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General HD (720 / 1080) Acquisition
Topics about HD production.


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Old July 14th, 2009, 10:10 AM   #1
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Starting the HD transistion

I am about to start switching some of my equipment over to HD. I already have final cut hd even though i will be outputting SD projects for now. My next step is to actually acquire HD footage. I do outdoors videography and production. Low light capabilities are an important aspect to me,as is portability and ease of set up. The two cameras I am really interested in are the Cannon XH-A1 and JVC GY-HD110(or 100)U Would love to get some expeienced opinions on these cameras....or is there something else in this range to consider? Thanks in advance!
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Old July 14th, 2009, 10:26 AM   #2
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Out of curiosity, is there some reason you are not considering any cameras that have been developed more recently and have thoroughly more modern electronics? Many advances have come in the last couple of years and starting with a model that is several years old doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Especially, using models that use tapes.
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Old July 14th, 2009, 08:03 PM   #3
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Perrone raises a good question that unearths a bunch of others that should be considered. You say that you are ready to jump to HD. Are you ready to jump to tapeless too? Is your Mac seriously industrial strength? If it is, you might want to consider moving beyond HDV. You should probably decide which technology puddle you want to play around in first. That will help you narrow your choices. There's more to consider now than when I made the jump to HD almost two years ago.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have an XH A1. Yes, I love it, but I know it better than any other contemporary camera. If I had to buy a camera now, I'd probably buy the A1s but I haven't been investigating the latest options very closely. If I had, my choice might be very different. Read everything you can about the ones you like and if you can, put your mitts on as many of those on your short list as you can. You'll likely own it longer than your current car and you test drove that, right? (grin)
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 09:12 PM   #4
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ok....

I am now learning how much there is to HD! So apparently not all HD is created equal. As I understand it, the different formats contain different codec? I'm not real sure at this point what these different formats actually do or mean! haha I'm kinda open t advice and suggestions.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 09:37 PM   #5
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Well,

You've given us a little to go on.

You say you have FCP, but don't indicate what version. Nor do you indicate what computer you own or plan to purchase to support your move to HD.

You say you do outdoor videography. That could mean anything from filming nesting birds to NFL games. Give us some clue what kinds of subjects you cover most often.

You might offer up a budget so we have some idea of what might be possible for you.

Do you do most of your shooting on a tripod? A stabilizer, handheld? This will have a great bearing on what might work better for you.

You mention that low light performance is important to you. What camera are you shooting with now, and do you consider it's low-light performance adequate. I came from shooting a Panasonic DVX100. And to get similar low light performance in HD, I was looking at cameras over $6k.

There are a multitude of other considerations, but answers to these basic ones will help us get you started.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 10:34 PM   #6
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ok

I am running a Mac Pro with 1.8tb and final cut studio 2 with HD capabilities. I also have a blackmagic extreme HD card. At this time my projects are SD and must be submitted in beta SP. I plan on shooting HD and capturing as ProRes as I have been told this will create beautiful SD footage. I have been shooting with an XL1S and Sony 390L. I produce an outdoors program, so I am filming hunting and fishing. Most of our footage is shot with some type of support...be it tripod, tree arm etc... Budget? Certainly less than $6K.
This will be my first HD so I am looking for a really good intro level camera to sort of "break" us in and replace the XL1S. From there I would like to move up and replace the 390L in the future.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 04:53 PM   #7
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Going back a few years, the choice at this price point split quite distinctly into tape (2 flavours of HDV) or solid state (mainly P2 with an HVX200). Advantage to tape was cheapness, long retimes without downloading, and most especially that it formed it's own archive, you'd load it into computer and put the tape on the shelf as backup. Going solid state meant certain "tapeless" benefits (no risk of dropout, shots existed as single clips etc), and the possibility of using a better bitrate codec than HDV.

What's been quite revolutionary in the last year or so (IMO) is the ability to virtually have your cake and eat it, with the increasing use of cheap consumer memory such as SDHC cards in prosumer grade cameras. These offer better than HDV standard codecs, and other advantages of solid state, whilst being cheap enough to own enough cards to record literally for hours without any need to download material and format cards for reuse.

The three cameras I'd most advise you to look at are the HMC151 (Panasonic), HM700 (JVC) and the EX1/3 (Sony). The first two take SDHC cards natively, the EX cameras take them via an adaptor, but there's a ton of information about that elsewhere on this site.

They each have their pros and cons, the HMC151 being easily the cheapest by far, but not surprisingly the others are higher quality, and better featured. It may be slightly more than the $6k you quote as budget (not sure about US prices), but I'd take a very hard look at the HM700 in your position. It's big advantage over the others is ergonomics, being a true shouldermount in spite of only 1/3" chips, and could be far better at holding steady if you find yourself bracing against a tree on a tight lens. It also offers the possibility of using other lenses (even 35mm still lenses with adaptor) which may be useful for your type of work on occasion.

Whichever camera you get, if primary delivery is SD for the foreseeable future, it's probably worth originating in 720p/60 instead of 1080i/30, since the former downconverts to SD (480i/30) better than the latter. (Every SD field gets created from a unique HD frame, there's no need to de-interlace before scaling.) All the three models I've mentioned above allow 720p/60 filming.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 11:42 PM   #8
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A lot of choices...

There are a lot of choices when it comes to HD cameras and formats. However, all the cameras out there today are going to give you great quality with only slight differences. My advice would be instead of trying to figure out which camera is the absolute sharpest or which camera is going to best utilize it's codec- just figure out what camera you are most comfortable using. Which camera feels best in your hands and works the way you want it to work.

All the cameras out there are great, they are all going to give you fantastic results if you know how to handle them. Go with what you comfortable with and you want to be using.
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