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General HD (720 / 1080) Acquisition
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 03:32 AM   #1
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720p Camera recommendations

MAJOR EDIT for clarity after Robert's comment:

Hi folks-

I'm planning to do a documentary in a few months, travelling through Europe (Prague, Vienna, Rome...). I plan to shoot in 720p (24), but am a bit lost as to which camera I should look into getting: Sony HVR-Z1, Canon XL-H1, JVC GY-HD100, or Panasonic HVX-200.

For the sake of argument, let's say that cost is not an issue.

I will be travelling for 2 1/2 weeks without a computer, so tape is my only option. I'm wondering what you would recommend as far as a highly portable 720/24p camera. The documentary will involve some tripod shots of architecture, etc, but also a lot of on-the-go, handheld footage. Is there any real difference between the cameras? Also, does one camera have a clearly superior battery life (with extended-life batteries)?

Thanks,
Reed Shea
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 03:49 AM   #2
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Really Reed, you should probably start by reading the brochures on the cameras.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 03:53 AM   #3
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Well, Robert, I've been researching as much as possible online, but I haven't been able to use these cameras myself. I know that many members of this board own and actively use these cameras, and I'd like to hear how they match up.

I guess I started rambling a bit during my post. My apologies, I'm a bit sleep-deprived. What I'm trying to ask is which camera you would recommend for my purposes: I need something highly portable, ideally shooting in 720/24p.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 04:03 AM   #4
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Honestly Reed, just a quick read of the brochures (or the short blurbs on the cameras' webpages on the manufacturers' websites) narrows it down to one camera. There's only one that shoots 720/24p, aside from the Sanyo (couldn't imagine shooting a documentary with a toy anyway) and the HVX, both of which you ruled out in what you wrote. It's not exactly a carefully guarded secret that the Sony cameras and the Canon shoot 1080i.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 04:14 AM   #5
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Robert-

I was under the impression that those two cameras shot in 720p, but the sources I was reading were talking about downconverting the 1080i signal. I feel a bit dumb now; I'm not off to a good start on this message board...

In any event, let's say I need to shoot in HD (any format), and I need to shoot on tape. Again, I need a portable camera. Is there any difference between the Sony, Canon, and JVC, as far as portability? Or are they fairly equal, making this thread quite pointless?
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 09:00 AM   #6
 
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The cameras are effectively equal. The JVC is the only one I'd recommend if you are wanting 24p. Do you know how to shoot 24p? Have you ever shot 24p? If not, plan on a lot of practice time.
Down converting either the Canon or Sony to 720p is no big feat at all, very easy to do.
The JVC is a great cam, but one thing to be cautious of, is the battery life. It's horrible. You almost are required to buy the Bauer kit for it if you want any life out of it.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 09:37 AM   #7
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...also the "highly portable " part ...the jvc is a shoulder camera and will attract much more attention at customs. I'd recommend the sonys'. It sounds like you don't have a post strategy as of yet . You might reconsider all together the 720p part also. Shoot in 1080 hdv pal with a z1 , then your options are more open as to how to downconvert. The sony is also a reasonably good point and shoot. The Jvc has a learning curve from what I'm reading. I'd say from your needs, you yourself have narrowed it down to just one camera- the z1 or a pal fx1. Kurth
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 01:16 AM   #8
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Thank you for your helpful replies. I believe I will go with the Sony; it seems to have all that I need for much less than the Canon. Unless, that is, there is some huge reason why the Canon is better (and therefore more expensive). I understand that the Canon yields better low-light images, slightly better all-around images, and, of course, a 20x zoom rather than 12x. Are these the main reasons for choosing the Canon? Please clue me in if I'm missing something important.

Thanks for being patient with me through my misinformation due to my poor research.

