SHOOTING DOCUMENTARY: CANON XL2 or JVCHD100u or SONY Z1U......who is the winner????? at DVinfo.net

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Old January 11th, 2006, 12:56 PM   #1
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SHOOTING DOCUMENTARY: CANON XL2 or JVCHD100u or SONY Z1U......who is the winner?????

Ok here's the deal.....i'm in the market to buy a digital camcorder and need to purchase in the next couple of days as i'm heading to brasil next thursday to continue research and preproduction on a doc. If i could afford my dream camera from everything i've seen i would purchase the XL H1
this is partly because i am familier with the canon product and have used the xl line of cameras on prior shoots and the reputation of canon is solid. unfortunately this is not an option right now as my budget can't exceed
$6500 dollars which rules out the xl h1

i will be using the camera to shoot a music documentary in brasil on baile funk over the next couple of years. The film will hopefully tour the festival circuit so it will more than likely need to be blown up for theatrical release. There're will be a good deal of interviews and walk and talk throughout the favelas (ghettos) of rio. they're will also be extensive footage of live performances shot indoors atnight where lighting is not an option (other than an on-camera light) This footage will be lot of run-and-gun stuff because the environment can be somewhat unpredictable. this winter i will be in brasil doing a lot of preproduction on the doc. I will be shooting some stuff to take with me back to the states but the predominant footage will be shot the following year after all the players are chosen and hopefully we get more funding.

ok that being said....back to the camera. For me it basically comes down to the xl2, the jvc gyhd100u or the sony z1u. i can get any of the cameras for under the pricetage of $6500.

the jvc i can buy new for 4800 and then purchase an on camera lighting setup for and additional $500 making it cost $5300 throw in a good battery kit and im looking at $6300. the xl2 i can buy used for 3500 plus the lighting set up for 500 and the battery for 1000 and probably the purchase of a fully manual 14x lens for 700 making it cost $5700. basically $600 dollars cheaper than the jvc.

the z1u i can get for 5000, plus the battery and light brings me up to $5500...i.e. the same price as the xl2.


of course the jvc shoots hi def which is nice but the camera has been reported to have some problems (as mentioned in the posts on dvinfo) when i checked the cam out at the rental house the tech told me that thejvc will definitely give a better picture than the xl2 but it likes to be pampered, meaning it likes to be turned on before shooting and warmed up. This might not go so well considering the doc i am shooting. I'm curious what anyone thinks about this? Does the jvc need to be pampered and is it not ideal for run and gun shooting? the other considertion about the jvc isthat I won't be doing the bulk of the footage this year so i was thinking buy the xl2 now (which is tried and tested) and then by next year maybe purchase the xlh1 (USED - after the price drops) or whatever hdcamera reports to be the best after more testing and shooting by all of us. this scenario mike
work out best plus i would be upgrading from the xl2 to the xlh1 so i would be sticking with a camera that i already "sort of" know.

then again (like many of us) i really want to shoot HD and the jvc is out there and available for my price point NOW!!!!

as far as the ziu goes i initially ruled this camera out for the following reasons, but i like to hear what youall think. #1 its been reported that the z1u is not very good at panning and a motion blur can be seen that is more pronounced than on other cameras. #2 the z1u is a more rigid setup and limits the operator in terms of interchanging lens and/or using a manual lens. The lens on the camera I've beentold is not manual and the manual function has some problems. #3 the camera wont shoot 24p, and coming from a film background I definately like the "film-look" I could possibly fake 24p but i am uncertain on how this will turn out and what is lost in the process (e.g. resolution, post problems, etc.)#4 the Z1u is a handycam set up and i'm used to shooting overtheshoulder on 16MM film so i think what
I shoot may look "jerky" and they're my be a big learning curve here. What I do like about the Z1U is the price and it will give me a lens with an auto option and it doesn't report to have all the problems that users have experienced with the JVC. Supposedly, it is a much more user friendly camera, and good on the run-and-gun.

Wow....pretty long winded but I think that about covers it.
LET THE VOTING BEGIN: Xl2, JVC hd100u, or Z1U
and tell me why................thanks!!!

