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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old July 5th, 2006, 09:26 PM   #1
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Who is shooting HDV for weddings?

Just curious... who out there is shooting HDV for weddings, and what are you using? Are you happy with the decreased low light performance vs. SD cameras like the PD170? Are you telling your clients you are archiving on HDV for future burning onto HD DVD or Blu Ray?
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Old July 5th, 2006, 10:55 PM   #2
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I started shooting with two Sony FX1's this summer.

Picture is incredible, editing has been pretty easy so far with Final Cut Pro 5's native HDV support (slower renders), and I should be to a stage to master my first HD edit to SD Anamorphic DVD next week. We will see how that goes. I have several different options I will be trying.

I think low-light is acceptable. Might not be a PD170, but the gain is so much less noticeable at 12db on the FX1 than it was at 3 or 6db on my DVX100a's. Compared to the GL2 I used to have the additional noise from gain on the FX1 is non-existent (not quite, but.... its a lot better!).

I have been very happy so far.

The only thing I wish the FX1 had was more latitude. You've really got to watch your exposure.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 12:25 AM   #3
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IMO the codec and the acquisition of frame resolution cant hold up... not without its failings anyway...
Sure in most situations its ok enough, but ok enough sometimes just cant cut it.
720p from the JVC IMO is a much more responsive format of the codec than 1080i, then theres the in-cam scaling element, which can be done via the NLE if ever required...
The JVC isnt affected by this scaling, however its still using a highly compressed format for acquisition, albeit a lil more efficient than 1080i.
Then theres DVCpro HD, which IMO is an ideal format, albeit with its own flaws, mainly being the scaling issue (as mentioned above) as well as the lack of long form recording options (at this time)

Even with 2 Z1's, im still shooting weddings with the DVX100's
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Old July 6th, 2006, 12:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson
IMO the codec and the acquisition of frame resolution cant hold up... not without its failings anyway...
Sure in most situations its ok enough, but ok enough sometimes just cant cut it.
720p from the JVC IMO is a much more responsive format of the codec than 1080i, then theres the in-cam scaling element, which can be done via the NLE if ever required...
Do you mean the JVC has more latitude than the Z1u/FX1? I used the Z1U and feel it wasn't acceptable in the latitude department. I wonder about the Canon?
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Old July 6th, 2006, 05:16 AM   #5
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"Do you mean the JVC has more latitude than the Z1u/FX1? I used the Z1U and feel it wasn't acceptable in the latitude department. I wonder about the Canon?"

The Z1, HVX and XL H1 all use pixel shifting, in other words, interpolation of a lower resolution to fit into a higher res frame. The HD101 does not use any of this as its native resolution is that of 1280x720
However of al the res charts made, the H1 offers the sharpest image of about 800tv lines, the JVC 700, the Z1 about 600 and the HVX about 500.

Resolution dont mean much though when image is "degraded" by lack of dynamic range. IMO the HVX wins hands down from what ive seen so far, when it comes to colour, compression, adaptabilty and usability being that for weddings, slowmotion is the most common effect used, and the native overcranking offers this in abundance. Think about the PERFECT slowmotion. And then consider that to get this kind of feature on any other camera of this range.. well u cant... theoretically the JVC MIGHT be able to do it someday as well, as the HD101 offers a 50p shooting mode right now...
The H1, well ive never seen it in action.. not the way id like to see it.. but apparently its performance is incredible.. incredible enough to be $4000 more than any other "hd" camera.
The Z1... well all i can only say that i am bitterly dissapointed with it. Its lack of tweakability, its form factor (try work handheld with it for more than 2 hours... with big hands....), focus.. or lack of ability to focus due to the pissy screen, disgusting lens abherations and flaring, i can go on about its lows, but the highs, well, they dont outnumber the lows (in my book)
The HD 101 is a nice unit, well built, afew SS issues (until the 202 is released), lens is so so, similar scene set up to the DVX/HVX, the BEST focusing system for a cam of this type. The HVX, well consider it a DVX on steroids... what it lacks in sharpness is made up by its format codec options, and iMO this is far more important than resolution on a codec running 4 times lower than DVCproHD...

