Choosing a $1,000 camera, what type? HDV? HHD? Flash?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by lindahl22, Nov 28, 2009.

  1. lindahl22 macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2008
    I am currently working with a MiniDV Camera, editing on Final Cut Express on a 2.16 GHz Duo with 2GB of RAM. I am not happy with the quality and want to improve my setup. I am planning on moving to Final Cut Pro and a MacBook Pro in the future, but first want to spend around $1,000, preferably less, on a HD Camera. I have heard that HDV has better quality, but HHD is what the computer would rather take, using less time to import and render. I am looking at the Canon Vixia lineup, as I heard that is the best. What format should I go with? and are the cameras the best ones in my price range?

    Canon VIXIA HV40 HD HDV Camcorder with 10x Optical Zoom
    Canon VIXIA HF20 HD Dual Flash Memory with 32 GB Internal Memory and 15x Optical Zoom
    Canon VIXIA HG21 AVCHD 120 120 GB HDD Camcorder with 12x Optical Zoom
  2. chiefroastbeef macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2008
    Dallas, Texas/ Hong Kong
    Unless you are willing to go with tape, I would definitely go with a flash camera. I had the HG21 HDD camcorder, and would much rather deal with flash cards. Now I am using a JVC HM-100 camcorder with flash cards and footage wrapped in .mov.

    Look into the Canon HF-S100, it has been highly regarded by the HV20/30/40 group.

    If you are going the Canon route and want to spend under $1000, the HF-S100 seems like a good choice, and has been claimed to have as good imagery as the HV30.

    Just remember though, besides the HV40, the rest of avchd, will be require time to transcode to Apple Intermediate Codec in FCE. If you are doing light editing, it will be fine with your current computer, but will take a little longer.
  3. Illmetaphor macrumors member

    Mar 15, 2009
    32 gigs of internal that a lot? Doesn't seem like too much for HD.

    Flash Cards? What size would u recommend getting for filming concerts, events, weddings, interviews, etc.?

    I am in the same boat as chief roast beef....

    I have 1000 budget. Want to get something nice from Canon Vixia.

    Why is the HV 40 so much more expensive than the HV 20...and it doesn't have an internal memory.
  4. tillathenun macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2007
    Kent, UK
    Camcorder fun

    Given that you already have a MiniDV, I'd go for the HV40 (I have an HV30 myself - absolutely wonderful!).

    It's partly personal preference, but the quality of the tape-based Canons is better than anything else (apparently) and since you're already used to a MiniDV workflow, you'll enjoy being able to use any of your old tapes in the camcorder as well.

    The only drawback I've found is that you get the faint sound of the tape heads moving when recording.

    Other than that, it's a wonderful camcorder - and personally I love using tapes for archive purposes. Otherwise you have to spend a fortune on Flash cards or hard drives - the former being too expensive, the latter being not reliable enough.

    Also - I'm not sure whether all camcorders do it, but on the HV30 (so I guess the HV40 as well) you can record from analogue signals which I've found really useful when putting old VHS tape footage onto the computer.

    Good luck!
  5. lindahl22 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2008
    So its between the HV40 and the HF-S100
    I think that I will go with the the HF-S100 as I like Flash better as it takes less time to import and I think I could get higher quality out of it. Looking around at cheaper cameras, incase my budget moves down to $600, I found the Canon VIXIA HF200 for $519 on Amazon. It looks like this might even be better than the others, am I right? and If I could only spend $600 would this be the best camera?
  6. pigbat macrumors regular

    Jan 18, 2005
    Just keep in mind that flash doesn't take less time to import. It has to be transcoded to AIC which at times takes longer than tape imports.

    For under 600 I'd probably go with the HF200.
  7. Illmetaphor macrumors member

    Mar 15, 2009
    what would u go with in the 800 range as far as Cannon?

    I kinda prefer the flash memory and internal hard drive to tape? What are the pros and cons?

    I assume u can delete footage of the flash cards?

    Also what are the battery lives on these cameras? Do i need to buy a charger or something?
  8. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    1. Flash cameras are supposed to simplify workflows by eliminating having to capture tape in real-time. However, the reality for Apple users using iMovie/FCE/FCP has been the opposite. Virtually every flash-based camcorder records in an H.264-based codec like AVCHD. Apple editing applications do not support these codecs natively, so it'll force a transcode to AIC (iMovie/FCE) or ProRes (FCP). In most cases, this process does NOT happen in real-time (more like half real-time).

    2. Yes, you can delete footage from flash cards.

    3. Battery life depends on the camera and the size of the battery. Most camcorders include a smaller battery good for maybe 2-3 hours of recording time. Typically, larger batteries are available aftermarket. Every camcorder comes with a battery charger already, or at the very least, a power cable to charge the battery in-camera.

