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Sony NXCAM / AVCHD Camcorders
Sony HXR-NX100, HXR-NX70, NX30, NX5, NX3/1, HXR-MC2500, HDR-AX2000, etc.


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Old February 20th, 2010, 12:45 PM   #1
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How does it compare to HDV?

My apologies if it's not the right place to ask, but how do the picture from these two sony cams compare to HDV? I understand that HDV is 1440 x1080 only, but other than the size of the image, is there anything else?
Is it really worth to dump a Canon XH-A1 for one of those sonys?
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Larry
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Old February 20th, 2010, 01:38 PM   #2
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Actually there's no difference in image size. 1440 anamorphic is exactly the same size as 1920 square.
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Old February 20th, 2010, 02:13 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Larry Secrest View Post
My apologies if it's not the right place to ask, but how do the picture from these two sony cams compare to HDV? I understand that HDV is 1440 x1080 only, but other than the size of the image, is there anything else?
Is it really worth to dump a Canon XH-A1 for one of those sonys?
Thanks
Larry
Hey Larry,
In my honest opinion my answer would be no. I would not dump my XH-A1 for the AX2000/NX-Z5. You have a very capable camera still in the XHA1. I would wait till NAB to see Canons new camcorder. Also I'd wait to see what other camcorders will be presented from other companies. If you need solid state AVCHD now then you have the panasonic and the sonys. In that case I would purchase the Sony NX5. If you can wait till NAB you'll have more peace of mind with the next purchase. Take Care

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Old February 20th, 2010, 02:13 PM   #4
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What?

Are you saying that actually HDV 1440x1080 is the same size as 1920x1080?
Sure, good, I didn't know that.
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Old February 20th, 2010, 02:23 PM   #5
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Thanks Monday!
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Old February 20th, 2010, 02:38 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Larry Secrest View Post
Are you saying that actually HDV 1440x1080 is the same size as 1920x1080?
Sure, good, I didn't know that.
HDV records 1080 line images at a resolution of 1440x1080, while AVCHD can record full raster images (1920x1080).
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Old February 20th, 2010, 02:44 PM   #7
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I know, so what do you answer to Chris Hurd wen he says : Actually there's no difference in image size. 1440 anamorphic is exactly the same size as 1920 square."

Am I missing something?
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Old February 20th, 2010, 03:06 PM   #8
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By image size I'm assuming he means that both yield a 16:9 frame - width is 16 units, height is 9 units - the actual image size will obviously depend on the overall size of the display!

With a 1920x1080 recording codec, each pixel is square - 1920x1080 is 120 times 16x9 - whilst with such as HDV pixels represent an oblong shape. What can be said is that whilst both represent a 16x9 shape frame, 1920x1080 recording is capable of higher resolution horizontally.

Note the words "is capable of" very carefully. If the front end of the camera isn't capable of that resolution, you won't see it, end of story. A camera is only as strong as it's weakest link. And in the case of all HDV and AVC-HD current cameras (AFAIK), none of the front ends are capable of 1920x1080 resolution - the best max out at around 1440x810. In such cases it's actually better to have a lower res codec - it makes for easier compression and a better result overall.

As regards your original question, the image quality is more influenced by actual camera than codec. If you're looking to trade up from a Canon XH-A1, I'd be looking more at an EX1 than any of the new Sony NXCAMs. Yes, it's a bit more expensive, but the step up is very big in many ways. It does give full 1920x1080 resolution, but other advantages include a proper manual lens rather than servo driven, and a host of other factors.

And XDCAM is easier to edit than AVC-HD as well.
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Old February 20th, 2010, 03:56 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Larry Secrest View Post
My apologies if it's not the right place to ask, but how do the picture from these two sony cams compare to HDV? I understand that HDV is 1440 x1080 only, but other than the size of the image, is there anything else?
Is it really worth to dump a Canon XH-A1 for one of those sonys?
Thanks
Larry
1440x1080 anamorphic displays the same as full raster 1920x1080, but here are considerable differences, aside from recording full raster images as opposed to recording anamorphic images.

AVCHD compression image quality can be considerably better than HDV. Barry Green directly tested Panasonic's flavor of AVCHD (AVCCAM) vs XDCAM-EX with an EX1, and found them quite comparable (with AVCCAM doing perhaps a bit better when highly stressed - whip pans and that sort of thing). XDXAM-EX uses MPEG-2 compression at 35Mbps as opposed to HDV at 25Mbps, and yields notably better image fidelity.

