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Old July 26th, 2009, 09:00 AM   #1
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Camera Considerations

Hi folks.

I'm looking for a new camera.
I'd like to know what you guys think about the abilities of three camera's -

JVC GY HD 201eb - many people seem to love it's image quality.
Sony Z5 - the newest of Sony 1/3" camera's.
Sony EX 3 - 1/2" and is well regarded

I shoot corporate/ educational programs for the most, getting me into all sorts of uncontrolled lighting [dynamic range variables] and environmental conditions.

What I cant understand is how could the JVC have the edge in dynamic range over the EX3 or Z5 given they are both newer technologies and that the sensor chipset of the JVC is a few years older. To me dynamic range is king, not db gain smoothness. Grain, provided it's not a jagged edge on a DVD, is ok to me.

As much as I completely approve of all the control settings being in the right place on the JVC as in Betacam rigs, it's disturbing to hear the build quality needs nurturing. How fragile is the unit.

I have just been using a Sony PD 170. Dynamic range is tight in my opinion, way short of what should be regrarded as a professional range...but have i got that wrong? I use Vegas Pro 9 and was on 8. Straight editing on the system has not revealed an insight how to gain colour depth. I just saw that VASST have Gearshift 1.8 which can convert from my PAL 4.2.0 to 4.2.2 colur space. That sounds the way outa here. Have you experience in using this software and the colour benefits? I'll do another Q thread on that.

Viewfinder sharpness - a real necessity. I was blinded by the lack of sharpness of the PD 170 [ I just used on a shoot] in the B&W viewfinder. There was nowhere where it was sharp. All a guess. I used to own an Aaton with a fibre optics viewfinder and that I knew was sharp. If i blew it on focus it was because of me cos the sharpness was there in the viewfinder. Every cameraman/woman deservse a sharp image to work from.

But I digress.
Viewfinder sharpness? Dynamic range? Body build? - Who is king -and in which order.

The JVC 201 is great as we have all heard - but is the build quality ok - is it likely to fracture/crash under realworld useagre - I mean in the field - in cars for hours- in the countryside - rice fields, factories, office buildings, humidity, boats or a cold storage fridge. All assuming I look after it which i always do.

The Z5...love that notion of the 20x zoom. For my work - that is a bonus, as I am particularly into long lenses. To be able to shoot with this versatility is a powerful bonus to buy it.

The EX 3 - 1/2"..best dynamic range, good build quality, pity about the 14x lens. If Canon can do a 20x, why not Sony. But the sysytem is nontheless cool. Is there any reason other than price why one should not buy it?

Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Thx
Geoff
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Old July 27th, 2009, 09:44 PM   #2
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Have I got rabies or something?
Any suggestions re the camera?
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Old July 27th, 2009, 11:32 PM   #3
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For the uses you describe I would pick the Z5. I like the description, and this review says the built in 1.5x looks good, which is important to you:
Sony HVR-Z5 Camera Review - WWW.URBANFOX.TV

I also like the ability to record to tap, data card or hard drive for a multi-use camera.

Also, for a multi-use camera in the situations you describe, I prefer a fixed liens camera that doesn't need back-focus adjustment all the time, doesn't need a big cash outlay for an upgraded lens, etc.

I prefer the smaller form factor than the shoulder mount camera, unless you are going to use it shoulder mounted primarily.

I also like a camera that has an auto mode but also has respectable manual control.

