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Old May 27th, 2004, 08:18 AM   #1
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DV 852 and observation

Hi all
During “research” I stumbled on NV MX8 (PV DV852) – at an online camera store – never entered my head that I’d find one like that! but ALAS they want $2800 for it (currently thats USD1995 ). That’s USD 460 more than I can currently get a DV953 for here.

I cringe a bit when I read those newbie posts desperately wanting reassurance or direction about cam choice. Probably because I’ve experienced those feelings myself.

I live in a regional centre and the few retailers here only carry the low end consumer cams though they can get the better ones in but you have to order it first – this makes the whole process very un-nerving – so most of us scour the internet relying on user reports – trying to sort the chaff from the grain – very hard though translating technical stuff into a real appreciation of what a camera is actually like to use. The question of what I want to do with the cam isn’t necessarily as simple to answer when you’ve never had one. What you think you want to do can change as a proper response to first experience.

Several months ago before I’d been anywhere near a video cam I would’ve said I wanted the best – visions I think of becoming the videographer…something to “grow” with or grow into perhaps…. Then my wife, unprompted, couldn’t resist a bargain one day at Kmart– a very ordinary Hi 8 model – thought she’d done well on my behalf with money that could have been devoted to something much better in dv … but you know strangely enough, playing about with it has helped me discover what it is I want to do with dv – just the simple experience of having a cam in hand and having to think about what you are going to shoot!

Regards
Darryl
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Old May 27th, 2004, 09:25 AM   #2
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Excellent observation. A good craftsman can fashion beautiful art using simple tools. The latest and greatest toys do not make the art - the artist does.

That said, be mindful of the limitations of your equipment and work with it - most of all, ENJOY!
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Old May 27th, 2004, 10:10 AM   #3
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I'm with you all the way on this, Darryl!
You'd be surprised how many of us still have fun with $400 Digital8 cams.
I would surely enjoy an XL1 or a PDX10, but for my family vacations (and no budget), I learned how to bypass the shortcomings of my cheap gear. I even find qualities to it that are becoming rare these days, like a large CCD for good low-light performance and no smear.
In the end, the fun is in doing nice things with the tools you have.
One thing is sure though: my next cam will have controllable white balance. That's the only feature I really miss.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 02:37 PM   #4
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The best first cam is a cheap one...

My wife did the same thing. she bought me a panna DV53 for my birthday last year. I was hoping for an ipod, and a friend of mine already had a GL1. so I was a little disappointed. This feeling lasted almost a full minute. Five minutes more and I was completely swept away. Another hour, I was importing video into imovie- a piece of software I'd never used before even though I'd had an old style imac forever.

this gear was all pretty cheap (relatively). I bought a dual G-5 with FCP in January and I'll be moving up to a PDX10 next week, but I still have a fondness for my little panna, and imovie. I've shot several little shorts for school with this set up, not to mention hours and hours of my two boys, and without it I would have had no idea what I really wanted or needed in a cam/nle.

A friend of mine, the one with the GL1, insisted that I couldn't learn anything from fooling with such low end gear. I couldn't disagree more. I learned to translate my drawing composition skills into the world of video, and I leaned the basic concepts of non linear editing- try learning FCP without a little bit of such grounding first- good luck!

Anyway, better to shoot with a cheap set up than to not shoot with an expensive one you don't have.

Michael
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Old May 28th, 2004, 09:39 AM   #5
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Darryl, I'm in the other camp. A budding still photographer in the 1980s rarely bought a US$40 Kodak Instamatic camera to sharpen their skills with. Journymen cabinet makers don't develop their skills with a US$70 el cheapo table saw from Sears.

Even a US$100 digital still camera can give stunning photographs in my opinion. To get even a reasonable level of quality in camcorders one needs to start at about US$3,000 I've been told.

I've tried shooting with less than this, and I must say there is no incentive to stay at it. What can you do with it. It's not even good enough qualilty to show to the relatives (now that we watch DVDs regularily), and you can't put together professional footage for anything. The video quality of less expensive camcorders is like shooting with 110 film for stills in the old days. No one displayed such photographs in any sort of professional way.

It's unfortunate that the minimum quality level costs so much money in video. An SLR film camera (still widely used) now costs about US$200 and produces excellent professional quality while a camcorder with entry level quality for professional work costs US$3,000 (suggested retail).
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Old May 28th, 2004, 10:06 AM   #6
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Technology will never replace technique. There are limitations to any level camera, the more expensive model with more features always seems to hold the answers. It's time to work with what you have and find inexpensive ways around some of your issues.

