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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 October 3rd, 2011, 12:40 PM   #16
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

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Originally Posted by Sebastian Alvarez View Post
Not really, not when comparing two camcorders that are fairly similar in internal components such as the HD1000 and the MC2000. They are, aren't they?...
Pretty obviously not. The HD1000 has a 1/3" chip (actually a hair bigger) while the MC2000 is 1/4", and that apparently makes all the difference.
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Old October 10th, 2011, 04:25 AM   #17
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

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Originally Posted by Sebastian Alvarez View Post
Not really, not when comparing two camcorders that are failry similar in internal components such as the HD1000 and the MC2000. They are, aren't they?

Now if we compare a very expensive HDV camera to another consumer or prosumer one with the highest h.264 bitrate mode, then yes, the HDV camera would be better in picture quality. Regardless of that, I would still get the AVCHD camera because AVCHD has many advantages over HDV or any other tape based format.
If you really want to compare the (negligible) impact of CODECs, then read reports on cameras with identical front ends, e.g. the NX5/AX2000 vs. the Z5/FX1000. The front ends of these cameras are all the same, i.e. the lens and sensor. The only relevant difference is the No. of samples per line. (1440 vs.1920) and the CODEC used. The sensor resolution is 1037000 pixels, also exactly the same as on the Z7 and the S270.

Sampling at a higher resolution does not increase the real quality, indeed, all other things being equal, it just increases the bandwidth requirements, so potentially, it worsens the quality. So any improvement in quality by moving from 1440x1080 MPEG2 HDV to 1920x1080 MPEG4 AVCHD (even at 24MB/s) is far less than the simple numbers suggest. There is however NO increase in resolution. If you want to benefit from a 1920 horizontal resolution CODEC, the camera needs either three true 1920x1080 sensors or a single chip with a native resolution with about 4K horizontal pixels and a Bayer filter. In all cases, the lens needs to be designed for about 1000 horizontal lines. The cheapest cameras that can do this are currently the EX1 and the XF300.

With the cheap hardware used in pure consumer cameras and their 'prosumer' derivatives, the situation is even more futile. Designs rely on edge enhancement to provide a perception of improved resolution on a first generation recording. Any re-rendering during editing will rapidly reveal unacceptable levels of artifacts. The consumer market is dominated by hype based on pseudo-tech numbers. Even mobile phones claim HD resolution through their 1/6 inch sensors and plastic lens!

I don't know what the situation is in other countries, but here in the UK the BBC quite happily uses HDCAM with its 1440x1080 resolution, and there's no chorus of complaint saying that Sky with its touted 1920x1080 spec. is any better when viewed.

As far as AVCHD is concerned, yes it is correct that the CODEC is capable of more efficient compression than MPEG2, but only if the full set of compression tools that the standard includes are used. I'm not aware of any camera that uses all of them as it requires additional hardware to do real-time compression with them. Even with professional equipment, there are better codecs than AVCHD, even with the full toolset. Manufacturers know that the expense would be wasted on an audience with consumer level cameras that have front ends that rarely meet 720p standards and frequently aren't as good as a professional SD camera. AVCHD was introduced because it enables manufacturers to make cameras more cheaply.

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Old October 10th, 2011, 07:33 AM   #18
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

I have 3 single chip Sony AVCHD cams, SR11, XR500 and CX700, a NX5U and HDV FX1. I got the NX5U because all the little Sony AVCHD cams made the FX1 look like the consumer camera !!! Whether that was CCD front end or HDV is not that important. They are sharper and have cleaner video image especially the XR500 and CX700 with the "R" sensor. Interestingly they are also "cleaner" than the NX5U. However the NX5U has more depth to the image and in good light has a wonderful image. I often shoot with another fellow who uses his EX3. It too has more video noise than the small Sony cams but has still more depth to the image. Rank order is easy to see. In the theatre shoots that I do the EX3 can"see" in lower light than the NX5U but the CX700 has the lowest noise of them all and is very good in low light even at 21db of gain. I just wish Sony would make an upgrade to the NX5U with the R sensor and 60P.

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Old October 10th, 2011, 02:16 PM   #19
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

Ron,

The FX1 is nearly 7 years old and was the first 1080 line camcorder on the market below $30000. All HD cameras have improved considerably since then so a comparison is meaningless. As you have noted, the prosumer cameras with the larger sensors give what you say is a deeper image. If you compare both types of camera's footage as a second or third generation compression, to you would probably find that the prosumer camera's output has lower artifacts and a better overall image. The CX700 uses a 12Mp sensor that downsamples to HD without any filtering which is probably OK if all footage is only ever viewed raw and not edited. The artifacts may be visually imperceptible at the first generation, but will make their presence felt with subsequent compression.
That is why pro. cameras have lens and sensors optimised together for a clean image rather than maximum sharpness, straight out of the camera. Also they don't force design compromises by having a still shot capability.

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Old October 10th, 2011, 04:44 PM   #20
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

Yes I got my FX1 when it first came out and then bought a SR7, SR11, XR500, NX5U and CX700 when they came out too. Progression in quality of the image is noticeable. All my projects are theatre shoots of plays etc usually 4 or more cameras, so all in high contrast dark environments. Video is edited and then SD DVD made for cast and crew. With a little filtering all the cameras can be made to look much the same from the timeline. The EX3 is usually used for closeups, NX5U for mid shots and the others fixed wide shots. The CX700 is noticeably cleaner than all the others, EX3 included. This is definitely visible on the SD DVD. Originals are shot at 1920x1080, edited in Edius, rendered to Canopus HQ and downscaled/ encoded to SD MPEG2 using TMPGenc 4. Output is also rendered to h264 from Edius for Bluray disc. The differences are clearly visible between the cameras to the expert eye. However the cost difference for the visible difference is also considerable. EX3 about $11,000, NX5U $5,000, CX700 $1100. Depends what they are used for. The EX3 and NX5U are 3 chip, have lots of manual controls but in a point and shoot family environment, in automatic, hand held, I can attest to the fact the CX700 is easier and gives a better picture. Which is its intended use of course !!!

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Old October 10th, 2011, 09:45 PM   #21
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

Sebastian, you have my email. If you want to put your hands on an EX3 and a 7D and play for an afternoon, shoot me an email and we will go shoot some stuff. I have both sitting in my office here in Raleigh. They both are great tools for VERY different jobs.
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