XH-A1 vs. Sony DSR-300A at DVinfo.net

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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 January 20th, 2010, 11:18 AM   #1
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XH-A1 vs. Sony DSR-300A

Ok this may sound a little odd but I have a question about how the xha1 would hold up against the Sony DSR-300A or a sony camera with similar specs, ie. 3 1/2" ccd's. The reason I am asking is because I have a friend that is part owner of a local TV station and I have been talking to him about my plans for doing event video. I told him my starting prices for wedding work would be around $1,000 and he felt like that was too much considering that there is another videographer in the area that is shooting using a "$12,000 camera", something similar to a Sony DSR-300A with 1/2" chips and only charging $600 per event. However I know this camera is at least 3-4 years old and my feeling is the xh-a1 is close to the quality of a "$12,000" of yesteryear.

My thoughts are that while the Sony DSR-300A may hold up better in low light situations because of the larger sensors but it is still a SD camera, while the xh-a1 is HD and to me HD is always going to be a better picture. My friend argues that the Sony DSR-300A will run circles around the xh-a1 and produce a drastically better picture and wants me to bring my camera to the studio and put the images up side by side. My concern is he doing to want to use a SD monitor for the AB which won't do the a1 justice.

Any one have any real life experience with the differences between the two cameras. I'd really like some objective info on the subject. Maybe some of you have run up on the same situation trying to break into the market and competing against expensive HD equipment that I believe will soon be antiquated. Please respond. Thanks.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 11:57 AM   #2
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Hi,

I owned a DSR-300A when they first came out 10 years ago and sold it a year later when the VX2000's became available. I've had XH-A1's for the past two years. I'd take your friend up on the offer to view them side by side. The A1 do very well on an SD monitor but be on another level if the image goes to an HD monitor.

Also - consider the time and expense you're going to put in not only shooting and creating a video for couple but also learning everything you need to know before you even walk in the door of the church. Make sure you're not selling yourself short. You may have to shoot some free or very low cost gigs to get a portfolio but after you get some exposure don't try to compete with the low-ballers. Create something that puts yourself above them and charge for it.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 12:20 PM   #3
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Thanks man. I have already done a fair amount of discount work recently to try and build a portfolio. I am no where near some of the pros on this forum but that is my goal, and I think I am making decent progress toward that goal.

Any other thoughts on Sony's 3 1/2" CCD cameras vs the A1? Also, what is you guy's work flow when shooting and capturing on the A1? I am shooting 60i mostly at 1/60 then capturing using 1080i60. Not sure if this is the best way to get the best final product. I know prores is talked about a lot but I don't completely understand that workflow.

I'll post a vimeo link to a project I'm working on now. It is compressing now, when finished it's going on vimeo for a client to proof but I'll provide a link for you guys to see as well. Critiques are welcome.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 01:26 PM   #4
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As Joel said, the 300 was and frankly still is one hell of a camera but it is sadly quite outdated not to mention more expensive to run.
First it's 4:3 which isn't the worst thing in the world. 2nd, it needs professional type battery's, AB, IDX, Sony, which between having enough batterys and a charger can add up money wise real fast. 3rd, keep in mind the price of the gear does not equate to the quality of the workmanship produced. Just because he's using an expensive camera (forget the fact they don't make it anymore) doesn't mean his work is any good and based on what your friend said his pricing was...well I won't say anything more about that.
4th, a heavy fullsized camera like that also requires a more expensive bag to transport it and a more expensive tripod/head if you don't already have one. There are a number of reason to use a camera like the 300 and a number of reasons not to. Weight and size being 2. IIRC that camera ready to go weights in about 15 to 18 pounds depending on the battery you're using. Oh yeah, it also only records in DVCAM which will give you 40 minutes on a 60 minute tape so you really need to use the big tapes which increases cost a little depending on what size tape you use, 124 or 186. I don't think larger ones are made any more. Then of course unless you have a deck like a Sony DSR11 or higher you need to use the camera to play the tapes into your NLE.
I used full sized cameras for many many years and when I loved them but for the last almost 10 years I've been using small form factor almost exclusively. I finally sold my last fullsized camera about 2 years ago.
So in conclusion there is nothing wrong with the A1s and as far as pricing, well I would do a bit more research because perhaps the other guy charges what he charges because he knows what his work is worth regardless of the camera he uses.
Remember it's the person doing the job that makes the gear work, not the other way around. Not saying you don't need good gear but the best gear in the world is uless in the wrong hands.
Just some food for thought.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 02:14 PM   #5
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Yea this other guy I feel like is not really doing a lot of really creative stuff, just basically point and shoot documentary journalism style footage. As far as the cost to operate and the size of that camera I would never own one.

My question still is, Is the image quality of the Sony superior to that of the A1? Again, in my opinion, even the best SD can only take you so far. Not to mention the A1 is being used in productions like Crank 2. I guess basically I need to know how to best show him the full potential of the A1, what would you guys suggest?
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Old January 20th, 2010, 02:25 PM   #6
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Chris,

I suggest you go through the video samples at the top and show him some wedding footage. Google it....you'll find it.

HD vs SD. 4.5 lbs vs 16lbs. No brainer to me. The person behind the camera, the shot composition, and the editting style is what makes it worth the price.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 02:35 PM   #7
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I would have to say as far as the image quality between the 2-it depends on the situation.