This argument can and will go on for years to come as fanboys pipe in with their thoughts, but when i see the cams side by side and i hear 1st hand opinions of these cams in the field(im a supplier), then i know that i too jumped the gun when it came to these cams...

Im selling mine for a XDCamHD F350 unit... unless Pana can release a decent sized P2 card and the NLEs i use can support P2 MXF files first... but thats a story i'll be considering within the next 6 months...
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Old July 6th, 2006, 05:18 AM   #6
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"Do you mean the JVC has more latitude than the Z1u/FX1? "

from what ive seen.. yes
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Old July 14th, 2006, 02:09 PM   #7
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We like the Sony HDV cameras, we have both z1s and fx1's. Really, the best part of the z1u is the time code, syncing cameras is really really easy, no more finding the sync point!

We edit the footage, downconvert to SD Widescreen and print back to tape the edited hdv footage. Once the price comes down to within reason, we will recapture the footage and make them Blueray dvd at that time. We also render to WMV HD which takes forever*8 to 1*.

As for low light, they are no where as good as the pd170, we shoot with them as well. HDV needs more light, period! Sony lists the camera at a 3 lux rating, I would say in reality is much higher. I would recommend the sony hdv cameras but be prepared for the extra time it takes to capture/convert to a intermediate and the slow final render times. I actually bought a second pc to capture/intermediate and render.

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Old July 15th, 2006, 08:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson
The Z1... well all i can only say that i am bitterly dissapointed with it. Its lack of tweakability, its form factor (try work handheld with it for more than 2 hours... with big hands....), focus.. or lack of ability to focus due to the pissy screen, disgusting lens abherations and flaring, i can go on about its lows, but the highs, well, they dont outnumber the lows (in my book)
Sounds like a matter of personal preference and relative perspective to me. The FX1 and Z1U have much more tweakability than other video cameras I've owned; enough to take a while to learn about. And the form factor isn't bad unless you're used to shoulder-mounted cameras: the weight is less than either the JVC or Canon models and similar to the Panasonic. The LCD screen on the Sony cameras is much better than the other sub-$10K HD cameras (especially the JVC), and the forward placement is handy in some situations. The lens may not be the greatest compared to ones which cost more than a typical event video camera, but good enough to deliver competent images for the price. Batterly life on the Sony HDV cameras is outstanding (especially using the FP-970), while the JVC I tested ran down after about 20 minutes on the stock battery.

As I see it the main downfall of the inexpensive HD cameras is less than ideal low-light capability, and on that point Sony delivers the cleanest images. The JVC has the most obvious flare from bright light sources in dark scenes, the Canon is grainy unless you lock the gain to lower levels, and some find the Pansonic to have objectionable noise in dark areas of dark scenes. All things considered, the Sonys are easily the best value for an inexpensive HD camera, and look and behave the most like typical DV cameras many videographers use for weddings and events. If you need something better (especially in low light) you'll be spending at least $10-20K per camera setup, compared to $3K for an FX1 or ~$4500 for a Z1U.
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Old July 15th, 2006, 10:48 AM   #9
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I hear ya Kev, but mostly I use the Z1's for Corp work outputting live 1080i component through to a HD Projector (seminasr, speeches formalities etc etc)and they work a treat, much MUCH better than SVideo any day, but I'll go over afew specifics as to why i dont like then units (for day to day stuff)

"Sounds like a matter of personal preference and relative perspective to me. "
((I agree.. its all personal, but some factors are usabilty which ive detialed below))

The FX1 and Z1U have much more tweakability than other video cameras I've owned; enough to take a while to learn about. And the form factor isn't bad unless you're used to shoulder-mounted cameras:

((I guess this depends on yoru expereince with these and other units. If youve used a PD or VX, youll easily hook into one of these. If youve used a consumer or ENG cam, hetting yoru head around it, might take some time. The first shots u get with the units wont be the best, but over time as skill and experience and more notably, your proficency with the camera will improve your results over time. Once u figure out their quirks, you can get some awesome results. Noone belittling the camera, but compared to others available, there is room for improvement (id say that with EVERY camera though ;) ))


the weight is less than either the JVC or Canon models and similar to the Panasonic.
((well ive used all of them and this is how i see it. The Pana is lighter and easier to handle in THIS form factor. Be it DVX or HVX, they FEEL better in the hand with no rounding of the handle area. As technology evovles, the form factor of the Z2 will most likely alleviate this problem (teh AC and HC are perfect examples of shrinking technology), but as sony being who they are, DID jump the gun, therefore HW encoders within the Z1 and FX1 are considerably larger. The HVX and DVX actually have Lead weights within their bodies to balance out the units. This way, these units are not as "top heavy" Compared to a PD170 with a mounted wide lens, or a Z1, the HVX and DVX are better balanced.
The JVC is also a well balanced camera considering its form, and compared to the H1, its another well balanced camera, but the lens is a major let down. The thing i like about he HD101 is the fact that its 1280x720p NATIVE. Zero scaling, native resolution. No other camera on the market can stake this claim yet, and the results show. Pixel shifting is good to a degree, and for those that dont know, its basically in cam interpolated upscaling to HD resolutions. ))

The LCD screen on the Sony cameras is much better than the other sub-$10K HD cameras (especially the JVC), and the forward placement is handy in some situations.

((Oh i totally agree.. but with the JVC, the key factor of that unit is its Focus assist peaking outline. I dont know your experiences with it, but you can get a perfect rack focus by site while using this thing. As its a fully manual lens (no auto features here im afraid) your learn to RELY on this feature to get good shots. The only time I use the LCD is when im shooting over peoples heads, or when im shooting a speech and im feeling lazy, I find focus, open the screen and stand back. So even with the dodgy screen, you can still focus in a much more finite manner. The Canon is a joke.. no seriously IMO they shouldnt have even bothered. They shoud have shaved 500 off the price and offered the cam without the viewfinder. Im not the only one who feels this way either...
The HVX, IMO is the best screen of teh bunch. The huge hgh res viewfinder also makes a massive ddifference (put all the cams side by side and you'll know what im talking about) Focus peak is OK, not the best for HD, which is where the focus assist comes in. Like teh Z1, the HVX has a zoom function, BUT the difference here is that it only zooms a portion of the frame. In addition to this, u can continually turn this function on and off as ur shots change while u continue to record. The Z1 DOESNT allow u to do this. Once u find focus, u go back to normal view, hit record and thats it. U cant finely readjust ur shot. Now this might not sound all that profound, but consider shooting a stage where people are walking around, like a seminar where teh speaker utlises the floor space to create a presence. Consider a wedding, where u have people moving toward and away from u, when mothers walk in to light a candle and when couples move from seated positions up to the altar for their vows. All these variables in distance play a major part in focusing and with HD, u cant afford to misalign a shot.
Fair enough theres no scene transition feature on any of these cams (apart from teh Z1 and FX1), but when u have a focus and zoom level meter like u have in the HVX, u dont need it. No seriously. When I saw the HVX and recently played with it (were talking 3 days no sleep ... thats playing for me.. lol ) i was astounded at how accurate it is. With the meter (or feet) reading as well as your zoom giving you mm (25mm equivalent) and distance readings coupled with the Peak AS WELL as the zoom focus function, you wont misfire a shot. Sounds like alot ot get a good clear focused shot, but its really not that difficult. The distance meters alone are good enough to get a clean focus, the others are jsut a bonus. ))

