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Old February 9th, 2007, 03:58 PM   #1
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So what to buy for prosumer use?

I'm new to this forum and have been researching camcorder after camcorder, in a search to find the exact one that I am looking for to replace my recently-stolen Canon Elura 40MC. Before the Elura went for a walk, I had been contemplating the move to a prosumer-grade camcorder, because I have fallen in love with digital video editing and have created a yearbook video for a group that I worked with in Atlanta.

The first thing you guys ask is "What will you be using the camcorder for?", so I have many answers to your question:

1. Outdoor sports, daytime or nightime in lighted stadiums (high school and college)
2. Indoor activities including fluorescent-lighted environments and also darker lighting conditions, such as a wedding.
3. Compositing with green/blue screen.

The next question would be "What is your budget? My budget is anywhere between $2000 and $2500, but I might be able to go to $3000 if it takes the capabilities to another level.

With those variables in mind, I had initially decided that I wanted either a Canon XL2 or a Panasonic DVX-100B. I want 24p mode for my yearbook videos, plus I have a yearning to try indie film-making. Both of those camcorders have 3-CCD capability, so that's a plus. Both have 24p as well. Both have manual focus, external mic and headphone jacks, also use MiniDV. I want to stay with MiniDV because that's what my Elura used and I want to be able to use the >30 tapes I own.

After shopping for those camcorders last summer, I decided my budget at the time ($1500) would keep me from being able to acquire the previously-mentioned solutions, so I decided I would work towards te very-affordable Panasonic DVC-30, which meets all of my needs above except for 24p. I had made up my mind that this was the camcorder for me.

Seems simple enough, but then enter.... HD and affordable CMOS technology!!!

Now there are affordable consumer-level HD camcorders to meet many of my needs with the choice of 3-CCD or a single CMOS. I understand that CCD is more light-sensitive than CMOS and also 3-CCD provides richer color than it's single-CMOS counterpart. A couple of months ago, there wasn't a single camcorder in this class that met my needs. One camera would have a mic jack, but then no headphone jack. Others would use DVD or HDD recording, which I am apprensive to change to because I have so many MiniDV tapes. I found the Sony A1U, but it is a single CMOS and I want to be able to record in low-light if needed.

Now Canon has the new HD20 coming out soon which sports MiniDV, uses a single CMOS, and will run between $1000-$1500. It has all the jacks I need for what I do, but I really wants prosumer look and feel (heavier casing, controls for guys with big hands, etc).

Panasonic will release two new 3-CCD HD consumer-grade camcorders (neither is MiniDV), also in the same price range.

So what the heck should I buy??? HD or SD? MiniDV, HDD, DVD, or SD? CMOS or 3-CCD??? Bueller?
Terry Reilley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 11th, 2007, 11:14 PM   #2
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I'd go 3 CCD, MiniDV
Adam Bray is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 12th, 2007, 02:33 AM   #3
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
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"Now there are affordable consumer-level HD camcorders to meet many of my needs with the choice of 3-CCD or a single CMOS."

I agree that the images from the new CMOS HDV cameras are very nice. Have you considered the impact of their lesser low-light performance on sports photography? HD is not really conducive to good sensitivity. More pixels on the same size imager means less light per pixel.

From your description, the only 3-chip new camera in your price range is the FX7 at $2850. That's not a lot of options and there is infrastructure needed. Extra batteries, mics, editing software and the like really add up fast. The FX7 makes some really nice images, but it's not perfect in low light either. Regardless, I bought the V1U. One advantage the V1U has over the FX7 is that it can shoot at slower shutter speeds due to it's progressive scan capabilities. 1/48th shutter at 30p gives a standard video framerate at the standard film shutter speed and about 25% more light than 1/60th shutter. I have even shot at 1/30th shutter at 30p and it doesn't look bad except for a bit too much motion blur on fast-moving objects. That doesn't help your situation.

You might consider something like a used FX1. They are nice cameras and have decent (not perfect) low-light performance for HDV. There is also currently a used FX7 in the classified section of these forums listed at $2600. A used FX1 will probably go for less as used units of this model are more common. I have used the FX1 extensively and can attest to it's quality. I think the only bad thing I have heard about it is that some have died while charging batteries overnight. Consider a seperate charger for any expensive camera. Consider the cost of infrastructure when upgrading to HDV. My older computer is not up to the task so I just ordered $1300 of new hardware to upgrade to dualcore and lots of RAM.

The more I think about it, I don't think there is any way around using a light in your dim situations like a wedding. The best of the HDV cams in low light is possibly the FX1 and even it needs a light. This means that you need to focus on nighttime sports in a lit stadium. I'm guessing those lights are pretty bright, but a zoom lens gobbles light like crazy. If you can find any way to know how the HV20 can do in a stadium at night, it may also be a contender and will leave money for accessories or software.
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Old February 12th, 2007, 02:50 PM   #4
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Yes, poor low-light performance - even in a well-lit stadium at night - is a major apprehension for me using CMOS, unless it's that Sony Z1U with the 3-CMOS. How is that product's low-light situation? Since it still employes CMOS technology, would I only gain good color saturation and still suffer from poor low-light performance?

Per both of your posts, CMOS is out and I will go 3-CCD! My current post setup is Premiere Pro running on a Pentium 4 3.7ghz system and WinXP (I know - dog slow for rendering). I am considering looking at moving to a MacBook Pro and Final Cut or a HP Intel dual-core and keeping Premiere Pro, if I can use it for HD. Still a bit to learn about HD, but the camera is the first step!

Thank you both for your help and by all means, I would love more commentary from others who have an opinion on my questions!
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