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Old May 20th, 2010, 08:49 PM   #16
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Nate,

I know of a Panasonic dealer with several HMC150 dealer demos available for around $500 off. Supposedly they are in like new condition in the box with all accessories, but only a 90 day warranty. I'm also looking at getting an HMC150 but haven't pulled the trigger yet. Maybe you can get an even better deal since you're buying three.

I don't want to post the name of the dealer or price, since they're not an advertiser here. Shoot me an email if you're interested and I'll let you know who it is.
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Old May 20th, 2010, 09:15 PM   #17
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Ron, these small cams are sounding great for the type of shots you're describing. You seem to be getting good results with stage shows. How are the cams (the xr500 particularly) in other, less luminous situations? Weddings? Indoors?...Outdoors?

The new Sonys with the "R" sensors look nice, any thoughts on a Panasonic TM700, and if it would match the HMC150 any better?

EDIT: Just found slashcam and figured out what it's actually for. Gosh that Sony Handycam is sharp and clean!
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Old May 21st, 2010, 06:09 AM   #18
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I only do stage shows so have no idea about weddings ( other than my daughters where the XR500 produced a brighter picture than reality !!!) I use the XR500 for all the family stuff it has virtually no time limit on power or video( battery I use runs for 6 hours and the hard drive is good for 14 hours I give up long before!!!) It has a cleaner image than the NX5U and is very sharp. I think the latest version the XR550 or CX550 are a good choice. I am waiting to see what the Pro version of the CX550 will actually have as firmware changes before I get my next upgrade.

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Old May 21st, 2010, 10:48 AM   #19
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Nate, even though I haven't completely sold you on an EX1.... yet :p , would you like to see a comparison of EX1 and xr500v? The video I have is indoors with ok lighting; IIRC, EX1 was set to 3db, f2.8. The xr500v had no problem producing a noise free image.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 11:23 AM   #20
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The 500/520 series from last year have been replaced by the 550's in the Sony line - the XR550 and CX550 have a different lens range (more "wide", but lose tele in the process), more manual controls, and a bigger LCD, plus the CX for the first time sports a viewfinder. The guts (sensor block and electronics) are basically pretty similar, but the OIS supposedly gets a bit better, and a faster AF - I should know shortly...

The MC50 "pro" version of the CX550 is a bit of a wildcard right now, as the initial posted specs were wildly inaccurate, and no official details seem to be coming out, but it may well offer a compelling package - probably not soon enough if you need to buy right away.

When you activate the low lux function, these Sonys with the "R" sensor can "see" better than the naked eye (or at least the "old naked eye"...). I've come to the conclusion they can match or beat the sharpness and low noise/clean image of just about any of the bigger cameras under those tough light conditions.

From what I've seen from various posted samples the new 700 series Panasonic is sharper in good light, but loses some of its sharpness to noise and softer image when the lighting gets low. Still looks like a very sweet camera in this years lineup. Not sure about the color matching, some of the posted samples I've seen from the 700seem a bit odd color wise, but this is one of those areas where I think an experienced operator should be able to coax more out of the camera.

I'd lean towards the Sony, but I doubt you'd kick yourself saving a couple hundred $ on the Panasonics.

With the $ you save over a bigger camera, you can always trick these little guys out with a basic shoulder mount, shotgun mic, a lens hood, and maybe a light so they look a "little" more impressive. In the end, the footage you get will be great.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 01:42 PM   #21
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I put together a little video showing my EX1 and xr500v. At first, I left each video at 100%, and then I scaled the EX1 up to match the size of the xr500v. Then I scaled the xr500v down to match the EX1.


It is clear that the EX1 blows the xr500v out of the water in every aspect. Whats really amazing is how much more detail & resolution the EX1 has when scaled up.

FYI, I used 'STD4' gamma in my Picture Profile and left everything else at default settings, which very few EX users do because you can get so much more out of the EX cameras by adjusting the PP settings.

Anyone that might think the xr500v is not focused accurately - it is because the camera's face detection was on and had a box around the girl's face.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 03:20 PM   #22
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Hi Steve -
Good comparison, I think they both look pretty good... might be different if they were both individually blown up full frame, but here they both performed well in Vimeo window and full screen.

