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Old March 21st, 2011, 12:12 AM   #1
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what camcorder to buy?

i am still in the market for a new camcorder and have not made up my mind of what camera to choose from. im looking at any camera in the 3,500 dollar price range that shoots in HD, has pro XLR and good in low light. any suggestions? preferably i dont want it to be HDV, tapeless is the newest thing today so i should probably stat away from that.

Thanks,
suggestions greatly appreciated
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Old March 21st, 2011, 12:32 AM   #2
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Re: what camcorder to buy?

I'd recommend the Sony NX5. It's a little over your budget but is currently the king of the 1/3" camcorders. It has the best low-light capabilities in it's class and shoots AVCHD to SDHC cards.

The Panasonic HMC150 is not far behind in lowlight. If you're willing to put up with softer images from the much older sensors it uses, it would save you $1000. The images from the Sony and the Panasonic cameras have a very different look/feel to them so in the end it might come down to whatever look you prefer - so make sure you check out lots of sample footage from each camera.

Probably the only other contender would be the Canon XF100 but it's design and features are aimed more at broadcast users and those looking for a small b-cam to complement their more expensive camcorders.
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Old March 21st, 2011, 07:00 AM   #3
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Re: what camcorder to buy?

This is a very common question that with some searching, you will find many threads answering.

Here's a post that may help you: The gigantic "which camera should I buy" thread!
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Old March 21st, 2011, 09:20 AM   #4
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Re: what camcorder to buy?

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Originally Posted by John Wiley View Post
I'd recommend the Sony NX5. It's a little over your budget but is currently the king of the 1/3" camcorders. It has the best low-light capabilities in it's class and shoots AVCHD to SDHC cards.

The Panasonic HMC150 is not far behind in lowlight. If you're willing to put up with softer images from the much older sensors it uses, it would save you $1000. The images from the Sony and the Panasonic cameras have a very different look/feel to them so in the end it might come down to whatever look you prefer - so make sure you check out lots of sample footage from each camera.

Probably the only other contender would be the Canon XF100 but it's design and features are aimed more at broadcast users and those looking for a small b-cam to complement their more expensive camcorders.
as you were saying about how the hmc-150.. when you say its a softer image what do you mean by that? its not going to be as sharp as the sony because the hmc150 uses ccd's instead of cmos? i currently shoot with a sony FX1 that uses ccd's so will the image be just as soft as my camera? will the quality be significantly better from the hmc then my FX1? because my ultimate goal is to have better image quality from the new camera i may purchase.

thanks for your reply!
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Old March 21st, 2011, 09:41 AM   #5
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Re: what camcorder to buy?

Today consumer camcorders like TM900 and HFG10 shoot better picture than FX1, but if you need more 'professional' look John is right, NX5 is probably the best in the 1/3' size area;
i would also take a look at Canon XA10 or XF100 if you really need XLRs;
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Old March 21st, 2011, 11:06 AM   #6
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Re: what camcorder to buy?

i was looking into the canon xf100 and was a little impressed with what features it offers, it can shoot up to 50mps and that is just like what the professional camcorders can shoot at, also if im not mistaking it has 4:2:2 color space which is great for chroma key. however, the only downside to that camera is that it shoots to one 1/3 cmos chip versus my FX1 shooting to 3 of those resulting in better low light performance. Also a there Is no manual zoom ring which would have been nice. but at my price range i think the HMC is a great contender from what everyone says about it... hopefully it will be better quality then my FX1?
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Old March 21st, 2011, 12:44 PM   #7
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Re: what camcorder to buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Butir View Post
i was looking into the canon xf100...
however, the only downside to that camera is that it shoots to one 1/3 cmos chip versus my FX1 shooting to 3 of those resulting in better low light performance.
I don't think so, if we're talking about the same chip size, 3 chip will get you better color, but one chip, depending on A to D converter might result better low light performance, XF100 for it's 1/3 " has amazing low light, no doubt better than FX1; I used to have Z1, i know what it can and what it can't;
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Butir View Post
i think the HMC is a great contender from what everyone says about it... hopefully it will be better quality then my FX1?
I've never had them side by side, but I think it will, there are 3 years of R&D between the two
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Old March 21st, 2011, 09:03 PM   #8
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Re: what camcorder to buy?

Good evening,

the xf100 viewfinder is only about 260 thousand pixels!!!! Not good!!!! You would regret that later to be sure.

