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Old January 2nd, 2007, 08:29 AM   #1
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High End SD Camcorders Obsolete?

I'm struggling about a decision to get an new camcorder for amateur use. I'll probably shoot this camera from 3-4 years. Price isn't the main issue, but it matters. Something like the GL2 looks very good (manual, audio, lens, etc. all very good). But I'm concerned that SD miniDV is dying, and that camera will become obsolete quickly. Is HD the only way to go, like the FX7, etc., or does SD still have legs?

Thanks...
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 08:46 AM   #2
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I'd definitely recommend if you are just getting into this, that you buy a HDV camera.
For the added resolution and retained value.
I just recently sold my VX-2000 and it was like trying to sell yesterdays paper, nobody wanted it. I got lucky and found someone local who paid me a decent price for it. And I imagine it's only going to get worse with more affordable HDV options out there.
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 10:12 AM   #3
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I am currently using a GL2 and it does the job very well. However, if money isn't a huge issue I would certainly recommend buying a HDV camera. In my opinion the GL2 is already obsolete and will probably stop being manufactured within a year or two. HDV is future and and it is becoming main stream very quickly. Stick to HDV.
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 11:16 AM   #4
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Well, my opinion will fly in the face of current common opinion.

I'd make sure you buy a high-end unit HDV unit that can record SD DV or (for Sony) DVCAM.

If price really isn't an option and you want higher definition than SD, I'd get what I call a real HD unit - one that records HD without interframe compression - i.e., DVCPro HD etc.

I'm just fundamently don't like the idea of recording your master material to an MPEG2 format. Unless you can guarantee minimal camera movement etc, much of the miniscule bit rate will be dominated by encoding the camera movement.

If you do go the MPEG2 (HDV) route and decide to transfer the footage from tape to DVD-R, make sure you pay the extra for premium, archival gold DVD-Rs, otherwise say goodbye to the footage in less time than if you keep the original tapes.
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 11:40 AM   #5
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Sony Fx1 or Canon A1.
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 01:19 PM   #6
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Interesting...

So, most of the current HD units are MPEG2?

Bruce, what's your view as between those and thee FX7? My sense is that the A1 will be a benchmark machine is the sense the XL's and G's have been over the years.
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 01:55 PM   #7
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IMHO future proof yourself and get HDV.
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 02:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Brown
So, most of the current HD units are MPEG2?
Anything that is "HDV" is MPEG2. The marketing guys at JVC etc have done a great job in convincing the masses that HDV is the way of the future. For consumer stuff, maybe, but I'd never shoot directly to MPEG2....

Other high definition formats exist that are extensions of the DV format, namely DVCPro HD or DVCPro100.

For example:

http://www.zotzdigital.com/index.php?cid=151

Personally, if I want to shoot HD, I'd want something like the Panasonic AG-HVX200. I'd only buy an HDV camcorder as a means to get a high-end SD DV unit to replace my PDX-10.
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 02:59 PM   #9
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I agree that HDV has been well-marketed, despite some crucial limitations. Having said that, I think the consumer market is perfect for HDV- assuming you just want the most pleasing image for your dollar and don't need to do a lot of processing with the footage.
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 03:12 PM   #10
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I would say that they only cameras that are in trouble are non-progressive medium end SD cameras. XL2, DVX, etc. have several years of life... I will be stunned if HDV lasts as long as DV. The best SD camera on the prosumer side is the XL2 with true 16:9 and progressive.

In the next 10 years I see there being consumer cameras with heavy compression, prosumer cameras with moderate compression, low end pro cameras ($5K to $9K) with low compression and pro cameras with uncompressed options.

Future proofing is crappy marketing talk... progressive footage can look very good bumped to HD. One of these days I will get around to posting a video shot with an HVX, XL2 and Varicam.... they cut pretty well together.



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Old January 2nd, 2007, 04:36 PM   #11
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I personally don’t like HDV cameras. In some cases in a controlled environment they will look better then a high-end SD progressive scan camera but for real life application most are junk. There are two problems I run into when I shoot with my Z1 that I don't run into with my XL2. One problem is that the ASA is only 125; so shooting in a darker location is out. The reason this occurs is because there are so many pixels packed into so small of an sensor area. In most cases you end up getting 5X less light hitting each pixel.

Another problem is the mpeg2 compression causes severe artifacts. I was shooting a Christmas party last month and there was a strobe light in the background of the dance floor. At the time I thought nothing of it but later when I had to edit my material I saw a big problem. All the frames with the light flashing were horrible pixilated.

For those of you that don’t know the basic way mpeg2 works is that it will sample one frame uncompressed then record the changes that happen in the next 14 frames in relation to the first frame. To clarify one frame will be nice and clear then over the next half second quality goes down until it hits the 16th frame in the clip and quality goes back up to perfect. When the light at the party flashed it was too much of a change for the camera to record so it became very pixilated. If it were shot on SD then every frame would have been recorded with only slight color compression but no compression on the actual base images in the sequence.

In my experience 4:1:1 AVI progressive SD footage beats 3:1:1 MPEG2 interlaced HD footage any day of the week. (I have to say that I haven’t played around with a camera like the HVX-200 so HD on a P2 card might be better)

Hope this helps
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