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Old December 30th, 2006, 06:52 PM   #1
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Prosumer DV q's (why no true 16:9?)

Ya, I'm being "that guy", my second post and I'm already asking what camera to get.
I do apologize, but I'm at my whit's end.
I've been researching cameras for a couple of weeks now (going around in circles) and I cannot find the camera with the features I want. The two main features I'm looking for in a prosumer cam are 3 ccd and true 16:9 for around $2500. Is this too much to ask? And I don't really want a camera that 'fakes' 16:9 as I'll just end up with a lower quality image (from what I've read). I've searched and searched and this camera doesn't seem to exist. I'm pretty new to the video/editing world so I've most likely overlooked a candidate or two, so that's why I've come to you guys.

What's really frustrating is the way camera manufacturers package their products. For a beginner it's confusing to say the least. For example, there are $1200 consumer cameras out there with true 16:9 why is there no 16:9 in the $2000 prosumer range? I want the feature set and weight of a prosumer otherwise I'd probably go with a high level consumer cam.

VX2100, this camera is perfect except... no 16:9... ARG!

GL2, no true 16:9 AND it has that scary "eject cassette" error. no thanks.

DVC-30, no true 16:9, seems like a great camera other than that giant fault.

I'm pretty close to just raising my price cap and getting an FX1, but then I'll be "that guy" again. The guy the goes and buys a camera with features and abilities way beyond his current experience. I don't need 1080, at least not yet. I do like that it has a simple switch to go between DV and HDV tho, as I'd mostly just be shooting DV. Unfortunately it's close to $1000 more than what I was intending to spend.

I just finished my first little mini docu-montage-music-video production and I can't believe how much fun I had filming and editing it. I wasn't worried about technical details going for more of an artistic vision so just did the whole thing with my ZR600 (ya, poo for video quality) but it was fun. The ZR600 did double duty as an onboard camera on a vehicle for high action shots as well as shooting all handheld shots.
So next year I actually want to try and put together a true documentary, therefore necessitating a step up in the video quality. I will still use the ZR600 in conjunction with a bullet cam for onboard shots (and maybe even a second onboard cam for multiple simultaneous action shots), but I want all my handheld shots to be of a much more professional quality technically. I love rich colorful video which is why I only want to go with 3 ccd cameras and I, of course, want 16:9 because it is a much more artistic layout, imo. BTW, the camera used for all handheld shots will also shoot a lot of fast moving action, so the camera I get will need to be good at shooting action too.

And you thought I was done! :] One more question: how legit is B&H (or equivalent online store) for product quality? They list the FX1 at 2999, is it worth the $700 savings to go thru them? Places like that always concern me even tho they say it's a brand new 'factory fresh' product.

Ok that's it! Sorry, this post ended up a little longer than initially intended. Thanks for reading and any help you can give me!

cheers,
-j
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Old December 30th, 2006, 08:21 PM   #2
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Jacob:

Okay, here we go. I have both VX2000, and FX1.

When I first got the VX2000 everyone said don't use the 16:9 setting. I didn't for 4 years. If I wanted 16:9 effect, I used a mask in camera, to shoot on the 4:3. It actually worked quite well.

Enter FX1. True 16:9 in HDV, and in DV. One day I do a 2 camera shoot with the FX1 and VX2000. I set the VX2000 to that "detested", hated 16:9 mode which Sony designed to give simulated 16:9 to see if I could come up with some decent footage. Know what, it came out pretty darn good for my purposes in the final DVD. I do have to say that in the DV capture, the 16:9 footage looks a little "stressed". But when I converted to mpg for final, the final footage came out very nice.

So, the VX2000 (as well as VX2100) does shoot 16:9, and the edited, cleand up and finalized version does look pretty good. So much so that I now have it set on 16:9 at all times.
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Old December 30th, 2006, 08:51 PM   #3
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I just went through some of the same question, research, and decision making process as you are "mired" in.

GL2, VX2100, or Panasonic PV GS500.

In my research on the web I found way too many complaints of tape transport "problems" with the GL2 (at first the one I really wanted).

The VX2100 began to look better and better to me until I found out it did not have "native" 16:9 and that was a deal killer to me.

The GS500 won out by default even though it is not in the same class as the first two. But it does have "native" 16:9, 3CCD, external mic input (a Rode StereoVideoMic with Deadcat wind muff works well for what I do; I am getting much better audio than I ever did), much manual control (although most of it has to be accessed through onscreen menus and controlled with a joystick).

