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General HD (720 / 1080) Acquisition
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Old May 14th, 2008, 10:21 PM   #16
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Hmm as you stated when you wrote this, this isn't an apples to apples comparison...

Having been a varicam operator for a lot of work lately, I can say this... There is NO comparison about quality. I can tell you right now the picture will be completely different between the 2 cameras. You are talking about an extremely professional top of the line camera, to, well... a tinker toy of a camera.

The difference that will be seen here is this... YOUR ability to tell the difference between the two. An experienced eye will be able to tell the difference and know what to look for and the problem spots. If you cannot tell the difference between the two image wise, pick the cheap camera as for there would be no need for you to go any higher.

Just because it has a "1080" chip doesn't mean its quality, not by a LONG shot. There are so many differences between the sensors its not even something you could really compare. The dynamic range will be completely different, the clarity will be completely different, the visual noise will be completely different, the whole operation of the camera is different and not even close to each other.

Just to let you know the varicam doesn't capture and print 1280x720 its 960 x 720 luminance pixels, and it will absolutely blow away most other cameras with its image including some "full 1080p" cameras. Its not about "pixes" its about the quality of reproduction in the image. The sub-sampling done, the internal processing, all of these things will completely make or break a camera and its image.

The varicam will always be at the top, and is a trusted camera name, the new p2 feature is great.

I have seen footage from a lot of cameras out there, from native files from the RED camera, to "crappy" sony hand held cameras that produce 1080p there is such a difference in quality at this price point. Color reproduction, sensor build, lenses, the list can go on and on and on...

If you're having to think about the difference between the two, then I say go for the cheaper. No reason to waste money if you aren't going to use it for all its worth.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 12:58 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Richardson View Post
The Red DOES record audio in-camera, BTW. I should know, I have one :)

Peter
Lucky dog! I am envious. I like the RED but cannot afford one and do not have the clients that can support me financing one.

So how is the audio quality? I write a lot of audio articles and I have yet to hear of or read anything of substance about the RED's audio quality.

Dan
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Old May 15th, 2008, 02:51 AM   #18
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Giuseppe,
I disagree, I think it is an apples to apples comparison, after all what we're talking about are 2 cameras aimed at producing HD output for the broadcast and some cinema use - same market. And I think you'll have a lot of people disagree with you re image quality too - not me, I tend to share your thoughts to some extent there.
Also not true to say the Varicam is top of the pile, after all it's only a 720 camera so while the image looks very pleasant it does start to suffer a little when blown up big - that's why folks tend to use Sony 750/900 or F23 for cinema use. It's also favoured when you don't need off-speed shooting for its greater resolution.
Hmmmm.
Steve
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Old May 15th, 2008, 03:39 AM   #19
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(quote)"Giuseppe,
I disagree, I think it is an apples to apples comparison, after all what we're talking about are 2 cameras aimed at producing HD output for the broadcast and some cinema use - same market. And I think you'll have a lot of people disagree with you re image quality too - not me, I tend to share your thoughts to some extent there.
Also not true to say the Varicam is top of the pile, after all it's only a 720 camera so while the image looks very pleasant it does start to suffer a little when blown up big - that's why folks tend to use Sony 750/900 or F23 for cinema use. It's also favoured when you don't need off-speed shooting for its greater resolution.
Hmmmm.
Steve " (end quote)


The reason why I do not believe its apples is because you can say the same thing about a Ferrari and a Ford Pickup truck, sure they are both for driving, sure they both can get you from A to B, they both use gas... But they are completely different in what they are intended for. A Ferrari is built for speed, not for hauling things around, and a Pickup truck is made for the everyday abuse, not speeding around all over...

I am being truthful in the fact that the Sony is made as a "pro-sumer" camera. This inst a myth or a misconception, it inst made for the top end shooters, there is a lot of compromise in its design and build. This inst made for the top end of even its price range... It is made as a good camera for its price range, and good specs for what the build quality is.

