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Old March 27th, 2008, 03:04 AM   #1
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Whats the right camera for my needs?

This thread may be a bit much but I have ALOT of questions that I need answered. By way of introduction my name is Chris Feder and I am serving in Afghanistan for 1 year with the US Army. I am making a documentary of my deployment and wanted to know what they best "TV" quality camera might be for my need within my budget. I want to stay under $2,000.00 if possible (Camera only with lenses) I own a Panasonic SDR-H200 that I am using now but wanted something more professional and TV quality for interviews and such. I was thinking about the cameras that I see them use on shows like Dirty Jobs, American Chopper etc. I was looking at Canon and Sony series cameras. Specifically, I was investigating the canon XL, and GL cameras. A friend also suggested I look at Sony VX series. I am a little hesitant about Sony because I have heard that’s Sony has their own software and is not user friendly with the “Non-professional.” I will be having the video stuff edited professionally when I return to the states.

Also, when deciding a camera what’s the best recording media to use? All I know are CF Cards and HDD. I hope this isn’t too much to ask at once.

If this is too much for the thread you can email me at Christopherfeder@yahoo.com
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Old March 27th, 2008, 05:43 AM   #2
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All the cameras you mentioned by name use MiniDV tape. The Canon XL, GL, and Sony VX cameras are all standard definition. The TV shows you mentioned use HDV cameras like the Sony Z1. The identical camera to the Z1, minus XLR input and a couple of features, is the Sony FX1. These HDV cameras also use MiniDV tape but record a different logical format that has highly compressed HD footage. I don't see how you can get a pro HDV camera for under $2000 so you might want to stick with a used model. There is no need for special software with Sony MiniDV cameras. The VX cameras are great but you can get the pro model, the PD170, for under $2000. This camera has been used often in the field by network television due to it's fairly good quality in a small and convenient package.

If it was my money, I would get a small HDV camera like the Canon HV20 or HV30 since they have such a great image and use standard MiniDV tapes in the fairly standard HDV format. A similar Sony model is the HC7. These small cameras don't have some of the manual controls like the pro models, but they have a fantastic image for such an affordable camera. I would also think that the small size might be a big advantage while deployed in the field.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 08:04 AM   #3
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Marcus thanks for the response. I will look into the Canon 20 and 30. If I use these cameras for shooting when it comes time for post production will it be able to look like TV quality? Will the audience be able to notice the difference between the H20/30 Camera vs. my Panasonic SDR-H200? Will they get the Professional look and the amateur look depending on what camera I am using? I want that documentary look but with a hint of professionalism. Do the 20 and 30 offer me the options I need such as external Mic, Light, lenses etc? Do you think that is the way to go? Should I look at sony? Also, what can I expect to pay for a “used HDV” Camera that those shows use? Since my panasonic uses a hard drive Can I get "TV "quality using a hard drive to record on? Is a hard drive more difficult? Can I transfre MiniDV to hard drive? am I going backwords in video?
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Old March 27th, 2008, 10:59 AM   #4
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OK forget your little SDR-H200, Unless your gona use it for cool shots like taped to a gun or a truck or when you can't afford to use the bigger camera, But aside from that I would only keep it just incase you lose or break the the other one. Now camera wise The HV-20 pretty great, but I would go with the sony PD-170. It's got xlr mic conectors, so you can use good microphones for the interviews. It is also pretty much the standard documentary camera. It has realy good low too. That's something the HDV cameras don't have.

Just say no to the XL and GL cameras.

So If I were you I would look at a sony PD-150, 170,or used sony HDV( you'll be lucky if you can find one for 2 grand, but you never know) Also some don't have XLR conectors so you may need an adaptor box. You might want to look for some Used canon HDV cams as well.

Do you think you will need "Night Shot" night vision?
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Old March 27th, 2008, 11:10 AM   #5
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Oh one more thing Those shows generaly use the Sony Z1u hdv camera.
But most of the shows are filmed with two $50,000 hd camcorders, and use the HDV cam for suport shots or as a B cam. Basicaly 85% of Dirty jobs is shot on their two Pansonic DVCpro HD cams and the other 15% is from the sony, But the sony does hold it's own.

The averge used price on a Z1u is about $3,000
You could try for an FX1 which is basicaly the same thing, but without the XLr audio conectors. So the audio box would be about a $300 bucks, but All together it still might be cheapper than a Z1u
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Old March 27th, 2008, 11:24 AM   #6
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find a used one of these--they come up here once in a while, or put up a WTB thread...a very flexible system for the conditions you're describing....

and HDV tape is HDV tape--it will edit on any editing system, you don't have to worry about any compatibility issues, and Sony makes great broadcast cameras --

http://www.sundancemediagroup.com/ar...1U/HVR-A1U.htm
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Old March 27th, 2008, 11:31 AM   #7
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A used DVX100 might fit the bill. And if you use it well, it will give you VERY nice results. It's not HDV, but for TV work, it'll do quite nicely.

