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Old September 30th, 2006, 08:47 PM   #1
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Planning for a good freelance camera??

Okay I took a break for a couple years from the video production game, and I am planning on starting my own production company again as after spending some time away I have found that video in film is where I need to be. I am considering going all out in the corporate arena with a full production company using HDV technology or just purchasing a really high end camera and just being a frelance camera man who has his own camera.

My question for all of you is if I were to go the freelance route, which HD camera would be worth investing in. I would be looking to work in high end productions and TV and would want an HD setup to keep me marketable. What do you think? I am also thinking about picking up a jib as that used to be my specialty. Well let me know your thoughts on cameras!
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Old September 30th, 2006, 09:44 PM   #2
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when i think of hi end projects using a HDV camera's doesn't come into my mind ..
HD camera's run from 15k to 150+K ...
perhaps you could give a approx $$ figure ? ( 20k , 30k ,50, 75k tops )
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Old October 1st, 2006, 04:52 AM   #3
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Don is right, it all depends on your bank balance and how much you are willing to spend. If you've got plenty, I'd go for someting like the Red for HD quality plus add-ons that you can build on to make a full system.

If the budget is tighter, then I'd go the HDV route with something like the Canon XL-H1, and build on the added extras to make it into a full working system.

Both routes would provide high quality results.
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Last edited by Tony Davies-Patrick; October 1st, 2006 at 12:44 PM.
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Old October 1st, 2006, 06:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Phillips
..........being a frelance camera man who has his own camera.

My question for all of you is if I were to go the freelance route, which HD camera would be worth investing in. I would be looking to work in high end productions and TV ............
The answer must be to get the one that your potential clients will pay for you to use, to fit in with their workflow.

There is absolutely no use getting (say) a DVCProHD camera if the companies most likely to use your services are geared up around HDCAM, and vice versa.

I'd also say that now may be a very bad time to buy anyway, since the expectation is that the move away from tape for acquisition will gather momentum within the next 12 months. The obvious choices are then Infinity, HD XDCAM and HD P2, and I for one wouldn't like to bet money on which (if any) will become an industry standard in the way Betacam did.

Maybe worth concentrating on peripheral gear (lights, tripod etc), and hiring cameras as and when required, to the format the client requires?
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 06:50 AM   #5
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I haven't seen anyone using Grass Valley's Infinty yet. The local NBC affiliate is trying out some XDCAM products, while the local FOX affiliate is trying P2.
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 09:24 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Stephan Ahonen
I haven't seen anyone using Grass Valley's Infinty yet.
It's due to go on sale in a couple of months time, and Grass Valley are saying that some big name broadcasters will be trialling it over the next couple of months. It was on show at IBC recently, though Grass Valley said they are still tweaking specs, especially regarding power consumption. A few things I didn't like, but I'd put up with quite a lot for the RevPro/CF combination.
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The local NBC affiliate is trying out some XDCAM products, while the local FOX affiliate is trying P2.
At the moment the only P2 cameras that are 2/3" are standard definition only, and most people can't really see much point at buying into that now, with 2/3" HD capable P2 due next year.

HD XDCAM certainly exists, but not yet with 2/3" chips.

Hence my previous comment about now being a very bad time to buy. In 12 months, maybe even 6, Infinity should be a product on sale, same with HD P2, and maybe 2/3" HD XDCAM? By then, more of the broadcasters may have made a committment, and a buying decision for a freelancer may be much easier.

At the moment a 2/3" HD camera effectively means tape.
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 11:07 AM   #7
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Just because a camera hasn't got 2/3 inch CCDs should not rule it out of the equation. Half inch cams such as the Sony XDCAM HD range perform very well. You should also consider that even if you do decide to wait for a 2/3 inch HD camera from Sony?Panasonic/Grass Valley then you will also need a 2/3 inch HD lens and they are not at all cheap, while a half inch HD lens is considerably cheaper.

Personnaly I like the Sony XDCAM HD range. It's available NOW, not a pipe dream or "in-development". It is file based, can do HD and SD using low cost disks that you can afford to keep forever (or re-use if you must). The disks and transport were designed for use in cameras and has been in use for nearly 5 years, so it is well proven technology. There is no need to buy a deck or special adapter for ingest or export and there is now a good selection of lenses as well as an adapter to use 2/3 inch HD lenses. It can do timelapse, overcrank (slo-mo), interlace or progressive and has a front end that uses CCD's the same resolution as the record format so no up-conversion. Best part is that the cost is really very good for a true professional format.

