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Old March 16th, 2013, 12:57 AM   #1
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Camera choice

Hi Everybody,

Looking for some camera advice. I am wanting to replace my Panasonic HMC40 due to its poor low light performance. I was strongly considering the Canon XA10 based on reviews I read but am also interested in the JVC HM150. Any advice on either camera for wedding work? Anything else worth looking out in a similar price range. I already have a DSLR but I also want a traditional video camera.

Thanks
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Old March 16th, 2013, 04:49 AM   #2
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Re: Camera choice

Buy yourself the Panasonic AC90.

Fantastic bang for the buck. And it sure has a traditional form factor to it !

Alternatively if you want to extend your budget to double the price. Pick up a Sony EA50 (which is what i've got).

Excellent camera!
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Old March 16th, 2013, 10:34 AM   #3
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Re: Camera choice

Thanks for the heads up on the ac90 James. How is the low light performance with such small sensors?
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Old March 16th, 2013, 10:36 AM   #4
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Re: Camera choice

The XA10 is a 1/3" sensor cam, the Panasonic has the significantly smaller 1/4.7" sensor. In case you do not know, 1/4.7 is smaller than 1/4". If low light is important the XA10 would serve you well. It is not only good in low light, is has almost no noise up to 20db gain. Very clean image.

The XA10 sensor is the same as is in the much more expensive big brother the XF100, which is a very fine camera as well.

The JVC, on other hand, will suffer from relatively poor dynamic range due to using three 1/4" sensors rather than the single, larger 1/3" sensor in the XA10. I cannot even imagine why anyone would buy a camera with 1/4" sensors for pro work, but that is just me.

The XA10 sensor is still relatively up to date, it was new for the camera, so it is not outdated or old technology.

There are a lack of manual control buttons, but there is an exposure wheel which offers control over your exposure. You cannot change wb on the fly, but I love the camera so much I'm more than happy to work with it. For the money, you cannot buy a better image from any camcorder. It's physics, less than a 1/4" sensor cannot allow as much light in as a larger, 1/3" sensor. There is just no way around it.
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Old March 16th, 2013, 01:01 PM   #5
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Re: Camera choice

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Originally Posted by Jeff Harper View Post
.....If low light is important the XA10 would serve you well. It is not only good in low light, is has almost no noise up to 20db gain. Very clean image.

The XA10 sensor is the same as is in the much more expensive big brother the XF100, which is a very fine camera as well.
Just to clarify a couple of things...

We have several XF100 cameras and also the XA10. The XA10 is harder to use when in a hurry because of the touch screen interface. For instance, changing white balance requires you to dup in t the menus. Changing the aperture or shutter speeds etc require you to press a tiny button on the back to select the right function and then use a tiny wheel on the back to change it. It's not ideal. For this reason it tends to be one of our discreet unattended cameras rather than a manually operated one.

OTOH, the optical IS is very good if you need to hand hold while walking!

Also, while the XA10 may appear to have relatively little noise (and in my mind it's acceptable up to about 9db) it's because noise reduction kicks in and robs you of details. The picture is also a lot more saturated than the XF100.

If the XA10 is about where your budget tops out then it's a reasonable camera, even in low light. It's small, relatively discreet and 'looks' better than the average uncle bob's camera.

The XF100 appears to be noisier at 12db but still retains the details so you have the option to noise reduce in post. Of course, NR in post takes a LOT longer than the real time NR in camera on the XA10!
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Old March 16th, 2013, 01:04 PM   #6
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Re: Camera choice

Thanks Jeff.
Low light is definitely important, as is xlr inputs and ability to adjust exposure on the fly. White balance isnt as critical on the fly as long as it is adjustable.

I do like the idea of the bigger sensor on the xa10. I was reading something about the ac90 sensors being backlit which is supposed to be a big benefit.
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Old March 17th, 2013, 09:00 AM   #7
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Re: Camera choice

Im not really into technical details so much as I prefer hands on (hence why I never read manuals and prefer youtube 'how to' videos).

But I can say the image quality is very good from personal experience.

It's newer technology and I have also read as you mentioned that the backlit sensors play a big part.

For the price you cannot go wrong.

I only bought my EA50 to replace my VG20's as I was into large sensor videography for depth of field / artistic stuff.

But as you already own a DSLR without any plans to sell it, buy the AC90.
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Old March 17th, 2013, 12:24 PM   #8
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Re: Camera choice

James,

One thing that always bugged my about the Panasonic cameras I had before was that the only way to set manual white balance was via shooting paper etc. Does the AC90 allow you to specify a kelvin temperature or are you still stuck with manual white balance with paper?
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Old March 17th, 2013, 03:37 PM   #9
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Re: Camera choice

I looked at this comparison when choosing the ac90 over the xa10

HD camcorder reviews/tests and comparison of Panasonic AG-AC90 and Canon XA10 Best values highlighted sorted by score
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Old March 18th, 2013, 12:46 AM   #10
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Re: Camera choice

Thanks for the link Phil. Can you enlighten me on the low light capabilities of the AC90? I'm really liking it but the small chips scare me when it comes to low light. I really liked my HMC40 but in low light it was garbage, we've relied on the DSLR and HMC70 for the reception footage.
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Old March 18th, 2013, 02:42 AM   #11
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Re: Camera choice

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Originally Posted by Phil Gadd View Post
Based on that link alone. It looks like the low light capabilities are equal to the XA10 if you look at the images.

Don't you have a store you can give the camera a try in ??

Or why not buy it, gently use it, if your not happy, return it ?

That would be the best option tbh
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Old March 18th, 2013, 09:25 AM   #12
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Re: Camera choice

James, the image you refer to is not a low light image. The best way to compare the cams low light is to shoot in a low light evnvironment. What the image does demonstrate is dynamic range, not low light ability.

At the bottom of the impossibly long list of comparisons, under the pros and cons, they specifically list low light as a pro of the XA10, not of the Panasonic. You cannot gather as much light with three tiny sensors as you can with one larger, it just doesn't work that way, it is not physically possible. The Panasonic might do a great job, for it's size, but it can't beat the XA10 in low light.

The Panasonic might be a perfect camera for it's size and cost, but for me, low light ability is so important at churches where I cannot run a light, and for that I'm very happy with the low light ability of the XA10.

You really can't go wrong with the Panasonic, it looks great. I personally have a strong bias against the tiny chips, if you haven't been able to tell already.
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Old March 18th, 2013, 03:55 PM   #13
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Re: Camera choice

Yes, you are right Jeff!

I skim read that page but had a proper look now.

I don't know ... is the XA10 worth the extra money though?

It's up to you Adam.

Decisions, decisions ... an exciting time ahead!
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Old March 18th, 2013, 04:03 PM   #14
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Re: Camera choice

Lots of reasons to choose the AC90 over the XA10 if your budget goes that far, but again, can I please ask about the white balance settings on the AC90. Can you actually set a kelvin colour temperature (other than 3200 and 5600 :)) ?
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Old March 18th, 2013, 04:05 PM   #15
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Re: Camera choice

Yeah this choice is not getting any easier. I just read a whole thread raving about the ac90 and it's low light capabilities compared to some of the older HDV cams (FX1, V1, XH-A1).

I doubt I will be disappointed either way coming from the HMC40 which is very poor in low light. I will also be replacing my HMC70, which was decent in low light, but didn't have a great picture overall.
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