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Old June 7th, 2007, 01:32 AM   #1
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Need to replace/upgrade GL2. But I have needs to be met...

Here's my situation. I have a Canon GL2 and I need to replace it within the 2-3 months. Its not that the camera is not performing well. Despite being long in the tooth a bit, the video quality still performs like the GL2's reputation has earned itself. In fact, its one hell of a camera that several years old still can run some circles around newer 3-CCD stuff.

My problem is with its size. I do event videography and production at automotive events such as car shows, tuners, outdoor, indoor, running from place to place or in a golf car snagging general video and interviews. Its just too small of a camera to be able to whip out and get stable shots with, without having to lug my Manfrotto 525 around like a ball and chain. Setup time is a drag to set up the tripod, connect the camera, go through simple leveling, and get things tightened up. I need to shoot NOW. For steady pre-planned shots, I still have no problem using it as a main weapon of choice on top of a tripod -- the video remains that good when properly stabilized.

So I think I need a larger camera with a shoulder rest. And I must have at least a couple XLR ports to work with to run no less than two wireless systems. Having said that, HD would be nice upgrade. And I really dont know if spending another $2000-4000 on a second SD camera makes sense in the long run (2-3 years). Most of the HDs under $5000 just wouldnt work for what Im doing however. I have to have shoulder mount and a larger profile, not just for quick run and gun shots and to stabilize, but Im competing against the likes of ESPN and Speedvision and as we know, looking the part is sometimes 1/2 the battle to getting that street cred -- quality of your production aside.

So my options are a SD camera or HD camera I can shoulder mount, with at least 2 XLRs. And if its HD, I really want 24p and not 24i.

Here's what Ive considered thus far:

STANDARD DEF
Panasonic AG-DVC60
Good: Full size, XLRs, solid SD imaging, iflip out LCD, nexpensive
Bad: no lens change, on board audio not great, manual controls lacking

Verdict: huge bang/buck for on the fly SD. I run Sennheiser audio so connect to the XLRs and Im good to go. But no HiDef for my investment.

Canon XL2
Good: Im used to Canon, XLRs, interchangeable lenses, shoulder mount, quality video
Bad: no HD for close to $4000, no LCD, a bit goofy design, about as old as the GL2

Verdict: Seems like Im not buying much other than a cpl XLR ports and convenience

HI DEF
Canon XL-H1
Good: Will do HD, XLRs, used to Canon, can shoulder mount it, great zoom and stabilization
Bad: Pricey compared to alternatives (albeit which are not shoulder capable), no 24p, goofy design, no LCD,

Verdict: Capable camera, but the design is not exactly perfect for shoulder stuff. Lack of true 24p and no LCD at this price is really inexcusable. Its also pricey and the $3500 HD cameras probably shoot just as good video, perhaps better

Sony HDR-FX1
Good: Great video quality, portable I suppose
Bad: No XLR, No shoulder mount

Verdict: Not really an option in any respect

Panasonic AG-HVX2000
Good: Maybe best camera for the money. Frame rate smörgåsbord,
tremendous video quality in both DS and HD
Bad: Too small, leaving same issues as GL2


Im really stuck as to what to do and where to do. Part of me says get the Panny AG-DVC60 and stick with SD for a while and save myself thousands. I already own decent audio pieces to get around the suspect on board stuff. Another says, you are used to Canon, get the XL2 because it can be sorta shoulder mounted and is 1/3 the cost of the H1. If nothing else Im used to Canon and it would probably be a smooth transition. But its $3500 blown to shoot more SD and no HD. Another part of me says try the H1. But I have to go into debt for it and the design has the same pseudo handheld/shoulder goofyness as the XL2. Plus others for 1/2 as much shoot HD just as well. So The other $4500 buys me a shoulder mount and not a lot else.

Its a conundrum. I really have to have shoulder mount and XLRs. The tiny handheld thing just aint gonna work. A lot more options exist, especially from Panny, but you gotta spend 5 figures to get there. And it still doesnt buy you HD. I cant see spending $10,000 and not having HD for my investment. If Im gonna spend $5K and get HD, I better have it if Im gonna spend 10.

I dont really have a set price. The camera will determine everything.

Perhaps there are other cameras I havent considered that would be a home run for me?

I use Sony Vegas. Not that it matters, but whatever I have must be ok to download to it.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 01:55 AM   #2
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Looks like maybe the JVCs are what Im looking for?

GYHD-100/110?

Anything in this JVC series ballpark? Has 24p, LCD, shoulder mount, XLRs, HD, etc, and can be had for something other than $10-12K.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 03:18 AM   #3
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I believe the XL-H1 has 24F, so that's not really a downside.
But maybe those JVCs are for you.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 07:38 AM   #4
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Two thumbs up for Pana

I occasionally work with a friend who owns a DVC60. It is an awesome camera, I love it for sitting on my shoulder! The only issue I have with it, is the low light capability (may not be an issue for you). But the picture is wonderful and it comes very close to the GL2, warm, clean, very well balanced.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 02:31 PM   #5
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Check out the JVC GY-HD110U. It can do 780/24P and can be had for under $5000. I hear it sits on the shoulder pretty nice.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 06:59 PM   #6
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I think the above recomendation of the JVC unit probably makes the most sense but why not look to something like the Canon A1. At $3300 it'll do 24F and has the XLR inputs you desire. It is probalby one of the better HDV HD camera's out there and the only thing it won't do for you is the shoulder mount but I've seen lots of 3rd party shoulder mount systems for hand helds that offer good image stabalization.

