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Old April 16th, 2007, 08:35 PM   #1
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The "The camera to get"

So far there has not been any one new "semi-pro" level (or prosumer) HD, HDV camera produced that everyone got excited for. And when I say excited, I mean like the talk that surrounded the original DVX100 when it first came out.

There are a bunch of HDV cams out there but not one that really stands out on the market as the leader. Granted, that might be proper economics in this field operating as they should... I guess if the V1E was the only HDV camera on the market everyone would talk about the V1E as the "the camera to get". That's what ive been waiting for; A "the camera to get" to come out... but it hasn't happened. Or maybe the problem is, that lots of the new HDV cameras are good but the fact that the market is saturated with lots of choices the majority of shooters are not getting behind any one model and really pushing it as "the best cam out there". However for me, I am apprehensive to make a decision when there isn't a clear winner. Before the DVX100 the XL1 was the top presumer cam. - or maybe the VX200. But now a days there is no one market leader.

I bring this up because< I want there to be a "the camera to get". So I can rest assured I am making the right choice. Do you think that will ever happen -again? Or will it always be as it is now -with lots of choices making the decision harder?

Note: In this thread I'm not referring to the above $10 grand cameras as they are out of our price range as average vidographers and independent film makers.
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Old April 16th, 2007, 08:46 PM   #2
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There never is, nor will ever be, an end-all solution, for any market regardless of product, service, or otherwise.

You can wait each day for a new product and never get anywhere, either, and that's just the way of business and development.

That being stated, get what works for you for your specific applications.

I love the Sony cameras - Z1U's, V1U's, etc. They are great if you know how to use manual features...but again, some hate them. I have no preference of them over the Canon's, JVC, or Panasonic simply because I have what works for me and have no reason to go elsewhere.
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Old April 16th, 2007, 09:06 PM   #3
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Your right it's all about compromise.
All are good but all have issues.
Sony V1 and Z1 are toyish, no real lens.
JVC GY has shocking viewfinder,it's noisy, terrible battery life.
Panasonic has those damn P2 cards and the lowest resolution CCDs.
Canon H1 also has bad viewfinder and odd shoulder mount plus quirky lens.

Both the Canon and JVC can be optioned up to make them more Pro but by the time you've spent that kind of money your up there with XD-Cam HD which shoots far superior quality than HDV could ever manage.
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Old April 17th, 2007, 12:20 AM   #4
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I think the Canon XHA1 is getting some pretty good buzz. For the price, it's hard to beat right now...

<pleased A1 owner!>
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Old April 17th, 2007, 01:01 AM   #5
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If there was the same price differential now as when I bought my V1, I might have become a Canon owner. There was almost no difference at the time, so I went for the V1 due to the better LCD, HDMI, and the lack of smear from CMOS. I also tend to like the Sony physical format since I was coming from a VX2000. I like the V1 more than the FX1 so I would say the V1, FX7, and Canon A1 are the "IT" cameras right now.

When flash is cheaper, the successor to the HVX200 will probably be a fantastic camera. 1080i/p with flash recording would be really nice. Still, the HVX makes some pretty pictures. The JVC cameras are very nice, but they are sized for a different audience than me. I like the small format.

I think if the V1 had 1/3" chips that it would have blown everyone away. As it is, it's a bit of a toss-up between it and the Canon A1. For the price, the FX7 is going to be hard to beat. That's a lot of camera for that size and price.

I think we are lucky to have so many different choices all with their own strengths.
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Old April 17th, 2007, 11:29 AM   #6
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When I bought it, the XH-A1 and V1 were neck and neck on the boards it seemed for being the camera to get. They still are, often. I'm very pleased with my A1, but I've seen some spectacular footage from the V1. I'm sure I would have been happy either way, but to answer your question, at least at the time I think those two were the main contenders (at least back in January).
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Old April 17th, 2007, 01:09 PM   #7
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I think the XDCAM eX (available by the end of this year?) just became the hot ticket.
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Old April 17th, 2007, 04:40 PM   #8
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1/2" chips on the little Sony is the only spec that really means anything to me.

After using DVC-200s in sd, there is no way I would every go down in chip size for the jump to HD.
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Old April 20th, 2007, 07:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
1/2" chips on the little Sony is the only spec that really means anything to me.