I noticed the XR seemed to be handheld, while the EX was on tripod - may have caused some slight blurring? There also may be a factor of where the sweet spot of the lens range is, since they were a little different framing - I find even between my "identical" XR and CX cams, you can get some variation depending on where you are in the zoom range, not very noticeable, but I've run into it - probably a function of lens focal depth changing and auto iris adjustments.

Ron's suggestion of setting the AE about -2 to -4 would have helped a bit here - the little blowout on the boys' fur collar would go away with that adjustment - most people who have used a Sony over the years will recommend that tweak. That and a tad of WB adjustment (skintone looks a little cold on the XR) and I think these would be even closer. It's possible to tweak the little Sonys a bit to improve the performance, and I think it would have closed the gap.

In all honesty, if this were "double blind", I think the only "clue" I might have noticed is the red shift in the black sweatshirt...

I think the only question is whether the image from the EX1 is 5x "better" - with the EX1R showing $6300 at B&H, and the XR500, if you can find one, being about $1200 (roughly the same for a CX550V)? Particularly when camera buying budget is limited, the bang/buck ratio skews towards these smaller cameras if you can live with the limited manual controls and learn how to "push" the camera to get the best results. And more importantly to the OP, with very little tweaking, I think it's safe to say these would intercut well to the average viewer.

Not saying the EX1 isn't sweet, it definitely is, wouldn't mind having one myself, but "beer" budget... I'm guessing Nate would rather not shoot the whole upgrade budget on one camera... particularly when 3 cams are needed for coverage. I'm in the same boat, I prefer to shoot multicam, and 3-4 cameras add up fast when you are talking a 3-5x multiplier on the base price.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 04:11 PM   #23
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Steve I agree that the EX series will be better. It ought to be its at least 5 times more expensive. The fact that face detection was on the girl will throw the whole picture out of focus and exposure other than for the girl, that's what face detection does. A better comparison may be to compare with face detection off, using spot focus and exposure on the same point as the EX with the same framing. Having done several multicams with my SR11, XR500, EX3 and my NX5U I can say that at wide angle shot of the stage it is difficult to tell them apart other than the XR500 is clearly cleaner. The "R" sensor is better than the others. For closeups the EX3 is the clear winner with more colour and depth to the image and the NX5U is sort of in between. Almost exactly what one would expect from the cost of the equipment. It is unfortunate but one usually gets what one pays for!!!! There is a big difference in ease of operation though. EX3 and NX5U require some attention the SR11 and XR500 do very nicely by themselves much better than the automatic operation of the expensive cameras. So each has its place. The combination I have of SR11, XR500 and NX5U is still less than a EX1 and I get three views and chance of getting different shots and exposures.

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Old May 21st, 2010, 05:28 PM   #24
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My comment about the EX1 being far better was a bit overzealous due to the fact that I didn't expect such a large difference.

Dave, both cams were on tripods. In the video, both images begin at 100% and then I adjusted scale in the last 2 segments.

Dave, I assume the red shift you referred to was concerning the EX1. I actually had a Tiffen T1 IR filter on during most of the event but it causes almost a stop of light loss so I removed it.

My favorite 'feature' of the higher priced cams is wider dynamic range.

For event work, like I said before, another very important feature that comes with the EX1 (and all XDCAM EX cameras) is Flash Band removal using Sony's ClipBrowser program. Cameras with CMOS sensors have their issues, including flashing lights.

Nate, you haven't had to deal with flash band with your Canon camcorder but check it out with your 7D. You asked about weddings, and FB has been a big concern for wedding videographers.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 07:28 PM   #25
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I did see the dynamic range - which is awesome, considering how good the "R" sensors are in that regard. Just wondering if your OIS was on, I know you're supposed to turn it off on tripod, but I usually forget... just noticed a bit of movement in the frames, and seemed to blur a bit. The OIS will tend to over-emphasise moves.

Yep, I was sort of joking, since I know the minor shift to red seems to bug some people - both images looked plenty good to me, wouldn't be embarrassed by either one. In some ways I liked the XR, but the skin tones were better on the EX.

I'd imagine the flash band removal would migrate down to either Picture Motion browser or Vegas or both, but even when dealing with live events with a bazillion parents' flashes going off, I've not found banding to be a real issue, though I know it bugs some people.

