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Old June 25th, 2004, 10:11 PM   #1
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MiniDV purchase recommendation

I would greatly appreciate your input on which MiniDV I should purchase for around $1500 or less. I would like to buy a Canon or a Sony and I'm leaning toward a Sony but not strongly.

This may be the wrong forum to place this post in and if so I apologize but my goal is to shoot 'DV for the masses' a la Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11, i.e., documentaries.

I'm not a pro, far from it. I'm brand new to the world of DV. I rushed out and purchased a Canon Optura 30 and played with it for about 4 days. I really liked the camera and thought the quality of the film was excellent. However, I kept reading in different Internet forums about Canons and learned that they don't perform well in low light settings. I will be shooting video in a wide range of settings, e.g., outside, inside, early and late. I will not be using any lights, just run and gun. I ended up returning the Canon because I wanted to ensure I made the best purchase possible. With the rate of technological advancement, it's hard to keep up, really impossible especially when you are on a budget.

I acknowledge this is a tough question and it all depends but I would still like to hear from those who know a million times more than me with lots of experience.

All the video is to be placed on my website just to give you an idea of how I plan on using it. Additionally, I plan to encode my video with Clipstream which I have only recently learned about. It's playerless video streaming software. So, run and gun and slap it up on the Internet for viewing by the masses. What do you recommend?

Thank you.
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Old June 25th, 2004, 10:49 PM   #2
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Hey Jim,

After reading for two weeks now, catching up on the different cameras that Sony and Canon have to offer, starting with the G/XL1 and VX1000 to the GL2/XL1s and VX2100, I have but one thing to say. You'll likely be overjoyed after purchasing anyone of them. I've read reviews for all the main "prosumer" Sony and Canon cameras. It seems it comes down to Sony being the best in low light situations.

However, just about all of these reviews begin with "I was deciding between the Canon ____ and the Sony ____, and I'm very glad I picked the Sony." Then the next review states they're glad that they picked the Canon. There's not one review I read where the owner wished he or she had gotten the other one they were considering.

I've been searching Google now for "GL1 vs XL1s," "VX2100 vs GL2," etc. My guess, is that if you're satisfied with the quality of the Optura 30, you'll be extremely impressed with the quality you'll get with a higher end Canon or Sony. Granted, I don't have a camera myself yet, so only consider this information as an opinion.

My one recommendation is to never stop looking at eBay for deals. If you can up your budget by a hundred or two, you'll have no trouble getting a GL2 or VX2000. And www.epinions.com is very helpful as well.

Let us know what you get!
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Old June 26th, 2004, 08:31 AM   #3
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Steve,

I can't think of a better opening response to such a broad question that I have posed. I'll admit however that I have never been one to buy 'used' that's why I'm still broke as a convict. :-)

The models you listed give me lots to study.

I'll be sure to let you know what I get.

Thank you.
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Old June 27th, 2004, 11:03 AM   #4
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Steve Sawchuk says he read all the reviews and it appears that he was able to make a decision based on what he read. I too have read a lot of reviews and have concluded that, while they may help you focus on some possibilities and learn what is available, only seeing actual results is the basis for a decision.

For example, I have just evaluated an Optura 10 which has very good reviews. The performance, by my standards, was very poor.

I think the opinions of the more experienced members of this forum should take precedence over reading reviews. The final decision should be based on seeing actual results.

I'm shopping for a camcorder too. Besides high quality video and reasonable quality stills, I want a camera that is not too heavy. The Sony DCR-PC-330 was recommended by an "pro" at Keebles in Palo Alto. I've had a chance to shoot some stills in the store and they were excellent. I have not had a chance to do any taping.
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Old June 27th, 2004, 12:10 PM   #5
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<<<-- Originally posted by Bill Lapson : Steve Sawchuk says he read all the reviews and it appears that he was able to make a decision based on what he read. I too have read a lot of reviews and have concluded that, while they may help you focus on some possibilities and learn what is available, only seeing actual results is the basis for a decision.

For example, I have just evaluated an Optura 10 which has very good reviews. The performance, by my standards, was very poor.

I think the opinions of the more experienced members of this forum should take precedence over reading reviews. The final decision should be based on seeing actual results.
-->>>

Oh, you're absolutely right. I'm just in the middle of somewhere that doesn't have a camera shop nearby with the higher end models, so I'm forced to trust the internet.

Myself, I like taking into account both factors. When you read reviews such as those on epinions.com, you hear the small things that you would never think about -- and probably wouldn't read here. It's helped me to read the opinions on here, and the reviews elsewhere. Still, after weeks of research, I have yet to make a decision.

But this isn't my thread :)
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Old June 27th, 2004, 12:55 PM   #6
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Steve,

I wish you had not mentioned that Canon XL1s. I went to a local camera dealer and he pretty much sold me on this camera. Once you get into this caliber of camera there really is no longer any question of the quality. It's there in spades.

Can I use you as a credit reference? : )

It looks light. 2 lbs. 7 ounces?

One critical question, however. Does it come with software that allows you to 'capture' it to your PC and then encode it with Clipstream software? Keith Loh, are you there?

The local camera dealer told me that our local NBC affiliate uses the Canon SL1s in their news/weather helicopter and that the local narcotics police just purchased one for surveillance shots, i.e., it's zoom capability is awesome. It can reach out there and touch you.

