Filming a short. Prosumer Cam or Panasonic AJ-SDX900 at DVinfo.net

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Old September 7th, 2005, 07:56 AM   #1
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Filming a short. Prosumer Cam or Panasonic AJ-SDX900

Yes... the budget is LOW but wondering if should spend the extra money to shoot using the Panasonic AJ-SDX900 (instead of XL2 or DVX100). The short is a Comedy about a guy in Japan (yes I am here now). There will be lots of "beauty" shots also. Intended market is festivals, strait to DVD and maybe even a presentation as a pilot for TV. I`m sure most people will jump at "yes!" but... please give me a experienced professional factual opinion if you can. Is the final product actually going to be better? a lot better? This is my third production (first was with VX1000`s x2: second with XL1. I am one of those guys who dont care who the maker is, just want a GOOD final product).
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Old September 7th, 2005, 08:25 AM   #2
 
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Carl, the bottom line is it's not so much the camera as it is the camera operator/DP. If everyone's assumption were true that it was solely the result of a particular camera, then there would only be one camera out there.

If you have an XL2 use it! If you have a DVX100 use it! Put the savings elsewhere.

Jay
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Old September 7th, 2005, 10:35 AM   #3
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yes...

thanks for the reply Jay, but... I know that. To be more specific, "Assuming" I have a good (not great) cameraman and he is shooting the same scene, same way, same lighting, ect. with the two different cameras, is it worth the extra expendature to capture with the more expensive professional (and as I have heard great) camera. Personally I am a Producer/Director (and I try to keep up on the technical aspects of filming also but leave specifics to people who are trained there) and of course I realize that technique, the cameramans eye, his skill, his artistic view ALL come in play, but there must be a physical and real reason why the Panasonic AJ-SDX900 is well, a lot of money.
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Old September 7th, 2005, 11:49 AM   #4
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Carl,
It again comes down to the cameraman, does he have a lot/and or any experience with that camera (SDX-900)? If he has shot with it and knows it farily well then HE, not the camera will make it look great. I've shot tons of video and can shoot very well with my XL-1 but I know that if I had the SDX-900, it would take me a while to get comfortable with it and be able to produce beautiful video. If you can find someone who has shot with that camera then by all means, rent it and make a great looking video.

You say your budget is low, can you afford to let the cameraman experiment with all the settings and shoot lots of test footage with the camera in order to achieve the look you want.

Some physical reasons why it's such a better/more expensive camera is it has bigger chips, 2/3 inch compared to 1/3 of the XL-1 and vx-1000 plus it shoots at twice the data rate; 50mbps compare to 25mbps of the standard DV. Then you have the nice lens on it, then also the cine gamma function which lets you adjust the image in all sorts of ways, not sure how exactly since I'm not too familar with all the tech specs of that camera.

Where in Japan are you? I'm down here in the Big O--Osaka.

Good luck with your project.
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Old September 7th, 2005, 08:12 PM   #5
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I only know what I have been told

Rik,
My Co-Producer suggested the cameraman, he says he has experience with the XL2, DVX100 and the AJ-SDX900. No, we do not have time for experimenting... actually we are on a very tight schedule because I have to get home to Vegas the middle of October. Yes, it is obvious the "physical" properties of the camera are a lot better... being the producer I am just trying to make a Cost to Quality informed decision. (being a multitude of variables aside) If shot by a decent cameraman, put through the same Avid editing suite, transferred to film, and shown on a screen... side by side... will the picture be 40-50% better? 20-40% better? 10-20% better or just so minute only professionals can tell (for almost double the rental rate). Anyones general best Guesstimate taken with gratitude. Rik, I did live in Japan for about 8 years but now live in Vegas. I come here a few months a year (Tokyo) as I have good contacts and work. It is at these times I try my best to make a short.
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Old September 7th, 2005, 10:15 PM   #6
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Carl, maybe some of it depends on how you use the camera and what you intend to do with the footage.

Your cameraperson may know how to tweak camera settings to get the look he/she wants. The SDX900 may be a bit more tweakable than the other cameras.

Lower noise and compression on the SDX900 could be an asset if you put the footage through extensive secondary color correction.
If you're editing on Avid, you may not be doing it. The Symphony is designed for finishing, and I'm not sure how often you'd utilize its secondary color correction because it's time-intensive and the operator/editor may not really use that tool.

2- A different way of approaching your problem:
Ask your cameraman for some footage from both cameras, and ask him not to tell you which camera shot which footage (so you can do a blind test for yourself).

Or ask the cameraman for his opinion.
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Old September 7th, 2005, 11:21 PM   #7
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For the basic question of - same shot, made by the same people, only variable being the camera - if shown side by side, you would see a big improvement.
I'd say around up to 30%. Especially if viewed on a big screen at a festival or the like.
There's just so much more information being captured by the SDX.

