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Joel Dech April 19th, 2006 02:14 PM

Help with decision please
I have a serious decision to make, and well I need the help of you professionals.
I will openly admit I am completely new to the video realm, so please bare with me. I do not know the video slang, all devices, proper paths, most efficient procedures, or pretty much ANYTHING. But I am NOT new to business or success so I do know ALOT of things, like what directions I want to go, what I want in the end, and usually how to get it.

This post may be long, but I know you guys need to know the most about me, my plans and situation to best give me the proper advice, so please bare with this post (my second one) the best you can. PLUS I am just answering questions that you would ask me anyway, so I just am putting them ALL into one post, so you can know. -- and I thank you all in advance.

First of all the decision I need to make is what video cam to get. First of all a little about me and the needs/usage of this cam.

I own a Independent Record Label (Roulette Records - www.rouletterecords.com), along with that obviously comes several budding artists, and along with that we obviously have a 100% COMPLETELY professional recording facility. The reason I said facility and not studio is because I am into video as well. We have done editing, transferring, and alot of small SD low level projects. I mean so low level that we use my "Circuit City" purchased Sony Video Cam (DCR-TRV27 Mini DV HandyCam) to shoot and then do the rest in the computer. We are talking birthdays, events, weddings, family outings, etc... I was editing and doing transitions so great that alot of others started asking me to do stuff for them. I actually done some instructional videos for exercise videos and a Karate video too. I also got into doing web commercials and we are getting alot of requests for that. I am working on mine now actually. Some are asking about HD too.

That part is budding big time. BUT it is not the MAIN reason I want a seriously KICK BUTT Cam. Owning this record label, we have a artist or two that is getting pretty big, and needing a video soon, therefore soon we need SEVERAL videos. These are to be aired on BET MTV 2 , etc... so they have to be top notch. BUT at the same time I have time to grow into doing it, no rush. I have a good staff of people here as well, some even went to/go to school for all this video stuff, so we are doing good and have potential if we got the gear. SO please don't advise me on a "booty" camera because you think I am not ready for a real one.

I also have REAL plans, like: When we want to do some REAL movie/film type stuff (eventually, cause we ARE !!) then we will RENT a completely over the top camera or two or three for shooting, rent all the other stuff needed as well, BILL the client for it, etc...
Other things I HAVE currently and are going to get are things NEEDED beyond just being able to rent like: I am currently on a PowerMac G5 Dual 2.7Ghz with 8Gb of ram, a Magma Expansion chassis with 7 PCI slots, "Final Cut STUDIO Pro HD" (Final Cut Pro HD, Motion, DVD Studio Pro HD, Live Type, Soundtrack Pro, the WHOLE suite), also I have "After Effects 7 Pro". All these are the latest versions ALWAYS, and all my gear and plugins ,etc.. are completely maxed out, blown out the the extreme ALWAYS. I have pretty much every plug in and extra package available for ALL programs I have. I have a Kona LH capture card which is a GREAT card for BOTH SD and HD.

Now I understand at NAB Apple will release some news (as always) so as soon as they do, or when ever they do I plan on WAITING for that and then getting whatever the NEWEST top of the line Mac comes out. I will keep my Dual 2.7 though because it is a great computer and it will run the audio part of my facility just fine for years. So the new set up will be strictly for the video room. I also plan on getting a good large RAID Hard Drive system set up with that computer via Fiber Channel. (basically a bad a$$ set up.)

So now what I want, and the questions I have -- I want a camera in the $0.00 - $8,000 range that will do me good for NOW, plus allow me to grow into it and make me learn things as well. REMEMBER not too serious of one ($100,000.00 camera) because I will RENT those when the time is right, then return them, that way I am not caught up in a serious investment that also goes obsolete so soon. As a company I worked out a good contract with a local rental company as well, so I am good to go with that.

I definitely want to venture into HD, but I have so many questions about it. I also want a camera that will do both SD and HD (I think) but be the best quality it can of each. My questions involve things like: 1- Should I go strictly HD ? 2- Should I go strictly SD and skip HD for now, then get it later ? 3- Should I go SD & HD so I can do stuff now, and fiddle with HD NOW to learn, also having HD to film my first HD commercial, or video, etc.. ? 4- IS there any other cameras that offer BOTH SD and HD than the Canon XL H1 ?

I have more questions, and I will number them properly, but wait until they are more relevant. The three cameras I have thought about (but please give me others if I should know about them) are the: Canon XL2 - if I should just go SD,,,, or the: Sony FX1 - if I should just go HD,,,,,, or what I am really leaning towards is the: Canon XL H1 - to have SD & HD capabilities.

