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Old December 14th, 2009, 09:17 PM   #1
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Buying a new camer and need HELP

It could have been due to me not giving enough information regarding what I'm looking for as well as what I need, but every time I make a topic about this (there have only been a few) I never come to a decision on the new camera I'm going to buy. So this time I'm going to give anyone who would like to help me as much information as they need to give me a genuinely good recommendation on what they think my next camera should be. I own a GL2 at the moment and, while it has served me well, it is not living up to the standards of how I want my work to look.

I'm finding it increasingly hard to decide on what to buy every time I come across a new camera. As it stands right now, I think the camera that will best suit my needs, the look it produces as well as its features, will either be the Canon XH-A1 or the Canon XL2, possibly even the Panasonic GH1 (but I don't know much about dslr video, only what I've watched). However, if someone were to recommend a camera that is not one of those 3 and convinces me it would be the camera for me, I would definitely be interested.

So, first and foremost, what I will be using it for: I am currently a freshman in film school and would be using the camera strictly for narrative films. Possibly, but not to the degree of the narrative pieces, I would film a skate video every now and then. Regarding the narrative pieces, they will be shown on a full-size theater screen, so the HD from the XH-A1 would certainly be helpful as to not lose too much quality when it's blown up to fit the screen.

As for what I'm looking for as well as questions I have: the camera should shoot 24fps. SD vs. HD, I realize HD is better but, maybe just in your opinion, or maybe it's a fact, would I be far more grateful to have HD? The wider the camera's stock lens the better. Interchangeable lens would be nice, but from what I understand, the interchangeable aspect on the XL2 isn't exactly that great, since the lenses one can put on the XL2 are not the same as what you would use on a lens adapter, I'm not exactly sure what lenses are used with the XL2, EOS I think. Does one camera lose less light when using a lens adapter? As far as audio goes, since the camera will be used for narrative pieces, XLR inputs would be helpful for better audio as well as wireless lav mics for when I'm filming long-shots. My knowledge of audio isn't that great so more advice on this would be helpful. I will be using a steadicam and am unsure if the XL2 would require a larger steadicam (such as the Glidecam 4000 rather than the 2000) than the XH-A1. Low-light shooting will most likely be prevalent so a camera that shoots well in low-light conditions would be helpful as well.

Pricing: I will be buying whatever I decide on used. I own a GL2 right now and plan to sell it for $1500 (yes, I can get that much for it), and then using that money plus any extra I need to add to it for my new camera. I could obtain an XL2 for around $1700 used, and I've seen XH-A1's for as low as $2000 here. I am unsure as to what lens adapter I will end up buying, but would like to spend less than $700 for one, which I will also buy used. If the XH-A1 requires a smaller steadicam, that would also save me some money by not having to buy a GC4000 if I owned the XL2.

I realize I'm making quite a big deal out of this, and I apologize this post is so long, but as a student, money isn't always around for me, so this one purchase is a big one and I want to make sure I'm getting exactly what I need and will be happy with the camera for some time. I'd hate myself if a month after buying a camera I came across a different one and realized "damnit, I should have bought THAT ONE!"

If there is ANY other information you need from me, I will gladly provide it. Any help is GREATLY appreciated.
Nicholas Oliver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 14th, 2009, 10:02 PM   #2
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Maybe recording to a memory card?

The XH-A1 sounds like a good choice; I think you'd be happy with it. But something you should be aware of is a recent trend for many prosumer and professional camcorders to record on a memory card at a higher bit rate than is possible with HDV. That mean less compression, with an end result of a cleaner video image. Check out the JVC GY-HM100U. It records at a bit rate of 35Mb/s, while HDV is limited to 25 Mb/s (uh...someone verify that number?). It also has an HDMI output, so later, when you can afford something like a NanoFlash recorder, you could hook that up to your camcorder and record at at least 100 Mb/s. Also, the GY-HM100U has XLR mic inputs, which help you get cleaner audio.

True, the GY-HM100U is a bit beyond your current budget, but there are other camcorders by Sony (such as HVR-HD1000U) and Panasonic (such as AG-HMC70U) that have HDMI outputs so you could eventually hook up a Nanoflash-type product.

I'm not saying the XH-A1 is a bad choice, just that you need to consider where you'll likely be going over the next few years.

Good luck!
Ken Hull
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Old December 15th, 2009, 10:54 AM   #3
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I've got both an XH-A1 and an HMC40. With adequate lighting, the HMC40 can yield a noticeably sharper, cleaner image (fewer compression artifacts) - much better for blowing up on a big screen.
Robert M Wright is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 15th, 2009, 12:53 PM   #4
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observation #1: Don't know why you would even consider SD at this point in time, at the price point you're considering. HD cameras are available used at good prices, and you get roughly 4x the "data" in your image. Even picking up a "consumer" Canon HF-S10, 11, or 100 would give you excellent image quality and pretty good feature set (and at about half your budget!)

Observation #2: DSLR-V are great for shallow DOF, and short clips - they have a use, and if it fits your needs, are worth considering, especially since you're looking at adapters. They have strengths and weaknesses, and if one fits your needs, it might make sense, but I think a usable kit will bust your budget at this stage of the market (maybe not the GH1, but the Canon 5DMk2 or 7D would). I have no doubt that I'll add one to my kit (sort of waiting on Sony to release an Alpha w/video since I've already got the glass and wouldn't need to replicate that...)

Observation #3: As noted, things are moving away from tape, which you may or may not want to do at this stage, particularly if you will have to upgrade your computer/editing capability to go tapeless. There are still plenty of excellent used tape/HDV cameras that will make you pretty happy with the images you'll get.

Observation #4: The reason you're having trouble reaching a "conclusion" is that there are a LOT of good options available - at some point you'll need to pull the trigger, pick up the best used deal you can, shoot with it and see if it does the trick for you. NO camera is "perfect", and there's always new cameras and technology right around the corner (Sony's NXCAM looks pretty good to me...), and you've got to just do the best you can within your budget.

The "best" camera is the one in your hands shooting your "vision"... whatever camera that may be.
Dave Blackhurst is offline   Reply

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