Last edited by Chris Loomis; January 11th, 2006 at 03:52 PM.
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Old January 11th, 2006, 02:24 PM   #2
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I personally like HD footage and hence would rule out the XL2 on that basis, but it's arguably not a bad choice as a proven SD camera with a true widescreen recording option. But hand-holding an XL1/XL2 is a pain, and the optional shoulder rest doesn't help much as far as I can tell.

If you're used to shooting shoulder-mounted cameras the HD100U is an obvious choice in that regard, and isn't as heavy or bulky as some other shoulder cams. I don't like the viewfinder or LCD screen on the JVC, but that may just a matter of personal preference. I'm a little skeptical about the JVC because of some of the reports of image problems.

The Z1U has worked well for me for general-purpose videography, with some limitations in low-light situations and some reports of reduced resolution while panning when shooting in HDV mode. I talked to someone today who said the Z1U seems to work like any DV camera in DV mode, so that's another option to consider. For run-and-gun shooting, the autofocus and other auto features of the Z1U seem to work well when you don't have time to fuss with manual settings.
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Old January 11th, 2006, 04:00 PM   #3
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I'd choose the HD100 based on your scenario. That's based mostly on the fact that you sound confident that you'll be doing a film-out. Also, coming from a film background, you're probably used to full manual lenses too. I wouldn't worry about imaging problems too much, from what I've read lately JVC seems to have gotten a pretty good grip on the SSE problems. I suppose an HD100 from a very recent batch would be a good idea.

Now if you really want the automatic lens then you could use the Z1 and switch it to PAL. You could either shoot 50i and deinterlace later or shoot CF25 and take a resolution hit but not have to worry about re-rendering everything to deinterlace. That would give you a pretty good looking 25P video that should transfer to film pretty well too.

Still, overall for a film out with real 24P, I'd get the HD100 if it was my money.
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Old January 11th, 2006, 04:21 PM   #4
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hi philip,were u suggesting shooting on the Z1U in PAL for the greater resolution? Also, I heard shooting in 60i might be the way to go with the Z1U as you get more of a "reality" look but i'm concerned about the deinterlace issue in post. how complicated is this and are there additional costs? As far the the hd100 goes i have shot with a manual lens before but never on a doc where speed and efficiency is an absolute must which worries me a bit. I'm hoping to get my physical hands on the hd100u tomorrow but birns and sawyer here in la is closed for remodeling. It is my understanding that even though the hd100u can interchange lenses there is no other lens on the market that is capable of shooting HD and has any sort of auto feature that costs less than 15k is this correct?
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Old January 11th, 2006, 04:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Loomis
hi philip,were u suggesting shooting on the Z1U in PAL for the greater resolution? Also, I heard shooting in 60i might be the way to go with the Z1U as you get more of a "reality" look but i'm concerned about the deinterlace issue in post. how complicated is this and are there additional costs? As far the the hd100 goes i have shot with a manual lens before but never on a doc where speed and efficiency is an absolute must which worries me a bit. I'm hoping to get my physical hands on the hd100u tomorrow but birns and sawyer here in la is closed for remodeling. It is my understanding that even though the hd100u can interchange lenses there is no other lens on the market that is capable of shooting HD and has any sort of auto feature that costs less than 15k is this correct?
Well I'll just try to answer in order:

I recommended shooting PAL because 50i/25P will go to 24P very easily. There's no resolution benefit because 50i and 60i HD share the same resolution.

Deinterlacing is pretty easily accomplished with software but is time consuming and will force you to add a rendering pass to your entire project. Despite claims to the contrary, I've never seen 60i stuff transferred to 24P that looked really good to me. The 1/60th shutter speed just doesn't translate into "film" motion to my eyes. Again, if I had the Sony I'd shoot CF25 and be done with it. If someone at the film festival walks out of your movie because they didn't feel your footage resolved 750 lines, well lets just say your content might not have been very compelling.

Shooting a full manual lens under run and gun conditions would worry me too, but frankly the news guys have done it for years so I'm sure its something that you learn to be very good at.

