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Old August 18th, 2005, 08:14 AM   #1
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HD100 - overall thumbs up or down?

Iíve had an HD100 on order for some time. But reading various posts about dead pixels, colour castes on half the image, chromatic aberration in the lens, poor viewfinder, etc., Iím beginning to wonder whether I should cancel the order.

Just how serious are these problems? Obviously picture quality is important. But should it outweigh my other reasons for going for the HD100?

Basically these are:

- It seems a good idea to go with the most advanced technology available in the price bracket. Although Iíll probably edit SD for now, Iíd like to have the option to go back and retrieve higher resolution at a later date. This means some form of HD, i.e. Z1 or HD100.

- I will primarily be using the camera for projects I would probably otherwise shoot on 16mm (with all of the costs that entails) so would like it to be as analogous as possible, in form as well as in 16:9 progressive picture output.

- I really want a properly geared focus to which I attach follow focus wheel. This means the camera at least has to have interchangeable lenses, i.e. the XL2 or the HD100.

Iím trying hard not to get too spooked by the various technical issues flagged up. The way I see it:

- If dead pixels are a problem then I guess Iíll keep sending the unit back until I get one without them.

- The problem with colour caste on half the image might be fixable with a firmware upgrade, but perhaps Iím being naive.

- If the lens aberration is unacceptable I can always rent or buy a better lens. And as various people have said, the supplied lens might be regarded as free. Shame though Ė I guess a lot of us were hoping for better.

- I suppose one can always invest in a better viewfinder or monitoring option. Again, shame though.

Assuming for one moment that the image issues can be dismissed as teething troubles (and by all means someone tell me they canít), how does the camera performs otherwise. Is it a pleasure to use? So-so? Horrible?

Personally I donít like using the Z1 all that much. I find it a bit of a handycam. And the buttons are pretty small for my (not particularly clumsy) fingers. Finding things in the semi dark (e.g. almost every set Iíve ever worked on) is not exactly straightforward, but perhaps I simply havenít spent enough time with one for it all to become instinctive.

How does the JVC compare? It looks well thought out. Is it? Shall I cancel my order? I guess I could wait for Canon to come out with an HD offering. But by that reasoning one could end up putting off buying a camera forever.

I'd welcome opinions...
Murray Buesst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 18th, 2005, 08:24 AM   #2
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Well you asked for opinions, and you know the old saying about what opinions resemble.... ;-) But mine would be as follows:

1. It's very foolish to buy a new camera sight unseen unless you're comfortable with the obvious risks involved. If you aren't then you should cancel your order and just sit back and wait a little while.

2. The camera is still too new to draw any real conclusions. I'd wait until it's been out on the street a little while. See also #1 above.

3. I have a Z1 and don't agree with your assessment of the controls. Sure, I have some nitpicks. My biggest gripe is the placement of the menu button on the back, and the fact that it doesn't have a unique size or shape. But I have gotten used it it. I think the ergonomics are at least as good as my VX-2000, and probably much better. The additional controls - especially the iris and gain switches - are a huge improvement over the earlier Sony prosumer cameras.

4. A "handycam" isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if you're travelling.
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Old August 18th, 2005, 09:38 AM   #3
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Hi Murray, although DV Info Net tries hard to appeal to a worldwide audience, it is in fact a US-based site with a majority of US members. And while at the time of this post the HD100 is shipping in some worldwide markets, it has not yet shipped in the US, so we haven't had what I would call a very large response about user experiences. I agree with Boyd, the jury is still out and it's still too new to draw conclusions at this particular moment.

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Old August 18th, 2005, 10:25 AM   #4
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Good advice - thanks.

I guess what I'm trying to get a fix on is whether the issues that have been thrown up to date are major shortcomings (in which case I suppose JVC will have to do something to deal with them) or more minor disappointments. And if the latter, to what extent they are balanced by other factors.

Obviously as more people get their hands on the camera a clearer picture will emerge.
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Old August 18th, 2005, 11:58 AM   #5
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Murray, every camera has problems in the beginnig of it's life. That's a normal thing. The problems pointed so far with the HD100 were found in the pre-release models as I understand. They might work them out before the camera hits the street.
The advice of canceling your order till you see how the production models behave is not a bad idea. On my case, chances are I might just get one end of this month. But I need a camera now no matter what to shoot a project. So I can't wait and am thinking about taking the risk on the HD100 based on the latest test posted. But if you can wait, I see no reason why you shouldn't. That's the way I see it. Adopting new technologies is always a risk. It's up to you if the risk is worth it or not.
The lens problem won't really affect me, because I will be using a different lens. For normal SD video stuff and low end work, I find the stock lens acceptable, based on what I have seen. It doesn't look any worse than the giveaway lens which came with the DV500. It's a giveaway lens, just to complete the package. If you want a better lens, you have to pay the price for it. That's the idea behind it.
The image problems some people are complaining, I'm hoping will be worked out on production models. But quite frankly, I couldn't see any of it while watching the latest HD100 test. It all looked incredible in my opinion.
Michael Maier is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 18th, 2005, 12:01 PM   #6
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I have been assured by JVC that the camera will not ship with the most egregious issues unresolved, namely the split-field effect and the dead pixel masking.

From reading your other concerns and needs, I believe you will like this camera. It is more relatable to a broadcast form factor than a Handycam style. Whether cameras to follow will be better/more to your liking, that's always the question...but I personally think the HD100 is a nice offering.