Whatever you buy these days will be out of date in a year. New gear is comming along all the time. What you must do is buy a system that will work for you and your clients.
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 12:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Alister Chapman
Just because a camera hasn't got 2/3 inch CCDs should not rule it out of the equation. Half inch cams such as the Sony XDCAM HD range perform very well.
It was not my intention to rule any camera out of the equation, but from what I hear then many broadcasters are still keen on a 2/3" camera in general. A lot may have to do with lens investments they've already made, and I know more than one freelance who has invested in HD lenses, primarily used currently with SD cameras, but also sometimes with hired HD bodies.
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Whatever you buy these days will be out of date in a year. .......... What you must do is buy a system that will work for you and your clients.
I'll certainly agree with your latter statement, and it echoes what I said several posts ago: "The answer must be to get the one that your potential clients will pay for you to use, to fit in with their workflow". And if a major client did adopt HD XDCAM, mainly with a future 2/3" version, then owning a 1/2" model wouldn't preclude you from getting their work. But surely no freelance would want to invest in XDCAM, then find their main clients required Infinity or P2? (Or vice versa.) The point is not "don't buy XDCAM", but rather "wait and see" if you are able.

But whilst whatever you buy today may well be out of date in a year, then I'm much less certain that what you buy next year will be out of date for a lot longer, just like a Digibeta or DSR500 five or more years ago. Camera technology tends to go very much in steps, not as a smooth line, and I feel we are just coming up to one of those steps. Infinity is far from a pipe dream - I held a working model at IBC - and I doubt HD P2 is that many months behind.
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 03:06 PM   #9
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P2 is an excelent idea, but I think it is a technology that is currently too expensive and likely to be replaced by off-the-shelf solid state media that is a lot cheaper and easier to get in the very near future... possibly pro compact flash cards like Infinity is going to use.

Who knows what will be available next couple of years? HDV style camcorders that record full res 1080 onto flash cards or hard drives with 4:2:2 50 MB Mpeg? 2/3inch 4k camcorders recording on HD-DVD style disks? Look at RED from nothing to a low cost 4k camera in less than 2 years. Now the Betacam SP monopoly has been broken there is far more room and scope for manufacturers with new ideas, so I believe we can expect to see more new formats in the years to come. I belive the days of one format becoming the de-facto standard for just about all broadcast production have gone.
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 05:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alister Chapman
P2 is an excelent idea, but I think it is a technology that is currently too expensive and likely to be replaced by off-the-shelf solid state media that is a lot cheaper and easier to get in the very near future... possibly pro compact flash cards like Infinity is going to use.

Who knows what will be available next couple of years? HDV style camcorders that record full res 1080 onto flash cards or hard drives with 4:2:2 50 MB Mpeg? 2/3inch 4k camcorders recording on HD-DVD style disks? Look at RED from nothing to a low cost 4k camera in less than 2 years. Now the Betacam SP monopoly has been broken there is far more room and scope for manufacturers with new ideas, so I believe we can expect to see more new formats in the years to come. I belive the days of one format becoming the de-facto standard for just about all broadcast production have gone.
The breaking of the Beta SP market is what causes confusion. My last camera as a freelancer was an easy choice. It was a Sony D30 head and a PVV 3 back and there was not a market I could not do business in in the video world. That has all changed and I was wondering if there was that universal camera like a good sony beta sp camera that worked like that these days. Like I said I am only in the research phase of things. My intention was not to buy an HDV camera and work in that arena. The HDV camera is a choice I have to go down to be a full production house in my town doing corporate work, or purchase a camera and concentrate on freelance work.
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 04:22 AM   #11
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Our local BBC had some Betacam SP cameras that were ten years old by time they were replaced. These cameras were used 7 days a week shooting news - hard and soft stuff. Although there was a bit of my grandfather's axe about them, it seems unlikely in the short term that any of the current planned/new cameras will last that long.

Buy a camera that matches the demands of your market; if you can't get a return on the investment in 18 months or less, don't buy it.

BTW A film camera has a much longer life. However, you need to be in the market that shoots film. Kodak and Fuji do the upgrades for you.
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 12:29 PM   #12
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I see no reason why any of the current full size pro cameras shouldn't last as long as an old BVW400. In fact there are many reason why they should last longer, no tape heads to wear out for example. I think it is also fair to say that most of the newer cameras aimed at the ENG market are considerably cheaper than a comparable BetaSP used to be. If I remember right my first BVW400 cost 26K over 12 years ago and cost around 2k a year to have it maintained correctly. So over 10 years that camera may have cost 40k + to own and maintain. So you buy a F330 XDCAM for 9k and throw it away in 3 years.. you still end up spending less in the long run.
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 06:57 PM   #13
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I suspect it'll be the increasing changing of formats will be the problem rather than how long a piece of kit will actually last. The Betacam range of video formats have been used as a professional format around the world since the 1980s.
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