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Old March 4th, 2011, 09:25 AM   #1
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Best non-AVCHD solid state compact HD cam?

Howdy! Currently on the lookup for the best non-AVCHD solid state HD camera out there. I work in research so we use HD cams to record focus groups. Each group is at least two hours, which makes working with tape not an option. Additionally, for most groups, we travel to them so having the camera be as small and compact as possible is a must. I had been using a Canon HV20 with a Focus hard drive, but we need to get an additional camera. I'd really like to remove the external HD from the equation so our staff just needs to carry and setup one device.

We use all Macs and Final Cut, and I'd really like to avoid using a different editor to manage native AVCHD files. Additionally, transcoding really isn't an option - each group is two hours, plus we often have multiple groups to process quite quickly, so transcoding to ProRes just would take waaaay too much time. I know the next version of Final Cut is probably around the corner, so I'm thinking of just I've come across the JVC GY-HM100, but it seemed a bit pricey for what I'm looking to do with it. I'd really just like a high-end consumer HD cam with solid state/HD storage that doesn't use AVCHD, but that doesn't seem to exist. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
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Old March 4th, 2011, 09:06 PM   #2
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Re: Best non-AVCHD solid state compact HD cam?

The HM100 is pricey, I personally think it's a bit overpriced. I've used it quite a bit and if it were $1000 less I'd say it's a great buy. If it were $500 less I'd say it's priced about right. But from what you describe it probably is the best option for what you're looking for. One of the reasons it's so expensive is because of the fact that you can record in the quicktime format. So the files will import directly into FCP without Compressor. You import and edit. Done. So that alone is worth some extra cost when looking at camera options.

And the camera isn't all that bad. The image is good outdoors and so-so indoors but that's expected on small chip cameras. It does have the xlr inputs which would help your audio options should that need arise, it records the two formats, and it will work with SD cards.

The money you save on a cheaper camera you'll lose in time later on when you're dealing with either the encoding or a sluggish timeline.

I just wish the camera were a little bigger. Then I might feel like I was getting my money's worth. It's small and not that much bigger than the consumer cameras on the market so you're people won't have to carry around a large bag or case for it.
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Old March 4th, 2011, 10:01 PM   #3
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Two possibilities

Those cheap Sanyos (Xacti) capture and encode in a Quicktime container. They aren't all that bad, in fact. Those files go straight into FCP, without transcoding.

Alternatively, you could get an AVCHD camcorder and buy Clipwrap utility ($50), which takes original AVCHD files and rewraps them from M2TS (or MTS) container into MOV (QuickTime), without any conversion or transcoding of video or audio. The process is almost as fast as straight copying of files from SDHC card to the hard disk. The resulting files are identical in size to the source files (and not 20 times larger, as AIC or ProRes files are), and FCP will work directly on them. And who knows, perhaps the upcoming version of FCP might even have the ability to recognise the MTS container and work directly on AVCHD (without transcoding).
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Old March 9th, 2011, 10:58 PM   #4
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Re: Best non-AVCHD solid state compact HD cam?

JVC GY-HM100 I got it new for $2399.00 Very happy with it, be sure to buy a light.
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