Sensors are a tad over 1/4" and the only 2 downsides for me are lack of a headphone jack (although there is a workaround for that) and it's overall size is quite a bit smaller than the prosumer models. Actually that last is turning out to be more of a benefit because the fairly small size makes it far more portable and suddenly that is very important to me.

There is a lot of potential dynamite packed into that little package. And I wound up saving $1000 to $1500 by purchasing it. Price is going back up to close to $1000 because it is suddenly been "discovered", so is much in demand while the supply is dwindling.
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Old December 30th, 2006, 08:55 PM   #4
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A Sony PDX10 would have been perfect for you a couple months back...True 16:9 and 3CCD. And well under two thousand bucks. They must have one somewhere new...
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Old December 30th, 2006, 09:30 PM   #5
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Thnx for the help so far guys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Foreman
Panasonic PV GS500
This camera proves my confusion. So why does Panasonic put native 16:9 on a $1000 consumer level product but their semi pro cameras completely lack this feature? arg.
Just watched Cnet's review. Seems like a good little camera. I'm a little worried about major features being buried in menu's, tho.
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Old December 31st, 2006, 07:58 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos
So, the VX2000 (as well as VX2100) does shoot 16:9, and the edited, cleand up and finalized version does look pretty good. So much so that I now have it set on 16:9 at all times.
Wow Chris, I have a VX-2000 and have to say that my impression is very different from yours. I find that the 16:9 from the the VX-2000 is completely unacceptable. However I'll admit that it has a lot to do with the sort of subjects you are shooting. If you shoot a closeup of a face in 16:9 it will probably look OK because you don't have the expectation of lots of fine detail there. But in a wide shot of a landscape or anything with lots of detail, then the VX-2000 looks like it's out of focus in 16:9 mode. It comes down to math. Since a camera like that uses cropping, you have 720x360=259,200 pixels available in 16:9 mode whereas a native 16:9 SD camcorder uses 720x480=345,600 pixels.

I guess it also has a lot to do with the end use of your footage. Will people be watching it on cheap 4:3 TV's in letterbox mode? Or will it be shown in a small window on the web? Either of these uses should be OK for a camera like the VX-2000 in 16:9 mode. But in 2002 I was working on a project where the footage would be projected on a 45 foot wide screen as part of an opera. There was no way that VX-2000 16:9 would hold up for that sort of use. I considered buying an anamorphic adaptor, but they're expensive and have lots of limitations. So I got a PDX-10 and the footage looked surprisingly good on the big screen. John: I agree, the PDX-10 would be perfect for Jacob's use - too bad it's discontinued. Maybe you can find a low mileage used one somewhere?

Have you ruled out the HVR-A1 for some reason? It is a single chip camera, but has a loyal following and inherits many of the PDX-10's features. You can get it for $2,000 after rebate. And in addition to native 16:9 you get high definition as a bonus. It is very small however, the tapes load from the bottom, and most of the functions are controlled from a touch screen.

http://bssc.sel.sony.com/Broadcastan...p=141&id=80897
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Old December 31st, 2006, 07:59 AM   #7
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I you don't need HDV, get a clean used canon XL2. Excellent image, cutomoixable "look' presets, changeable lenses, 24p, 30p, TRUE 16x9. I had one for almost two years,and loved it. I sold mine for $2450, so you're in the ball park.
I now have a Canon XLH1 and a Sony FX1.The FX1 has an image so clean that it's scary. If you get the FX1, uou can shoot both sd and hdv,true 16x9.
You'll need an xlr box (i.e beechtek) and a good wide angle adapter is crucial.( I haven't had the money to buy one yet, but I'm looking at the Century).
We shot a wedding on the beach yesterday, and the FX1, with my girfriend shooting in full auto, was just as good as the XLH1! (shooting in 60i, that is).
Good luck.
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Old December 31st, 2006, 08:16 AM   #8
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B&H Photo

I would recommend the HVR-A1U if a high zoom level and low light capability are NOT what you need. Zoom should be good nough for most everything extcpt long distance nature shots. Put in context, it's low light (IMO) is far better than any consumer grade camcorder out there, mainly 'cause it gains up so smoothly... but not on par with the professional DV 3-chipper camcorders. But the price is right.

