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Old March 17th, 2012, 02:07 PM   #1
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Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

I've been looking through all the posts and replies regarding HD cameras -e.g. which are better than what?, what to get for this and that?, etc. and I am still a little ambivalent as to what to get next week... yes, next week (03/2012). I have a few projects coming up and I finally need to let go of my XL2s MiniDV and switch to a HDV, chip camera. Here are my choices so far in order of preference:

1. Canon XH-A1S - top choice because it uses SD cards which I've found a lot simpler to integrate into the workflow.
2. Panasonic XF 100HD - would be my top choice except for the P2 cards which I've never fallen in love with
3. Canon XA10 - second choice only because of its 10x lens (and not 20x as in the XH-A1S)

That is it so far. If there are any other suggestions for a camera I can use from everything from handheld docs, to interviews, to dramatic scenes, and broadcast quality - let me know. My main specs are - good optics, good sound inputs, service, and a +/- USD$3k cost.
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Old March 17th, 2012, 03:02 PM   #2
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Re: Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

The Canon A1s records to tape not SD. The SD card is only to store settings.
There is no such thing as the Panasonic XF100. You may mean Canon XF100.
Neither the Canon XA-10 or Canon XF100 are HDV camcorders although they may have a mode to record that format.... but I thought I would point that out in case it was important... since you were lost.

When I moved from my XL1S, I throughly enjoyed a real 3 ring lens that let me adjust iris, focus and zoom all on the lens. Canon does not have a solid state 3-ring camera in your price range. The Sony AX2000 may be one to look at as well as the Panasonic AC-160.
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Old March 17th, 2012, 03:39 PM   #3
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Re: Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

My error. I meant the Panasonic AG-HVX200A. I've worked with this camera and it's quite good except for the P2 card. There is nothing wrong with P2, it is just that it adds the need for a P2 adapter, conversion, etc. Not a big deal, just personal quirks.

Regarding the Canon XF100 HD - it has dual CF slots for video, and SD for stills and metadata, 4:2:2 sampling, 1/3", 1920x1080 CMOS sensor, with rec modes from 50Mbps @1920x1080 @4:2:2, down to 25Mbps 4:2:0 @ 14401080. I'm not clear what you mean by "Neither the Canon XA-10 or Canon XF100 are HDV camcorders although they may have a mode to record that format..." The lowest listed resolution is 1280x720. The compression is JPEG-2, and the file format is MXF which is natively compatible with my editing systems. Correct, not HDV as such, but what are the advantages or disadvantages?

Please explain. (and I thought this was going to be easy)

BTW - thank you for steering me away from the A1s - the recording format was not obvious.
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Old March 17th, 2012, 04:08 PM   #4
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Re: Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozzie Alfonso View Post
... I have a few projects coming up and I finally need to let go of my XL2s MiniDV and switch to a HDV, chip camera. Here are my choices so far in order of preference:

1. Canon XH-A1S - top choice because it uses SD cards which I've found a lot simpler to integrate into the workflow.
2. Panasonic XF 100HD - would be my top choice except for the P2 cards which I've never fallen in love with
3. Canon XA10 - second choice only because of its 10x lens (and not 20x as in the XH-A1S)

....
I read your post as specifying you wanted an HDV camera and were looking at the Panasonic XF100HD. That's what the post said and I thought you meant Canon XF100.

HDV is a specific format for recording at high definition but on a mini-dv tape. So when you said you wanted that format, I was only pointing out that it's a detail to look into that the camera you pick has a mode to record that format. If you really only meant you wanted an HD camera, then there's no sense talking about HDV. Other than the Sony Z5 and Z7, HDV cameras record to tape.

THere are plenty of discussions of these cameras here on DVinfo. You will find plenty of people comparing etc. If you have a specific question, search on it and then ask it if it hasn't been asked.

If you choose an AVCHD camera, search around to see if your computer/NLE will handle it or plan to transcode it to a format it can handle.

Last edited by Les Wilson; March 17th, 2012 at 04:54 PM.
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Old March 17th, 2012, 04:25 PM   #5
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Re: Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

Thank you for the clarification, Les.

Yes, I am looking for the "best" HD camera I can get for $3k AND that records on chips and not tape. I, along with most, have stopped using tape. The last few jobs I've done specified delivery on hard drive. The last project never saw tape. It was a studio recording direct to chip and transferred to hard drive by the studio. That took much longer than either I or the studio were prepared for. Since the rough material had to be "prores" it took close to 3 hours to transcode less than 60 minutes of raw camera material.

Thank you for the input, and if anyone else has any suggestions, just send them this way. As of now, I'm leaning heavily toward the Canon XH-A1S. Unless I hear suggestions otherwise, I'll be at B&H Video on Monday (I live in NYC - they are a local store.)
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Old March 17th, 2012, 04:53 PM   #6
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Re: Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozzie Alfonso View Post
Thank you for the clarification, Les.

