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Old July 21st, 2010, 06:56 AM   #16
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Oh yeah, forgot to mention that when I assessed these cameras myself, I noticed something. When you price out your SDI enabled fixed lens choices (XF305 vs EX1R), you have to normalize the pricing to include 16GB of recording media because unlike the EX3, the EX1R DOES come with media: a Sony Pro 16GB SxS (good stuff). According to B&H, XF305 is on Preorder but based on the XF300 packaging, the XF does not include media. B&H shows a 16GB Sandisk Pro CF on sale for $175US and non-Pro for $125US. YMMV
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Old July 21st, 2010, 07:15 AM   #17
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Do apples to apples. If you compromise on the lens mount, then price the SDI enabled XF305 against a fixed lens EX1R which has the SDI output. For interchangeable lenses, compare the upcoming SDI enabled XL model (probably 1/3" like the XF) against the 1/2" EX3.
Thanks Les, that's a really good insight. I'll compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges when the Canon XL comes out...

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Look, you probably want 100MB for a feature film anyway. The Canon XF305 is the same price as the EX 3 yet doesn't have interchangeable lenses which I thought was a requirement for what you want to do.
Good point, so I might still need a nanoflash for an XF305 anyway in the long run so should not take the extra cost into consideration when comparing with the EX models. I also thought the EX3 would work out considerably more expensive at first because of the SxS cards, then David enlightened me about SDHC adaptors. That's why I was thinking of letting the interchangeable lens thing go, but it would be great to have interchangeable lenses.

The AG-AF100 certainly looks interesting, but it would need a Nanoflash too since it's maximum is 24Mbps, wonder how much the camera will cost when it's released...

I'm definitely leaning heavily towards the EX3 at the moment.

Les: Do you think a better version of the APS-C sensors might come out soon?

What's bleeding edge?

David: Thanks for the extra info on SxS - SDHC adaptors.

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Filming at a higher frame rate than the film will eventually be shown. The origin of the term goes back to hand cranked cameras - it meant turning the handle on the side faster than normal! It means that a slow motion efect will be seen on playback.

As far as the EX goes, then in a 50Hz country, you may wish final playback to be at 720p/25 standard. With the EX, that will be natively recorded with a 35Mbs data rate. It is possible to shoot at 50fps, at double the data rate, so that normal 25fps will still be a 35Mbs standard XDCAM-EX file.
Afraid you've lost me there David. Are you saying the EX1/EX3 cameras can record at bit rates higher than 35 Mbs to memory cards if you overcrank and film at 50FPS rather than 25FPS?
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Old July 21st, 2010, 08:22 AM   #18
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Yes, the SDHC based SxS cards give you the reliability of SxS and are much closer in cost to the expensive CF cards you need for these hi data rate (35mb and 50mb) applications. The XF is the first in this class of codec to use CF BTW so the reliability is undetermined. I've seen demos where an SxS card is yanked while recording and not a single bit of video was lost. I did that on my CF HDV camera and lost the whole 2GB segment. I don't know if Canon has done anything to make the CF cards as reliable as SxS.

When I said APS-C I meant the new family of large sensor camcorders like the Sony and Panny I mentioned. Canon may have one too but their strategy has been to be the last ones in the market segment. I think the APS-C sensor cameras are single chip FWIW.

Bleeding Edge is a pun on Leading Edge aka buying into the first generation large sensors. While you get to be first on the block, it's joked that you pay for that in blood (problems, glitches, top dollar pricing etc).

Last edited by Les Wilson; July 21st, 2010 at 09:32 AM. Reason: clarified CF statement.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 09:08 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Stuart Graham View Post
I currently own a Canon XH A1. And I could really use a camera with better features now, especially a better viewfinder to make focusing easier, more switches (you can never have too many switches) and interchangeable lenses. The problem is, what do I upgrade to?
Stuart
With all due respect Stuart, it is a common misconception among amateur filmmakers, that by spending a bunch of money on a camera that has, as you put it... "More switches" "interchangeable lenses" or uses a different codec, will push you to a professional level. When in fact most of the time the camera has absolutely nothing to due with that. It is still the same film, only shot with a different camera.

There is nothing wrong with the camera you own, and there have been many professional productions shot with the XH-A1. If you need a better viewfinder to make focusing easier, then purchase a proper monitor which can be used with any camera you might choose to use.

Bottom line, there are so many other places to spend your hard earned cash which will have a more significant impact on your productions that buying a new camera. And in most cases, rentals make the most sense when you get to that level.

All the Best!
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Old July 21st, 2010, 09:29 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by David W. Jones View Post
With all due respect Stuart, it is a common misconception among amateur filmmakers, that by spending a bunch of money on a camera that has, as you put it... "More switches" "interchangeable lenses" or uses a different codec, will push you to a professional level. When in fact most of the time the camera has absolutely nothing to due with that. It is still the same film, only shot with a different camera.