Six months later, analzying what is on the market, I would still conclude, for me, the a1u would be the camera I would still buy again. I did find I needed a LAN-C controller to get the perfect zoom.


Yes B&H Photo is legit, I have bought about $3k (ok, much more, just don't tell my wife) worth of stuff thru them and returned a few items and had no problems at all. Call them if you can't figure out something you are considering buying, they can help... but this forum should answer most of your questions.

I would also comment to not be too tempted by an unbelievable low price you might see elsewhere. Many sell grey market stuff (no warranty/support). and some string you along with "out of stock" until you buy what they want to sell you. Lots of flakes out there.

Buy on credit card that has good protection and optimally doubles the warranty. I like American Express. SHRED any debit cards as purchase protection and dispute resolution is a DISCRETION with these cards, not a feature. (Read the fine print). Opt out of any binding arbitration. Small details that could cost you dearly.

ALso it has been commented elsewhere to buy into the "pro" grade of camcorder. Sony, for example segregates into consumer and pro - HC1 and A1u for example. The pro grade provides a much better level of support and quicker repairs.

I've bought from B&H, JR.com, enggadgets.com and Adorama. My preference would be buying from B&H as I know they will (and have) provided support after the sale.
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Old December 31st, 2006, 05:46 PM   #9
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Again, thanks guys, this is helping a lot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff

Have you ruled out the HVR-A1 for some reason? It is a single chip camera, but has a loyal following and inherits many of the PDX-10's features. You can get it for $2,000 after rebate. And in addition to native 16:9 you get high definition as a bonus. It is very small however, the tapes load from the bottom, and most of the functions are controlled from a touch screen.

http://bssc.sel.sony.com/Broadcastan...p=141&id=80897
Quote:
Originally Posted by James Harring
I would recommend the HVR-A1U if a high zoom level and low light capability are NOT what you need. Zoom should be good enough for most everything except long distance nature shots. Put in context, it's low light (IMO) is far better than any consumer grade camcorder out there, mainly 'cause it gains up so smoothly... but not on par with the professional DV 3-chipper camcorders. But the price is right.
Ya, I never considered it 'cause I never heard of it. :] This camera is seriously buried in Sony's site. It's actually not even listed on the main site.
http://www.sonystyle.com/is-bin/INTE...o&Dept=cameras
I'm assuming this is because the HVR line is more pro and the HDR is more consumer??? And that SonyStyle (sic) is bent more toward the consumer and not the professional.
I never bothered checking out the HVR line cause I figured that was well out of my price range. This is the kind of marketing that has had me going in circles. I think this could be the camera, tho!
Ok, so a followup question would be how much visual quality am I losing going with a single CMOS verses 3 ccd's? I will probably shoot exclusively in DV for this next project and then progressively move up to HDV in the future. Is this still a good camera for taking this approach? I would like this next project's visual quality (in DV mode) to be high enough that I would not feel embarrassed to enter it in a local film festival.
Just skimming the specs it looks like the AU1 has more inputs (xlr) and accessories available than the FX1, but in the end it's going to have a lesser quality picture?
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Old December 31st, 2006, 06:04 PM   #10
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Holy moses, I just dl'd the brochure for the A1U: This thing is amazing! (take that with a grain of salt, I'm still very new and impressed easily.) :]

And it's small enough, if I have the balls to take a chance with it, I can mount it on my bike to get a 160mph HD 1080i shot!!! All of my other on bike shots will be 520 line lowsumer bullet cams and recorders. meh.
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Old December 31st, 2006, 06:15 PM   #11
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I would have metioned A-1 too, but Jacob seemed set on 3 chip.

And all I am saying about the VX/PD 16:9 output is that it can be worked with, and a decent result can be had for DVD output.
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Old December 31st, 2006, 06:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos
I would have mentioned A-1 too, but Jacob seemed set on 3 chip.

And all I am saying about the VX/PD 16:9 output is that it can be worked with, and a decent result can be had for DVD output.
Ya, sorry about that. I *was* COMPLETELY set on 16:9. And since 3 chip is available on consumer level products I figured there *had* to be something to combine the two at a prosumer level. So I figured 'why anything less than 3 chip?' I don't really know that much about CMOS just that it's technically inferior to 3 chip... but by how much I would like to know.
I'm so new and was, at that moment, so lost in all the models and inconsistent features out there I was researching every camera people were suggesting.
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