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Old October 2nd, 2015, 09:13 PM   #1
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Frustrated Buyer...

Hi Everyone!

Over the last couple of weeks I have spent probably 30 hours researching various semi professional camcorders. The goal is to replace my aging GH3 with a nice all in one package for documentaries. At this point I am very frustrated by the offerings. Many seem to have outdated feature sets, use expensive proprietary media cards, or are simply ridiculously expensive when compared to say the DSLR offerings. Another trouble spot for me is the apparent lack of free firmware updates to keep models current. I understand they want to sell newer models but they should at least make the bit & frame rates viable. Like upgrading lower bit rates from 24mbps 60i to 50mbps 60p. JVC seems to be on point and even adds cinema 4K but Sony seems to neglect their camcorder customers. $500 to upgrade to 4K at 60mbps on the X70?!? WOW! This really frustrates me because I like the image quality from Sony camcorders. Currently I have my eye on the HXR-NX100 due to its form factor and 1" sensor. However, I would really like to have 4K (which should be part of the NX100 imo) but that seems to add another $1000 to camcorder prices. Do I have unreal expectations about the features that I should get for $1700? Has the DSLR 4K options become to viable to fast for the camcorder market to keep up? Even the new iPhones shoot amazing 4K in the correct lighting situation that put more expensive options to shame. Are we being nickle'd and dime'd to death? Maybe I just entered the market during the middle of a transition cycle? Maybe I'm just crazy. :-) I hope you guys can maybe shed some light on this for me as I am really lost at this point.

Regards,
Greg
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Old October 3rd, 2015, 12:04 AM   #2
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Re: Frustrated Buyer...

Did you eliminate the GH4 as a possibility? Seems like a natural upgrade to 4K, being able to use the same lenses, etc.
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Old October 3rd, 2015, 12:15 AM   #3
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Re: Frustrated Buyer...

The profit is in high-volume consumer products, not low volume pro cams, even though they cost a lot. Apple has something like 500 MILLION iPhones out there, maybe even more. Compare that volume with the pro market. How many TV stations are there in a metropolitan market? How many cams per station? That’s why it pro cams cost so much, because they’re low volume.

Patience is your friend. The features you want will come but they’ll just take some time. We pretty much know the NX100 can do 4K but they want to string the product life out, get people to buy it isn it’s current configuration then trickle out the upgrades so it can stay in the line for three years. That’s how the system works. Another option is to pay more and go with something like the JVC LS300. For documentary work that would be a good option due to the variety of lenses that can be used.

Plan B: Get a place holder, a used 1” FDR-AX100 with 4K for $1,200, equip it with a low-noise JuicedLink Pre with XLRs for $75 to $100, add a hot shoe converter for $12 so as to avoid proprietary attachments, and you’re good to go. The controls are there but maybe not as convenient. In a year you can pick up that lower priced 4K dream cam and then use the AX100 as a B-cam. In the meantime, the workstation and storage will suck up any loose change.

No need to get frustrated. Save the time from looking then get on with storyboarding and editing. The time will fly by faster than you ever realized.

By the way, been there, done that.
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Old October 3rd, 2015, 01:53 AM   #4
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Re: Frustrated Buyer...

Hi Stephen,

I am trying to get away from the DSLR set up. The GH3 sits in a full rig with monitor, light, recorder, shotgun mic, matte box etc. It weighs a ton with the counter balance and not ideal for shooting concerts. (at the moment its stripped down for run and gun with no on-board audio) Currently I have a few Olympus lenses for it and they are all primes. Which means I am constantly swapping lenses not to mention having to carry a bag while I am shooting. So moving to a camcorder would make life easier for that. Even for the type of documentaries I am working on a single all in one camcorder would dramatically reduce the effort involved. With all that said the GH4 would make some nice 4K footage. On another note, I could buy two more GH3's for multiple camera shoots and other gear for the price of a camcorder. Although that takes away from the one man band concept. :-)

Hey John,

You make some good points. I looked very hard at the LS300 but took it off the table because I don't want to mess with lens swapping for most of what I do. However that thing is sweet. I actually have the Panasonic DVX200 sitting in my shopping cart at B&H but some cash that I was expecting fell through so it is off the table. :( Although not 4K maybe the NX100 will take care of most of my needs and the GH3 can be the B cam... Still contemplating. As I type questions and responses though the NX100 is looking like the right decision...

Cheers Guys,
Greg
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Old October 3rd, 2015, 05:26 AM   #5
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Re: Frustrated Buyer...

Do you really need 4k. Don't forget the x70 has "10 bit 422"
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Old October 3rd, 2015, 11:55 AM   #6
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Re: Frustrated Buyer...

At this moment in time, HD from Sony looks really good on the screen. Go into Costco and look at 4K on their TVs and while it looks really sharp the incremental cost/benefit going with the 4K system is a lot. The old saying “A penny saved is a penny earned” is still true. The used price of yesterdays $4K set is dirt cheap now and they aren’t really that old. That’s a lot of money down the drain. Ditto with cams, it’s like they have a half-life.

There is practically nothing in the video kit that depreciates faster than the cam, it’s almost a consumable! All the new stuff looks really good today but in three years, well …. there is newer stuff. And much nicer. The AX100 with it’s Zeiss lens has really nice bokeh and the picture is beautiful in HD. For 99% of the population, a good HD picture will look just fine, even a few years from now and if there’s no 4K along side who’s to know? Okay, maybe some DVinfo poster.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it wouldn’t surprise me if your shooting isn’t actually in HD for quite some time because of how good the picture looks and the cost for media. Nobody is going to fault you for producing product in HD. It’s been said that two-thirds of good video is good audio so save some coin and work on the audio kit. There’ll be an X70 replacement in a couple years, maybe sooner. The LS300 with a nice power zoom and, for interviews a good prime, would be nice.

As for the NX100, for your purpose, it looks like a good package. The Sony G Lens for wide shots would be good. Don’t know if it is all glass as I think some Gs have plastic elements, and it has more button controls than the AX100. Speaking of half-life, the AX100 had a MSRP of $2K only a year and a half ago and when I checked a couple months ago the Sony store was offering $250 off their then current $1695 price. If there are no “gotcha’s”, my guess is the NX100 resale will hold up better because of all the prosumer features. Go for it!

The x70 “10 bit 422” would be really nice but the focus “feature” (as Paul Anderegg nicely calls it - I get a kick out of that) not so much. It would be interesting to see if the x70 is upgraded next year. Wonder if they could use the NX100 body so that could make the 100 a really nice B-cam.

Next projects? Audio and lighting kit$?
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Old October 3rd, 2015, 10:20 PM   #7
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Re: Frustrated Buyer...

You were probably on the right track with the DVX-200.

How about you lease it?

I bought an AG-AC160A three years ago on lease - the payments were around $200 per month and the interest was not a big deal.

Philip Johnson of hdwarrior is just starting today a review that will be done in a week plus a couple of days.

Philip does an excellent job on equipment reviews.

HD Warrior
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