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Old June 7th, 2007, 08:36 PM   #7
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Ive looked at the A1, but I think it just poses many of the same issues Im fighting right now, namely, a size thats too small to be a run and gun camera without toting a tripod or straitjacket. And quite honestly, its form factor is just not going to cut it against the competition Im trying to compete against, namely local and regional and national networks like affiliates, speedvision, etc etc. Unfortunately in many cases its not what you know, its what you look like you think you know. And with a tiny widdy biddy camera, Im almost positive Id get pushed aside, nevermind taken seriously when its time to ante up credentials. Ive already started finding that out the hard way with my GL2, despite the fact that my content is pretty unique and quite good. Perception is reality. Not only do I need something to work the part, but it needs to look the part. And shoulder mount not only looks it, but in the ENG environment, is just so practical.

Right now Im kind of contemplating the Panny DVC60, the Canon H1, and the JVC 110U. The Panny is the cheap SD route. Huge bang/buck. But Id be blowing another 2 grand on basically shoulder mount and a cpl XLR ports. Will it take better video than my GL2? Doubt it. The H1 would keep me in the family as Im comfortable with Canon, and its a hybrid style handheld/shoulder, so it could work, but its seriously price at $9K and for HD, there are better cameras for less, and it has no true LCD. Besides, it doesnt shoot 24p. It kind of goes the route Fuji does with its SLRs in taking a shortcut to resolution with mad science. But on the plus side the Canon can also run fairly autonomous in auto mode and since I have a partner on this gig who isnt camera literate, it would fulfill his need as something easy to work with. Then theres the JVC 110U which can be have for $6000 so its far cheaper, actually has an LCD too, will run 24p, does the HD, has the XLRs, but from what Ive read, its almost a totally manual focus/shoot kind of camera.

Im just really stuck. If the JVC is easy to use and focus and something a quick 5min tutorial to a novice could cover, it might be the best compromise? Plus its got enough street cred collateral to actually make me look like Im shooting for something other than my 15yr college reunion album.

The question becomes, is HD even worth it at the moment to get in with, or is it still largely a gimmick. Unless you watch it on an HDTV, is there really a point? I dont know, Im just asking. Usually theres a sweet spot to get in on new tech when its because saturated enough to really be mainstream affordable for pro shoots. Is HD there yet or is it still a year or two away? Is the premium still a bit steep for what you get? If so, perhaps Im better off looking at a few higher end SD cameras that are shoulder/XLR?
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Old June 7th, 2007, 08:58 PM   #8
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Rent the JVC and shoot some test footage with it. You can "introduce" it to your partner and if he feels it's something he can work with you've got your next camera.

I understand your situation. I currently own a Sony HC-1. It produces wonderful images in good light but when you whip it out people automatically assume "amateur". I've rented PD-170s and XL-2s and will probably settle on the JVC because of the shoulder mount (I do want to see what the XD Cam EX offers) and other qualities you mentioned.

Good luck!!
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Old June 7th, 2007, 09:31 PM   #9
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Its a conundrum and in a sense is a shame a lot of the buying decision comes down to things like perception, but the video production business in large part is about comparing penis size. Ive shown up at places with credentials already on ice, and theyve given me GRIEF about how they dont pander to amateurs once htey see my camera, nevermind my Senn mikes and wireless are all first rate and typically do a bang up ob w/what i have. I sell my content just like everyone else. Whats the difference? Plus I lug 2-3 SLRs and lenses with me so heck I probably have more in my bag than the nerd from the local affiliate.

God willing, I still love my GL2 and with a good set of sticks under it, I can still crank out killer steady frame shots that look tremendous. The little fella is a real trooper. But I forgot my tripod on my last shoot across state lines (dont ask, it just happened), and the GL2 is almost worthless when attempting to shoot anything steady. I had to resort to sitting in a golf cart and laying the camera in my lap and shooting with the LCD.

Im also considering perhaps the Sony DSR250 or one of the JVC/Panny solid pro SD shoulder cams in the $4000-5000 range. I realize it wont get me to that HD plateau, but it would provide about as good a platform to shoot SD as I could get, and offer me the XLRs, shoulder fit, and required panache to impress the neighbors enough not to send me back to my car when I arrive on scene. Ive decided to put a cap on myself at $6000. So I can sneak in with the JVC110U, or go higher end SD for same price. Either way, the camera easiest to teach a novice would be best. Of course, theres nothing that says Id have to use the JVC to shoot only HD, but when its there, I wouldnt have to pay extra for it.

I hate spending money. I agonize over it to no end and cant ever decide on whats right, fearing buyers remorse.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 09:47 PM   #10
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These days you can get a used JVC HD100 for less than $4000, usually including a battery kit. Based on what you are asking for, this is the way I'd go if I was you.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 10:03 PM   #11
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In my opinion, it isn't worth it to get a new SD camera these days. The big cameras make a good impression, and if you can tell the client it's also HD, that's even better. I'd hate to lose a job to another guy just because I didn't have HD capability.

There is a benefit capturing to HD, even if you only output to SD. The biggest improvement is simply that the technology in the HD cams is much newer than the older SD cams. To my eyes, the down-converted HD footage from my XH-A1 looks better than older SD cams in the same price range.

HTH and good luck!
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Old June 9th, 2007, 04:19 AM   #12
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With all the problems they had with the HD100, I'd stay away from it and get the HD110. You're investing in the future; you don't want a camera that was abandoned by JVC. Plus, I know that B & H has some nice kits at resonable prices, starting around $5K. Sony was supposingly going to introduce a full size HD replacement for the 200. If you can wait until late 4th quarter, that might be a consideration. It might be too pricy for your budget, though. I think the price mentioned was around $7.5K USD MSRP.

The JVC HD110 is a nice camera. You'll look the part, and, more importantly, maintain good video quality. One possible negative about the JVC camera, though, is no image stabilization for their stock lens. It's really not a problem if you're use to shooting without image stabilization. Of course, some editing programs allow you to correct excessive camera shake in post.

Good Luck
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