Take each issue and look for an inexpensive or even cost free way to work with it or around it.
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Old May 28th, 2004, 12:20 PM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Ben Wiens : Darryl, I'm in the other camp. A budding still photographer in the 1980s rarely bought a US$40 Kodak Instamatic camera to sharpen their skills with. Journymen cabinet makers don't develop their skills with a US$70 el cheapo table saw from Sears.

Hmmmm.

Brace yourselves there's a rant coming:

Well first off, still photography is not video. There is, in fact, some skill overlap, but both forms require unique talents. Cabnet making is also not video, and if there is any correlation between the two beside the need for a good eye a steady hand and attetion to detail, I am ignorant of it.
As for honing your skills- composition can be learned with a $5.00 disposable camera- or a series of them anyway- or you could learn it the way the vast and overwhelming majority of all human beings who have ever possesed this skill have learned it- with a pencil and sketch pad. Same goes for story, a pencil and some paper. you may not be able to present such a story in a "professional" forum, but that is not what were talking about. Learning to do quality work requires that you accept the reality that you will not produce a masterpiece your first time out or your tenth. A good 3ccd professional camera is wasted on a newbie- unless they take the time to learn how to use it- a period that will be considerabley shortened if they have some experiance with lower end equiptment. Making art is as much about knowing what you DONT want as it about knowing what you do want. Even so, early results are likely to be deeply flawed.
Personally, I have no problem getting family members to look at my work. As frustrated as I am by the limtations of my camera and NLE they all seem to think that imovie is some type of magic.

Furthermore, it is a almost a cliche around here to say "Well everything looks good on tiny little internet player" or some variation of the same. This is usually used to dismiss the supposed image qaulity of this or that camera- I think when we embrace such sentements we are more or less shooting ourselves in the foot (feet?) The statement is, barring massive compression, pretty much true.
This is a GOOD thing. A very, very good thing.
Why?

Because it is also true, that if you are making little short movies and posting them on the internet, then the majority of people who see them- even if you manage to get them into festivals and what not- will see them on the internet- and they will look good.
This fact alone should have all of us dancing in the streets. What a great time to be alive and making movies- big or small.
The glass is not half empty, it is not even half full- it is slopping over with beer, but we go thirsty for want of champaign.

Art is not made by equiptment- it is made by artist.

Michael
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Old May 30th, 2004, 01:38 PM   #8
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Michael, I'm going to try and reduce the pixels of my video and see how that looks. But I have noticed that even low resolution clips originally shot with a Sony VX2000 appear to be far better quality than from less expensive camcorders.

And yes, the majority of clips I see on the Internet, well I can't even stand watching them, the quality is so poor.

I'm used to digital still pictures which are generally great quality even from cheap cameras.

Also I've taken still film pictures, mostly slides, over the last 25 yrs. I've often showed these in slide shows, not commercial events, but sometimes up to 300 people. People often commented how clear and well composed the pictures were. The cameras I used were not expensive.

So now if I give video shows I'll be known for poor quality video, haloes, and massive motion artifacts. Way worse than anything they see on TV.

That's my beef. Consumer camcorders in my opinion mostly produce junk video. And I wonder if it is a conspiracy or if it is a real technical problem. Not talked about enough. Shoved under the rug. Is everyone in denial?

When the cup is 1/10 full, there is no point in making belief it is full, because it isn't. But I guess we are all looking at the cup at a different angle. I guess a cup 1/10th full looks full if one looks at it dead on from the very top or bottom. That's OK to have different perspecitives on this in the world. But if we don't all get toether and put some pressure on the camcorder manufactures, they will keep giving us tiny chips, poor low light, grain, holoes, motion artifacts, forever.
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Old June 1st, 2004, 09:26 AM   #9
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Ben,
I have produced my share of junk video with consumer grade equiptment, more than my share, there is no doubt about that, but I have been getting progressively better and better video quality for the entire time I've owned my camera. At the start I made some pretty obvious mistakes- I left the tape in the camera for days on end, used EIS on a tripod, didn't ajust the white balance ect..
I had drop outs and blocks and an artifact here and there, but I'm not getting any of that any more. I have never had the halos though. My video is clean and rather pretty these days.
I go to night school and last fall I took a class, for my final project I did a short documentary. I shot in 16x9 (cropped) with a panasonioc DV53 the final product was projected on a wall screen.
I was satisfied with the quality of the video, but not crazy in love with it. One of my class mates, however, was a film guy and he was blown away. He kept me for an hour after class class grilling me about the equiptment I's used. He kept saying cazy things like- "That looked like film." I explained to him that it did not look like film- I ran him through the video and pointed out some of the shortcomings of DV- jaggies on the edges and one blocky pixel that had slipped past my edits ect..
Nevertheless he was converted.
Personally I'd rather shoot on film- but I would also like a solid gold bathtub. Sadly, I am stuck with porcelin and DV.

