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Old April 20th, 2010, 11:03 AM   #1
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AX2000 For Hockey?

This past year I have been shooting my oldest sons high school hockey games on an inexpensive canon camcorder. I would like to make the move up to a nicer quality setup and want to film in HD. I was originally expecting to spend around $2k to $2500, but after doing some research and talking to a sales person over the phone I am now contemplating the HDR-AX2000. My understanding is that it will do the best quality shooting in a hockey rink because of its low light ability.

Am I getting in over my head? I dont know anything about lighting, gain, or manual controls, but I am willing to learn. I like the fact that it records in HD, has a larger lens to let more light in, low lux, larger LCD screen ( it is hard to follow a puck on the ice) and no tape. at the end of the year I will be putting together a 20 to 30 minute highlight dvd for the team that I would have to downgrade to SD from HD. This year I used Pinnacle Studios 14 ultimate, which I am sure is not anywhere near the quality of what you guys use but I am just doing home movies.

Please tell me your honest thoughts on this and please feel free to give me ideas of other cameras that you would recommend.

Thank you very much for your time,

Eric
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Old April 20th, 2010, 12:42 PM   #2
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Just to throw my two cents in... I wouldn't necessarily call it going in over your head but I would say if your only plans are for home videos and hockey games then you may just be throwing away your money. Don't get me wrong, the camera is a great piece of equipment... but You would probably get away fine with a $1000 less camera. Yes. you would sacrifice the low light capability, but In my experience, indoor ice hockey games are pretty well lit (and they need to be for the players to see the puck flying around). I don't want to dissuade you in any way from getting this camera, I just don't want you to end up spending more money then you have to.
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Old April 20th, 2010, 04:02 PM   #3
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Maybe what I am looking for is a camera with a bigger lens to let more light in then what my current small palm sized unit allows. Most rinks are fairly well lit, but it isnt great lighting and so I thought the lower lux would help give me more detail and better color. I used to try and take shots with a point and shoot camera and didn't get very good pictures, it wasnt until I upgraded to an SLR with a f2.8 lens that I was able to get good shots more consistently. I figured it would be the same with a camcorder.

I am all for saving a $1000 (as is my wife), can you give me suggestions as this is all new to me. Can you get good quality High Def for closer to 2 grand? Should I be worried about getting 1080p?

Thank you Nick for your thoughts, I am trying to learn from others experience here and I appreciate all input.
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Old April 20th, 2010, 04:38 PM   #4
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Just to play Devil's Advocate, I'll take the opposite position from Nick: I think you'll benefit from a better cam. While you can get very good video from any cam if you know how to use it, the added features of a higher level cam may allow you to more carefully tweak its performance to your subject.

Despite what most people think, lighting at indoor venues like for gymnastics, basketball and hockey isn't that great. It's even, which is good, but it isn't as bright as it appears to our eyes (or more accurately, video cams don't see the light as brightly as we do) and the color is horrible in most cases. So in your case the AX2000 might be a very good choice for you (thought it's so close in price to its big brother, the NX5, that I'd consider paying a few more bucks for the added features). Manual WB is a must -- and it's easy for hockey; just WB off the ice -- but most all cams can do this.

All that being said, if low-light is the most important thing, you could consider picking up an SD VX2000/2100/PD150/170, which are all basically the same cam and are unparalleled in low light. But they don't do proper widescreen so will look a bit outdated on DVD if you have an HDTV (widescreen). But the picture quality itself in 4:3 mode is brilliant.

Another alternative, if you want more features, HD, the longest telephoto ability currently out there and good value, and low-light really isn't an issue: The FX7. Nothing comes close in terms of value and while it's a few years old, it still makes a lovely picture and is under $2000 with lots of manual controls. But not great in low light. And, of course, it's tape, which you said you want to avoid. But also note that AVCHD (the tapeless format you are considering) requires a pretty beefy PC to edit.

I have two FX7s and four Z5s (the latter of which is basically the same cam as the AX2000 as far as the imaging section goes) and I am truly, madly, deeply in love with all of them. But they are like paint brushes: you need to know which one to use in each situation.

Another thought: check out the CX or XR550s, just announced. Not a lot of controls, but My God, what a picture and great low light.

I know all this is a bit like you asking what time it is and we're telling you how to build a watch, so I can do the short version:

Am I getting in over my head? No.
Can you get good quality High Def for closer to 2 grand? Yes.
Should I be worried about getting 1080p? No.
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Old April 20th, 2010, 05:06 PM   #5
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I have an NX5U, but I use my XR500 to shoot my grandsons hockey. Low light performance is almost as good as the NX5U, auto focus is faster and more accurate and it also will do face recognition. I think you should look at the CX550 or the XR550 as they are even better than my XR500. If you do not want the creative control of full manual ( not likely if you are tracking people on the ice) then the CX550 or XR550 will do a good job at a fraction of the cost of the AX2000. Frankly in full automatic I can't tell the difference between the NX5U and the XR500 in good light.

