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Old August 27th, 2011, 01:31 PM   #16
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Re: Compact HD Camera w/ Big Punch!

It'd probably be helpful if there were a little more info on the INTENDED USE... There are so many "compact HD cameras", many with a lot of "punch" and very effective recording capabilities and value/$ propositions.

My only thoughts are, it's the camera that you have with you, and are comfortable using that has the BEST value/$, because you'll actually USE it instead of buying it, admiring it, and then it sits there... assuming the camera is for "personal" usage.

Even when tossing "pro" into the equation, it still comes down to an operator who is comfortable with and knows how to get the most out of any given piece of equipment...

I'm pretty impressed with the current line of Sony P&S cameras - not much adjustability, but fairly good HD video and adequate sound that sticks in a pocket... and good stills too. Not a bad proposition for casual use, as has already been mentioned!
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Old October 1st, 2011, 10:57 PM   #17
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Re: Compact HD Camera w/ Big Punch!

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Originally Posted by Les Wilson View Post
There's also the HMC-40 with optional XLR.
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Originally Posted by Robert Turchick View Post
So Les...are you a Panny guy? Ha ha! The hmc40 is a better choice! I keep forgetting about the 40. I've used one for b-roll many times and it works great. it does only have the single sdhc card and the codec is 24mbps avchd but for the price it's a killer little camera.
I found this thread by chance while searching for something else, but since the HMC40 is mentioned, I wanted to give my opinion since I own it. If you are positive that you will never need to use auto-iris for anything at all, it's a decent camera. But if you do any kind of event videography where you have a dynamic situation such as following bride and groom, a pan from a shaded area to a bright sunny area, etc, any situation where you will need a reliable auto-iris like most camcorders have, forget about Panasonic. At least forget about the HMC40 and the HMC80. Since I do need to use auto-iris quite a lot, I'm trying to sell the HMC40 because despite having great picture quality, it's useless for wedding videos or any other event where you can't just set the iris to one value and leave it there. Basically it jumps up and down like crazy for even the slightest change in light.

If you are outdoors and you have the bride and groom in the center of the frame and suddenly a white butterfly shows up in the frame it closes the iris like one or two full stops and it does that in like a 5th of a second. Or lets suppose it's a sunny day but also windy, and you have trees in the background that the sun is shinning on, but their leaves move a lot because of the wind, so the overall brightness of the frame changes constantly. The iris starts opening and closing rapidly, kind of like a very annoying flicker. Any other camcorder of any other brand, consumer or professional, deal with these changes in brightness much more delicately, taking much longer to open or close the iris. My other camera, the Sony HDR-AX2000, even has a setting with three choices to tell it how long to take to change the iris when there's a change in light, and it does an excellent job. But even my consumer Canon HF100 does a good job at that, and any other consumer camcorder I've seen.

This is the main reason why I stayed away from Panasonic cameras since then. I had bought the HMC80 and I had to spend weeks fixing the disaster it did at an outdoor wedding I used it for and I wasn't able to fix it completely. The HMC80 has the same internals as the HMC40 by the way. So I returned the HMC80 even though I bought it from a place that charged restocking fee and I had to suck up like $180 for said fee, but I got the Sony HDR-AX2000 and I couldn't be happier.

The HMC40 is only a good camera if you are a cinema student and you use it to shoot movies, where you can afford the luxury of setting everything to manual. For anything else it sucks.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 11:25 PM   #18
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Re: Compact HD Camera w/ Big Punch!

Sorry but I'm not a cinema student. Rather a pro videographer who is used to dealing with dynamically changing situations and using the manual controls. The project I used the 40 on was a documentary and over a 3 month period got to know the camera pretty well. Everything from interviews to indoor and outdoor b-roll as well as following the subjects around which is very similar to what you'd do at a wedding. Sounds like you're not comfy using the manual controls and that's fine. The hmc40 and all the other pannys I've used have worked very well in manual mode so they most certainly don't suck. Most videographers that I have worked with or know shy away from auto exposure of any kind due to the things you mention. That's on any brand of camera. If you have found a camera that suits your needs, great but don't bash cameras based on a function most pros don't use anyway. The 40 is a great little camera.

And just curious how all of us who shoot DSLRs deal with manual everything in dynamic situations. Hmmmmm.
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Old October 2nd, 2011, 12:14 AM   #19
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Re: Compact HD Camera w/ Big Punch!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Turchick View Post
Sorry but I'm not a cinema student. Rather a pro videographer who is used to dealing with dynamically changing situations and using the manual controls. The project I used the 40 on was a documentary and over a 3 month period got to know the camera pretty well. Everything from interviews to indoor and outdoor b-roll as well as following the subjects around which is very similar to what you'd do at a wedding.
Well, with the HMC40 at least, if you want to move the iris up and down in the middle of the take to adjust to different light situations, it will look far worse than the auto iris from any non-Panasonic camera, because you will go up and down in 0.3 stops, so each time you move the wheel up and down you will notice sudden changes in levels. In my Sony AX-2000 the auto-iris adjusts to the changes in light smoothly, and even better, it has Sony's AE Shift, so if it's too sunny I can set that to -4 and it will never overexpose anything unless you're shooting the sun itself.

