Prosumer Digital Camcorders

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Chaszmyr, Jan 15, 2005.

  1. macrumors 601


    Any recommendations?
    I hear that when it came out, the Canon GL2 was the best camera of its kind, but now it sounds like a lot of people prefer HDV camcorders (Especially Sony's HDR-FX1). Is the HDR-FX1 really better than the GL2? I also notice the FX1 costs about $1000 less, so that's pretty substantial, and I like that it records natively in 16:9.
    Word has it Sony is also going to be releasing a new HDV camcorder in the next couple of months that will cost about twice as much as the HDR-FX1, what would make it worth so much more? XLR audio input would be nice, but what else?
    HDV seems like the best Prosumer format right now, is Canon expected to release an HDV camera any time soon? (I like Canon)
    Once H.264 comes out, will cameras use it instead of mpeg-2 derivatives like HDV? Should I wait for H.264 or is that still like a year before it would make it to cameras anyway?
    Should I wait until NAB in April before even thinking about buying anything?

    I know this is a lot of questions, but thanks for your input in advance!

    (I realize that Final Cut Pro doesn't natively support HDV format at the moment, but that's not an issue because I'm sure the next version will, considering Final Cut Express and iMovie both do now)
  2. macrumors 601


    I've done a little bit more reading, and JVC's products seem to be inferior to Sony's. Are there any other companies that might be coming out with an HDV camcorder any time soon that I might want to think about?
  3. macrumors 65816


    real quick,
    Do you mean the Canon XL2(s) instead of the GL2?

    From what I've heard JVC and (to a lesser degree) Panasonic have really improved their product innovation and quality in the Camcorder arena, although if you have read differently....

    I have been out of the camcorder game for a while, so I have no real great (current) advice. I have heard the JVC HD-GR1 is a good camera, although it may not size up to the Sony...

    Canon offerings, although not HD, are still great imo...

    If price is no object, you might as well wait for NAB and see what is up the various companies sleeves...

    FCP does support HD, just take a look on the Apple website...
  4. macrumors 603


    Here's my take:

    HD video is being promoted by Apple right now, so that Apple can get in on the ship early and set up shop for later - it's not really a technology that is really purposeful at this point - a slim margin of TVs support HD, and, really, while it is taking off fast, anything HD prosumer that you buy now will be outdated soon. I think that, at this point, it would make the most sense to spend money on a really good DV camera, rather than spending extra money on a marginal HDV camera. The video out of the Sony VX2100 and its equivalents is extremely good, and remains so even when projected in quite large format (Yes I know it doesn't compare to film, or to HD video, but lets not get into a flame war about this - it looks good! I've seen it for myself). If you plan to watch your films on HD TVs, you will probably see a difference in quality with a HDV camera, but in this current market, the most compatibility and simplicity is with DV cameras.

    My experience shows also that Sony video cameras are often superior in design, flexibility, features and have more intuitive interfaces than Canon cameras, but I have never really extensively used a JVC camera, so I can't give you input on that right now. If I were to buy a good digital video camera right now, my money would be on the sony vx2100 - It'll set you back about 3 grand, and every penny of that money is well spent. Every piece of this camera is well put together, and, no matter how fast technology is moving, it will last for many years and remain a very good camera for digital video work.

  5. macrumors 6502a

    The Sony FX-1 is only $3000. The Z1 is about $5000. A pro shooter friend tells me that beta testers of the Z1 think it's very close to the Panasonic Varicam (which my friend rents for jobs) and the Sony costs about $95,000 less. The FX-1 doesn't have as many features, but is still a 3-ccd 1080i/60 camera.

    The Z1 is due in Februrary. If I were a serious hobbyist, there's no way I would spend $3000 on a DV camcorder with these two cameras out there.
  6. macrumors 601


    Yes, I did mean the XL2. My bad

    HD and HDV are not the same thing
  7. macrumors 601


    Z1? I've never heard of it, is it being made by Sony? Perhaps the higher end HDV i've been hearing about coming out in 1Q 05?
  8. macrumors 6502

    About as different as Hard Drives are to HFS+.