-Reed
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 01:26 AM   #9
 
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Looks to me like you've done OK with your research.
The Canon can provide slightly better images in many situations.
The Canon has a better lens overall with more reach.
It offers 24f, and has SDI out, but if you're not a 24 shooter, and don't have a big field system, then neither of those options will help you much.
The balance is still a bit weird, but that's been an XL thing since day one, it's definitely gotten better. Sexy looking too.
Sony is smaller, better gain, which can also equate to better low light both in production and post, so long as you stay below +12dB of gain. Less lens reach, but if that isn't a sticking point, then it doesn't matter. 4k less for the Sony, so you can effectively buy 2 Z1's for the price of one Canon.
the things that set the Canon apart from the rest of the pack:
SDI
24f
Longer lens/arguably better glass
Weird balance (you get used to it after a few days)
removeable lens. (most folks rarely remove them though)

Sony Z1 is:
Better balanced
more image options
Better battery life
smaller size which can work for or against you
several shooting modes. (only use CF24 if you have Vegas)

Both are great tools, hard to go wrong with either of them. No "huge" differences between them, excepting the noise differences, and those aren't *that* different, IMO
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 01:52 AM   #10
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Douglas - I was surprised to read "more image options" with the Z1 (compared to H1). Could you explain? I would have thought the reverse would be true. I haven't studied the H1 that much yet, because I don't consider it to be much of a realistic purchase option for me at this point (due to cost), but it might be, towards the end of the year. Also, how easily could footage from an FX1 be mixed with footage from an H1? (Would it be a pain in the behind to get the look of the footage from both cameras close enough to be acceptable?)
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 02:22 AM   #11
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Reed -

I meant no offense when I responded to your original questions last night. It clearly gave the strong impression that you had not done more than a few minutes of research prior to asking, and as such, it was very difficult to interpret your interest in an HD cam as anything akin to serious in nature. It now appears that perhaps you are somewhat serious, so I'll respond a little further, with a couple of questions and a possible suggestion.

Do you own a digital camcorder? Have you edited digital video on a computer?

If not, I would strongly suggest that you consider purchasing an inexpensive consumer miniDV camera to do a little experimenting with. I don't know of any real inexpensive consumer miniDV cameras, currently being manufactured, which can shoot progressive frame video, but if progressive frame video is really important to you for some reason in the long run, you might look to eBay for a used JVC GR-9800U or a Canon Optura Pi. Both can be purchased used, for just a few hundred dollars, and are capable of shooting 30p as well as 60i SD video on miniDV. You can also get some editing software, to get your feet wet, so to speak, for very little cost (for example, a simple, but functional, editor from ULead is available with many inexpensive firewire cards).
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 08:29 AM   #12
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Other than not being true progressive-scan cameras, the Sony HDV models should work fine for your purposes. Take a look at this article:

http://www.infocomm.org/index.cfm?ob...4904244F954FE6
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 09:13 AM   #13
 
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Good article to promot4e the show and HDV, but badly flawed in how they've written about the technical aspects.
First, shooting with CF24 and using any software other than Vegas, Premiere, or CineForm is a serious "oops." *Especially* with FCP being editor.
Second, they tried to output via DVD Studio Pro. Notice the middle third of the article is about how they overcame the troubles of CF 24. Had they done just a small amount of research in the first place, they'd have saved themselves a lot of trouble, the cost of Minerva, and there is no way they kept the "CF24" look in the process they described.

There are correct methods of shooting and using CF24 that are well documented at this point. The method they used was a mess to start with, and a lot of lost time. "After editing, we decided it would be best to downconvert in the hardware, so we recaptured...." What a serious waste of time.
That said, this was also done early in the FCP stages of HDV, so that might account for their lack of research or knowledge on how to manage the media.
The kind of NLE you use, and your post processing plan will/should determine how/what you shoot.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 08:03 PM   #14
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I shot a quick experiment last night, direct to disk using DV Rack with HDV trial, that showed me the FX1 shooting 1080/60i, can be used to generate 720/30p that pretty much smokes any SD 30p. I didn't do anything fancy. Just quick set the iris and gain and shot around my work area for a couple minutes (not super dim, but not hardly great lighting either), converted to 720p in Vegas using interpolation to deinterlace, and rendered a 6mbps WMV. It was a thumbs up on that quick test. It's also certainly way easier to shoot with than an HD10U.
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Old March 4th, 2006, 10:54 PM   #15
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take into consideration what you will be shooting as well.

From what i gathered from previous post, shooting sports or the like the sony is best for run and gun. Although i will get some noise from fast panning left to right However if i wanted to shoot 24p the jvc was the way to go all things considered (between sony and jvc)?
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