The EX3 (or EX1) will give a better picture presumably, and people love lthese cameras. However, the Z7, especially an an upgrade to the PD170, which the Z7 is designed to emulate, makes more sense probably.
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Old July 31st, 2009, 11:07 AM   #4
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Geoff, I am not sure why you didn't include the Z7 in your list. I have not heard that the JVC has any advantage in dynamic range over the EX3, Z5 or Z7. Are you sure about that? I pretty sure that all of the Sony's will have an advantage in low light to the JVC. The Z5 and Z7 have the best LCD and EVF of the bunch. The EX3 is a close second. The JVC is lacking in this area, I think. This will make critical focus more difficult on the JVC since the LCD and EVF lack the same level of detail. I have a friend who has the JVC and he often complains about soft focus. The Z5 has the longest zoom with a std. lens. The EX3 uses a better codec. The EX3 is 1/2" chips, all the others are 1/3". Prices are all over the place with the EX3 being about twice the Z5. The EX3, Z7 and JVC have interchangeable lens capability. I prefer the control layout of the Z7 over the Z5. I have the Z7 with a broadcast Fujinon 16x lens. The lens is very fast at f1.4. I certainly wouldn't trade my set up for the JVC or the Z5 but I sure would consider the EX3. The Z5 and Z7 have the best battery set up considering cost and run time. With the MRC1, the Z7 (MRC1 std.) and Z5 (MRC1 opt.) you can record to tape and to inexpensive CF cards. The EX3 does not record to tape, which might be a disadvantage some times. You can use various external recording devices with the JVC but it won't integrate with the camera like the MRC1 does with the Z5 and Z7. The SxS cards for the EX3 are terribly expensive, but you can always use an adapter and SDHC cards which is significantly cheaper than SxS cards. But you loose overcrank capabilities, from what I understand. The EX3 has more status among the professional video community. And if I remember correctly, Discovery Ch. says the EX3 footage meets their "gold" standard or something like that, while the others do not. Hope this helps.
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Old July 31st, 2009, 07:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Jak View Post
What I cant understand is how could the JVC have the edge in dynamic range over the EX3 or Z5 given they are both newer technologies
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Jak View Post
The EX 3 - 1/2"..best dynamic range, good build quality
You seem to be contradicting yourself here. Where have you seen that the JVC has the best dynamic range? I have seen that claim made for the EX1 and EX3; Adam Wilt pegs them at 10 stops and said every other camera he's tested fell between about 8 to 9 stops. The EX3 is a big jump up in price from the others on your list. You might think of the EX1 instead?

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Originally Posted by Greg Laves View Post
The Z5 and Z7 have the best LCD and EVF of the bunch. The EX3 is a close second.
Can't completely agree with you on this Greg. I just got an EX1 and had narrowed my choices down between it and the Z7, which does have a lot of cool features. The viewfinder on the Z7 and Z5 is clearly better than the EX1, true. But the LCD screen on the EX1 wins hands down. It's the same resolution as the Z7/Z5 screen (640x480) but 3.5" instead of 3.2". You wouldn't think that matters a lot, but for some reason it seems to. The image on the EX1 screen just looks a lot nicer - I went up to B&H and played with each side by side because I'd read this claim before and found it hard to believe. But it's true if you look at both together.

Another thing about the EX1/EX3 is the data display on the screen and viewfinder. It's done with a smaller font which clutters the screen way less than any of the HVR-Z series cameras. I have a Z1 and that always bothered me personally. Why do they use huge blocky letters and digits that remind me of my Apple ][ computer?

I crossed the EX3 off my list mainly because it seems really large and awkward (especially that viewfinder which isn't removable). The interchangeable lenses are cool, as are the viewfinder eyepiece and analog brightness/peaking controls. But it is not a camera which would be easy to transport, plus you will need a more expensive tripod and batteries. Meanwhile, the EX1 has the exact same image quality.

The other camera I gave some consideration to is the JVC HM-700: JVC Professional Technical Description page. Recording to SD cards is a great feature and it has a really beautiful huge LCD screen. Again, it was just too big and heavy to suit my style though.
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Old August 19th, 2009, 10:13 PM   #6
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Sorry for the late reply everyone. I've been off the screen for a while.

I was in Singapore handling the different camera's last week [expandore dot com]. Looked at the Z and the EX3. The Z7 wasn't available. It was good to get my hands on them to feel how they would work with me and that's so important in the end, let alone their technical qualities. For my type of shooting I was impressed with the Z5 with it's instant 20:1 zoom but the image quality of the EX3 is another point altogether. I would like to have checked out the Z7 as well. As you say Greg, the interchangability of lenses is a bonus.

