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Old September 4th, 2011, 03:06 PM   #1
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Buy older used professional camera, or save money for newer prosumer one?

I think I might buy another camera soon, within the next six months.

I want to get into multi-camera event production. I need to gain hands-on experience with manual controls: ie: focus, zoom, iris, etc. I haven't charged any money for any of my projects yet.

Currently, I only have a couple of consumer Canon Vixia HF11 camcorders. They have a nice image, and I've made some videos with them, but I don't feel that I am gaining the experience that I could with a proper camera. Also, the SD footage should be easy to edit on my workstation, and would be especially well supported. An XL2 is going for about the price of a new upper consumer camcorder right now.

I come from an IT background and hate everything about tape. I am very much spoiled from the flash-based workflow. Most of my videos are distributed on the Internet, with DVD as secondary. I've burned a total of one Blu-Ray so far.

So, my thinking is that I have four choices in front of me (in order of expense):
  1. Not buy any new equipment yet, make do with what I have.
  2. I could buy a third Canon Vixia camcorder, hoping for a nice image match with my existing ones
  3. I could buy a used professional camcorder (I'm thinking PD170 or XL2), with a DTE recorder (ie: Firestore).
  4. I could save a lot of money and try to grab a XF100/105 or better.

Thoughts?
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Old September 4th, 2011, 11:32 PM   #2
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Re: Buy older used professional camera, or save money for newer prosumer one?

I would begin taking paying jobs, save up and go for a more up to date prosumer level camera.

Now isn't the time to invest in tape-based equipment (and I say that as a Z1 owner). While the cameras do perform well, it's only a matter of time until the media is no longer supported, as least at a reasonable cost, and like you said, it's much quicker to deal with solid state media anyway.
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Old September 4th, 2011, 11:36 PM   #3
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Re: Buy older used professional camera, or save money for newer prosumer one?

If you really want to get a feel for manual shooting with a DTE media option at a low cost, why don't you try a JVC HD100U. You can get these equally as inexpensive as the XL2, but you've got an HD option as well if you ever need it. The JVC, though, comes with a fantastic Fujinon stock lens, comparable to the bigger 2/3" lenses used on the big boy ENG shoulder-mount cams. It's a true pro lens with manual focus, zoom, and iris control. Imagery is very beautiful, both in SD and HD.
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Old September 5th, 2011, 03:49 PM   #4
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Re: Buy older used professional camera, or save money for newer prosumer one?

I'm blown away right now by the Vixia G10. It'd probably interface pretty well with my existing equipment. I suppose if I bought an older camera, I'd have to factor in the price of the DTE box, and when you add that in, usually you are at the price of a newer tapeless camcorder anyway.

The GY-HD100U is a pretty interesting option. Basically, I'd be giving up a level of HD in turn for a really amazing control interface and quality.
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Old September 6th, 2011, 01:19 AM   #5
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Re: Buy older used professional camera, or save money for newer prosumer one?

the problem with professional equipement is they cost the hell to service.
even a little mechanic part cost hundreds and electorinics or optics cost thousands.
So if you buy an used professional there are possible chance you have to service it soon or later.
and accessories cost the hell too, so if the camera is not complete and you miss some part (a lens add-on, a tripod adapter, an additional battery or charger, be ready to explode your budget).

On the other hand with a new prosumer camera, you got the latest technology, a warranty and probably a picture as good as with the professional one, plus other advantages (like lower priced accessories )
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Old September 6th, 2011, 07:13 AM   #6
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Re: Buy older used professional camera, or save money for newer prosumer one?

Until you have an income that can generate the finances to fund multiple cameras with manual controls within a reasonable amount of time, you'll always face this leapfrog problem where you've invested in one or two and the next one is on a new technology. Right now you have two consumer cameras. The G10 keeps you there and doesn't take you where you say you want to go IMHO.

On the other hand, if you are one person doting around tending to 3 cameras, you are probably using their automatics so why bother with a camera with manual controls?

Maybe your best bet is a camera with manual controls to work together with the existing consumer stuff then fund replacing the consumer stuff by income from the paying gigs. Rinse and repeat till you have 3 similar cameras....earn a slew of money and upgrade the whole bunch of them after a few years. You sure you want to get on this merry-go-round? :-)

I don't think the XL2 is what you want.

I suggest you look outside the Canon line and look at the AVCHD prosumer cameras out there. A good sense for what's there can be seen by going to B&H and filter the cameras by media (SDHC, CF, Memory stick) then sort by price. The more rings on the lens, the better I say... YMMV
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Old September 6th, 2011, 07:42 PM   #7
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Re: Buy older used professional camera, or save money for newer prosumer one?

I've noticed the Panasonic HMC80 is on the low-end of the price spectrum, and it only has one ring, but would something like it be a good option? It has the professional look to it, but it isn't commonly discussed in the forums I've checked. It records in HD and SD, so I guess if I knew a project was destined straight to online-only viewing I could save some time in post.

Maybe if i saved up some money and sold a couple of pistols, I could swing it. Hmm...

I can guarantee, however, that videography WILL NOT be my primary source of income for the next five or more years (unless something bad happens...). So, I need to make these acquisitions from a hobby/side-business perspective.

Oh, and on top of the camera expenses, I would still feel the need to invest in a proper portable lighting kit, so that I can pull off projects like the following video correctly. Oh, and I would need to invest in a proper lavalier microphone, etc. Maybe even upgrade my workstation?

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Old September 6th, 2011, 10:18 PM   #8
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Re: Buy older used professional camera, or save money for newer prosumer one?

Chris Harding in Ozland uses the 82 which is the PAL version of the 80. He's the guy to ask about the 80. I know he loves 'em.
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Old September 7th, 2011, 01:34 PM   #9
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Re: Buy older used professional camera, or save money for newer prosumer one?

Jordan, it really depends on what your goal is: is it just to get 'nice images' as you put it, or to really dig in and understand exactly why are those images nice, and why sometimes for no apparent reason, they just won't come out nice.

If your goal is, as stated, really to go into manual controls, as already suggested, a used JVC GY-HD1xx would be one of your best options. You can buy barely used ones (100-200 hours) with a hard drive of flash card recorder and a decent 3-4 hour battery for just above $2000.

Than dig in! At first, you will get scared of the amount of manual control and how much you can screw up if you don't know what you're doing, but luckily others have already done the foot work for you and made templates available. Get one, tweak it to your liking and I guarantee, you will never look back to Vixias and the kind.

Oh and don't get bogged down by the 1080 vs 720 debate! Look around on the internet, for the price point, there is no way you can find anything better - you will have to invest a LOT MORE to get significantly better pictures.
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Old September 10th, 2011, 11:21 PM   #10
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Re: Buy older used professional camera, or save money for newer prosumer one?

I'll keep this info in mind when I'm ready to buy. Thanks everyone!
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