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Old June 7th, 2007, 12:44 PM   #1
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Is the HD110U right for me?

I posted some of this in another forum about a general direction, but now Im looking toward this camera to answer the requirements I have. Heres some of what I said:

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 24 faked.


Im starting to seriously look at the HD110U for several reasons right now:

1. For just $1500 or so more than a "prosumer" handheld HDV camera, I can get a solid camera with interchangeable lens capability and the all requried shoulder mount. It also undercuts Canons H1 by $2500 and has a more traditional form factor, rather than Canons "hybrid".

2. It will shoot 24p which a lot of cameras will not. It has the multiple XLRs I need.

3. Its HD. Duh. I could spend $3500 on an XL2 , but then I just spent a huge chunk of change on a camera that still wont shoot HD when I want to. Why go halfway.

4. The Panny DVC60 is the pure economical 'get it done bang for buck' approach. And Im sure it shoots near broadcast SD if its anywhere near as reliable as my GL2. But again, no HD and the frame rates are not as robust, nor the internal audio capability.

I plan to use my new camera to shoot a variety of things. Half will probably be car shows, auctions, interviews, and "field work" inside and outside hounding people for closeups and soundbites and taking nice pano and closeup shots of $500,000 cars. I also have another venture thats sports related and I could see myself shooting soccer and couple other sports -- but having HD for this is not a necessity. It would benefit more the car side of my shooting.

I use Sony Vegas 6 but can upgrade to 7 no problem. Will this camera be recognized by Vegas and be as seamless to download footage as my GL2? Are there any hiccups or bugaboos? No special "accessory software" I will need that will run me deeper in debt?

I really need something thats stable for shoulder work, can shoot great in SD or HD, has the frame rates, and XLRs. Im thinking gee $5000 can get you high end prosumer handheld and $9000 gets you the H1, so for $6800 and a free battery thing, this camera seems to be a REAL bargain.

I can see myself using it for some tripod work too with my manfrotto 515/525. I assume theres no problem here as far as mounting. How is the onboard shotgun mike on the 110? I typically use a Senn 66 handheld mike for interviews with a SKP100 wireless, and also use the Senn G2 wireless solution with lavaliers. My assumption is this would be perfect for this camera.

Right now the GL2 one has one mike input, no XLR, and so I can only run one wireless unit at a time unless I go the Beachtek route which adds to my goofy handheld clumsiness issues.

So there you have it. What do you think? Ive heard the camera doesnt do 50p so sports might not be great in HD, but I think I can live with that small shortcoming. My main needs are HD, shoulder, XLRs, goofproofyness with Vegas, terrific video/audio potential, and a darn good price I wont regret.

Is this the camera for me, or am I biting off way too much or too little. I guess right now my short list is the 110, the Panny DVC60 (save and stay with SD), or the H1. The Panny is cheap, effective, but long term maybe doesnt get me whole lot for $2500. The H1 just seems very steep in price compared to the 110, and what is that extra price buying me?

The other thing is, I work with a partner who helps me shoot video and do interview work. Hes not the brightest in terms of electronics however. Does this camera have any "auto" capability or is it totally manual. I dont want to burden this guy with any big responsibility or learning curve and it would be nice to just make it straightforward for him when hes doing the shooting (which will be 25% time maybe). He would not be real perceptive in having to do everything manual and concentrate a lot.

I still love my GL2. Its best left on a tripod, but quite honestly, for this kind of work, it still throws out top notch SD.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 01:28 PM   #2
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It's a big investment and you really can't charge that much more just because you have an "HD" camera. I still downsample all my 720p projects to 480i for final delivery on DVD. While the quality still looks nicer than just shooting standard, HD just isn't as mainstream as some would like you to believe. Even though I love the look of my 720p footage, it's still a gimmick to most clients.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 01:49 PM   #3
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Without going into detail right now, I suggest you might look at the XH-A1.

I also suggest you look at the Gitzo 2180 tripod head and the "leveler" carbon fiber legs.

