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Old August 18th, 2010, 04:32 PM   #1
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Here's my camera budget & needs - what would you buy?

We've been shooting HDV on Sony HVR Z7U packages for a couple years at my company... We have some $ for the next year and want to move up in the world... but not sure where to go...

For max $20,000 US - need 1 camera with a stock or wide lens, battery power for a 10hr day with no charging available, adequate memory cards & readers to shoot for 8-10 hrs, a B-glass clear filter and a good polarized filter.

I'll try to provide as much info as possible to help narrow the potentials down to a few...

- our operators shoot and do sound on the go
- we should 1080 60i 90% of the time, 1080 24p on occasion.
- 75% hand-held, 25% on sticks, has be to comfortable for long periods of time hand-held
- we've been shooting HDV at 25mb bitrate... anything above that is a step up
- more color space for post would be nice - again, just improve on the HDV world.
- we like that we can swap lenses with the Z7U and would like that flexibility on the next camera
- we would like to go tapeless but are not loyal to SDHC/CF/SXS/P2 - don't care.
- we are an Avid post house
- we have a Steadicam Flyer with an 18lb fully rigged weight limit (battery/shotgun/etc..)
- not looking at D-SLR (not practical for one-man crew run/gun)
- 90% of the time wider is better than long when it comes to the lens (we have CenturyOptics wide adapters on), and will rent long lenses/adapters when required
- we need to be able to shoot for 5-8 hrs without dumping down footage, so media-cost is an issue if we will need 5-10 cards.

So what would you buy? Sony EX3? Panasonic AG-HPX170? JVC's 700 series (the one that records SDHC)? Or something else I haven't thought of?

If you own any of the 3 cameras mentioned above, give me your quick Love/Hate or Pro/Con argument.

Cheers,
B.J.
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Old August 18th, 2010, 04:51 PM   #2
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It's a good set of criteria. You're bound to get some good opinions.

EX3 ticks most of the boxes, but falls down badly in the ability to handhold. On board battery isn't so hot either, so you'd need an external belt or pack for that. The HPX170 seemed good, but P2 is stupid expensive and getting 8-10 hours worth would double the cost of the camera and then some. Especially shooting 1080.

If a shoulder mounted camera is acceptable, the new Sony PMW-320 sounds like JUST the ticket. It's basically a full shoulder mount EX3. Add a Nanoflash to it, and you can shoot 35MBps in camera onto SDHC cards as backups, and shoot onto Compact Flash cards at 100Mbps or whatever as primary. It ticks all your boxes, can take Anton Bauer or IDX batteries, comfortable to hold, built in audio is good, you can swap the lenses, and it might be light enough to put on your Flyer.

Check it out. If that's too much, the EX3 with a shoulder rig might get it done as well. The Panasonic HPX500 would be another shoulder mount option to look at and that's a 2/3" sensor camera. Add the Nanoflash and leave the P2 out of the equation. The HPX170 would be the smaller form factor, but it has fixed lenses.



Quote:
Originally Posted by B.J. Hjelholt View Post

For max $20,000 US ...

- our operators shoot and do sound on the go

- 75% hand-held, 25% on sticks, has be to comfortable for long periods of time hand-held

- we like that we can swap lenses with the Z7U and would like that flexibility on the next camera

- we would like to go tapeless but are not loyal to SDHC/CF/SXS/P2 - don't care.
- we are an Avid post house

- we need to be able to shoot for 5-8 hrs without dumping down footage, so media-cost is an issue if we will need 5-10 cards.

So what would you buy? Sony EX3? Panasonic AG-HPX170? JVC's 700 series (the one that records SDHC)? Or something else I haven't thought of?

If you own any of the 3 cameras mentioned above, give me your quick Love/Hate or Pro/Con argument.

Cheers,
B.J.
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Old August 18th, 2010, 04:58 PM   #3
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Not familiar with the JVC but have spent time on the 170 and own a 150 (essentially the same camera except the record format and media) with your record time requirements, the 170 will get very expensive due to the P2 cards and the quality compared to the Sony will leave you wanting. The Sony seems the way to go if you need interchangeable lenses. There is an adapter to be able to use SDHC cards which would keep media costs down.

The camera on my radar is the Canon XF300/305. CF cards are pretty cheap and it holds two allowing you to swap out during record. You can record up to 50mbs or dial it down to several other bit rates. The only thing I don't know is the lens. How wide vs long.

The other option if you can wait is one of the many cameras coming at the end of this year with interchangeable lens capability. Panasonic and Sony are both on their way and if Red ever gets off their arses and starts selling the Scarlett, that looks like a killer especially since it is reported to have adapters for Canon and Nikon lenses. But I am not holding my breath!
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Old August 26th, 2010, 09:56 AM   #4
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Thanks for your input gents.

I've lined up a couple camera tests for the next week or 2... will see what works best... EX3 and HVX170 are up first...
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Old August 28th, 2010, 10:37 AM   #5
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B.J. I have a few questions before I weigh in.

Do you see the need for more than one camera, now or in the future for your work?

Do you need/prefer shoulder mount cameras?

Do you want larger chips for shallow DOF?

Is low light a shooting condition you are often operating in or controlled lighting?
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Old August 28th, 2010, 05:39 PM   #6
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On the XF 300/305 lens.....the wide is 4.1mm (35mm eqv 29.5)..which is pretty wide. Canon actually designed the lens to match a typical 2/3" shooter with an 18 to 1 lens.....the same tele and wide field of view that the shooter would be used to.

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Last edited by Jim Martin; August 28th, 2010 at 05:39 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old August 30th, 2010, 01:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
B.J. I have a few questions before I weigh in.

Do you see the need for more than one camera, now or in the future for your work?

