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Old December 15th, 2003, 08:14 PM   #1
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I have seen the enemy

I'm not trying to be a smart aleck or anything, but there's something I've been curious about for some time. For those people who say all these higher end mini-dv cams are ultimately designed for the consumer market, why do you think that? I don't doubt that there are gobs of people with money to spare who wouldn't blink at spending thousands of dollars on a camcorder just to tape their kid's birthday party, but I have a hard time believing they're interested in the GL-2, VX2000, or any of these cams. They're just too big. These people want something they can put in their pocket. My neighborhood is crawling with kids making independent movies and skateboarding videos, but I've never seen a civilian toting around a three chip camcorder of any kind. Sometimes I wonder if the consumer that we're always cursing for holding back technology -- the one that tolerates lousy pre-amps, mini-plug jacks, and less than complete manual controls -- is us.
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Old December 15th, 2003, 08:40 PM   #2
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Marco, the best analogy I can come up with (and it's been done before) is that so many people in our world want a high-performance Ferrari at a Hyundai price... and unfortunately, some of them become a bit annoyed when you try to point that out to them.

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Old December 15th, 2003, 08:42 PM   #3
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If you might be trying to point to conspiracy in the way prosumer video equipment is engineered and marketed, you wouldn't be breaking news. The features bestowed by major electronics manufacturers on their medium price level products are decided by something of a balancing act. One side of the tightrope is an underfeatured product that won't be attractive to its designated market at its chosen price point; the other is a wonder tool that cuts into the sales of the professional lines.

Every so often a new player arrives on the scene and shakes up an industry by selling a better product sold for less money--such is the nature of competition. If you can gather a group of investors interested in competing with the likes of Canon, Sony, and JVC, I don't think any member of this forum would discourage you from going for it!
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Old December 15th, 2003, 09:27 PM   #4
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I'm not suggesting there's any conspiracy to "hold us down." I'm just proposing there's a different way of looking at the issue, rather than assuming we can blame our frustrations on a product geared for a market with completely different needs than our own. Maybe at this pricepoint, this is all our market will bear (most college kids are broke, after all), although I think it's fair to say that you have to wonder if these companies are aware of just who is buying their stuff, since all it would cost is literally pennies to fix the most annoying things.
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Old December 15th, 2003, 09:30 PM   #5
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Marco, I agree with you. That's why I'd rather have a MX5000 today, than spend a year's salary on something that'll be obsolete tomorrow---a high resolution, OIS'd 3-chip, that even fits in your pocket! Whoopie! :-)

Note: the MX5000 is the PV-DV953; the MX500 is the PAL version.
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Old December 16th, 2003, 12:27 PM   #6
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I think that a lot has to do with marketing. No, I won't get into the "studio" cams that are 10k, but I'll share my thought about a couple of Sonys, (Maybe I should call it a Tale of Two Sonys...OK maybe not)

I was looking at the VX and the PD. When I went to B+H the VX was a "prosumer" (What a silly word.) and the PD was listed as "professional." The three big differences that I saw was that the PD had a b/w viewer, takes DVcam tapes, and has built in XLR jacks. All nice features. But the PD was, IMO disproportionately more expensive than the VX.

When I go cameraspotting on CNN and ITN I see PDs. When I talk to indies I see VXs. Now my experience is limited, and I'm sure there is a lot more out there. But that's what I've seen. I guess if you are on an expense account, or you need the DVcam, you go PD. Does that make it more "professional"?

What I find, well, odd, is that "prosumer" word. I just don't think there is anything "consumer friendly" about the VX and it's Canon kin. They're big, expensive, and far from a point and shoot. In the past 6 months I've been all across North America, tourist targets like NYC, SF, Colorado Springs, Ottawa, Toranto and I am yet to see a civillian with a PD,VX, GL, XL or any other 3chipper. Infact only one person even recognized my camera and he shot fly fishing videos as a past time (he uses a VX1000).

I think that from the corporate POV it's has more to do with marketing than anything else.
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Old December 17th, 2003, 08:47 AM   #7
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I think when Sony started the DV revolution with the VX1000 they were going after a high end consumer market. And, in my opinion, not based on any fact, just my thoughts, they probably didn't like it very much when professionals started using those cameras. Look how long it took them to make fully professional versions in DVCAM...and look at how Panasonic jumped on that market and turned it into DVCPRO and basically stole Sony's TV station market that had been Betacam for so many years. Sony still doesn't seem to try to market DVCAM to TV stations, trying instead to keep them in the bigger tape, more expensive cameras and recorders equipment. Panasonic, on the other hand, must have been thinking, hey, it's good enough for independent films and documentaries, it's good enough for TV news. It used to be that you'd never see a local station shooting anything but BetacamSP; now it's DVCPRO with Panasonic cameras.

Basically, I think Sony did (inadvertantly) to the industry what Apple has done with FCP. For well under $10K these days you can set up a very nice Avid editing system that in the past was over $40K. Competition is good, and I doubt Avid would have come out with better, cheaper stuff if not for Apple. But I think Sony has found itself competing with itself. When it came time for me to get new cameras, my first instinctual thought was to go into hock for years and upgrade from Betacam to Digital Betacam. Then I went to NAB and saw the DSR500, and I ended up being able to buy that camera, a DSR250 and two DSR1800 decks all for less than a single Digibeta camera setup would have cost. And it looks better than the BetacamSP it replaced.

So I think this is a case of the consumer market driving the professional market, and the manfuacturers reluctantly going along with it. I don't think Sony planned for people like me to spend much LESS money on a camera in 2000 than I did in 1989, but they had to do it because everybody else was doing it. However, they have been very clever about creating this "prosumer" thing. Disgusting word, isn't it. They build the VX2000, now the VX2100, as a a very nice small camera, but they do it without the basic features a pro wants, so the people who would be happy with the VX now find themselves lusting after the PD, which is a thousand bucks more. It's the same way American car manufacturers have been selling cars forever--they come out with the nice top of the line model, then take stuff off and make a cheaper model, but you really want the top of the line mode. And now the Japanese are doing it too with their cars. The idea is to squeeze every possible dollar out of the consumer. By the way, for me, for the kind of shooting I do, the PD is worth the difference in cost. But if I were going to buy a camera for personal use as opposed to a business expense and something I make a living with, I would get the VX and save that thousand bucks. It may not be quite as convenient, but you can make equally good pictures with it.
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Old December 17th, 2003, 09:22 AM   #8
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Isn't the real difference in price between the VX and PD products the support and marketing behind them. Sony offers much more to the professionals than the consumers, and, the professionals pay for it because it is valuable to them.
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Old December 18th, 2003, 08:22 AM   #9
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Well, yeah, it's marketing. But if you shoot professionally with a small camera, then you will pay more for the built-in XLR inputs and the higher res viewfinder and the DVCAM capability. But if you don't use it that way, then there's no serious need to do so. I think the reason you see so many VX2000s used for docs and independent low budget work is because when a person decides to do something like that and is not already in the production business, he may have a set limit on what he can spend for gear, and another thousand bucks can be the difference between a cheap mic and a good one, or some more lights, etc. If I were in the same boat, I would consider it a mistake to put all my money into just the camera...that's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to production.
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