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Old March 17th, 2009, 11:50 PM   #1
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Looking for consumer video camera w/independent control of iris, shutter, gain

I've been having a difficult time finding a consumer video camera that lets you manually control exposure properly. I used to have a Panasonic PV-GS120 that let me control the iris, shutter, and gain independently. I purchased this about 5 years ago for less than $500, it's ridiculous that many of today's consumer video cameras don't allow this. If anyone has any suggested consumer camcorders that are out, announced, or rumored, I'd greatly appreciate hearing from them.

EDIT: Forgot to mention, I've looked into the HV20 exposure hack, but if there's a camera out there that does this more easily that would be great. Main grip is just being able to set the shutter speed and then lock the exposure. It doesn't matter a ton if I can't tell what f-stop & how much gain is applied but would be nice. Just wanna avoid situations where a person walks by the camera and then everything blows out.

Last edited by Salil Sundresh; March 18th, 2009 at 12:25 AM.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 01:59 AM   #2
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Dave Blackhurst and myself have been asking the same thing for a while,for me a updated SONY HC-1 or even a fraction larger cam would be ideal with the latest chips and lens but i fear no such cam is going to happen.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 10:14 AM   #3
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Try researching the Panasonic TM300 since you had a much older Panasonic and if money is not an option then theirs also the JVC HM100.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 10:23 AM   #4
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The Panasonic SD100 offers manual control but seems to have been discontinued already. If you can find one it should be on runout and offer better value than the TM300 which replies on a touch screen. The SD100 at least still has small knobs and buttons which work surprisingly well once you get used to them.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 12:13 PM   #5
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I see that in B&H the SD100 is more than half off from the original price at only $550 so it does make the TM300 seam very expensive but then again, theirs a huge quality difference. 1/6” MOS chips verses more advanced ” MOS chips. That’s the same size that you’ll find in the JVC HM100 and the Sony V1u.

If you don’t need a camcorder right away, them you might as well wait till NAB. I would love to see a non-tape HD version of the Panasonic DVC30 and the Canon GL2 as well as a non-tape update to the Sony A1u. If JVC is willing to release a new camcorder with pro features, then there shouldn’t be any excuse for Panasonic, Canon and Sony not doing it. For the past few years, it seams like their more worried than ever about protecting the sales of their bigger cameras. I do hope we start to see a change at NAB.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 02:29 PM   #6
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Paulo -
We'll see, I hope you're right that there will be some surprises. There's this vast gulf/wasteland between the "consumer" cameras of limited control, at the sub $1500 and on down price point, and the "next level".

The next price point is around 2K, and AFAIK the ONLY cam sitting there is the aging FX7...

From there, you go right up to the $3-3.5K with lots of "options", although only the Panny HMC150 brings tapeless to the table. Too big to lug around for casual use, and a bit much to invest in technology that's still being refined.

It's absolutely beyond me why Sony couldn't take the new "R" sensor, put a little bigger body on it and add some manual controls ala the FX7/TRV900, nothing fancy, just the basics, after all it's really nothing more than a few buttons and firmware anymore (ala HC1/A1U). Something like the HD1000U, but with better guts and controls (forgot about that oddball cam... HC7 in a big shell, who woulda thunk it?).

If the early indications of the capability of the "R" sensor are correct, putting a bigger shell around it (maybe a bigger lens?) with good manual control and pricing around $2K would be a market dominator.

Canon could no doubt do something similar, and Panasonic has all the pieces too... did someone do a market study the day all of us here were on vacation so they think no one wants such a camera???

I'd like to see such a monster so bad, sometimes I get tempted to try to figure out a way to "Frankenstein" such a camera together from existing cameras!!

But if they are "protecting" the high end cams, I guess putting that level of quality in a reasonably priced cam wouldn't make sense...

I guess those of us posting here must represent an orphaned market - we don't need/want a huge camera, or ALL the bells and whistles, and aren't made of money, but we'd like to still be able to tinker a bit with settings and would pay a reasonable price for the privilege...

IMO there's nothing wrong with smaller cameras, and I'm reasonably happy with the results even without full manual, but I can dream!
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Old March 18th, 2009, 02:40 PM   #7
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Oh yeah, that would be the cam to get. The worst of it all is, we know Sony et al. can do this (see the HC-1) but choose not to. Probably out of fear that they would be cannibalizing their prosumer market.

I'd suggest though, that they're doing themselves a disservice in the long run. The first chance many of us get to purchase a consumer cam with OIS, shutter control, iris control and gain control (and -- please -- a return to the HC-1's manual focus ring), we'll be jumping ship. The way it's looking, the place we're heading to will be a 5D MkII or whatever Nikon comes up with to better it. And, as we know, once we start investing in spare batteries, chargers, lenses and stuff, we don't jump back easily.

Myself, for instance, I have a Sony HC-7 (the same as the HC-9 sold today) and an SR-12. The SR-12 gives slightly better image quality, but I keep preferring to use the HC-7 precisely because it lets me control audio level and shutter speed. It's infuriating when they move up a model and strip away even more of the manual control. I may jump up to a prosumer cam one day (possibly the Z7), but, honestly, I'm betting Nikon will bring out its 5D killer late this year and that will be that: goodbye Sony for me.
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Old March 19th, 2009, 12:57 AM   #8
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I've given up waiting. Either you go for the wonderful, but very expensive, HM100 or look at the new DSLRs. I shot test footage at PMA with most all of them, but the killer was Pana's coming GH1. Posted some clips of a prototype at ER.

Steve Mullen On ExposureRoom

Should have an MSRP of under $1500.
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Old March 19th, 2009, 07:48 AM   #9
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So does this GH1 have a jack for an external mic?
It says on the Panasonic site that: "An optional stereo microphone (DMW-MS1) is also available to achieve a more intensive sound recording experience"
thanks, Malcolm
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