The camera is a tool, and for each use of a tool there is the right and wrong tool... I can use my fingers to paint, but I sure cant paint with the same detail as a fine tip brush could... I really think it comes down to what are you really using the camera for. Pick the right tool for the right job, or majority of jobs. If you think you will have more high end clients and jobs that will need the quality of the varicam, then you will need it. If you think you are only going to get one or 2 high end clients a year, just the cost alone wouldn't be worth it. Just keep that as your savings for another day. We aren't talking about a few thousand dollars here, we are talking tens of thousands of dollars in difference.

and when I mean top of the pile, I mean in its range, sure the F900R and the 750 beat it out by a lot... but Ill tell you this much... My JVC 110 (native 1280x720p chips) compared to the varicam (960x720 chips) is a complete looser, You cant just compare them because of the numbers, its not about just ccd pixels its so much more technology that goes behind these cameras, and thats why they are 50,000 and up. My JVC footage will never look as good as the varicam even though if you based it on numbers alone, it should beat it.

So the same goes for the p2 varicam vs. the EX3 they are both 1080p cameras but projected... who do you think will win? I think the only camera that will ever negate this formula for "what you pay for is what you get", will be the RED one camera. That is the ONLY camera that beats out any other camera that costs 5-10 times as much in resolution, dynamic range, and tonal range.

In this world you still get what you pay for, its all a matter of what you need. If you need a higher end camera, get it, if you don't, save your money and invest into something else you need... or apple stock? damn I wish i didn't sell that stock! lol

You will most likely not see the difference on a tv screen as much as you will a calibrated hd monitor. I feel like im sticking up for the panny, but I guess I am, I respect the camera, and the engineering that went into it. And I guess its a little personal to me because I am a bit tired of the hand held pro-sumer cameras being made. Every few months a new one comes out, and its not every month a varicam comes out. It just makes me feel all warm and tingly inside... With that said, anyone want to sell me a used Varicam? or HPX? im in the market haha.

Go for what makes you happy.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 03:59 AM   #20
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Agree with a lot of what you say, and 100% with the philosophy behind it all.
I'm sure there is some reason why the EX1/3 cost a lot less then the Varicam, and sure that they won't but a match for it, but it doesn't come down to things like resolution, dynamic range etc. 'cos the EX1 matches or exceeds the Varicam in a lot of them. At the moment all I can see is the rolling shutter, it seems to be a common factor on all these cameras which seem to show great specs on paper for low cost (RED, Infinity, EX1). Even the RED that you quoted I think you'll find has issues (notably dynamic range, noise and rolling shutter artefacts) that I think will show why it's not quite the dream ticket for $17500 that it at first seems.
Both the EX1 and Varicam are meant to be Ferraris, just one is smaller, lighter and a lot cheaper than the other. Why is it inferior, someone please give me a definitive answer, 'cos like you Giuseppe I'm finding it hard to rationalise how a 3000 camera can be compared to a 30000 one!
Steve
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Old May 15th, 2008, 08:35 AM   #21
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Regardless how similar these two cams appear on the surface with tech specs in point of fact they are completely different form factors with different intended missions, albeit they both have areas they overlap each other.

Comparisons of this type eventually become moot and pointless. I think all the major points between the two cams have been made - and the overall point of "pick the right tool for the job" has also been highlighted.

The only way to know for certain which one fits the bill for your own needs is to get with one of the forum sponsors and test both out - when they become available. 'Nuf said.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 09:17 AM   #22
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They don't have different missions at all Robert, that's the point - both are aimed at HD TV broadcast use. And both are used for it. The form factor is similar too - they both have a lens and record an image, both can be put on a tripod, both can take long lenses - what's different? The main differences are size and price, and IF all other things (mainly picture quality) were equal I'd choose the cheaper and lighter one. On paper they look equal (ish), common sense tells you they won't be, but why not? I've used Varicam, HPX2100, HDCam etc. and now just testing stuff with the EX1, and it does have a nice sharp-looking picture, with no obvious problems with aliasing, CA etc. I think there is a problem, it's the rolling shutter, as panning seems juddery (as opposed to blurry on other 25P cams), but haven't used it enough to be sure. But look at stills from the two and I think they're pretty close.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 10:07 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
I think all the major points between the two cams have been made - ...........
One that hasn't been touched on is edit support for AVC-Intra. How usable is it with the major NLEs?

