(yet another) SD / HD Acquisition dilemma (sp. opinion on JVC GR-X5?) at DVinfo.net

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Old May 4th, 2006, 05:45 PM   #1
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(yet another) SD / HD Acquisition dilemma (sp. opinion on JVC GR-X5?)

In about a month I'll be leaving for fieldwork (MA research) abroad, and I'd like to take a camera with me, that I'll be using for both indoor filming (in office settings; user-observation and focus-group recording) and outdoor filming (interviews and for other, more fun things).

My current (many years old, D8) camcorder's lens has been damaged, so I am looking for a new one; a camera that will be a tad better in manual control and video quality.

I have been thinking really hard, and based upon the following information have come up with the JVC GR-X5 for the following reasons:

-it's still available in stock at a local store
-I can get it for around 600 euro's (which fits my budget)
-it has a headphone jack (unlike the Panasonic NV-GS series; the PV-GS are nowhere to be found anymore)
-it has a few manual controls outside a menu/touchscreen setting
-non-proprietary accessory shoe; so I can use my external mic or lamp
-however, I am afraid the end of the mic will stand in the way of the LCD screen
-corny as it may sound, the "3CCD" just appeals to me.

BUT

The sheer resolution of the Sony HC1 or HC3 is quite mindblowing. I've seen some sample video's on my PC, and the quality and detail is just great.

However, I'm really in dubio as to whether to buy the JVC GR-X5 as a temp-solution for my field trip, and wait till the HD-technology in consumer camera's matures (and wait to see how other manufacturers respond to these two models), because this option would still save me some money, I guess.

On the other hand, the fieldwork will be a once in a lifetime experience, and I don't want to compromise on video quality if it is currently possible to shoot video in stunning (compared to consumer SD) video quality.

What do you think I should do?
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Old May 5th, 2006, 10:36 PM   #2
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"On the other hand, the fieldwork will be a once in a lifetime experience, and I don't want to compromise on video quality if it is currently possible to shoot video in stunning (compared to consumer SD) video quality."

Seems to me that you've answered you own question. The current crop of inexpensive Sony HDV cameras produce images that are so astonishingly superior to small chip DV Handicams, it's hardly a contest. The HDV format specs are an established fact of life and will be around for quite a while IMO. No doubt that newer model inexpensive 1/3" and smaller chip HDV cams will be on the market, probably fairly soon. They will have different variations on the features and functions, etc., but the captured HDV image is likely to be little different than what is available presently. If this is footage that you are likely to be exhibiting, or even just watching, in the years to come, I doubt that you will ever regret shooting it in HDV instead of DV.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 01:35 AM   #3
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What Robert says is largely true, but SD cams (certain ones) do have a large advantage in poor or non optimal lighting when compared to the 1CCD or 1 CMOS HDV cams, or in most cases the 3 CCD HDV cams. As well, manual controlls and other options are sacrificed on the smaller HDV cams where they wouldn't on a full featured DV cam. The rolling shutter of the 1CMOS Sony cams has been problematic for inerperienced shooters in motion shots. The lack of extensive manual control and art of progressive shooting has been a problem with the 1CCD JVC cams. Not to mention working with HDV is not as simple as working with DV (DV is pretty much workable with every half-ass PC).
I am a huge advocate of HDV, but one has to ask what is best for the situation. Do they use HDTV? Are they well versed in HD editing? Do they need/want 16:9? Do they like walking from high light to low light with the cam in auto and expect good video? A good Sony 4:3 low light capable cam is often the best choice.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 02:21 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Hodson

