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Old January 13th, 2010, 12:24 PM   #1
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SD is Dead. Long Live SD!

Hi everyone,

Forgive me in advance. My hope is to inspire a monster thread. ;)

I've been lurking near the prosumer edge of the camcorder spectrum for the past five years or so. I'm involved with non-profits in my area, and have recorded quite a few events.

My main prosumer camera is a JVC GY-DV300u. I also have a Canon HV20 and several Samsung SC-HMX20cs. (The Samsungs are useful for event videography, as they have 1/1.8 chips with very good low light ability and high resolution, and record to SD card. When I use them I usually reframe shots in post and render to SD, creating a digital zoom effect.)

Recently I've done a lot of work in tandem with my neighbor, who has a DVX100b. I've come to appreciate the camera for its very specific look, though I've had some luck tweaking the footage from the GY-DV300u in post to match his Panasonic.

Here's a scene from a community theater Shakespeare production we shot together:
YouTube - Hampshire Shakespeare As You Like It - Rosalind and Orlando Meet

The opening shot is from the Panasonic. The JVC is on the other side of the stage, and the HV20 is the C cam for the distance shots.

Clearly I'm no pro, but I do like to create something worth seeing. :)

Having matched footage from each, the JVC seems more light sensitive and crisper. At its best it produces a very clean image that can be tweaked in post. In the footage above, I think it almost out-Panasonics the DVX100b.

However, it is also a very temperamental beast, and it has a lousy LCD monitor that shows the scene is though it were several stops darker than the camera records. (You have to use 80% zebra or you will over expose, and the autoexposure is terrible.) In low light, the autofocus is also a bit slow, which can be a hassle in event videography. It also has incredibly noisy gain, and the color matrix setting adds noise as well.

As everyone seems to be dumping their SD equipment on ebay, I've been tempted to purchase a DVX100b to match my neighbor. I very much like the idea of sharing camera settings. The anamorphic 16:9 seems to work pretty well. Ease of use & less to do in post make it seem worthwhile. (I think I do want to stick to SD. Having a tiny bit of experience with consumer HD, I'm a bit wary of the crushed blacks, compression artifacts, and rapid rate of technological evolution. Plus, I like a bargain. :))

But with all of the SD cameras on ebay, I'm also tempted by other models: Canon X2 kits with both the stock long lens and the wide angle; PD-170s, with their clean low light ability that can be tweaked in post; JVC GY-5000s with .5" chips; JVC GY-700s with 2/3" chips.... I'm sure there are others that I don't even know.

So my very open ended question for you: If you were looking for a standard definition camera for event videography, one with wide dynamic latitude and good light sensitivity, what used camera would you buy today?

And my other question: do the features of the DVX100b make up for its limitations? Was it the the prosumer SD camera of the last decade?

Please discuss. ;) Thanks,

Brit
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Old January 13th, 2010, 01:02 PM   #2
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The GY-DV300U is one of the best kept secrets around. They sell for dang close to $500 used, and that's just insanely low for what the cam is capable of. For goodness sake, there's far less capable consumer MiniDV camcorders actually selling for more! While all the cams in it's class have their own particular strengths and weaknesses, the DV300U certainly holds it's own. As far as I can tell, in that class, it's capable of shooting the sharpest 4x3 60i image.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 04:54 PM   #3
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Thanks Robin

Thanks Robert. I believe I bought the GY-DV300u on your recommendation years ago. I got it for just over $700, and it has been a great, though frustrating, camera.

Do you still think it's the best camera in its price range? What about other large chip SD cameras that are currently sold as obsolete?
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Old January 14th, 2010, 01:12 AM   #4
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I'm curious what you find frustrating with the DV300U.

I don't know of any other three 1/3" chipper (and with pro level manual control and XLR audio to boot) that regularly sells used for anywhere near as little as DV300Us. Anything comparable costs roughly at least twice as much.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 04:37 PM   #5
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The LCD

The flipout LCD is horrible, the autoexposure is horrible and the gain is really grainy. My last event I filmed a concert under awkward stage lighting, and I made the mistake of closing the iris to avoid overexposure but bumping up shadow detail... the resulting image was so grainy that I had to put it through After Effects, and now it has lost quite a bit of sharpness. Operator error, yes, but a clearer LCD would have warned me. (I can't really use a monitor at the sorts of concerts I film.)

So a great training tool, and a wonderful camera to start with, but a bit too fussy for me to be entirely pleased.

Still it's an important tool, and I'm happy to have it. I won't be selling it anytime soon. Thanks so much for the recommendation.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 05:17 PM   #6
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The LCD is pretty small, but doesn't bother me a bit, because I much prefer using viewfinders. I'm 52 now, and can't see diddly squat up close, without my glasses, so I really like being able to adjust the focus of the viewfinder eyepiece, so that I can shoot without having to put my glasses on.

I rarely, if ever, use auto exposure, and never ever use AWB with any cam (great way to make post production a nightmare). I don't know that gain with the DV300U really generates notably more noise than is generally typical of cameras in it's class. Certainly though, for shooting in dim lighting, the Sony VXs and PDs are considerably superior to DV300U, as well as the other cameras in that class. In reasonable lighting, I'd rather have the image coming from the DV300U though.

Personally, I think the biggest shortcoming of the DV300U is the lens hood being non-removable, although it really isn't that big a deal to me, since I don't have a wide-angle lens for it.

