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Old September 26th, 2009, 09:15 PM   #1
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Hopefully not just another which camera do i buy thread but: which camra do I buy

After weeks of reading and searching my head exploded last week with information overload.

I narrowed it down to the Sony HVR Z7 or the Canon 5D mark II. Then expanded it to include the PMW-EX1. Then dropped the 5D than added in the Z1 :).

If I post my thinking you guys may be able to give some advice of things I haven't thought of yet and others may benefit from the exercise.

I was set on the Z7 as I have been using the FX1 for a while and am familiar with and happy with HDV, but I'd also lile to move to a tapeless workflow and it seems an easy way to do that with compact flash but the advantage of tape also. Interchangeable lens is good and low light seems good too. XLR is great as I use a mix of wireless and shotgun mics.

But the Canon 5D quality of images is awesome and the cost is good too. I don't have any canon lenses having moved to nikon ages ago but do have some pro Nikon still lenses which i can use with a converter. Sound is an issue but not insurmountable. Still having some mental issues with using the little still camera as a video camera (looks so weird).

I was all set to buy and then thought I'd have a look at the XDCAM once more as I haven't looked at them for 18 months. Back then there were some issues with workflow and such.
These seem to be resolved and it's easy to FCP. The quality is awesome, features are awesome and price is only a tiny bit more than Z7.

My projects are varied but the next two off the rank are a dance film (lots of lighting situations that will need rich deep blacks and lots of motion) and a documentary (interviews and location stuff).

I also have lots (100's) of Mini DVD tapes and could use the Z7 as a deck for them as well as shooting new stuff on CF card. If I went the 5D or EX1 I would have to work out something else for the old DV tapes.

My budget is enough for a 5D with some extra bits, a Z7 with a couple of CF cards, an EX1 with one extra SxS card, or a Z1 with lots of extra gear like a mattebox, rails, follow focus etc.

Sheesh.
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Old September 26th, 2009, 09:32 PM   #2
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Hmmm??? Dilemma !
G'day Damian, I guess the question is what do you want the camera to do ? Shoot video, shoot stills or shoot video and stills. If you have that many DV tapes and more interested in shooting video, than I'd go for the Z7. Or, keep your FX1 to play your tapes on and buy an EX1. At the end of th day, it all boils down to want YOU want YOUR camera to do for YOU.

Steve.

(Heffernan.. now there is a name i know.)
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Old September 27th, 2009, 04:37 AM   #3
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Damian
The Canon D5 is a camera that shoots some video. The Z7 is a video camera that shoot some stills. The question is, do you want a video camera or a camera? and by the way I don't think that you can shoot continuously video with the D5 with out frying the sensor chip. Correct me someone if I am wrong.


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Old September 27th, 2009, 06:35 AM   #4
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The D5 has a 12 minute limit but that's a firmware limit to avoid taxation in the EU. It's not a hardware limitation.

Thanks for the responses though. The FX has already gone so keeping it as a DV deck is not an option :(

I'm leaning towards the EX1 because high quality images has always been a priority and it seriously doesn't look like anything else can match it. It's been certified by Nat Geo as acceptable for whole programs shot on it unlike HDV which Nat Geo will only allow a percentage of programs to have HDV footage.

I feel like full HD like the EX1 can do it ahead of the game as Bluray hasn't gotten into every home yet. Then again the 5D has amazing ability. Although I've yet to see anyting come out of the 5D that isn't like an ad or film clip. The sound is an issue.
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Old September 27th, 2009, 07:59 AM   #5
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You're mistaken on the 5DII record time issue being an EU thing, so you might want to double check the rest of your data as well.

My thoughts...Reality check time!
Do you need a new camera, or just want a new camera?
Do you need to own, or is renting an option?
A thought... If you need to own, there are many almost new high end cameras for sale right now, as people have upgraded to a new Red One and the like, and are selling.
The camera acquisition list which National Geographic accepts is unimportant unless you are actually providing content for National Geographic Television.
Newer cameras with newer codecs shooting to flash type cards can introduce newer problems. Are the rest of your hardware, computer and such able to transcode such media?
Bottom line is, only you really know your shoot style, conditions, workflow and such,
and which camera would best perform in your circumstances.

