Camcorder for film student

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by MacInMich, Apr 11, 2007.

  1. MacInMich macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2007
    #1
    My son is a college student majoring in Communications. He is heavily into film and wants a camcorder to shoot short movies and edit them on a Mac. I've done some research and figure miniDV is the way to go for image quality. I'm undecided on HD vs DV ... I've seen comments that editing HD is more difficult(?). I've seen pros and cons on Sony vs Canon and am comfortable choosing either.

    So ... image quality, camera features (manual focus, video effects, etc) and the ability to edit are the primary issues. Any comments or suggestions would be welcomed ...
     
  2. trudd macrumors regular

    trudd

    Joined:
    May 27, 2004
    Location:
    Texas
    #2
    I found myself in the same boat a few years ago (well, sort of. I'm on the student end of the situation..). I chose the Canon GL2. I was still scratching the surface of things and I wanted to start out in SD before going to HD. There are times when I wish had gotten an XL series, but after doing some traveling I enjoy the size of the GL2.

    If you want to lean toward HDV, take a look at the Canon XH-A1. I was able to play with one a few weeks ago and, if it had been on the market when I was shopping, I would have definitely considered getting it.

    I don't have much experience with Sony camcorders. I've only used the V1U for some b-roll.
     
  3. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000

    bigbossbmb

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Pasadena/Hollywood
    #3
    Don't forget Panasonic... they are king of the indie-film world. You should check and see if your kid's school has an equipment checkout for the film department. They may be able to let him play with some of the video cameras. For starting out, a good 3-chip 1/4" camera is good (Canon GL1/2, Panasonic DVC30, I don't know Sony's offering in this spot).

    The next step up would be a 1/3" 3-chip...but this is where HD prices are starting to cut in. Definitely wait until after NAB to purchase anything.
     
  4. trudd macrumors regular

    trudd

    Joined:
    May 27, 2004
    Location:
    Texas
    #4
    I forgot to mention, the GL2 has manual focus, 3CCD, fluorite lens, 20x optical zoom and a few customizable functions to boot.

    One reason I would opt for the XH-A1 (besides HDV) is the built in XLR input for audio lines. Even if he didn't want to start in HD, the XH-A1 can shoot in both SD and HDV, allowing a low-bandwidth alternative as he learns how to use the camera.
     
  5. MacInMich thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2007
    #5
    Uhhhmmmm ... maybe I should have listed a price constraint, too. $3k to $4k is a bit out of my intended range. I would definitely like to stay under $2k.

    Thanks!
     
  6. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    Location:
    NY
    #6
    can the OP adopt me :D j/k. What school is he going/applying to?
    I forgot the model number but a certain member of this forum is obsessed with some Sony HD camera... if you do a search it will come up. I think its like $1500, but don't quote me on this.

    edit i found some info
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=289436
     
  7. anim8or macrumors 65816

    anim8or

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2006
    Location:
    Scotland, UK
    #7
    Im just finishing my degree in animation/film studies.

    I mainly produce animation but have had commissions for live action too...

    In my short experience i wish i had purchased a HD camcorder.

    The resolution issues i have had doing effects etc on SD was troubling at times and i definitely feel that HD would have given me more to work with.

    With SD there is only one way and that is standard or less, at least with a HD camera your son would have options and also a future proof camera (kind of)

    With all of the advances in HD media on the horizon i would say sooner is better to start using HD.

    My two cents
     
  8. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    #8
    I'd recommend the Canon HV20. It's HDV and shoots real 24p, which is a must for real film work. And it's only $1100.
     
  9. Carl Spackler macrumors 6502

    Carl Spackler

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Location:
    Outer Space
    #9
    I believe the ultimate budget camera for any film student or indie is the Canon HV20. You don't get all the bells and whistles of the A1, but the images "the Beast" as it's been dubbed are stunning. It shoots 24p and the CMOS is stunning. The MSRP is something like $1099.

    Your son does not need a prosumer camera like the A1, in my opinion, as he'll have access to equipement like this from his school.

    You can find users and footage for the HV20 at DVinfo and DVXuser. Take a gander at what some of the iamges the HV20 produces. Here is an excellent example of straight out of the camera footage.

    The delivery for HD contents is not quite there, but it's just around the corner. Skate to where the puck is going, as our turtlenecked demi-god would say.
     
