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Old April 26th, 2010, 06:55 PM   #1
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Panasonic TM 700 vs Canon Vixia vs Sony CX500V

I'm a photographer new to videography and am deciding between a few different camcorders for inconspicuous/unobtrusive filming. I'd like to eventually have the ability to show the footage in small theaters and online, so video quality is a concern, as is OIS, ease-of-inconspicuous-use, quality of auto controls, and durability.

My budget is $1200-1400 including extra memory cards and batteries. I'm considering either the Panasonic TM 700 or one of the Canon Vixias or the Sony CX500V because they seem to best handle the compromise between size and quality for the price. Due to my budget, I'm wondering whether the better models of Vixia/Panasonic are really worth the extra price, or if I'd be similarly well off with a much cheaper HF S100.

I'm also wondering whether these camcorders qualify as inconspicuous enough, or if I'd be better off sacrificing quality/features and going with something even smaller. ("Inconspicuous enough" means being able to carry it around in daily life without it being a distraction to others or myself)

Can anyone comment on whether any of the cameras are NOTICEABLY superior to one another in any areas?
Is the TM 700's manual lens ring a good feature to have for inconspicuous shooting?
Will the TM 700's power button location behind the LCD be a problem for inconspicuous powering-up?
Any suggestions on how to choose between the HF S10/S11/S20/S21/S100/S200?

Last edited by Christopher Erickson; April 27th, 2010 at 05:09 PM.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 07:51 PM   #2
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I can only chip in where I have the camcorder. I have the HFS10 and to be honest the models that have succeeded it have not added that much in terms of image quality. The latest HFS21 has more memory,touch screen,same sensor,they added native 24p, similiar processing pretty much and a few other improvements like continuos recording from one type of media to another.The HFS100 is plenty sharp and has about 900 lines of res.The latest and greatest IS better but not by a mile.

I have been very happy with the HFS100 but the only draw back is it does alias a little and its low light performance is not stellar.If I were in your shoes I would probably go with the HFS100 and with the money saved get some extra handy accessories like spair batteries,polarising filter etc.It is a tiny camera and is light as a feather.
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Old June 14th, 2010, 01:53 PM   #3
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TM700 and XR500V

I have the Panasonic TM700 and Sony XR500V. The Panasonic is slightly smaller, and it has better image quality with its 1080p60 mode (except in extremely low light). The Sony has a better quality viewscreen and viewfinder. Either one could be considered "unobtrusive" although that is subjective.
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Old June 18th, 2010, 10:54 PM   #4
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John -
Just curious, how do you find the Panny colors vs. the Sony - the XR500, CX500 and now the CX550 (550 series replaced the 500 series Sony cams) seem to be pretty solid on color accuracy, some of the samples I've seen of the 700 series Panasonics seem "off" to my eye.

The new 3.5" screen of the CX550 is quite nice, and the OIS and focus are superior to the 500 series, particularly over the XR. If you go with the CX550V, it's a bit smaller and lighter than the XR500, although you get a little less memory to work with (64G flash - still 5+ hours on highest bitrate/quality). I'll take the smaller size/lighter weight now that the CX has a viewfinder.

These small cams are pretty discrete, unless you deck them out with mics/hood/etc. Manual controls are limited, but auto with a few tweaks once you learn the camera, and you should get excellent results. The new "wide" lens on the 550's for 2010 seems to work well, saving hauling around a WA adapter.
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Old June 19th, 2010, 11:28 AM   #5
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I have a Panasonic TM700 and love it. It's inconspicuous. Image quality is stellar. Lens is wide, fast (f1.5). Touch screen focus is a nice feature. Time lapse is very nice.

The TM700 powers up/down by simply opening/closing the LCD panel or extending/retracting the viewfinder-- don't worry about the placement of the on/off button because it's not necessary.

But back to image quality -- in 60p mode the TM700 resolves more vertical resolution that other consumer cameras in this category. I've mixed footage with my Sony EX1 and it holds up pretty well.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 09:33 AM   #6
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Color comparison of Sony & Panasonic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
John -
Just curious, how do you find the Panny colors vs. the Sony - the XR500, CX500 and now the CX550 (550 series replaced the 500 series Sony cams) seem to be pretty solid on color accuracy, some of the samples I've seen of the 700 series Panasonics seem "off" to my eye.
This should give you some idea of how the colors compare:
Color Comparison - Direct Sunlight 9:20am June 20 2010 Mtn.View CA T=5025k G=1.072

The color response is slightly different between the Sony & Panasonic cameras; I'm not sure which one is more accurate. Camcorderreview claims the Panasonic TM700 color is more accurate; I haven't done any serious comparison or measurements as yet myself. Subjectively, the greens in particular seem different.
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