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Old November 16th, 2005, 01:43 PM   #1
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Pro, Prosumer, Consumer... and Why?

My company just pull out a sony dsr 1 for our client to shoot some stuff with the teleprompter. Looking at this big camera, I wonder what's the difference between dsr 1 and the pd-170, besides the size? Of course, there are more image and audio controls on the dsr1, but are those controls the only reason differenciate a pro cam and the rest?
Nowadays, HDV is like a hot apple; but the low datarate and the high compression make me wonder that: 1. HD has higher resolution than SD, but with high compression rate, doesn't that translate to a lower quality image? 2. I suppose higher resolution equals sharper image, so maybe (to my first question) the lower quality image means less color?? 3. movies have been shot on these small pro-sumer camcorders, does that mean these camcorder are broadcast quality? What exactly is the broadcast standard? is it a absolute standard? What are the considerations for a broadcast camera?

I've been talking to people about these things, seems like nobody could give me a definite answer. When it gets too technical, people often skip the explanation all together and tell me "oh it's just better" and I just wouldn't buy that...

So, thank you guys for all your opinion!
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Old November 16th, 2005, 02:56 PM   #2
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For one thing the pro "shoulder-cam" units usually have 2/3" (maybe 1/2") CCD's. This gives them better low light sensitivity with less noise, a shallow depth of field when desired, and a generally better image. There are also a variety of interchangeable lenses you can choose for these cameras with the most expensive ones costing 3x as much as a whole PD-170 package.

If they use the DV format then the final compression on tape will be the same as the prosumer cameras, but since you're starting with a much nicer image the difference should still be noticeable.

However it's tough to decide whether the substantial price difference between one of these cameras and a prosumer camera is justified in many cases.
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Old November 18th, 2005, 04:58 PM   #3
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This is a very good question and hopefully someone really professional will answer soon.

Seems like televisions are now more and more using the smaller "prosumer" Sony cams like VXs and PDs. They are CERTAINLY broadcast quality even if I cannot explain myself what it exactly means. They are nicely able to film as well as the betacams and although may be a bit worse in low light, I couldn't ask for much more from my VX2100 - wherever is a little bit of light, it gives nice and sharp picture. These cams are a lot more portable and you can get more interesting shooting angles. I can give you a good example of what professional cameramen can do with PD150 - http://www.tv.ee/static/manager/pild...-A3E67AFAEA2F} . It's not in English, but just watch it a few minutes and look at the camerawork. It's indeed quite interesting and the operators certainly enjoy doing it. Do you think they could have been able to do the same with a big shoulder cam? I doubt. Btw, the idea of that show is that two reporters are randomly offering free trips (to Tenerife) to people and most are not accepting, because they have job or other reasons. Finally they still get two "players" and the one who gets to the airport first, wins the free trip. Additionally, before going to the airport they have to visit a big shop and buy stuff for a certain amount of money they are given and they have to spend it very precisely.

Major part of the BBC (UK's national television) programmes and documentaries are also shot with PD150s and VX2000s.
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Old November 18th, 2005, 05:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Wu
1. HD has higher resolution than SD, but with high compression rate, doesn't that translate to a lower quality image?
No, because the compression algorithm used in HDV works differently than the one used in DV cameras, so you can't draw any conclusions based solely on the data rate and compression ratio. HDV uses a different set of trade-offs than DV to generate higher resolution per frame (spatial) with some loss of ability to handle motion between frames (temporal). For scenes with little to average motion HDV looks great, while in some demanding circumstances it may not work so well -- at which point it makes sense to use a higher bandwidth HD format.

Quote:
2. I suppose higher resolution equals sharper image, so maybe (to my first question) the lower quality image means less color??
See above. Color on the Sony HDV cameras is very good considering their price, partly because they use high quality signal processing circuitry. Also, if I'm not mistaken HDV has a broader color space than DV, plus one frame of HDV has a lot more color sub-samples than a frame of DV footage.

Quote:
3. movies have been shot on these small pro-sumer camcorders, does that mean these camcorder are broadcast quality? What exactly is the broadcast standard? is it a absolute standard? What are the considerations for a broadcast camera?
"Broadcast Quality" is a widely misused term. In order to be considered suitable for broadcast a video stream just has to meet certain minimal technical requirements, which really don't say much about how good the image is. Footage from a grainy black & white security camera can be included in broadcast material if it's important to the story, so long as it's processed to meet basic broadcast requirements. What most people mean when they say "broadcast quality" is that the image looks pleasing to the eye, and more expensive cameras generally do a better job of that (when used properly) than less expensive ones.

Like many modern devices, video cameras are gradually getting better and better at more and more reasonable prices, meaning that it doesn't cost as much to generate an image which looks good enough for broadcast work. But in general, better video cameras have better lenses, better sensors, better processing circuitry and better recording bandwidth. It never hurts to have more of all of those things; it's just a question of how much you're willing to pay.
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Old November 18th, 2005, 10:39 PM   #5
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3. movies have been shot on these small pro-sumer camcorders, does that mean these camcorder are broadcast quality? What exactly is the broadcast standard? is it a absolute standard? What are the considerations for a broadcast camera?
I think "broadcast quality" is a subjective term that is fairly abused. At one level, it just means that something that is broadcast quality is good enough to be broadcast.
If you look at news, almost anything is broadcast quality (i.e. satellite video). The low quality is kind of desireable anyways as it makes the news more authentic- it looks like they are in the middle of nowhere and that it's really ghetto there.

2- Another way to look "prosumer" versus "professional" equipment is in terms of whether the equipment will achieve what you want to do.
Excellent image quality- IMO prosumer equipment is very close in image quality to professional equipment. A little color correction and it will be extremely difficult to tell the cameras apart. Or a little color correction can make the prosumer equipment look significantly better than uncorrected professional equipment.

If you take a look at ESPN's show "full ride", significant portions of it were shot on the Z1 and I can't tell it apart from Varicam (except in rare shots where the background is shifting around due to compression artifacts).

3- You could also exploit the advantages of whatever equipment you choose to get.

prosumer:
cheap (which may allow you to spend money elsewhere to get better quality.. i.e. 35mm adapter)
unobtrusive - very nice for documentaries; may be useful when interviewing subjects (less intimidating?)
small - nice for documentaries, some news

professional:
looks impressive (i.e. to clients)- the equipment looks a lot more expensive than DV stuff. *There's some prosumer stuff that looks impressive though (DVCPRO, shoulder-mount DV cameras)

shoulder mount provides more stability

more manual control

4- Professional equipment usually correlates with better quality because professionals are operating the equipment. The high cost tends to weed out inexperience and untalented people.
This doesn't mean that you're untalented or inexperienced, or that you can't get excellent quality from prosumer cameras.
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Old December 5th, 2005, 09:12 PM   #6
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I see...

Thank you guys for clearing it up...
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Old December 6th, 2005, 09:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Georg Liigand
This is a very good question and hopefully someone really professional will answer soon.
Ouch, total burn on Boyd! :)
Heh heh heh....


Anyway, in three words:

Bigger chips win.
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