Ron Evans
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Old April 20th, 2010, 06:56 PM   #6
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I agree with Ron. The AX2000 and some of the others mentioned are also very large and you will need to spend some additional time learning to use it.
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Old April 20th, 2010, 07:38 PM   #7
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People will give you more respect while filming though. I have to say I love my NX5, it is the best camera I own. Coming from PD170,VX2000 and TRV950.







Dan
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Old April 20th, 2010, 08:09 PM   #8
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I love my NX5U too but I don't think the general population would think any more of it than a big expensive handcam. A shoulder mount camera would be different and would gain some respect as mentioned. Whether the shoulder mount or NX5U could do as good a job in the average persons hand at a hockey game is another thing altogether. My guess is the smaller handcam would win. Set up at the bench with a professional tripod and remote controls on tripod handle the better cameras will clearly be better. Hand held in the normal seats the handicams will win every time.

Ron Evans
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Old April 20th, 2010, 08:22 PM   #9
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99% of the short programs I am filming are inside hockey rinks.

The lighting inside arenas is just terrible. However, I have to say I am very impressed with the image I am getting with the NX5U. It sure does an excellent job (WB and other setup) in automatic mode. The comments I've got from my customer is that there are very happy with the color, the sharpness of the image. I've started filming with autofocus and I do not have any trouble.

Eric mentioned two things in his thread he wants to do, shooting HD and delivering SD (down-convert).

One thing which amaze me with this camera is the quality of the SD image. Also, it is possible to create a DVD with menus within 10 minutes after finishing filming an event. You only have to bring the MPEG2 file created by the camera in Toast Titanium, set the encode parameter to "Never", write a title for the DVD and here you go. Start Toast, insert a blank DVD, see how fast it goes and your DVD will be ready in no time.

Where it gets more difficult, is that if you want to keep shots during the game to prepare something when the hockey season ends. Doing a DVD with 20 to 30 minutes filming inquire doing video editing.

I use MAC software, I do not know about PC, Compressor does an excellent job when down converting HD to SD.

Ron seems to know a lot about video editing software on PC. I supposed you would have to perform work, i.e select the shots you wants right after the game and save them for future use with video editing software. You then require a software which can read and manipulate AVCHD format without any translation.
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Old April 20th, 2010, 09:15 PM   #10
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Hi Daniel, compared to theatre lighting hockey arenas ( for hockey) are daylight !!!! Most of the theatre shows need between 6 to 15db of gain to keep iris at about 3.4 or better ( for depth of field and to avoid lens ramping).
As far as compiling a years worth . I use Sony Motion Browser to transfer to the PC and this will keep a full log by directory( the day the files were transfered) and in calendar view showing a calendar with clips on the various days( a good reason to make sure the camera clock is correct).Makes it very easy to search for clips. It has the other benefit in that it will bring in clips not FAT32 files so for long programs there are not many clips just the one file.
I have Vegas and Edius and either will edit AVCHD native files and create a compilation and output in whatever format is needed. Clips can be input from the directories of the archive and edited in either program. This is how I do the family videos each year of the grandkids etc. For the hockey compilation there are many ways of doing this but one way would be to place each game on its own track and enabling one track at a time delete the bits that are not wanted. Keep doing this until there are just a few clips on each track and then combine the tracks into one final track.

Ron Evans
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Old April 21st, 2010, 02:10 PM   #11
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Thank you all for your responses. I am excited to hear that the CX or XR550s might be able to do the job for me. I had made the assumption that these smaller units wouldn't be able to do HD any justice. If I can get good quality from a sub $2000 camera that is great! The new xr550 also accepts SD cards which is a plus in my book.

It would be nice to be able to line 3 or 4 of these guys up at a rink on tripods and see what they can do.

Ron when you are filming your grandsons games do you have to film through netting, and if so does your 500 do it well? Our home rink has a place I can setup that doesnt have the netting in the way but most of the away rinks have it.

Thank you all again for your input, I now have a few more models to look into.
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Old April 21st, 2010, 02:38 PM   #12
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Yes I sometime video through netting but a lot of the time I go down to ice level and video through the "glass". Either way it seems to focus OK. If you are having problems then select "landscape" in the scene selection which will force focus at longer distances, not sure of the closest focus, or if its set at infinity, but its intended to take scenery through windows etc and not focus on the window.

Ron Evans
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