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Old January 11th, 2009, 12:08 PM   #1
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AG-HMC-150, XH-A1 or HDR FX-1000?

It's good to be back. This is my 1st post since the mid 2005s.
I'm returning to the game & looking to purchase AG-HMC-150, XH-A1 or HDR FX-1000 for wedding videos. Looking at B&H pricing, all three camcorders are similar in price (they're closing out the XH-A1 for the XH-A1s so the best deal is on the XH-A1 for now).
My last HDV was a Sony HVR Z1 which wasn't so good in low light, which is a concern as I mostly do weddings & need good low light performance. I've been reading but haven't seen much on the HMC 150s low light capture other than it's OK. There are some screen shots comparing the HMC150 to XH-A1, which the 150 looks slightly better. And, I also found a comparison of the XH A1 to the FX 1000, which the FX1000 was a clear winner.
But, the HMC150 is 1920x1080 not HDV 1440x1080.
I'm aware of AVCHD editing needs (CPU & such) but I'm not concerned.
Although the FX1000 doesn't have XLRs, I do have an XLR adapter from my TRV 900 days that should work.
So, given all that, is there a clear choice between the 3?
All advice is appreciated.
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Old January 12th, 2009, 03:18 AM   #2
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Fx 1000

Hi George

I'm also an ex TRV900 boy and also did weddings and used an XLR box.

I have just bought a FX1000 and have only filmed a dual camera dance shoot (yet to edit) and a game of cricket (Aussie baseball game) For tripod work it is absolutely fantastic but for handheld its pretty heavy. An appropiate L bracket would be a must get.

My real concern at the minute is the results in Standard definition as most of my work goes to DVD. SD just seems a bit fuzzy and not as sharp as other cam even the TRV900.

I am doing a test tomorrow using the same tape in SD with the FX1000 up against the VX2000.

HD footage is sensational but lets face it unless one is going to BLuray or broadcaser TV there is little point in HD.

Watch this space.
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Old January 12th, 2009, 12:25 PM   #3
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George,
The HMC150 is a great Event cam, it's lighter and better balanced than the others. Low light capture on the HMC is from my experience, much better than "OK". it's very, very good. I have shot a coupe events at night with it, and it really shines in adverse lighting--at least so far, at an indoor concert and soccer game shot at night.

The real difference will be in its not being tape-based, it can do 720/60p for some very clean slow motion work, and it handles motion better (MPEG2 vs. MPEG4).

Rent the candidates, test them yourself, then pick what works best for you. That's the best way to get a handle on it.
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Old January 12th, 2009, 01:18 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by George A. Ross View Post
But, the HMC150 is 1920x1080 not HDV 1440x1080.
Those are recording format specs, and don't necessarily reflect the resolution of the camera as a whole. In the case of the HMC150, the chips are 960x540, but pixel shifting makes it effectively around 1200x650 for luminance. That's not bad, but it isn't 1920x1080 overall.

The EX cameras are top of the quality tree for under $5,000, but they are more expensive than such as the 150. I'd look long and hard at the new JVC that's just been announced, which is expected to compete head on with the 150 for price. The main advantage it seems to offer over the 150 is using the same codec as the EX, rather than AVC-HD. That should be much easier to edit and not need transcoding as AVC-HD generally does.
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Old January 12th, 2009, 02:00 PM   #5
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Those are recording format specs, and don't necessarily reflect the resolution of the camera as a whole. In the case of the HMC150, the chips are 960x540, but pixel shifting makes it effectively around 1200x650 for luminance. That's not bad, but it isn't 1920x1080 overall.

The EX cameras are top of the quality tree for under $5,000, but they are more expensive than such as the 150. I'd look long and hard at the new JVC that's just been announced, which is expected to compete head on with the 150 for price. The main advantage it seems to offer over the 150 is using the same codec as the EX, rather than AVC-HD. That should be much easier to edit and not need transcoding as AVC-HD generally does.
But it has 1/4 inch chips.
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Old January 12th, 2009, 05:44 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Martin Duffy View Post
My real concern at the minute is the results in Standard definition as most of my work goes to DVD. SD just seems a bit fuzzy and not as sharp as other cam even the TRV900.

I am doing a test tomorrow using the same tape in SD with the FX1000 up against the VX2000.

HD footage is sensational but lets face it unless one is going to BLuray or broadcaser TV there is little point in HD.

