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Old April 3rd, 2008, 08:58 PM   #1
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4:2:2 color space or something else?

I am getting lost, and would like some help. I have a Panasonic GV-150 3CCD SD camera, my first camcorder. It works fine, allowing me to connect external mic and earphones, and is small enough to take anywhere.

Since starting with this camcorder I've taken many classes and experimented and now I want to move to HD/HDV. I bought a XH-A1 and have just begun to use it.

I've come across another producer who has a Panasonic HVX200. Like me he is more involved in editing than shooting, and he bought his camera based on color fidelity, where he believes that the HDPRO format of the HVX is far superior to HDV, regardless of brand.

I haven't enough shooting experience to know the fine points of each camcorder, but I do appreciate the greater color fidelity of his raw footage when imported into my FCP 6 NLE.

The question, for those of you with experience in this area, should I consider the HDCAM format to get the better color fidelity? The HVX has some production issues for me since I shoot solo and store my video on mini-DV tape - even the highest quality tape is pretty inexpensive and long lived as a storage medium. Not sure how I'd handle P2 cards, but the idea of shooting in HDCAM, with lots of options for acquisition and format is appealing. So is the ability to shoot SD video on mini-DV tape on the HVX, allowing me to do what I do now and get a taste of the future.

As of now this is a hobby, no paying customers, and much of my shooting is volunteer work for local groups with no access to video production. I also have no immediate need to deliver in HD, nor do I have the tools to produce HD discs. I tend to be very "mental" about this, getting lost in specs versus real world needs.

I have a MacBook Pro (first Intel chip, 256MB video ram) as my primary system. I have several iMac G5 units, but none are as powerful as the MBP.

Budget wise the used XH-A1 I bought was $2500 vs. double that or more for the HVX, and that's without P2 card cost. Seems to me that the XH-A1 is the right choice, but I'd like some feedback from colorists.

Thoughts and comments welcome.
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 10:25 PM   #2
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The HVX200 can shoot DV, DVCPRO 50, and DVCPRO HD (DVCPRO 100). It does not shoot HDCAM.

DVCPRO HD:
1280 x 1080 luma
640 x 1080 chroma
*Important: the HVX's CCDs are 960 x 540 each, which is not as good as other cameras. It uses pixel shifting to kind of get more resolution. So do many of the other 3CCD cameras around (but they do this with more pixels to begin with).

HDV:
1440x1080 luma
720x540 chroma I believe; if encoded interlaced, chroma performance is effectively somewhat like 720x270

The simple answer is just to look at the pictures and see how the footage keys. I don't think there's a big difference... if anything, some other cameras are noticeably sharper/more alias-free than the HVX. And the simple answer is the best one in my opinion... the technical specs aren't that good a predictor of performance.

*I haven't compared the HVX to the A1 myself.
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 11:16 PM   #3
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I don't see why you'd want an HVX since you already have an XH-A1. You also are editing in SD, so either camera will be plenty sharp. The color of the A1 is fine until you do a lot of color correction. Then it won't hold up. But for the purposes you've outlined, the A1 was an excellent choice.
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Old April 4th, 2008, 01:17 AM   #4
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Quote:
The question, for those of you with experience in this area, should I consider the HDCAM format to get the better color fidelity? The HVX has some production issues for me since I shoot solo and store my video on mini-DV tape - even the highest quality tape is pretty inexpensive and long lived as a storage medium. Not sure how I'd handle P2 cards, but the idea of shooting in HDCAM, with lots of options for acquisition and format is appealing. So is the ability to shoot SD video on mini-DV tape on the HVX, allowing me to do what I do now and get a taste of the future.
I think you have some confusion about formats. What you are working with (re: the XH-A1) is not HDCAM, it is HDV. As Glenn pointed out, the HVX doesn't shoot in HDCAM either. HDCAM is only available in Sony's high-end cameras.

You have a decent camera to start with. Don't get too hung up on colour-spaces, and focus on mastering your camerawork.
:-}D
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Old April 4th, 2008, 05:40 AM   #5
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Reading your post again, you state "... I do appreciate the greater color fidelity of his raw footage when imported into my FCP 6 NLE."

Can you be a little more specific? The HVX has a warmer and more saturated color out of the box than does the A1. But there is no reason to fret, because the A1's color is incredibly tweakable. There are also color presets you can download off the net and upload into your A1. One very popular one aimed to mimic the HVX. I believe it was called "panalook," or something similar.

You can search/post in the A1/G1 forum; I'm sure they'll be able to help you out.

So I'm not sure if what you are calling greater color fidelity is due to the DVC PRO codec or really just because at default settings the HVX saturates colors more than the A1 does.

HTH.
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Old April 4th, 2008, 07:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Barber View Post
You have a decent camera to start with. Don't get too hung up on colour-spaces, and focus on mastering your camerawork.
:-}D
Agreed, don't get hung up on the numbers.

Colour space really doesn't have much to do with colour fidelity anyway, if you define the latter as how the colours "look". It defines the ratio of colour samples to luminance samples, so may be better thought of as the colour "resolution" relative to luminance.

On straight pictures the eye is unlikely to be able to tell the difference, as the human eye can't perceive colour detail as accurately as luminance - this is why subsampling is done. The main reason for better colour spaces is when complicated post work has to be done, keying etc.