The questions that keep me from just buying it now are: (con't from above) 5- Are the concerns people had at first about the XL H1 not recording TRUE 30p a real problem ?? 6- Is it the BEST SD recorder at that price, ALSO is it the best HD recorder at that price ? In other words, those using it, do you notice it recording SD better than the XL2 at the SAME settings ? Or do you notice it recording HD better than the FX1 at the SAME settings ?

Other questions / rumors I heard more general: 7- I heard JVC and Panasonic do 1080i at their highest side, whereas Sony and Canon do 1080i x 1290i or something like that.,, TRUE ? or it had to do with tape, HDV -vs- Mini DV, etc.. ? Anyway I heard this Canon was the way to go for the 1290 thing. 8- Also I see you guys talking about how Final Cut doesn't edit in HD, but I thought it does. My Final Cut Pro says HD, also the manual talks about doing things in HD,, I have a friend currently doing a short commercial in HD on Final Cut Pro HD 5,, so what gives ? 9- Is there different HD's in other words ?? Like You can do a "fake" HD that doesn't take up as much hard drive space and Final Cut can work with it ? Or is my friend editing TRUE HD in Final Cut right now ? He says it is, but he may not know. I want to know the REAL DEAL. 10- Is it better to skip HD for now, because at NAB some newer better stuff will be announced, buy a XL2 for now, then buy a HD camera later, and have BOTH later ?? 11- Does SD get better as time passes, or have they gaven up on making it better ? Like, if I do buy a XL2 now, then I get a HD camera later, will the XL2 hold up for future SD standards ??

I just want to make a GOOD decision that wont come back to haunt me. I want to get work and projects done NOW, at the same time I want to be learning/ fiddling around in HD, or should I wait for that. What should I do ???

I have more questions, but they will be more relevant later... For now, lets go on all that about me, and see if we can decide which camera would be best for ME, my goals, and my business.

Thank You Guys SOOOOOO much --

Glenn Chan April 19th, 2006 04:03 PM

Some comments:
1- Talent, experience, and the ideas/content will make the biggest impact on how good your music videos turn out... not the equipment you use.

On the other hand, if you shoot on film you will likely get a better-looking video. Why (some of the reasons have nothing to do with the medium itself):
A- Film has a slight technical advantage over video. The main advantage is exposure latitude- film can capture a greater range of highlight and shadow detail. It over/underexposes in a pleasing way, whereas video doesn't always do that.
B- Film crews typically have many years of experience, and attract the most talented people. Crews may not have as much experience shooting video because the production would rather shoot on film.
C- Film is usually color corrected by a professional colorist (it's all they do) on high-end color correction systems. Video usually doesn't go through a similar process.
- Film shoots generally have big budgets. Video shoots are typically low-budget... so sometimes the comparison between film and video shoots is unfair (obviously the bigger budget shoot will have an advantage).
- In some scenarios, you will get equal quality by shooting on video. This is usually studio situations, where lighting can be carefully controlled (i.e. Sin City, or other effects-heavy videos).
- Some videos get away with intentionally looking bad. If the content is good (and the artist is big), this will fly.
- If you have talent and experience, you can get very good quality with video. i.e. Broken, short film shot on a DVX100

2- If you're going to rent a camera for serious projects, then it doesn't really matter if the camera you're buying is HD or not.

You might want to look at getting something like a DVX100 (a used one will work) and learn how to shoot good video. By going with a SD camera, you save money which you can spent towards other gear you need. You'll want lights and other accessories like that. Lighting makes a huge difference in the look of your video.
I'd get some books too (there's a forum here for book reviews).

*There may be cameras better than the DVX100 at a similar price point. I don't follow cameras very closely. The shootout results between various cameras show that there's not a huge difference between them. The DVX100 is capable of pretty good quality and should be pretty cheap now. You just need to add talent and experience.

3- I wouldn't spend too much on computer equipment.
A- A lot of the time, paying more only makes things faster. It doesn't improve the quality of your videos.
B- Computer equipment loses value very quickly... computers get faster about every 18-24 months.
C- It costs exponentially more for small increases in performance. You should only pay more if the time savings justify it.

David Heath April 19th, 2006 04:59 PM


Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
Some comments:
1- Talent, experience, and the ideas/content will make the biggest impact on how good your music videos turn out... not the equipment you use.

I agree with what Glenn says, but especially the paragraph above.

When you start getting the big time work, why not hire at least a DOP with his gear? That will leave you free to concentrate on the ideas/content side, and may even save time/money - you won't waste effort pursuing things which somebody experienced will know are blind alleys.