You may want to see if you can find a copy of "Iraq in Fragments" which was a documentary shot on a DVX100 and released on 35mm in the movie theatres.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 11:40 AM   #8
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Oh yeah DVX-100 is a realy good choice.
Now if you realy want a tv quality camera maybe you can sell your car and go for an EX1 or an HVX 20. Those would be ideal, but so would an f900.

Oh! do me a favor. what ever camera you get, can you paint camoflage on it?
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Old March 27th, 2008, 12:09 PM   #9
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I'm fairly new to this but I was wondering, have you considered the JVC HDEverio line? All of them are under $2000 and they are considered professional level. The highest priced camcorder is the GZ-HD7 at $1699.95.

http://camcorder.jvc.com/product.jsp...000&pathId=141

These are their hard drive camcorders so I am not sure if that's what you are looking for. I'm sure the rest of the posters here know more than I do but, for the price they list, these look good to me!

I have a JVC miniDV camcorder and am quite happy with it so far. It is very user friendly and compact.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 12:52 PM   #10
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Yes, I would like “night vision” capabilities. I would also connectors for things like the external Mic, Light and headphone features. The Sony’s are all expensive and a little bit out of my price range. I don’t want to get a used one because this camera will already be in “Hazard Conditions” and if it is going to fail I don’t want it to fail because it was used. As for the price I want to stay around the $2,000.00 because I am planning on also getting a Steadicam system and some accessories for the camera i.e. Extra Batteries, rain cover, tripod, mic’s etc so I am trying to keep it to a decent budget. I did look at the sony HVR-A1U and it is a Beaut but out of my price range. I also looked at the Panasonic DVX100 and again is a bit up there $$$. As for the Canon HV-20 and 30 I am still looking into that. My only concern with an HDV camera like that is that since its so small is there a special connector in the “professional video” community for Mic’s, Lights, Headphones or do I need to purchase addition accessories at that level? I will keep looking into the Panasonic but it already puts me over my budget. Now as far as the Documentary goes weather a “Big Name” picks it up or I release it on my own, giving it that “Professional Look” is that something that is done by mostly the camera, Post Production, Camera Operator or all of the above? Is the “24p” option on some cameras what I am looking for as far as professional quality goes? I don’t want to sound like I want it all for $1,000.00 but I’m just want to weigh my options without going overboard for a simple documentary but at the same time have a “”Quality camera” I can use at home (Providing it survives combat). Remember, I don’t want to get “too professional” because I think it will take away from the art of this picture. But I do want a quality camera that I can adjust for the situation. I am also looking into the JVC Modle, is that a good quality camera for my purposes? If I shoot this in MiniDV or record it to a hard Drive does that really matter, can that all be fixed in POST?

