Would you buy an SD camera these days? at DVinfo.net

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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
Topics also include Sony's TRV950, VX2000, PD150 & DSR250 family.


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Old April 14th, 2008, 02:23 AM   #1
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Would you buy an SD camera these days?

I am considering adding video services to our Wedding Photography Business as we often get requests from brides. Currently we refer to colleagues, but the market seems to lend itself to us testing the waters.

I realize the VX2100 (and XLR equipped PD170) are considered the kings of low light (especially in the wedding court) so I'm torn if the limitations of current mid priced HD cameras can compete.

I think it would be advantageous to offer HD (no one in our area really does), as everyone is headed that way (although Blu-Ray players are pricey - $500).

These are my options as I see it:

A - Get a pair of PD170s (I like the XLR and DVCAM options, and B&W viewfinder too) to produce excellent SD content videos with the best low light capability

-or-

B - Get a pair of FX1s and produce even better HD content (packaged with a Blu-Ray player if need be it). Also offering SD to those who don't want to spend the extra money. And of course, struggle with the low lighting shots and critical focus issue.

I have spent a few weeks on the forums and review sites, so I feel pretty versed in the equipment and how it will perform. My question to those that are out there shooting: Would you invest in SD and shoot for a year or two, and then re-invest in all new gear in the future?

I think there is a lot to be said for shooting HD exclusively, and more importantly first to offer it.

Thanks to all - this is my first post here!
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Old April 14th, 2008, 05:33 AM   #2
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IWould you invest in SD and shoot for a year or two, and then re-invest in all new gear in the future?
If one is a budget producer I think it depends on the outlay - i.e. I wouldn't spend on 2x new PD-170s at this stage, but a 2nd hand kit with mics & perhaps 16:9 anamorphic adaptor are still fine kit to service what I imagine is still mainstream for weddings - SD.

Then again I took one look at the output of Canon HV20 and promptly sold off one of PD-170Ps last year. (I'd bought a 46" 1080P LCD and suddenly SD just didn't cut it).
I've shot weddings since 2002 and barely received interest in 16:9, started to change since last year though, with my last three job all shot with an anamorphic.

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Old April 14th, 2008, 09:07 AM   #3
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Would you invest in SD and shoot for a year or two, and then re-invest in all new gear in the future?
I don't think it will be a good investment buying 2 sd cams now, sure they will last you another 2 years before HD really will start to kick in, but you can bet you hardly will get anything in return for it.

The price diff between a vx and a pd (at least here in Europe) on the second had market is considerably, eventhough both have the same quality they only differ in a few option, like the xlr. but for me it's not worth the extra cost.

The fx1 on the other hand is aging as well and will struggle big time in dark areas. I know videographers buying a fx1 here and having use a vx2100 before and they regretted it afterwards, they have to use a much bigger light to get decent images in candlelight rooms and the guests don't appreciate it.

Like mark said, sd doesn't look good on most big screen lcd screens. I've seen my vx2100 footage on some lcd screens which looked OK, not like HD does but OK. But I also had some screens were it looked like an old vhs tape.

If I would invest know, I would buy a canon XH A1 and a second HV20 with an adaptor for a wide angle/fish eye lens and one to get that nice small D.O.F., reading all the user experiences about both cams they seem to deliver good overall quality. Ofcourse it's not tapeless but that is another price category if you want quality. The hv20 is easy to carry and best for those creative shots if you combine it f.i. with a glidecam.

Also watch out with adaptors on vx2100 alike cameras, they do give you extra possibilities but all the weight comes on front, try holding the camera more then 10 minutes in that way... I just have extra wide angle adapter and hardly use it because it's virtually impossible to hold it too long in my hands, only works if on a tripod.
That's also one of the biggest disadvantages of the vx and probably the pd and that is limited wide angle, it difficult filming in narrow places, especially if you switch to 16/9.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 09:36 AM   #4
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There's little point in buying SD cameras for wedding video work these days, and with HD you have the advantage of getting usable still-frames you can use as backups for the photography side of the business. (Not as good as full-quality still photos, but acceptable for basic prints.)

As far as the FX1 is concerned, it is usable in dim light once you learn a few tricks and remains a decent choice 3 1/2 years after it first started shipping. However, there's a growing list of competing options in this price range including the Canon XH-A1 and the new Panasonic AG-HMC150. Wait until after NAB to see what all is available.