I am a huge advocate of HDV, but one has to ask what is best for the situation. Do they use HDTV? Are they well versed in HD editing? Do they need/want 16:9? Do they like walking from high light to low light with the cam in auto and expect good video? A good Sony 4:3 low light capable cam is often the best choice.
You can shoot in HDV, and downcovert out of HC1 just as if it is DV, and never have to edit HDV. I have FX1, and you can actually shoot 4:3 DV if you want. I think HC1 does same. Frankly, I don't think you will want to after a while. Good Sony Low light 4:3 ? Not sure what is meant by that. Which model ? 4:3 VX's are over $2K US still. At any rate, regular room lighting will be fine with the HDV models. Definitely not something for a dark night club scene, though.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 02:34 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos
You can shoot in HDV, and downcovert out of HC1 just as if it is DV, and never have to edit HDV. I have FX1, and you can actually shoot 4:3 DV if you want. I think HC1 does same. Frankly, I don't think you will want to after a while.
Yes, all well undrstood, but it is well understood that the capabilities of each cam (eg. FX1 and PD170 in DV mode are quite different, never mind a 2/3" Sony cam with a pro lense). HDV is the future, it just isns't best in all senarious yet. Do you agree?
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Old May 6th, 2006, 02:50 AM   #6
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I'm facing dilemna this moment. Shooting a grandkid track meet tomorrow. Do I take the HDV camera, though nobody will really see it in HDV except on my computer screen, in order to have some pretty nice footage in the future, or do I take my VX2000, whick I still love to use. Plus I have a pretty good telextender for the VX. Ultimately, I'm think I'm going to go with the FX1 because I can get effectively same teleextention by cropping HDV in a DV edit. Only wish I had a step down ring to try some telephoto shots on the FX1.

By the way, I do believe the FX1 is as good or better in DV than the PD- except in the low light categories. The best way to get DV from the FX1 is shoot in HDV, and either downcovert to editor, or convert in post.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 04:57 AM   #7
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Thanks for the replies guys.

I'll take every point into consideration, and see what's best for me.

I've become quite accustomed to working with *some* manual controls on my DCR-TRV320; granted, it wasn't not top of the line, but for me it has been a great learner's camera. For example, I have learned how to shift the exposure, depending on what light condition I am filming in, sometimes in combination with using backlight, I've grown accustomed to a focus ring, and such.

These are things I'd like to see returned on my next camera; I am open to using touch-screens (although to me it would seem that tapping a screen will result in extra hand movement and camera and image instability?), but I'd definitely would not want a camera that lacks the option of (easily) shifting exposure.

Manual focus is something that I've found necessary only in some specific circumstances, for example filming something close-up, or when another object gets in the way. However, I'd like to learn to use manual focus all the time.

And in low-light conditions I found the grainy video annoying, but as I've said, shifting the AE and exposure has, in most cases, brought me decent results; what I've done so far is to lower the exposure to such an extent that there's a good balance between visibility and extent of grain, and in "editing" phases shift some color or (what is it) gamma? levels.

A few times I've had to use a small lamp; but it wasn't ideal because the lamp-battery would last for only 5 minutes or so. An external power supply would be handy for a lamp.

Would low low-light performance in the HC1 still be an issue, if I'd use a lamp in those situations? [logically, of course not, DHUH].

Also, I've been told that generally, there is a tendency to strip features, instead of adding them, to newer models of "consumer" (aren't we all consumers?) cams, and that, currently at least, the HC1 has no other match in the price range.

So when will other consumer HD-models get released and is it possible to read their specs somewhere?

[edited to add] I mean, so far, SD has been acceptable for screening purposes, for example documentaries and such. I know for example that the TRV900 has been used for filming a documentary, and I found the image quality to be really good.

OK, the documentary was strong in content and style, and that is the most important thing, next to image quality.

Back then I didn't have the experience or money to use that camera, but now I feel the need to do some "upgrade"; but the question is.......to what?

Is it important for me to have the tapes archived on HD, so that when HD-technology becomes commonplace in my environment, I can re-edit my footage? I don't know...these are all questions I need to answer myself, but it's difficult to decide.
PS. something like the FX1 is too expensive for me.
Also, what does downconverted HD->SD from an HC1 look like; what SD camera does the downconverted image resemble?

Last edited by Abhi Jeet; May 6th, 2006 at 06:34 AM.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 10:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abhi Jeet
I am open to using touch-screens (although to me it would seem that tapping a screen will result in extra hand movement and camera and image instability?)
You probably wouldn't want to use the touch-screen controls while shooting, but I haven't found that to be an issue with the HC1. In most situations I'm adjusting settings in between shots, not during them.

Quote:
I'd definitely would not want a camera that lacks the option of (easily) shifting exposure.
The HC1 has an exposure lock and adjust control on the front left side of the camera which works fine for quick exposure settings. If you want more specific shutter speed and iris control you have to go into the touch-screen menus, but as noted above you can do that in between shots.