And a local supplier of FCP systems was giving a strong sales pitch for SxS on the basis of those cards being able to slot straight into a modern laptop - no adaptor - whilst P2 can't. Obviously adaptors can be used, but apparently this tends to slow down transfers and means that much of the P2 speed potential gets wasted.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 11:34 AM   #24
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One important consideration has to be the fact that Discovery and the BBC are phasing out ALL 720P HD production. Both will not allow the use of 720p as the primary standard for new productions according to their guidelines they must be 1080.

In terms of future proofing your investment I would be very nervous about buying any 720 camera (even if it can upscale internally to 1080). As transmission codecs improve there will be fewer and fewer 720 broadcasts. Even the EBU who for years have been pro 720P are now recommending that broadcasters should have a road map that includes the migration to 1080p as bandwidth/codecs permit.

My stock footage library contains a mix of 720p and 1080p material. I sell far more 1080p than 720p. A 1080p image can be down scaled to 720P with no quality loss. 720p upscaled to 1080p will always look softer than native 1080p.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 01:09 PM   #25
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That's not true Alister. BBC are still using 720, Varicam is still THE camera for wildlife productions. There are several big productions the NHU are making and in the pipeline, and Varicams are all over them. I've a job on one of them next month and the decision to use Varicam wasn't even discussed, it was assumed.
BUT, I agree with you in terms of being nervous about investing in a 720 cam, as you must think it'll only be a matter of time before they are phased out. How much time is hard to say though.
Steve
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Old May 26th, 2008, 10:39 AM   #26
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As I said New Commissions and Future Productions. Existing productions and commissions are allowed to use 720P.

See the BBC's own guidelines

http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/dq/p...ery_v01_08.pdf

3. Video Standards

3.1. The BBC will accept High Definition programme acquired using either of the
following:

o 1920 x 1080 interlace at 25 frames a second (now called 1080i25) or
o 1920 x 1080 progressive at 25 frames a second (now called 1080p25)

Or the older producers guidelines

http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/dq/p...Bookv01_02.pdf

Check page 13.

"For UK Transmission you would shoot 1080 50i or 25P"

and page 16

"For a UK BBC transmission with an International Delivery always shoot 1080 50i or 25P."


All through the document they stress that 720 must be up-converted if used and that the preferable production standard is 1080. Admittedly this particular document doesn't exclude the use of 720 but I think it is very clear that it is not the preferred format. I have seen other BBC documents that do state that all future productions must be 1080 and the use of 720 should be phased out as quickly as possible.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 10:52 AM   #27
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There are still plenty of new commissions going to shoot on 720, no question about that. There are a fair few on the go or ready to go in the NHU and for wildlife until there is some sort of slomo capability on 1080 cameras it won't even be an option. So it's Varicam, HPX2100, HDX900 and 2700 all the way for the time being.
Several productions have looked at RED, but it's just not there yet. Phantom HD is also finding favour, but it's very expensive in shooting and post.
Steve
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Old May 26th, 2008, 11:09 AM   #28
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Perhaps the BBC and others will continue to allow the use of 720P where slo-mo is required as a temporary solution. We all know the rules get bent and guidelines ignored. But the fact of the matter is that the BBC, Discovery and others want to phase out 720P as soon as possible. There is also a big difference between how the rules are applied to internal productions and external commissions. New cameras are coming out all the time with better and better performance. As more and more manufacturers bring out full 1080 TV's the difference in picture sharpness will become more apparent to viewers. With the majority of HD channels being premium subscription channels where the viewer expects to get the best I really don't see 720P production being acceptable for much longer.

Based on that would you invest large sums of money in a 720P camera? If you had a job that guaranteed you would re-coup your investment then go for it, but otherwise I would be very, very careful.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 11:15 AM   #29
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Agreed, I'd be very slow to buy a 720 camera for sure. As for viewers and quality, I'm not so sure. I assume the BBC are of the view that "Planet Earth" looked OK (to put it mildly) and the bulk of that was 720 Varicam, and they don't come much more high brow than that! Same goes for Ganges, Wild China, Earth's Great Events, Life, Yellowstone etc. all 720 Varicam (mostly). Also the "Natural World" strand, Varicam is the default choice at present.
I really do think you'd have a hard time convincing anyone that you should not use 720 by viewing Planet Earth on a 1080 screen and deciding it looks a bit ropey!
Steve
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