Now if you were meaning to set the iris to one value and leave it there for the whole take, that would never work in some situations, especially outdoors. To give one example, I did a wedding where there were a lot of people walking from a very shaded area below some trees to the open sunny garden where the ceremony was. First the groom with his mother, then the bridesmaids, then the parents of the bride with the bride, so I had to pan from left to right and right to left like ten times each way. Even with the help of zebra patterns and the Manfrotto iris controller I have, adjusting iris on the fly twenty times would have given me pretty bad results, in part because the sun was shining on me and on the screen, but also because changing the iris manually all those times would have shown noticeable steps in the brightness. And that was a drastic change in iris because the tree area was pretty dark, and the sunny part was extremely bright, augmented by the white chairs and later the bride's white dress. If in that situation I would have set the iris to one value, either the shaded area would have been in almost total darkness, or if I would have set it to the shaded area, everything else would have been horribly overexposed.

Now, there are some cameras that go in 0.1 increments and that makes the manual iris usable in dynamic situations, but at least with the AX2000 I don't even care that much. The auto-iris, when used with the AE Shift, does a much better job than any pro could do in dynamic situations. And that's the way it should be in every camera. If pros never used automatic features, then no professional camera would come with them. In the case of the HMC40 it shouldn't even come with automatic iris because it's completely useless.
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Old October 2nd, 2011, 01:00 AM   #20
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Re: Compact HD Camera w/ Big Punch!

Sorry...double post!
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Old October 2nd, 2011, 01:08 AM   #21
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Re: Compact HD Camera w/ Big Punch!

And there is the real truth...the hmc40 and even my xf300 are not considered "pro" in many circles.
Auto iris or exposure has never worked as well as as I can operate it. My 300 has the same type of auto settings with adjustable ramps as your sony but the iris ring works better with my finger attached. Same with my 7D where I use a variable ND filter to control light.

I have used some of the "big boy" cameras like the hdc1500 where there's nothing automatic about it. You are expected to adjust exposure and focus manually. And the one I used was in a cineflex rig on a heli! It's basically like playing a video game with the amount of controls you have to deal with.
Once you get used to manually controlling exposure, it becomes second nature. Not that it's easy, it's just more accurate and smoother. Much like a drummer or pianist, you have to assign the functions to your fingers or hands independently and know them well enough to not have to think about it.

Prosumer cameras are getting better in auto mode but they are not quite to the level I'm comfy turning over control.
I will admit that the face detect AF is amazing on my 300 however and makes crane and GlideCam work much easier!

To get back to the OP, I still think the 40 is a good choice based on the requirements he listed.
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Old October 2nd, 2011, 01:19 AM   #22
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Re: Compact HD Camera w/ Big Punch!

OK, tell me which event videographer is going to have a $100,000 camera like the HDC-1500? If that camera doesn't have auto-iris it's understandable, since most likely it would be used in more static settings. But your normal small city wedding videographer will never have one of those. If their business is good, they might have your XF300, which I bet is a hell of a camera.

And I can do iris manually fine with the HMC40 and the AX2000, I even got the AX2000 because it has its own iris ring separate from the rest, but nobody can do better iris in a shooting situation that changes constantly than the camera, if the software inside is well programmed. Because if you go from shade to sun and you're moving your finger up the ring (no double meaning) you will get to a point where you will see zebra lines, meaning you already went too far. The camera will never go that far. So you will always have that second where you went a bit too far and overexposed something and then it goes a bit darker. While the camera will take it only to the point where it looks good. Granted, in most consumer cameras and some pro cameras, the auto-iris will stop at a point where the picture is still a bit overexposed, which is why the AE Shift function is so great, because you set it at -4, and that tells the camera to not open as much as it wants, but a little less, so everything stays at the optimal exposure.

To me, the only time to use manual iris is when you can plan ahead and practice. Say you have to move from shade to sun, and you know shade is going to be f3.2 and sunny area is going to be f7.2, so you already know the values and you move the wheel according to plan. Other than that, for situations when you can't know for sure what happens next, a good auto-iris is necessary.
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Old April 20th, 2012, 09:53 AM   #23
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Re: Compact HD Camera w/ Big Punch!

Hey guys...wanted to bump this thread. I'm getting ready to purchase and wanted some additional info. Looks like i'm going w/ the xf100, but wanted to know how good is it in low light?
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