There is nothing wrong with the camera you own, and there have been many professional productions shot with the XH-A1. If you need a better viewfinder to make focusing easier, then purchase a proper monitor which can be used with any camera you might choose to use.
I want to go on record to agree wrt to the need for storytelling, lighting etc skills and that getting a next level camera in and of itself isn't going to take a filmmaker to the next level. I assumed Stuart assessed he had what it takes.

However, I do empathize with wanting to move to something with better low light sensitivity, DOF, file based workflow, and get some ergonomic improvements like hi-res LCD/VF, full stop rings and a few others.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 11:01 AM   #21
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Hey guys

Hopefully I've got what it takes... I'm currently engrossed in several books on cinematography and directing and scriptwriting... find it hard to have time to keep up with the latest cameras and stuff in between editing, planning, full-time job, etc, etc... If I haven't got what it takes, it's not that important to me - as long as I can keep making films.

I put so much work into my films I just find the compression artefacts a real shame. Every time I watch the films I've made I see the artefacts, not to mention the dodgy HDV color, and think I wish I'd recorded in a better format. There's also the issue of how difficult it is to execute focus pulls while dollying, getting smooth zooms, etc, etc... The lower bitrate HDV format also means I can't do the shots I want because if the camera pans or moves on the dolly any faster than really really really slow to follow action I get nasty tearing in the image. But no action is really that slow and it's really limiting.

One other advantage to upgrading my camera is that at least my films might reach a wider audience on a satellite channel or suchlike and I can try to get back some money for future films.

David: Good thinking, I've never really looked into rental before, I have no idea how expensive rental is for cameras like the EX3. At the moment my filming is all done at weekends (usually 7-8 weekends in a row) so it's a bit awkward to pick up and drop off equipment each weekend. The nearest rental place is about 30 miles away as well. But I'll look into getting some rental prices.

Les: maybe it's best for both of us to wait until the big APS-C sensor bleeding edge cameras have been replaced with cameras with a slightly blunted edge and then invest... or invest in chainmail gloves... hmm...
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Old July 21st, 2010, 01:14 PM   #22
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Most rental houses have special weekend rates that will save you money.
Use the money you save renting vs purchase to hire a pro audio person and grip truck w/gaffer.
The key is really surrounding yourself with the best team you can assemble.

Good Luck!
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Old July 21st, 2010, 01:30 PM   #23
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Stuart, I am really beginning to wonder whether you may not have got some other problem which you're blaming on HDV and compression. HDV is not a broadcast codec, but it's not THAT bad - most of the time you are hard put to see any problems. To put it in perspective, it's arguably better than the standard used for broadcast HD TV transmission - when BBC HD was MPEG2 I believe it was around 19Mbs, subsampled to 1440, 4:2:0 colour sampling. (It's now an even lower bitrate, but using H264.) You may have been able to see the odd artifact - but "....the artefacts, not to mention the dodgy HDV color...." and ".....if the camera pans or moves on the dolly any faster than really really really slow to follow action I get nasty tearing in the image....." ?

Excuse me? That sounds worse than the cheapest consumer camera at very low bitrate AVC-HD. It sounds vastly worse than any HDV camera should be, and certainly an XH-A1 - I think your problem may be something other than HDV. In what way do you consider HDV colour "dodgy"?
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Old July 21st, 2010, 02:02 PM   #24
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Stuart, further to David Heath's comments, maybe you could post s short clip of what you've done. That may help to determine if what you are seeing is a result of the HDV Codec or some other factors.

I use to shoot with an XL H1a and XH A1 and did some independent shorts with them. Given the correct setup both cameras could produce very good pictures. Whip pans were a no no but you could pan at a reasonable rate an not see the effects you are mentioning. With the footage from those two cameras the first thing I would do is to transcode into CinForm intermediate prior to doing any post work. If you do use heavy color correction on HDV files they will exhibit some pretty nasty artifacts.

I currently shoot with an EX3 and nanoFlash. This combination, especially shooting at I-Frame only 180Mbps or higher yields some truly stunning results.

This is my personal set up and if a producer were to want anything higher I would rent as the cost of investing in a higher end rig is not justified for most independent shooters. I've had some of the projects I've worked on shown in local theaters as well as broadcast over local cable and with the EX even using native files (not from the nanoFlash), the final product is pretty impressive.

A word of caution though. You did hit it onto an aspect most people going into these cameras don't anticipate. That is the higher cost of accessories. Batteries, for example, are much more expensive, You'll need a good tripod also. As for your critical focus, nothing beats a good HD monitor. I can focus decently through the EX3's VF when I'm handheld but if I'm on sticks I always have my monitor going to aide in focusing.

