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Old March 14th, 2012, 08:05 PM   #1
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Deciding on new camera

Hi All,

I have been for sometime trying to figure out what cameras to get. I have sold my Sony HVR-Z1U and in the process of selling my PD-170 cameras and will be upgrading to something HD. I would like to spend the least amount possible, but somewhere in the range of $1000-$2000 but would go to $2500 is it made sense. I have been looking at the following cameras:

Canon HF G10 / XA10
Panasonic HMC-40/HMC-80
JVC GY-HM100U
Sony CX700v
Sony HDR-FX1000

My biggest question right now is about CCDs vs CMOS. I know about the rolling shutter effect on CMOS but are there any advantages over one vs the other. Also, looking at the Canon HF G10 with a 1 x 1/3" CMOS sensor. Is this better than having 3 x 1/4" or is having 3 CMOS even at smaller size better than a single with bigger sensor?

I think I will get an AX2000 or NX5 eventually however this will just be a tie over camera until I can justify the cost.

Thanks
Mark
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Old March 14th, 2012, 10:13 PM   #2
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Re: Deciding on new camera

A simple rule of thumb: A bigger sensor is better at low light.
Another rule of thumb: A smaller sensor gives more depth of field at the same light levels/f-stop.

The question to ask is: What do you prefer? If you shoot in low light and love the cinematic look, I recommend you look at DSLRs like the 5D Mark III or the Nikon D800, which are in your budget (except of lenses). If you can't afford those, you could look at the T3i or GH2 I highly recommend the T3i.

If you prefer lots of DOF and are satisfied with a small sensor, I highly recommend either the Canon or the JVC from your list. Both are very capable cameras. Don't buy used.

The advantage of going the DSLR route is that you can start accumulating lenses, and if you invest in good glass, they will last a lifetime (hopefully). Considering your budget, and the fact that you haven't mentioned what kind of productions you are into, I suggest the T3i or the GH2. You will have enough money left over to buy good lenses. Hope this helps.
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Old March 14th, 2012, 11:16 PM   #3
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Re: Deciding on new camera

Thanks very much for your response.

I guess you could say I am a basic event style shooter. I worked and volunteered at a local TV station for a number of years and received most of my training from there. I purchased a number of cameras that I used up until recently, however I have sold them to look at getting an HD video camera. The Z1U I had did shoot in HD however not in 1080p or 1920x1080 and did not have HDMI output which would have been very beneficial.

I like to have good enough gear for myself, but also when called to do work for others. I have tried using a DSLR camera for video and yes they do provide a great picture, however I prefer proper ENG style shooting.

I try not to shoot in low light, however there are times where there is no choice so I guess a bigger sensor would be better for me. I have been using my PD-150 and PD-170 for the last number of years so I guess I was a little bit spoiled in that regard. They were great in low light but now it is time for me to move on. I still however have a lot of sony accessories so it would be best I suppose to go for another sony prosumer model, however those are a little bit out of my price range, well new anyway.


Thanks again
Mark
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Old March 15th, 2012, 05:07 AM   #4
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Re: Deciding on new camera

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sareesh Sudhakaran View Post
A simple rule of thumb: A bigger sensor is better at low light.
Whoa! Be very careful here - that needs to have *ALL ELSE EQUAL* added after it in capital letters.

In the case we're talking about here, all else is definately not equal and by that I mean 3 versus 1 chip.

For equivalent technologies, doubling the area of the sensor should improve sensitivity by about a stop. But *for the same size sensors* a 3 chip design should be about a stop more sensitive than single chip. Hence in this case (3 1/4" v 1 1/3") I'd expect the two effects to roughly cancel out.

It gets even more difficult when talking about DSLRs as not all the photosites get read, 1 in 4 would be a typical figure. That has the effect of making such a sensor, when used for video, about two stops less sensitive - the ACTIVE area is only a quarter of the TOTAL area.

In very simple ballpark figures, a DSLR sensor may be about eight times the area of a 2/3", which should give it a 3 stop advantage if area was the only factor. But expect to lose 1 stop due to the 1 v 3 chip nature, and another 2 due to the pixel-skip read nature and I'd expect them to be roughly comparable in this respect.

All this assumes equivalent technologies - which is not necessarily the case either........

As far as CMOS v CCD go, then CMOS tends to have better sensitivity and lower power requirements than CCD. That's why the move to full 1920x1080 chips seems to have been accompanied by the move to CMOS.

