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General HD (720 / 1080) Acquisition
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Old December 31st, 2008, 03:08 PM   #1
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The Next Step: Upgrading from a GL2

So I've had a GL2 for close to 2 years now and I purchased it just as affordable HD camcorders were coming more into the mainstream. Now I look at my GL2 footage and it doesn't even compare to the HD footage I'm seeing around and I believe it's time to upgrade. Granted I could probably take some more time to learn how to use the GL2 more effectively and creatively but I'm afraid the end result will lead to constant disappointed if I am always viewing HD footage on Vimeo (and at this point in time it's hard to avoid).

So my thoughts are.. what next? My main interest/passion is documentary film and I'm looking for camera that will be able to handle documentary projects. Because shooting video isn't my day job (I'm a sales rep) I haven't found myself using the GL2 as much as I would've liked and am maybe thinking of downsizing a bit this time around. Something a little smaller and more practical but still usable from a documentary perspective.

I want to stick with Canon since it's a brand I know and trust and I have spent the majority of my time working with the XL1 and the GL2.

All my research & reading thus far has pointed me to a Canon HF11. The only downside I've seen thus far is watching out for shake because of it's size (although the OIS should help with that along w/ tripod) and no zebras, which I constantly use on my GL2 to adjust exposure. I'll be editing on a MacBook Pro (2.33 GHz Intel Core2Duo / 3GB RAM / Final Cut Studio ). I looked at the XH-A1 as the most immediate HD replacement to the GL2 but it is spendy and may be more than I would know how to use anyway.

I have a new project in the pipeline coming up soon and I'm wondering if the HF11 with the right tools/accessories could be workable for making a nice documentary film. The project will be going to DVD for distribution (no HD plans as far as I know).

I could probably sell the GL2 and have enough for the HF11 plus some proper equipment and accessories.

So any feedback? If this is a good choice, would you recommend any accessories/microphones/etc to help fill out the kit to make it useable for a (one-man crew) small-scale documentary? Maybe a 35mm lens adapter?

Thanks!
Brian Van Peski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 31st, 2008, 07:00 PM   #2
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The HV30 might be a better choice. It has some good manual features including configurable zebras and a usable focus thumb wheel. The HV30 uses tape if you want to stay with that workflow. It should be priced similarly to the HV11 or somewhat less.
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Old December 31st, 2008, 09:19 PM   #3
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I own both the Canon A1 and a new Panasonic HMC150, so I am now living in both worlds, so I can give you a little perspective om tapeless vs tape.

The HF11 would be a great cam, true....but I agree that the HV30 would probably make more sense for you at this time.

You can edit the tapes from the HV30 right now, with what you have. Likely not so, with the HF11's AVCHD files. Transcoding may be possible, but that creates large file sizes and often--though not always--increases your investment in time editing a project. You may find yourself needing to invest in more hardware and software as your workflow may need to be re-thought.

Better to just go with the HV30 now, and enjoy it. You'll learn a lot from it, and likely create some nice works along the way.
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Old January 5th, 2009, 06:44 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Steve Wolla View Post
Better to just go with the HV30 now, and enjoy it. You'll learn a lot from it, and likely create some nice works along the way.
Yeah, and you should get it at a great price for the next two months or so now that the HV40 has been announced.
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Old January 6th, 2009, 01:27 AM   #5
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Thank you for everyone's responses!

Oooh man. The new HFS series looks to solve most of the issues concerning zebras/manual control etc. So tempting..

As far as HD workflow. From what I've read it isn't a problem on macbook pros as long as you import using final cut and it transcodes to ProRes (as was already stated). I'll have to do some research on what sort of filesize increase this leads to, but I have tons of space and hard drives are cheap. Waiting for another 1TB to come to my door any day now actually.

Who knows, maybe I should buy an HV30 and wait it out until another refresh or to see how the HFS series fare and then just ebay it and be on my way. Camera choice aside, what are the recommended accessories to make a camera like this workable for a documentary project?
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Old January 6th, 2009, 03:26 AM   #6
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Brian, just be aware that AVCHD support is somewhat uneven, even w/FCP, from what I have read. The workflow will likely not be as cut and dried as it is with HDV. Other than that, output quality is fantastic.
I believe that ProRes transcodes AVCHD to about 1GB per minute, so an hour's worth would come to about 60GB's.
Yeah, hard drives are cheap....but can be a real pain when they start stacking up! I am already running 9 drives, at 9.5TB's and need at least 2 more TB's for use with the
HMC--one for project files, the other for backup.
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Old January 6th, 2009, 05:56 AM   #7
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I went from the GL2 to the XH A1 no regrets.
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Old January 10th, 2009, 01:57 PM   #8
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You could wait a bit and go for the HV40. March release I believe, and it supposably has true 24p mode, all for likely under a 1000.
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