If I was going with a single chip you might look at that sony with changable lenses, an aquaintence has one and got an adapter to use his Nikon lenses and says he is amazed at the footage.

Sony NEX-VG10E Interchangeable Lens Handycam NEX-VG10E B&H Photo
Dual xlr can always be solved by a juice box/beach teck for 179.00 dollars


Beachtek DXA-2T Universal Compact Camcorder Audio DXA-2T B&H

focus is so critical I would make certain it has a million pixel view finder whatever you decide to get!!



with the sonys having the hdmi out will also allow you to capture to a computer, a ki pro mini, or nano flash at a later time when you want to upscale the quality of your pictures!!!

The one below fits your bill and price range. and it is not a one chip camera.

Sony HDR-AX2000 AVCHD Camcorder HDRAX2000/H B&H Photo Video

Tough decisions to be sure!!!! Be sure to do your homework!!!!!
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Old March 21st, 2011, 10:14 PM   #9
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Re: what camcorder to buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Butir View Post
as you were saying about how the hmc-150.. when you say its a softer image what do you mean by that? its not going to be as sharp as the sony because the hmc150 uses ccd's instead of cmos? i currently shoot with a sony FX1 that uses ccd's so will the image be just as soft as my camera? will the quality be significantly better from the hmc then my FX1? because my ultimate goal is to have better image quality from the new camera i may purchase.

thanks for your reply!
It's not about CCD vs CMOS, it's to do with about the resolution of the sensors. The HMC150 has 3 image chips that are not anywhere near 1920x1080 (as with many HD camers). The HMC150 uses image sensors inhereted form the older HVX200A, with each sensor having a resolution of 960x540 or thereabouts. Pixel shifting is used to increase the resolution, but the final output has been measured to be around about the same as 720p, even when shooting in the 1920x1080 mode. In fact, many users of this camera say they notice no resolution difference between 1080p and 720p.

Because Panasonic used the older chips, from a previous camera, rather than designing new ones, it means that the sensors in the HMC150 are a generation behind those in the NX5. That is not to say that the panasonic does not produce excellent pictures - it is regarded as having amazing picture quality with a range of image tweaks to get exactly the image you desire. Sharpness is not everything - better dynamic range, contrast, and colour go a long way to making an image appear sharper than it really is. (just look at the HDSLR's for proof!)

A few more differences between the two which could be helpful if you're weighing up the options between the NX5 and the HMC150:

Panasonic is cheaper.
Sony has a 20x zoom lens vs the 13x of the Panasonic.
Sony has the optional Flash Memory Unit for recording to dual media.
Sony has CMOS but Panny has CCD - each have different streghts and weaknesses.
Panasonic is older so might be easier to find 2nd hand (to make it even cheaper!)
The Sony works with all genuine L-series batteries so you can use batteries from your FX1.
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Old March 21st, 2011, 10:30 PM   #10
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Re: what camcorder to buy?

this is probably a very broad question but is there a night and day difference between the image quality with the HMC to the NX5? and do you think that the HMC will blow away my FX1 in image quality as well? because that is what i am aiming at.
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Old March 21st, 2011, 11:20 PM   #11
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Re: what camcorder to buy?

I put in an order for the NX5 today. After a lot of research I'd agree with John it offers the newest technology and most features for the best price. I currently own the Z1 and FX1 and I think they have adequate image quality but I'd like better low light performance. I don't expect there will be a significant difference in quality with the NX5 but thats not why I'm getting it.

As far as image quality, I believe it falls into major categories and within those price ranges you are going to get very similar quality between the major brands. For any significant difference you will have to spend a lot more by getting a bigger chip. Sure you can use a SLR with a huge sensor but then you have many sever limitations to deal with.

Ask yourself these two questions:
1) is your client asking for better quality?
2) are they willing to pay more for that extra quality?
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Old March 24th, 2011, 11:35 PM   #12
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Re: what camcorder to buy?

after hearing all of the great things about the NX5U i feel like that is the perfect camera to purchase. i have heard nothing but great things about it and i think its def worth the extra money for a cam that is going to out perform many cameras in that price range. anything that stands out about this camera that i should know?
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Old March 25th, 2011, 02:45 AM   #13
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Re: what camcorder to buy?