Quote:
Manual focus is something that I've found necessary only in some specific circumstances, for example filming something close-up, or when another object gets in the way. However, I'd like to learn to use manual focus all the time.
There's a switch for manual focus on the left side of the lens barrel.

Quote:
Would low low-light performance in the HC1 still be an issue, if I'd use a lamp in those situations?
.

One problem with the HC1 is that it doesn't have a standard hot shoe for attaching a separate light. There is a small 3W light you can buy from Sony which fits the camera, but it has too narrow a beam to work well with widescreen recording. If you're mainly shooting in reasonably well lit office environments and outdoors then the HC1 should be adequate; if you need better low-light sensitivity then something like a VX2100 might be more suitable.

Quote:
So when will other consumer HD-models get released and is it possible to read their specs somewhere?
At this point the Sanyo HD1 is your main alternative at an affordable price, and it's apparently got even less controls than an HC1.

Quote:
Is it important for me to have the tapes archived on HD, so that when HD-technology becomes commonplace in my environment, I can re-edit my footage?
Once you have an HD camera, you'll find yourself wanting to shoot everything in HD in case you ever do want to re-master it in the future. HD is clearly preferable at this point if you can make it work for you.

Quote:
Also, what does downconverted HD->SD from an HC1 look like; what SD camera does the downconverted image resemble?
That depends on the circumstances. In good conditions there wouldn't be much to compare it to except maybe the Canon XL2, which has a true widescreen recording mode. Most 4x3 SD cameras don't work well for playback on widescreen TVs, which is another reason to start shooting widescreen/HD footage.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 04:34 PM   #9
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"Also, what does downconverted HD->SD from an HC1 look like; what SD camera does the downconverted image resemble?"

I have the A1 and a Sony PD 170 (3 1/3" chips, and rather more expensive than the A1). I have tried to do some fairly extensive comparisons of the two and have come to the following conclusions:
In standard daylight
1) A1 downconvert to 4:3 is comprable to 170, color may be slightly better with A1 Downconvert
2) A1 downconvert to 16:9 is hugely better than 170 shooting 16:9. Simply no comparison.
3) A1 HDV, edited with Cineform Aspect HD codec, converted directly to m2v with Procoder 2 (maintains the original 4:2:0 color sampling throughout the workflow). The final DVD image is superior to PD 170 on DVD- slightly in image detail, more noticably in color.
In lower lighting
In a well lit room, or nightime Las Vegas Strip, the A1 can hold its own.
In resturaunt, bar, nightclub, type low light, the 170 beats nearly every prosumer cam of any type.
Some of these differences are rather hairsplitting, some not. The bottom line is that, in decent lighting, I certainly don't feel like I am stepping down to use the A1 instead of the PD 170. Actually, if I am doing anything other than a 4:3 project, the A1 seems like a step up imagewise.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 05:26 PM   #10
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"3) A1 HDV, edited with Cineform Aspect HD codec, converted directly to m2v with Procoder 2 (maintains the original 4:2:0 color sampling throughout the workflow)."

AspectHD intelligently upsamples to 4:2:2. Not that it will cause any harm in the downconvert, it should improve it slightly, but there is no need to stay in 4:2:0. If you went to DV 4:1:1, then DVD it would hurt.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 04:42 PM   #11
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That's impressive for a single CMOS chip.

I think I am inching more towards an HC1...just need to explain the costs for the camera to my mother! (even though it's my own money)

Man, it's killing me. I've always told myself that the next camera I'll buy, it'll be something like a TRV900 or TRV950. Wish there would be something like that with HD....
It just seems that the HC1 doesn't cut it in terms of possibilities for controls found in those models.

On the other hand, I don't intend to become self-sufficient on filmmaking, or make any money with it (for now). So I really need to balance some things.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 06:06 PM   #12
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"AspectHD intelligently upsamples to 4:2:2. Not that it will cause any harm in the downconvert, it should improve it slightly, but there is no need to stay in 4:2:0. If you went to DV 4:1:1, then DVD it would hurt."
Ken
That is exactly my point. If I don't want the color resampled to 4:1:1 during the editing, I use Aspect CFHD (4:2:2), then take that directly to m2v (4:2:0) for DVD output, and, if I want to, Export the finished CFHD project back to tape as m2t, where it sits and waits for Blu Ray, or whatever is coming down the road.
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