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Old January 8th, 2009, 07:42 PM   #1
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High end consumer w/addons vs prosumer

So I know there's a lot of discussions about this but they're all looking at the cameras alone in my experience. A lot of people compare the Canon HV30 with low end prosumer models for example, but I'm curious about taking it one step further and finding the better choice when taking other things into account.

I'm looking at cameras that have weaker sensors but a smaller overall size and lower price to be augmented by additions. The primary function will (I hope) high production value documentary work primarily in daylight (as I know smaller sensor size causes terrible low light video). If I get a camera like the HV30, or the new HF S10 and add a DOF adapter for somewhere in the area of $200 I can augment the problem of focus a fair bit. Most people end up adding external mic's so that cost would be factored in no matter what. With the money I save I can invest in a better lighting rig to offset the quality slightly. A big plus is with a high end consumer camera its much cheaper to get stabilizers which makes the footage look a lot cleaner.

I'm definitely leaning towards a camera that uses SD or HDD storage as I expect a lot of footage being unused and I'd like to cut excessive tapes out of the budget. I also will be overloaded with gear anyway while traveling. Ideally I'd like to always have the camera with me no matter where I go without it being a huge chore. Alternative prosumer choices like the Panasonic AG-DVX200A make that less realistic.

Basically my question is this. If I go with a consumer model and get gear to go with it, am I better off than going with a $5k prosumer model that lacks proper lighting and sound solutions? Is the quality really that huge of a drop off based camera alone?
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Old January 8th, 2009, 08:32 PM   #2
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Interesting question. I think the answer really depends upon what you want to shoot with it. I have an HV10, HV30 and an XH A1. If you want to shoot interviews and other events-type things you could probably get away with it. I can't comment on dramatic films and other applications as I do not do that.

The other thing you need to consider is how willing are you to become intimately familiar with all the ways your camera works? No matter what you end up getting this will be critical to your getting the most out of your camera. In your case, you want to do this now. Read everything you can about users' experience with the cameras in which you are interested. If you can rent, beg or borrow any of the cams on your short list, that experience will help too.

Your question will be difficult to answer since only you know what you need.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 08:43 PM   #3
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Thanks for the response. I've tried the HV30 already and I was pleased with it except for the fact that it was using tapes. Most of the footage would be landscapes, cityscapes and interviews, not too worried about dramatic shots or heavy motion. As mentioned walk-throughs will be much easier with a stabilizer which is a big plus for the smaller/lighter cams (larger rigs seem to be insanely expensive to stabilize).

To be more specific with the question. Colour correction can be handled in post, so that's not a concern. DOF is a big part of larger cams but the DIY adapters can solve that issue for me. Low light scenes can be lit as they'd all be interviews. Sound can be dealt with using and external mic (interviews done using 2 mono mics going into a stereo input should work as well, so fewer inputs doesn't scare me that much). Where are the other possible areas I will suffer using a 'pimped' consumer model? Is the quality of the image that huge a difference? (seeing as how most models do 24p now I imagine the footage should approaches film style)
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Old January 8th, 2009, 08:50 PM   #4
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I'll bite on this thread because I've gone the HV30 route. I have several and constantly put them in harm's way meaning that often I get better shots than if I had an A1. Not to mention that I run one on the letus and a merlin. All for the same price as an A1.

Having said that, even if I plan my shots carefully about 10 percent are bad as a result of not having more control over the camera and rolling shutter issues.

You are right about lowlight performance. It's bad enough that even with lights and reflectors I've blown many shots in documentaries because of noise.

Basically I think you've already done your research and know what's what. You'll save alot of money if you only use the HV30 or 40 outside. But you'll wish you had more camera if you're shooting inside much.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 10:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Michalak View Post
I also will be overloaded with gear anyway while traveling.
If this is the case, tape is probably a better option, otherwise you will need to add a laptop and hard drives to your gear. When travelling, it's easy to pick up tapes in almost any city, and if you have large amounts of recorded tapes you can post them home.

For several years I used a small cam with plenty of extras - lenses, Matte box, mic etc but the first time i did an overseas trip I realised it was terribly difficult set up. Lots of pieces to assemble/ disassemble and pack away. My FX7 is much better - all i need is the cam and tripod plus some spare batteries, and overall my kit is probably now a bit lighter.

Having said that, My HV20 still performs admirably in good light (which is what I have 99% of the time), and goes places my FX7 never would. Hopefully in the next few weeks i will be getting an underwater housing for the HV20 and it may then become my prefered camera!
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Old January 8th, 2009, 10:27 PM   #6
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I'll have a laptop anyway, but I won't need it with me all the time. With the HDD and SD solutions I can easily have a days worth of shooting with me at all times. Stabilizer, batteries and DOF adapter + a cam like the S10 can easily fit in a shoulder bag with other misc goods and still be comfortable. Guess it depends how reckless I am with DOF adapter lenses.

That being said, I wasn't familiar with the FX7 and it looks like a decent price point. HDV is still discouraging as reusing tapes isn't really an option and they're not that cheap... plus there's more that can go wrong mechanically given I'll be beating things up pretty bad at times heheh.

(might sound kind of like I've made up my mind, but if there's enough to justify stepping up I'm completely open to it, just need to hear some arguments)

Thanks again for the replies!
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Old January 8th, 2009, 11:02 PM   #7
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If you plan to carry your laptop around anyway, then it does make sense to go tapeless. And there have just been quite a few nice cams anounced that would fit the part. The upcoming Panasonics (HS300 and TM300) seem to offer pretty good manual control, while the Canon range also looks very promising.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 11:10 PM   #8
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How much closer will post production, DOF and other misc filters bring me to prosumer level though (with a cam like that)?
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