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General HD (720 / 1080) Acquisition
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Old February 4th, 2009, 08:45 AM   #16
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...I say he could choose any camcorder in this price bracket, it matters not a hoot. It's his experience as a craftsman (to use your word) that really matters.
Firmly agreed. In my opinion, Dylan's money might be better spent on hiring the right owner / operator rather than buying gear. But as far as the gear is concerned, *anything* will suffice; today's HD camcorder landscape is an embarrassment of riches. XDCAM EX would be a great choice; I'd place AVCCAM second, but there's nothing wrong with HDV. There is no wrong choice here. Operational skills will be the primary limiting factor of image quality, and certainly not camera or format selection.
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Old February 4th, 2009, 09:18 AM   #17
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I firmly disagree. Pretty much everything that's out today fits that description.
Ok.

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But there is no HDV coming out of your EX1.
Sony says it is, and my NLE recognizes it as such.

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One of the most successful programs ever to air on Discovery -- The Deadliest Catch -- was shot primarily on HDV in low light. Content is king. Content trumps format every time.
True. But there was NO OTHER WAY to get the shots. Put that same premise on land and try to sell that show with no lights. Yes, content is king. But when the content doesn't stand well away from the crowd, it had better be darn good technically.
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Old February 4th, 2009, 10:03 PM   #18
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Yes!

Yes! Content IS king! In the past our films have done quite well -- we're embarking on this project with the full realization it won't be technically flawless, but with the expectation that our storytelling abilities will trump the rest.

And given that we are NOT the greatest craftsmen, as you put it... which camera do you think will be the easiest to learn to operate properly? Especially if we practice, practice, practice?

I am leaning toward the EX1 'cause of the image quality - alas, we can't afford the EX3. My director is leaning toward the HMC150 'cause it's lighter, better ergonomics, and seems more user-friendly.

We will be following the stories of several different people in a verite style a la Maysles' Salesman. That's why the insane amount of footage. You're right, though - ESPECIALLY 'cause there's no much of it, transcoding it all would be a huge drag.

Got to get my hands on an EX1 and hang out with it a while. See if it's hiding an 'easy' button somewhere :)
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Old February 4th, 2009, 10:49 PM   #19
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Got to get my hands on an EX1 and hang out with it a while. See if it's hiding an 'easy' button somewhere :)
The EX1 will absolutely suck if you have to handhold it, but a simple shoulder brace should take the edge off. It's also pretty forgiving. It's my first HD cam and with resources like this forum, I was up and running in no time.

The files are easy to cut, even on a laptop. If you trim while you shoot, you might get everything on 1 or 2, 1TB externals. Or don't cut and have 4TB to deal with in post. With P2 you'd have an INSANE amount of data. The HMC would be less data to deal with, but you couldn't do any over or under cranking if that matters.
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Old February 4th, 2009, 11:08 PM   #20
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Hmm

Thanks. Is the EX1 just heavy or poorly designed for handheld or both? We are thinking of getting a StasisFlex and a monopod, to help with support, but will def be going hand-held some of the time.

Also - we will be shooting unpredictably for 3-4 months, so hiring an operator or renting gear isn't an option for us.

You have all been such a help.
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Old February 4th, 2009, 11:20 PM   #21
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Both. It is VERY left-side heavy, so holding it with just your right hand gets tiring quickly. And the grip is pretty poorly designed. It's also heavy. After shooting with it for a few months, I took my DVX out of the bag and it felt like a toy. Literally. I was shocked.

I have NOT heard great things about the StasisFlex, but there are some other good units out there. Do a search here. There was an Indian unit that got pretty high marks and was quite inexpensive to boot. If you REALLY do have to go handheld, look into the FigRig. I know some people think it's odd, but you can really use it a lot like a handheld, and it really takes the edge off the shakiness. I LOVE mine for what it does. It's not a steadicam, do don't confuse it with one. But I was amazed at what it did for my handheld work. Download the small video and really give it a watch. And keep your mind open.
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Old February 5th, 2009, 03:11 AM   #22
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I quite like hand-holding the EX1 because it's swivelling handgrip is wonderful, clicking into many different positions for hi and lo shots. Only problem is it's a good 4" from the camera's centre-line, so unbalancing the camera laterally.

The Figrig works well but means that you must have a camera that allows LANC control of exposure. Letting go with your left hand to dial the iris down half a stop is too much for your right wrist to bear, and can put a wobble in the footage.

If you're fit and strong and want the best, then go for the EX1. The 150 won't be any easier to learn and it'll never match the picture quality of those big Sony " chips, but it's a damn sight lighter. Both cameras will run on the SDHC cards BTW.

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Old February 5th, 2009, 04:09 AM   #23
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I am leaning toward the EX1 'cause of the image quality - alas, we can't afford the EX3. My director is leaning toward the HMC150 'cause it's lighter, better ergonomics, and seems more user-friendly.
The EX1 has far more going for it than simply image quality, though the difference between the two is indeed night and day. Low light performance, easier codec for editing, true manual lens, FAR better viewfinder, capability to do overcranking/timelapse etc, the list goes on - my personal favourite is how the EX has dual zebra striping in the same way as a pro camera. That's not to say the 150 is a bad camera, but you get what you pay for. The surprise to many people is that you get so much more for such a relatively small difference in price.

