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Old March 9th, 2010, 08:50 AM   #1
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Canon HV20/30/40 Questions

I would like to post this here, since it seems many Videographers in this forum make or have made good use of the Canon HV-series.

I am upgrading my to High Definition, and will require 3 new HDV cameras.

My thoughts at the moment are leaning towards the Sony HDR-FX 1 as the main camera and main expense (around 2000 budget for main cam), with a couple of HV20/30/40 (undecided which yet) to supplement.

Main question is this: with the Canons being lower-spec 'consumer' camcorders, would this be noticeable when the footage is edited together and mixed with that on the FX 1?

While I understand the Canons can produce excellent picture detail for such a small and cheaply-priced unit, how do they perform under 'movement' - i.e. handheld/tilting/panning operations? Any known 'jerkiness' or other quirks? I could set both cameras to record 1440 x 1080 so 'pixel detail' matches up. But since the Canons appear to only have the one sensor, would there be any serious difference to the footage shot with the 3-CCD FX 1?

Naturally I expect some picture differences (not only different level cameras but different manufacturers) and some work in post-production to match up colours, but my goal is to achieve well-matched footage after editing with no obvious mis-matches in capture quality between cam A and cam B.

Ideally I would purchase two FX 1s instead, with a smaller Canon to cover wide-angle... but at the moment this setup is out of my price range.

Much appreciate any thoughts from those familiar with the pros and cons of the Canons, and particularly anyone who has operated with an FX 1 and HV20/30/40 two-camera setup and compared the two for picture and movement in post.

EDIT: I may be able to stretch a few hundred pounds more to make a Canon XH-A1 my main camera. I assume this would make for a better match between the HVs?

Last edited by Rob Harlan; March 9th, 2010 at 10:01 AM.
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Old March 9th, 2010, 12:56 PM   #2
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I have cut together a FX1 and HV30 a few times with great success. Of course, the darker the room gets, the more you will be able to notice a difference, but with additional lighting I have been able to cut back and forth during speeches and the cameras have looked identical.

I wouldn't be worried about cutting the cameras together, but I would be weary of the amount of light.
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Old March 9th, 2010, 01:21 PM   #3
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You're talking about buying used cameras Rob? The FX1 has been out of production some time, and Canon only have the XH-A1 on their books while they ready the new model (shown as a non working prototype at Earle's Court last month) for production. The HV30 and 40 are pretty much discontinued as the SDHC card cameras take over the world.

Cutting together footage is not generally a problem these days as computers can do accurate scene to scene matches, but of course it's best when the cameras are all set up to shoot interlace or progressive up front.

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Old March 9th, 2010, 01:30 PM   #4
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I wouldn't buy second hand, and am fairly confident of finding all the cameras I mentioned new online from the UK.
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Old March 9th, 2010, 01:44 PM   #5
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Hi Rob

we have similar setups (some Sony FX1s and a Canon HV20 for the statics) and I think that you won't have a problem matching the images, as long as you do some good post work. Only problem with the Canon models is their inability to shoot in low light conditions without the grain going up, but in good lighting conditions little Canons are unbelievable! Regarding handheld though, I'd be careful. Although not bad, they don't have the good stabilizing that bigger cameras have (and one reason is their weight). I'd suggest a tripod or a Flowpod if you want some quick and good quality steadyshots.
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Old March 9th, 2010, 02:07 PM   #6
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If you do go for a new FX1 make sure you get a good discount - it should be a lot cheaper than the FX1000 that replaced it some time ago.

The FX1 has CCDs which are ideal for weddings where there's an abundance of electronic flash going off all day long. The CMOS chip in the HV cameras suffers from flash banding and doesn't look anywhere near as nice. It's also a camera that cries out for a wide-angle adapter right out of the box.

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Old March 9th, 2010, 03:24 PM   #7
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Thank you for the responses.

The planned '2nd' camera - HV20/30/40 - will be operated on tripod only so no issues with stability.

I spend plenty of time in post-production with colour grading so as long as there are likely to be no dramatic picture capture differences between the Sony and the smaller Canons, it will be business as usual.

I appreciate the Canons with inferior sensors will not perform so well in low light, which is a concern for wedding ceremonies/receptions. About 75% of content in my wedding videos will be taken from my main camera [i.e. Sony - better in low light], but it is something to consider before I buy the Canons for those other shots I need. Though with 3 HDV cameras pretty much essential for how I operate, and a restricted budget, one 'big' unit and two 'smaller' cameras seem inevitable [unless I go second hand such as 3 x old Sonys for example, but I'm wary of buying such a important pieces of kit without knowing the full history and with no warranties etc].

Re: the Canon's 'flash-banding' - is this where capture quality is compromised for that moment during a camera flash? i.e. does it break up the frame into artifacts during the flash... or is flash-banding something else? It sounds like something that may be unfixable in post?

I've had a look at the FX1000 since it was mentioned - prices seem to vary wildly from just over 2000 to 3000. Guess if I can find the newer [superior?] FX1000 at around 2 grand it may be a better bet than the FX 1.

Or maybe the Canon XH-A1 to keep all cameras from the same family...?
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Old March 10th, 2010, 02:09 AM   #8
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You raise some good points. The XH-A1 is a mighty fine camera and of course the XLR inputs will be a must for any wedding filmmaking. How did you plan to get around this with the FX series - use a Beachtek box? You really need independent control over L & R audio, so that a radio lapel can use one channel and a shotgun the other, say.

The 20x zoom on the XH-A1 will be a boon for picking off the guests and Sony realised this, upping the FX1's 12x to a 20x on the FX1000 and subsequent AX2000. The latter is AVCHD to card, and interestingly for a Sony prosumer cam, has XLR inputs.

The HV series give spectacularly good pictures in good light. They use a big single CMOS chip but the 10x zoom is limited to keep picture quality high and price low. You really should investigate the flash banding as it can really destroy any plans you might have to put the cake-cutting into slo-mo, for instance. Sony's clip browser on the EX series is supposed to alleviate the problem somewhat, but I've yet to see before and after results, so can't comment.

It's one reason wedding guys like the Z1, HMC151 and the XH-A1 - their CCDs have a far more natural look under the paparazzi flashguns barrage at a typical wedding. CMOS cameras are taking over because of their lower power requirements, good low light performance and ease of manufacture, but they're no sharper.

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Old March 10th, 2010, 02:24 AM   #9
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I have both Xh-a1 and HV30. For about 2 years, I use XH-A1 as main cam and HV30 as b-roll. I gear up the Hv30 with wide angle lens, lens hood, camera lights, and shotgun mic. The rig looks good.

HV30 is very capable.. However, in low light situation, you will need to learn to use "the light trick". Then you need to point the camera to a light source, then lock the exposure. You won't get bright video but you will get noise-free footage that you can adjust the exposure with the joystick, or in post. The light trick is very important to make good use of hV30.

Now it comes to matching the footage. I use the VividRGB preset found in this forum. Then use the Matrox RTX2 card that color matching feature. I think I did a good job in matching the color. If you have the same card, I can share with you my premiere preset.

Color matching XH-A1 and HV30 | L.A. Color Blog
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