Reading what you say, I'd suggest looking at a secondhand EX1. The 1/2" chips should only be about a stop down on equivalent 2/3" chips and hence from the rule of thumb above an average DSLR, yet it gives you the advantages of a "proper" video camera, decent codec etc. For event type shooting, the shallow depth of field of a DSLR can be a disadvantage - for drama it may be a different matter.

Beware also of manufacturers claims about 1080. Many claim to make a full 1080 recording, but often don't have full 1920x1080 resolution.
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Old March 15th, 2012, 07:25 AM   #5
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Re: Deciding on new camera

Just to add to what's been said, the move to HD from those venerable SD low-light champions is going to be disappointing. The initial CCD 3-mos cameras were a step backward. CMOS based imagers have helped. Dropping down to 720p helps as well as shooting interlaced.

I looked at the HM100 as a b-camera to my EX1R. It seems to be a nice camera according to the Luminous Landscape evaluation except for low light performance so caveat emptor.

*I* would not go to a tape based camera at this point. YMMV.

In many ways, Sony EX1 is an ENG camera you will love as much as your PD cameras. Given your experience with 3-ring lensed gear, you *may* find the little 1-ring consumer cameras a disappointment. It is a very popular camera and holds it's value quite well.
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Old March 15th, 2012, 10:25 AM   #6
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Re: Deciding on new camera

Thanks Les,

I have used an EX1 and an EX3. They are very nice cameras, however I would have to be a lot busier to justify the cost of even a used one. I have seen a few FX1000's under $3000 and I could probably go as high as $3500 if I waited a few more months, however $1000 - $2500 is really my budget at the moment.

Any camcorder to stand out in in the $1000 - $2500 to be a clear winner, or are there just OK cameras at this level? This is my battle between getting a camera with a single cmos at 1/3" such as the Canon XA10 or HFG10 or something like the Panasonic HMC-80 with smaller chips but 3 of them.

As much as I could do with the quality of the smaller palmcorders I would rather some more manual controls and XLR input, even if I do get a juiced link or beachtek. Would not need XLR input all the time but out in the field it would be a great asset.

I understand the JVC HM100 shoots in the Sony XDCAM EX format, however it does not come with a LANC port which is almost a requirement for me. Also is working the XDCAM EX far superior over AVCHD? I have an i7 mac book pro with 16GB ram for editing at the moment.

Just a bit cautious to make the next purchase. I bought my Z1U thinking it would do me for a lot longer than it did but seeing footage from newer cameras kind of made the HD from the Z1 a bit dated, plus having HDMI output would be a plus as well. I would like to stay with Sony since I still have some sony batteries and charger, however I can always sell them too.

Thanks
Mark
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Old March 15th, 2012, 11:05 AM   #7
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Re: Deciding on new camera

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Chafe View Post
I understand the JVC HM100 shoots in the Sony XDCAM EX format, however it does not come with a LANC port which is almost a requirement for me. Also is working the XDCAM EX far superior over AVCHD?
As far as codecs go, the answer to "is the EX format better than AVC-HD" is almost certainly "yes". But it's not quite as simple as that - at the price point you're talking about I'd expect front end camera differences to be more relevant than codec choice, at least in terms of quality.

It's often heard said that AVC-HD is the equal to EX codec as "H264 is twice as efficient as MPEG2". That latter statement may be true *at low bitrates* but not at the bitrates of most camera codecs. AVC-HD may compare to MPEG2 at about 28Mbs or so - but not 35Mbs. (It's pretty impossible to do a direct comparison anyway - some AVC-HD encoders are better than others, even at the same bitrates.)

The other thing to considered is how much computing power you need to edit. Here the answer is more clear cut - AVC-HD needs a more powerful computer than MPEG2 for the same level of performance. That can be worked around by transcoding AVC-HD, but it does become extra hassle.

As far as camera goes, then remember to a client your own economics are irrelevant. He's paying for a job, and has a right to expect it done with a certain level of equipment. Whether you do 3 or 100 jobs a year may be very relevant to your budgeting - all he's interested in is the one you do for him. The issue you may have to think about is that if you don't invest in the right equipment, you won't get the work, and that applies to lights, sound gear etc as well.
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Old March 15th, 2012, 11:18 PM   #8
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Re: Deciding on new camera

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Chafe View Post
Thanks Les,

Any camcorder to stand out in in the $1000 - $2500 to be a clear winner, or are there just OK cameras at this level? This is my battle between getting a camera with a single cmos at 1/3" such as the Canon XA10 or HFG10 or something like the Panasonic HMC-80 with smaller chips but 3 of them.