Watch this space.
Martin,
I've shot video with a HVR-Z1 in HD, then down rez'd in post to SD. The best part was I could re-frame whenever needed for tighter framed or zoom effect without degrading the PQ. Might be worth a try!
The test vs the VX1000s sharpness should be interesting. The VX is on of the best for low light.
I see HD as the future. I know not all clients are in it yet, but it's still a must. Many blu-ray players will play AVCHD DVDs disc burned with a PC (not sure about Macs).
Thanks for the help!
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Old January 12th, 2009, 05:49 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Steve Wolla View Post
George,
The HMC150 is a great Event cam, it's lighter and better balanced than the others. Low light capture on the HMC is from my experience, much better than "OK". it's very, very good. I have shot a coupe events at night with it, and it really shines in adverse lighting--at least so far, at an indoor concert and soccer game shot at night.

The real difference will be in its not being tape-based, it can do 720/60p for some very clean slow motion work, and it handles motion better (MPEG2 vs. MPEG4).

Rent the candidates, test them yourself, then pick what works best for you. That's the best way to get a handle on it.
I hadn't thought of renting. Could work out best.
Good to hear that it's very good in low light. I have owned a DVX100 which looks very similar to the HMC150 but without tape. The DVX was great in low light!
Thanks.
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Old January 13th, 2009, 03:23 AM   #8
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There seems t0 be a few ex-TRV900 guys here and I'm another one of them. The reason I stayed with Sony was because I just loved the 900 and my carry-over battery mountain took me through the VX2000 and now the Z1. Along with the Beachtek box.

I used a big hefty L bracket for a few years Martin. Great for the hand-held fluidity I wanted as I moved around and between the wedding guests, but a bit of a pain when it came to quickly snapping it on an off the Manfrotto 503.

I've had my Z1 three years now. It's not let me down and never once failed to bring home the goods, whatever the lighting situations we've been in. Changing to another camera that's (say) a stop better in the gloom is neither here or there in the great big scheme of things, as the nut behind the shutter is far more important than what's clasped between your palms.

tom.
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Old January 13th, 2009, 11:14 AM   #9
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Old January 13th, 2009, 03:48 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by George A. Ross View Post
I'm returning to the game & looking to purchase AG-HMC-150, XH-A1 or HDR FX-1000 for wedding videos. Looking at B&H pricing, all three camcorders are similar in price (they're closing out the XH-A1 for the XH-A1s so the best deal is on the XH-A1 for now).

My last HDV was a Sony HVR Z1 which wasn't so good in low light, which is a concern as I mostly do weddings & need good low light performance. I've been reading but haven't seen much on the HMC 150s low light capture other than it's OK. There are some screen shots comparing the HMC150 to XH-A1, which the 150 looks slightly better. And, I also found a comparison of the XH A1 to the FX 1000, which the FX1000 was a clear winner.
But, the HMC150 is 1920x1080 not HDV 1440x1080.
I'm aware of AVCHD editing needs (CPU & such) but I'm not concerned.
Although the FX1000 doesn't have XLRs, I do have an XLR adapter from my TRV 900 days that should work.
So, given all that, is there a clear choice between the 3?
All advice is appreciated.
George:

I have only had the HMC-150 and XH-A1 and can comment on those.

Rating for low light:
#1 HMC-150
#2 XH-A1
The 150 has less and better looking noise. Color grading low light footage also works better for the 150 footage for some reason.

Rating for overall PQ when downrezzed to SD on DVD:
#1 HMC-150
#2 XH-A1
This is where the camera and codec really shine over the XH-A1. Shimmering, strobing, flashing and motion artifacts are much better with the 150. We have to realize, neither camera is bad, but the 150 is better. Note that the 150 does not record SD, but the XH-A1 does, although I never tried it.

I think you should consider the FX1000 or the HMC-150. You want solid state or tape recording?

As for sound, can you get away without XLR on camera? The camera could record from the wireless on the mini plug to one channel and use the on camera mic for the ambient. I don't see a need for XLR on camera except to power a big phantom mic on camera thats going to give you ambient. Do you really need ambient off a $600 on camera mic?

As for the new JVC camera, I wouldn't even consider a 1/4" sensor block camera, and I have & still like JVC cameras. The 1/3" sensor block cameras are pushing the resolution to sensitivity barrier as it is. A 1/2" camera like the EX-1 would be great, except for the cost, CMOS and weight.
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Old January 13th, 2009, 04:57 PM   #11
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George:

I have only had the HMC-150 and XH-A1 and can comment on those.

