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Old August 15th, 2007, 02:54 AM   #1
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To test, can I record in SD on FX1, FX7 and A1 (in the store)?

Hi all,

I'm killing myself here trying to decide on the FX1, FX7 and Canon A1. I've read a ton of postings/pages here and around the web. I finally got my hands on an FX7 and A1 yesterday (damn the A1 was heavy).

I'm going to go to the shop in the next few nights to handle all and make a decision. My question is, could I pop a tape in each and record a bit in SD. Then I would bring it home and watch all the footage. I think this would really help me out. Is this possible? (you personally may not know on all the cams, but feedback on what you do know would really help me).

I know it wouldn't be testing the HD capabilities, but I think the footage and low light ability would still show. At least I think.

Thanks big time,

JL
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Old August 15th, 2007, 04:51 AM   #2
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What I know in this great DV unit HDV info from this forum. Most they like SONY and canon as in FX1, Z1, FX7, V1 & A1. All this I guess V1 and A1 most of it LOVE the cam :)
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Old August 15th, 2007, 06:47 AM   #3
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James, I'm sure you read all the good info on this forum, and now you're down to the "hands on" test, the ultimate one - you are taking the best route!

Yes, test recordings will help you make your decision (make sure you talk to the sales people first). The major characteristics of all of the camcorders will be the same both in SD and HD, so what you will see in SD, will be also reflected in HD, with some minor differences.

I'm just curious, why are you not planning on shooting HD test footage instead?
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Old August 15th, 2007, 10:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ervin Farkas View Post
James, I'm sure you read all the good info on this forum, and now you're down to the "hands on" test, the ultimate one - you are taking the best route!

Yes, test recordings will help you make your decision (make sure you talk to the sales people first). The major characteristics of all of the camcorders will be the same both in SD and HD, so what you will see in SD, will be also reflected in HD, with some minor differences.

I'm just curious, why are you not planning on shooting HD test footage instead?
Thanks for the info. Yes, read a ton of good stuff, but man it's tough. Had a VX2000 for 4 years, so the damn low light issue with a new cam...

I'm not planning on shooting HD because I only have an SD Sony at home that I'll use for playback. Hopefully it won't be too hard to figure out how to shoot in SD on these cams (salespeople don't always have that deep of experience ;-)

If anyone has tips on how to record in SD on these cams I'd appreciate it.

Thanks again.
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Old August 15th, 2007, 10:48 AM   #5
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Make sure you do some movement tests. The Sony Cameras are not good in high movement (specially FX1). And, of course, try the 24p mode. (and by movement, I don't mind your camera being still, but some pan and tilt shots, for example.)
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Old August 15th, 2007, 12:34 PM   #6
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James,

I would seriously reconsider shooting in HD, even if your final format is SD. I was putting off purchasing an HD camera until I had a viable way of delivering HD to most people. I am so glad that I moved ahead with an HD camera (Canon A1 and HV10) at the end of last year. It has improved so much of the way I shoot and edit. My final product, delivered in SD, looks better than ever, not because of the better raw footage, but because of the freedom and flexibility I have in post production. Now I am going to have a problem when I move to delivering HD because I will lose many of the editing options I am now using and loving.

You can put HD footage on an SD timeline, but because it is so much bigger you have the options of making panning and zooming decisions while you edit rather than when you shoot.

-Take a wide shot of a bride and groom from your tripod – in post crop it how you like, zoom in or out, add a little twist, make it match the music, whatever you want. Your pans and zooms are silky smooth
-Shoot a landscape wide from a tripod – in post start with a tight crop on a subject of interest then start zooming out when you want and pan across the landscape
-Shoot a football game wide – in post, zoom in on the quarterback and then follow the ball right to the receiver – or don’t, instead zoom in on the lineman that had a great block.

You mentioned that you only have an SD camera for playback. I purchased a cheaper HD cam to use as a deck, but I don’t think it is critical for most of us. I wanted to keep the wear on my better camera to a minimum, but in reality I don’t think that head and transport wear are a great concern. I very seldom hear of people actually wearing out the heads of their camera. I do capture in one long session and let software split the scenes rather that have the camera stop, go, and shuttle back and forth.

Try the HD in SD timeline thing. I think you will really like it.
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Old August 15th, 2007, 01:43 PM   #7
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Lloyd - I can't express how helpful this post is. I actually posted this question in another forum some time ago (can I pan and scan with no quality loss in HD), but didn't get a good answer.

So you have the A1? I've liked the footage I've seen from it, and what I saw through the viewfinder. Low light examples also seem to be good. But damn it was heavy, much more than the FX7. I do a lot of "psuedo" steadycam stuff with one arm and I think it would kill me. How have you handled it? (and does it seem heavy to you).

Thanks a million.
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Old August 15th, 2007, 04:35 PM   #8
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The A1 is quite heavy. I have no problem with it generally and the mass helps reduce shake if you can support it well. Holding it out away from your body, expecially with one hand for very long could be a challenge. I have a steadycam that I used with my Canon GL2. Even that got a little heavy after a while. As mentioned earlier, I purchased a little Canon HV10 to use as a deck for my HD stuff. I tried that on the steadycam and it is GREAT! It is so light and easy to handle. I think the A1 would be hard to hand hold with a steadycam for any length of time. The Canon HV20 came out after I got my HV10 but I think its form factor (shorter and wider) is even better suited for a steadycam.