...LANC port which is almost a requirement for me. Also is working the XDCAM EX far superior over AVCHD? I have an i7 mac book pro with 16GB ram for editing at the moment.
Here are my suggestions:
If you can go up to $3,000, I recommend the Canon XF100.
If you want to stick to < $2,000, I think the XA10 meets your needs, especially the LANC requirement. Nothing is as simple as the PD-150 nowadays, and Sony does not have a 'winner' similar to it in that price range, in HD.

Most prosumer cameras/camcorders have acceptable codecs if you're shooting events. Meeting broadcast requirements or shooting for cinema is a different issue.
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Old March 15th, 2012, 11:41 PM   #9
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Re: Deciding on new camera

Mark,
after PDs and Z1, i used to own both, you'll be very happy with XA10, although it is half the size of Z1U and doesn't look as "professional";
in any case, try it first :)
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Old March 16th, 2012, 05:06 AM   #10
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Re: Deciding on new camera

I keep coming back to your line that reads, 'I think I will get an AX2000 or NX5 eventually', and after reading all the posts I still think this is the line you should pursue.

Buying any intermediate 'carry-you-forward' camera comes with big costs in the long term. You'll be investing in different batteries and chargers, another LANC controller and you'll be learning a new menu system. If the 'eventually' is true, then I'd head to the NX5 shop right now, and with borrowed money, hop on board.

Of course all the other options mentioned here have their valid points, but you've been a Sony man for many years by the sound of it. And the NX5 is the logical successor to the Z1, and if you got on well with that then you'd be up and running with the NX5 in an afternoon.

OK, it has CMOS foibles but even Panasonic have bowed to those initials so there's no avoiding the flash banding and wobble. But the NX5 I have is a far better camera than the FX1 I still have (same as your Z1). It's sharper, far more configurable, file-based and has the HDMI that you want. And of course this is just scratching the surface.

tom.
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Old March 16th, 2012, 10:24 PM   #11
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Re: Deciding on new camera

Just wondering about the FX1000. I have seen a few used ones for very good prices. Do these use the same sensors of the NX5? Would the FX1000 be comparable picture quality or are their other drawbacks to the FX1000 that would be a concern? Apart from not having XLR, there doesn't seem to be anymore drawbacks I can see however I haven't really seen much else about them

Thanks
Mark
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Old March 17th, 2012, 04:53 AM   #12
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Re: Deciding on new camera

The FX1000 is a tape based HDV camera. It's old technology. The AX2000 is the solid state based AVCHD model that's the prosumer equivalent to the NX5U. Key features you won't find on the other cameras you are looking at are that it's 3-rings, 3-chip, hi-res LCD and has XLRs, LANC, HDMI output.

It's nearly the same price as the FX1000 (new) so you may find some used ones at a discount.
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Old March 17th, 2012, 01:32 PM   #13
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Re: Deciding on new camera

Just to clarify, the FX1000 and the AX2000 are virtually identical, except for the tape and the XLRs. The front end, sensors, lens, etc. are identical. The same is true of the Z5 vs. the NX5. All the "key features" Les lists are identical between the four cams (excepts for the XLRs, which the FX lacks).

If you are not bothered by tape and the lack of XLRs, the FX1000 is a very good choice. If you don't have a very fast PC, it may even be better than the AX as HDV is easier on older PCs than AVCHD. And you can always add the MRC Card Recorder to the FX and have the best of both worlds.
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Old March 18th, 2012, 12:50 AM   #14
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Re: Deciding on new camera

Mark:

I am not sure I understand what you are aiming at when you say you want an interim camera. Are you looking for something you can get now and later replace with an AX or NX cam or are you thinking about getting an FX and later using it along with an AX or NX in an array for multi-camera shooting?

I ask because I have an FX1000 (which I use with an MRC unit) and regularly shoot muti-cam projects along with NX5 and CX550 cams. The footage matches up well, so I look at the FX as complementing my kit. It complements precisely because it is so similar to the NX,.