    HD is a standard. HDV is a format of the standard. Even though it is not the same thing, they are related. Currently, FCP does not edit in HDV, but using a program such as MPEG streamclip, you can convert HDV over to a suitable format such as DVCPRO-HD that then you can edit in FCP. The end result of course is that you have HD video, you can output to film, DVHS, or blu-ray DVD.
  9. macrumors 6502

    Definitely the FX1. FX1 Shootout

    No comparison here. The FX-1 blows the GL-2 out of the water. GL2 was never considered a great camera, at least not in the professional sense.

    New Hypergain modes, Cinegamma, PAL support - you can shoot 1080/50i, XLR inputs, plus many more. Comparison between FX1 and Z1

    You should wait for NAB. Canon may come out with a HDV camera, but it won't be in 24P, since HDV does not support 24P natively, although I guess with pulldown, this is possible like that of the DVX100a.
  10. macrumors 65816


    My mistake, I wasn't very clear. There are solutions/bundles to work around mentioned at Apple. I guess we're even...

    In any case, I assume FCP will remedy this at NAB or whenabouts...

    I feel like an old man in relation to what's going on in the Video/Broadcast world these days...

    Took a look (briefly) at the Sony Z1, it is impressive if you can afford the pricetag. The fx-1 is no slouch either.

    The JVC's are worth a look, as they are quite reasonably priced and still decent cameras.
  11. macrumors 6502a

    3Memos has already pointed out the differences between the Z1 and the FX-1. I think one could say that higher-end HDV is already here in the FX-1. The Z1 adds pro features, but the 3-CCD system is the same between the two cameras.
  12. macrumors 6502

    Did you see Steve Jobs gushing over the Sony FX-1? OMG, talk about advertising! Sony will strongly benefit from the power of the RDF. The FX-1 is also advertised on the boxes of iMovieHD, and notably in all their print and web ads. FX-1 definitely causing major ripples in the broadcast and pro HD markets.
  13. macrumors member

    Fx-1 is great but what if I want to spend <$1000? Anything out there with a decent lens/ccd combo and a way to get the footage into fcp?

    I just want to get my feet wet with a camera that maybe has some loveable faults instead of looking like a cheap video crap. I could go for used as well.

    Thanks you.
  14. macrumors 6502

    Look for some used TRV900s
  15. macrumors member

    Thanks for the link. I am not finding any evidence of Firewire capability, did I miss it? My AlPB has a PCMCIA slot, and maybe the TRV900 uses that method but is that a good way to work?

    I also wish it had better color saturation but at $500 I'm not complaining.
  16. macrumors 6502

    The TRV900 has firewire, nearly all miniDV camcorders do. You'll need a firewire PC card if you want to be able to interface the two.
  17. macrumors 603


    The Al P'Book has built-in fw.

    B&H PhotoVideo has the Sony one for about $5000. It's the only HDV one I saw. Panasonic is supposed to have a good HD model compatible with FCP HD, but I'm not sure who all have HDV compatible camcorders coming soon or what.

    Depends on what you want to do and how much you want to spend.
  18. macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

    It's unfair to compare Sony and JVC's HDV cameras. The Sonys only shoot interlaced (1080i) while JVCs shoot progressive (720p). Sony HDV cameras resolve 1920x1080 and JVC HDV cameras resolve 1280x720 (I'm talking about the final output resolution and not getting into the 1440x1080 business).

    It's up to you whether interlaced or progressive looks better or suits your purposes better.

    I like the Sony HDV cameras because they have many more manual controls compared to the JVC. I don't like the Sonys because there is no progressive shooting mode.