Man, what a camera!
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Old June 27th, 2004, 02:45 PM   #7
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Jim, you might want to stand back a bit and look a little deeper before pulling out the credit card ;-) On June 25 you told us that you're brand new to DV and want to spend $1,500 or less. And now on the 27th you're in love, and ready to spend over $3,200!

I am not in any way saying that this ISN'T the camera for you, but if it is then you should be able to define which specific features make it more suited than a ~$2,000 camera like the VX-2100, GL-2, PDX-10 or DVC-30. Or how about another $3,200 camera like the PD-170, the DVX-100a for $3,500 or the HD-10u that shoots in hi-def for $2,900? (all prices from B&H Photo) Have you looked at these other models? Do you understand the differences?

You said the goal is to make videos to put online. Those are usually rendered at low resolution and heavily compressed; do you think someone will be able to tell the difference between a $2,000 and $3,000 camera? Or for that matter, will a single chipper or 1/6" 3-chip camera be good enough? Lots of options there that would fit your original budget.

I think you need to sit back, take a deep breath, relax and do your "due diligence" - you were awfully quick to discard your original budget and replace it with one that was more than twice as large (maybe you should run for congress ;-). If "around $1,500 or less" was really your number then you shouldn't even be looking at the XL-1s. And even though you say you don't need any accessories, I find that hard to believe. There's always "one more thing" that you realize you need. Wide/telephoto lenses, filters, carrying cases, zoom contollers, wireless mikes, additional hard drives, editing software, file compression utilities, a production monitor, extra batteries... the list is endless.

So before you go any further I think you at least need to define a real budget and stick with it. Then you need to understand all the different options available to you within that budget. Happy shopping, but don't rush things.
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Old June 27th, 2004, 03:01 PM   #8
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Boyd,

I don't deserve such good advice but I'm going to take it anyway. I'm taking a deep breath and I will think long and hard on this.

One feature I see in this camera that I REALLY like is the zoom lense capability. If I'm understanding this camera's true capability it has can go places I want to go and can't currently.

What do you think of the Canon XL1s?

Thank you. I've got more questions but it will take some time for me to formulate them.
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Old June 27th, 2004, 03:42 PM   #9
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Hi Jim. I have not used the XL-1s, but I'm sure I would be more than happy with it personally. ~3 years ago I narrowed my choice down to the XL-1, PD-150 and VX-2000. I decided to go for the PD-150, but it was such a hot item back then that nobody had them in stock and there was long wait. I opted for the VX-2000, mainly because the XL-1 just seemed a little big and heavy, and I wanted a flip-out LCD screen.

If zoom is a big deal for you then maybe the GL-2 would be worth looking at, it has a 20x lens and is $1,000 less. But you'd still be well beyond your $1,500 budget. Maybe a smaller camera with a 2x telephoto adaptor would serve just as well?

As you formulate specific questions you should search, or just browse through the appropriate camera forums here for answers. Then pose your questions there if you're still confused. That way you'll get feedback from actual owners of the model(s) you're considering.
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Old June 27th, 2004, 04:18 PM   #10
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Boyd,

I'm following your advice. Many thanks.
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Old June 27th, 2004, 05:06 PM   #11
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1- Zoom: When you are zoomed in and shooting handheld, the image will be very shaky. IMO this is highly distrating and one of the more frequent low budget mistakes.

If you have a tripod and a locked off shot, then you will not get any shakiness. If you have to do camera moves while zoomed in, then you will need a good (typically expensive) tripod to avoid shakiness or 'sticktion' on the tripod.

2- This may be the wrong forum to place this post in and if so I apologize but my goal is to shoot 'DV for the masses' a la Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11, i.e., documentaries.
Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine was shot on HD. I'm guessing Fahrenheit 9/11 was shot on HD.
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Old June 27th, 2004, 05:18 PM   #12
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Glenn,

Good info on the shaking. I didn't even know what HD stood for but found a link with some good info at:

http://videoexpert.home.att.net/artic3/262hdvr.htm

Technology is something else. There is at least one thing I'm sure of: MiniDV.
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Old June 27th, 2004, 11:26 PM   #13
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Just sharing my impressions with y'all as a rookie. I've discovered the XL2 and all the talk surrounding its release. This video stuff is indeed a world unto itself.
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Old June 28th, 2004, 07:36 AM   #14
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You should definitely check out the new Panasonic DVC30. I have just bought one a week or so ago and it is a sweet camera. It is made out of metal and has a very solid construction. This was one of the big reasons I did not get a GL2 (its made of plastic). The DVC30 also has a fantastically controllable 16x zoom lens (from wide to tele in 1 to 100 seconds!!!). It also has frame mode and cine gamma settings for extra possibilities.

If you need low light reach get a sony vx2100 (or pd150/170 if you can afford). IMO forget about a GL2, sure it can produce some great video, but the DVC30 has as many features and more and is only a bit more expensive - still less than the sony.

Seen as though you are quite new to video the XL1s (and XL2 when released), and Panasonic DVX100a might be a bit of a steep learning curve - not to mention a significant price jump above the cams already mentioned.

The sony PDX10 is also a camera you should think about. It has one of the best widescreen modes in this price range, native XLR inputs for pro sound, but isn't great in low light.

The choice is yours ;)
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Old June 28th, 2004, 08:12 AM   #15
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Dave,

How much does that metal camera weigh? This choice it too complicated already. I'm going to go with a Sony or Canon because I'm not much of a leader. I prefer to follow the pack. ;-)
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