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AVCHD Format Discussion
Inexpensive High Definition H.264 encoding to DVD, Hard Disc or SD Card.

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Old January 12th, 2010, 05:25 PM   #1
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Camera upgrade advice


I do not have a video background, but fell into it when I started creating video-based instructional and travel applications for the iPhone.

Not knowing anything at all, I picked up a HF-S100 and a JuicedLink and started filming. I learned some basics over time and now feel like I can leverage the manual controls provided by the Canon HF-S100. I didn't feel like the stabilization on the Canon was too hot and ended up with a Sony CX-520v for the travel applications that I am filming.

Even though the video is ultimately destined to be fairly low resolution, I have been filming at high quality to future-proof as much as possible.

I am planning on upgrading the Sony to the CX550v for sure, and have been considering upgrading the HF-S100 to the Sony HDR-AX2000.

Would the HDR-AX2000 yield a better picture for me or would it be overkill? I like the idea of having the built-in ND filters and stronger manual controls but haven't felt too constrained by the HF-S100 either.


Last edited by Dan Munk; January 12th, 2010 at 05:29 PM. Reason: typo
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Old January 12th, 2010, 05:57 PM   #2
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Sony HDR-AX2000 is a $3500 professional camera, it should be better in every way compare to HFS100. If money is no object, hell yeah I would get the HDR-AX2000.
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Old January 12th, 2010, 06:21 PM   #3
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Would a difference in image quality show up when compressed down to SDish size files? Would I still need to use an external mic or would the built in mic be sufficient?
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Old January 12th, 2010, 06:57 PM   #4
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Image quality is depends what software and settings you gonna use to do your down conversion to SD. I always prefer extrenal mic. I personally don't have first hand experience with HDR AX2000, in fact this item is not available yet until mid February. But I have my eyes on this camera, will probably eventually I am get it myself.
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Old January 12th, 2010, 08:04 PM   #5
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quite a good question. Here's my take...

starting with the best quality image and sound you can afford is never going to hurt. I even see a difference from the HDV cameras I used to rent to my HMC-150. Just newer technology. From the small cameras you have, the difference will be night and day when moving to a 1/3" 3-CCD or 3-CMOS.

This allows you to be future compatible (as you mentioned) and should someone want full HD versions of've got it covered. This happens to me on a regular basis. Most of the stuff I do is for web but then the client will call and say "Can we cut a TV commercial from that footage?" or "Can we get an HD version to project at a conference?" Nice to answer a confident "YES!"
Maybe you'll start a new facet of your business!
I've settled on shooting 1080 30p as my default. It scales down beautifully and allows me to generate decent stills from the video which often get used on the customer's websites.

Definitely get into external miking. A wireless lav, shotgun and handheld should be in everyone's bag of tricks.

And then there's lights! (you didn't mention whether you use them or not so I'll assume not) Get a basic 2 or 3 light interview kit. Will make all the difference in the quality of the video. These details will show on any delivery of a video no matter how small and will put you in another league.

It's been mentioned all over this forum but the bigger form factor cameras definitely make an impression with clients. Makes the money they are spending seem more justified than if you show up with a handycam. Not that I like that way of thinking but I do believe it's true.

Funny thing about the new Sony's, they seem to have answered all the requests of Panasonic's HMC-150 users like myself. I am actually considering the NX-5 to replace my HMC-150. THE 150 makes great pictures and I'd probably be happy with it for the next few years BUT there's so many things to like about both of the new Sony's! arrgh!
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Old January 12th, 2010, 11:07 PM   #6
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Well, it "depends", keeping in mind we're talking cameras we can't even get our grubby little paws on just yet (dang!).

Generally speaking, you can expect to get a better image with the bigger camera, for the higher price... but as noted, this technology is moiving VERY fast, and is tweaked even between nearly identical models coming out a few months apart (XR500 vs CX500 for instance).

What can be sussed out is the CX550 most likely uses the same sensor block as the current cams, but with a new wider lens and more manual control (sounds good to me!). I think that those who have the XR500 and have put it up against older (3-5 year old HDV cams) feel it is superior to the "older" tech. I think one guy has a Z5U and feels it's noticeably better than the XR500. This would be a fairly safe comparison, as I suspect the AX2000 is going to be using the same sensor block as the Z5, probably with a few tweaks...

IMO you'd have a nice pair if you got the CX550 and an AX2000, giving you versatility and a solid "B-roll" cam. You'll find that it's pretty common around here to have a couple cameras (the cameras anonomous group meeting starts next month...), most often a big rig if you're getting paid, and a smaller one or two for second angle and family/discrete use.

There are plusses and minuses to a "big" camera -
In the plus column you get more control, more "respect" from onlookers and other pros or people paying you to shoot, and you will likely find a "better" overall image quality - but it's not likely to be 3 times better (which is the price differential). In the minus column, you've got a bigger rig to haul around, you're far less discrete, and did I mention you've got a far bigger rig/kit to haul around?

I sold my big gear since the XR500's were shooting much better video when dragged onto the edit timeline than the older HDV cams I had... but I've been wishing for what the AX2000 looks to be, and the CX550V also looks ideal for multi-angle shoots.

What you'll find is that if you've been used to using a small camera, it's really tough to drag along a big cam unless you're getting paid to do it - these little ones probably manage 90% + when it comes to overall image quality in most shooting situations, and that last 5-10% comes at a price that may or may not be justifiable, depending on your application.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 02:44 AM   #7
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Are these paid gigs you're working on? If so, that bigger cam may be necessary in order to be taken seriously by your clients.
I have the Canon HFS-10, and Panny HMC150. The big diff wil be in low light shooting. I compared these two, and found that yes--you can see a diff--but is it worth $2,000 to get it? Your end users will likely not see the difference in the finished product.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 10:51 AM   #8
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At full resolution on Blu-Ray or similar you might notice some image quality differences, but with normal well-lit footage I would say that as soon as you down-res those diffs will vanish. As the other posters have said, the bigger issues are low-light capability, built-in XLRs on the Sony, and the completely different handling, portability (and perhaps visual 'credibility'?) of the small vs. large camera.

By the way, your Canon does have ND filters - it's just that they operate automatically, without a manual control.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 08:34 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
I've been wishing for what the AX2000 looks to be.
One of the things I like about it is they didn't eliminate the XLR connections like they did with the FX-1 and FX-1000.
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