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Old March 19th, 2006, 05:24 PM   #1
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3 CCD DV or 1 CCD HDV?

I currently have a Canon GL-1 (which I bought in 2001), a mini digital video 3 CCD camcorder. I was wondering if I would get better image quality from my current camera or one of the less expensive HDV cameras that have a single CCD or CMOS (like the JVC GR-HD1 or Sony HVR-A1U).

I use the camera to make art videos and very low budget documentaries.

Thanks in advance for the feedback...
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Old March 19th, 2006, 06:25 PM   #2
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You should get much better image quality from an A1U. You could get better image quality from an HD1 (in good lighting), but it would be a little trickier to shoot with than a GL1.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 01:42 AM   #3
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If we discount the number of chips, the type of chips and their sizes. Then it comes down to it, HDV offers that much more in resolution alone. Hence a better quality.

Other than the possible problems with image bleed and processing, sometimes having an advanced single chip over some relix 3CCD's is often better. The A1, hands down wins the race agasint almost all the DV 3CCD cams out there for around the same price.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 04:17 PM   #4
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The A1 does have some issues with the rolling shutter. Where users have complained having with motion shots. I believe hand held stuff was the main reason. Run and gun might still be the domain of 3chip SD cams.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 04:28 PM   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Hodson
The A1 does have some issues with the rolling shutter. Where users have complained having with motion shots. I believe hand held stuff was the main reason. Run and gun might still be the domain of 3chip SD cams.
this is indeed true. there are *some issues* with the A1 due to where exposure and shutterspeed may be set, just like every other camera out there has some issues with other aspects of shooting.
Very hard to beat the A1 for many things. We recently used 3 A1's for a rodeo shoot capture, and they worked great where no other camera could have possibly gone.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 05:13 PM   #6
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The HD1 would be a more interesting pick but the A1 would be the overall simpler and better option in my opinion. 1080i looks pretty darn good from it and that also gives you a little more resolution to make it into 24p if you want, whereas the JVC HD1 would only allow for 30p and, if you go through a pretty technical post process, could do a 24p conversion that looks acceptable.

The other reason to go for the A1 is the size, it's just so darn small and compact for such a powerful camera. I have a GL1 too and if you're aiming for something better, not HVX200/ JVC HD100U/ Canon XLH1 level, the A1 would be the best bet.
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Old March 26th, 2006, 04:06 PM   #7
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Thanks so much for the feedback--which seems to indicate that I'd get better image results from Sony A1. But the issue remains for me whether that difference is enough to warrant the purchase.

Let me explain a bit...

I shot a documentary with the GL-1 over the course of the last 5 years--doing all the camerawork, interviewing, editing etc. myself. I was able to get quite a few screenings of the doc. at film festivals and at local universities, and I was overall pretty pleased with the outcome.

(I don't know if we can reference our own work here, but if so...and you want to see what I'm referring to, you can watch the trailer at www.contestedterritory.com).

I'm not trained in video--I was trained as a sculptor primarily--and don't have a ton of technical knowledge, but I guess I had enough to get by.

After completing the documentary, I took audio and lighting courses at DCTV in NY and was sort of horrified at all the "mistakes" I made on the video. I guess one of the main ones was not using XLR audio (because the GL-1 only has a mini input).

So, as I am now researching my next documentary--which will probably be done in the same way as the first, i.e. long term, one person show--I am considering whether the GL-1 is "good enough" for what I'm doing, or whether it's time to trade it in for something better.

Obviously, as I don't work professionally in video, I can't afford to sink a ton of my own $$ into this. I am already needing to upgrade my computer and FCP applications (they are also about 5 years old)--so I'm not sure if I can even afford a new camera. It's not like I'm going to make money off of this endeavor. My goal in doing the work is to get the ideas out there and to get conversations going about important issues. Of course, it helps if it looks and sounds good, but that's not where my emphasis is.

So...with these things in mind...what are your thoughts? Keep the GL-1 or go to Sony's A1?
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Old March 26th, 2006, 06:22 PM   #8
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Some more details (excuse the length) which may impact your suggestions...

*the new documentary will be about farms and farmers--some of the shooting will take place outside, but some of it will be inside barns and homes

*I usually shoot with available light, although I may consider buying an inexpensive light kit for indoor work
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Old March 26th, 2006, 07:00 PM   #9
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Might look into getting a used Panasonic DVX100 (for $2k or less). It is still a MiniDV camera, but should fit well into your existing workflow and give you significantly better looking pictures than a GL-1 (yes, I have shot on both cameras). The difference is astounding. This camera captures light the way your eye sees it, with vivid colors, everything. Once you try it, you'll likely find it very difficult to want to shoot on anything else. Your work will look better. People always comment on the "look" of my work as being superior. I never got comments like that before using the DVX100.

Others will downplay the importance of beautiful colors favoring the higher resolution of an HDV cam. I see things differently. Hope this helps.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 11:25 AM   #10
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The DVX100 is definitely a step up from a GL1 and yields decent widescreen footage when fitted with an anamorphic lens adapter, but shooting anamorphic is a pain and without that the camera is basically obsolete as we head into the HD era.

I get a lot of positive comments on my HDV footage and the colors look good to me, which makes sense considering the 14-bit internal processing on the 3-chip Sony HDV cameras. But I wouldn't recommend any current HDV camera for indoor work without some kind of light, and the single-chip HDV cameras have significant artifacting issues in poor lighting. My recommendation would be to keep using the GL1 for now until you can save up enough money for a Sony FX1 or Z1U.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 06:46 PM   #11
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I just want to get this straight: the lower end HDV cameras don't work well in low (i.e. available) light situations? If that's the case, seems that I'd do better sticking with the GL1 or switching to a better DV camera.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 06:54 PM   #12
 
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No 1/3 chip HD camcorder is great in low light. The Sony FX1 and particularly the Z1 are renowned for their clean image even with up to +13dB worth of gain. Because the pixels are smaller, light sensitivity is compromised. However, with the additional gain, you also can usually get as clean, if not a more clean image as most DV camcorders can get in the lower light. The CMOS cam's aren't as good, not just because they're CMOS, but because of the single chip process. If you can rent a Z1 for a day/night, I'd give it a go. It's definitely true that HD in affordable ranges is less light sensitive; but it's equally true that the Canon and Sony can seriously push the gain. Particularly the Z1.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 07:39 PM   #13
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"The Sony FX1 and particularly the Z1 are renowned for their clean image"

Does the Z1 actually have a better low light image? I thought they would be the same.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 07:44 PM   #14
 
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This comes up a lot. Due to the additional/superior DSP programming, the Z1 indeed has a better low light image. Black stretch goes a long way as well, just as it does with the JVC.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 01:00 PM   #15
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Perhaps I should clarify what I mean by "affordable." I can only spend $2000 or less on a new camera. So the Sony FX1 & Z1 are definitely out of my price range.

With that parameter in mind (and the fact that I am a crew of one making very low budget documentaries) would I do best to...

1. keep the GL-1 I have and get audio adapters (i.e. Beachtek) so I can get better sound?
2. get a different/better DV camera (i.e. used Panasonic DVX100, as was suggested)?
3. get a lower-priced HDV camera (i.e. Sony HVR-A1U or JVC GR-HD1)? Keep in mind...I need decent lower light/available light performance.

(Renting is not an option I'm particularly interested in.)

Thanks in advance for the responses...
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