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JVC Everio GZ-HD and GZ-HM Series
JVC's Everio Series 3CCD High Definition MPEG2 camcorders.


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Old October 31st, 2011, 03:30 PM   #1
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GZ HD7... Time to move on?

I've had a lot of good experience using my GZ HD7 and have shot a lot of different content with it. It is one of the best purchases I've made and has served me well. It really introduced me to the world of HD video and editing.

Since I got the camera, I've been doing video shooting mostly as a hobby but it's turning into something a bit more. I often get requests to do both photographs and video for events, weddings, and most recently an anniversary celebration. I also do "video shorts" that requires a lot of movement of both the subject and camera in just about any setting imaginable. I am now using Final Cut Pro on the Mac and cranking out some pretty good quality stuff (at least in my own humble opinion).

My GZ HD7 has done the trick for a while but I was wondering what others may be using now. Has anyone been in my situation, and/or could recommend what to look for? I am in the beginning stages of research and like all the things on the HD7... some of the limitations I'd like to get around would be the poor Image Stabilization and poor performance in low light. Obviously, the manual settings are the best part about the camera and I still want that flexibility. I also want something that records directly into .MOV... I did some googling and most of the consumer line cameras probably won't fit my needs. I am planning on spending around $2500.
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Old October 31st, 2011, 04:08 PM   #2
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Re: GZ HD7... Time to move on?

Greg, I was an HD7 user/owner and have moved on thru many, many cameras since then.
The biggest drawback you're gonna face is recording into a format that's FCP ready- using .mov files as you're requesting.
There are some camcorders (Sanyo Xacti's) that do shoot in H.264 that are NOT AVCHD that FCP seems to be able to handle no problem, the problem is none are really high-end aside from the JVC HM100 and newer HM150, which are within your $2500 budget. BUT- the JVC isn't really that good in low-light...check the dedicated forum threads and gauge for yourself (as well as YouTube reviews.) I believe there are a few other cams that shoot native H.264 (non-AVCHD) but I can't recall which ones within your budget.

I suggest a newer AVCHD cam which of course shoots AVCHD but you can convert using Media Converter (free) or ClipWrap ($50) to Quicktime friendly file format wrappers (doesn't alter video quality at all)...or you can adopt the more pro workflow of converting into Apple ProRes and go from there. (I'm aware of the step of transcoding you're trying to avoid- but the AVCHD quality from the better cams is really quite good!)

I'd personally recommend the Canon HF-G10 (AVCHD) which is quite good in low-light or you can get a Panasonic GH2 and apply the firmware hack that's floating around and use the Mjpeg settings that will produce some astounding video (I have this setup and am amazed at the footage such a small camera produces.)
I also use the NEX VG10 and NEX 3 which produce great video and in the case of the NEX 3, produces great 720P mp4 files that are ready for FCP use right away.....both are better in low light than the HD7. (As of right now- the hot ticket seems to be the NEX 5N- worth looking into.)

If the GH2 is too expensive, find a Panasonic G2 and hack it with the 65mbps hack and be prepared to be amazed at some fabulous 720P video in a format FCP recognizes and can use right away. I use a hacked G2 at my airbrush shop and the camera amazes me with all the shadow detail it can capture as well as highlight range- of course the hack is helping here as the standard mode couldn't achieve this. I've heard the newer G2's couldn't be hacked but I've also read they CAN be hacked- so you'll need to do some homework there.

All in all- my best recommendation is the Canon HF G10.........but it's AVCHD. The NEX VG20 and NEX 5N are also really producing stunning video but again AVCHD.

GH2 hacked is my personal favorite and my other cameras can't match it, and in mjpeg mode- the clips are useable in FCP no problem!

Much homework to do- but it's fun homework for you- pick your weapon and enjoy!
Have fun~
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Old October 31st, 2011, 04:19 PM   #3
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Re: GZ HD7... Time to move on?

Forgot to mention- there are quite a few DSLR's that shoot non-AVCHD files, but you'll have to sort features and omissions that you'll need to consider as none are perfect replacements for a dedicated camcorder.
I believe both Pentax and Nikon shoot non-AVCHD files....you'll have to deal with the whole DSLR setup, but the GH2 and Canon 5D's are producing such great footage, people simply deal with their form factors because of it. I also think the Canon's shoot non-AVCHD but don't recall 100%.....I had a Canon 60D not long ago and was impressed with the video it shot.....

.......lots of choices Greg!

(I still recommend the Canon G10 as the best all around small semi-pro camcorder- or go for the XA10 which is like the G10 but with a few better features.)
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Old November 1st, 2011, 09:24 AM   #4
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Re: GZ HD7... Time to move on?