Do you need/prefer shoulder mount cameras?

Do you want larger chips for shallow DOF?

Is low light a shooting condition you are often operating in or controlled lighting?
Yes, we'd have to buy 2 of the same camera, as we have several crews on the road, and for some productions we have multi-cam shoots (having the same camera is preferable).

We don't need or prefer shoulder mount cameras, we'll use whatever comes with the right combination of criteria.

The larger the chip the better for shallow DOF, but we've been making due with Z7U's with lens adapters and longer lenses, so any step up will help.

We shoot well over half our footage outdoors, often with little/no control over the light. When we are indoors, we have controlled lighting and tons of gear to make things bright. Low light is not a priority.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 07:10 PM   #8
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Hey B.J. thanks for your update.

What makes this choice difficult is the combination of handheld and long recording times. Often a situation I am in.

My first thought is the JVC 700 model as it uses cheap SDHC cards, has a nice small shoulder mount design for long handheld work. Also since you do not need a specific low light standout, this camera seems to fit the bill. But it is only 1/3" chip and I can't say from experience how much of an upgrade it will be over your exisiting cameras. But they are priced where you could get two and stay under your $20,000 mark.

The PMW-320 is also a contender but that camera is not released yet so it is tough to know the whole story. Plus the budget does not allow for 2.

In my view, the EX-1/3 or the HPX170 are not comfortable to handhold especially for long periods of time. The HMC-150 is very comfortable but I would call that a lateral move from what you have now outside of the long record times on the SD cards.

The New canon 300 series looks like a great camera but it also looks really heavy. Maybe the shoulder mount version will be a true shoulder mount and not a semi like previous models. If it is, then that camera will move to the top of the list.

It is a shame the P2 basically takes Panasonic out of the running for this type of situation.
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Old August 30th, 2010, 07:42 PM   #9
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The XF300/305 is not really heavy (6.6lbs), is nicely balanced (not real front heavy), and with the 4" lcd far forward, you can get away with putting it on your shoulder and viewing it.
With the big codec, great glass, etc, the Canons should be the strongest on your radar.

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Old August 30th, 2010, 09:15 PM   #10
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The 320 is out now and available, it just started shipping. Sounds like it might be the right camera for you. Between this and the EX3, which shares the same chip, I think it would best suit your needs. It is a great shoulder mounted camera and would work well on the Flyer. It can record to SxS or SDHC, it has a 1/2 inch chip, and it just looks good. If the price isn't right then go with the EX3. It's the most popular camera we sell. I'd be happy to help you with the purchase and extend some DVinfo user love.
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Old September 1st, 2010, 01:05 PM   #11
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Camera tests... the process continues...

Thanks again for all the replies, this really is a terrific forum.

I tested a demo HPX170 this week. We likely won't be going with that model, not because it underperformed, but rather a few features I didn't like/personal preference.

Having used the Z7U, and other cameras with proper pro lenses, I'd have a tough time shooting without a dedicated iris ring, something the 170 lacks. My typical shooting environment changes so much that I'm constantly on the iris between and unfortunately sometimes during shots.

The LCD screen resolution was also a deal-breaker for me, I was not impressed with the 170's flip out screen, but was not surprised, as I'd heard Panasonic is a step behind in this area.

As for the P2 work flow, and the actual images out of the camera, I had no major complaints, and a few of my shots on the 170 looked marginally better in our suite than those shot on the Z7U. This was raw/unedited, so the real truth would be after transmission loss etc.. which I was not able to test.

The next couple tests will be a Sony EX3 and after Jim's comments and looking at one briefly, a Canon XF305. A test of the PMW320 may follow after that...

I'm waiting a week or so for our other shooter to get home from a month on the road, so both of us can get the cameras in hand/on shoulder.

Off-topic for the thread, but noteworthy - I've also been reading up on the nanoFlash recorder, which might be an interesting accessory to add on. Last year we shot a lot of footage on the Red, primarily closeup product shots, but also some host network ID's on a green screen. It all looked amazing, but the studio costs were significant (you get what you pay for). I'm curious to know if we could come close to the Red in quality with an EX3, a nanoFlash recording at higher bitrate and different (non-stock) glass. Lighting would be the same.
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Old September 1st, 2010, 01:52 PM   #12
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Both the EX3 and the XF305 are putting out uncompressed (in Canon's case 1.48gb) through the HD SDI...so going to the Nano is a good idea if you want the higher bit rate (100,150mb). Again, internally, the EX3 goes to sxs cards at 35mb, 4-2-0 color where the XF305 goes to cf cards at 50mb, 4-2-2 color, and 10 bit processing.....so, for example, if you were shooting for the BBC (and I'm hearing Discovery too), there is a limit on the % of footage you can use of internally shot footage on the EX3, where as, with the XF305, you can shoot 100% internally for them. Yes, with the Nano, the EX3 can be 100%.....

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Old September 15th, 2010, 12:21 PM   #13
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Shame the bitrate isn't higher on this...

Panasonic Adds an Interchangeable-Lens Camcorder - NYTimes.com

Love the lensing options... but 24 Mbits probably won't hold up in colour correct / transmission will it?
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Old September 15th, 2010, 02:34 PM   #14
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hard to imagine run n' gun camera without power zoom, and looking at the specs and my personal experience , i'll say next step up from z7 is EX series,
I would wait till NAB if time permits, if no I'd get EX 1r or EX3 if interchangeable lenses are your thing, or you really need features that are not in EX1,
but again, it all depends on what you do, I, for example, can't imagine my production today without mkii/iv
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Old September 19th, 2010, 12:25 AM   #15
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The JVC top of the line series would fit all your needs and more. Plus it will give you more bang for your buck than an EX3 would, especially in the ergonomics factor.
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