I am considering the Panasonic GS-400 and Sony HDR-HC1. Need advice! at DVinfo.net

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Old January 3rd, 2006, 01:35 PM   #1
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I am considering the Panasonic GS-400 and Sony HDR-HC1. Need advice!

Some background information:

My ambition is to become a filmmaker. I have many ideas for short movies and I want to start working on them. I have read many books on cinematography, short filmmaking, screenplay writing and have seen like a million of movies (not literally). I have also read many books on photography, have shot almost 10.000 digital photo's last year and have been shooting with a Nikon FM-10 SLR with old-school 35mm film.

I want to use the camera for indie filmmaking. I think I will use it for this purpose for around one year, after which I will move up to more expensive gear (DVX-100, XL-2, HVX200, VX2100, FX1 or something like that).

Again, I am completely new to video/filmmaking (practical).

The decision:

I want to make a decision between the Panasonic GS-400 and the HDR-HC1. The Panasonic GS-400 costs 1050 EURO, the HDR-HC1 costs 1399 EURO. Both are PAL models, from an official retailer.

My thoughts:

I like to have manual control, the more the better. The Panasonic GS-400 offers a great amount of manual control. Furthermore, it has a normal hot-shoe mount instead of the proprietary one on the Sony. Finally, it is somewhat cheaper and I guess it will be easier to work with the output files of the Panasonic GS-400 then with the HD files of the Sony.

The HDR-HC1 however has an amazingly crisp image. I have seen footage that users have sent to me and I am truly amazed. Furthermore, I like the color of it and the fact that I am able to shoot normal DV as well.

What I do not like about the Sony is that there is no true manual iris and gain control. I also do not care much about the viewfinder that is uncomfortable when you attach a larger battery to the camera. Furthermore, I am not sure how well my computer(s) will be able to handle HD editing and how much storage I need for it. I also think Sony has not thought well enough about some design decisions on the HDR-HC1.

But then I think that there is a difference between a HD workflow and a SD workflow. As I believe that HD is the future, I think that it might be wise to adopt this technology from the start, so I start from scratch with HD. This way, I would learn a lot about the HD format. Even when the camera is inferior when looking at manual control, this might be an important factor.

On the other hand, the HD format is still immature. There is no physical distribution medium yet (Blue-Ray/HDVD), players and recorders are not yet rolled out, the internet is not completely ready for it etcera. So I also think it might be wise to wait with HD untill 2007.

I also have not decided upon a program which I will use for editing. I am considering Sony Vegas, Final Cut Pro and Avid Xpress Pro.

I own the following computers:

Powerbook G4, 1,5Ghz, 1,25GB RAM (maximum), 60GB harddisk in combination with an external 320GB firewire/usb2 disk. It is connected to a 19" monitor through DVI so I can work dual-screen.

The other one is a Pentium IV 2.4Ghz with 512MB ram, a 80GB harddisk and a 17" Dell TFT monitor. I can upgrade the ram and harddisks.

I am really lost in the woods. Everytime I think I made my mind-up, I suffer from anxiety and start thinking it all over again. I am really looking forward to your advice and hope it will help me.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 01:58 PM   #2
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I think in your position, having all the manual controls (GS400) is much more important then a HD clear image...
So my voice would go to the GS400.
And then you even have some more money for a tripod and such.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 04:30 PM   #3
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I agree with Mathieu.

Your computer is not fit for HD IMHO.

I am using nv-gs400 for 15 months now. I love the wide screen of gs400.

Regards
Leigh
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 09:14 PM   #4
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I also have the GS400. Love it so far. I think this is an excellent camera for the begginer because it has alot of the same features that the pro cameras have so you can get experience with those things now. For me, this camcorder was the perfect first choice. I am on the path to become a serious hobbiest and want to learn all the ins and outs.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 05:06 AM   #5
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I have chosen for the Sony HDR-HC1. Not that I thinkt hat the GS-400 is a bad camera, absolute not! But I think that a) it is better to start with a HDV workflow from the beginning and b) i need so learn so many things that the lack of some manual controls does not matter much. I will move up to a more expensive camera next year, which is soon enough.

Thanks for your advice. The GS-400 will remain the best Panasonic for a while, as the GS-500 looks like a pure dissapointment. Stripped of many features and functions that made the GS-400 such a great camera.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 12:00 PM   #6
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If you are trying things out then the GS400 is the better route:
(a) for the manual controls mentioned earlier and
(b) because editing and distribution via DVD will be much easier, faster and more affordable with DV.

HDV is much more demanding when editing and requires a much more substantial investment in pc, hard drive storage, monitors etc to take full advantage of the higher resolution. Furthermore HDV encoding is very time consuming and HDV/HD distribution is not yet available.

