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Old June 22nd, 2008, 05:30 AM   #1
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Camera for semi-beginner

I am not even remotely a professional, but I have done a bit of camera-work for fun, and am looking to produce higher quality work on my next few projects. The next couple scripts I'm going to produce have some low-light scenes, and one of them has outdoor scenes in which I am worried the sun might damage this camera like it did with a previous camera I used (I'm not pointing anything directly at the sun, but I might have to do some shots in a generally sun-ward direction).

Another point to consider is that I will be shooting a lot of hand-held footage. Weight and sensitivity to jostling are going to be factors, but not as important to me as the others I have mentioned.

Basically, I am looking for an HDV camcorder with decent low-light capabilities, good built-in audio, resilience in sunlight, and that falls into the $3-4 price range.

The Canon XH-A1 is affordable and I've read very good reviews, but I've heard a lot of great things about the Sony Z1U in low-light, and if it really is better, it might be worth the extra money to me for that capability. The JVC GY-HD110U also falls in the price range, but I haven't heard anything about that one.

I would appreciate advice from anybody who has used any of these cameras, especially from people who have used two of them, or even all three, and can give comparisons.
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Old June 22nd, 2008, 05:32 AM   #2
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I forgot to mention the Sony V1U, which also falls into the price range I'm looking for, but about which I know as little as I do about the JVC.
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Old June 22nd, 2008, 10:27 AM   #3
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I forgot to mention the Sony V1U, which also falls into the price range I'm looking for, but about which I know as little as I do about the JVC.
In your two posts, you have mentioned all very capable cameras that fit in your price range. Now you have to determine your need and preference. For instance, do you want interchangeable lens and a shoulder mount design? Only the JVC 110, among the ones you mentioned, fits this bill. Do you want 24p recording? The Sony Z1U only does 1080i. Do you want optical image stablization? the JVC 110 has a very good manual lens, which doesn't have OIS. Out of the ones you mentioned, I probably would go with the JVC 110 because of the manual lens, the flexibility of interchangeable lens, and the shoulder mount. My second choice would be the XHA1 because of a large zoom, the best auto iris I've seen on a camera and a rock solid OIS. Of course both my choices are not the best in low light.

You might want to consider the Sony hd1000u. It's a shoulder mount entry pro camera that takes very nice images. It's just not well featured like the other cameras, but it's a good starter camera. Just think of it as an Sony consumer model in a bigger package. I could not handle the small size of the HC7, so the hd1000u fit the bill. The $1500 street price is a really good deal for a shoulder mount HDV camera.

Good luck!

Last edited by John Bosco Jr.; June 22nd, 2008 at 10:29 AM. Reason: miss typed word
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Old June 22nd, 2008, 01:23 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Matthew Jones View Post
The next couple scripts I'm going to produce have some low-light scenes, and one of them has outdoor scenes in which I am worried the sun might damage this camera like it did with a previous camera I used (I'm not pointing anything directly at the sun, but I might have to do some shots in a generally sun-ward direction).
I can't speak to the other cameras but I shot a time-lapse sunrise with my XHA1 with no damage to the camera. Shooting directly into the sun at high noon might give different results but I think for any other normal situation you probably don't need to worry about damaging the camera.
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 01:59 PM   #5
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I think I am going to go with the XH-A1 and just modify the script if the low-light scenes are too much of an issue. With the money I save, I can buy more lights and a decent microphone.
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 07:50 PM   #6
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Having owned a V1U and quickly ditching it (low light is a bear) and then picking up an XHA1, I've been soooo impressed by the Canon HDV offerings - yes they're slow on the bandwagon with decks and tapeless cams but they've done these right. For the price, you can't beat the XHA1. It's also customizable as all get out too.

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Old July 1st, 2008, 01:34 PM   #7
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Another point to consider is that I will be shooting a lot of hand-held footage. Weight and sensitivity to jostling are going to be factors, but not as important to me as the others I have mentioned.
If you're even remotely handy you can build yourself a pretty decent steadicam for about $15.
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~johnny/steadycam/

I just finished building five with a few modifications on the design given above.
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Old July 1st, 2008, 11:47 PM   #8
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That steadicam looks pretty easy to build, yeah. Where I'm at it'll probably be closer to a $40 steadicam than to $15, but if I can learn how to use it properly, I'm guessing it will be well worth it.

I just got my camera today and have been shooting test footage all day, just messing around with all the settings. It seems I have a lot of learning to do. I have been able to shoot some footage with which I am very pleased, but I still have a lot to get used to with this camera. In the right lighting, it completely blows my previous image quality out of the water.

Already, I can tell I'm going to enjoy learning how to use this thing.
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