  10. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000

    bigbossbmb

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Pasadena/Hollywood
    #10
    the canon HV20 and the Sony HC-7 aren't really good options since they don't have real focus and iris rings. they are more for home videos and not filmmaking.

    I would definitely suggest going SD. The problem with HD is that people just assume it helps in filmmaking when it doesn't, necessarily. Your son needs to learn how to tell a story with video. Those skills come across no matter what resolution your video is.

    It is also like buying a computer, or hard drives, or whatever tends to fall in price fairly fast... buy what you need now. there is no sense in trying to 'future proof'. Don't pay the premium for HD now when your son can get the skills he needs AND decides he would like to pursue filmmaking (that'll most likely be a couple of years from now). Then you can get a much better camera for the premium you'd be paying now.


    I'm a 4th year film student. I did my thesis project last quarter. There were 7-8 kids in my class that bought HD cameras and used them on their projects. All but two of them looked like sh*t because the kids had no idea how to make a film/use a camera properly. The other two looked good (equal to my SD film) but the people had no idea how to engage an audience or tell a story, so they were the most boring/pointless films in the class.


    I bought my DVX100B last October and it serves me well. I have no reservations or regrets about buying an SD camera because the resolution of the video plays a very small role in the quality of student films (and most other projects for that matter).
     
  11. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    #11
    Wow, thats the first real clip I've seen of the HV20, and I must say, it's better than I expected. Way better than the clips I've seen of the Sony HC7.

    Now where the hell am I going to find the $1100 :/
     
  12. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #12
    I couldn't agree with bigbossbmb's post more. The fundamental skills needed to be develop are independent of the image resolution of your camera and there's far more to creating a good looking image than whether or not you are shooting SD or HD. If your son is heavy into movie making getting a point-n-shoot camera (consumer cameras like the HC-7 or HV20) will be an hindrance, shooting SD on a camera w/more manual controls (like the GL2, DVX100, VX2100 etc.,.) will not.

    A crappy movie shot on HD is still a crappy movie. A good movie on SD is still a good movie. I had a friend in college (nearly 7-8 years ago now) that got a job offer from Dateline NBC from a class project he shot on an S-VHS camera. That project still gets shown every semester in the prof's class.


    Lethal
     
  13. Carl Spackler macrumors 6502

    Carl Spackler

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Location:
    Outer Space
    #13
    Crap in, crap out. It doesn't matter if you shoot VHS or 70mm. Why not give yourself a more robust palette? OP's kid could be the next Conrad Hall.

    Though I can see an argument for a more "manual" camera, most of the sub $10K cameras are quasi-manual anyway. This goes for my XL2, which is about as manual as it gets in the affordable SD world. I think Canon's 6x lens for the H1 and the JVC have hard stops, markings and f/stops on the barrel and that's about it. Unless you're using a rack focus rig, the little wheel on the HV20 is not going to much more problematic than the infinity focus ring on any other "manual" camera. I'd test one out, they're suprisingly accurate and responsive.
     
  14. iMacZealot macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2005
    #14
    I've owned both Sony and Canon, and I am more impressed with Sony. I think the Carl Zeiss lenses deliver better quality, and the displays in the cameras are better quality.

    If you really want to get him a nice camera, I saw a Sony HD camcorder for under $1000 yesterday at the Sony Style store. miniDV wouldn't be bad, but HD would certainly be a nice gift.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~​

    1,000th post! :) Can't believe I've reached it already!
     
  15. poppe macrumors 68020

    poppe

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2006
    Location:
    Woodland Hills
    #15
    I'm not sure what your budget is, but I'd go with the Panasonic DVX 100if you want SD. and the HVX 200 if you want HD. Both are great cameras.

    Especially when you throw an adapter on it and some 35 mm lenses.

    The DVX has a beautiful look to it. I was actually pretty skeptical when I was using the DVX on my last shoot, but after I got it the project looked awesome for a DV camera.

    If you want to check out footage I am sure there are HVX and DVX footage at DVXuser.com
    -----------------
    I think Sony and Canon are lacking a little. I haven't worked with Sony much so the very few instances I have not been to impressed, but Canon has really been letting me down. The XL2 has a pretty good image and some really nice features. The XL-H1 is where I was really disappointed. Beautiful design what not, but the little things like Canon's own version of 24p and junk got me a little nervous; that and the quality was good, but still not as good as the HVX.
     
