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Old February 15th, 2006, 11:50 AM   #1
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For Those Of Us Who Can't Test

I'm not trying resurrect the post that Chris closed, just asking for some practical advice.

We live no where near a place where we can test the Panasonic, Sony, JVC and Canon side by side. Even though this area has nearly 750,000 people no dice for professional cams. I suspect there are a great deal more other areas that are similar.

Seattle or Portland, also within a half day drive, do not have this capability.

What do we do?

We rely on places like this where people much more technically knowledgeable, can exchange information.

In any case, we don't have the luxury to look at this stuff side by side.

Wish we do, and that's why when Chris hosts footage, as do others, it assists. Also important to hear comments.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 12:49 PM   #2
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I can relate to what you're going through; here in PHX we have almost zero pro-level support for the indie filmmaker.

Unfortunately what I'm going to suggest isn't what you want to hear, but it might save you a ton of heartache later - and misspent funds.

Call the closest pro-video shop to you that has all the cameras in stock and arrange for a special day where you can drive/fly in and test the various cameras yourself.

The problem with asking others for advice about "which is better" is that you'll get tons of responses that are all based on personal preference and, their own testing abilities. Nobody, except yourself, will know exactly what's important to you and your requirements and without seeing how these cameras perform in-person you're always going to be at the mercy of others feedback.

That's not to say that you won't get good advice or that it's impossible to make a good choice based solely on third-party info, but if you really want to maximize your hard-earned spending money then you need to get some hands-on time with these bodies yourself.

Taking a camera-testing trip is obviously going to cost more than reading web opinions/advice, but in the long run it will get you exactly what YOU want, not what others convince you into buying.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 01:06 PM   #3
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I am also in a position in choosing which camcorder to get although I already have the Sony HC1, I would definitely want a more professional camcorder that can handle less lighting.

The best thing for you to do is what you indicated. Just download uncompressed samples of each professional camcorder. This is also a good way in comparing how your computer handles HDV and DVCPRO HD.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 01:20 PM   #4
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Zotz digital is in Grants Pass Oregon. Don't know how close that is to your location, but they're a forum sponsor and would probably be able to stage such a test between the prosumer cams.

zotz digital
1328 NW. 6th
Grants Pass, OR 97526
541-472-9522

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Old February 15th, 2006, 01:39 PM   #5
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There's also the subjective factor of "feel" or "fit and finish" that you just can't get an accurate impression of from web posts and footage. You might really like the full manual lens on the JVC, but have issues with the lack of OIS that the Canon excels at. Or you might love how the HVX operates, but be a little put off by the fact that it's a handycam and isn't the greatest for handheld shots.

You really need to try to arrange to play with all of them at the same time. Heck, you can fly to SLC here and go to TV Specialists and they'll let you take the camera outside and roll off footage with all three. They have a decent little lit setup that you can shoot (a train set like B&H) and montitor the live signal, while also recording and playing back footage...oh, and the coolest thing there, is you can shoot with these cams and then plug them into a Sony 1080p LCoS TV and then REALLY have an idea about how these cameras will look on the best possible consumer TV.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 05:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane
Call the closest pro-video shop to you that has all the cameras in stock and arrange for a special day where you can drive/fly in and test the various cameras yourself.
Great advice, and to this I would add, that if some dealer goes to all this trouble to accomodate you this way, then please be considerate and return the favor by buying from them.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 06:12 PM   #7
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I think that is a good advice too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd
Great advice, and to this I would add, that if some dealer goes to all this trouble to accomodate you this way, then please be considerate and return the favor by buying from them.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 06:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Brown
zotz digital
1328 NW. 6th
Grants Pass, OR 97526
541-472-9522
Unfortunately they are not a vendor for the HVX200, so they may be able to deal with the demo as a rental? house, but they are not a authorized reseller.

Best,

Jan
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Old February 15th, 2006, 07:10 PM   #9
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David,

The only other "big" piece of advice I have is that before you go jet-setting around to look at cameras you should first figure out what your general production needs are. Believe it or not, the decision on what equipment to choose is actually done in reverse and mostly based on final output rather than on camera/system specs alone. Here's an example of what I mean:

- Typically, what will your final output be? Broadcast, DVD, converted to film, etc.?
- Is your target audience going to be viewing your content on a 4:3 TV or in a movie theater - or other presentation method?
- What kind of "look" do you want for your work? Film-like or video-like?
- Are you wanting to cover a lot of fast action like sports?
- Will be on location or studio mostly?
- What kind of workflow would you prefer? Traditional tape-based capture or tape-less?
- What is your major business market; General consumer-based (weddings & events) or are you going for the commercial industry (TV spots, corporate training films, web-casts etc), or do you want to make "movies"?