As others have said, the disadvantage of the EX1 is the increased weight when used handheld, there is no denying that. In other respects I'd say it's more user friendly though - factors such as the manual lens, the better viewfinder, and those zebras again. I'd prefer to keep those, and just put up with having to use a shoulder brace.
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Old February 5th, 2009, 06:28 PM   #24
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Not trying to pitch a favorite at all, I don't own one.

A canon xh a1 has great capacity for image adjustment and fits the lower end of your bhudget. I have seen plenty of footage shot off them and it can be stunning in the right hands. I believe it would be a great run and gun camera as well. Put it on a spider brace and go!! You can pick them up used under 3000!!!

Chris is right, but this is agreat camera.
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Old February 17th, 2009, 07:07 PM   #25
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If you haven't checked out the JVC PRO-HD line, you should. Real 24p. The stock lens is OK for doc, but don't zoom past 50 or 60mm if you can help it. You can always rent or buy a better lens. Pick up a HD200 for about $3,500 or so at BH or other reputable place.

Also JVC is releasing a couple new HD camcorders that record to XD-Cam-Ex on to cheap SD cards. Something to consider.
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 07:04 PM   #26
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A tv station I recently worked for utilized the EX1 and EX3 for news gathering. I was one of the few that shot on the EX1... and I thought it was a great camera. Hand held isn't the best... and if it wasn't for the incredibly expensive cards I'd be saving my pennies for one.
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 07:24 PM   #27
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and if it wasn't for the incredibly expensive cards I'd be saving my pennies for one.
We shoot to SDHC. $35 per hour. Save your pennies.
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Old February 24th, 2009, 12:57 PM   #28
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Camera Bought - Great but One Problem

Hi all - thank you for ALL your most valuable insight... I had 99% decided EX1 but when my director and I actually went to hold them and play with them, it became out of the question - just too bulky and heavy and very difficult to hand hold... We went with the Panasonic HMC150 and so far we're happy with it - it is easy to handle, footage looks good (considering), and auto works well - we are slowly learning the manual controls.

Only problem so far is that ONE card - when trying to log and transfer in FCP - gave me an error message: '"NO NAME" contains unsupported media or has an invalid directory structure. Please choose a folder whose directory structure matches supported media.' Its directory looks exactly the same as the directory for the dozen cards that worked... any ideas what could be wrong? What might have happened to screw it up? What is the correct directory structure for AVCHD? How might I be able to repair it? If one of the files is corrupted - how do I tell which one? And how do I fix it?

It is a bit disconcerting that - if I can't resolve this - I have 'lost' 10% of the media I've shot so far. I'm using a Kingston 16GB class 4 card, brand new - first 3 times worked fine.

Again, THANK YOU for all your thoughtful responses and help.
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Old February 24th, 2009, 06:15 PM   #29
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I would have thrown another hat into the ring. Sony Z7. It has interchangeable lens capability. You can easily adapt Nikon lenses if you need a lot of telephoto. Maybe not the absolute best but certainly very good in low light. And with a good broadcast lens with f1.4 capability, you will be comparable to the EX1 in low light. The batteries are dirt cheap compared to the EX1/EX3. And the batteries last a long time. It can record on tape or CF cards. Tape is cheap. The CF cards are dirt cheap compared to the SxS cards or the ridiculous P2 cards. You could outfit yourself for extended periods away from electricty and computers much cheaper and easier than almost anything else that has been mentioned. The EVF is far superior to the EX1 or anything else anywhere near this price range, so critical focus is much easier to achieve when you don't have a field monitor handy. It is a great piece of equipment.
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Old February 24th, 2009, 07:41 PM   #30
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It can record on tape or CF cards. Tape is cheap. The CF cards are dirt cheap compared to the SxS cards or the ridiculous P2 cards.
Tape is cheap, but after going to a tapeless workflow, most people aren't happy to return to it. Even with the cost. SDHC is pretty cheap too, offers most of the advantages of tape, and offers tapeless workflow. This is the great tipping point to the EX1 over many of it's competitors for most of us. If you can get past the CMOS issues (or they don't factor into your shooting) then the EX1 becomes the gorilla in the room in it's class. The EX3 is a bit more but REALLY pushes the game forward with timecode, genlock, and interchangeable lenses.

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You could outfit yourself for extended periods away from electricty and computers much cheaper and easier than almost anything else that has been mentioned.
I still think SDHC wins here. You can put 20 hours of footage in your pants pocket and walk away. Try that with tape.

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The EVF is far superior to the EX1 or anything else anywhere near this price range, so critical focus is much easier to achieve when you don't have a field monitor handy. It is a great piece of equipment.
Have you focused an EX1? I did a 5 hour outdoor shoot last weekend without a field monitor in sight, and my focus was on the money every shot.
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