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Old January 4th, 2004, 04:33 PM   #1
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The dream camcorder project

Hi. I was wondering today what it is that I would want from a new camera and I mostly thought about a new version of the PDX10, since I like it so much. Then I though perhaps if we post about it here some clever guy from a manufacterer's marketing department will take note :D

Anyway, here is my dream camera summarized:

(1) PDX10-like form factor. It's small enough to carry around in a photo bag, large enough to not look ridiculous on a tripod or glidecam, and the modular audio block is a great idea, you can leave the extra bulk at home or in the bag when audio is not that important.

(2) Single large megapixel 4 color CCD the size of a 35mm photo frame. Yes, I guess this will make for an expensive chip, but we are talking pro stuff right? don't expect people like us who intend to live on what we do with these tools to continue to settle with meager teeny weeny chips. If one manufacterer does not give us a low cost big CCD, somebody else will. A CCD this size will have enough resolution for native HD and 16x9 and still be good in low light. Oh and since we are on the subject of light... it must be more sensitive that the PDX10 or HD10. Of course there should be a minimal amount of smear, should be at least as good as the DVX100 in this respect.

(3) Since the CCD is large, the art of 35mm photo lenses is so well refined and mass-marketed, I would expect this pro camcorder to include a standard photo lens mount and a basic zoom lens we can improve on. I guess this trick would mean the camera has to be Canon-branded... I can't imagine Sony making an under $3k camcordcer with a Canon mount but well... this is the dream cam, right?

(4) DSP and software. One of the interesting technological trends is that software advances are a very important part of what's going on, so give us a upgradeable firmware and processor, preferrably on something like a PC card (not sure if CardBus would be fast enough for an incoming uncompressed 1920x1080 video stream). For example, the basic package might not include an MPEG2 encoder and thus would not be able to do HDV, but an upgrade could bump the cam up to HD resolution.

(5) Standard storage. Dump memory sticks or any other propietary media support. Just give us a good PC card slot that can hold a hard disk, non-volatile memory or a network card. Should be able to take gigabyte cards like the panasonic solid state pro cameras... though of course as an option. The camera should be able to write high resolution audio and video to the card, not anly stills and 'email quality' video.

(6) Keep the MiniDV format. It's commonplace, it's inexpensive, it runs at several speeds and now even sort of does HD. Give us a full 1920x1080 mode, even if tapes have to run at DVCAM speeds.

(7) Multiformat, multiplatform, multiprotocol. Make sure it does SD in NTSC and PAL resolution and frame rates, on the same camera, as well as HD. And make sure we can use firewire I/O for all the kinds if video the camera handles, with PC's, Macs, standalone DVD machines and DVHS.

(8) Modular LCD/VF. Should be possible to mount the LCD on the left, right, top or anywhere you want (with a cable). The same connector (does not need to be any standard like S-video, that would make it expensive) should be used for the VF so you can have the option of buying a better one, leaving it home, using it upside down or whatever.

(9) Should cost about US$2k with a 'standard quality' photo zoom lens and about US$3k with the MPEG2/HD encoder and a better lens.

Anybody else?
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Old January 4th, 2004, 06:49 PM   #2
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Heheheh--yeah, and I'd like a new Porsche Carrera for the price of a Suzuki.
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Old January 4th, 2004, 07:02 PM   #3
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Oh Bill I get the joke but it is so different... I mean if you put together all the sophistication that goes into a still camera and a PC... you get more or less a camcorder, but we are paying so much more for camcorders, so what I am dreaming is not an impossible thing... especially now that everybody is buying camcorders. I get the feeling camcorder manufacterers make really big profits on each unit, much higher than anyone makes on an autombile or a computer or even a photo camera, so I think we really need to make it clear we want better price-performance.
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Old January 4th, 2004, 07:54 PM   #4
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Nah, I'd say your dreaming.

A- The companies like to take every cent from you when they sell their products. Sony waters down their cameras and put them at a lower price point.

1- Small size is somewhat of a tradeoff.

2- Full frame digital still cameras cost like $8K right now...?

3- 35mm lenses will not be the same focal length unless the sensor is the same size as 35mm film. (see 2) Large CCDs are currently very expensive to make.

4- HD is not quite feasible. Most people won't be able to edit that footage (too expensive).

5- We do have standard storage right now (mini-DV), but solid state storage really isn't viable yet.

6- HD on mini-DV is kinda here (JVC) and is supposed to come eventually.

7- That doesn't make economic sense. It's cheaper to make equipment that handles one format. People can rent equipment for the other format.

8- Meh, this feature isn't even in high end cameras???

9- I suppose we can dream. :)

The feature I really want to see in cameras is better audio. The on-board on nearly all cameras is pretty bad, and sometimes downright horrid. That would be ok if it was easy to attach a decent mic to the camera. Gimme XLR inputs with phantom power!

