best hdv cam for money?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by jelloshotsrule, Sep 29, 2005.

  1. jelloshotsrule macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

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    #1
    a bit of background:

    my brother and i are very interested in making movies (heck, i went to film school). not professionally necessarily, but would love to hit up festivals and such if we come up with stuff that is worthwhile. we have a short (8-10 min) idea, a mid length idea, and a feature type idea... but anyways. he used to have a big shoulder minidv cam (i think jvc, could be wrong). i had a crappy digital hi 8 thing from 1999... we want to get a new cam, and would like it to be hd. hdv seems like the way to go based on our scope and budget (we are both gadget guys, and he has some decent money, so we want to get something cool and high quality, without breaking the bank of course). obviously anything above hdv in terms of format brings storage issues into play, along with just the camera cost.

    so i ask, what are your thoughts on the best hdv camera out there? along with this, what are your thoughts on using a cam without xlr (some sort of audio system hooked up through a mini jack, or something- i had a mini to xlr little adapter thing for my old cam and a boom mic i got, not super high quality though). i want to know about experiences with cams that are out now, combined with thoughts on soon to be released stuff.. though i think that we would like to get a camera in the next 2 months for sure...


    any thoughts and experiences would be great. (we'll be using fc studio, just fyi). thanks!
     
  2. Lacero macrumors 604

    Lacero

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    Jan 20, 2005
    #2
    The Sony Z1U is your best bet. It has XLR connectors and range of menu options for mimicking the look of film gamma.
     
  3. jelloshotsrule thread starter macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

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    #3
    and is it right that with fcp 5 you don't have to do the whole "transcribing" bit when capturing from it, yeah?

    what sort of menu options?
     
  4. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    #4
    http://www.camcorderinfo.com/


    Check out the link. It's mostly for consumer camcorders but it has an article on the Sony HDR-HC1. It might make a good backup to the ZU1 at a third of the price.

    Does anyone have any real world comparison between the ZU1 and FX1?
     
  5. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #5
    jelloshotsrule,
    Do you guys already have other production gear (lights, flags, reflectors, mics, booms, etc.,)? If not, I'd suggest taking the money you want to spend on an FX1/Z1U and look at buying a less expensive cam (like the Panasonic DVX100a) plus other production gear you'll need and camera accessories you might want (filters, wide angle adaptor, etc.,).

    I think that's where most no-budget movies fall apart is they spend all their money on the camera itself and don't have anything left over to spend on good lighting, good sound, filters, and all the other "little things" that make a movie look like "a movie" instead of a "home movie."

    The w/the exception of some bells and whistles the Z1U and the FX1 are the exact same camera. Image quality is identical between them.


    The Sony cameras are the lowest priced and give good images, but they all shoot 1080 interlaced. So capturing that "film like" motion signature that 24p gives can't really be done w/the Sony's (the CineFrame24 is crap, IMO).

    The JVC HD100 is more expensive than the Sony's, but it comes w/a "real" manual lens (although I've heard mixed reviews about the lens quality). The JVC shoots 720/24p and 720/60p, but it has no interlaced modes so if you are needing a "reality" look to yer image it will be hard to do w/the JVC.

    Canon recently announced it's HDV camera and I think it's around 8 or 9 grand. Which I assume is out of yer price range. It doesn't shoot 24p, but it shoots "24f." Until we see footage we won't know if Canon's "24f" looks good like 24p or looks bad like Sony's "cf24."

    Panasonic has a prosumer HD camera coming out, the HVX-200, but it shoots DVCPro HD not HDV. IIRC the storage and system requirements are higher than HDV, but you don't need huge RAIDS are anything like that if you are shooting 720/24p. If you want to shoot HD on the Panny it will cost 8 or 9k.

    Sony also has a CMOS HDV camera, the HVR-A1U that is priced below the FX1. I don't know much about it, but depending on yer budget it may suit your needs.