I don't know what other lenses are available for the HD100. I do know the higher quality lens that JVC is releasing (released?) has a list price of around 13K. Ouch, I'm thinking rental.

Finally, and I'm not trying to be rude or discouraging in any way, but you've got some pretty basic video questions. Normally folks that are asking about deinterlacing or PAL resolution are trying to choose between things like an Optura 60 or a Panasonic GS250. I just don't want to see someone without a good base of knowledge and experience plunk down six thousand hard earned bucks on what may turn out to be the totally wrong camcorder. Now on the positive side, if you've got it narrowed down to the HD100 or Sony Z1, I don't think you could actually go wrong with either.
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Old January 11th, 2006, 06:15 PM   #6
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thanks for your insights. Admittedly video is a fairly new format for me as i have always shot in film and never had to mess around with PAL and post has always been fairly straightforward on film. I'm sure there is going to be a learning curve here, but the project demands video and needs to be shot in the near future. Since the bulk of the footage won't be shot until next year hopefully I'll be more comfortable with the video format by then. so as far as the camera goes, it still seems to me the z1u is more of consumer - "videography camera" (i.e. weddings, industrials etc) when compared to the JVC or even the Xl2. Do you think this camera will be severly limited in shooting a feature documentary and/or do you know of anyone who has or is considering shooting theatrical release material on the z1u
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Old January 11th, 2006, 08:11 PM   #7
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I have the JVC. I'm probably biased towards it but I do think it's horses for courses stuff. If you are planning on shooting a lot of low light stuff, you may be better off sticking to a standard def camera. The JVC and the Sony are not as light sensitve as say a PD150 and focus is critical in HD - so you'll be shooting wider open (sometimes with gain) with a very narrow depth of field in low light situations. The JVC has an excellent focus assist the Sony has a better viewfinder.

If your doco is mostly daylight I'd stick with the JVC because although you need to practise you will quickly get used to a manual lens (BTW the JVC does have auto iris just not auto focus) and the JVC HDV codec seems to hold up better than the Sony on complex images.

As far as the JVC being pampered check out this article...
http://www.studiodaily.com/studiomon...dies/5887.html
it seemed to hold very well in the field
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Old January 11th, 2006, 09:08 PM   #8
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thanks for the link to the article def. makes me feel more confident in the durability of the hd100u. as far as the doc goes it will be about 50% outside and in small interiors where i can control the lighting and 50% in a night environment in large dark gymnasiums where the only light is stage lighting and the onboard camera light that will illuminate up till about 6feet out. between the z1u and the hd100u which camera works better in low light? I'm aware that the pd170 is a great performer in lowlight and would love to pick one up as an extra camera but i'm not sure about shooting the whole doc on it. I've seen the recent doc favela rising in which they used the pd170 as their exclusive night camera and this seemed to work out good for them. However then I would have the issue of shooting some of my footage on hd and some on dv and this could be a mess in post. anyway, this is sort of a mute point for me at the moment because i can't afford a second camera. BTW how do you think the xl2 performs in low light? from the word i've been getting these cameras rate the following in terms of low light performance......

#1) pd170 best low light performance
#2) hd100u
#3) z1U
#4 xl2 worst low light performance

doest this sound right? if so, and given the fact i'd be shooting about 50% of the time in low light what camera are u leaning towards?????
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Old January 11th, 2006, 09:14 PM   #9
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z1u

anyone got an opinion on the panning/motion blur problems that I have
heard reported when shooting with the z1u???????
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Old January 11th, 2006, 11:22 PM   #10
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XL2 performs fine in low light, you just have to make manual adjustments. It is worth noting that a PAL XL2 is reported to resolve as many lines as the JVC HD camera.

I think any of the cameras you are choosing would work fine. You mention run and gun and for that type of scenario, I dont think you need interchangeable lenses, a screw on zoom thru adapter would be easier. Dont forget the DVX-100b or if you have more budget the HVX for its 16:9 chips even if you shoot in DV25.

There is no best camera and the more "pro" you get the harder to use and adjust on the fly. The easiest camera to use that has pro features is hands down the DVX.