For what it's worth, I had a 5DII and sold it. I'll get a new EOS 7D when it's available.
I currently own a Canon XH-A1 and a Panasonic Lumix GH1, which handle most of my shooting chores, the bulk of which are broadcast TV commercials.
When I need an acquisition tool different that I own, I simply rent and add that cost to the budget. For example, I'll bet someone near you owns a Red One that sits unused most of the year, that you could make arrangements with.

Good Luck with your quest!
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Old September 27th, 2009, 07:59 AM   #6
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I have used a Z1 for over 4 years and recently upgraded. DSLR's didn't interest me, so I didn't even consider one. I narrowed it down to the Z7 and EX1.

The Z7 is a great camera which adds most of the things I wished my Z1 had. Interchangeable lenses are great... but very expensive to get something which is really useful (unless you want extreme telephotos with SLR lenses with no auto control). It would have been fun to play with my Nikon lenses, but not something I would have used very much.

In the end, I found it hard to escape the larger chips and better codec options on the EX1. The LCD screen on the EX1 is really exceptional also. Reading the specs, the Z7 screen has the same number of pixels but the EX1 screen is .5" larger. You wouldn't think that makes much difference, but looking at them side by side at B&H Photo, it's a huge difference. There's just a very different look to the two screens.

I also like the way the data is displayed on the EX1 much, much more than the Z7. The Z7 display looks like my Z1, with big, ugly text. The text on the EX1 screen is smaller and much less intrusive. This may seem like a minor detail, but I find it really significant.

There is also more menu control on the EX1, and the direct menu feature which lets you quickly change any parameter on the screen is a real timesaver. The manual control on the EX1 is a bit better than the Z7. Both camera's have a nice manual feel to the focus ring, but the iris ring spins continuously on the Z7 (like the Z1) but it's calibrated on the EX1 with end stops. I find this a major improvement personally.

The viewfinder on the EX1 is a disappointment though - looks exactly the same as the Z1. The Z1 has a higher resolution viewfinder which is an improvement. There are a few other nice tweaks on the Z7 that aren't on the EX1 too, like the "bubble level". But I think it's hard to beat the image quality on the EX1. It is in a whole different league than my Z1.

Of course the tape issue could be a problem for you. I also have boxes full of old tapes and no tape drive at home. If I ever want to revisit those old projects, I will need to bring the tapes into work and capture them on the Z1 there.

In the end, they are both great cameras in their own rightl You need to spend some time deciding what your priorities are, and if possible you should play around with both of them. I found that very helpful in finalizing my own decision.
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Old September 27th, 2009, 10:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David W. Jones View Post
You're mistaken on the 5DII record time issue being an EU thing, so you might want to double check the rest of your data as well.

My thoughts...Reality check time!
Do you need a new camera, or just want a new camera?
Do you need to own, or is renting an option?

...Good Luck with your quest!
I got the record time from a review linked from the front page of this site: "In order for the 5D mark II to avoid being taxed as a video camera in the EU, the video recording limit is 30 minutes in standard definition (480/30p) mode. At HD bitrates this is roughly equal to 12 minutes of video, resulting in a 4 gig file."

It's a valid question about owning and renting. I've always gone from famine to feast and buying gear when I can has enabled me to do projects I wouldn't have otherwise been able to do. I self fund and shoot on spec a lot so there's generally no cost to pass on to a client. Also when doing comissioned work I can budget differently knowing what I can do with my own equipment.
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Old September 27th, 2009, 10:14 PM   #8
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[QUOTE=Boyd Ostroff;1404582]There is also more menu control on the EX1, and the direct menu feature which lets you quickly change any parameter on the screen is a real timesaver. Of course the tape issue could be a problem for you. I also have boxes full of old tapes and no tape drive at home. If I ever want to revisit those old projects, I will need to bring the tapes into work and capture them on the Z1 there.
QUOTE]

The direct menu option is something that really stuck out to me too. I love the idea that instead of pressing menu, rotating a tiny switch, pressing tiny buttons to change something, you can just move a stick and access the function directly.

On the subject of renting I think I could always rent a deck for a week and just soldily plug in tapes and digtise everything given the cheap cost of hard drive space. I'd always have the tapes as archive.

At this stage I'm pretty well decided on the EX1.
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Old September 28th, 2009, 09:31 AM   #9
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It is not a cheap proposition.

My opinion is the 5DII is not a video camera. It is a still camera that can shoot video.

If you need a video camera for your video business or projects, get a video camera.

Things like monitoring and sound are a huge part of the mix and are a problem with the video DSLRs.
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