  16. MacDann macrumors 6502a

    MacDann

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2007
    Location:
    Can see the end of the Earth from here
    #16
    Give serious consideration to the former generation of Panasonic DV camcorders. The GS-500 is one of the best 3 CCD models on the market, and it's earlier cousin, the GS-400, is highly sought after by indie and prosumer users, due to the wide range of settings and features it has. You can spend under $1500 for a GS-400 and all the goodies necessary to make it ready for production (mikes, tripods, mounts, etc.) and be far better off than dropping that much for a camera alone.

    I shoot video for a local university on contract, and I can use their high end stuff or my GS-500. I use my GS-500 and the output looks far better than their high end ENG cameras in many cases.

    As mentioned previously, buying an HD camcorder is not going to make them a better cinematographer. I, like a number of previous posters, have seen professionally produced video done of consumer grade cameras - it's all in the ability of the director and others involved in the production.

    I am not convinced that there is a decent HD camera at the prosumer level yet. Yes, there are plenty of offerings these days, but none that stand out, IMHO. I still think there is an issue of maturity for the products and market, and they just haven't gotten to a point where they are decent for non-professional budgets.


    MD
     
  17. Carl Spackler macrumors 6502

    Carl Spackler

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Location:
    Outer Space
    #17
    Perhaps off topic, but meet Stephen Dempsey. Check out what he's been doing with his A1. The "daybreak" clip is noodle bakingly good. It's all about knowing your camera.
     
  18. GoGoSamGo macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2007
    #18
  19. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000

    bigbossbmb

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Pasadena/Hollywood
    #19
    I would agree because I have the DVX100B:D

    But the DVX is out of the OP's budget. Although I would highly recommending looking at the marketplace forum of DVXuser.com. You can get some really good deals on there.


    The "little brother" of the DVX100 is the DVC30, which is in the price range the OP was looking for. It is comparable to the GL2. These two are the entry level learn how to make films camera. We used GL1's in the beginning film class here in Santa Cruz.
     
  20. MacInMich thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2007
    #20
    I might be a bit more confused now but ...

    Thanks to everyone who has posted opinions and information. The comments about the person behind the camera having more to do with the final presentation than the camera itself were thought-provoking and there has been a lot of good technical advice. I think I'm going to look for a lower-end camera for now, put aside some of the money I had earmarked for this and use it to help him with the cost of something more professional (DVX, etc) in a year or two if he shows a commitment to (and aptitude for) pursuing this. From what's been posted, it appears that HD isn't necessarily an advantage ... and that a camera with as many manual controls / video effects as I can get for a reasonable price is the way to go. Any quick suggestions on models?

    Thanks again, everyone. I'll tell my son about this site ... but not until after I get the camera.
     
  21. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000

    bigbossbmb

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Pasadena/Hollywood
    #21
    also tell him about DVXuser.com (even if he doesn't get a DVX). It is a fantastic resource for beginning filmmakers. There are forums for Sound, Lighting, Directing, Writing, as well as technical aspects of the DVX100 and HVX200.

    That site has helped me a great deal over the last 8 months or so.
     
  22. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #22
    Other good places to glean information (but not necessarily to ask newb-type questions) are hdforindies.com, dvinfo.net, and creativecow.net. The book The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap is also a great resource for learning practical ways to make your no-budget picture not look like a no-budget picture.


    Lethal
     
  23. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000

    bigbossbmb

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Pasadena/Hollywood
    #23
  24. MacDann macrumors 6502a

    MacDann

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2007
    Location:
    Can see the end of the Earth from here
    #24
    If you're a Panasonic 3CCD user, or wanna-be, there is a fantastic forum for all Panasonic 3CCD cameras at:

    http://www.pana3ccduser.com/index.php

    You name it, it's there. A good general resource for lots of related film-making topics, like sound, lighting, camera handling, etc.

    MD
     
  25. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    LaLaLand, CA
    #25
    I bought a refurbished Canon GL2 from B&H Photo Video (a highly respected reseller) with a ton of accessories for around $2000. Got the extended Impact battery, DM-50 mic, instructional DVD, tripod (kinda cheapy, but it's ok), extended 2 year warranty, and a couple of tapes. Bought the bag from Amazon, and I already had a memory card. The HV20 was announced awhile later, and it looks nice, but it still isn't out yet. I'm pretty happy with my GL2 for now though.
     

Share This Page