I have stayed with DV for the time being. The switch to do HDV/HD properly will be relatively costly - new cam, new dual core pc, TB of storage, new HD monitor, one or other of the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray formats, upgraded nle (Edius for me) to name a few. It will be at least a year, if not longer, before I will make the switch.
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Old January 13th, 2006, 02:42 AM   #7
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If you wish you can look at my step-by-step comparation HC1 and GS400.
http://www.videozona.ru/video_tests/sonyhc1/
I'm sory it's on Russian, but you can compare the snapshoots or use some web-translator like BabelFish which can to translate whole web pages.
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Old January 15th, 2006, 12:15 PM   #8
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Both are great cams but I agree about the horsepower needed for editing HDV. If I recall I think 2.4GHz is the minimum requirement and we all know how unrealistic minimum can be in the PC realm.

My vote goes to the GS400.
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Old January 15th, 2006, 10:02 PM   #9
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Another vote for the GS400; I just bought mine a week ago and had the exact same dilemma regarding which system ... I decided to go with the GS400 and will wait until HD has played out allot more. In the meantime I have a fabulous cam that I couldn't be happier with.

Good luck in your purchase!
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Old January 29th, 2006, 06:28 PM   #10
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Me Too!! After a lot of investigation, I decided this was the lowest priced camera I should buy. I plan on getting a HD camera, GL2 or something like that, later, but I'll wait for the reasons others are.
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Old January 30th, 2006, 11:01 AM   #11
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better hurry up!!! I'm not sure if panasonic even makes the GS400 anymore or not. B&H photo doesnt even have the NTSC version available anymore. I've had mine for a coulple of months now and I love it. You should see about downloading the manual for it before you receive it as to familiarize yourself before you have the camcorder in your hands. Good Luck.
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Old February 10th, 2006, 11:01 AM   #12
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Sorry for reviving this thread from the grave. I'm in the same situation that Floris van Eck was in -- trying to make the decision between the very same two cameras. Mikhail Transact's comparison was quite informative (though I can't read Russian) in terms of difference in picture. In my opinion, the HDR-HC1 has a far more film-esque look than the GS400.

It seems one of the big arguments that people have in favor of the GS400 is that editing HDV is very difficult on a low-end machine. Isn't is plausible, however, to shoot in HDV and downsample to DV to edit? This way, you have the HDV footage archived. Furthermore, couldn't you use a DV Proxy or something like AspectHD to make this task accomplishable even on midrange systems?

I ask out of curiosity and general ignorance -- I'm not trying to be contrary, of course :)

I'm going mad trying to determine which camera is right for me!

-- Justin
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Old February 10th, 2006, 11:24 AM   #13
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if I remember correctly, the HDR-HC1 is about $500-$700 more expensive. And you'll be darn lucky to find a brand new GS400 now. If you have the extra funds to get the Sony, then I think it is an easy decision for the reasons you stated. I'm not sure what a C-MOS is, the sony camera has one instead of the 3 CCDs found in the GS400.
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Old February 10th, 2006, 11:37 AM   #14
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Try Professional Version of HC1- A1 has $ 500 rebate

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Jesselli
Sorry for reviving this thread from the grave. I'm in the same situation that Floris van Eck was in -- trying to make the decision between the very same two cameras. Mikhail Transact's comparison was quite informative (though I can't read Russian) in terms of difference in picture. In my opinion, the HDR-HC1 has a far more film-esque look than the GS400.

It seems one of the big arguments that people have in favor of the GS400 is that editing HDV is very difficult on a low-end machine. Isn't is plausible, however, to shoot in HDV and downsample to DV to edit? This way, you have the HDV footage archived. Furthermore, couldn't you use a DV Proxy or something like AspectHD to make this task accomplishable even on midrange systems?

I ask out of curiosity and general ignorance -- I'm not trying to be contrary, of course :)

I'm going mad trying to determine which camera is right for me!

-- Justin
Justin:

You might want to try the professional version of the HC1, which is the A-1. Right now they have a $ 500.00 rebate, and at BH, you can get it for net $1,999.00.

Beware of the non-authorized dealers though, rebate won't apply. Also, see this thread

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...5&goto=newpost


Also, it is my understanding that like the FX1 I have, you can actually shoot HDV, and then down convert in camera to capture on your computer in DV.
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Old February 11th, 2006, 07:34 AM   #15
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The only thing I can say is that I bought the HDR-HC1E and am extremely satisfied with it. You can always shoot SD quality untill the HD infrastructure is here, but I would advise you to shoot HD and just use one of the tricks to edit low resolution footage and then re-do it with the HD footage. This is called Offline RT in Final Cut Pro and is available in other programs as well.

The only big problem is storage, but with a 500GB harddisk (around 200 euro or something) you can get far untill Blue Ray burners are here. If you really want the Panasonic, you need to be fast, as the GS-500 will replace it. The GS-500 is not on par with the GS-400 if you look at the features.
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