I almost always shoot HD nowadays and haven't touched the DV300U hardly at all in a long time, but I'm sure not going to sell it for what they go for (just couldn't bring myself to do that). I've been thinking of going down to our town hall, and talking with the mayor about perhaps shooting city council meetings with it and putting the footage on public access cable-tv here, just as a public service to the community. I'm so far out in the cornfields, our cable-tv is still entirely SD only (no HD channels at all)!
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Old January 14th, 2010, 05:34 PM   #7
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You know, if you are seriously looking at getting another SD camcorder, I'd suggest you keep your eye out for a good buy on a JVC GY-DV500U. I wouldn't be surprised if, with some patience, you might could find a decent one for under $1k. That's a full blown three 1/2" CCD shoulder mounted camcorder, that would just knock the snot out of any three 1/3" chipper in dim lighting. I'd way sooner grab one of those, than a DVX at the same price.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 07:44 PM   #8
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1/2 inch chip camera

If you're interested, I have a camera that I'm willing to sell. It is a JVC 5000 that is in mint condition with only 55 original hours on the drum.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 09:26 PM   #9
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That might be interesting...

Hm... I've been watching a 5000 on ebay out of curiosity. I do think JVCs are underrated. I'm tempted by the DVX100b in part because of the ease of matching footage with my neighbor, and the fact that it is still in production, so it will be easier to find used models that are as good as new. I believe were I to pick up a GY-DV5000 it would be at least 6 years old... wouldn't that be a concern?

Is it cumbersome to use in a crowded theater? Would a Bogen 503 head be sufficient for it?

Robert, thanks for your continued conversation. And Bill, I might be interested. How much would you need to sell it for?
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Old January 14th, 2010, 09:41 PM   #10
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Chances of me purchasing another SD camera are slim and none, but I am curious what a 5000 is fetching nowadays. I don't think the 5000 has been out for 6 years, has it? I sure wouldn't be too concerned about buying out-of-production SD cameras that are selling for half what comparable cams sell for. You might talk with you neighbor about getting a DV500U to match up with yours. Wouldn't cost squat if you look around long enough for a good one. It continually surprises me how they turn up now and then with less than 100 hours on the heads, and sell for prices more typical of little point-and-shoot cams. Nothing beats an obsolete JVC pro cam for the price!
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Old January 14th, 2010, 10:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brit Albritton View Post
Hm... I've been watching a 5000 on ebay out of curiosity. I do think JVCs are underrated. I'm tempted by the DVX100b in part because of the ease of matching footage with my neighbor, and the fact that it is still in production, so it will be easier to find used models that are as good as new. I believe were I to pick up a GY-DV5000 it would be at least 6 years old... wouldn't that be a concern?

Is it cumbersome to use in a crowded theater? Would a Bogen 503 head be sufficient for it?

Robert, thanks for your continued conversation. And Bill, I might be interested. How much would you need to sell it for?

In my opinion, the age of it matters much less than the amount of use of the camera (the drum, tape transport), as long the technology is still useable. My camera looks new and it has always been in the bag. I have put it on a Bogen 503 and it works just fine. It must be balanced, for sure.

Cumbersome in a crowded theatre? Perhaps setting up and breaking down would be less convenient than a smaller camera, but once it is in place, no problem. Just my take on it.

The sell price for the camera, tripod plate, PortaBrace bag and power supply/charger and one battery? $1,500.00 plus shipping.

I will probably post it in the DVINFO classifieds in the next few days.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 11:45 PM   #12
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Pricing and 16:9

A 500U went for $700 a few days ago. Is the 5000 significantly better?

It the 5000 (as opposed to the 5100) has only letterbox, not anamorphic squeeze, right?

Thanks again,

Brit
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Old January 15th, 2010, 07:50 AM   #13
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I don't know the comparative specs for each camera (500 v 5000). If you do a search, I think there are comparisons that show the differences and how the 5000 is better.

The JVC 500 that sold for $700 is very cheap. What were the hours on the camera?, what was the condition (worn out handles, etc), what was included with the camera? who was selling it? Many sellers on ebay are merchants who buy and flip the product, knowing very little or nothing about the history (or operational condition) of the product. They may know it powers up, but not if there are burnt pixels, or minor problems.

I have monitored Ebay and determined the value of my 5000 to be about $1500. If the market value of my 5000 is less than 1k, I would rather keep it.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 09:02 AM   #14
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My apologies...

I don't mean to tell you what to sell your gear for. A 5000 with more hours sold for $1200 or so recently, so you are certainly in the ballpark.

But if I am a bit worried about the bulkiness and age of this camera, and the fact that it can't really do 16:9. (The DVX100b's 16:9 is quite usable.)

GY-HD100s and 110s are going for not too much more. I know there would be a tremendous hit to light sensitivity, but if I were paying much more than $1000, shouldn't I just make the jump?
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Old January 15th, 2010, 09:43 AM   #15
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The bigger cameras are definitely more cumbersome to handle. Walking around with a camera on your shoulder is for younger men/women.

With regard to the letterboxing vs native widescreen chips (or anamorphic), everything is a trade off. You have to decide what is most important to you and your application. I plan to buy the Sony EX1R (hence, the reason I am willing to sell the 5000) because I want the 1/2 chip, BUT I don't want the CMOS sensor. Also, I would prefer not to have the Long GOP codec, BUT I want the 1/2 inch sensor. Half inch sensors provide a better shallow depth-of-field, greater dynamic range, jand just a better overall picture.

It's about what you can afford and what you value/need the most...

...just my opinion.
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