    Canon is unlikely to release an HDV camcorder until next year at the soonest because it's slow to release products using new tape formats. However, Chaszmyr, the XL2 shoots DV at native 16:9 (not artificially stretched), and has 30p and 24p modes as well as cine-gamma modes.

    If Panasonic can make either a lower-priced DVCPRO HD camera or an HDV camera that shoots any sort of 24p (720 or 1080), they will just wipe out the competition. The Panasonic DVX100A's biggest disadvantage is lack of 16:9 native shooting. However, for its price difference compared to the XL2, it's still cheaper to buy a DVX100A and an optical anamorphic adapter.

    Here's a tip to get into HDV for cheap (and it works). The following are links to closed auctions of eBay:

    JVC GR-HD1 sold for $1325
    JVC GR-HD1 camcorder sold for $1525
    JVC JY-HD10U sold for $1945

    I own an HD10. In the wrong hands, it's what negative reviewers say it is. With a little knowledge and experience, it's a great camera. :)
  19. macrumors 6502

    JVC's camera is only 1 CCD. Colors looked washed out as a result. Terrible in low-light, we are talking 35LUX!

    Sony's camera is 3 CCD (not to mention they are SuperHAD CCDS). Zeiss optics. Low-light is rated at 5 LUX. The Pro model features Hypergain and Cinegamma modes that provides noise-free images in low-light, even with gain turned on.
  20. macrumors 65816


    As a somewhat novelty consideration, the JVC GR-DV3000, is a fair camera and has a "nightalive" feature which allows it to shoot full-color footage in near-total darkness (as opposed to ghostly-green infrared). This is acheived with special software, a large lens and a slow-shutter speed (which means no fast movement).

    Pretty cool, although on nicer cameras with some patient fiddling you can also manage respectable low-light performance.

  21. macrumors member

    What about 16:9 capability, maybe 24p but not necessarily HD? I can live with grain if the colors are good. I think I would hold on to a camera longer if it was 16:9. Screw standard. :p
  22. macrumors 601


    The one thing no one addressed is H.264. Will cameras use H.264 any time this year, and will there be a substantial improvement because of it?

    Oh, one other thing. Will the Z1 have better quality than the FX1, or just have more features and options and such?
  23. macrumors 6502

    I highly doubt it. The current consumer HD standard is HDV and it's based on MPEG2 19-25Mbps Transport Streams. Maybe a competing format by Panasonic will introduce HDV based around H.264, but more than likely they may go with DVCPRO-HD.
  24. macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

    You haven't seen JVC HDV footage taken by a competent shooter. Another difference between the JVC and Sony HDV offerings is Sony set up their cameras to be easy for novices to take decent video, whereas with the JVC you need a bit of skill. The advantage in that case goes to Sony when you're talking about ignorant users. The one-CCD vs. 3-CCD issue is of little consequence in the right hands.

    As for low-light performance, if you call yourself a professional and you aren't lighting your sets properly there are other lines of work more suitable. The Sonys can shoot in low light, but if you know what you're doing you wouldn't need to.

    However, if what you do is shoot reality shows like Cheaters, the Sony is better for you. If you prefer comb line artifacts, you have limited shooting skills and you don't know the first thing about properly lighting a set the Sony is better for you.

    Paper comparisons of the two cameras are of little consequence because it's very much apples and oranges between 720p and 1080i. If the Sonys shot 720p or 1080 24p I'd like them. I prefer the progressive look. You can't argue away interlace artifacts.

    I'm not addressing H.264 directly because of an NDA issue. It's safe to say that H.264 is coming sooner or later, they may or may not write onto regular miniDV tapes and they may or may not have CCDs.

    The Z1 will have better quality because of its additional features and options, if the operator is competent with using those features and options. The Z1 will have the same automatic shooting capabilities of the FX1 so anyone can advance at their own pace.
  25. macrumors G4

    H.264 is an output standard and not meant for editable video. OTOH, HDV is the standard for consumer-level videography in high-definition.

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