I have seen some awful video online and some nice stuff as well. What you see has a lot to do with the method of compression- or so I have read...

Have you tried a lot of different cameras? Is there a possibility that you got stuck with a lemon?

I don't think my camera is the better than or as good as film, but I also don't think that I'm in denial about the fact that it produces a quality image- that can tolerate at least a moderate amount of enlargement without tunring to crap.

That said, you strike me as an intelligent and thoughtful person, so I will have to at least entertain the possiblity that I am fooling myself- tonight I will go home and have another look at my most recent clips... Maybe they do suck.

Michael
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Old June 1st, 2004, 11:10 AM   #10
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Michael, the main issue I have with my Panasonic PV-DV852 is that it has a lot of haloes (crayon effect around objects). That ruins the general quality and resolution of the whole picture. Panasonic repair says this is normal on their less than professional camcorders. From clips I've seen on the Internet, I wonder if Panasonic camcorders have more haloes than others. What kind of camcorder are you using? I notice a lot of quality issues in pictures others can't even see. Check out your pictures again and let me know. Perhaps you don't have this halo problem and that is why you are so much more positive about less expensive camcorders than I am.
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 02:25 PM   #11
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Halos

Ben,
After a fairly exhaustive look at video both recent and not so recent I can say that I do not have this halo problem. I have shot in a variety of conditions, including outside in overcast, on snowy days and on bright sunny days. I have had blocks, dropout, and even some chroma noise- this on a vhs dub. Almost all my problems, though, were due to operator error. Over the last couple of months I have solved most of my issues. I even shot some video last night, it looked clean and sweet. All this video was shot on a Panasonic DV53 the lowest of Panasonics low end mini DV line. One further note, I have fairly well developed drawing skills, and a trained and critical eye. I had my best pal look at the stuff as well. He is a master level painter with the best eye of anyone I have ever met. When i first started out he was super critical of my video. As I have gotten better at working the cam, though, he has changed his tune. He couldn't find any halos either. They might be there, but we're not seeing them.
I remain enthusatic about low end cams, especially the DV53.

I sincerely hope you find a solution to your problem.
Good luck
Michael
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" When some wild-eyed, eight foot tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head against a bar room wall, and looks you crooked in the eye, and he asks you if you've payed your dues, well, you just stare that big suker right back in the eye, and you remember what old Jack Burton always says at a time like that, 'Have you paid your dues, Jack? Yes sir, the check is in the mail."
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Old June 3rd, 2004, 08:14 PM   #12
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It is pretty clear to me you have a sharpening problem. Cheap camcorders do it to compensate for their poor lenses; check the settings. The DV codec you use makes a difference too. I use the one that comes with Vegas and do not have a serious haloing problem.
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Old June 4th, 2004, 08:54 AM   #13
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Haloes problem...

Ben,
Your halo problem looks like excessive edge enhancement.
Too much artificial sharpness added to the picture by the manufacturer to simulate better definition on a 150$ 19 inch TV set.
On your DV852, try this:
Switch to Manual mode.
In the Camera setup menu, select the AE Program called "Portrait".
Now make some tests. If it works like I think, it will give you a much cleaner picture in most situations because this program usually sets the sharpness down to its zero setting. It should cancel that "halo" or outline effect around highly contrasting details.
Also make sure that your monitor or TV set doesn't have the sharpness or detail setting cranked up. It does the same outline artifacts, emphasising noise mostly.
I prefer adding a little sharpening in post, starting with a soft but clean picture, instead of shooting outlined original footage straight from the cam.
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Old June 4th, 2004, 09:56 PM   #14
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Hi Norm, I remembered your comment about switching to Portrait AE program mode from the other thread I started, but did have time to check it out. I did today. I went from Automatic, to Manual Portrait and also Sports Mode. There was always the same dreaded halo on my Panasonic PV-DV852.
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Old June 5th, 2004, 12:05 AM   #15
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Michael, if it is true that you don't have the halo problem with your much less expensive Panasonic DV53, then the Panasonic repair person is not right. He claimed that all camcorders less than about network quality have serious halo problems. Doesn't he know what he is talking about?

Then why would Pansonic build innexpensive camcorders with much higher quality than their more expensive one's? I'm estimating that my PV-DV852 listed for about 4x the price of your DV53.

I wish there was a way of getting to the bottom of this issue.
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