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Old October 4th, 2006, 09:38 PM   #1
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HVX vs. SPX: Head-to-Head comparo

I'm going to be running a brief demo of both the HVX and SPX cameras next week for one of my customers. Aside from shooting clips specific to my customers needs I'm also going to be shooting my own same-scene comparo tests.

The reason for doing this is that many have debated which type of camera system is the "best" way to go for certain type of workflows. What makes this test very interesting is that I'll be comparing the 1/3" inch HD chipset HVX to a 2/3" inch, 16:9 SD camera, the SPX800. Since they're both Panny chips the color response will be similar - not the same, but similar.

Many of us work on projects that are never meant to be converted to film and either get broadcast or go straight to DVD. The general rule of thumb in deciding what format to use is the end result: Shoot in the format closest to your output medium. Since HD-DVD's are some years away from being the de-facto players in homes and widescreen TV's are also mostly for affluent home users, that means every project initially shot in HD gets downconverted to one of two SD formats: Either 4:3 pan-scan or, letterboxed and all that extra resolution never gets seen by the end-user/viewer. Hence the burning question: Which looks better, HD footage from a 1/3" chip camera that gets downconverted to SD widescreen or, footage from a 2/3" inch camera that's already "SD widescreen"?

Initially most would think that because the HVX is "HD" that it will produce better images than an SD body. However, as mentioned in other threads no 1/3" inch camera regardless of format can match the color, detail and DOF characteristics of a 2/3" chipset body. Period.

Important Note: This is by no means is a direct usage-per-dollar comparison. In that regard the SPX is out of the ballpark when compared to the HVX. In fact, the lens that the SPX will have (Fujinon 13x4.5) is an HD-spec lens - that lens alone costs $20k! So this test isn't for the normal indie crowd with paper-thin budgets, this is mainly for anyone who's simply curious about the difference between the 2 chipset types and, those who are trying to decide if going up to the larger ENG type cameras would be of any benefit.

The main point of the test is this: How does a top-of-the-line 16:9 SD body compare to *the best* 1/3" chipset HD camera? I'm going to find out for all of us next week.

I'll post stills here and maybe I can get our forum buddy Mike to host some short clips for us all to see.
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Last edited by Robert Lane; October 4th, 2006 at 11:52 PM.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 10:40 PM   #2
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Sounds like an interesting test Robert. Any chance of some uncompressed grabs? It'd be interesting to take a 1080P HVX frame and an equivalent 480P SPX frame into photoshop and work them up a bit...
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Old October 5th, 2006, 10:44 PM   #3
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I'll see if I can work that into the testing list, Philip.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 08:05 AM   #4
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Robert,

Thanks for posting this. I would like to see how the two compare when compressing for the web. Could I pay you for your time, effort and supplies needed to ship me a few clips from each camera (shooting the same thing). I would like to import both into separate FCP projects and then run them through Sorenson Squeeze and make some comparisons.

You raise a good point with the higher price of the SPX, but I'd still like to know how the two compare on the web with file download size compared to image look & quality.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 08:18 AM   #5
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Hi Derek,

I can save you the trouble. Any footage compressed down to web-size is going to look ugly, period. There's no getting around the physics of file-size shrinking. The only advantage the SPX clips would have would be the better DOF characteristics, but shrunk down to web compression there'd be zero difference in color or overall image quality.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 08:40 AM   #6
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but shrunk down to web compression there'd be zero difference in color or overall image quality.
Thanks Robert for the information on that. Would the two videos that look the same also be equal in file size, or would the SD be lower in file size?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane
Any footage compressed down to web-size is going to look ugly, period.
With respect, I disagree. I think it could be said that it looks ugly if comparing to a movie screen or TV (regular or HD). But I think several examples of footage that I've seen on-line are far from ugly. Look at any of the videos in this section of Apple's Web site for example:

http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/profiles/

The web has helped reduce the need to depend on TV, Radio, Newspaper, etc. to broadcast anything you want - eliminating the need for most to spend as much, if any, money on some expenive barriers to effective communication. I think there are several people out there who are happy enough with the quality to watch videos on the web - as long as the video's have content that a viewer is interested in.

I'm still looking forward to following this thread closely to see what you post about the SPX! ...And as always, thank you for sharing so much with this community.

Last edited by Guest; October 6th, 2006 at 11:04 AM.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 10:09 AM   #7
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Whether it looks ugly or not depends on who's doing the compressions. Our experience has been that the better quality your original, the better the final compression looks...assuming you've got a super good compression guru.
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Old October 7th, 2006, 12:57 PM   #8
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Robert you can host some video clips right here on this site... shoot me an email and I'll provide you with the upload account info.
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Old October 11th, 2006, 04:54 PM   #9
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Test delayed

I've had to delay this head-to-head comparo until either late Nov or early December at the earliest, but be sure when it's time to do it I'll be posting clips and sharing info as always.
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