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Old August 3rd, 2011, 06:16 AM   #1
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Question about some of the newer, less expensive cameras for greenscreen work cameras

Forgive my lack of thorough research, but I was asked a question by an acquaintance and don't have time to really check it out for him, so I thought I'd just rattle off my thoughts here and perhaps anybody who knows of better, newer options might feel free to chime in.

From his email:
"I want to get a decent HD video camera for capturing footage on blue/green screens, good enough to make music video clips to edit in Final Cut pro. I just wanted to know what cameras you would recommend... we are on a budget but we want to get the right product and there are so many to choose from.

Could you recommend a few cameras that would suit, keeping price in mind Sony, JVC, etc..."

My immediate thoughts were:

Sony PMW-EX1R with an Atomos Ninja recording to ProRes 422.

A Panasonic AF100 with a Ninja (or would it need a Ninja if the Panasonic codec is good enough for greenscreen work? Although I vaguely recall that the AF100 might not actually use the DVCProHD codec, for example).

A Sony FS100 with a Ninja (ProRes 422).

I wouldn't think that a video DSLR would be suitable for greenscreen work due to the moire and aliasing issues caused by the line skipping (despite the attractive pricing of $850 for a Rebel T3i). Although I was wondering if this new 3X internal zoom feature (or whatever it's called) on the T3i is supposed to use a smaller part of the sensor and might not use line skipping???? But I think I read somewhere that Canon also put a watermark or something on a corner of the HDMI output from their DSLRs which will ruin the purity of any images captured to a Ninja anyway. So, unless someone has had a positive experience using greenscreen footage from a video DSLR, I don't think I could recommend one.

I don't know if the JVC HM100 would be any good for that kind of work or if any of the newer, smaller Panasonic or Canon video cameras could give a good result.

I rarely shoot greenscreen, so my thoughts could be way, way off with all of this. Recommendations from those who are actually getting good greenscreen results with less expensive HD cameras would be most welcome.

Thanks.
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 07:29 PM   #2
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Re: Question about some of the newer, less expensive cameras for greenscreen work cam

You can do a decent greenscreen with most anything available today, but for the price, nothing beats a second-hand HVX200a or HPX170. Nothing.

If you want to full with your camera's ability in this department, here's a nifty app:
Chroma Key Live | Zach Poff
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 08:36 PM   #3
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Re: Question about some of the newer, less expensive cameras for greenscreen work cam

Sorry Kevin but used both the Panny's for years. Replaced with the Canon XF300 which blows them both away. The EX1r is very close. Edited bunches of footage from that. I just prefer the Canon ergonomics.
Bulk of my biz is greenscreen and the Canon is the king under $8k IMHO!
And you don't need the external recorder to get good results.

I think the keyword I zeroed in on from the OP was "newer" and the Panny's are old tech. Their replacement which was just announced looks to be a real competitor to the ex1r and xf300.

I tried my 7D on a whim with my son on the screen and the results were terrible. The aliasing makes keying a pain in the a$$. Stay away from dslrs for greenscreen.
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 09:37 PM   #4
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Re: Question about some of the newer, less expensive cameras for greenscreen work cam

I don't disagree with your, Rob... but I was honing in on the 'budget." Easy to find HVX's for less than $2K nowadays, or ~$3K new, vs. the ~$6.5K for the XF300. Yeah, it's old, but it works, IMO.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 11:21 AM   #5
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Re: Question about some of the newer, less expensive cameras for greenscreen work cam

Yeah, for the 2K range, a used HVX or HPX should do the job.

But considering the price range of the original camera systems the OP listed, the XF300 seems completely in that range.

And yes, the XF300 is probably the best camera for green screen in this price range. Really fantastic imaging system... and with that 50mb 4:2:2 codec, green screen work with this camera is very very good. And this is all in the camera without the need of an external recorder.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 07:39 PM   #6
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Re: Question about some of the newer, less expensive cameras for greenscreen work cam

Thanks for the great feedback, guys.

The Canon certainly has a big advantage with the 422 codec. And I've always been impressed by the images from the Canon video cameras. My only qualm is how the 1/3" sensors of the XF300 will go in the low light (for music clips they'll probably be incorporating live footage as well, which can be pretty variable in terms of the lighting). I thought the 1/2" sensors of the EX1R or the large sensors of the AF100/FS100 would give far less noise in low light. Does anyone know what the noise is like on an XF300 in low light?
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Old August 5th, 2011, 08:21 PM   #7
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Re: Question about some of the newer, less expensive cameras for greenscreen work cam

Low light Noise performance is virtually identical. Saw some side by sides before buying my 300. Canons done some stuff with the noise reduction to bring the performance way up for a 1/3" camera. Completely useable at +6 and mostly useable at +12. And really if I find myself pushing the +12, I go grab my 7D with my 50mm 1.4 as that blows everything away.

Can't speak to the Panny af100 and Sony fs100. But I'd imagine it may be better with the larger sensor.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 06:56 AM   #8
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Re: Question about some of the newer, less expensive cameras for greenscreen work cam

4:2:2 is technically better for green screen than 4:2:0. I don't know how much better.

The numbers I've read on DVinfo (by people with both cameras) comparing lowlight performance differences (EX1R v XF300) usually settle on a full stop better for the EX1r but you should read up on that.

One thing I appreciate greatly about the better lowlight performance of the EX1R is how you can keep shooting without going to gain... just iris to get what you want...move on. It's advantages for blurring the background are similarily nice... you can get *some* blur without changing to a DSLR camera plus audio recorder ... set it up, shoot and move on. Here's an example:
http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/attachme...syd-zambia.jpg

The lowlight performance's ergonomic advantage is especially nice in run and gun or situations where lighting and scenes are changing. All that just to say that adding a 4:2:2 external recorder to an EX1R gives you both lowlight and improved green screen at the expense of frankensteining the rig for when you gotta have 4:2:2. Given GS is a studio environment, the frankensteining may not be much of a logistical factor. Conversely, when you don't need 4:2:2, the EX1R image is spectacular and you have a smaller and lighter camera than the XF300. I appreciate that quite a bit ... YMMV

There are other operational ergonomic differences between the cameras. How important and whether they are a plus or minus is your decision. For example, I personally love the improved rotating handgrip of the EX1R. It lets you shoot in positions not possible with non-rotating grip cameras. Others don't like it. YMMV

If you pursue the EX1R, take a look at Westside AV (if you haven't already) as they have created rigs specifically for neatly adding an external recorder to the EX1R.

Last edited by Les Wilson; August 6th, 2011 at 07:46 AM. Reason: clarity
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