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Old October 4th, 2008, 10:46 AM   #1
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Your Suggestions Please

Brand new to DVi and transitioning into HD video with moderate DSLR experience. My sense is that many of the principles apply but lots of different things as well. The more I research cameras the less clear the choice becomes - so your experience translated into practical layman's terms would be most appreciated.

70% of the use would be for filming people within office / manufacturing / hospital / as well as outdoor settings. 30% of the use would be for wildlife and landscape subjects - no interest in sports or fast action subjects.

My target distribution is on the web / HD projectors - no broadcast in my future :-)

I've been impressed with my little Canon Vixia HF100 - but it is too small for me to comfortably work with and I don't like the on screen only controls.

So - I have been looking into: Canon XL H1A / Canon XH A1 / Panasonic HMC 150. These cover the price range I am comfortable with. Given my intended use, what would you suggest and why? I'm modestly aware of the work flow issues on tape vs memory card - image quality, focusing precision, controls, etc. are the main things I am concerned with.

Thanks much!
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Old October 4th, 2008, 11:59 AM   #2
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BTW - I suspect this might be the "umteenth" request for opinions on the best camera. I have read and re-read the brochures / specs many times - so I'm not too lazy to read it for myself.

There is no substitute for real world / practical experience - thus my request.
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Old October 4th, 2008, 12:59 PM   #3
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BTW - I suspect this might be the "umteenth" request for opinions on the best camera. I have read and re-read the brochures / specs many times - so I'm not too lazy to read it for myself.

There is no substitute for real world / practical experience - thus my request.
But have you searched this forum? There are pro's and con's to every camera you will choose. I suggest heading over to VMI in Sunnyvale and talking to the great guys in the rental dept. Perhaps you can even rent a different camera each weekend and give them a spin. What works for me is not necessarily what works for you.
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Old October 4th, 2008, 01:16 PM   #4
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Oren - yep - have been going over all the great info here as well. My content development priorities are so high now that my time is just too limited to try and do the rental try out. That would be a great suggestion under different circumstances.

For example - I have read about the slight loss of some vertical resolution when using the Canon series under certain formats. Is that a real world issue or more of something that only the "pixel peepers" and tech spec experts would worry about?

It is that type of feedback that would be helpful to me.
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Old October 4th, 2008, 06:01 PM   #5
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Rick,

For now your best bet may very well be to try to "adapt" to what you have. That little HF100 is an amazing piece of gear.

Turn "small" into an advantage. Easier to have with you all the time, but not real good for hand held use. I've built the $14 steadycam and found that helps a lot. More convenient would be a bracket that bolts to the bottom and has 2 grips, one on each side (like a double grip flash bracket, or part of a "fig rig"). Lightweight tripod, in addition there is a way to use that as a "$0 steadycam". Google that, I've tried it and it works with a little practice.

The on screen menus and controls are a PITA. But my last 3 camcorders have had little but that so I've "adapted". What the HF100 absolutely NEEDS is a quality hood over the LCD fold out screen. The best and most useful I've found is the Cinetactics Screen Hoodie (cinetactics Home Page). Sturdy black ballistic nylon and velcro, folds flat and stores in a supplied pouch, I leave mine ready to go and slip it over the screen when setting up. Biggest gripe I have is it tries to cover the joystick and menu function "button" but I found a way to slide it on far enough the joystick is exposed and learned how to push it up a bit with the thumb to get at the function button. I "adapted" and quit griping.

The other disadvantage is how people "view" you using something that small. Well, with the "screen hoodie" on the LCD and a rectangular lens hood (Hama rectangular for 52mm clamped to a 52mm UV multicoated filter - I use a 37-52mm stepup ring to get the filter size up to the front diameter of the lens barrel) I get occasional comments about that small cam looking fairly serious.

I came from a background as a professional photographer where I often had to "pick up anything" and get serious results. Part of the time I worked for the air force as a civilian staff photographer and had to work with what the lab was equipped with regardless of what my preferences were.

You may be right about that HF100 not being for you, but I'd give it a serious try while trying to handle some other stuff. I have a pair of them, a Rode SVM, the stuff described above, a 0.45x wide angle aux lens, and can pack a very lightweight bag.

Important at my age.

Good luck with whatever you go for, though
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Old October 4th, 2008, 06:50 PM   #6
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Bruce - your points are valid - the results are pretty impressive for sure. As we age, smaller gear is just not an advantage in many circumstances. And you nailed the "client perception" thing right on the head - most of them have something that looks more professional than I am using LOL :-)

My most demanding shoots involve CEOs or senior executive/technical people who have little - if any tolerance - for retakes or me fumbling around. That is the exact issue that has me going for something in addition to the lil Canon.

BTW FOCUSING PRECISION - big deal for me.
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Old October 5th, 2008, 01:49 AM   #7
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BTW FOCUSING PRECISION - big deal for me.
Rick, that's one area where I find the Canon XH-A1 is a bit of a PIA. Using Canon DSLRs I can measure critical focus and set it accurately on the lenses manually. I find turning the ring on the XH-A1 is a bit like shouting instructions to an assistant - "a bit this way - too much now - go back a bit!" I can never seem to get the same focus readout twice. On the plus side, the push auto focus is pretty good as these systems go, but it would be good to be able to turn a good old fashioned focus ring directly.

My advice would be to try it out and see how it seems to you. Otherwise, is a great camera.
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Old October 5th, 2008, 12:06 PM   #8
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Colin,

Thanks - the Canon Vixia HF 100 I am using is somewhat slow in acquiring auto focus lock. I am "assuming" the the Canon XL and XH series have much better auto focus capability - would that be a correct assumption?

My really critical work will be on people 10 - 15 feet from the camera with the depth of field set to throw the background out of focus and make the people images really "pop".

I am a beginner at video - and need to tread lightly with this comment - some of the HD video clips that are circulating as examples of what some of the cameras can do are - simply very poor. What shocks me are the favorable comments on them. Images bouncing around / straight lines appearing jagged / questionable resolution. It is challenging - for the beginner - to sort out what is camera related vs operator error vs rendering flaws vs post processing mistakes vs who knows what.

That sounds so straight forward but errors on my end will come at a high cost to my practice.

So - Canon XL or XH or Panasonic 150 - opinions desired.
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