In the meantime, maybe a JVC HD100 may be a good interim buy. Not too expensive, HD, and a good tool to experiment with. I personally think the XL-H1 may be a bit between stools for you, more expensive, but not quite good enough for the really big stuff (which you intend hiring for). The HD100 is also true progressive (720p), and from other posts I'm not sure the XL-H1 truly is, if that's important to you.

David Kennett April 19th, 2006 05:15 PM


I agree with Glen that equipment is secondary to all those things mentioned in comment #1. I come from a TV tech background, so my bias is toward video. I think film will be pretty dead in not too many years. NAB this month has a two-day summit on digital cinema - replacing all those projectors in theaters.

Things are changing! 4:3 is the past, 16:9 is the future. Interlaced scanning is the past, progressive scanning is the future. I have commented on this before. I have JVC HD10 (very early), and while I have always liked Sony pictures, the 1080i does not seem to edit as smoothly as 30 frame 720p in native resolution. You will definitely find different opinions about cameras! I just got the tiny Sanyo HD1. Its quality is marginal HD - but still pretty good compared to SD, and it could even prove useful to a pro under certain circumstances.

Any money you spend now will buy more in the future, so my take would be to get a decent HD camera while minimizing expense. Once you have some experience, your next decision will be much better informed.

As you know, high quality audio gear can now be had at prices unheard of a few years ago. I see the same thing happening to high quality HD video. Your future will only be limited by your imagination! Good luck!

Joel Dech April 19th, 2006 06:17 PM

Glen and David, thanks for your extremely well informed replies.

Yes I agree 100% with the talent statement. That is a number 1 rule with any art really. I actually made my first gold selling single with "obsolete" audio gear at the time. ha ha.... THEN I got really pro gear, and I have yet to make a impact like that again !! Ironic. (but it is coming soon again, I can feel it).

With that in mind, I do know about that, and as well every one else here does too. SO with keeping that in mind, my main goal is to have a great camera that I can not only get some good jobs, projects, commercials, etc done (trying to eliminate as much renting as possible, being realistic though) WHILE at the same time learning a new thing to fiddle with, = HD.

So that is why I was thinking a camera that switched to both as I needed, SD or HD. For now the XL H1 and The JVC HD100 that David H advised on is the only ones I seen so far. Am I wrong ? Is there others ? Which that do this are also the best at it for reasonable prices ?

The camera advice seems so great so far. The prices are a little better, but I found a brand new in box XL H1 for $6,000. This seems to be a good deal. I wouldn't mind spending that much to have both formats and a great camera with good lense options. David H, how is the lense on the HD100, and how is the selection of others for it offered ? Are they comparable to the Canon rep ??

Questions still not answered -

#1- So is the XL H1 not doing (supposed) "real"30p a issue with it's quality ? Or is it ok ? I would like the comment from owners of it. Did Canon just invent something just as good, but isn't really "it" ? Or no, is other cameras "real" 30p better than the XL H1's "Fake" 30p ?? Also don't we just want to shoot in 24p anyway ? Someone told me it looks better that way.... ?? Please elaborate for me guys.

#2- Is there different forms of HD I am not seeing yet ? Like I heard recording HD takes up 167Mb per second. Is that all HD period ? Uncompressed, etc.. ? Is all HD considered "uncompressed", I mean whats the real deal ?

Thanks for all the help dudes.


Oh, sorry, I forgot. I also want a camera that offers a good wide selection of pro quality intechangable lenses. (my current Sony killed me for this exact reason). This is also why I lean towards Canon, some have told me they offer the best lenses and selection thereof.

David Heath April 20th, 2006 05:27 AM

Firstly Joel, the obvious choice NOW is between Sonys Z1, JVCs HD100, Panasonics HVX200 and Canons XL-H1 in the price range you seem to leaning to. (Though it may be worth keeping an eye on NAB next week.)

Originally Posted by Joel Dech
David H, how is the lense on the HD100, and how is the selection of others for it offered ? Are they comparable to the Canon rep ??

Oh, sorry, I forgot. I also want a camera that offers a good wide selection of pro quality intechangable lenses. (my current Sony killed me for this exact reason). This is also why I lean towards Canon, some have told me they offer the best lenses and selection thereof.

There have been complaints about chromatic aberration on the HD100 standard lens, but on investigation the worst only really seem to happen wide open and zoomed right in. Fundamentally, it's not a bad lens, GIVEN THE PRICE of the camera. My biggest gripe with it (and the XL-H1) is the widest angle of view without adaptors - it's only 5.5mm on a 1/3" chip. A wide angle zoom is available, and apparently is much better - but costing much more than the basic camera!