The lens may not be the greatest compared to ones which cost more than a typical event video camera, but good enough to deliver competent images for the price.
((Yes i TOTALLY agree one thing about the lens though, its that its not jsut the lens. U se for me, the codec itself, coupled with "that" lense makes the image suffer more than it has to. Wack on a Wide adapter, or a filter and it gets worse... the vertical smearing is just too much. I mean, a little you can handle, and it might even look good. but try to shoot the sun reflecting into a pool of moving water, (even using an ND filter), and youll know what i mean. It wont be a nice sparkly flare like it would be on the DVX or HVX, it will be a vertical smear, coupled with moving shards of light. Now with the JVC, at a decent shutter speed, and youll pick up the detail of the water, but the ghosting (ie flaring within the lens elemet) of the Fuji lens on the JVC kills the shot. Now try the same shot with a canon. Looks MUCH better.. a little rough but thats the codec, not as much smearing. Now try the same shot with an EF adapter and a Canon 50mm Prime lens.. you'll see the difference. IMO, anyone who has a H1, should ditch the lense and grab an EF adapter and go nuts.. no seriously. the lens of the H1 (for the price) could have been better.
But again, were still using HDV here.. so the motion I see in the shot (be in 25f or 50i) looks ot be let down by the codec. Same shot with a HVX (no matter what i throw in front of teh lens) is super smooth. Looks clean and pristing in 720p. 1080 25p, is virtually indistringuishable. 50i @ 1080 moves more like home video (but again, u must consider that were looking at full frames here, much like DV)
Then theres the issue of Dynamic Range, and im yet to come across a camera which can match the DVX or HVX in this regard.
The tweakabiltiy of the Canon, JVC and Pana units with regard to gamma correction and manipulation are FAR superior than the sonys. when shooting "artsy" stuff, like weddings wher the producer has creative freedom, this makes a huge difference to the look and feel of your work. U can do alot in post, but you cant create an rich image with a deep colours unless u can pick up those colours in the first place. In this case, larger pixels pay off.
Then theres the issue of low light.. now what people seem to forget is that progressive footage requires at least 2 stops more light than interlaced footage. Now with the arguments of which camera is better or what not in low light, if all cameras ran the same formats, (lets say, 1080i 50fps) theyd all have a very similar luminance sensitivity.
Now couple this fact with the tweakabiltiy of the gamma and pedestal settings in these cameras, and u can pretty much make any of them see in the dark.

Continued next post...
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Old July 15th, 2006, 10:54 AM   #10
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Batterly life on the Sony HDV cameras is outstanding (especially using the FP-970), while the JVC I tested ran down after about 20 minutes on the stock battery.
((Ya.. i hear ya.. lol hell ive go 10 hr batteries for the DVX (last about 6 hrs with EVF, and 4 with LCD) but one thing that really got my goat was Sony putting in a "chip reader" into the Z1, so u couldnt use ur old generic batteries in the new gear.. this pissed me off, coz i had about 600 bux worth of batteries which were rendered useless when i got the cameras. needless to say, some clever reverse engineering on some manufacturers part solved this problem, but it doesnt change the fact that what they did was pretty rude, considering most PD users were upgading to Z1's and 85% of them use generic batteries.
The canon, i cant say, but i know an original canon lasted about 2 hours. On auto it was much shorter than that, but i know i used an older battery when i took the camera for a run. The JVC was a joke. No seriously.. without an anton bauer kit, i wouldnt bother with it, unless ur willing to fork out afew hundred bux to give u a clean uninterrupted 2 hour run (as needed on some events)

But yeah, they all have their nuances... pick one and go from there i guess.. lol ))

As I see it the main downfall of the inexpensive HD cameras is less than ideal low-light capability,
((and colour.. without colour, theres no point in filming.. ))

and on that point Sony delivers the cleanest images.

