Should I buy a Panasonic AG-DVX100B or the AG-HMC150 with AVCHD format? at DVinfo.net

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Old December 13th, 2008, 12:49 PM   #1
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Should I buy a Panasonic AG-DVX100B or the AG-HMC150 with AVCHD format?

Hi

I'm doing some research in China and have decided to replace my Panasonic NG-GS100 with something more professional. I'm going to make an anthropological documentary and although I started with the NV-GS100 I don't think its up to the task. I'm worried about sound, and its lousy low-light ability.

So my question is this.
1. Should I buy a Panasonic AG-DVX100B and just use conventional standard format definition? Cost: approx $2300 USD
Or should I spend more and get a High definition camera like the newer AG-HMC150. Cost: $3300

2. Is the High definition format really SO necessary? Are a lot of filmmakers still using standard definition? If so, I'll just go with the DVX100B as funding is quite tight.

I will be interviewing people, and shooting festivals and will shoot many hours of film. I will want to keep most of it for archives and for later research. If I use the DVX100B, the video is safely stored on cheap tapes. But if I use the HMC150, I will have to download the SD cards to harddisks (rather costly)

(i guess this question has been asked many times, but I must make a quick decision, get a camera and start shooting a festival next week)

If anyone has any advice, I'd really appreciate it. I have to get up to speed on this stuff asap as the festivals I want to film are all taking place in the next few weeks.

Thanks for your advice and patience!
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Old December 14th, 2008, 10:59 PM   #2
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The DVX-100B doesn't shoot 16:9 and neither does it shoot HD. It also does not record to a cheap, non-linear medium as the HMC-150 does. I think these are enough reasons to justify the price difference between them. Still if you want or need to stick with the tape workflow, there are better cameras of comparable costs that will hold their values, monetary and production, longer into the future e.g. Canon XH-A1, Sony Z1, V1 and the new FX1000 (minus XLR) etc.

Even if your final delivery is SD, one of the above cameras will generally give you better results if the HD files are downsampled properly in post. If your final delivery is SD 16:9, it's just no contest.

Hope this helps,
Wacharapong
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Old December 15th, 2008, 09:08 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ray Ambrosi View Post
So my question is this.
1. Should I buy a Panasonic AG-DVX100B and just use conventional standard format definition? Cost: approx $2300 USD
Or should I spend more and get a High definition camera like the newer AG-HMC150. Cost: $3300
As a DVX owner (and EX1 owner), buy the HMC150. No question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Ambrosi View Post
2. Is the High definition format really SO necessary? Are a lot of filmmakers still using standard definition? If so, I'll just go with the DVX100B as funding is quite tight.
Yes HD really is necessary. I don't know of any professional filmmakers shooting SD unless forced to.

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Originally Posted by Ray Ambrosi View Post
I will be interviewing people, and shooting festivals and will shoot many hours of film. I will want to keep most of it for archives and for later research. If I use the DVX100B, the video is safely stored on cheap tapes. But if I use the HMC150, I will have to download the SD cards to harddisks (rather costly)
Rubbish. Offload to DVD which is cheaper than tape. Dual Layer DVDs will hold an hour of your raw footage at $2 a disk. And the tranfer at 8x realtime unlike tape which is realtime only.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 11:27 AM   #4
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Dual Layer DVDs will hold an hour of your raw footage at $2 a disk.
Cheaper yes, more reliable, certainly not. I would never trust important footage to a dvd, a harddisk perhaps but then I would buy 2 disks and double copy. For me tape is still a very reliable and cheap backup medium.

This is a discussion that has been done many times here, one thing you need to consider with a dvx is pal vs ntsc (720x576 vs 720x480) as the last one will offer you less resolution.

To say a dvx would be obsolete is questionable, it all comes down to what you will be using it for, do you need all that detail, do you want the sharpest possible image on a lcd screen or do you want a razorsharp film on the internet, go HD.

But are you a story teller, is the content much more important then detail the dvx will serve you well.

Do you see a difference between a dvx and a hmc or xh-a1 when downconverted to dvd, yes, the last 2 are sharper, especially when the lens is wide and on a larger lcd screen that difference shows. That becomes even more noticeable when working with a ntsc camera.

I'm sure if I would deliver a weddingdvd f.i. to my client now with either of those camera's they would be happy with it in any case, to them it's not the image detail that matters but the content/story behind it. My pana is also the only camera I ever got complemented on how nice the colors look like and it was a standard setting.

But in my business things evolve as well and large screen lcd's are very common here and for sure BR players will start to enter a lot of clients' houses as well next year and then my trusty dvx can't deliver anymore and then resolution makes a bigger visual difference.

But if you don't have to deliver to clients in HD I don't see why you could not work with a dvx, bear in mind that it will be very difficult though to get a dvx sold afterwards as it will be a bad investment if you plan on selling it again. But for it's price at this moment and the possibilities it is still a very decent semi-pro cam.

One thing to consider with a dvx, get an external xlr shotgun mic as the build in mic is crap, but beside that I never had any big complaint about it.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 11:32 AM   #5
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Cheaper yes, more reliable, certainly not. I would never trust important footage to a dvd, a harddisk perhaps but then I would buy 2 disks and double copy. For me tape is still a very reliable and cheap backup medium.
I didn't say it was more reliable. However, I still have the very first DVD I ever purchased and it works fine. And even the oldest DVDs that I burned years ago are still just fine. Got any 10 year old Hard Drives? How are they working for you?
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Old December 15th, 2008, 11:43 AM   #6
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I didn't say it was more reliable.
I know that, I just wanted to point it out for Ray.
I always use tape as back up medium for my raw files and use 2 seperate ext harddrives to store identical copies of my iso's.
10 years ago I didn't even have a computer :) But I converted a 16 year old hi8 tape this summer from my daughter when she was born to dvd without a problem. (and a copy to both my ext harddrives :))
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Old December 15th, 2008, 11:55 AM   #7
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I know that, I just wanted to point it out for Ray.
I always use tape as back up medium for my raw files and use 2 seperate ext harddrives to store identical copies of my iso's.
10 years ago I didn't even have a computer :) But I converted a 16 year old hi8 tape this summer from my daughter when she was born to dvd without a problem. (and a copy to both my ext harddrives :))
LOL!