The 300 or any 1/2inch camera would probalby beat the 1/3 inch camera under equal low lighting situations BUT there are lots of variables. For instance, at one time I had both a JVC5000U- 1/2 chips with a Canon 16 lens and the occassional use of the Canon 19 and a Sony DSR250. Fullsized PD150-same lens, electronics, DSP etc. I ran some real world tests at receptions and found the DSR250 beat the JVC with the Canon 16 but when
I put the Canon 19 on the JVC the image quality was so close with the JVC being a little sharper at the edges so it was really too close to call. With the Canon 16 on the JVC, I had to go with the DSR250.
As for how to show one is better than another, IMO the best way is to shoot the same scene under the same conditions at the same time-take the RAW footage and put it up on say a 42 inch screen. Use a splitter and show them side by side-HA! A real shoot out.
To this day the DSR300A is still a great camera for lots of different events but I'm not sure weddings is one of them anymore although at one time it was THE camera.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 03:00 PM   #8
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Michael has the answer you need.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 03:54 PM   #9
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Sony DSR-300A was an entry level pro camera which can be had now used for under $2k with lens. They are better in low light than the XH-A1, but you are limited to a 4:3 standard definition image. And they are nowhere near the quality of say a newer Sony 2/3" 16:9 DSR-450, which is still a standard def workhorse.

All the Best!
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Old January 22nd, 2010, 03:59 PM   #10
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Hey thanks for all the replies. I know that my work is worth more than what he is producing. The question was really in regards to the image quality of the two cameras in comparison to each other. Here a link to the project that I just finished that I talked about above as promised. Let me know what you think.

Mallory+Caleb Love Story on Vimeo
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Old January 24th, 2010, 10:19 PM   #11
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I, personally, would never get into a contest over equipment vs price. It is so irrelevant it isn't funny. You charge $1000 for a wedding video and you're going to be buried in work regardless of what equipment you use. Who cares what your friend thinks. There's a list as long as my arm of guys using A1s and FX1s and the like charging $3500 and up. I have no problem with a $1k video as long as you are doing only $1k worth of work. People with expensive cameras always want to justify their purchase. SD vs. HD, 1/3" vs. 1/2" etc. DOESN'T MATTER IN THE LEAST to brides and that's what counts. Start at $1k and go up quickly and tell your friend to go on his merry way.
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Old January 26th, 2010, 12:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Grant View Post
I, personally, would never get into a contest over equipment vs price. It is so irrelevant it isn't funny. You charge $1000 for a wedding video and you're going to be buried in work regardless of what equipment you use. Who cares what your friend thinks. There's a list as long as my arm of guys using A1s and FX1s and the like charging $3500 and up. I have no problem with a $1k video as long as you are doing only $1k worth of work. People with expensive cameras always want to justify their purchase. SD vs. HD, 1/3" vs. 1/2" etc. DOESN'T MATTER IN THE LEAST to brides and that's what counts. Start at $1k and go up quickly and tell your friend to go on his merry way.
Bill
Thanks Bill, this has been my exact sentiment. It just frustrated the life out of me because I'm going to this guy for advice and encouragement because he has been in the business for a while and has a good reputation in our community. And he says to me, "well you can try charging $1000, but so and so is only charging $600 and he's better because he using a $12,000 camera."

Really it just pissed me off. Because obviously he's out of touch because the same camera can be had for less than the cost of my a1 and he really doesn't understand HD as a concept. He was looking at the scene in the video I posted earlier and said, "man, so and so's camera would have ate that shot up."

What is he using a gauge for that comment? I know his resolution would not have been better because he is shooting in SD. I thought the lighting was acceptable. I just walked away frustrated because basically he was saying there is no way your equipment is on par with what he is using and felt like he was trying to discredit me based on equipment.
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Old January 26th, 2010, 04:56 PM   #13
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Honestly,
You have to believe in yourself, and if there's a guy out there with $12000 camera that's doing wedding videos for $600 he's a loser who doesn't know what he's doing. Especially if he's trying to drag you down. You need to find new friends. News people (pardon my generality here) don't typically know squat about what it takes to run a wedding video business. Just because he's been doing news for a while doesn't mean he's an expert. Now, HD resolution doesn't always mean you get the best picture, and that's for you to figure out. But a manly contest to see who's camera is bigger is a loser's game, and you don't need to be playing it. Especially when the stakes are to see who's making the cheapest wedding videos in town. My packages are $1300 and $1900 and I'm waaaay undercharging for my work shooting with 2 A1s. Where are you located? btw
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Old January 26th, 2010, 06:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Chris Moore View Post
My thoughts are that while the Sony DSR-300A may hold up better in low light situations because of the larger sensors but it is still a SD camera, while the xh-a1 is HD and to me HD is always going to be a better picture. My friend argues that the Sony DSR-300A will run circles around the xh-a1 and produce a drastically better picture and wants me to bring my camera to the studio and put the images up side by side. My concern is he doing to want to use a SD monitor for the AB which won't do the a1 justice.
I agree with your friend IF the end result is SD, like DVD. I've done the A/B WITH a DSR300 . The ONLY place HDV downconverted wins out is in colour saturation. In SD, the image from the 300 will be SIGNIFICANTLY sharper.

It's up to you to decide what your distribution format is. 4:3 SD DVD? 300 wins. 16:9 SD DVD? HDV wins. 16:9 HD streaming? HDV wins.

Would I BUY a 300 right now? No but don't discount just how good the images really are. And yes, the 450 is much better but significantly more expensive...
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Old January 27th, 2010, 09:34 PM   #15
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I own a Sony 390L and three XHA1's. There is no comparison...even in sd down conversion. The xh image has much more color saturation AND sharpness. The Sony is a little better in low light, but I can manually adjust my xh to come really close. Also, my xh shot footage holds up better in editing. just my 2 cents...
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