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Old January 12th, 2006, 02:40 AM   #11
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Hi Chris
I can't comment on the XL2 or JVC HD100 but, if you want to see what the Z1 is capable of have a look at the links below I found on the forum...


I use the FX1 and the auto focus is pretty good for the documentary/newsy style stuff, I shoot, when it's quite fast moving. I like to shoot a lot of stuff pretty close up, and here the auto does have difficulty in finding the focus. So 90% of the time I use it in manual which works pretty well.

The main problem I think all these cameras have is the lack of precision in the viewfinder or screen. I was a stills photographer for 17 years and using a 300m or a 600mm prime lens is far harder to focus critically in say sports or fast news, than a video camera.. but the viewfinders are so precise it is not a problem, with practice.

By the way the Expand focus works ok on the Z1, but slows the operation.


I find it easier to work with the LCD screen to which I add a sunshade, and this is visible even in bright sun. It is possible thus to wedge the camera against ones shoulder for handheld to get a three point balance... helps for steadier shots. Also the HARD setting steady shot works a treat.

This helps because by the time I add a Beachtek, a mic and a wireless receiver the outfit is getting pretty heavy for a handicam.

This aperture knob is well placed and with Zebras at 90 I find correct exposure easily found, even in fast moving scenes.... all in all a very nice camera to use.


http://www.lumieremedia.com//magazin...magazine..html

http://www.lumieremedia.com/tomorrow...orrow_trailer/

Regards
Gareth
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Old January 12th, 2006, 04:55 AM   #12
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Good points Gareth. Should just note that expanded focus doesn't work while recording, which is too bad. The other day I found a used shoulder rest in an old camera shop, and it's a terrific accessory for the Z1. It's less than $100 new, and would probably be worthwhile if you're doing handheld work:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search
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Old January 12th, 2006, 12:33 PM   #13
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xl2 -HD100

I have both the xl2 and HD101E JVC Cameras. I prefer the JVC because in HDV mode has a clearly superior image than the Canon.For a documentary the JVC seems also faster to use because of the manual iris and lense and the featurew of the focus assist that helps a lot for more accurate focussing. If you set up the JVC with the Anton Bauer batt., the tripod plate, and a filter holder or matte box you have a very nice professional camera that will give you best performance on image quality and ergonomic use. The XL2 has also its attractive points, nice color saturation, diferent lens feeling but for a prof job I would get the JVC instead. As soon as you will understand the camera it will be difficult for you to go back to auto lenses and digital iris. And you preview the HD image on an HD monitor you will stop thinking about what to choose. The distance is really long in image quality, sharpness, resolution, detail, dynamic range etc.
Anyhow this is my personal opinion and I still use both cameras for their particular qualities.
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Old January 12th, 2006, 12:48 PM   #14
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hi panos, i think i've ruled out the xl2 at this point. i am now left deciding between the z1u and the hd100u. my concern with the hd100 is shooting in low light and the problems people have reported with split screen that seems to readily show up in low light situtions. In general it seems the z1u performs better as a low light camera (maybe?) Also, want to be sure that the hd100u can be focused and dialed in super fast for run-and-gun shooting????

as far as the z1u goes it seems more of a prosumer camera to me but not sure on this. Have u ever used it? with this camera i am hesitant because of the motion blur people have reported when panning while in hdv mode.
Also, dont like being forced to shoot in 50i and downsizing to 24p in post. but on the good side the camera seems to be more of a run-and-gun camera that takes little or no set up. Also, from what i've been told the camera holds up better in low light.

the biggest issue for me is the LOW LIGHT CONCERN. I need a camera that will perform well in low light!!!!! chris
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Old January 12th, 2006, 07:37 PM   #15
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there is more

Things that are important too is batterylife, raincover, available optional camlight, sound and audio system, sholderrest.

Documentary is shooting in a real world, not the studio, so rain, dust and batterylife. And tapes versus P2 offload concept. The HD100 is sharper and its 19mb/s stream holds good compared with Sony, but both are working cams for doc. shooting. Not for bad inhouse situations, you need light.
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