P.S. Thanks for the reminder that videographers may want to consider adding photography services to their offerings before all the photographers start doing video! :-)
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Old April 14th, 2008, 11:30 AM   #5
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P.S. Thanks for the reminder that videographers may want to consider adding photography services to their offerings before all the photographers start doing video! :-)
Yeah I know. That is the most discomforting feeling. The couple I shoot with mentioned, "I would hate to know the video people are adding photography."

To be honest the main reason to add it, is not to generate video-based revenue, but to not lose a potential photography client that wants a complete package with one company. That seems to be requested a bit more now.

I find it strange that the same companies that make still cameras release new video models every year almost, but the video cameras can go 5+ (look at the PD150 ->PD170 series).

I think we will likely wait for the HD replacement to the FX1 (or competitor that is similar). From what I have read the SD product looks pretty bad on a big LCD (which is household common).

Lastly, I have read that shooting in HD and then mastering to SD actually looks worse in most cases than just shooting in SD in the first place, is this true?

Thanks for the replies and opinions - greatly appreciated...
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Old April 14th, 2008, 12:43 PM   #6
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SD footage from HD footage quality may be a function of the editing program you use. You might want to experiment with this before committing to an all-HD camera inventory.

Large screen's (meaning HD) are not yet the most common television found in homes. It is getting there but not yet. Most people don't replace their televisions until the old one dies.

The biggest problem with HD is that the number of Blu-Ray players isn't nearly as great as the number of HD televisions. One can purchase an up-converting DVD player for less than one-tenth of the cheapest Blu-Ray player.

And have you taken a good look at the cost of a Blu-Ray blank disk? Ouch!

So you may move to HD but find that you still have to deliver SD video so your customers can play it.

Maybe you should go out an buy up an inventory of HD-DVD players and deliver footage in that format. :-)

A HD-DVD player is $99 at Costco along with 2 movies. Those players do a very good job of up-converting SD to HD so you would be giving your customers HD plus a nice bonus. Sort of.

In other words, stay flexible.

Competition and an evolving technology is the reason the still cameras exhibit model churning. My 3 year old Nikon D70 does a great job but the newer models have a lot of nice features. But they don't appreciably take a better picture for my needs.

Video camera technology is relatively mature with HD being the 'big' recent change. Storage technology plays in there as well.

I'd guess that when SLR digital still cameras start using multiple full-frame sensors as do video cameras, then they will start to stabilize a bit on the high end. But high-end SLR film cameras were introduced at a fairly high rate as all-manual models were replaced by newer models that took advantage of increasing electronic suites to provide better functions.

Consumer cameras, still or video will continue to churn as it is primarily a marketing game.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 11:48 PM   #7
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Yeah I know. That is the most discomforting feeling. The couple I shoot with mentioned, "I would hate to know the video people are adding photography."

To be honest the main reason to add it, is not to generate video-based revenue, but to not lose a potential photography client that wants a complete package with one company. That seems to be requested a bit more now.
Ya, it's the same for me to think about photographers adding video. I'm pretty sure i can do video better than they can, just as they can do stills better than me. I've had couples ask me why their friend's wedding video was so bad compared to my demos.....and then they told me it was a photographer who 'set up a little cam on a tripod and hit record while he took pictures with his still cam'. That kind of explained it right there....video kind of takes the backseat for many still photogs who are trying to do both. Most brides I've had have come to me with 'what money they had left' after everything else for video. Some I've had to turn down because they didn't have enough left.....others I've been able to do something for. And WITHOUT FAIL, they have told me that after they saw the video it should have been one of the FIRST things they put money toward. Anyways, all ranting aside, when I get people asking for photography with my video services....I have a photographer friend that I hire....at her NORMAL rate for weddings so they can get everything from one company, but they pay for it. I don't ADD anything to her price, but I make sure she gets her normal rate as if she had booked them herself. She does the same thing for me when couples ask for video.

As for which cameras....I still use PD-150's....I have had absolutely NO interest in HD production from anyone. I offer Blu-ray discs of the wedding if they want it, but it is a more expensive package. I haven't had a single couple take me up on it yet. Of course, that is just my area, so it may be much different in other places. I get more interest in iPod versions and YouTube versions and such, that's what I'm seeing here.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 10:41 AM   #8
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I think we will wait for now

I don't want to invest in the SD market, get a system all working and then have to start over with new gear etc. in 1-2 years. Also we shoot 40+ weddings a year on the photo side and that keeps us busy for sure. We will continue to provide referrals to the video folks we like the best.