Is there a night and day difference between the HMC150 and your FX1? No. Will the NX5 blow away the HMC150? Not really although the NX5 can be noticably sharper to my eye. (At least it seemed so a year ago when I was buying cameras.) . Can the NX5 images look better than those from the HMC150? Sure. Basically, as near as I can tell, the HMC seems best adapted for shooting 720i and 720p while the NX5 will go up to 1080. (It does not do 1080/60p, though. Only the very latest Sonys do that.)

For a $3500 ($US) budget, consider Dale's suggestion of an AX2000, which is the prosumer version. Last time I checked, the NX5 was $4,000 while the AX2000 was $3500. Depending on what and how you shoot, the extra featurs of the NX5 might or might no be worth the extra $500 to you.


"anything that stands out about this camera that i should know?"

There is a lot to know. Hard to say where to begin.

Maybe start with RTFM. (Read the bleeping manual) when you get the camera Sounds glib but it is important because this camera gives you a lot to work with, especially if you are coming from something like an FX1. The layout will seem familiar enough to make you think you know what everything does. You will find that there is more here than you are used to. Even coming to it from the somewhat similar control layout of the FX1000, I found I had a lot to learn.

I've had an NX5 with an FMU for a year. I have been using it in multi-camera shoots with an FX1000 (with an MRC unit) and a pair of CX550 cams. Frankly, the little CX550 cams work better in auto mode than the NX5. Their auto focus is quicker and more accurate. The CX550s have less noise (pixel twitter and grain) in very dim light than when shooting with the NX5 in auto mode.You overcome those apparent deficits by using the NX5's many manual controls.

Going heavily manual with with NX5 takes time to learn. You can read the labels and maybe watch introductory videos but, until you put in the time using the camera for a while, it is hard to understand what the various functions do and how they work together and what works for you.

Here's another consideration: does flash-banding make you froth at the mouth? The NX5 uses CMOS sensors which are subject to that artifact. It drives some folks to such dsitraction that they either cannot abide it and go for the CMOS based HMC instead. I mostly do multi-cam shoots of weddings, events, and stage performances (dance and music) and many of these events have folks firing flashes. If flashbanding grated on my nerves, I probably would not have purchased an NX5. In my case, however, I'm mostly indifferent to it. Also, I do not do much whip-panning. So, over all, I've been pleased with the NX5.

Some other points. I almost always have a couple of SDHC cards in the slots while using the FMU but I've never had to resort to the SD cards. The cards stay in the camera simply because they seem easier to keep there rather than getting lost in my rolling kit box. The downside is that I have to clean files from the cards regulalry in order to avoid the frightening "card full" meassages that can pop up during a shoot. Also, I've found that footage from the FMU transfers about half-again faster than from the SD cards. YMMV. On the other hand, the FMU was on back order when I bought my NX5, and I had no problems working with 16 and 32 gb SDHC cards until Sony finally started shipping the FMU units.

I shoot using the LPCM audio option. . Some editing programs have trouble reading LPCM audio streams when paired with AVCHD video. Be sure your NLE can read it before you use LPCM audio.. (LPCM happens to be a favorite feature for me but not every NLE handles it.)

The camera gives you flexibility in working with mikes. You can mix the on-board mike with different kinds of external sources. You can send the signal from the supplied short-shotgun to both stereo channels. You can do a whole lot in between. Again, this flexibility can be good or bad depending on your familiarity with the various controls. It is important to know that there is a set of controls next to the XLR connections (for line and mic level and phantom power) and another set of the left side of the camera (for mixing and sending signals to tracks and adjusting relative volume). There is also a limiter (as opposed to audio agc), which is a good thing. Both sets need to be set correctly If you want to feed line inputs (say from a house-sound system or a DJ) you need to either have to be XLR feeds off a sound panel or else you will need adapters to convert the line feds to XLR from RCA or -inch connectors.

Some things I've found particularly useful for my work are: (a) the huge flexibility in setting white balance and color temperature (and being careful with using the temp settings); (b) the active steady shot (must be used judiciously; (c) the smooth white balance and gain switching; (d) making frequent use of the expanded focus function when shooting with manual focus; (e) the ability to work with the preset buttons and picture profiles; and (f) working with the three lens rings. Bear in mind that you have peaking for focus but there is no histogram if you like that for setting exposures.

The images from default set-up can be a bit soft. There are a number of postings in this forum on presets and changes to sharpen it up.. I'd suggest a search and trying out several of them to find the one you like best. I'd tell you what changes I made except that I can't remember where I stashed my list. (Yet another symptom of my COFS -- chronic old fart syndrome.)
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