But, as Adam and Les have noted, the Z5/FX and AX/NX cams share so many of the same components and functions that it has to be difficult to look at the FX1000 as an interim camera to be replaced by one of the others. The Z5 and NX5 give you more controls and some additional recording modes.

Actually, if your plan is to eventually go with a single camera, you can easily equip an FX1000 to match the capabilities of an AX2000. Of course, depending on what you want or need, there can be tradeoffs which may make it more economical or desireable to simply go directly to the AX or NX as Tom suggested.

The basic difference between an AX2000 and an FX1000 are, apart from the different recording formats, that the AX has tapeless recording and XLR inputs. You can add these to an FX1000 with a $200 ($US) XLR adapter and a $750 MRC1k unit. The trade off is that these add weight and change the balance of the camera for hand-held shooting. Not a problem if you always shoot from a tripod or shoulder brace, but a hassle for hand-held shooting.

So, if you spend, say, $2000 on a used FX1000, and then add the XLR adapter and an MRC unit, you are basically looking at the cost of a used AX2000. On the other hand, if a "good price" on a used FX1000 is $2500, you might as well buy a new AX2000.

If you are looking this as an opportunity to buy the $2000 FX1000 and then buy some used add-ons, it might seem more budget-friendly, or at least easier for cash-flow purposes. If you are using an older computer (say a dual core processor) there is an even larger cash flow benefit. At that point, however, an FX1000 is no longer an interim camera. If the handling is not an issue, you could skip getting an AX.

Now, if you have a newer computer system that will handle AVCHD, and an "interim" camera means something you could shoot pretty good video with for now and later pair with an AX/NX for multi-cam shoots, then my 2 pence is that a Sony CX700 or Canon XA10 might be better bets.

A CX will cost about half as much as an XA10 --- so about 1/3 the cost of anything in the AX/NX line ---- and will be easier to match with FX/Z5/AX/NX footage when you do get around to getting one of those cameras But, it is tiny (not much bigger than an XLR adapter if you wanted one.) It is so small that it will be ergonomically difficult to run manually. On the other hand, the CX cams do a very good job with their auto modes. It has only a 10x zoom. I believe it has LanC (if memory serves, the A-V socket does double duty). It goes very wide in the wide angle department I. It is pretty good in low light, but will be noticeably less capable than the PD170. (Sony rated the PD170/VX2100 at 1 lux while rating the CX cams at 3 lux, a bit better than the old TRV900/PD10 cams which could be paired with the PD170s.) It mostly runs from a touch screen menus. Get one of the NPFV100 batteries and you can fill the whole 9-hour internal recording capacity with 24Mbps AVCHD. My CX550v cams are the ones I take with me everywhere and make great locked-down "b" cams in my multi-cam shoots with my NX and FX cams.The CX700 also shoots 60p, if that would be useful to you.

If you chose a Canon XA10, you would be getting something that falls about halfway between Sony's CX and the FX/AX cams in capabilties. It is small, but not as small as the CX cams. It has more manual controllability than the CX. Obviously, it does not have as much as as the FX/AX cams, nor does it have the big glass for long zooms. It does have XLR connections and a built-in mike holder if that matters for what you do. Like the CX cams, it takes splendid images in auto mode. It seems to be a little bit more sensitive than the CX cams in low light conditions although this gets debated. It does have LanC connections.

And, one last point. You said you were thinking about switching to "HD." Sometimes when people say they want an HD camera, they think that the recording format has to be 1920 x 1080 and that HDV is "only" 1440 x 1080 so it can't be "real HD." There are a lot of threads here pointing out that that the the difference between 1920 and 1440 is only pixel shape (one has square pixels, the other rectangular.) Both are HD formats and most NLEs will easily translate one to the other with any noticeable degradation in image quality. So, just to be clear, the FX1000 is an an HD camera.
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Old March 18th, 2012, 12:36 PM   #15
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Re: Deciding on new camera

I've seen lots of HPX170 cameras sell for 2500$. And this are not just cameras but whole packets with batteries and P2 cards. The same goes for HM150! So generally you would be ready to shoot.

Between all the cameras mentioned in this thread I would suggest a HPX170 or a HM150. Bot cameras lost a lot of street value and can be bought for a ridiculous amount. And they are both future proof if you decide to upgrade to a better camera in a year or two - HPX250 and AC160 or AC130.

Actually, HMC150 usually goes for around 2000$.

These two aren't full hd cameras but for the money I think these are your best options.
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