I like the workflow process. I have a few 1 TB external hard drives for backing up my footage. I definatly would prefer the solid state format. So I guess that would rule out canon, for now?

I will be using the camera to film events in remote locations, I will have a generator to charge the batteries at night but need them to be able to record up to 8 hours of footage during the day so I will a high mah battery.
I have noticed the JVC GY-HM100, seems like an option but I am still doing more research here. Any other cameras that I should be aware of?
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 02:36 PM   #8
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If you're shooting hours and hours of footage in remote locations, then using tape is much preferable to cards or hard drives, in my opinion. You can put them in a box after the shoot and not have to worry about downloading, verifying and backing up the data while on location.

The Sony Z7 is probably comparable to the Canon XH A1s and in the same general price range, though it's a bit more. The Canon is the best value for the money, I think. Plus it's been around long enough to have been proven reliable and into the upgraded S model, which is the best time to buy, I think. I'd never buy a brand new untested camera when it first comes out.

I use a Libec 38 tripod system, which is under $600 and is the only one I know of that cheap and light that does not do the dreaded "bounceback" at the end of a pan. If you do much walking in the wilderness you might want to look at a more expensive Gitzo. All their fluid heads are perfectly smooth, and they have carbon fiber lightweight legs. Sennheiser mics are good, so are AudioTechnica, which are cheaper.
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 05:49 PM   #9
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Tape, like film, ain't dead

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stew Alcock View Post
I have noticed the JVC GY-HM100, seems like an option but I am still doing more research here.
Indeed, lots of good advice here. I would like to say that while some are debating about the capture media, others are out there with cameras of all types making great video regardless of what's inside.

As you mentioned the JVC GY-HM100, there are deals to be had on this HDV camera. It's a good time to be considering tape-based cameras as others are selling them in favor of tapeless solutions. My company will be using our JVC GY-HD110u cameras for at least the rest of 2009. Here's our story and why we choose the JVC.

Our company uses an ENG model so speed and a quick and reliable workflow is necessary. We actually spec'd the Panasonic HVX200 back in 2006. If you recall, that was the first ENG style camera to use flash memory, the P2 cards. We chose it for its supposed reliability and, remember, the HVX200 also has a tape drive as well. However, three things drove us nuts. The first was that there were no P2 card readers as they were coming out "real soon now." So we had to use the camera and an interface cable to transfer video to the edit computer. That negated the speed benefit. Next, there was limited time on the early P2 cards which meant flash card changes at the wrong times. Our client's time is money and even the minute to change, check and restart a shoot was irritating. Finally, our ENG production folks were hyper-nervous with the new medium and worried about which P2 card was which. In a test case (not a paying job), we overwrote a card. We decided to ditch the Panasonic and go to the JVC GY-HD110u.

Critical to me was our use of the Focus Enhancements DTE hard drive which we attach (via an Anton Bauer adapter). It is our primary medium with the tape drive as a backup. This system supports a fast workflow. As you can guess, we have had one file corruption on the hard drive which wasn't recoverable. Our philosophy of having a backup tape served us well.

The JVC hasn't gotten the respect it deserves mostly because it resolves at 720p at its highest. Still, feature films including Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth", was shot with the JVC. The camera has a great feature set and comprehensive picture control. With its interchangeable lens, build quality, and super image control, it's probably the most "professional" camera in its price range. It may not be the lightest, smallest or sexiest but it does garner a lot of pro cred at the client site. To prospective and new clients, for good reasons or not, size matters. The bigger cameras mean business to clients. Furthermore, while I'm a big fan of the smaller, handheld cameras in the same league, I think a camera belongs on a tripod or on a shoulder for run and gun. Of course this applies to our ENG model.

My big point here is that I while camera makers will start pulling back on tape based cameras, don't dismiss HDV, miniDV cameras entirely. Support for them will be around for at least as long as your camera lasts. At your budget limit and with folks dumping tape cameras for no other reason than they must have a shoebox full of P2, SDHC, or SxS cards, it's a GOOD time to look at tape.

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Old May 2nd, 2009, 07:23 PM   #10
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It's a little misleading to say the HVX200 is also tape-based. It is, but it only records SD to tape. Some people have gotten confused over that one, thinking they could shoot HD onto tape with it.
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Old May 3rd, 2009, 01:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tripp Woelfel View Post
I think were on the threshold of a technological transformation and in the next 6-12 months we will see some significant tapeless cameras at this level. Canon will likely be amongst the last to release one. JVC have a couple out now that may be worth a look. Tape, at this level, is quickly falling out of favor. So rather than investing yesterday's format, it might be worth waiting a while to see what's next.
I think people will have a moment of dawning realization when they have to somehow archive all that footage they have on memory cards or hard disks. The per-megabyte cost of archiving on optical disks or hard disk is not only much higher than tape, but its also`much more fragile (not to mention an extra time-consuming step).

Ill stick with $5 tapes for as long as I can get them. ;-)


J.
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Old May 3rd, 2009, 01:41 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Pete Bauer View Post
This is a standard arguement against solid state, and I don't buy it.
Nobody does, until it happens to them. It's like driving too fast or not wearing a helmet.

The fact is, when you start considering the "what if" scenarios and you consider damages due to shock, deterioration (optical disks do, very quickly), corrupt data, power surges, etc. you work your way to the most reliable media and the least likely to fail, which is tape. Even people shooting on hard disk or P2 cards still like to shoot on tape "as a backup".

Why pay thousands of dollars for a belt if you're going to keep wearing the suspenders?


J.

Last edited by Jacques E. Bouchard; May 4th, 2009 at 08:22 AM.
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Old May 3rd, 2009, 02:22 PM   #13
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Count me in the solid-state only category.

Tape is an -excellent- backup medium, and if there was a 250GB tape drive at a reasonable price, I'd be all over it. However, as a -recording- medium, it sucks.

It sucks because of dropped frames. I don't care how good a camera you have, how good the tape is, how careful you are to keep your camera clean - you will eventually hit a dropped frame, and with HD, it pretty much means you can't use the video. If you've only got one shot at recording something, you're out of it, if you're doing a narrative, it means stopping every scene to make sure you actually got the take.

You also have to capture off the tape onto the hard drive, a process that takes forever.

Tapes are also bulky, about twice as expensive as hard drives for storage.

Finally, with HDV, you're limited to 1440x1080. Most people won't notice. Some will.

Don't get me wrong, there are some very, very good reasons why tapes are still the professional standard in "the industry" but I would never, ever trust another tape with being the only recording I have of an event.

There is something to be said for the "remote location" theory, but honestly, that backup problem can be solved via a laptop and a $99 500GB portable drive. It'll still take up less space than tape.
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Old May 3rd, 2009, 02:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Jacques E. Bouchard View Post
I think people will have a moment of dawning realization when they have to somehow archive all that footage they have on memory cards or hard disks. The per-megabyte cost of archiving on optical disks or hard disk is not only much higher than tape, but its also`much more fragile (not to mention an extra time-consuming step).

Ill stick with $5 tapes for as long as I can get them. ;-)

J.
A 1 TB drive is about $100 retail. At $5 a tape, and 15GB per tape, you're looking at $341.
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Old May 3rd, 2009, 04:28 PM   #15
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A 1 TB drive is about $100 retail. At $5 a tape, and 15GB per tape, you're looking at $341.
Never a good idea to store more than one movie on one drive. Lose the drive, lose all the movies.

If, on the other hand, I'm shooting enough to use up $341 worth of tape, then I definitely have the budget for it - and I'm glad I'm entrusting it all to the proven reliability of tape instead of a fluke that could crash my heads or wipe out static memory...



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