Should I buy an XL1H, a Sony PDW-F330 or F350 at DVinfo.net

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Old December 9th, 2006, 02:31 AM   #1
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Should I buy an XL1H, a Sony PDW-F330 or F350

I know it sounds like an unfair world, but I can choose between the three. I do have to pay them myself so after all, it's not that unfair anymore ;-)

I shoot mainly short company introductions, 10 minute movies and travel documentaries. I already have 3 nice new Canon (photo) lenses (24-105, 100-400 and a 1-5 Macro) which could be used on an XL1h (Right?)

However the F330/350 have nice disk based recording taking out a lot of hassle and juggling with tapes. I assume their picture quality is also better (right?)

Then there is also the price factor.
The XL1H set will set me 9,000 euro back
The PDW-F330 a mere 15,000 and
The PDW-F350 no less then 30.000

Could you guys please share your thoughts?
thnx a lot.
Peter

ps. 2Moderator: Although I hace posted this request in both the XL1H and the XDcam group, please do not treat this as a cross posting. I am very much interested in hearing the opnion from both user groups. Thanks.
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Old December 9th, 2006, 02:43 AM   #2
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I'm not sure how it's much of a comparison.

The XDCAMs are just plain better cameras than the Canon with price tags to match. The 350 has more capability than the 330. So for most people, there would be a pretty clear hierarchy between the 3.

If you're unclear of why one camera would be better than the other, we can help. Otherwise, this is a decision only you can make...
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Old December 9th, 2006, 03:42 AM   #3
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Image Quality wise - i say go the XDCAM's

Ease of Use - I say go the XDCAMS - their disc based system is almost 'fool-proof'

But if youve got the lense for the XL-H1 - it could be a good call; price wise - as i dont think there will be much difference in your final output in the comparison of the XL to XDCAM in terms of corporate gigs and ten minute films - although travel documentaries would be far more easily using the disc based XDCAM system. (By XDCAM - i am refering to the 330, not the 350 - as i think that you will only need the specs provided by the 330 for the line of work in which you are doing)

Although have you considered cameras such as Silicon Imaging - which is below the price of the 350 yet i hear it is just as good or better?
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Old December 9th, 2006, 07:20 AM   #4
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... and you are looking for unbiased answers here... ;-)

I think you should choose between H1 and the F350. I would go for F350 instead of the F330 for the overcranking possibilities, but the price....

When I grow up, turn professional and get plenty rich I will buy the F350!
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Old December 9th, 2006, 07:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Dorr
ps. 2Moderator: Although I hace posted this request in both the XL1H and the XDcam group, please do not treat this as a cross posting. I am very much interested in hearing the opnion from both user groups. Thanks.

Sorry Peter, we don't allow crossposting under any circumstances because we want all answers to appear in a single thread. This makes it easier for people looking for information at a later time to have all responses in one location.

With that said, I took your thread from one forum, added in the single response to your crossposted thread in another forum, then moved the whole thing to Open DV Discussion which will give you visibility to all.

Thanks for your understanding.

As to your original question, you really can't go wrong with any of the choices. It mainly comes down to your budget and what you are willing to compromise on to save some money. Keep in mind that the XDCAM HD cameras are quite a bit heavier than the XLH1 if weight is a concern. Plus you mentioned that you have all that Canon glass and you could use them on the H1 with the EF adapter.

-gb-
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Old December 9th, 2006, 07:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Dorr
I already have 3 nice new Canon (photo) lenses (24-105, 100-400 and a 1-5 Macro) which could be used on an XL1h (Right?)
While your Canon photo lenses may be used with the XL H1 they are only useful in a very specialized applications.

The focal length of your photo lenses will be multiplied by a factor of 7.2 unless you are using a 35mm adapter. Thus your 24 to 105 becomes a 172.8mm to 756mm lens, which is not the wide angle lens that you started with.

The photo lenses will probably breathe, so you can not focus without having a change in framing.

If you use a 35mm adapter, then the lenses generally become fully manual. You set the apeture, focus and there will not be any image stabilization. In other words, setup time will be longer.
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Old December 9th, 2006, 09:08 AM   #7
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From an ergonomic standpoint, the XDcams are FAR more comfortable to use, especially when you start loading accessories on. The XL-H1 is a great little camera, but it certainly has its shortcomings. Personally, I think the XL, the JVC HD-100, and the Panny HVX all have their strengths, but they also have very very big gaps in performace or features. The XDcam stuff emerged from that shadow a bit, because it's attacked the higher-end of that paeticular market and actually addressed the concerns of those who are most likely to own 1 or 100 of these units...and pound them every day.

Now that it is fully supported, I don't think you can go wrong with the Sony 330 or the 350. What you spend initially in the 330 over the XL-H1 will save you so many headaches, and not just down the road - even now. The XL-H1 has inherited genes from a styling exercise with a surprisingly good imager. Sadly, Canon (who makes FANTASTIC and very ergonomically friendly still cameras) can't put their expertise in professional imaging into their video gear. I think they limit themselves by the prosumer marketing target.

But Sony has come up with an excellent camera in the XDcam HD system. If you're looking at the 350, I would suggest also looking at the tape-based Panasonic HDX-900. Non-variable frame rates (only 30,24,60, etc..), but it's a great form factor and a true 2/3" chip. The larger chip makes a HUGE difference, from the XDcam over the Xl-h1, or the HDX-900 over the XDcam. 2/3" glass needs to resolve less than 1/2" glass, and there is FAR more of it on the market. Media is about the same between XDCAM and DVCPRO-HD, so it's basically a wash there.