Still in the hunt guys - and thanks again
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Old August 20th, 2009, 04:05 AM   #7
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From what I've seen the EX cameras have by far the biggest dynamic range, certainly when using the Cine Gammas, very impressive.
As for viewfinders you tend to find most small cameras are a bit naff, and the EX1 is no exception - but the EX3 is! It's VF is really really good, but as someone just said, it is big.
For your uses I'd say image quality from all of them is perfectly OK, but the EX will have the edge without a doubt du to bigger chips, more resolution and better codec - but again, to your viewer there probably won't be anything in it.
Other difference is EX has solid state recording - welcome to the 21st century!
Steve
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Old August 21st, 2009, 08:23 AM   #8
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As for viewfinders you tend to find most small cameras are a bit naff, and the EX1 is no exception - but the EX3 is! It's VF is really really good
However the EX1 LCD screen is the same as as the EX3 viewfinder without the eyepiece. I agree that the EX1 viewfinder is pretty worthless. It is exactly the same as the Z1 viewfinder.

I really wanted to like the EX3, but it just seemed way too big and awkward (while still not qualifying as a "shoulder camera"), considering that the image quality is no better than the EX1.
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Old August 25th, 2009, 09:20 PM   #9
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Sorry for the late reply everyone. I've been off the screen for a while.
Whew, what a relief. We were afraid that you thought we had rabies.

I think you are mixing apples and oranges, probably at the hands of a salesman. Of the cameras that you mentioned, the EX-3 definitely has greater dynamic range. However some of the older JVC ENG cameras such as the DW-29 have very impressive dynamic range. But you aren't looking to select a has-been camera (assuming that you need to shoot HD). What a JVC DW-29 does has nothing to do with what the JVC JVC GY HD 201eb does.
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Old August 31st, 2009, 11:52 AM   #10
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I would say all are top notch but different. For static shots or at least non sports, I would consider the Sony XDCAM EX. Large c-mos chips. Tough to beat.

I personally would choose the JVC HM-700 with the Fujinon 17x lens over the Sony EX for a number of my reasons, that may or may not be any of your reasons. But basically i would probably narrrow it down to those two if you are buying new. I don't keep up with the rest of the Sony line, but I would like to move myself away from HDV to an less compressed XDCAM-EX format (that the JVC also uses that format on cheaper SD cards, unless you are a PC user, then you have to use the SxS card just like you do with the EX3 I think)

My reasons for the JVC which may not be yours.

1. JVC uses CCD which is better for sports, action, flashes.. no rolling shutter. When I do scripted work, we have Mole and LTM lights so I don't mind having 1/3" CCD's.
2. Shoulder mount. When not on a tripod, I can shoot for an hour straight with my JVC with DTE drive on my shoulder. I can't do that with a handy-cam. Need a steady cam or Glid-Cam mount and vest. I hate handy cam physically for anything other than quickie hand held. Otherwise it stays on a tripod and I let the talent's girl friend run it as a B-Camera. (Meaning a similar handy cam. I don't have an EX1 or EX3, but I do want to buy a JVC HM-700)

Reasons you might want the EX3.

1. Cmos 1/2". Obvisouly Cmos combined with 1/2" vs 1/3 would mean better low light, also Sony has a history of good electronic gain in their older SD cameras. If you don't do sports, or faster nature or live events with photo flashes this might be one heck of a camera.
2. You don't mind the handy-cam format and spend most of your time on a tripod. You may not mind the controls layout.

Both have removable lenses and come with good solid stock lenses. You can get an adapter for the JVC to use 1/2" or 2/3" lenses and the Sony EX3 as well.