Garrett
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Old July 22nd, 2010, 08:56 AM   #25
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One of the things I absolutely love about my Sony V1U is that it has a HDMI port with the video signal at full HD resolution direct off the sensor block. Industry people have dropped their jaws when they see the quality of the image that comes out of that connection. Much better than HDV.

All I need is a unit that records from a HDMI input and I've essentially got myself a codec upgrade without having to purchase a new camera.

Andrew
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Old July 22nd, 2010, 10:22 AM   #26
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Limiting factor being the 1/4-inch CMOS Sensor.
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Old July 22nd, 2010, 10:24 AM   #27
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True, true.

But just think of that beautiful 20x optical zoom you get. :-)

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Old July 22nd, 2010, 03:49 PM   #28
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Good afternoon,

there are a number of cameras out there that can out put full resolution via an hdmi port!!

An hdmi recording device other than a lap top would make them outstanding choices!!!
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Old July 27th, 2010, 06:56 AM   #29
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Thanks for all the help and replies guys!

Quote:
there are a number of cameras out there that can out put full resolution via an hdmi port!!
An hdmi recording device other than a lap top would make them outstanding choices!!!
Great suggestion Dale.
Would you need a Nanoflash to record to or do you mean the sort of HDMI recorders you get for recording hi-def television?
Do you do this yourself and what camera do you use for it?

Quote:
One of the things I absolutely love about my Sony V1U is that it has a HDMI port with the video signal at full HD resolution direct off the sensor block. Industry people have dropped their jaws when they see the quality of the image that comes out of that connection. Much better than HDV. All I need is a unit that records from a HDMI input and I've essentially got myself a codec upgrade without having to purchase a new camera.
Hi Andrew. Didn't realise the V1U has HDMI out. What do you record to? Does the recorder compress your footage? And in what format?

Quote:
Stuart, further to David Heath's comments, maybe you could post s short clip of what you've done. That may help to determine if what you are seeing is a result of the HDV Codec or some other factors.

I use to shoot with an XL H1a and XH A1 and did some independent shorts with them. Given the correct setup both cameras could produce very good pictures. Whip pans were a no no but you could pan at a reasonable rate an not see the effects you are mentioning. With the footage from those two cameras the first thing I would do is to transcode into CinForm intermediate prior to doing any post work. If you do use heavy color correction on HDV files they will exhibit some pretty nasty artifacts.
Hi Garret. I'll try to post some footage or stills of the tearing effect. I've seen the effect in other people's footage online so I don't think my camera's faulty. I always see it when watching back footage where panning or other camera moves are too fast. I did some tests a while back and found I had to pan at a speed where an object passed from one side of the frame to the other in no less than twenty seconds to prevent the tearing problem. 5 seconds or less looked terrible. 10 seconds wasn't great. It looked like compression artefacts to me and I hunted around forums and Google to see if anyone else had similar problems to no avail.

That's a good idea to get a decent monitor to aid focusing.

Quote:
Stuart, I am really beginning to wonder whether you may not have got some other problem which you're blaming on HDV and compression. HDV is not a broadcast codec, but it's not THAT bad - most of the time you are hard put to see any problems. To put it in perspective, it's arguably better than the standard used for broadcast HD TV transmission - when BBC HD was MPEG2 I believe it was around 19Mbs, subsampled to 1440, 4:2:0 colour sampling. (It's now an even lower bitrate, but using H264.) You may have been able to see the odd artifact - but "....the artefacts, not to mention the dodgy HDV color...." and ".....if the camera pans or moves on the dolly any faster than really really really slow to follow action I get nasty tearing in the image....." ?

Excuse me? That sounds worse than the cheapest consumer camera at very low bitrate AVC-HD. It sounds vastly worse than any HDV camera should be, and certainly an XH-A1 - I think your problem may be something other than HDV. In what way do you consider HDV colour "dodgy"?
Thanks for the insights there David. I might have been a bit hasty with my wording there. Just having more colour to work with in colour correction would be nice. And I'm going to be doing some chroma key and compositing work in the future so 4:2:2 colour sampling might help give better results. My main concern is the tearing artefact, as I call it. I'll try to post some images and video of the tearing artefact today or tomorrow.

Quote:
Most rental houses have special weekend rates that will save you money.
Use the money you save renting vs purchase to hire a pro audio person and grip truck w/gaffer.
The key is really surrounding yourself with the best team you can assemble.

Good Luck!
Thanks David. You're right, I really could do with getting a pro crew together and better equipment, I've used volunteers so far. I'll try and figure out rental costs and how much it'd be to hire a crew for a film.
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Old July 27th, 2010, 07:16 PM   #30
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Hi Stuart,

I'm still recording to tape. But at least I have this option available in the future, should tape become rare.

Andrew
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