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Old May 26th, 2013, 01:39 PM   #1
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Neophyte Video Artist Needs Advice

I know you good folks are frequently asked by neophytes for recommendation and I beg your indulgence.

I am a visual artist and over the last few years I've been adding video as an element to my projects or as "stand alone" works. Depending on each project's concept, video is either projected or presented on a monitor. I've been working with a consumer-grade Panasonic PV-GS300 but now have the opportunity to purchase a more flexible camera that will (hopefully) allow for more possibilities with my work.
My maximum budget for a new camera is $3000 but I'd be happy to spend less (starving artist syndrome).
I've searched through this forum and various retail and manufacturers' websites but it's like wandering a maze as I come upon technical terminology that I try to research and then go back to the sites to make comparisons.
I've considered the Panasonic AG-AC90; JVC's GY_HM150U; Canon's XF100 (and XF105) and XA20 (and XA25); and Sony's HXR-NX70U and NX30U. I've read both positive and negative comments and reviews about all but really can't figure out what are the most important features an entry level camera should have.

Thanks in advance for any and all advice.
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Old May 27th, 2013, 10:22 AM   #2
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Re: Neophyte Video Artist Needs Advice

Roy, you are in a difficult spot. I would first start out by asking what you are intending to film?

Image quality is very high for a lot of cameras these days but the feature set and strengths can be a good way to make a decision. This may be a long process but if you give us plenty of information we can help you make a choice.
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Old May 27th, 2013, 10:32 AM   #3
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Re: Neophyte Video Artist Needs Advice

I would highly recommend you see if you can tack on an additional $300-ish to look at the Panasonic AG-AC130A. I think it would be your best option for ease of use + quality over the other models you mentioned, and it's as close to camera that can suite a wide variety of needs as you can get.
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Old May 27th, 2013, 12:45 PM   #4
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Re: Neophyte Video Artist Needs Advice

Thanks for your reply, Tim. The elements and subject matter of my videos to date (and in the foreseeable future) are varied. I work with some simple effects such as green screening and am teaching myself some basic After Effects techniques. I also tend to shoot "ambient" footage (clouds, water, crowds, animals, etc.) for possible future use. I primarily rely on available lighting both indoors and out, or set up a Frankenstein arrangement of various lights and reflective material to a greater or lesser success (or surprise) and sometimes adjust the project to work with the results. To date, I have not shot any sequence longer than about 12 minutes, relying on editing clips/sequences together. I try to learn from observation and experience but enjoy happy accidents.
Hopefully I'm not being too vague. Thanks again and in advance of your patience.
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Old May 27th, 2013, 10:02 PM   #5
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Re: Neophyte Video Artist Needs Advice

I think you could think about how nice of an image you are willing to pay for. The cameras you have listed are entry level pro cameras or otherwise known as prosumer cameras. I would not call then entry level at all.

Do you have quality requirements for your distribution?

I would say the AC-90 and the upcoming XA20 (or GH-30 for $500 less) would be at the top of the list. They are under $3,000 and have a lot of features & image quality for the price. The XA series is due out in a few weeks. If you can wait until the release I would try both the AC-90 and XA-20, and see which one you like the best. If you have to buy them both and return one, that is what I would do.

Hope this helps.
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Old May 28th, 2013, 04:02 PM   #6
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Re: Neophyte Video Artist Needs Advice

I'd like to be able to produce as fine an image as my budget will allow. My thought being that I can always make the quality less refined but not the other way around.
I haven't previously had any issues in regard to distribution quality requirements. I naively thought that this was dealt with during the final edit and output. I'll need to do some research so that I'll understand this issue.
A local store will have stock of the XA-20 and 25 in early June so I'll wait to compare to the AC-90.
Thank you again for your help and patience.
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Old May 29th, 2013, 01:08 AM   #7
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Re: Neophyte Video Artist Needs Advice

The nature of the video, even after post, is to me, is still really vague.

Lighting: For me, the camera is a comparatively small piece of my "kit". Given the indication that you [want to do][prefer] available light, that would seem to leave the light portion of the kit out. However, I have difficulty visualizing doing all available light. Especially with green screen. There is no mention of reflectors, either, even for available light.

Audio: It's been said that audio is two-thirds of good video and there is no mention of anything in the audio kit. A mic "tool kit" will run several hundred to a thousand or more per mic, and that's not including any mic muffs, cables, or recorders.

Camera support - assume you already have that covered. Monopod?

Cameras, video or still, have a half-life of maybe a couple years for so. Since you indicate you're on an artist budget why not set your sights a little bit lower or go used. Mics, on the other hand, tend to hold their value much better than cameras. Will your audience really notice the difference between the really expensive camera vs something much less expensive?

Disclaimer: As you can see, the camcorder is not the highest item on my need-list but as they say, your mileage may vary. And I'm a hobbyest, not a pro, so consider the source.
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Old May 29th, 2013, 02:47 PM   #8
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Re: Neophyte Video Artist Needs Advice

I'm not trying to be cryptic in regards to my video work - video is just another medium for me to explore and utilize. There didn't seem much point in going into specifics unless by way of explaining a specific need.

Everyone has their own approach and it clearly depends on what they are doing. Lighting is of course important - I don't think I've been dissatisfied with the results of any setup I've cobbled together. In the worst of times, I adapt my project to what can be achieved. I've worked on lighting artifacts, sculpture and contemporary installations in 3 major public institutions for many years and have learned a few things. So I would say that for me, owning a camera that is contemporary and of good quality, and renting (if it ever becomes necessary) lighting equipment makes the most sense.

I do own a good quality shotgun mic but for my work most audio is digitally created with various software.
I'm interested in your suggestion, due to my limited budget, to purchase a used camera when you indicate that cameras only "have a half-life of... a couple years." I can conceivably continue to work within the limitation of my little Panasonic until it dies or mini DV tapes become extinct but I choose to extend what I can do (based on what I can afford) with a more adaptable and flexible camera and it's correspondingly contemporary technology. As mentioned, my maximum budget is $3000 and based on what I've seen it seems quite modest.

Please note that no artist makes work based on what the audience notices or doesn't notice unless he/she's interested in manipulating such things as part of their artistic statement.

Thank you for your input, it is appreciated.

Last edited by Roy Kohn; May 29th, 2013 at 04:12 PM.
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Old May 30th, 2013, 02:39 PM   #9
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Re: Neophyte Video Artist Needs Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Huff View Post
I would highly recommend you see if you can tack on an additional $300-ish to look at the Panasonic AG-AC130A. I think it would be your best option for ease of use + quality over the other models you mentioned, and it's as close to camera that can suite a wide variety of needs as you can get.
Hi Gary. I didn't see your response to my plea until now. Thank you for you input.
I just looked at Panasonic's site and you're right, it seems like a good option. When I checked the pricing here, it is unfortunately well beyond my budget at $4100 Canadian. I'll be making comparisons early next month after the new Canons are available try to make a (limited but) informed choice with what's available.
Thanks again.
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Old May 30th, 2013, 03:38 PM   #10
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Re: Neophyte Video Artist Needs Advice

Ouch! My apologies for my U.S. dollar-centric focus!
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