I am looking at both of these for a documentary in Eastern Europe. I need portability, etc. I currently own the HD110.

For some people the JVC camera would be perfect for what you describe. It is shoulder mount and manual focus (though it has auto exposure) and would be easy for a camera operator with pro shoulder mount experience to adapt to. However, with the details you provide, I suggest you look at the Canon XH-A1 for these reasons:
1. You are used to the Canon cameras.
2. Price.
3. Complete automatic modes as well as exceptional amount of manual control.
4. Small.
5. Fast autofocus.
6. Works great with Vegas.
7. Easy to use by someone inexperienced (as far as camera operation) with many of the features a pro wants as well.
8. 24F
9. Excellent downconversion from camera to SD.
10. Two XLR inputs.
11. Better lens than the stock JVC lens with 20x, decent wide angle (with more available with a converter).
12. Less prone to tape dropouts than the JVC camera.
13. Works great with the small and lightweight Gitzo setup I mention above, works on a monopod, and works great on a beanbag type mount (such as the CineSaddle--which I own and think is great... have used it for 3 years with the PD150.)
14. Has excellent image stabilization.

There are other pros for the XH-A1. I think the JVC camera is great, as I said I own the 110, also the VCR and the wideangle lens. However, from what you describe, and from my experience as well as my research for my own upcoming project, I suggest a look at the XH-A1.

And there are some other reasons
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Old June 7th, 2007, 02:27 PM   #4
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These are all good points. Well taken.

However, theres a part of me, and I hope this is not narcissistic, that is pretty confident a camera that looks like the A1 is not going to get me very far when Im vying for precious real estate and street cred when Im shooting next to the boys from the networks and affiliates. My worry is they are going to see this, not take me serious at all, and either just refuse to grant me access entirely, or treat me like the red-headed stepchild.

Now, I fully realize that its what comes out of the production that counts. Heck, I think my GL2 shoots about as good HD as the fat bureau anchors are shooting with betacams next to me (i watch their evening footage at night and i see no difference), however unless you can get on the playing field to begin with, its not going to matter at all what you can do.

A lot of professions are like this. Its not about how good you are, its about LOOKING like you know what you're doing. Ive found this in my own profession as a sports journalist. Since I have some clout for starting a venture, people give me more cred because they think Im smarter and more talented. Well, its really not the case. Timing and good luck are sometimes as important. There are times I wonder why so many people give me a reputation I really dont deserve just by the fact that Im a pied piper.

I guess what Im saying is, will I be struggling with a lot of the same things with the A1 as I am now with the GL2. Perception is reality. And to get in the game Im trying to play, its not what you know, its what people think you know.

Perhaps Im way off on this however. Which is why I havent ruled out the Panny DVC60 for quality SD video. I think its a 1/4 CCD while the GL2 is 1/3(?), but its cheap, has my XLRs, renders close to broadcast in good light, and looks a bit more serious (even though it probably isnt). Of course I can shoulder mount it.

Feedback?
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Old June 7th, 2007, 03:47 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Chris Rieman View Post
Now, I fully realize that its what comes out of the production that counts. Heck, I think my GL2 shoots about as good HD as the fat bureau anchors are shooting with betacams next to me (i watch their evening footage at night and i see no difference), however unless you can get on the playing field to begin with, its not going to matter at all what you can do.
GL2's don't shoot in HD, neither do Betacams. The Betacams do generally have bigger chips & better processing so I disagree about the picture quality being equal.

The HD110 does look more like a broadcast camera plain & simple.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 03:59 PM   #6
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right i fat fingered it. I meant my GL2 shoots SD nearly as well as the overweight sportscasters standing next to me shooting stuff for the 11:15 sports wrap. I post most of my content online and theyve asked me what I shoot with.

I do shoot w/a monopod so Im cheating a little bit.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 10:48 PM   #7
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Chris,

Having gone from a GL2 and XL1s, and looking at the HDxxx series for the same reasons as you, I thought about the same issues as you. I went with the HD100 and I'm glad that I did. I was also editing on Vegas 6 and upgraded to 7. There are some issues to be aware of with this camera, but basically the HD110 will fit what you're looking to do.