I would suggest trying every camera you think you'll use. Even if it costs you a few hundred bucks to fly to a city that has all of them, do it. It's worth the trouble up front to save frustrations down the road. If you're dropping close to 20,000 incl. accessories, the 200-300 to go take a test drive is pretty insignificant. All of our opinions can be helpful, but in the end, the camera you like best is the one for you.
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Old December 9th, 2006, 10:31 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jaron Berman
If you're looking at the 350, I would suggest also looking at the tape-based Panasonic HDX-900. Non-variable frame rates (only 30,24,60, etc..), but it's a great form factor and a true 2/3" chip. The larger chip makes a HUGE difference, from the XDcam over the Xl-h1, or the HDX-900 over the XDcam. 2/3" glass needs to resolve less than 1/2" glass, and there is FAR more of it on the market. Media is about the same between XDCAM and DVCPRO-HD, so it's basically a wash there.
Jaron, I have to respectfully disagree with some of your points of comparison here. Granted I'm an F350 owner so it's going to sound biased but I'm really not.

The 2/3 chip vs. the 1/2 chip isn't the HUGE difference you would think it is. You gain about 1 stop of sensitivity (F11@2000lux vs. F9@2000lux) and a bit more lattitude and shallower DOF (but not that much). But don't take it from me, watch what Jody Eldred (mms://wm.vitalstreamcdn.com/sony_vit...ed_pdwf350.wmv) has to say about the F350.

Media between XDCAM and DVCPRO-HD may cost about the same per unit, but you won't be successfully overwriting and re-using a DVC-PRO tape for 1000 or more passes with no dropouts. And BTW, the 1000 mark is simply where Sony stopped testing the XDCAM disc and said ok, good enough. With tape, you won't have the benefit of the optical work flow including the INABILITY to EVER ACCIDENTLY tape over a priceless shot, random access to your clips, and the ability to just start recording in the middle of reviewing footage.

When I saw this system in play at the Texas HD Shootout, it was love at first site cause I knew all the headaches and limitations imposed by tape were gone. You can do timelapse down to a SINGLE FRAME that you can never do with tape. You can carry three or four XDCAM discs a lot easier than three or four DVCPRO tapes (or any other full size like DVCAM, BETA SP, etc). And do you think those tapes will still work in 50 years? The only handling caveat with XDCAM disc (and this comes straight from the mouth of Sony) is don't be stupid or curious and open the protective enclosure to touch the disc. Fingerprints on disc = bad, but it can be carefully cleaned even if someone is dumb enough to do that.

I will agree that 2/3 glass doesn't have to resolve as tightly as 1/2 or 1/3 glass which is kind of funny because 2/3 glass costs more if you are comparing HD spec lenses all the way down the line. You'd think it would be the opposite.

Call me a convert or fanboy if you will, but I'll take optical storage over tape any day knowing what I know now.

regards,

-gb-
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Old December 9th, 2006, 11:09 AM   #9
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Hmm... what about the 330 with an upgraded lens. Then add an XH A1 or Sony V1 as a B-Cam/run-and-gun cam? You've still got the nice A-Cam, you can add a secondary cam without having to rent and the whole thing should cost less than a 350.
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Old December 9th, 2006, 11:17 AM   #10
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To me this is like someone asking a child if they want 1, 2 or 3 candy bars! If money is no object go for 3 bars.

We should all have this "problem!"

Mike
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Old December 9th, 2006, 11:38 AM   #11
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Oops, thanks Greg. The HUGE difference I was referring to was across the board, accessories, resolution, d.o.f., etc. There are a lot more goodies for 1/2" than 1/3", and similarly 2/3" over 1/2". I agree that for many things, the visual difference in resolution or latitude between 1/2" and 2/3" is fairly small. However, I think it's clear that either will wipe the floor with 1/3".

As for workflow, the points about data-based acquisition are very strong. I agree that it would be nice to shoot to disc, and reuse. However, for the jobs I shoot, reuse (or even playing back a master) is a big no-no. For integrated production houses that have established solid data-centric workflows, it's clear that the reuse scheme is solid, and far more cost effective than shooting tape for archival. My comparison was strictly on the comparison of expendable shooting, tapes/disc become camera masters and are physically archived....and in that case they are even in terms of price. If it's a personal project this is a much bigger factor than on a job, where expendables are priced into the initial bid.

XDCAM is a pretty awesome system, and it's proven itself in crazy situations and short turnarounds. But I think it's worth pointing out other similarly priced options. When a 2/3" option becomes available, and when they offer a 50Mbit compression, it'll be a VERY tough package to beat. To my eye, the D.O.F. of 2/3" chips is just more natural than that of its smaller bretheren.

As a side note - the larger chip on the XDCAm compression scheme DOES make for a vastly cleaner picture. That's why even at 25Mbit, the XDCAM blows away the Canon... They're shooting the same format, but the 1/2" chips of the Sony give shallower D.O.F and less noise, both of which are big factors in how well the HDV codec can compress. Compression-wise, I think the XD stuff compares very well to DVCPRO-HD. DVCPRO-HD is a very clean codec, but the 100Mbit scheme is confusing, because it isn't necessarily apples to apples with XDCAM. Interframe, Intraframe, and actual recorded resolution all factor into the soup.
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Old December 10th, 2006, 01:18 AM   #12
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Hi Guys,

thnx for all your input. I really appreciate it and I am visting this thread almost every day to catch-up.

From all that I have read (esp. the remark about the sub-optimal usage of the Canon photol lenses on the XL1S) I am getting more and more used to the idea of oning a F330. This seems like the most versatile and quality for the money.

Now I will try to figure out what lens to buy, because I do not hear great feedback on the standard lens. I will post this request in the correct area of the forum of course ;-)

So again thnx for all your help, It was of great value to me

Peter
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