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Originally Posted by Steve Nunez View Post
I'd personally recommend the Canon HF-G10 (AVCHD) which is quite good in low-light or you can get a Panasonic GH2 and apply the firmware hack that's floating around and use the Mjpeg settings that will produce some astounding video (I have this setup and am amazed at the footage such a small camera produces.)
I also use the NEX VG10 and NEX 3 which produce great video and in the case of the NEX 3, produces great 720P mp4 files that are ready for FCP use right away.....both are better in low light than the HD7. (As of right now- the hot ticket seems to be the NEX 5N- worth looking into.)
Steve, thanks much for taking the time to share your experiences and recommendations. This is really great info! I am a canon user (still photography) and have been considering moving to that platform for video as well. I know several people who were even using a 7D to do HD video but it's just not versatile enough for my needs. I've tried using that mode and it does take great video, but when you get into a lot of motion and movement / zooming, etc it doesn't seem to be as good. It seems like the camcorders with 3 ccd's really help with motion and have less blur, artifacts, etc.

I have also been using MPEG Streamclip to do some conversion and I think it would work fine for converting AVCHD to MOV format. I used to shoot with a Sony and like your recommendation of the nex vg20. It also looks like something I can grow into with the interchangeable lenses... Prior to my JVC I was shooting with a Sony and the performance was great even in low light situations. Another camera that seems promising is the GY-HM150... Reminds me a lot of the HD7 but with all the improvements.It also has the 3ccd but still only 1/4" so I'm guessing the light performance will still be somewhat poor, but it also appears to create .MOV files. Price tag is steep (is it even out yet?) but I'm sure that will come down with time. Do you have any thoughts on that? (Going to check the other forum on this as well).

Thanks again,
Greg
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Old November 1st, 2011, 10:21 AM   #5
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Re: GZ HD7... Time to move on?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Nunez View Post
Forgot to mention- there are quite a few DSLR's that shoot non-AVCHD files, but you'll have to sort features and omissions that you'll need to consider as none are perfect replacements for a dedicated camcorder.
I believe both Pentax and Nikon shoot non-AVCHD files....you'll have to deal with the whole DSLR setup, but the GH2 and Canon 5D's are producing such great footage, people simply deal with their form factors because of it. I also think the Canon's shoot non-AVCHD but don't recall 100%.....I had a Canon 60D not long ago and was impressed with the video it shot.....

.......lots of choices Greg!

(I still recommend the Canon G10 as the best all around small semi-pro camcorder- or go for the XA10 which is like the G10 but with a few better features.)
You are right, there sure are a lot of choices! I just checked out the XA10 which looks pretty slick. I think it will be XA10 vs. GY-HM150. Thanks again for your help, I think you saved me about 3-4 weeks in my decision making / narrow down process :)
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Old November 1st, 2011, 11:51 AM   #6
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Re: GZ HD7... Time to move on?

All good choices, the biggest drawback I see for you is you wanted good low light performance of which the JVC won't have. One good thing is the market for used HM 100s is good at this time and you can likely find one at a good price, and as you know it shoots mov files as you wanted. In my experience they clip highlights rather easily and struggle with high contrast video, check reviews for more info on this. In good light they do produce very nice sharp video, you'll have to decide if the .mov file format convenence is worth the loss of dynamic range.
The XA is definitely going to be allot better in low light with the only real drawback being its an AVCHD camcorder, other than that, it's a great option.
Also consider the VG20 as Sony has listened to customer complaints and have implemented some key changes that make it a good choice for you and opens up the world of interchangeable lenses to you.

Have fun-
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Old November 3rd, 2011, 11:52 AM   #7
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Re: GZ HD7... Time to move on?

I added a Canon T2i to the arsenal a while back and the two cameras work well together,

the .TOD is a non issue to me as I simply just rename the file with .MOV and it works fine for me, not trans-coding required.

and most new editors will take the H264 of the canon in but take up a-lot of horsepower, so I trans-code the Canon footage with the Avid DNxHD Codec (might have that misspelled) using MPEG Streamclip. but the DSLRs really do add the nice low-light capabilities with the proper lenses.

which DSLR is really up to you as many people have very different opinions as well as priorities with the different feature sets. BTW dont put any weight on any Auto-focus features on ANY of them.. they all suck. that's one of the caveats of the DSLRs. as well as audio limitations as pretty much IMHO DSLRs suck at audio. but that's when you switch to Hollywood style filming with separate audio systems.

but the combination of these two cameras and feature sets really give me tons of flexibility in shot types I can achieve, and how easy I can achieve them since each seems to be really good at where the other lacks.

hope this helps.

GG
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