Rating for low light:
#1 HMC-150
#2 XH-A1
The 150 has less and better looking noise. Color grading low light footage also works better for the 150 footage for some reason.

Rating for overall PQ when downrezzed to SD on DVD:
#1 HMC-150
#2 XH-A1
This is where the camera and codec really shine over the XH-A1. Shimmering, strobing, flashing and motion artifacts are much better with the 150. We have to realize, neither camera is bad, but the 150 is better. Note that the 150 does not record SD, but the XH-A1 does, although I never tried it.

I think you should consider the FX1000 or the HMC-150. You want solid state or tape recording?

As for sound, can you get away without XLR on camera? The camera could record from the wireless on the mini plug to one channel and use the on camera mic for the ambient. I don't see a need for XLR on camera except to power a big phantom mic on camera thats going to give you ambient. Do you really need ambient off a $600 on camera mic?

As for the new JVC camera, I wouldn't even consider a 1/4" sensor block camera, and I have & still like JVC cameras. The 1/3" sensor block cameras are pushing the resolution to sensitivity barrier as it is. A 1/2" camera like the EX-1 would be great, except for the cost, CMOS and weight.
Jeff,
This is very helpful as you can make a true A-B comparison.
The FX1000 & HMC150 are in play.
To get setup, the FX has a big price advantage as I do have a BeachTek XLR adapter (I do have wireless mics & would need an XLR input for them) & LANC for my tripod; I'd need a Varizoom for the 150 as well as some large SDHC memory & those aren't cheap.
As far as mpeg2 vs H.264, & this is IMHO, I think H.264 is much better. I say this because I own a blu-ray player & there's no comparison in PQ between the 2; I've seen far more artifacts with mpeg2 movies than those encoded with H.264 or even VC-1.
I've read some of the release info on the new JVC but saw the 1/4" chips & lost interest.
Thanks
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Old January 14th, 2009, 03:01 AM   #12
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on the new JVC but saw the 1/4" chips & lost interest.
Me too - but only from a dof pov. At least they're CCD aren't they? Jeff's line, 'the EX-1 would be great, except for the cost, CMOS and weight.' is something I go along with except that cost is only money and weight is neither here or there - we're all strong men. But CMOS is rolling shutter and there's no way round its flash issue as yet.

tom.
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Old January 14th, 2009, 12:28 PM   #13
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Jeff,
....as well as some large SDHC memory & those aren't cheap.
As far as mpeg2 vs H.264, & this is IMHO, I think H.264 is much better. I say this because I own a blu-ray player & there's no comparison in PQ between the 2; I've seen far more artifacts with mpeg2 movies than those encoded with H.264 or even VC-1.
I've read some of the release info on the new JVC but saw the 1/4" chips & lost interest.
Thanks
With respect to the cost of SDHC cards, yeah the Panasonic 32GB cards at $273 or so and $89 for their 16GB card at B&H.....however, I did pick up a couple 16GB cards class 6, ("Patriot" brand) from Frys for $30 each, and they are great. There are ways to get good values in SDHC cards.
But the real thing to me is how fast I am actually saving a ton of $$$ in not having to buy tapes. I was using Sony Digital Masters for client work, at $14 each, or Premiums at $2.10 each. It adds up! Now I don't have that problem.
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Old January 14th, 2009, 12:35 PM   #14
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not having to buy tapes. I was using Sony Digital Masters for client work, at $14 each, or Premiums at $2.10 each. It adds up! Now I don't have that problem.
But how do you store your masters or your raw footage? Tape still is a super-reliable, dirt-cheap and very compact method of storing your work.
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Old January 14th, 2009, 01:33 PM   #15
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But how do you store your masters or your raw footage? Tape still is a super-reliable, dirt-cheap and very compact method of storing your work.
Tom:

Hard drives are about $0.09 per GB and tapes are $0.80 GB and up ($10 bucks + for a good tape). Since AVCHD has a smaller footprint, there is also a little savings there too.

In my case, I have lots of tapes from both my old DV camera and the XH-A1s that are useless since I sold the cameras. I did capture all my family XH-A1 tape to hard drive before I got rid of them. That was painful.

It just took me getting used to having a BU hard drive system for storing my raw and finished products. As a bonus, I am regularly backing up all my other files and photos on a much more regular basis.

I also never delete the files from the SDHC cards until the project is delivered as yet another safety. Cards are currently $13 for 8GB and $35 for 16GB, so they are not yet as cheap as tapes, but they will be soon.
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