After using DVC-200s in sd, there is no way I would every go down in chip size for the jump to HD.
I also like the fact of a professional manual Fugi 14x lens and possible 1080P recordings and the addition of 720P and variable frame rates. It sounds like a dream camera, but I'm sure the other companies are not going to sit quietly and let Sony steal the limelight.
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Old May 9th, 2007, 11:12 PM   #10
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Depends on your market

If you want a full auto camera, and you are satisfied with HDV for all your production needs then I think that nothing under $5000 MSRP beats the Canon XH A1 (uh... the one without HD SDI outputs) Of course

Under $10,000 the hot ticket right now seems to be the XDCAM EX. I am not a fan of the XDCAM codec- at all. Its a gussied up version of HDV. Still fairly standard Expresscard media makes for a happy day.

The prior title holder was the Panasonic HVX200, and it is still a great choice. The main reason it is falling off my radar is that it still has a vestigial DV tape transport and it uses Cardbus for its (much too expensive) P2 media. I am a huge fan of DVCPRO HD. It isn't "perfect" but its far better than HDV and XDCAM.

I happen to love the XL-H1, but unless you need uncompressed HD-SDI or interchangeable lenses this camera is an also ran.

That uncompressed HD-SDI is huge though. People are not aware that most HD camcorders send out fully processed scaled and compressed video over their HD-SDI. Yep, even Varicams and HDCAM. Puts the H1 and the XH-G1 up there if you have a lot of effects to do. Of course... this all means you get tethered to the video village.

The next step up for me is the Panasonic HPX 500. 2/3" imagers and DVCPRO HD. This is my under $20000 camera. The downside? P2 workflow.

Finally in my unlimited budget camera I pick RED ONE. The body can be had for "peanuts" at under $20000. The imager is mightily impressive, it can compete with film without caveat. You can put just about any glass you want on it, and oh the picture!!

The future?

I am anxious for more details on the RED Mini. Since they are lacking I'll make some up. I'm hoping for a 2/3" 2K version of the Mysterium imager with output to REDCODE RAW 2K or Pro Res on media of the users choice, including Expresscard flash based media.

P2 is dead in its crib. It showed us the way, but its already history. If Panasonic can accept that, perhaps they will jump aboard Expresscard based flash media and call it P3.

The HVX200 needs to lose the tape transport. That camera also needs an imager with higher resolution capable of driving DVCPRO HD to its limits.
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Old May 10th, 2007, 06:06 AM   #11
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who cares about better cameras or "it" cameras? i want better DELIVERY SYSTEMS! i can shoot phenomenal footage with my pair of Canon A1s, but to what end? a 4'' web view? a down-rezzed SD DVD. an expensive HD DVD or Blu-Ray that is compatible with no one and nothing?

as it is, widespread delivery does not even support what we already can make in a $1000 camera package with an HV10 or HV20.....

*rant over*
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Old May 10th, 2007, 08:53 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Alexander Ibrahim View Post
I am a huge fan of DVCPRO HD. It isn't "perfect" but its far better than HDV and XDCAM.
Have you had any specific problems with XDCAM HD footage, or is this just general dislike for the compression format? Technically speaking, DVCProHD has the lowest resolution and is the most expensive to use of the three formats you mentioned, so it's not "far better" by all measures.

Compression issues aside, the XDCAM EX looks like "the" camera to beat for under $10K once it starts shipping, based on the proposed specifications. A lot of people see this as the answer to various drawbacks with other cameras in this price range, but of course we'll have to wait and see how it actually pans out. If you need something less expensive you'll have to accept more compromises, with the Sony HVR-Z1U and Canon XH-A1 arguably being the two favorites.

And by the way, there's no single "prosumer" DV camera which gets top marks with everyone, but we should add the PD170 to the list as one of the contenders in that category.
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Old May 10th, 2007, 09:10 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz View Post
who cares about better cameras or "it" cameras? i want better DELIVERY SYSTEMS! i can shoot phenomenal footage with my pair of Canon A1s, but to what end? a 4'' web view? a down-rezzed SD DVD. an expensive HD DVD or Blu-Ray that is compatible with no one and nothing?
It has been a bit frustrating finding ways to deliver edited HD footage, but the situation is improving. One solution is to render out to WMV-HD or H.264 at 720p resolution and distribute via the internet, which gives you a way to reach anyone with a sufficiently powerful computer for playing such footage. You can also put short projects in these formats on a standard red-laser DVD and try to play that on an Xbox 360, Playstation 3 or Avel Linkplayer 2 connected to an HDTV. For longer projects use an external USB2 drive connected to one of the aforementioned devices. Or you can render and record back to your camera to play from there to any suitable device, which is as good as anything else for watching your own work.

