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Sony HVR-A1 and HDR-HC Series
Sony's latest single-CMOS additions to their HDV camcorder line.


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Old December 30th, 2006, 07:20 PM   #1
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HC1 or GS400?

Hi. I'm a long time reader of DVinfo.net, and when I came across this small (and maybe ridiculous) dilemma, I thought of only you guys to ask for aid. I need help on deciding between these to cameras.

I'm about to buy a camcorder, and have the HC1 and the GS400 to choose, both used. I've been wanting the HC1 for a long time, but considering what I'll use it for, there's only one thing that'll make me choose one over the other: low light sensitivity.

I know that one of the HC1's weaknesses, and the only one that matters to me is its poor sensitivity in low light situations. Still, that's the camera I want, but I need as much sensitivity as I can get no matter what camera or format I have to use to achieve that.

So, the question is, and I know you'll tell me of a lot of other options in the good lo-light sensitivity world,: which camera is better in low light?

Thanks a lot in advance.
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Old December 31st, 2006, 01:29 PM   #2
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Ernesto,

I wasn't familiar with the GS400, just read a review and it sounds like a good camera and performs well in low light.

I have the HC1, and wish it could do a little better in low light. But it is HDV.

You can add light, but not resolution. And the HC 1 really shines to that respect in good lighting.

The Sony 3 watt is useful at short distances, and the 10/20W reaches out farther, if you can't add natural or other lighting. Adding lighting is not bad necessarily...television...movies...all use it.

My lights use the camera power, or operate with the same type battery for simplicity.

You can do a search of this and other forums for more info on lighting if you want.

Good luck with your decision. Once made...don't look back!

Jamie
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Old December 31st, 2006, 01:49 PM   #3
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When bought new the HC1 and the GS400 are quite a few dollars apart here in Europe, suggesting that the manufacturers know their market and know their place in the great scheme of things.

The HDV HC1 (now discontinued as far as I can tell) has a big (1"/3) CMOS chip, so allowing far more DOF control than the tiny 1"/5 chips as used in the Panasonic. Of course both cameras use internal ND filtration, so both require some concentrated effort to control apertures.

The GS400 I tried was pretty poor in low light but so too is the HC1, and neither camera is plugged as being a low light special. So I was rather worried to read that, '' I need as much sensitivity as I can get no matter what camera or format I have to use to achieve that.'' If this is true Ernesto, then neither of these cameras is right for you.

Still, I'd go for the HC1 because like Jamie says, it's HDV and 16:9 right out of the box. The megapixel stills to Memory Stick are amazingly good too, and in most respects it's a generation on from Panasonic's offerings.

tom.
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Old January 1st, 2007, 12:31 PM   #4
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Hi Ernesto!

I can reasure you that the gs400 is NOT good in low light. I believe same goes for the HC1 but this comes only from what I' ve read and seen on the internet. You may wish to compare the charts in the reviews of camcorderinfo in low light. An excellent site for HC1 is also the fxsupport.de (look at the archives section).

For low light situations in the camera size you are looking for and with the control these cameras offer, I think only the DVC30 can help you out. It also records at 0 lux, black and white infrared! But it is not 16:9 native and it is SD. This is not necesarily bad since lot's of people are selling SD cams now, so you may get one pretty cheap!

Oh, and by the way: The GS400 IS 16:9 native!

Happy new year!

Thanasis
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Old January 1st, 2007, 04:36 PM   #5
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gs400 versus hc1

bonjour Ernesto
For a long time I wanted to buy the GS-400 because of the price and its feature and that it was one of the best review and also its external charger but GS-500 is not as good.Now I have a A1U and I would not change it,but I had to buy a external charger.Low light is not as good as I would like but for that you need biger cameras like Fx1.and i think the gs-400 is a bit to small even for me with small hands,and its good to be in hdv and sooner or later you will want hdv.
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Old January 1st, 2007, 05:07 PM   #6
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Thanks a lot for the input, guys!

Low light sensitivty is really an issue for me, but so is the way the image looks and feels, and I love that about the HC1, even considering its problem with red. And since I intend to use it for film productions, light is usually gonna be something to count on. It's just that I love guerrilla filming, and night street scenarios I love even more. But economy is against me (my choices are used cams, if it wasn't clear before), so...

I was actually leaning towards the HC1 unless the GS400 was really good in low light. Guess I know what I'll get now. But... There's a new factor that's been added to the equation: an XL1! It's possible I might be able to have that option to choose from too...

So now the question would be, if you don't mind too much: HC1, GS400 or XL1?

Thanks again, and happy new year for all!
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 02:50 AM   #7
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They're such wildly different cams, Ernesto. It's like having to choose between a 5 year old Jaguar, a brand new Civic or a Land Rover. They're all aimed at different mrkets, as too are the Canon, Panasonic and Sony.

The Sony is right bang up to date, no question about that. It's HDV and 16:9 and CMOS and small, compact and light. It's bottom loading, the internal mics are so-so and the manual exposure control sucks.

The GS is Panasonic's last ever 3 CCD standard definition in that price bracket. Who'd buy it when the Sony offers so much more? There's nothing wrong with the Panasonic, but HDV is startlingly better, and for only a few dollars more.

The XL1 (not even the s model?) is getting on a bit, but is a far more complete camera for a budding videographer. You have lots of control, especially over the manual settings. The camera does have its faults (what - no side screen??) and it's 4:3 SD, but if interchangeable lenses are a necessity then it's hard to match.

It was never in the VX2000 class for low light but will be better than those two newer cameras with their interferring internal ND filters. The XL1 will teach you far more about camera craft. But it's age worries me - do you know its history and will it be reliable? The s model cured so many teething faults on that model that you'd better be buying it for less money than the HC1.

So I'd make a suggestion. Look out for a VX2100 and get the best of all worlds. Great manual control. Class leading low light performance. Good prices as folk upgrade to the FX1. Cudos out there in the street (the Panny is just too cute, the HC1 ditto).

Better yet look for a PD170 or the older PD150. Both tough as nails, reliable as tanks and used in every war zone man can invent.

tom.
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 01:51 PM   #8
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Having used both my HC1 & a fellow film student's GS400, id say HC1. Both suck in low light, and upon deciding which camera has better colour when properly lit is subjective.

@ first glance the Gs400 appears to smoke the HC1 in terms of manual control but u can still adjust focus, & aperature/exposure with the HC1, you just need to get used to the menu/switches on the Sony.

Like everyone else says, they HC1 will absolutely blow away the GS400 when well lit, ultimately in the end it is about picture quality IMO.
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