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Old December 19th, 2006, 06:10 AM   #1
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Buy PAL or NTSC Camera?

I am based in the UK and use a 3CCD Panasonic camera (PAL).

I am intending to buy a new camera (something like a Sony HDR-FX1) with a view to making documentary films about Scottish history.

Being UK resident I would normally buy a PAL camera. However I am considering buying an NTSC camera for two reasons:

1. I will be visiting the USA in April and with the exchange rate being so favourable it will be much cheaper for me to buy in the US than in the UK.

2. I would imagine that 75-80% of the DVD's I produce will be sold in the USA.

My question is would it be best to buy a PAL camera, work in PAL, then output in PAL and NTSC? Or would it be best to start with a NTSC camera and output in both PAL and NTSC?

Simply put: What is the best to start with - PAL or NTSC?

Any thoughts on cameras would also be much appreciated.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 08:27 AM   #2
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The Z1 shoots both PAL and NTSC...
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Old December 19th, 2006, 09:47 AM   #3
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Conversion from PAL to NTSC is easier and gives better quality than the other way around. The Z1 can record both formats, but can not convert between the two, so you have to decide in which format you want to record beforehand.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 01:16 PM   #4
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PAL has about 20% more resolution than NTSC. I own a NTSC camera and i live in PAL country, conversion is not that good, you'll notice the quality loss.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 01:19 PM   #5
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if you buy a camera in states and then bring it over to UK, you have to declare it on the border, i think that means that you still have to pay VAT. And if your camera breaks down, it will cost you some money to send it back for warranty...
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Old December 19th, 2006, 01:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andzei Matsukevits
PAL has about 20% more resolution than NTSC.
I understand the context of your remark, but it's really only part of the story. NTSC has 20% more temporal data (30 frames/sec instead of 25 frames/sec) so it's a bit of an "apples vs oranges" thing....
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Old December 19th, 2006, 03:14 PM   #7
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If you're shooting HDV the resolution is the same at all frame rates, in fact the terms PAL and NTSC become quite meaningless.
What I do like about the 60Hz variant of the HDV cameras is the better choice of progressive frame rates, 24p and 30p against 25p. 30p seems a good way to avoid the motion issues with 24p.
One thing to watch out for is flicker from lighting, shooting 50i in the USA this was a major issue for me recently. The Z1 has a filter specifically to avoid this problem.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 05:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Grant
One thing to watch out for is flicker from lighting, shooting 50i in the USA this was a major issue for me recently. The Z1 has a filter specifically to avoid this problem.
However that filter (FLCKR REDUCE) is only available when using 60i mode. See page 62 of the Z1 manual.
Quote:
Note: You cannot select this item when [50i/60i SEL] on the OTHERS menu is set to 50i. It is always set to [OFF]
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Old December 20th, 2006, 05:04 PM   #9
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As a European producer working with both 50Hz and 60Hz (for UK and US productions) I would avoid 60Hz like the plague if you can help it. It causes no end of production problems, especially when working with other PAL equipment.

The "NTSC" FX1 does have flicker reduction, but it's not terribly effective, so shooting under lights you're pretty much limited to a 1/100th shutter, which is not helpful when working inside those dark granite walls! ;-)

My preferred method is to shoot in 25P for both UK and US. After editing it easily converts to 24P, which can then be distributed as a progressive NTSC DVD with 3:2 pulldown.

You have none of the ugly, ugly artefact issues of "low cost" 60i-50i or 50i-60i conversion, because you're converting frame to frame.

It's a pain working the other way round (you can't shoot 24P with the FX1 anyway - and you don't want to with the Z1).
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Old December 20th, 2006, 09:57 PM   #10
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You can't shoot "P" anything with the FX1 or the Z1. No progressive modes at all... So shooting PAL to convert to 24P is not as simple as it may seem. There's the deinterlacing step involved as well.
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Old December 21st, 2006, 02:41 AM   #11
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You can shoot cineframe 25 with the FX1E (or 30 with the FX1U)... Steer clear of cineframe 24 on the Z1.

Although the CCDs are not *actually* scanned progressively, the recorded image is progressive with plenty enough resolution for SD DVD.
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Old January 24th, 2007, 04:32 AM   #12
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Thanks

Sorry for the delay in replying to these posts. My wife broke her leg a month ago, and I have had four kids on my apron strings since then!

Thanks for all the advice. I'm not sure if I am an awful lot clearer. But I will study the comments and try to make a decision in the next few weeks.
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Old January 24th, 2007, 08:04 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David P. Murray
Sorry for the delay in replying to these posts. My wife broke her leg a month ago, and I have had four kids on my apron strings since then!

Thanks for all the advice. I'm not sure if I am an awful lot clearer. But I will study the comments and try to make a decision in the next few weeks.
Seemingly aeons ago, when I was still living in the UK, I had to make a trip to Long Island. I bought a camcorder, thinking it would be a minor inconvenience to use NTSC in the UK. This was in 1994.

After a short time, I wished I hadn't.

I was able to get a multistandard TV. But the NTSC colour was disabled. A kindly engineer at the company told me how I could enable it with a couple of components for less than $5!

So, that was okay.

I then got into underwater videography. Editing became a pain. At first, I sent all my original tapes out for conversion to PAL. I then had to get a PAL editing VCR. Back then, I edited the video like a DJ - live - a source deck, a record deck, a cassette tape player, a CD player and an audio mixer! No computer.

By time I had finished editing and recording copies for friends, the quality was very poor. (Recently, I transferred the original NTSC Video 8 to NTSC DV and "remastered" - a vast improvement).

I really needed to switch to a PAL camcorder. But I had another problem - I had a custom underwater housing. So, I had to find an equivalent PAL camcorder. Luckily, I did.

I also ended up buying a standards converting VCR.

So, all in all, I ended up spending shed loads more money on additional equipment to get around the "bargain" I got by buying a camcorder in the US!

It's all come full circle, though, since I now live in the US!

There is an up-side. It forced me to learn about the differences in video formats etc.
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