((that can be argued till we turn blue... lol ))

The JVC has the most obvious flare from bright light sources in dark scenes,
((This is the lense.. many Fuji lenses have this "effect" This ghosting is disgusting and is usually found with unevenly lit areas. As an example, if your filming a car with a spotlight to the side, out of frame, you WILL get ghosting of your image if that light finds its way into the shot of teh HD 101. Try the same shot with a HVX and youll get a nice looking star flare where the light is blowing. Try the Z1 and you'll get a vertical smearing of the blown out exposed light. I havent tried the canon though, so i cant comment, but knoing that its not that wide a lens, that light may not even be anywhere near the lens. ))

" the Canon is grainy unless you lock the gain to lower levels, "
((its funny, some argue its the cleanest image.. but IMO that "noise" is more a codec issue than anything else. Try the same shot in SD DV, and i guarantee that it will be MUCH cleaner. Consider that your running a frame size over twisce the size of SD, but at the same bandwidth of SD. Its like having a 5x7' picture @ 100kb, then having a 10x14' picture at the same 100kb. Which do u think will look better with cleaner edges?

Imagine the compression required for a full framed moving scene. When u boost the gain, ur digitally boosting the luminance, this creates a noise of its own. THEN add the MPG codec to compress that noise, now EVERY frame must be tightly encoded to fit within that bitsream... the mind boggles at the compression maths that is required to do this.. ))


"and some find the Pansonic to have objectionable noise in dark areas of dark scenes. "

((More than likely, theyre shooting in Progressive modes (as mentioend earlier, Progressive is inherantly required to have higher luminance than interlaced) Also, most people who use these cams use Cine Gamma settings, which drops lux down a stop or 2. Now set the cameras gamma to high, and crank up the Master Ped, and you'll see how much light this baby can suck... Much like the JVC in fact..
Then theres the gain. At 9+ i see it as being a clean image when i pump it through a HD LCD projector and across a 140' screen.. 12.. is noisier, but u shoudlnt need to go that far. But the point here, is that even with the gain boosted, you still have a better colour rendition (on the DVX/HVX) than you do on a PD and or Z1 (which comes across as lit, but oversaturated red).

All things considered, the Sonys are easily the best value for an inexpensive HD camera, and look and behave the most like typical DV cameras many videographers use for weddings and events.
((Yeah dude, i totally agree.. one thing to note though, is that to get the most out of these cams, one should practice practice practice... There are some things youre used to doing that these cams cant do now.
Low light SHOULDNT be the be all and end all when it comes to camera choice as the most critical factor in all this is lighting, and i for one, would prefer to use a light to get good colour in a reception, as opposed to losing potential dynamic range, colour, gradation, and levels (ie magic) due to the performance of the camera in brightly lit environments. For weddings, 85% of what youre doing is in good light, if not harsh blown out light.

If the camera cannot handle any these evolving variables, then youre in trouble. All the cameras work in their own way, some better than others. In an all round kinda way, its far more important (IMO) to get the best image possible throughout the WHOLE piece, not just having the ability to shoot a reception without a light... Reception lighting is the least of your problems when it comes to weddings.. lol

Sorry to ramble on like this, but for me, each camera has its own weakness and strengths and im a realist. Right now i see no point for anyone to buy HDV or DVCProHD considering that in 18 month (or less) well be seeing MP4 HDV cameras hitting the market. More than likely the Z2 will be using this format. And maybe even a HVX303 recording the format to P2 (HVX303 sounds like a roland synth.. ;) acid anyone?? hehehe)

Nothing beats DVCProHD IMO, but by the time larger P2 cards come around, HD-DVD and BluRay would have penetrated further, and authoring and delivery options will be made available, and more than likely by the time consumers adapt to the format, the acquisition formats will change to MP4.

Who knows..
Hell i just hate the fact that im blowing money out my ass just to keep up..
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Old July 15th, 2006, 11:01 AM   #11
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last one i promise.. LOL

i wrote this in teh HVX forum, but it hink this fits rather well here..

