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Old September 18th, 2009, 02:41 PM   #46
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I would not buy anything that just do SD. Today you pay more for a new SD camera than for a new HD. SD is gone and HD is here - you can always produce SD from HD material - not the other way. If you make stunning pictures in HD - you could use them for - lets say 5 - 10 years. If you do the oposite - you would have half the market and the pictures will be worth nothing, in one or two years. Thats my opinion - someone probably means sometihing else - and thats OK.
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Old September 18th, 2009, 07:59 PM   #47
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Jonathan,

I would go the HD route. Each passing day sees HD eqpt being the choice of camera operators throughout the world and if you get a SD camera now, you may actually have a very hard time selling it off at a price that you want.

If you foresee yourself doing jobs with this camera, then go for HD. I would have to say that (as superficial as it sounds) clients are more impressed and confident when you show up with a HD camera. Add to the fact that HD downgraded to SD will give you better image quality than pure SD alone, I dun see SD cameras as a choice now.

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Old September 19th, 2009, 10:26 AM   #48
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The problem is, the decision to go HD is not quite as simple as it may seem. True there are inexpensive HD camcorders on the market, but 95% of these do not seem suited for wildlife film, if only due to their limited zooms and lack of interchangeable lenses.

So the real question becomes, for a filmmaker just starting out, is it worth it to buy an SD camcorder suitable for wildlife work (like the XL2) so as to gain more experience filming in the field NOW, or would it be a better idea to WAIT for a while in order to save up the money to buy a more expensive HD camcorder with equivalent (and necessary) features.

From what I know (which is limited due to lack of experience but not lack of research into the workings of the wildlife film industry), filming in the wild requires two important things: fieldwork and equipment. You cannot be a truly great wildlife filmmaker without both, and while it is true that great field technique will allow a filmmaker to get closer to the subject, there is a limit to this just as there is a limit to the quality of footage that can be obtained by a filmmaker with little field experience who simply shoots wildlife safely from great distances using long lenses and a nice camera. As I understand it, the inexpensive HD camcorders like the XHA1 might be great for independent features and documentary work, but are largely inadequate in a wildlife environment. I am sure there are those who will disagree with me on this, but the fact remains that in order to film close-ups with an XHA1 or equivalent camera, a filmmaker needs to get to within 10 or 15 feet of the subject, and this just isn't possible with most wildlife, especially when the goal is to sell footage of unique animals and interesting behavior.

In order to film wildlife from a distance of 30, 50, or 100 feet away, you need interchangeable lenses. So again, the question is not just HD or SD, but whether to get experience with filming and fieldcraft on SD now, or to wait a year or more to save up for the HD *equivalent*. This is obviously a very difficult industry to break into, and for this reason I can see the benefits of both approaches, improve fieldcraft and general film experiece as soon as possible (knowing that it may be difficult to sell the SD equipment later, and that this route may severely delay a future HD purchase) vs save up for the camera that will produce salable video first while delaying the experience of getting out into the field with a camcorder.
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Old September 19th, 2009, 11:34 AM   #49
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... to gain more experience filming in the field NOW,...
Would be my choice. :)
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Old September 19th, 2009, 03:53 PM   #50
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Jonathan, one thing you certainly could try to do would be buy accessories that would work now with an SD camera and later if/when you upgraded to HD.
For example if you bought a Nikon 50-300 lens and attached it to an XL-2, when you upgrade to an XL-H1 or EX3 for instance you could still use it. The same would go for tripods, and maybe things like batteries, matte boxes etc. Just keep it in mind, as often the price of the camera body is only a small-medium part of all the kit needed.
One other possibility if you are going SD would be to get a full-size camera like a DSR500. These are going really cheap now and if you were hoping to work professionally in the future will proper full size cameras, having experience with full size cameras will be a big help. A DSR500 is very much the same in operation to an HDW900 for instance or a Varicam, whereas moving upto one from an XL-2 would be a much bigger transisition.
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Old September 19th, 2009, 04:23 PM   #51
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Well explained, Johnathan.
The answer is always experience, but ideally we want you to have that in HD :)
How much time can you realistically spend in the field during the next year?
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Old September 19th, 2009, 06:23 PM   #52
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One other possibility if you are going SD would be to get a full-size camera like a DSR500.
I like this idea Steve, and I will definitely keep this in mind as I continue to search for cameras. After a little searching online I was unable to find any of these currently for sale, but I'll keep looking. At least it's another option to consider.