And colour spaces are *RATIOS*, not absolute numbers, yet they get thrown around as an end in themselves. If offered half of one pot of money or a quarter of another, what would you immediately want to know? Yes, how big the total pot is - a 1/4 of $1,000 is better than 1/2 of $100, isn't it? And colour spaces are even more confusing - the references aren't simple 1/2, 1/4 etc.

The link Mike Barber pointed to puts the numbers very well. "4:2:2" can mean a variety of different colour resolutions, depending on the system being talked about. It's meaningless without knowing the luminance resolution.

As far as DVCProHD v HDV and what your friend says regarding the HVX200, then everything is a set of compromises, and you have to weigh absolute quality against usability. DVCProHD may be superior to HDV in some ways, but it comes at the price of having to use P2, 4x the data rate, lower luminance resolution etc. I note he may be swayed by an editing background - with 1/3" cameras, I'd be inclined to feel the limiting factor is more likely the camera front end than the recording system.
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Old April 4th, 2008, 07:21 AM   #7
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Len, I'm afraid you're looking at the picture (pun intended) from the wrong side. You have an excellent camera, but you feel it's inferior to your friend's more expensive camera - and you think you can get a much better picture if you buy a similar (or better) one. Don't feel bad about it, we've all been there...

Exceptional results can be achieved with relatively simple cameras (and yours is not even a "simple" one, it's one of the best cameras in the price range) when you take advantage of other elements of the shooting: lights, better lens, filters.

As already suggested above, try experimenting with your camera. In your mind, put together the picture you would like to achieve, and start testing different settings.

You will soon understand that the most important asset in a good video is the cameraman!
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Old April 4th, 2008, 12:52 PM   #8
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Oh, and BTW…

Quote:
Originally Posted by Len Capristo View Post
I do appreciate the greater color fidelity of his raw footage when imported into my FCP 6 NLE.
… the only way to measure "colour fidelity" (if by that you mean blues, reds, yellows, magentas, greens and cyans are all 'correct' or 'true') is through a vector scope, not your eyes, using NTSC bars.

There is a great wealth of technical savvy one needs before they can really begin to judge or compare cameras. IME producers and even directors generally don't have nearly enough knowledge to do that. Camera operators and editors, on the other hand, do. I'm not saying one group is smarter than the other. I'm saying knowing these technical things is part of being a camera operator or editor; they're not necessarily important knowledge to being a director or much less a producer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Len Capristo View Post
I've come across another producer who has a Panasonic HVX200. Like me he is more involved in editing than shooting, and he bought his camera based on color fidelity
On the flipside of that, I know a documentary director/producer and a DoP who went for the A1 over the HVX because of the A1's colour. So... I guess I'm trying to say those judgements are usually based on a subjective opinion based on taste, rather than an objective opinion based on technical reasons.
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Old April 4th, 2008, 08:53 PM   #9
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Thank You

A sincere thanks for all the replies, lots of good information and advice.

It amazes me that there are so many skilled pros on this site that offer truly useful and detailed support. It is probably common for you, but having joined many other forums, in a wide array of interests, I assure you that this forum is very unique.

I will keep my XH-A1 and invest more time learning how to properly setup and use the controls that I apparently have a lot to learn about.

Some of my work is volunteer for local groups, but I'm often 30+ feet from the talent, and to get the sound I need I often plug into their sound board - so far it works well.

A few other questions: I work alone, and would like to shoot with minimal setup and equipment. Despite my desire I believe that a wireless mic would be useful. I'm leaning toward the Sennheiser Evolution, but would like your suggestions about (1) the need for a wireless lav, and (2) brand selection and frequency choice. I do have a Rode Videomic, with the "dead cat", and frankly its been fine for me. Good quality sound, and very lightweight. Is that all I need for now? Again, no boom pole needed working solo.

I also don't have a solid tripod, and have learned that buying a $150 rig is a waste of money (I've done it more than once over the years). I'm heard good things about the Libec 38M, but I'm concerned that the XH-A1 is a closer weight match for the Libec 22, which apparently has a far different head, which doesn't quite match the quality of the 38. I've also considered a Spiderbrace, and a belt mounted monopod setup, but without lots of experience I'm not sure about the right way to go.

The NLE I have is FC Studio 6, running on a MacBook Pro (first Intel dual core chip) with 256MB video RAM, 2 GB total RAM (that's the max). I also have Motion, even though I really don't know how to use it.

Primary needs: (1) helping volunteer groups to produce cable ready broadcasts and deliver to DVD or QT movie format for web use; (2) documentary type shooting - no rehearsal, no pro talent, hard to prepare for best sound and lighting; (3) "playing around" - just shooting for fun, getting to know what the camera can do and how to edit it in FCP; (4) becoming more skilled in "transcoding" - taking footage and delivering it in QT or WMV format, and transferring various formats to different platform.

Am I on the right path, or do I need to rethink my future needs and budget?

Once again, thanks to all for the help. Sorry to change topics a bit, but I'm so grateful for the suggestions I'm addicted to asking for more help. (;->)

Len
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Old April 5th, 2008, 04:17 AM   #10
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Thanks very much for the thank yous. I would recommend posting your other ?'s in their respective forums. (FWIW, the Sennheiser G2 is considered a great choice. There are lots of good wireless lavs. I like the Sanken COS-11... only b/c I've been brainwashed by all the production people here in LA who swear by them. Be sure you get the correct connector for you lav to plug it into the G2, and it will depend if you also want to use the mic hardwired as well.)

But again, I suggest searching and then posting in the other forums which address your areas of need.

HTH :).
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