At the consumer level I'd like to see mic inputs, headphone jack, shoe for mounting mics, and manual audio control. AGC is sometimes good, but maddeningly annoying when you can't disable it. Maybe cameras can come with a semi-decent mic mount and some sort of shotgun/hypercardioid mic. Unfortunately most buyer's don't think about audio so not much attention is paid to it.
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Old January 4th, 2004, 08:33 PM   #5
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A wide angle lens!!!!

As a still photog new to DV, I am amazed that all these expensive cams lack a real wide end on their zooms. At least 28mm, preferrably 24mm (referenced to 35mm film).
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Old January 5th, 2004, 03:10 AM   #6
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Talking about video, it would no doubt be the Sony DSR-570WSP i'm using, but in HD resolution. Otherwise it's a perfect cam.

In film, an Aaton XTR. But that's not discussed here, is it? :)

Well, this got a bit pro-ish, but as the size of the camera doesn't matter for me (unless it weighs some 100 pounds) and image quality and handling abilities are my everything... But, as the Sony HD system is available (with a price tag over $250,000) all you've gotta do is dream :)
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Old January 5th, 2004, 03:35 AM   #7
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My dream cam would be the Panasonic NV-MX3000, but with English menus, a better gripping ridge (like the one on the MX5000) better 16:9 (like with the MX5000) 40 more playback lines (like the MX5000) and with a quiet side-loading door (like the MX5000)---and 1/3" CCDs like the ones in the older AG-EZ1. Is this too much to ask for? That's why I'd rather have the MX5000 today than spend a year's salary on something that'll be obsolete tomorrow...but I'd want those bigger CCDs with it. :-))
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Old January 5th, 2004, 04:49 PM   #8
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As long as we're playing here, I guess I would like my DSR500WS to be the same size and weight it is but have bigger chips, higher resolution, and shoot HD as well as DV25 and DV50 and at 30 frames progressive (I don't care about 24), and it should run for 2 hours on a BPL40, have 4 XLR inputs and sell for $15,000.

Actually, Ignacio, although I see where you're coming from, I have to disagree about costs. The quality of cameras we have today in the "prosumer" area is incredible for the money. A 1/3" chip PD150/170 for about $3500 provides an image that is not all that much less than cameras of a few years ago that cost $50,000 and weighed 10 times as much, or more. On the professional level, my DSR500WS has 16:9 chips, 850 lines of resolution, and provides a higher quality picture than the BVW300 I retired, which a dozen years ago cost more than double what the DSR500 cost today--maybe 3 times as much if you account for inflation. And now you can buy a professional HD camcorder for about what a Digital Betacam unit cost 5 years ago.

In addition, there are all those 1/2" chip cameras out there that look better than 2/3" chip cameras of just a few years back, and at a fraction of the cost.

The VX1000 started the DV revolution not all that long ago--and before that, if you wanted to make an independent movie with a video camera, you had to have at least $40K or so to buy one, or 500 bucks a day for rental.

I don't want to sound like a pimp for the manufacturers, but we get a helluvalot of bang for the buck these days.
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Old January 5th, 2004, 05:15 PM   #9
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> I don't want to sound like a pimp for the manufacturers, but
> get a helluvalot of bang for the buck these days.

You are right about that Bill, we do... in comparison to the old days. I guess I am sort of anticipating the HDV revolution, the days to come. I just don't see how we will get decent pictures in domestic lighting conditions from prosumer 'HD' camcorders if the pixels on the chips are so small. Since I also don't see why larger chips would have to make a camera all that more expensive, the logical thing from my standpoint is for prosumer HDV cameras to gain chip size, and that could give us the benefit of 35mm optics. Since 35mm lenses are already mass produced and perfected, it would give us great quality and low cost.

> On the professional level, my DSR500WS has 16:9 chips,
> 850 lines of resolution

Must be a great camera, but it is more of a real 'pro' then 'prosumer'... I am thinking about the next PDX10-like camera. BTW., my PDX10 also has 'real' 16:9 and produces a great image with some shortcoming mostly due to the small size of the chips. Hence my obsession with low cost big chips. It also has great audio with XLR inputs, manual gain and phantom power, Glenn, so I kind of take that for granted.
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Old January 5th, 2004, 06:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
(3) Since the CCD is large, the art of 35mm photo lenses is so well refined and mass-marketed, I would expect this pro camcorder to include a standard photo lens mount and a basic zoom lens we can improve on. I guess this trick would mean the camera has to be Canon-branded... I can't imagine Sony making an under $3k camcordcer with a Canon mount but well... this is the dream cam, right?
Unfortunately, as the HD folk found out very quickly, a camera lens set up for film doesn't work well for HD. That's why we have special HD lenses now, the film lens are not flat enough at the focal plane.

I think they may have other problems too.
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Old January 5th, 2004, 06:26 PM   #11
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> the film lens are not flat enough at the focal plane.

Very interesting Mike. Can you elaborate on that? URLs with more info?
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