First off, the camera has two areas that are very sub-par and every potential owner should be aware of: it drops timecode during start/stop functions and the stock lens is less than adequate.

The time code problems show up as you capture and then work with the native .m2t files. Vegas will appear to capture across the breaks, but in reality there are blank gaps that slow down the editor as you scrub the footage. I have to black my tapes in order to create a solid time code pattern and avoid this issue. That's time consuming and I'm really unhappy that the camera has this problem. Buying a hard drive recorder will eliminate this problem, but that's not and acceptable solution for me.

The stock lens is just plain cheap. It looks like a "real" broadcast lens, unless you've worked with a real broadcast lens. It has cheap glass and shows it at maximum focal length. So, it's up to you to not use the lens at it's maximum zoom capabilities. Other than that it will work for all but the most critical production work. If you really think it's an issue then you could by the 17x which has higher grade glass. For me, it's not an issue. It works fine for the work that I do with it (small corporate and some wedding work).

Those are the bad areas. The good area's are that it will get you the shots you want. I just shot a piece for a friends wedding and it was about a restored '68 Nova. It looked great. The color, the image, it really made the car look good.

As a shoulder camera it's less stable than what you think because it's too light. But I can get some usable material through 60% of my zoom range. Push pash past that and you really notice the movement. And it's much more usable as a shoulder camera than the XL series. If you double the batteries on the back and add a wireless mic it becomes more balanced and more stable.

On paper small HDV camera's outperform the HD series. In the real world it's just the opposite. The small cams create a great image, but they don't have the control layout like the JVC. As a professional camera operator you want your camera controls at your fingertips. The HD series offers a broadcast camera control layout so you can adjust the image on the fly without taking your eye from the viewfinder. Yes, you can get to where you know the location of controls without looking on the small cams, but after you learn a broadcast camera control layout there's just no comparison. The JVC has better control in the field and it shows in the quality of the material you get from it.

One very good area that you'll like is that the monitor volume can be turned up very loud. On the GL2 if I had headphones plugged in to monitor my audio I never felt like it was loud enough in noisy environments. The JVC powers through it and you'll have no trouble with volume levels. The audio inputs have more headroom than the canon cameras. With the Canon's it was always a fine line of making sure you hit the sweet spot (same with the image). With the JVC it's less likely to clip, and provides more room in post to boost the signal if it's needed. To me it records a cleaner signal than the Canon's.

Editing: I started on Vegas 6. The system had a hard time reading the native .m2t files and playback of the intermediate files was only so-so. I upgraded to 7. Playback of the native files and the intermediate files is now full frame rate. Same system, different software, much better results. It handles the files without a hickup.

I don't like converting to the intermediate file since I was used to just capturing and then editing, but that's a codec issue, not a camera issue, and it's the same story for every HDV camera. You capture, convert, edit, then re-convert to the final output format. Time consuming, but worth the effort.

I was interested in 24p until I started shooting 30p. It still has a different look than 60i because it's true progressive, but it doesn't have the hard jutter that the 24p material had. With 24p you have to follow a lot of rules while shooting to make it always look great. I wanted a more usable format and 30p was it.

HD is the best investment for new equipment. HD is here to stay, period. In a few years there will be little to no corporate content being produced in SD. Regardless of the final output, companies and clients will want their content created in an HD environment. It's already taking place in the broadcast industry and it will trickle down from there. If you're buying used gear then SD is still a great purchase, but new gear should all be hd if you plan on using it for corporate work more than a couple of years down the road.

When I made my choice of camera's I could have gone with the A1, and I almost did. But I wanted a professional rig that matched the image I was creating. In that regard, the JVC has fit the bill perfectly. It's a true shooters camera and for me it was well worth any trade off's. It's not for everyone, and the small camera's create just as good of an image, but for me it was certainly the best choice and I'm glad that I went with the HD series.