Both use Sony's 35mbs format and both use SxS cards for pc users. Mac users could forgo the SxS and just record to cheap SD cards and save the money by not getting that equipment with their camera. (I'm mac, so there is another reason to go with JVC)

I wouldn't head far into the next decade with a NEW HDV or similar camera, I would jump feet first into 2010 with a XDCAM-EX format Sony or JVC. Why? less render times and better (less compressed) original footage. Less render times, means less hours worked, and sooner to switch to a new other paying project.

Also, this is a question since I don't remember. Was the EX3 a focus servo controlled lens? That alone would nix it for me. I love manual focus (non servo) lenses for dramatical work and even sports. Call me a control freak.

Those to me are the biggest differences to think about.

Also I much prefer JVC's color and their cinema gama and cinema color settings which I don't change to far from their settings. Sony was always more colorfull and I always knocked it down in post.. though again I didn't watch any of the footage I shot with the EX when I shot a few hours with the EX1 and EX3.
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Old August 31st, 2009, 12:28 PM   #11
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There's a good mix of solid info and some misinformation here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Humphrey View Post
I would say all are top notch but different. For static shots or at least non sports, I would consider the Sony XDCAM EX. Large c-mos chips. Tough to beat.
True to a degree, but CMOS cameras don't have trouble taking shots of moving action. They begin to have trouble based on how the CAMERA is moved.


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Originally Posted by Alex Humphrey View Post
(that the JVC also uses that format on cheaper SD cards, unless you are a PC user, then you have to use the SxS card just like you do with the EX3 I think)
People have been shooting on SDHC cards for a year with the EX series. There shouldn't be anything different with the JVC.

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Originally Posted by Alex Humphrey View Post
1. JVC uses CCD which is better for sports, action, flashes.. no rolling shutter.
CCD may have the edge in dealing with flashes, but that's about all I'd give it an edge on as long as the camera isn't whip panning. Rolling shutter is GREATLY exaggerated in my view.

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Originally Posted by Alex Humphrey View Post
2. Shoulder mount. When not on a tripod, I can shoot for an hour straight with my JVC with DTE drive on my shoulder. I can't do that with a handy-cam.
Easily solved with a basic shoulder adapter. I wouldn't let this stop me from buying a camera I wanted.

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Originally Posted by Alex Humphrey View Post
Reasons you might want the EX3.