    Lethal
     
  6. jelloshotsrule thread starter macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

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    #6
    thanks for the post lethal (and all).

    first question - what is a cmos camera vs. the usual ccd deal? lesser sensor space to get the image? or.. .(forgive my ignorance!)

    from what is out and what i've seen, it would appear that the jvc is the "best" for the ~5k range. especially with the 24p and overall resolution issue.

    as for gear and movie making on a low/no budget in general....

    we have nothing in terms of lights (unless you count flood light type lights. hah). we have 4 or so year old boom mic, i really don't know how "good" it is. and that's about it... i don't even know what flags are... sad i know

    oh, and i have a pretty cool foldable green screen. it's a bitch to light though! hah

    so, obviously any lens additions would be extra, and lights, etc... we don't have any mounts or any sort of dollies, etc...

    i think the main reason we are looking to get hd is that we want to (somewhat, i realize hdv isn't necessarily the best format) future proof ourselves with the camera, and then build up the other stuff as we go. our budget is really up to him (i'm a temp right now.... go dc animation/video market!), but of course we have to be realistic. we aren't going to be making money on our films, so it's out of pocket. theoretically we could do a bit of production (he's filmed things for his schools before, etc), but nothing that would really pay for the equipment any time soon.

    i'm not sure how much that drivel helps, but it's some more general background about me/us...

    thanks again all.

    oh yeah: what bells and whistles really separate the zu1 and fx1?
     
  7. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #7
    Typically pro/prosumer cameras use 3 CCDs (1 for Red, 1 for Blue, 1 for Green) to resolve the image. a CMOS sensor (like is found in many digital still cameras IIRC) is just a single chip w/a color filter over it to separate red, blue, and green. Up until recently CMOS chips haven't been good to use in video cameras, but as the technology gets better many people believe CMOS will replace CCDs (1 chip cameras are cheaper to build and engineer than 3 chip cameras). I haven't read up on Sony's CMOS camera, but I need to see how it compares (image quality wise) to their 3CCD HDV cameras. If cameras switch from 3 CCD's to 1 CMOS chip it will probably be the biggest imaging hardware change since cameras switched from tubes to chips.


    If you are looking for an HDV camera that does 24p it's the JVC or the Canon (assuming the Canon's "24f" function doesn't suck).


     
  8. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    Washington, DC
    #8
    Here's a link that compares the FX1 and Z1U

    http://www.hdvinfo.net/articles/sonyhdrfx1/compare.php

    I just picked up an FX-1 for around $2k just to toy around with. I can't do anything with HD except broadcast it or transfer it to film, so I won't be using the FX-1 for any production work unless my XL-2, DVX-100, or GL-2 break down. I'm thinking of selling the FX though to upgrade to the Z1U for DVCAM and XLR inputs. Don't have a lot of time to go in depth...besides, looks like Lethal has you covered, just thought I'd provide a link for some more info.
     
  9. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #9
    Well, I was going to get a Sony HDR-HC1, but bottom loading tapes... ugh. The others are a little out of my price range. I though about going semi-cheap for now just to get something better than I have, and then just waiting for a better HD camera at a better price. No one I know even has HD, and I'm sure the prices will drop fairly quickly as the get smaller and better. BUT, if you can afford it and don't mind the big ones, there are some good ones out there. I'd suggest going with B&H Photo Video whatever you choose. I've been happy with them, and they have really good prices.
     
  10. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #10
    Ah, ha! That was the link I was looking for, but couldn't remember.
    And if anyone knows why it's the "FX1" and "Z1U" (as opposed to "ZU1") lemme know. It's been buggin' me for nearly a year now. ;)


    Lethal
     
  11. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    Joined:
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    VA
    #12
    I'm looking forward to hearing about how it goes and what you pick up. I worked on a short movie a year before I left DC and we ended up submitting it to the Rosebud Film Festival there in DC - we actually made the final cut of 20 - but didn't win anything.

    You should try entering what ever you do there - its not a bad little festival

    http://www.rosebudact.org/

    I'm thinking of getting an HDCam sometime in the near future as well, but only after I get a new G5, so probably not till next year or early 2007.

    D
     
  12. jelloshotsrule thread starter macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

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    #13
    thanks for the link! very helpful.

    so it looks like the main parts are the same (lens, etc). with the audio seemingly the biggest difference. and it doesn't shoot in any progressive modes. hm.

    so, pros... is no xlr a deal breaker (based on what you know about my uses)..? or can i get a little converter box (or use the one i have) and it should be good (and worthwhile to spend the extra $ on other stuff)...?

    as for hd in general... so if i don't go to broadcast, hd-dvd (which will only really show up on a computer as of now, yeah?), or film.... do i lose ALL the advantage of hd? in other words, if i shot the same film on minidv on a "normal" cam and on an hdv cam, and ended up viewing on a non hd tv via rca cables from the camera (output back to the hdv/minidv tape at the end), would i see NO difference? i guess i am assuming there will be a difference, but perhaps my ignorance will make you all laugh. hah


    thanks for the tip duke, will check it out, if/when the time comes. hah
     
  13. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #14
    For your needs I wouldn't call no XLR a deal breaker.