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How much time can you realistically spend in the field during the next year?
Obviously this is a concern, and of course without a camera I can continue to spend as much time outdoors as possible, observing nature without filming and practicing skills like tracking, but a year is a long time (assuming I can even save up for a camera within a year). I love being outside and get out of the house as often as I can, and as I am sure is the case with most of us pursuing wildlife film in some degree, I also have a love for cameras and forming images of the places I enjoy. Given this, I don't see working on my fieldcraft as something that will fall to the bottom of my list of priorities once I do acquire a camera. So I expect to be able to spend long hours in the field pretty much every weekend, plus additional hours when I can during the week. Again, it's easier said than done, but all I can do is try my best.
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Old September 19th, 2009, 06:54 PM   #53
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Try BB List and ebay of course. And here's one froma dealer Mitcorp > Sony Specialist Dealers > USED EQUIPMENT BARGAINS > Camcorders > Used Sony DSR-500WSPL DVCAM Camcorder body, approx 1300 drum hours, good condition Used Sony DSR-500WSPL DVCAM Camcorder body, approx 1300 drum hours, good condition
One thing to be careful of though is not to buy a camera that you'll need a separate tape player/recorder for. This is one of the good things about the solid state cameras, that you can just hook them up to your computer and drag in the files. A lot of the later tape cameras do have firewire outputs though, but things like Digibetas don't.
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Old September 19th, 2009, 06:56 PM   #54
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And here's another Mitcorp > Panasonic Broadcast Dealers > USED EQUIPMENT BARGAINS > Camcorders > USED Panasonic AJ-D410AE DVCPRO Camcorder (PAL) c/w Fujinon 14x lens + raincover + 3 batteries USED Panasonic AJ-D410AE DVCPRO Camcorder (PAL) c/w Fujinon 14x lens + rai

Just might be worth thinking outside the box a bit, especially if it's to be used as a learning tool.
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Old September 19th, 2009, 07:53 PM   #55
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Jonathan,

I definitely agree with you that fieldcraft is something that every good wildlife filmmaker should have. Coming from a nature photography background, I was pretty much at ease when the transition came along.

If you are not that familiar with wildlife filmmaking yet, perhaps a good choice will be to get into nature stills and learn your fieldcraft while saving up for a H1? I would really hate the fact that if you have got some superb footage coming along, only for it to be shot on SD. HD will basically future-proof that footage and going the still photography way will allow you to learn the fieldcraft and yet save the hassle of getting the SD camera and selling it off later. It will also definitely be cheaper to get than the XL2. The lenses you get for the stills will still be usable later on.

Cheers

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Old September 19th, 2009, 08:05 PM   #56
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Thanks for the links Steve, much appreciated. And Weehan, I will definitely continue to consider purchasing a still camera. You make a good point that I could learn a lot (and potentially make some money) taking still pictures alone. And these days the added bonus is that with a DSLR you often also get HD video functionality, even if it is somewhat limited.
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Old September 20th, 2009, 01:22 AM   #57
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I'm of the the mind that for all the work serious wildlife filming takes, that you want to record in HD. That being said, The nano flash or Flash XDR from Convergent Design offers a great companion to the XLH1. As some others are moving to DSLR, you can probably pick up a good used H1 for a decent price. You can then pick up an EOS adapter and throw on a 70-200 L-series or bigger lens. The crop factor is huge (7.2x) so a 200mm lens stretches out to over 1400mm. Of course the challeng becomes locating the subject in the viewfinder (even at the wide end, a 70-200 is over 500mm). The Flash recorder via the HD-SDI port allows for a by-pass of HDV. Though IMHO HDV is still pretty good, but the bypass to the XDR or Nano Flash will be far better.
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Old September 20th, 2009, 04:09 PM   #58
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You should also consider that if you choose to buy SD equipment - it would be worth nothing in a couple of years - just like 4:3 is it now. HD equipment will fall in price as it is used - only.
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Old October 22nd, 2009, 08:04 PM   #59
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One other possibility if you are going SD would be to get a full-size camera like a DSR500.
I am wondering what the possibilities are for full-size HD cameras, and whether any of these would be recommended for wildlife work. I saw a used JVC GY HD101 with few hours of usage online for about $5000. Are there others that I should consider that might be available used at an affordable price (something around $4000 or $5000)?
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Old October 23rd, 2009, 04:34 AM   #60
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Johnathan

I shoot with the JVC HD110 (very similar) - Its not a 'full sized' camera. Only XL/EX3 sized. I think its a great camera for wildlife. Works very well with Nikon stills, is true progressive CCD based and produces can produce very filmic images. Layout is also very nice IMO. It also shoots 50p/60p at SD which is a useful feature. - Its not a great low light performer and power can be a pain....but its a good peice of kit that I've used for 18months now.

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