Make sure your post production crew and budget can handle footage from the SDX appropriately.
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Old September 8th, 2005, 09:24 AM   #8
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Carl,

I did a 48-hr short with the SDX900 and was highly impressed by it. Side-by-side against all the DVXs and Xl2s the SDX900 really stood out. The color richness, clarity and depth of field were far superior.

I'd say it worth the money.
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Old September 8th, 2005, 09:49 AM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Gribble
Carl,

I did a 48-hr short with the SDX900 and was highly impressed by it. Side-by-side against all the DVXs and Xl2s the SDX900 really stood out. The color richness, clarity and depth of field were far superior.

I'd say it worth the money.
Barry, the price stands out, too! The MSRP is $26,750--we're comparing apples to oranges here.

Jay
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Old September 8th, 2005, 01:29 PM   #10
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Jay,

Of course we're comparing apples to oranges, that's what he asked us to do. And I'm telling him it is worth the difference if he has the money. Renting one here runs around $500 for a weekend, I don't know about there. I'm on the road now, but when I get back I can put some stills up if it helps.
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Old September 8th, 2005, 05:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Downs
Rik,
My Co-Producer suggested the cameraman, he says he has experience with the XL2, DVX100 and the AJ-SDX900. No, we do not have time for experimenting... actually we are on a very tight schedule because I have to get home to Vegas the middle of October. Yes, it is obvious the "physical" properties of the camera are a lot better... being the producer I am just trying to make a Cost to Quality informed decision. (being a multitude of variables aside) If shot by a decent cameraman, put through the same Avid editing suite, transferred to film, and shown on a screen... side by side... will the picture be 40-50% better? 20-40% better? 10-20% better or just so minute only professionals can tell (for almost double the rental rate). Anyones general best Guesstimate taken with gratitude. Rik, I did live in Japan for about 8 years but now live in Vegas. I come here a few months a year (Tokyo) as I have good contacts and work. It is at these times I try my best to make a short.
Carl, MovieMaker Magazine had an article that actually compared the DVX100, XL2 and the SDX in a transfer to film situation. Although you will not be transfering I feel this still applies.
They said the XL2's resolving capability in terms of detail and color was over the DVX and closer to the SDX. He went on to mention that he found that "incredible" considering the SDX's chip size and color capabilities.
Personally I didn't see the footage so all I can do is report what I've read.
What it sounds like to me is if you have to spend more than a few thousand extra on this production because of the higher end Panny, the look of the SDX better be utterly blow-away compared to either the XL2 or the DVX, not just "better".
If it's not, screw it and get either of the other SD cameras and put that money toward another project.
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Old September 9th, 2005, 03:19 AM   #12
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Thank you everyone

I greatly appriciate your inputs. I live for "Real People" boards. I do not trust reviews by sites or articles... who knows what agenda/advertising/product pushing incentives they are peddling (of course you come across those people on boards too) it`s just great creative everyday people who give the best and "Real" impressions.
1. Correct, I will be renting so the "purchase" cost does not come into play but the "rental" cost is double... (but of course hundreds of dollars different... not the 20 some odd thousand to buy the camera).
2. I looked at footage today from the XL2 and the SDX... as Barry said, the richness of colors, depth, and clarity of the SDX footage was obvious (not to get too many "well... well..."`s here, both of the exact same shot, shot side by side).
3. Eric, "Carl, MovieMaker Magazine..." Hmmm once again a Big Publication... who knows what Cannon is doing behind the scenes (am I too paranoid? ha ha...) Anyways, yes, you are correct. For the extra price, I want a better picture.
4. Now it gets really crazy... as I went to see the XL2 and SDX footage... guess what else they had ready for me (this being Japan...) normal interlaced HD footage from the HDR-FX1 and footage from the HDR-FX1 that had been shot HD then run through Vegas for Movie like output! I`ll tell ya... the HD footage on the plasma flat screen they got here is... AMAZING. of course it`s doesn`t have the "movie" look but just beautifull. AND the Vegas outputted "Movie Mode" footage was in my opinion better than the XL2 and close to the SDX.

Now I am just... going crazy. The FX1 seems to be the best choice... I can capture HD then make two versions 1.) Movie Mode (in post) 2.) HD version (which may be in greater use in the future.

BUT... why rent!? the FX1 is well, cheap, for the great output! Oh boy...

Anyways, thank you for your answers... you have given me usefull information. Now I have to ask a few questions on the FX1 board (try to keep the questions in the right spot) so, If you have time please check it out.
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Old September 9th, 2005, 08:09 AM   #13
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I saw a series shot with a varicam and the Sony Z1u... I'm telling you, I didn't notice they were using two different cameras. (I was seeing the footage at SD resolution or something, not HD.)

HDV is hard to edit and in a few percent of the cases you might be able to see compression artifacts. But otherwise, in the right hands, it can look really good.

2- They were using 35mm adapter$ and coloring the footage on a Discreet Smoke and they are talented, so your mileage may vary.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 07:41 PM   #14
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Again, make sure the HD can be handled in post. No point going HD if your post production crew haven't got the facilities or knowledge to handle it.
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