There's probably a few other variables to cover but those are the big ones.

Answer those questions first, THEN find a camera/system that meets your requirements.

Trust me, if you shop for the hardware first without considering what you need there's a good chance you'll end up with something you didn't want/need.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 08:23 PM   #10
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David, I understand you completely. Unlike many of you, I really don't have the option of trying each and every one of these cameras. There are NO pro resellers here. Closest place is Hong-Kong, which requires passport, boat ride, currency exchange, etc. etc.
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Old February 16th, 2006, 09:37 AM   #11
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At the moment it's difficult to arrange a side-by-side test of the latest HD cameras even if you live in a major metropolitan area. I had to pull a lot of strings to line up a comparison test this week in Sacramento, and barely managed to get all four cameras in place the morning of the event. I will say that seeing all four of them together and getting to run them through their paces was very informative, and showed that they are quite different from each other. I won't say more for now but would advise patience and research if you're thinking of buying any of these cameras. As someone else commented, figure out what you need from a camera first, then do your best to determine which camera best meets your needs for that.
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Old February 16th, 2006, 11:32 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan Crittenden Livingston
Unfortunately they are not a vendor for the HVX200, so they may be able to deal with the demo as a rental? house, but they are not a authorized reseller.
I know, because we considered this place, but it's a good 650.00 miles away, and there's this thing called snow this time of the year.

Seattle and Portland don't have pro houses. San Francisco, I guess is the closest. That's about a $1,000.00 to get there with the hope that some place has the time, and cameras to set up a demonstration.

While the idea of travelling to a place to compare footage is a good idea, the logistics are difficult and pricey.

We did request the DVD from Panasonic fours long months ago.

It never came (or hasn't come), depending on how you look at it.

We've enrolled for the Apple/Panasonic road show in Seattle on March 6th. That' a long drive, and we don't get to compare footage. Just listen.

We're not trying to be difficult, but spending about $8K without first seeing some footage compared to other footage of the same shot is important.

I've suggested this a several occasions to the powers that be, but I do not have any clout.

But there are so many people in a place similar to ours.

At least you can kick the tires on a car.
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Old February 16th, 2006, 01:11 PM   #13
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Alternatives

One thing you might do David, is either:

- A) Purhcase from a place like B&H; test the camera and if it's not what you want, return it and exchange it for another. B&H is very good about returns; I've had to do that several times with both still and video equipment. As long as you keep all the boxes and stuff the item comes with and don't ding it, you'll be OK.

- B) Talk with any reputable pro-video dealer such as Samys, EVS, Omega Broadcast, ProMax (the list goes on) and explain your predicament. See if they would either rent and ship a camera to you for testing or; sell you a camera with the caveat that it might be returned for exhange for another if it doesn't live up to what your needs are.

Version "A" is exactly what I did since absolutely nobody in my area keeps stock of any Z1's, H1's, HD100's and especially HVX's.
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Old February 16th, 2006, 01:12 PM   #14
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I see a business oportunity here. Why can't someone sell these compare result for some money? Let's say US$100 for a DVD. That must be very cost effective solution for the buyer. ;-) And is very profitable for the seller too. US$100 is not that much considering spent US$8,000 for the camera.

Just a suggestion any way.

Regards
Leigh

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Saraceno
That's about a $1,000.00 to get there with the hope that some place has the time, and cameras to set up a demonstration.
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Old February 16th, 2006, 01:16 PM   #15
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I worried about it would be unfair for the next buyer to get the camera returned from previous customer for testing for the brand new price. Will B&H give discount price for the camera to the next buyer?

Regards
Leigh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane
One thing you might do David, is either:

- A) Purhcase from a place like B&H; test the camera and it doesn't do what you want, return it and exchange it for another. B&H is very good about returns; I've had to do that several times with both still and video equipment. As long as you keep all the boxes and stuff the item comes with and don't ding it, you'll be OK.

- B) Talk with any reputable pro-video dealer such as Samys, EVS, Omega Broadcast, ProMax (the list goes on) and explain your predicament. See if they would either rent and ship a camera to you for testing or; sell you a camera with the caveat that it might be returned for exhange for another if it doesn't live up to what your needs are.

Version "A" is exactly what I did since absolutely nobody in my area keeps stock of any Z1's, H1's, HD100's and especially HVX's.
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