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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 September 30th, 2011, 08:20 PM   #1
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Need advice on what camera to get

I have the AX2000 and also a Panasonic AG-HMC40. I want to get rid of the Panasonic in part because its auto-iris is completely useless and also because I would like to get another Sony to have a color curve that matches the AX2000, even if it's not the same exact camera and sensor. So I'm thinking about selling the Panasonic and either putting some money on top to get a Sony HXR-MC2000U, which is an AVCHD version of the older HVR-HD1000U, which I had but I ended up selling because the quality wasn't that great, in part because of the HDV format. I'm guessing the AVCHD version should have better quality since it's capturing at almost the same bitrate but in h.264 instead of the 1440x1080 MPEG2 of HDV. One thing I loved about the HD1000U was the shoulder format, it was very well designed in the sense that it was very well balanced and light, something I didn't realized until I got a Panasonic AG-HMC80, which is a horrible camera also shoulder mounted but with a viewer so big that you can't keep it straight, it always tilts to the left.

However, I know that the MC2000U is still a consumer camcorder in a big body to make it look professional, and it's not going to look as good as the AX2000. But the AX2000 is really hard to keep handheld for long times, because it's much heavier, while the HD1000U I could keep it on my shoulder for hours without breaking a sweat and I would love to have that again. Unfortunately Sony doesn't make another shoulder mount camera before it gets to the $10,000 price tag, which is far out of my reach. But I worry that if I get the MC2000U it's going to suck if I have to do anything in low light and show a big difference with the AX2000.

The other option would be to go for a Sony DSLR, the Alpha a55, which sells for about $1000 and has 1080-60i video, but I'm also worried that the quality, while probably good, may be even more different than between the AX2000 and the MC2000U. And also that it's going to suck if I have to use Zoom a lot, trying to move that little zoom rocker.

So for a videographer, which of these two options makes more sense? Has anybody here tried the MC2000U, and what do you think about it?
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Old October 1st, 2011, 11:22 AM   #2
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

I have both the HD1000 and the MC2000 and have done side by side comparisons.

HD1000 vs HXR-MC2000

The link is to my particular post but the entire thread is worth reading. If after reading it you still want an MC2000 I'll be happy to sell you one of my test units with virtually no hours on it.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 11:56 AM   #3
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

So when you compare both the MC2000 is even softer than the HD1000? I thought it would be the other way around, being that the HD1000 is HDV and the MC2000 AVCHD. When I did comparisons between the AX2000, the HMC40 and the HD1000, the latter was pretty bad compared to the first two, but I assumed it was mostly because it was HDV. If the MC2000 is even softer, I will have to pass.

I just wish Sony would make the AX2000 in the same casing they use on the HD1000 and MC2000. Sure, I can get one of those shoulder pad rigs, but that's extremely unconvenient when you have to take the camera off the tripod and start shooting handheld in just a few seconds. It would take much longer to take it off the tripod, unscrew the tripod plate and then screw in the shoulder mount.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 03:03 PM   #4
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

The minimum illumination for both the HD1000 and the MC2000 is 11 LUX which is terrible. MC2000 is not any better than the HD1000. I have a 1000 and tested a 2000 but ultimately just went all in on a NX5U instead. If you absolutely need a shoulder mount camera, I'd go with either a new JVC GY-HM750 or try finding a used JVC GY-HD200 on eBay. Those cameras actually match up very nice to my NX5U. Any shoulder mount in the lower price range is just a waste of money in my opinion.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 03:18 PM   #5
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

The JVC GY-HM750 is a $7000 camera. If I was able to afford a camera that expensive I'd jump to the $10,000 Sony. Although to be honest, If I had $10,000 to spend, I'd get another AX2000 and spend thousands on a good Steadicam so I wouldn't need a tripod at all.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 03:51 PM   #6
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

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Originally Posted by Sebastian Alvarez View Post
So when you compare both the MC2000 is even softer than the HD1000? I thought it would be the other way around, being that the HD1000 is HDV and the MC2000 AVCHD. When I did comparisons between the AX2000, the HMC40 and the HD1000, the latter was pretty bad compared to the first two, but I assumed it was mostly because it was HDV. If the MC2000 is even softer, I will have to pass.
The MC2000 and HD1000 are both single chip consumer cameras wrapped-up in a plastic shoulder-mount case, mainly for the low-end wedding/event market. The AX2000 is a cut-down consumer version of the AVCHD NX5 camera which is a three chip front end with a new Sony 'G' lens. This front end is also shared with the HDV model Z5 and its consumer equivalent the FX1000.
Even on the better three chip front end cameras, the resolution is determined by front end performance and tape (1440x1080) and solid state (1920x1080) recording has little if any influence. With the low spec. consumer front ends of the single chip models, the recording format makes no visible resolution difference at all.

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Old October 1st, 2011, 04:07 PM   #7
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

I know all that, but the format has to make a difference. Perhaps not in these models, but you can't compare HDV, which is not even full HD but relies on an enlarged resolution and is 25 Mbps Mpeg2 with AVCHD in this camera which is full HD and almost the same bitrate but compressed using h.264. Even if HDV was full HD it would have to have 50 Mbps to be as good as AVCHD. Of course I wasn't expecting the MC2000 to have the same picture quality as the AX2000, but I was hoping it would be a lot better than the HD1000.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 04:29 PM   #8
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

What's irritating is that if they would even just put the chip from the CX560 into the MC2000 they'd have an absolutely stellar performer. They don't even need to repackage the AX2000/NX5 into an HD1000/MC2000 body to do it. All they need to do is use their top consumer chip. But they don't because they don't feel they need to.

To me this is a clear case of when "good enough" isn't. But I'm not in the Sony marketing department so I'm not privy to how they think.