"IMO, i see HDV being "interim" formats until a standard (like DV) is taken onboard by everyone. I see M2t as being the chick u pick up after u get out of a long term relationship. Hot, sexy, does everything u wanted your ex to do, pretty kinky too, considering what u can do with her without her complaining... but has no real depth and u can easily see her flaws without looking too hard. Once the excitement is gone, those flaws become apparent and eventually become the bane of your existance... until the new girl comes along who really wipes u off ur feet...
I like that analogy.. lol but its true... thats what HDV is at this time. DVCProHD, is like the girl u always wanted to have. Another hot and sexy number, but this girl is the shiznit.. the one that makes ur head turn like Linda Blair and the one that all ur mates hate u for... U got her now though, and u can mess around with her and have some really REALLY good times with her, but her maintenance is just too much for u to hang onto. Shes obsessive.. requires much maintenance, always wants it her way and shes always in need of constant attention...
How sustainable she is who knows, but for most of the DVX users out there who are wanting to upgrade, she isnt sustainable at all..

More than likel, MP4 will be the longform, longterm DV replacement format. MP4 at 25mbps... the mind boggles... i kid u not, it may even be indistringuishable from DVCProHD100 at THAT birate...
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Old July 15th, 2006, 11:12 AM   #12
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What about the "pretty people" factor?

The thing that makes me nervous about using Hi-def for weddings is the fact that most people, without lighting and make up, don't look that good on hi def. Does the bride really want to see that slight case of hives peaking out from beneath her make up in the morning and then shining through like an Equatorial sun at the reception? Does the groom want to be reminded of his acne scars? Does dad, who's paying for this, want a camera that sees through his thinning hair to his scalp? And does the MOB want to see her crow's feet and slightly sagging chin in every shot?

I'm wondering if there is any advantage to hi-def other than as a selling point (because it does sound so cool) or as a toy for the videographer?

I'm itching to buy that new Canon XL HD, and i'm just starting this wedding business, but when I think about it....I'm not sure it's a good idea.
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Old July 15th, 2006, 11:24 AM   #13
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It dont matter what u shoot with, if u know how to shoot, you'll have this "problem" of detail either way.
I get clients asking me to get rid of zits (on video) and brides who have blemishes and uneven skin and this is SD Progressive scan shot with Skin Detail on...

U can always run "smart Smoother" plugin and get that airbrushed look, but the way i see it, its THEM.
This is what they looked like and im there to archive their day. If they look good, good, If they look like a train wreck, good.
Im still doing my job and even if shes been hit by the ugly stick, thats her bad luck. Hey at least shes getting married...
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Old July 15th, 2006, 01:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson
Im still doing my job and even if shes been hit by the ugly stick, thats her bad luck. Hey at least shes getting married...
Your viewpoint always cracks me up.
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Old July 15th, 2006, 01:41 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson
Sorry to ramble on like this, but for me, each camera has its own weakness and strengths....
Agreed, and some of the most careful reviews of these cameras have come to the same conclusion. Since you made a point of picking on the Sony though, I figured I'd mention that it's not all bad.

Quote:
Right now i see no point for anyone to buy HDV or DVCProHD considering that in 18 month (or less) well be seeing MP4 HDV cameras hitting the market.
For many of us the point is to be able to shoot 'pretty good' HD images for barely more than we've been paying to shoot SD. Some people obviously like the results more than others, but again it's not all bad. And the widescreen SD output is noticeably better than the widescreen footage produced by typical 4:3 SD cameras.

As far as MPEG4 cameras are concerned, we've been over this before and the bottom line for now is that there aren't any good ones shipping yet. When they do ship we'll have to try them to see how well the implementation works, and then we'll have to figure out how to process the resulting footage. As things stand today, it's easier to work with and output MPEG2 HD than it is to work with and output MPEG4 HD, even if we had good MPEG4 cameras. Hopefully that will equalize over time, but I'm guessing it'll be at least 2-3 years yet before MPEG4 production gets to the practical point where HDV is at today. So if you want to shoot HD event videos on a modest budget then HDV is the way to go for now, and you can depreciate the cameras before they'll become irrelevant. (And then you can use them for backup cameras to whatever better gear might be available at that time.)

DVCProHD is a decent codec, but the implementation isn't realistic for most event videographers at this time. HDV cameras work tolerably well, are affordable and practical for event work and will still be useful 10 years from now when most SD cameras are museum pieces.
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