(PS) Andrew, If you can get me a DVX-100 at a GREAT price, ill paint it just for you. HAHAHHA
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Old March 27th, 2008, 01:26 PM   #11
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Well, according to this review, http://www.camcorderinfo.com/content...der-Review.htm, the JVC GZ-HD7 came out ahead of the Canon HV20. However, the low light performance is not as good as it can be but the reviewer said the manual controls make up for this because you can adjust the aperture and shutter control to compensate for the noise. Check out the whole review before you decide. JVC products are definitely high quality and are worth a second look.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 01:38 PM   #12
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Is night vision a requriement because that rules out a lot of cameras.
Also is the steadicam realy a requirement?
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Old March 27th, 2008, 01:57 PM   #13
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Ill look into the JVC more. One thing I did read was about the format in which you download it. Does it work well with other software or editing equipment? Can I download it to a simple Microsoft Movie Maker and the most professional editing program? I read in one review that the software ONLY works with JVC and does not play well with others. Ill read more reviews. The low light (Night Vision) is not a requirement but would add to the whole art of this documentary i.e. Military, night patrols, interviews in the field, IED Missions stuff like that. I can always hold my night vision optic up against the lens but it won’t focus too well. As far as the steady cam goes, YES. I really need one because when I am walking around on the Base (FOB) here there are no paved roads, its all rocks and dirt. I will also be doing reenactment scenes of mission briefs, interviews, follow people around and sit in on various meetings. That’s why I was looking at the Glidecam system. Any suggestions or ideas??
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Old March 27th, 2008, 02:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Feder View Post
Yes, I would like “night vision” capabilities. I would also connectors for things like the external Mic, Light and headphone features.
Great the DV100 is probably the ONLY camera anywhere near your price range that has these features. XLR inputs, headphone jack, can handle an external mic, can take a massive battery for under $100.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Feder View Post
I don’t want to get a used one because this camera will already be in “Hazard Conditions” and if it is going to fail I don’t want it to fail because it was used.
If the camera is going to fail, being used won't be why. It'll fail because the camera is not up to field use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Feder View Post
I also looked at the Panasonic DVX100 and again is a bit up there $$$.
Actually, it's very cheap. You just don't know it yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Feder View Post
As for the Canon HV-20 and 30 I am still looking into that. My only concern with an HDV camera like that is that since its so small is there a special connector in the “professional video” community for Mic’s, Lights, Headphones or do I need to purchase addition accessories at that level?
There are no "professional adapters". Either the camera accepts pro inputs or it doesn't.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Feder View Post
I will keep looking into the Panasonic but it already puts me over my budget.
More on this in a sec...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Feder View Post
Now as far as the Documentary goes weather a “Big Name” picks it up or I release it on my own, giving it that “Professional Look” is that something that is done by mostly the camera, Post Production, Camera Operator or all of the above? Is the “24p” option on some cameras what I am looking for as far as professional quality goes?
Professional look can mean different things to different people. For some, it means what you see on CNN. For others, it means what you see at the theatre. If you are trying to shoot a "film", then pro look means 24fps, good colors, excellent lighting, moving cameras, good sound, and a host of other things. Very few cameras can shoot TRUE 24p. And none are in the price range you offered.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Feder View Post
I don’t want to sound like I want it all for $1,000.00 but I’m just want to weigh my options without going overboard for a simple documentary but at the same time have a “”Quality camera” I can use at home (Providing it survives combat).
But you do. The stuff you want, pro input's etc., cost real money to do. Making a camera produce decent results in low light requires glass. And the larger the better. Cameras like the DVX use a 72mm front element. Some of the other cameras you are looking at NEED more light (HDV) but have glass half the DVX's size or smaller. I'll let you work out that math. Cameras that are suitable for field work (Connections that lock in, metal and not plastic in key areas, tolerances that allow the camera to work in less than ideal conditions, manual controls of many options for advanced shooting, etc.) just don't pop up for $2k new. They rarely pop up for $2k used.

You're worried about a steadicam, and you haven't yet mentioned the fact that you're going to need lights for an interview, which quite frankly, will match your $2k camera budget. Go price a couple of interview kits. Since you'll likely be shooting outdoors, you're going to want to color match your lights. That means you'll need flourescents, or the ability to gel your tungsten lights. What about a mic? Priced a good lavaliere lately? How about a shotgun with a windscreen?

You're putting the cart WAY before the horse, and trying to buy a cut-rate camera to do a professional job. If it were MY shoot, I'd buy the best camera I could afford, a decent mic, a good bag and tripod, and leave the other stuff alone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Feder View Post
Remember, I don’t want to get “too professional” because I think it will take away from the art of this picture. But I do want a quality camera that I can adjust for the situation.
I promise you, it won't look too professional with a $2k new camera budget.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Feder View Post
If I shoot this in MiniDV or record it to a hard Drive does that really matter, can that all be fixed in POST?
There is nothing to "fix". DV is 720x480 whether you shoot it on tape, HDD, or solid state. If you mean can you make it look like HDV in post, the answer is "to a degree". But upres is certainly not "pro".


Now it may sound like I am slamming you, and I have no intention of doing that. I shot my first documentary in 2003, and I had ZERO idea what I was doing. But I had a DVX100 and a camera bag, and I got usable footage. Some in 24pa, some in 30p, most in 60i. LOL! 5 years later, I still haven't shot the interviews because I had no decent mic, and no lights. I've solved those issues, and will be shooting the interviews, but I also have 5 more years of experience with the camera, it's capabilities, and my own ability.

You can put big tires on a Jeep, but it's no Humvee. And you can buy a cheap consumer HDV camera, but you won't get "pro" images from it. Not to say it can't be good, but it will take experience you don't have, and tools you can't afford, at least according to your budget numbers.

I wish you luck and please stay safe during the deployment. I've already lost one of my best friends.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 02:20 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Lynne Good View Post
I'm fairly new to this but I was wondering, have you considered the JVC HDEverio line? All of them are under $2000 and they are considered professional level.
With 1/5" sensors, no xlr, and no manual controls? Professional level?
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