Maybe they are afraid that if they do this they will cannibalize sales of more expensive models, but I think this is a stretch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian Alvarez View Post
So when you compare both the MC2000 is even softer than the HD1000? I thought it would be the other way around, being that the HD1000 is HDV and the MC2000 AVCHD. When I did comparisons between the AX2000, the HMC40 and the HD1000, the latter was pretty bad compared to the first two, but I assumed it was mostly because it was HDV.
The format has nothing to do with the softness; the Z5 is pure HDV and blows away the MC2000 in terms of sharpness. It's all about the front end, as Steve very aptly points out. It's all about the chip and how it handles light and how it has to gain up and how it introduces noise when doing so. The compression scheme has little to do with it.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 04:38 PM   #9
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

The problem with their marketing tactic about this is that they don't have a good option for regular event videographers when it comes to shoulder mount cameras. I doubt that a normal event videographer is going to spend $10,000 in a video camera unless they make way too much money, but then their only option below that price in the same brand is a low quality camera. They should have a version of the AX2000 that is shoulder mounted, that would sell like hot cakes.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 05:24 PM   #10
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

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Originally Posted by Sebastian Alvarez View Post
Even if HDV was full HD it would have to have 50 Mbps to be as good as AVCHD.
I don't think so.

That statement implies that AVC-HD in this type of camera gives the same results as MPEG2 with less than half the datarate. If you have access to a camera with the "HF" AVC-HD mode (13Mbs, constant bit rate) it's easy enough to demonstrate to yourself this is not true.

If it was, HF mode should give better quality than HDV. I'm prepared to put a pretty big bet down that you'll find this not to be the case, either in artifacting on a static scene, or on high movement.



[EDIT - Sebastian, I've just noticed you say you have an HMC40. That doesn't have an HF mode, but I believe it does have the HG mode - still 13Mbs, but variable bit rate, so should be a bit better still. Try it - and tell me if you think it's better than HDV. :-) ]

Last edited by David Heath; October 1st, 2011 at 05:34 PM. Reason: Adding last paragraph.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 05:29 PM   #11
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

I'm talking about the highest bitrate mode in camcorders these days, it varies depending on the brand, on my Sony AX2000 it's called FX and I think in Panasonics it's called something else. I don't recall because I set it to the highest bitrate and never touched it again. But in that highest quality mode, the bitrate is a variable 21 Mbps with a maximum 24 Mbps. So that, in h.264, is far better than MPEG2 at 25 Mbps. h.264 is by far a more efficient compression than Mpeg2.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 05:52 PM   #12
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

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h.264 is by far a more efficient compression than Mpeg2.
It may well be the case that H264 is more efficient than MPEG2, and at the max bitrate AVC-HD may well be better than HDV. Where I really don't agree with you is the amount - hence the suggestion to try the lower bitrate mode. It gives you the chance to see how AVC-HD stacks up against MPEG2, with the latter at twice the bitrate. It's intended as an experiment - not a way of working.

It's also important to appreciate that "H264" implies a collection of techniques, but it's not neccessary for all the techniques to always be used to make an H264 signal, and the effectiveness will vary widely from coder to coder anyway. In the UK, broadcast HD transmissions are now at something like 10Mbs using H264, and in that case they may well indeed be rivalling MPEG2 bitrates of twice as much.

But that's with new, very sophiscated coders, able to employ all the techniques that H264 can offer - and costing many, many times more than the complete camera in the cases we're talking about here - let alone the coders in those cameras!

Cheaper (much cheaper) coders means less of the possible techniques used, so far less than the 2:1 advantage you may be hoping for. Probably about comparable quality to MPEG2 at about 80% of the bitrate - not 50%. And the downside is that it needs more computer power to edit.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 06:24 PM   #13
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

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It may well be the case that H264 is more efficient than MPEG2, and at the max bitrate AVC-HD may well be better than HDV. Where I really don't agree with you is the amount - hence the suggestion to try the lower bitrate mode. It gives you the chance to see how AVC-HD stacks up against MPEG2, with the latter at twice the bitrate. It's intended as an experiment - not a way of working.
I wouldn't care to compare 13 Mbps AVCHD against 25 Mbps HDV, because it's about the same, and in that case it mostly comes down to the rest of the components. My Canon HF100 consumer camcorder in AVCHD at 13 Mbps looks way better than the Sony HD1000U, both in overall image quality and pixelation in movement.

My original point was that comparing the HD1000 and the MC2000, one being 25 Mbps MPEG2 and the other 21-24 Mbps h.264, the MC2000 "should" be much better, because both are a consumer camcorder in a big case, but the MC2000 has a much more efficient compression system.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 06:42 PM   #14
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

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Originally Posted by Sebastian Alvarez View Post
My original point was that comparing the HD1000 and the MC2000, one being 25 Mbps MPEG2 and the other 21-24 Mbps h.264, the MC2000 "should" be much better, because both are a consumer camcorder in a big case, but the MC2000 has a much more efficient compression system.
As Steve Game and Adam Gold have previously said, in such cameras (with a single small chip) it's the front end performance that is far, far more important than codec. Compare a good front end in an HDV camera with a 1/4" single chip and AVC-HD and the former will blow the latter away, HDV or no. I think you're putting far too much emphasis on codec, far too little on chipset.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 06:48 PM   #15
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Re: Need advice on what camera to get

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As Steve Game and Adam Gold have previously said, in such cameras (with a single small chip) it's the front end performance that is far, far more important than codec. Compare a good front end in an HDV camera with a 1/4" single chip and AVC-HD and the former will blow the latter away, HDV or no. I think you're putting far too much emphasis on codec, far too little on chipset.
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.
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