I'll be lurking around here...

If the HD stuff gets close in low light performance to the VX2100 (PD170) then we will likely rent a few and see where that takes us.

Thanks to all who participated and helped. The video shooters are safe from another photo crossover, for now :)
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Old April 15th, 2008, 11:25 AM   #9
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The new sony Z7 does HD in low light the way the pd 170 does SD in low light. So low light is no longer something to hinder one from going HD. So does the Ex1.

The question to be asked is am I offering HD, but still charging SD prices?
Of course when the VX1000 came out it was a 5K camera.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 10:47 PM   #10
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Thanks Jeremy

The Z7U looks very impressive and with the ability to dual write to miniDV and CF cards is very nice. Looks like the low light performance is within 1 lux of the PD170, but for wedding work that 1 lux is still quite a bit.

Will be interesting to see what Canon offers after the show...
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Old April 15th, 2008, 11:12 PM   #11
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The Z7U looks very impressive and with the ability to dual write to miniDV and CF cards is very nice. Looks like the low light performance is within 1 lux of the PD170, but for wedding work that 1 lux is still quite a bit.
Then it's pretty close to the PD150 and my 6 year old 150 (new heads and transport but still the old electronics) still does a great job in low/no light receptions. No really noticable difference betweenthat and my 170. At least ot enought to make a difference to anyone.

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Old April 15th, 2008, 11:59 PM   #12
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IIRC, there is only 1 lux difference between the 150 and 170 and that is rarely apparent.
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Old April 16th, 2008, 01:42 AM   #13
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I have the Sony Z1 and the PD170.
All of my work is going out SD on DVD and most of the camera work i do for others is being recorded in SD both 16.9 and 4.3.
I'm keeping the 170 as it kills the Z1 for SD 4.3 looks.
The Z1 is ready for HD when it happens.
Both cameras work well for 4.3 but the 170 needs an anamoprhic adapter to keep up with the Z1.
I have been looking at the Cannon HV20 and the images outa that thing looks really good.

Cool
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Old April 16th, 2008, 05:23 PM   #14
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For me personally, once I've worked a couple of times in HD, it's hard to go back to SD. Even if you're ultimate delivery method is dvd.
The image is just so much more sharp and detailed in HD (as it should, of course).
I've shot with the Sony Z1 a couple of times, and I have an Canon XL1s at the moment (next week to be replaced by an Sony EX1).
After shooting with the Z1, I always find the image of the Canon lacking when editing, although I like shooting with the Canon a lot more, because of it's ergonomics. The XL1s has served me well, the last 3, 4 years... but it's time to update. So:

I wouldn't buy a SD camera at this point anymore, but of course I don't know what your budget is. If you buy an HD or HDV camera now, you can *still* shoot and deliver in SD. You only have extra options for the future, and a better image quality.
You could look at the Sony FX1 or the Canon XH A1....

PS: I don't even have an HD television set. It's the detail of the SD image on my computer monitor that disturbs me often.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 02:24 AM   #15
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PS: I don't even have an HD television set. It's the detail of the SD image on my computer monitor that disturbs me often.
AHH....You shouldn't judge video by how it looks on a computer monitor. My PD-150 video still looks absolutely GREAT on my 750 line JVC NTSC monitor. For me, the deal is, if clients want me to shoot HD, I will, but I am going to charge more than I charge for my SD stuff. And guess what.....in my area most clients can't watch and don't care about HD, they just want regular DVD's. It's a business thing for me....sure it's fun to play around and use the HD stuff, and of course it's sharper than SD. BUT to me this is A BUSINESS. If a client wants HD, they can pay for it. There's plenty of people who do this 'on the side' or 'for fun and what money they can pick up'. That's all fine and dandy for them. But for me, this is how I make a living. When you do this as a business, you have to look at differently....so for me, I'll start shooting HD when my clients will pay for it, and not until then. I already have SD gear that I will use......I'll rent HD gear for the very very rare cases I need it, and will buy HD gear when my clients start actually asking for it more than once a year......it's not very smart for me to spend a bunch of money on a new camera and editing system and such and then charge the same prices.....not good business sense at all. Now if your clients are asking for it and will pay, that's when you GO FOR IT!
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