The footage from the HV10 or HV20 is great in good light and blends well with the A1. If adding another $1000 to your camera budget works, then one of these little cameras gives you a capture deck, a steadycam camera and a b-roll camera. I've strapped mine to a helmet for a helmet cam, put it in a cheap housing and taken it scuba diving and on an inner tube to get wakeboarding shots, put it on top of a long pole for a high angle crane shot and take it with my everywhere else I go (skiing, fishing, hiking, biking).
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Old August 15th, 2007, 05:47 PM   #9
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Sounds like you have a great system. I'd like to get an HV20 as well, but my budget won't allow right now.

Since it seems you've done some wedding work, how does the A1 work at dark receptions?
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Old August 15th, 2007, 06:07 PM   #10
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James:

I'm just curious...

While you indicate you won't be shooting anything other than SD, why do you think you need to go to the HDV stuff ? All of them have less light gathering capability than your VX2000. It seems to me if that is the same format you will be staying in, going to the PD 170 or VX2100 would be something to consider.


I do have VX2000, and FX1, and most of the time, in choosing between the two there, it is FX1. But I also have an HV20, and dang if I don't lean on that little thing the most lately, thought that is more because I am experimenting with the Letus 35mm adapters to achieve that film look.

In the darkest reception, your VX2000 will still be the answer, but for a lot of work, the FX1 is just fine. As far as motion issues are concerned, I am not sure why someone is saying it is particularly a Sony issue. A well support camera and video without shake and rattle will be fine. HDV does tend to break up with severe camera shake situations, but how uses that footage anyway ???
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Old August 15th, 2007, 06:58 PM   #11
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Hi Chris - I think you misunderstood (and I described my situation bad). The SD recording was just for me to evaluate at home "before" I get the camera. I don't have an HD cam at home yet, so I wouldn't be able to record footage from the 3 cameras and take it home to review.

That's very helpful feedback. Although the VX2000 is amazing, my gut tells me I'll be ok with any of the 3 choices (although the A1 and FX7 focus didn't seem to do well when zoomed).

Hopefully I'll get my hands on an FX1 tonight, but do you know how it compares in weight to the A1?
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Old August 15th, 2007, 07:34 PM   #12
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I've only lifted the A-1 and the FX7 briefly at local Frys, and then that was without battery pack, but my impression was that the FX1 is a little larger and heavier.

By the way, given my experience with the HV20, and 24p, if I could afford any of them, I think I would go with the Canon A1. That would be my choice currently....
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Old August 21st, 2007, 06:27 PM   #13
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Lloyd: Can you give me a little more info on your workflow? What program do you use to edit? Premier CS3? Thanks
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 04:59 AM   #14
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Hi James -
As you've probably found, all HD cams should be able to record in SD, and you'll get a general idea of what they can do. Low light is subjective, in general HD cams are going to struggle when the lights go down, BUT a little add on light can go a long way. Budget for a couple 10/20W Sonys with diffusers if you do a lot of low light stuff.

Haven't used the Canon A1, but can comment that the FX1 gets a bit heavy vs. an FX7. The FX7 seems a bit underrated, so sometimes they can be had prety reasonable - I really like the FX7 for size, weight, and features. I personally feel the FX7 has amazing picture quality - I "downgraded" from a Z1 because of the size and weight, and can't complain. You might want to experiment around with your budget figures and think about an FX7 plus an HC7 or HV20 for B roll and deck use. Personally I'd go HC7, but the HV has some cool features and is a bit cheaper.

The small cams are great for general use, and as Chris notes, you may find yourself reaching for them more often than the bigger cams... and they also "fly" on lighter handheld steady rigs with less fatigue.

You could always keep the VX around for those times when low light is critical - mixing SD and HD on a Vegas timeline works fine, most major NLE's should handle that.
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 08:52 AM   #15
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James,

I am using Premiere CS3 to edit, however, I think there are many good options besides Premiere.

My workflow when using HD in an SD project works like this:

1. Capture HD -
a. Use HDVSplit - a freeware program that does a great job.
b. or open an HD project in Premiere CS3 just for capturing and then move the captured files into your SD project.

2. Open an SD project and import HD files

3. Since the HD video is much bigger than SD, you will have to re-size it. This is where the fun part comes in. You can simply scale the HD video to 45% in a widescreen SD project and it will fill the full frame (you will always have to crop the edges if you are using a 4x3 setting), but you can also scale it to any size up to 100% with no quality loss, allowing you to crop, pan and zoom on the video file to select the area of the frame you want to show.

4. Depending on your final format, export or burn from Premiere.

This workflow allows you great flexibility in panning and zooming on the video file. As I mentioned earlier, it has changed the way I shoot and edit. The downside is that you give up the option of being able to deliver a High Def version of you video. The SD video looks great coming from this workflow and until my clients have a way to view HD video I will give up the quality of HD for the flexibility of using HD in an SD project.
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