1. Cmos 1/2". Obvisouly Cmos combined with 1/2" vs 1/3 would mean better low light, also Sony has a history of good electronic gain in their older SD cameras. If you don't do sports, or faster nature or live events with photo flashes this might be one heck of a camera.
Again, I think the flashes are overrated. Certain scenarios might make it difficult, but if the flashes aren't providing the primary illumination, it's just not that big a deal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Humphrey View Post
2. You don't mind the handy-cam format and spend most of your time on a tripod. You may not mind the controls layout.
Yea, the control layout is something that certainly needs to be considered. I mostly shoot on a tripod or a stabilizer, so the layout just isn't that big a deal to me. But it certainly could be for someone wanting a shoulder mount camera.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Humphrey View Post
Both have removable lenses and come with good solid stock lenses. You can get an adapter for the JVC to use 1/2" or 2/3" lenses and the Sony EX3 as well.
Good to know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Humphrey View Post
Both use Sony's 35mbs format and both use SxS cards for pc users. Mac users could forgo the SxS and just record to cheap SD cards and save the money by not getting that equipment with their camera. (I'm mac, so there is another reason to go with JVC)
Anyone can forgo the SxS cards if they so choose. I shoot solely on SDHC as a PC user. And I prefer it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Humphrey View Post
I wouldn't head far into the next decade with a NEW HDV or similar camera, I would jump feet first into 2010 with a XDCAM-EX format Sony or JVC. Why? less render times and better (less compressed) original footage. Less render times, means less hours worked, and sooner to switch to a new other paying project.
I wouldn't buy an HDV camera either at this juncture. To much better stuff out there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Humphrey View Post
Also, this is a question since I don't remember. Was the EX3 a focus servo controlled lens? That alone would nix it for me. I love manual focus (non servo) lenses for dramatical work and even sports. Call me a control freak.
ences to think about.
EX3 (and EX1) can be manually focused if desired.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Humphrey View Post
Also I much prefer JVC's color and their cinema gama and cinema color settings which I don't change to far from their settings. Sony was always more colorfull and I always knocked it down in post.. though again I didn't watch any of the footage I shot with the EX when I shot a few hours with the EX1 and EX3.
The image controls on the EX series are second to none in this price range. You can manipulate the image to mimic nearly anything you want.
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 04:43 PM   #12
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Alex, I went on the JVC site to find out more about the JVC 700 and also watched a video review. After checking it all out, I wouldn't trade my Z7 even for the JVC. I do have a Fujinon pro style lens for my Z7. But even with the expense of the extra lens, the Z7 comes out significantly cheaper than the JVC. The over/under crank would be nice but I have had wonderful success slo-moing my normal speed HDV footage and I have also sped my footage up by 5000% in post so over/under crank isn't essential. I am constantly amazed at the CMOS/rolling shutter skew stories and I have to say they are grossly exagerated. CMOS chips do treat photo flash differently and some are never going to like it. I don't like photo flash with CCD chips either. The JVC demo footage I saw looked good but I wouldn't have any issue with putting any of my Z7 footage up against anything I saw in the JVC piece. And while many have declared that "tape is dead", I still like the option of being able to shoot tape or card. I shot out of town for a client last weekend. The producer is 400 miles from me and I have never done business with him before. I don't have any probelms shooting on tape and sending the tapes to him. I sure wouldn't want to have to send him multiples of my more expensive CF/SDHC/SxS cards to him. I sent him 130 minutes of footage on tape.
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 05:19 PM   #13
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And while many have declared that "tape is dead", I still like the option of being able to shoot tape or card. I shot out of town for a client last weekend. The producer is 400 miles from me and I have never done business with him before. I don't have any probelms shooting on tape and sending the tapes to him. I sure wouldn't want to have to send him multiples of my more expensive CF/SDHC/SxS cards to him. I sent him 130 minutes of footage on tape.
Of course, it works great *IF* the producer has a deck that reads your tape format. What if you had a Canon? Do the JVCs and Sony's now shoot the same tape format? At least with card based, you can convert footage without having to worry about a physical format issue. Then it's just a matter of how to get the stuff to the person. Small drives seem to be all the rage, and at about $50 to store 20+ hours of footage, it's not hard to see why.
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 07:57 PM   #14
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Then it's just a matter of how to get the stuff to the person. Small drives seem to be all the rage, and at about $50 to store 20+ hours of footage, it's not hard to see why.
Agreed 100%. No matter what you shoot on, if you got it in your NLE export out to self contained movie, having edited it of course, drag and drop to a SDHC or similar card, put it in the mail and forget about it.


All of these new cameras are better than anything made 2 years ago at twice the price. All are good enough for HD network broadcast. All in this range are good for cinema projects that are about equal to a 16mm film camera.

The CMOS keeps improving. The CCD's keep improving. The latest generations seem like a huge leap over 2 years ago which was a huge leap over the cameras 4 years before that. So we are in a good time for gear for sure. You need only to try one out, see which one you like in your hands and shoulders, and check to see how you like editing natively the different formats on your different NLE's and start shooting.
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Old September 4th, 2009, 10:26 AM   #15
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Perrone, when I have shot for networks, they certainly do not want me to "convert" any footage. They do not want anyone to have any copies of the footage. The footage is their intellectual property and they absolutely do not want anyone to be copying, converting or dubbing anything. They usually stipulate that the footage needs to be FedEx'ed out the same day, as soon as the shoot ends. I don't think they would be open to the idea of you sending them a drive where you have obviously duplicated the footage and you now have a copy of the original footage. The legalize in the contracts makes this pretty darned clear.
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