But in your position, my concern would be falling between stools. Spending a lot of money, but somehow still feeling it's inadequate and you're having to compromise. I'd be tempted to either go the whole hog and get true pro gear, (with the benefits often being as much in 'usability', decent viewfinders, connectivity, good ergonomics, low light performance etc as opposed to 'picture quality') OR stick to something cheap and cheerful to learn on, but which is good enough for your lower end projects. And here the HD100 has much to commend it, hiring the top end gear when the project justifies it.

IF you should decide to go the higher route, then a range of new larger format cameras is expected. HD XDCAM from Sony, and the Infinity range from Grass Valley, for example. They (especially the latter) promise to redefine the pro range at a much lower price point than people have got used to with such as HDCAM and the Varicam. Worth giving them a look.

David Kennett April 20th, 2006 10:12 AM


I probably would not worry about a camera's SD capability. Wide screen is the coming standard, and any HD footage can be easily converted in post. In fact, if you compose properly, a 4:3 crop works pretty well. Many HD shows on the air obviously do that now, since both the 4:3 and 16:9 audiences are significant.

Video compression is a whole other study! ALL HD is compressed for delivery to the consumer. Uncompressed HD video is so massive, that run-of-the-mill disk drives are not fast enough - let alone the need for all that space.

With the software I have, I have only been able to edit the 720p, 30 frame video from my Sanyo HD1 by converting temporarily to uncompressed. An 8 min clip takes about 40 GB - and that's only 30 frame 720p. The 60 frame broadcast 720p is twice that! Compression is pretty much a necessary evil which must be managed well to maintain quality.

Kevin Shaw April 20th, 2006 11:26 AM


Originally Posted by Joel Dech
I heard recording HD takes up 167Mb per second. Is that all HD period ? Uncompressed, etc.. ? Is all HD considered "uncompressed", I mean whats the real deal ?

High-definition video has multiple valid display resolutions, of which the two most common at this time are 720p and 1080i/p. Full uncompressed 1080 video would have 1920x1080 pixels per frame with 29.97 frames per second, and if the color depth is 8 bits times three color channels that works out to 2,073,600 x 29.97 x 24 = 1,491,499,008 bits per second, or roughly 1.5 gigabits/sec or 186.4 megabytes/sec. (The second figure is calculated by dividing by 8, since one byte = 8 bits.) This in turn translates to about 671 gigabytes of data per hour of video, which is clearly impractical for most purposes at this time.

Hence nearly all HD video is heavily compressed to be more manageable during recording, editing and delivery, and differences between various HD options are simply a question of what compromises are used to make the data stream manageable. Most HD codecs use non-square pixels to reduce the number of data points required to represent an HD image, essentially squeezing images horizontally until playback, at which time the image is stretched back out to the proper display aspect ratio. HD codecs also use compression of images within a video frame or even between frames to reduce the data rate dramatically, resulting in bit rates as low as 6 Mbps or so for a usable HD image. Note that that's a compression ratio of as much as 250:1 with still usable results, which is an impressive feat of mathematical manipulation of data.

There are several different compression solutions used in HD cameras, with bit rates ranging from ~9 Mbps in MPEG4 HD models to 25 Mbps for HDV to 40-100 Mbps for DVCProHD and so on. Editing can be done using the camera codecs or alternative "intermediate" codecs which decompress the source video somewhat for reliability and ease of processing. The highest data rate available for delivery on upcoming HD DVDs is approximately 35 Mbps, which still represents a compression ratio of 43:1 compared to full uncompressed HD.

Based on the requirements stated by the original poster I'd say the Canon XLH1 could be a good choice. It has the highest perceivable resolution of any video camera under $10,000, decent interchangeable lenses and the option to output and capture uncompressed HD when maximum quality is desired. I don't particularly care for the XLH1 myself because it's front-heavy, lacks a proper LCD screen and is out of my price range, but that shouldn't stop someone else from getting it if it fits their needs.

Joel Dech April 20th, 2006 01:12 PM

WOW !!! David H, David K, and Kevin S, thanks for the PRICELESS information.

These replies seriously helped me.

I am taking everyones suggestions in at this moment. Also me and my "staff" will be reading over this thread a few times then trying to come to a decent conclusion.

One thing I think I liked the most is David H's suggestion of waiting until what is announced at NAB. If something is announced at NAB that is in the same price range (or less) than the XL H1, but is better for various reasons, then I will want to wait for that.

