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Old August 28th, 2009, 12:27 PM   #1
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Need Equipment advice

I am hoping for some advice from all the UWOLers. I have a somewhat limited budget to by a new camera. I have narrowed my choice to the Panasonic AG-HMC40 and the Panasonic DMC-GH1. These are very different cameras. One is a DSLR and one an entry level prosumer camera.

Of course, the DSLR offers great DOF and interchangeable lenses. It is somewhat limited in shooting modes 1080/24p and 720/60p AVCHD 17Mb and 720/30p MJPEG. There has been MUCH discussion about this camera. It can produce some excellent footage. It does suffer from a weak codec implementation that breaks up with fast movement and complex scenes (at least in 1080/24p - the 720/60p seems more immune to the problem) and the 720/30p MJPEG does not exhibit the breakup issues, but has its own limitations.

The AG-HMC40 is not yet released (supposedly in early September). It offers all of the features you would expect from a prosumer camcorder: zebras, peaking, waveform monitor, multiple gamma modes, color matrices, DRS, etc. It uses Panasonic's 3MOS system with three small 1/4" sensors. It has a 12x zoom (35mm equivalent 41mm-490mm). It shoots in a multitude of modes: 1080/60i, 1080/30p, 1080/24p, 720/60p, 720/30p, 720/24p AVCHD 24Mb. This camera also has a built in intervalometer for time lapse.

I mostly shoot landscape, some wildlife, dog shows, and some other miscellaneous stuff (no real narrative work).

The HMC40 is a true prosumer video camera with all that entails. It has some real limitations because of its sensor(s) and lens. The GH1 provides all of the advantages of an interchangeable lens, large sensor camera; but with a weak codec. I am not quite as concerned about audio, but as you might expect the HMC40 is much stronger in audio.

There are things I really like about both cameras, but alas with a limited budget I can only afford one.

I am seeking any thoughts or opinions any of you have.

thanks,
rich
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Old August 28th, 2009, 01:48 PM   #2
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Hi Rich

Wrong forum for this question fella, this is the contest forum. You'll have better in the uwol sub-forum. - I'm sure a mod will move this along!

IMO the form factor alone of a dslr would make it very hard work for most wildlife stuff, and with a lot of wildlife your generally fighting for more dof not less! I can imagine for specific things it might be good but for general purpose use I can't see it.
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Old August 28th, 2009, 03:22 PM   #3
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Hi Rich - moved to the regular "Under Water, Over Land" forum - most of the UWOLers read this area as well, plus there are other nature and outdoors shooters who read this forum, so you should get the feedback. We try to reserve the game forum for game-related threads - although Tales of Wonder and Woe tends to veer madly off topic!
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Old August 28th, 2009, 03:45 PM   #4
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Meryem, Mat,

Sorry for the mis-post. Thanks for moving it.

Mat - yes I agree with your form factor and DOF comment. However, the reach of the fixed lens on the HMC40 is what gives me concern. The GH1 should have significantly better low light performance because of the large sensor.

Rich
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Old August 28th, 2009, 05:39 PM   #5
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Rich and Mat

What do you mean by the "form factor" of a dslr? Is this point discussed elsewhere?

For bird-flight I'm always looking for shutter speed with dslr and rarely use higher than f/6.3 or at most f/7.1. I can understand a deeper DOF being necessary for landscapes and close-ups of flora but for creature movement I would be looking for shutter speed not DOF!
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Old August 28th, 2009, 06:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brendan Marnell View Post
What do you mean by the "form factor" of a dslr?
When I discuss form factor I am referring to a DSLR is a bit awkward to hand hold when shooting video; of course, once tripod mounted form factor is no longer a concern. I believe that both cameras I am currently considering have similar capabilities for shutter speed. But the HMC40 clearly wins for frame rates and codec robustness.

Rich
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Old August 28th, 2009, 09:18 PM   #7
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Rich,

It was mentioned in one of the forums that shooting video with a dslr requires a tripod to get anything worth while. I believe that is because of its awkward ness in using for video.

for what you are doing I would go with the cam!
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Old August 29th, 2009, 05:20 AM   #8
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I think form factor goes further than just using a tripod. How about having a decent VF and your hands being in a position on the camera to work with the lens properly, and of course is there not still limited control of exposure in video!? Camcorders are shaped the way they are to facilitate this use. - I can see applications that it might work and I've seen great stuff done with dslrs but I just think the workflow would be tricky.
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Old August 29th, 2009, 10:30 AM   #9
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What is your primary objective, Rich?

If it's to shoot stills and have limited video capability, then V-DSLR seems to be a good match. If, on the other hand, you primarily want video, then the answer - I think - should be to get a video camera. Although it's nice to have a multifunctional tool, hybrids rarely do anything particularly well. Cameras are no different.

The interchangeable lens issue shouldn't be the deciding factor, nor should the dof. Pick a good camera first and then the accessories. Most of what I shoot is done with a naked EX-1. You can always add an adaptor if for stylistic reasons you want to monkey with DOF and different angles of view.

If video is your primary objective, I think you'll feel limited with a DSLR for all the reasons you mentioned in your original post. Be concerned about audio! When you need it on a job, it's too late! I didn't give audio much thought with my first camera (Canon HV 20) and quickly grew frustrated with the audio and limited control. May I suggest you make a list of all the features you need/must have, want and don't really need and then go from there.

Cheers,
Bob
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Old August 29th, 2009, 03:18 PM   #10
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Thanks to all of you for your comments. I have in fact been leaning towards the HMC40 camcorder (although I will wait until a few more samples show up - they have begun to appear in the past week).

My main consideration for the DSLR is not DOF but the interchangeable lens; being able to add some reach is quite appealing.

Rich
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