... As of now, I'm leaning heavily toward the Canon XH-A1S. Unless I hear suggestions otherwise, I'll be at B&H Video on Monday (I live in NYC - they are a local store.)
That camera is a tape camera
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Old March 17th, 2012, 05:35 PM   #7
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Re: Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

Ozzie,

It appears to me as if you're a bit confused... This is OK, there's a lot to be confused about when you're trying to buy one of these cameras.

Please, stop and think about what you want, don't rush it. Another day or two won't matter, this is an expensive purchase.

You say you want a "chip" camera. Do you mean SDHC? Compact Flash?

Thnk about all the other requirements: the lens (how wide? How long a zoom you need?), the ergonomics, the image quality, adjustability, recording formats (1080 60p? AVCHD? Do you need 50mb/s recording?)

There's a million things to think about. I apologise if all this is obvious, we just don't want to see you make a wrong choice here!
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Old March 17th, 2012, 09:31 PM   #8
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Re: Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

The Sony z5 and Z7 record 25MBS HDV format which can be easily edited on your computer without any transcoding to prores. You have to add the MRC1K unit to the Z5 to get tapeless recording. It's included on the z7. Both are 3-ring, 3-chip cameras.

The Canon XF100 is a single chip one ring camera that records 50MBS format.
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Old March 18th, 2012, 12:01 AM   #9
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Re: Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozzie Alfonso View Post

Regarding the Canon XF100 HD - it has dual CF slots for video, and SD for stills and metadata, 4:2:2 sampling, 1/3", 1920x1080 CMOS sensor, with rec modes from 50Mbps @1920x1080 @4:2:2, down to 25Mbps 4:2:0 @ 14401080. I'm not clear what you mean by "Neither the Canon XA-10 or Canon XF100 are HDV camcorders although they may have a mode to record that format..." The lowest listed resolution is 1280x720. The compression is JPEG-2, and the file format is MXF which is natively compatible with my editing systems. Correct, not HDV as such, but what are the advantages or disadvantages?

Please explain. (and I thought this was going to be easy)

BTW - thank you for steering me away from the A1s - the recording format was not obvious.
The Canon XF100 meets all your requirements, and more.

HDV is a semi-extinct format, and is no longer actively developed or supported by any major manufacturer. HDV is tape-based, and the tapes are running out. So if you're investing in a system that you need for next few years, forget about HDV.

MXF is not a format, but a container/wrapper. Think of it as an envelope that is 'recognized' by many different postal departments in different countries. Other widely used containers are MOV, AVI, MP4, etc. MXF is A okay. Some programs like to remove the contents from the envelope and re-wrap it in their own envelope, but most professional programs do this without altering the contents inside. At least we all hope they do.

For the kind of camera you will be using, the most common compression formats are either MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 or H.264 (a special variant of MPEG-4). HDV was built on MPEG-2, but most tapeless systems opt for H.264 or different flavors (called AVCHD or whatever). Some still stick to MPEG-2 (like XDCAM), and in absolute terms they are all similar to each other for real world practical use (as long as they are compared fairly). If you have 50Mbps of anything in the $3K price range, I'd say that is excellent, and cause for tears of joy.

Rather than compression, containers and bit rates, what you could be looking for instead are:
1. The quality of the lens
2. The low-light performance of the sensor
3. The audio capabilities
4. Quality of the microphone, if any
5. Warranty and service
6. Weight and weather performance
7. Ease of use - how fast can you get the footage into your computer?
8. Ergonomics - how long can you hold that camera before your hand falls off?
9. Does it have AF/AE/Focus assist/scopes/handles/mounts?
10. Can it fly?

Hope this helps.
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Old March 18th, 2012, 02:04 PM   #10
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Re: Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

So, apparently, you do broadcast work --- do you shoot it yourself or hire somebody to run cameras for you? ---- and you apparently work with a studio that uses Mac software (FCP 7??) that requires time consuming conversions for some HD formats (apparently AVCHD and ???), and you are in New York.

Rather than just running out a buying "something" go to B&H or rental stores and lay hands on the cameras. Buy some media (say an SD and/or CF card) and rent a couple of the cams that you are considering. Maybe you like the Canon XF100? So, shoot some video. Go through the checklist that Sareesh gave you. Take those SD and CF cards to the studio and see if they still need to have it converted to ProRes or whatever. See if the cameras can do what you want it to do.

The XA10 is a nice little camera, but it: (a ) is little --- the antithesis of the the XL2 cams you are used to using and maybe not suitable for the kind of shooting you want to do; and (b) it records AVCHD which likely is a format that your studio will need to convert to ProRes.