I own an HMC40. The HMC40 is Panasonic's three 1/4" full raster imaging chip AVCCAM (Panasonic's badge for professional AVCHD) camcorder. It can record images that are absolutely stunning, and with adequate lighting, best the A1 (and any HDV cam that I know of) for recording image detail. I absolutely love shooting with the HMC40 and I'm very interested in the NX5U (since it apparently can record roughly the same image detail as the HMC40 - even though the NX5U doesn't quite use full raster imaging chips), and went so far as to register the domain names hmc40.com (nothing there yet - soon will have raw MTS files from the HMC40) and nx5u.com, where there are some raw MTS files from the NX5U available for download now (for folks that want to closely examine images recorded by the camera, rather than versions that are downsized and re-compressed for streaming). If anyone wants to shoot (good) comparisons, of the NX5U with the XH-A1, Z5U, etc., you can drop me a line. I've got plenty of storage and bandwidth to make it possible for downloading un-recompressed raw footage from the cameras, so folks can really compare the footage properly rather than comparing footage that has been severely stepped on.

Aside from using a better (in terms of image quality) codec, the NX5U can also record continuously, essentially forever, since it has two memory card slots and the camera is capable of spanning recordings across cards. (I think there's some sort of arbitrary one week continuous limit, or something like that, but I'd have to double check that to be sure. Also, that optional 128GB memory module can record for almost 12 hours straight at the highest quality setting.)

I don't have an NX5U yet, but one thing I noticed with the HMC40 is that the gain seems a whale of a lot cleaner than with the XH-A1. Even 12dB of gain usually looks pretty clean (as opposed to starting to look a bit radio-active like with the A1). From what I've seen thus far, it doesn't appear that gain on the NX5U is as clean as with the HMC40, but it does seem to be a bit cleaner than with the XH-A1.

I was really hoping that Canon would come out with an AVCHD cam (and use full raster imaging chips). I'm sure their new cam will be an excellent one, and their MPEG-2 4:2:2 compression, at 50Mbps, will almost assuredly at least edge out AVCHD encoding, image fidelity wise. That said, what I've seen from the HMC40 tells me that AVCHD image quality can be excellent (especially compared to HDV) and quite adequate for my purposes. The better quality of the 50Mbps MPEG-2 4:2:2 encoding would be really nice, but I much prefer having the far smaller file sizes with AVCHD (less than 1/2 as big), as far as long term storage of original footage though.
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Old February 20th, 2010, 04:14 PM   #10
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I was really hoping that Canon would come out with an AVCHD cam (and use full raster imaging chips).
They have, in the form of the HF S series. I know you meant a pro-level camera, while the HF S series is only consumer -- however, it has enough "pro" features (LANC, etc.) to use by some folks in some capacities. Just wanted to point that out,
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Old February 20th, 2010, 04:19 PM   #11
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The images out of the HF-S series cams look pretty darn sweet too. From what I've seen, the image quality is about the same as the image quality from the HMC40. I wish Canon would put 720p60 capability in an HF-S cam. That would be absolutely great to be able to shoot 720p60, that high in image quality, with a little fist size cam.
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Old February 20th, 2010, 04:20 PM   #12
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To clarify the issue about 1440x1080 equaling 1920x1080 -

HDV use rectangular pixels with a Pixel Aspect Ratio of 1.333

1440x1.333 = 1920! So, when you play back HDV out of the camera to an HD display, it fills the same 1920x1080 screen as actual 1920x1080 footage.

Just to further muddy the issue, I'll mention that DVCPRO HD is 1280x1080 with a PAR of 1.5, and 1280x1.5 = 1920.

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Old February 20th, 2010, 08:23 PM   #13
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Thanks for all your answer.
Yes, I'll will have a look at those XDCAM-EX
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Old February 20th, 2010, 10:08 PM   #14
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>Is it really worth to dump a Canon XH-A1 for one of those sonys?

It is if you want to move away from a tape-based workflow! But if the main reason you are considering the change is to improve image quality, then probably not. I would expect the Sony image to be better than the A1, but not dramatically.
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Old February 20th, 2010, 10:56 PM   #15
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It really depends on what you are doing. If final destination is SD DVD, then there isn't likely to be a nickel's worth of difference in image quality for viewing, shooting with the NX5U or XH-A1. If you are shooting 1080 line video for delivery on Blu-Ray, to be played back on big (1080 line resolution) wide-screen HDTVs, then the difference could be quite noticeable for viewing.
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