Ben
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Old June 7th, 2007, 10:55 PM   #8
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I'm not clear what you're shooting, for whom or why.

However, it's not going to be easy for a point-and-shoot helper to deal successfully with the HD110 for 25% of the shooting time.

Also, if you are shooting sports, you want the HD200 or 250.

Also, if you line up next to the big boys you'll get the same dull video they're getting.

If you are some kind of internet "nobody-else-has-this" guru, the XH-A1 will get you stuff from places nobody else can touch.

If you want to look like a network waddler, put a giant button on your golf hat that says "PRESS."
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Old June 8th, 2007, 12:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Walker View Post

Quote:
I'm not clear what you're shooting, for whom or why.
a automotive content syndication group for print/photo/video w/a few other investors. we're all either journalists and long-time car show vets or both and have put on our own events that are regionally and nationally recognized so we're all pooling talents. so far the response is exceptional.

Quote:
However, it's not going to be easy for a point-and-shoot helper to deal successfully with the HD110 for 25% of the shooting time.
a definite concern.

Quote:
Also, if you are shooting sports, you want the HD200 or 250.
not an option, cannot afford. sports not my main concern, just an aside. I could shoot it in SD and be happy or even stick with the GL2 for this.

Quote:
Also, if you line up next to the big boys you'll get the same dull video they're getting.
in my environment, its tough. if you are shooting an auction of a 71 Plymouth Daytona and only have one camera, you and everyone else is near the car. the capture im not worried about. we make up the difference in the typical areas of editing, target group, turnaround, price, and flexibility. we're also hitting scenes and stories others are somewhat ignoring.

Quote:
If you are some kind of internet "nobody-else-has-this" guru, the XH-A1 will get you stuff from places nobody else can touch.
great camera but not exactly what im looking for.


If you want to look like a network waddler, put a giant button on your golf hat that says "PRESS."
have a shoebox full of credentials but I have made my own too. 4x6 matted in plastic, with a custom lanyard. Amazing. I walk someplace w/o it, Im a nobody. But somebody sees that on my neck, they think "well, nobody would go to the trouble of making a media ID unless it was legit, so he must be fairly legit." Fortunately Im also a graphic designer so Ive got barcodes and other seemingly "official" stuff on there that plays the image game. In reality, the pass means nothing. Im no smarter with it than without it. But it opens doors that dont open with just snappy one-liners.

the riff raff gets tiring though and the argument that our video from our widdy biddy GL2 or an A1 is probably gonna come out better than Mr Affiliate and his $20,000 horse falls on deaf ears most of the time. Video is still 1/2 art and design. In the end, if you dont get in, you dont make money so if they want to play that way i can play that way too.

Ben, thanks for the thorough response. Im still kind of mulling a Sony DSR250 and JVC 5100U for SD, and the JVC HD110U for HD. The JVC has 1/2 inch chips and 3 XLRs. But you make a compelling case for HD and theres nothing that says you cant shoot conventional SD on an HD camera to kill both birds.

I dont have to make a decision right away. In the meantime, I will lug the sticks with me to keep the GL2 happy until I get the balls to make up my mind.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 03:20 AM   #10
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Be mindful that the stock lens on the JVC HD110 is not very wide. It might not be wide enough if you are fairly close trying to shoot a car in a crowd.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 03:56 AM   #11
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Well if you believe that you must have a bigger, shoulder mounted camera I think you need to get either the JVC HD110 or the Canon XLH1.

I can understand where you're coming from entirely. I was shooting a surfing documentary down at the Rip Curl Pro in April, and although I had a genuine media pass (you wouldn't have gotten past security without one there) people seemed to take me (a relative novice) more seriously than most others because I was carrying an XL1s on my shoulder instead of PD150 or DVX100 in my hands.

I say go for it, most of the HDV cameras produce VERY similar footage by all accounts, and after the XLH1 the HD110 is probably the sexiest one of the lot.
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