    As I understand it, w/all other things being equal an HDV image down-converted to SD will be comparable to a native SD image. You'll have more leeway in post to manipulate the image w/HDV (color correction and what not) but I'm not sure how much that factors in to your needs. And, sense you mentioned your green screen before, HDV doesn't do green screen work very well. Neither does DV, but I'm not sure if one is worse than the other or if the both suck equally. :D

    Granted, it's the artist and not the paint brush that really matters, but Nancy Schreiber was the DP on "November" and won Best Cinemtagraphy at Sundance in '04. "November" was shot on a Panasonic DVX100.


    Lethal
     
  14. Rod Rod macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

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    #15
    HDV audio

    I highly recommend that you only use the camera's built-in audio recording only as a reference, to synch in post with your primary sound recordings.

    The problem with HDV audio is that it's MPEG Layer 1, which sounds tinny and hollow. You'll get better sound using a basic 4-track (conventional audio cassettes) as your acquisition format, paired with decent mics.

    The JVC HD100's "Pro HD" format is supposed to allow for PCM audio to be recorded to tape, but based on what I read in the brochure, that's a feature promised for the future so I'd imagine it'll require a firmware update. And who knows, maybe that can only be performed by a JVC technician. Also, as far as I can tell FCP 5 can't take 24p (or 25p for that matter) from the HD100. Maybe FCP 5.0.3 will add support for importing 720p24 and 720p25 HDV, but for now all it can do is 720p30.

    MiniDV records PCM audio at 48KHz so if you could get a low-cost MiniDV camcorder that has a mic input, and maybe a mixer if you have multiple mics, that could be a good audio recording solution. That might be cheaper than getting a DAT recorder.
     
  15. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #16
    Those are all good points Rod Rod. I'd forgotten 'bout that.


    Lethal
     
  16. 2jaded2care macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Don't know what brand of XLR adapter you have, but I like the Studio1 XLR unit ( http://www.studio1productions.com ) better than the Beachtek. Can hang from a belt, doesn't have to mount under the camcorder. (Try to avoid any camcorder with bottom-loading tape mechanism, what a pain!)

    Also, older Beachtek models didn't have a ground lift switch, although they apparently do now. The Studio1 had one first, I think.
     
  17. 2jaded2care macrumors 6502

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    #18
    BTW, I'm with Lethal -- rent the camera, lighting and other production equipment. Spend your money on what's on the screen -- talent, lighting, props, a good crew. Better to rent a Fisher dolly than buy a doorway dolly.

    If all goes well and you're hyped for the next several projects, then consider blowing your budget on buying equipment. It's going to take a lot of projects to amortize your investment in equipment, and stuff like lighting is relatively cheap to rent, but not to buy. Plus, rental houses will often bargain with you, especially if you're renting enough to make it worthwhile to them, or if business is slow.

    My 1 cent...
     
  18. robx2 macrumors member

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    May 27, 2005
    #19
    The main thing that makes amateur video amateur is bad sound. People will watch almost anything, but mic hits, wind noise, and inaudible dialogue will cause them to just turn it off. So, my advice, above anything else, make sure you've got XLR inputs, a good mic, and someone who knows a little bit about what they're doing.

    But even beyond that, it's just story...story...story. If you've got a compelling story, a lot of people just won't care. I've been working on zero budget documentaries, and honestly, if you've got a good story, people will watch it. We've got a video that cost all of $1000 to make (not counting our volunteered time of course) that will be in its 5th festival later this month.

    You won't make money. It won't get you laid. But people will watch it and enjoy it.
     
  19. jelloshotsrule thread starter macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

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    #20
    anyone have thoughts on this guy? experience with it?

    thanks
     
  20. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #21
    Some Pros
    -24p recording
    -shorter GOP structure (6 frame vs 15 frame like Sony).
    -progressive recording (720p)
    -"real" lens

    Some Cons
    -stock lens has so-so image quality (from what I've read)
    -"split screen effect" problem in very low light (one half of the screen is noticeably darker than the other)
    -24p footage can't be edited in Final Cut yet (I'm assuming Apple will add support in the future)
    -no interlaced shooting mode or 1080 shooting mode

    The JVC also has a larger form factor (the camera body rests on the shooter's shoulder). Personally I see that as a "pro" but someone wanting to keep things smaller and strictly hand held might see it as a "con".

    You might want to check out the boards on dvinfo.net and dvxuser.com ("other cameras" sub-forum) to see what actual users are saying.


    Lethal
     

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