You seem to like the XHA1s a lot. Have you actually handled one? You do understand that it can only record to cards ("chips?) only if you also get an external recording unit such as a Sony MRC1k? But then you've got issues for how to mount the recorder without unbalancing the camera and you are over your $3000 budget. (The XHA1s, I believe, is retailing for about $2700 and the MRC1k units for $750, so the total package is $3500.)

If you are looking at AG-HVX200A, then get a P2 card, do some shooting and see how it works for your editors.
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Old March 20th, 2012, 08:50 PM   #11
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Re: Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sareesh Sudhakaran View Post
The Canon XF100 meets all your requirements, and more.
...Rather than compression, containers and bit rates, what you could be looking for instead are:
1. The quality of the lens
2. The low-light performance of the sensor
3. The audio capabilities
4. Quality of the microphone, if any
5. Warranty and service
6. Weight and weather performance
7. Ease of use - how fast can you get the footage into your computer?
8. Ergonomics - how long can you hold that camera before your hand falls off?
9. Does it have AF/AE/Focus assist/scopes/handles/mounts?
10. Can it fly?
Sareesh,

Thank you for the detailed reply. The list you made is excellent, except all those are the given for me. The first thing I look for are the details you mention. At the moment my decision will be determined by the recording medium - i.e. SD, CF, P2 (not MiniDV), size of the CCDs, with ideally 3 CCDs.

After reading all the comments and checking in with a few colleagues, I am leaning toward the Panasonic AG-HVX200A (3, 1/3" CCDs (would prefer 2/3" or 1/4" but for $3k I'll compromise), good optics, sturdy build, records on P2, with SD for metadata storage. It also records on tape if necessary (although I can't think of any reason why I would use tape, and for now it just takes up room). Yes, I have been confused, mainly because the current assortment of technical details, even the shifting mindset, is rapidly growing and changing. What was "the best and latest" a year ago is now ancient. Even the AG-HVX200A is a two year old camera.
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Old March 20th, 2012, 10:25 PM   #12
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Re: Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozzie Alfonso View Post
Even the AG-HVX200A is a two year old camera.
It's great you've taken a decision, and the HVX200 is a neat camera, except:

1. It is four years old (made its debut in 2008), and
2. The P2 technology has made way for AVCHD on SDHC cards in Panasonic's own upgrade, the AF100. One has to wonder why this is the case.

However, if it ticks all the right boxes, then why not? All the best with your purchase.
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Old March 21st, 2012, 04:19 AM   #13
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Re: Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

> (3, 1/3" CCDs (would prefer 2/3" or 1/4" but for $3k I'll compromise)

Is that a typo and you meant 1/2" instead of 1/4"? 1/3" is bigger and generally considered better than 1/4".
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Old March 21st, 2012, 09:45 AM   #14
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Re: Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

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Originally Posted by Ozzie Alfonso View Post
After reading all the comments and checking in with a few colleagues, I am leaning toward the Panasonic AG-HVX200A .......What was "the best and latest" a year ago is now ancient. Even the AG-HVX200A is a two year old camera.
Errr, it's a lot more than 2 years old - but more importantly, it's now discontinued! (
Panasonic AG-HVX200 3-CCD HD Format Camcorder AG-HVX200 B&H
)

One crucial point to consider here is not just the cost of the camera but of the package. That includes a few things, but maybe most important here is memory cost. With cameras at this price level this is where P2 puts cameras like the HVX200 (and it's successor) at a disadvantage in the market. The camera cost may seem OK, but the cost of camera plus memory is a different matter. Did you do a costing on the HVX200 to include the amount of memory you will need for a given running time before downloading and reusing the cards? (A 64GB card lasts for about an hour.)

Secondly, the HVX200 only recorded to DVCProHD in high-definition (recording to DV tape was SD only) - that has now been largely superceded by AVC-Intra in Panasonics current line up. It was 1/3" chips - but only 960x540. That may have been OK at introduction, but with modern displays it looks soft when intercut with newer cameras.

I'm afraid $3,000 for a broadcast spec camera is an oxymoron. It doesn't exist, at least in the generally accepted sense of the term. Of the cameras you've mentioned so far, I'd say the Canon XF100 is by far the best compromise. Certainly the CODEC is broadcast spec by any reckoning. I'd also consider looking at an EX1, probably secondhand at the prices you're talking about - the 1/2" v 1/3" chips will likely make a far bigger difference than codec differences amongst cameras in this price bracket.
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Old March 21st, 2012, 10:14 AM   #15
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Re: Lost with all the rest-what to get??!

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Errr, it's a lot more than 2 years old - but more importantly, it's now discontinued!
No, it's not:
Panasonic AG-HVX200A 1/3" 3CCD P2 HD/DV AG-HVX200APS B&H

Re: the "high" cost of P2 cards. The cards have come down in price since the format was first introduced. And, since they can be reused thousands of time, the cost becomes negligible if you really use the camera.

If you don't want the ability to record SD to miniDV tape, then you might be better off buying the HPX250, though.
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