You still had a hi8 player? I got rid of mine years ago. Sony Handycam Evo9800 or some such. What fun that was.

Tape as an archival medium is nice, but MONDO expensive once you get into HD. And I don't mean HDV. I work with computers for a living, and I'd never trust archival footage on a hard drive.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 11:58 AM   #8
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LOL!

You still had a hi8 player?
My father did, he has been in the filming business for over 20 years now. His house looks like a movie museum with all that equipment he has been saving during all those years. :)
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Old December 15th, 2008, 04:32 PM   #9
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Totally- the HMC150 is the bomb. And the SDHC cards are getting cheap enough you can conceivably use them once as you would with tape and have a much more reliable backup than the average hard drive.

Noah
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Old December 15th, 2008, 04:58 PM   #10
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Totally- the HMC150 is the bomb. And the SDHC cards are getting cheap enough you can conceivably use them once as you would with tape and have a much more reliable backup than the average hard drive.

Noah
What if you are on a budget as Ray indicated? The hmc150 requires a fast pc for painless editing which would mean another costly upgrade, using SDHC cards as back up would also be more expensive then tape. What about compatible editing software? If Ray would have premiere CS3 he would have to upgrade which adds to the total cost again.

The choice of a camera first depends on your budget and hardware/software support, for me a PMW-EX3 would be the bomb, but unfortunately my budget would not allow that so I have to stick with what I can afford.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 05:10 PM   #11
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The tradeoff for money, is time. If you don't have the money, you have to wait.

Case in point:

My primary editing PC is rather old. But it has lots of disk space, and all my editing gear is connected to it. It's a bit too slow for me to move around my XDCam EX files. So, since I can't afford a new machine, I transcode my footage to Cineform files or smaller proxy files. I usually do this overnight or over a weekend. Then I can edit as normal.

Yes, editing AVCHD natively requires serious hardware. But unless you've got deadlines to meet, transcode the footage into something miniDV sized and cut and grade. Then substitute in the real footage and output your master. Takes more time, but it's pretty painless.

If you ARE working on client footage, then you should be charging enough for your time to stay current on hardware and cameras. And if it's your business, you should be amortizing anyway.
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Old December 16th, 2008, 10:28 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
What if you are on a budget as Ray indicated? The hmc150 requires a fast pc for painless editing which would mean another costly upgrade, using SDHC cards as back up would also be more expensive then tape. What about compatible editing software? If Ray would have premiere CS3 he would have to upgrade which adds to the total cost again.

The choice of a camera first depends on your budget and hardware/software support, for me a PMW-EX3 would be the bomb, but unfortunately my budget would not allow that so I have to stick with what I can afford.
well any current Mac would do the trick just fine. That plus Final Cut Studio assuming he doesn't have it already would be camera plus gear for around $6K. That's still less by a bit than an EX3 all in. Having an ancient PC is going to be a burden with any modern camera these days so that's kind of a given that an upgrade if needed be done.

Noah
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Old December 16th, 2008, 11:39 AM   #13
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Having an ancient PC is going to be a burden with any modern camera these days so that's kind of a given that an upgrade if needed be done.
It all depends on Ray's current set up which would be nice if he could share that making it easier giving him pro/cons when making a decision.
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Old December 16th, 2008, 10:11 PM   #14
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Hi and thanks to everyone for their helpful comments.

Until now, I've been using a Panasonic NV-GS-100
- NV-GS100
- 9 hour battery model number VW-VBD7
- External zoom microphone Panasonic model number VMH3
- 3 1400 maH batteries (2 are new never used)
- rain jacket
- ND filter and skylight filter
- External mics: Rode NTG-2; AKG C1000s; mini binaural cardiod mics by Church Audio
- External amp: Mixpre (Shure FP24)

Using the Mixpre as my external amp has proven to be unworkable. The camera does not have a pure line-in and running the Mixpre's signal in through the camera's mic-in port doesnt' work. The signal is too hot.

And I hate being tangled up in a mass of wires all the time and not being sure about the quality of the video or sound. Will I be able to use it to edit the documentary film that I hope to complete? So I've decided to sell this equipment and get a new camera. I've pretty much decided on the AG-HMC150 unless someone can convince me otherwise

I plan to use the Rode NTG-2 and AKG C1000s with the AG-HMC150.
I'll sell the Mixpre (Shure FP24) as i'm fairly sure that I won't need it anymore.

I don't know much about video to tell the truth, I don't know what format my final format my documentary should be in. So any advice on this would be appreciated.
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Old December 16th, 2008, 11:44 PM   #15
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The HMC-150 is a lot of camera for the money.

You can only go wrong with it, IMO because it is AVCHD, which means your files can be difficult to work with if you've not used it before.

Other than the AVCHD issue, there is no better camera for the money.

Regarding AVCHD, see the following quote from a post made in the Vegas forum earlier today:

"I would have never went AVCHD if I knew this was going to happen".
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