Your comparison definitely did well by the EX1, some things I've seen didn't do it justice!
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Old May 21st, 2010, 07:42 PM   #26
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"I'd imagine the flash band removal would migrate down to either Picture Motion browser or Vegas or both"

C'mon now, we are talking about Sony here :) They will use it as a way to keep people buying the more expensive cameras. Not to mention, if FB was easy to correct, then everyone would have it in their software. Only one camera that I know of has it built in, some ENG Panny.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 07:44 AM   #27
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I think Sony make sure the cameras fit the marketing segment with as little overlap as possible. The automatic features on the consumer cams are better than the Pro cameras just like the manual controls are not included on the consumer cameras. Nothing to do with whether its possible to include either feature on either range. Using an EX or NX5U at a kids party in automatic against the Sony consumer XR5XX etc the consumer cam will win on a number grounds. I have this comparison all the way from my VX3 Hi8, FX1 and now the NX5U. At a staged event its the other way around. The pro cameras are biased to full manual control and the consumer to full automatic control. The consumer camera automatic controls are getting better and better but the pro controls stay much the same but with the high end camera controls moving down to the low end of the pro range. The NX5U is an example of some strange marketing conflicts. It clearly has the same touch screen as the consumer models yet limits the functions to one menu screen!!!! It has the Bionz processor but doesn't implement any of the touch screen function of the consumer cameras!!!! The touch spot focus function would be great on this camera as its something I use all the time on my XR500 and SR11. I am sure its in the firmware just not turned on. Next year model maybe!!!!

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Old May 22nd, 2010, 03:37 PM   #28
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I think a lot of the "feature" limitation comes down to SIZE. I just got the CX550V in hand - there's no "real estate" to put any buttons on it really... beyond what few it already has. But the one control wheel/button is responsive, as is the touch screen, and now it can access the shutter and iris, although it looks like it's one or the other... but it's SOME manual control, have to play with it more to see...

The answer probably lies in a slightly larger camera with room for proper manual controls, but by the time you do that, you've got a "big camera" to allow focus/zoom/iris rings to not be too fiddly. Now you have something that you don't want to lug around with you everywhere you go (meaning it's "out" for the average consumer).

The small "semi-pro" cameras, with their top notch image quality are in a odd spot, to be sure (and that new interchangeable lens Sony is even stranger, IMO...). They are caught between having image quality that keeps up well with the more expensive cameras, but having limited controls so they aren't "too complicated" for the consumer.

Making it even more interesting is the "P&S pocket cam" that can shoot "adequate" HD quality, and is even more "convenient". For knocking around, the little TX7 is actually pretty good - 3-4 years ago the image quality would have been near the top of the heap, now it'll definitely "do" for casual video.

The gap in image quality between "pro" and what you can get out of a consumer level "kit" is becoming rather small, and this raises some interesting challenges for the future. It's much like how "Word" altered the publishing landscape permanently - the "price for entry" is coming down rapidly.

And you can bet that if the consumer becomes aware of the "need" for flash band removal (right now I doubt they care...), it could be implemented and released as a patch in a couple weeks. I remember rattling Sonys cage about the LANC function on the A/V - Sony US seemed completely clueless, but it wasn't very long after I told them I'd hacked it, that they had adapted their existing LANC products to use the A/V jack... maybe coincidence, but I think they do respond to market pressures.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 04:43 PM   #29
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I wouldn't go nearly so far as to say that the image quality between pro and consumer is rather small.

About Flash Band: if it was so simple then Sony would have released it months ago for the Z7/Z5/NX5 because these cameras are in the price range most demanded by wedding videographers. Just imagine how many sales Sony has lost due to FB.

And remember that we are discussing 'Professional users' and not consumers.

Sorry, but this has gotten completely off-topic.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 07:24 PM   #30
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Bringing us all back....

What we've realized is that there are a few new cameras out there that are capable of doing very nice jobs in some specific situations. These cams are also priced very reasonably. I've certainly considered purchasing one myself as a complementary camera to a model with more professional features.

I'd like to thank you for all your input in helping me make my decision on the HMC150 and xr500/tm700, you've gone above and beyond (but that's half the fun!).

From here, let's just see where the conversation goes.... :)
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