If you haven't had the chance, you can read more of my thoughts about the camera HERE.
Charles Papert
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Old August 18th, 2005, 01:07 PM   #7
Barry Wan Kenobi
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I agree with much of what's been said here. The key element being: do you HAVE to buy now? Is it vitally important? If it is, the JVC has a lot of potential, and for that matter so does the Z1. But if you don't HAVE to buy right now, by all means wait. More is coming. JVC's already talked about a model that will be announced a few months from now that will be NTSC/PAL switchable; Panasonic's got their HVX coming out in about three months, Sony just announced a handycam HDV camera so who knows what's next from them -- perhaps a DSR250-style model of the Z1? And whither Canon, if anywhere -- will they enter the fray?

So basically I'm saying -- what's the rush? You could have a cornucopia of choices in a few months (maybe; we know for sure there'll be at least one, if not two new entries). Also, JVC may iron out all the bugs in the first-round HD100's, or maybe they won't, but either way we should know in a few months.

If you don't have a pressing business need to get something NOW, then I'd say it's foolish to buy now -- things will only get better for the consumer by waiting. If you *do* have a pressing need, get the tool that does the job you need, put it to work, and don't look back.
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Old August 18th, 2005, 01:18 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Barry Green
. JVC's already talked about a model that will be announced a few months from now that will be NTSC/PAL switchable
Hey Barry, are you talking about the full size 2/3" HDV camera JVC announced? Or is there something else cooking?
Michael Maier is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 18th, 2005, 02:34 PM   #9
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Our first camera was returned with 2 dead pixels at 0 gain and the split screen effect. The noise on one side of the split was red and I wonder if that is one of the underlying reasons the skin tones from the camera appear 'reddish'?

The second camera is on the way back to the factory. The split screen effect was still noticeable, but not to the same extent as the first. When switching through gain the VF would 'bloom' and then settle to disguise the split. Once you picked the split, you could make it out through the gain switches back to '0'

This wasn't the reason we sent the camera back. We sent the camera back because the chromatic aberration from the 16x is so severe that I don't know how anyone could shoot with it.

I understand that it is a cheap lens and allowances have to be made, but the results we got were unacceptable.

I should clarify that it could be a combination of bad lens and bad camera that gave us the results we got. I'm not saying every HD101 will have this problem, or the US release will have these problems. This is our experience with two cameras so far. Serial numbers:12050071, 12050090.

My advice to prospective buyers is go with a seller you have a strong relationship with, stay away from grey market or parallel imported sellers.
At least if you require support it will be there.

Even with the above issues, I still think the camera is great! I just wish it had worked first time, everytime.

Thanks to Charles, Nate and Barry I have put a mini35 in the budget. Those tests were outstanding.
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Old August 19th, 2005, 07:28 AM   #10
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A lot of us are wondering why JVC is telling dealers the ETA for this camera is unknown...

If you need a camera now, I like the FX1 a lot, and the Z1 is nice, too, but more expensive. You can get the 24p look with www.dvfilm.com/maker or www.nattress.com, which Jon Fordham (DP/DIT) and I are going to test soon. (In the DV world, I really love the DVX100a.)

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Old August 19th, 2005, 07:35 AM   #11
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Those images look great, and the shallow DOF really pushes me to think the mini-35 is a great tool for us indie filmmakers! I love the comparison stills!

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Old August 19th, 2005, 07:42 AM   #12
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I have had one for some time now,(testing it) and I think it has great potential. The lens is called cheap here by some but I disagree. It is well put together, fine controls, smooth operating is possible. It is not the highest quality but that is always about money. I think it is an unbelievable package for only 5700 euro in my country. It is what the canon xl1 was for me 5 years ago and sadly what the canon xl2 should have been but is not.
my only fear comes from the fact that FCP and AVID are not ready for this camera. How long will that take? You cannot do a downconvert in the camera so I would wait until it becomes clear what will happen to the NLE'S. Or you shoot in DV. I shoot (when I shoot nowadays) newsy sort of programms, or Docu-soap sort of material. I shot some material on the street during day and night and I must say you can also point and shoot...much better then with the canon because of the lens and bad viewfinder. I would replace the viewfinder for one of ikegami if possible in the future. I think you can shoot reasonable good material for an unbeatable price and the interchangability gives you the opportunity to change the glass if need be.....


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Old August 21st, 2005, 03:46 PM   #13
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Iv'e had my hd-101e now for a few weeks and am happy with my purchase. I am amazed at the level of control i have over my pictures, through the menus, and now have saved a few different set ups that i am continually tweaking.
Whilst i cant find a single dead pixel there is a definite split screen effect with a red tinge happening on the right hand side of frame. This is mostly visible when shooting in dark areas using 18db gain. Not real happy about that but i need to use the camera for the next few months. Will defiinitely be returning it to jvc when i can. Just have to shy away from using gain in the meantime.
Ergonomically the camera is not that comfortable, even with the idx batteries to balance it. A squashed shoulder stance would be how i'd describe it.
Also the view finder brightness button is bumped very easily which is a pain in the arse when your'e busy shooting. gaffa tape solved it.
Most of all i think the option should have been given to be able to remove the viewfinder and top mic bracket and even top handle completely. The hd-100 is a pain in the arse to store. For what is such a compact camera it has a big unremovable top bit that stops it fitting a lot of cases. The smallest pelican case it will fit with lens on is a pelican 1620.
And with the flip out screen u dont need the vf half the time anyway.
I'll leave it for the moment but i'm sure i will be re-engineering that top handle, mic bracket, vf set up some how.
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