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Sony HVR-V1 / HDR-FX7
Pro and consumer versions of this Sony 3-CMOS HDV camcorder.

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Old April 25th, 2010, 04:51 PM   #1
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EOS 550 as B-Cam to HVR V1E

Hi guys,

My main camera is a Sony HVR V1E. I like it. Two big let downs, though. 1) Difficult to achieve shallow depth of field 2) poor low light performance.

Proposed solution: Get a 550d for circumstances in which I need to use available low lux, or wanna get shallow DoF.

Does this make sense to you guys? I've though about selling V1 an picking up a EOS 5DMkII. Dunno. Any thoughts would be appreciated!!

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Old April 26th, 2010, 09:51 AM   #2
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Well, I'm not familiar with the 550, but, I am a V1 owner of several years, and have recently been working with the 5d and 7d.

It's a pretty different ball game. You used the term "B" camera, which to me suggests intermixing a V1 and a DSLR on one shoot - I'd not recommend that, the look is pretty different. Having access to a 5D or 7D when needed... well, I'm pretty glad I have one buddy with a 7d, another with a 5d, and a local pro photo rental house with cameras and a very full complement of lenses.

I love the look. Yes, I love the look. I don't do any digital cinema, but these cameras would be a good starting point into that kind of imagery. Yes, shallow and controllable depth of field. Yes, a picture quality that you would have to go up past $10,000 USD to surpass, imo.

There are also some substantial limitations, that would make them a poor choice for some applications, or, would cause one to really sharpen the pencil to figure if the image quality gain justifies the increase in hours in shooting and editing.

1) 12 minute takes. These cams are not for event coverage, under normal circumstances, you really can't roll for an hour.

2) 2nd recording system for sound. Recent advances make in-cam recording acceptable for limited purposes, but don't approach what the V1 does, even with it's MPEG sound compression. Everything from connectors, to preamps, to most especially control, requires more time, trouble and money. Then you get to post, and need to sync... more time, and you'd better be darn sure you know how to do this efficiently and the field recordings were made consistently, and a thousand other things that go into separate sound. It can be done! But, you do need to develop some consistent workflows.

3) As bad as a small cam like the V1 is for hand-held work, the DSLRs are worse. Tripod for sure, and perhaps shoulder rig. And, if you're doing entry-level digital cinema, a matte box with a rail system is pretty nice too.

4) Card management.

5) Editing. This story is still being written, as NLE manufacturers catch up to camera manufacturers - again! For now, footage from these cams is chokeing timeline preview performance on many NLEs, but, catch-up is happening rapidly. Suffice to say that you need to take a close look and do some test edits for yourself.

I *am not* knocking these approaches. They can be done, they're the best choices for some applications, the pictures are very pretty, it changes the game as far as what we can expect with under-$10k equipment.

Everybody's mileage is gonna' vary on this one...

PS. Don't overlook the new Canon T2i (I think that's the right model), a step-down 7d with the same picture quality for something like $850US for the body.
30 years of pro media production. Vegas user since 1.0. Webcaster since 1997. Freelancer since 2000. College instructor since 2001.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 12:16 PM   #3
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Thanks a lot for that very thorough reply, really appreciated. All of those points taken on board! The 550 is what we in Europe and Asia call the T2I... No idea why! But, yes, based on what you've said I think going for that cheaper model and hanging on to the V1 might be the way to go. Thanks again!
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