And we do finally have the ability to make proper high-definition DVDs using reasonably affordable burners, discs and authoring software. The cost of doing that isn't any more than it was a few years to make SD DVDs, so the only problem now is waiting for consumers to buy the players.
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Old May 10th, 2007, 04:36 PM   #14
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Why I hate HDV and XDCAM codecs

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Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw View Post
Have you had any specific problems with XDCAM HD footage, or is this just general dislike for the compression format? Technically speaking, DVCProHD has the lowest resolution and is the most expensive to use of the three formats you mentioned, so it's not "far better" by all measures.
Defending DVCPro HD for a minute... recording DVCProHD is dirt cheap. You remember that it was a tape format long before it was a P2 format right? For workflow reasons I usually go to an FS-100, which isn't so cheap. Then again I use a similar gadget when I shoot HDV anyway.

As far as resolution goes DVCProHD has less pixel resolution in its "1080" modes. It uses lower (and less lossy) compression than either HDV or XDCAM. Combine these two facts and you have a wash as far as effective resolution. If you are looking at 720p I think the overall image quality (based on the CODEC) tips to DVCPro HD.

As far as my distaste for HDV and XDCAM formats (and it is the format, not the cameras, that I am on about), it is really all about long GOP, which is a post nightmare. That's why we have/had all those intermediate codecs for HDV.

If you want a specific example, HDV offlined on an Xpress Pro system that then had to be conformed on Media Composer for inclusion into a bigger project. The NLE's couldn't agree on the frame contents, as they recomposed the frames differently. At least that's what Avid said. We ended up having to adjust every edit point on the Media Composer.

I had a similar issue between Final Cut and a DS Nitris with XDCAM. This time we had access to the FCP system, so we just exported the project as uncompressed HD on the SAN and imported that to the Avid.

Then there is the fact that most edits require re-compression because you break the GOP. In fact HDV and XDCAM are a step backwards from DV in this regard.

For either HDV or XDCAM my workflow usually starts with rendering it out to another codec, or even uncompressed. Usually I've chosen Avid DNxHD, but I think that will be changing to Pro Res as soon as I get my grubby paws on it, because I strongly prefer Final Cut Studio over Media Composer.

Now that I am done abusing XDCAM as a format, I am going to repeat that I think that the XDCAM EX is one of the most interesting cameras coming down the pike. I plan on waiting for more details about the cameras before making any purchase.

What I really want is a lossless codec like DNxHD or Pro Res going to solid state media.

RED delivers the closest to this for now with REDCODE.

Eventually we'll get there, and then I'll be genuinely excited about a workflow.

Sorry for the longish rant.
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Old May 10th, 2007, 06:37 PM   #15
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Defending DVCPro HD for a minute... recording DVCProHD is dirt cheap. You remember that it was a tape format long before it was a P2 format right?
Yes, and I've seen what the tapes cost, so either way it's not a cheap format. Of course if you ditch most of your footage before archiving it and don't count the value of your time to do the archiving then it's almost competitive with other formats, but that's a lot of "ifs." Practically speaking, DVCProHD is more expensive than either HDV or XDCAM HD: that's one reason we're not all using it.

Quote:
As far as resolution goes DVCProHD has less pixel resolution in its "1080" modes. It uses lower (and less lossy) compression than either HDV or XDCAM. Combine these two facts and you have a wash as far as effective resolution. If you are looking at 720p I think the overall image quality (based on the CODEC) tips to DVCPro HD.
DVCProHD has less spatial resolution at both 720p and 1080p than competing options, but does make up for some of that by being able to handle extreme motion better. Call the resolution issue a wash if you'd like, but it's not "far better" on that point. What DVCProHD does have going for it is better color depth, and we'll see how that compares between the HVX200 and the XDCAM EX
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