So guys, can I make a request PLEASE ?? I can not follow up on NAB, I do not know where it is, or how to follow up on what went on there. So in this thread, can anyone PLEASE let me know once NAB is over if any cameras were announced that would fall into this threads and my situation of a good camera to wait for and get upon release ?

I would appreciate that alot.

In the meantime, I will be going over lots of things in my mind, comparing, and learning as much as I can on video through books, tutorials, and my staff.

Please anymore ideas, and thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated. So keep 'em coming.

Thanks again to all.

David Heath April 20th, 2006 02:19 PM


Originally Posted by Joel Dech
I can not follow up on NAB, I do not know where it is, or how to follow up on what went on there. So in this thread, .....

Joel, in other threads on these boards Chris has promised to put in a lot of distilled info about events at NAB. I think there may be a lot of reading there over the next week or so..... ;)


Originally Posted by Joel Dech
If something is announced at NAB that is in the same price range (or less) than the XL H1, but is better for various reasons, then I will want to wait for that.

My feeling is that reading your original post, it's the price range that may be wrong for what you want - not the XL-H1. Either try and find more money and move up a notch (which may lessen the rental need in the future), or move down and save money. But that is a personal feeling.

Kevins post on compression is very comprehensive, and the only thing I may add is NOT to make the mistake of thinking that quality is directly proportional to bit rate. With all else equal, it may well be, but two different systems may achieve comparable quality for widely different bitrates - one may be more efficient than another. But there's no free lunch. The more efficient one may require far more powerful processing to encode, and be more difficult to edit, or require powerful treatment to achieve the same editing ease that the less efficient codec enjoys.

Connor Roberts April 23rd, 2006 02:49 PM

You need to be buying the Panasonic AG-HVX200 since it is not super-compressed HD like HDV cameras are.

Here is sample footage that will put all your other camera desires to rest:

::: Connor

Joel Dech April 23rd, 2006 03:16 PM


Originally Posted by Connor Roberts
You need to be buying the Panasonic AG-HVX200 since it is not super-compressed HD like HDV cameras are.

Here is sample footage that will put all your other camera desires to rest:

::: Connor

WOW !!! That is a nice camera. Thanks for the post, it is a eye opener for sure !!

So do you think that camera will hold up against new announcments at NAB ??

Like buy it now, find out in 2 weeks something better OR equivelent is out for less with more options, some new format, etc... ??? or something like that ? you get the idea.

What do you think ?

Mathieu Ghekiere April 23rd, 2006 05:01 PM


not to be disrespectful against Connor Roberts here, but in all this posts this far he said the HVX is the best camcorder, and suggests that people shouldn't even look to the other camcorders because they are bad in comparison with the HVX.
He's a bit very biased to Panasonic.

And it's not the truth, by the way: maybe the HVX is the best cam FOR YOU, but maybe not.
The Sony Z1, Canon XL H1 and JVC HD-100 are very equal cameras but it depends on what you need, which projects you're gonna do, your workflow, your budget, which feels best in your hands (ergonomics),...
They all have their good points and their bad points, even the HVX.

The best thing for you is, to check all these cameras out in person, and THEN decide.
And not based on the post of someone who has made many panasonic-biased posts.

Joel Dech April 25th, 2006 12:36 AM

Thanks Mathieu G.

I appreciate it when someone puts things in a realistic perspective.

I agree with your view points as well, and in all fairness towards Connor, his love for that camera is a honest one, it looks pretty awesome.

But I will wait until the next line/technology of cameras is released, should be real soon here after NAB. I know as a whole this industry is sitting on the CUSP of the turning point in this technology, so to wait it out I think is a WISE choice.

But please, I may not be the first person to hear about the "new" thing, so if/as something comes out, PLEASE announce it in this thread. I don't want to wait all that much longer.

Rob McCardle April 25th, 2006 01:09 AM

Take your time, Joel.

The pricing shake down has yet to be even begin to occur.
The big three have an each way bet with a foot in the SD and HD camps - with the flexibility to err, adjust their pricing as they might see fit.

Now, Red is announced and taking preorders and in the 1 month from this day takes say, 1000 pre-orders at, oh I don't know say around $25k average (cam body, a lens a cage etc;) - well, hell right there, $25 million that would have been spent likely with the big three.
okay small potatoes but the message is perfectly clear.

See what I mean - it may take a little time before the impact of some of this new stuff to begin to have an effect in the boardrooms.

Sit tight, keep yer powder dry - only buy what you absolutely have to for the next 6 months or so.
My $0.02c
hth, Rob

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