    Just keep in mind that since flash-based camcorders eliminate a tape altogether, you will rely on hard drives and maybe optical media to archive master footage. And HD footage occupies a LOT of disk space. With tape camcorders, you already have a master with the tape. Food for thought...
  9. pigbat macrumors regular

    Jan 18, 2005
    For under 800 I'd go with the HV40. I know it still uses tape but there are some advantages to a tape based camcorder. I already have dozens of tapes full of old SD footage that I could still play on this camera. I probably won't make the jump to flash based until they work out the transcoding issue. Ideally I'd just get a JVC HM100 and the use the Sanyo VPC-HD2000 for things where I need a smaller, lighter camera :) . All conversion issues would then go away for now.
  10. electronique macrumors 6502

    Aug 27, 2008
    I was/am in the same situation as yourself (OP).
    I was tossing up between the Canon HFS11 or the HV40.

    I was wanting to go flash for convenience. But soon swayed my attention towards the HV40 for the following reasons I had found by reading and researching.

    1 - AVCHD editing/converting is a pain on Mac - That was a big drawcard for me to steer towards the HV40

    2 - DV Tape to me seems like a more affordable archiving solution. I didnt want to have to purchase multiple SD cards, as high capacity cards (32GB, 64GB) are still quite expensive - for good ones anyway... Much easier changing tapes after an hour footage, rather than capturing or transfering footage when the memory is full.
  11. Illmetaphor macrumors member

    Mar 15, 2009
    Thanks pigbat and electronique....

    one more quick question about the transcoding issue. I am running 2.66 Quad Core w/ 8 gigs of ram...Final Cut Studio 3.

    How long do you think it takes to transcode AVCHD to ProRes on my comp?
  12. pigbat macrumors regular

    Jan 18, 2005

    Someone with a similar setup may be able to give you a better estimate. Based on my experience converting AVCHD I would say a 10 minute clip will take 12-15 minutes.
  13. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    The HV40 will be easier to work with "out of the box," though tape is more frustrating in its own way. Tape provides an archiving solution that's easy to use, though.

    I should add that most implementations of HDV are bother higher bitrate and less processor intensive than AVCHD, so you will get higher quality for less effort for the less proficient.

    The basis of your decision should be the inconveniences of tape vs. the inconveniences of conversion and memory card storage (and archiving).
  14. jzuena macrumors 6502a


    Feb 21, 2007
    Lexington, MA, USA
    One other consideration is that HDV still requires a FireWire port, and Apple has begun shipping models that don't have FireWire. The OP is already using DV, which implies an available FireWire port, but it might be important for others.
  15. excommie macrumors regular

    May 12, 2009
    I recently faced the same dillema, I'm coming from a Sony PC1000 (3CMOS chip camera). After reading a lot of info and I narrowed it down to 3 choices (PANASONIC HDC TM300, Canon HF 20 and Canon HF11 (which is an older verson of HF20, but as suggests, a better version and I agree).
    I decided on Canon HF11. Originally it sold for $899, got it for $599. The reason why I think it's better than HF20, is because of it's very good low light performance. HF20 is better in a couple of aspects, but low light was more important to me (and HF20 doesn't do good in low light).

    I wanted to get the Panasonic TM300, but at $1300, it was out of my price range.

    Overall, I'm happy with the HF11. It is still sold on B&H, you might want to check out the discussions on, they have links to actual movie footage in different conditions.
  16. anthemus macrumors regular


    Apr 25, 2009
    Couldn't agree more. I went to SD card format myself. Now about every 3 months I'm buying a 1TB HD. Puts HDV in to a new perspective. A reasonable HDV tape costs $2.50. A 1Tb drive costs $100+ with enclosure. If I could go back, I would go HDV for the simplicity in archiving.
  17. chiefroastbeef macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2008
    Dallas, Texas/ Hong Kong
    Until Apple addresses the avchd nativity issue with fce and fcp, HDV tape seem like a better idea because there is no encoding and is better for archival. Plus after avchd is encoded into AIC, the files are HUUUGGEEE (though you can delete the AIC converted files after a project is done, and keep just backup the original .mts files and its structure, and if you need to use it again, just convert back to AIC).

    If you don't mind using the older tape technology, and you'll be shooting a lot of stuff, I'd go with the HV40 simply because you wouldn't have to convert to AIC and then have the AIC files use up an extreme amount of disk space. This is until Apple comes out with native avchd editing, then things will totally change for apple users.

    All in all, you must consider how much you will be shooting, if you shoot a lot, it may be better to go hv40 until there is native avchd editing, if you don't shoot a lot, it may be worth while to get a avchd camcorder and be stuck with AIC conversion until final cut can do native avchd editing. Plus you already have a fast computer to start with.

    Or, just fork over 3,500 for a jvc hm100 and shoot with flash cards wrapped in mov. All I do is drag and drop into final and it is ready to go!
  18. OCSpersonel macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2009
    I was actually just about to post a similar thread, Im also trying to get myself into the HD video game and well, im also leaning towards the HV40.

    For a consumer to shoot good Hd, isnt the HV40 a good shot? tapes arnt that inconvienent,
  19. mbell75 macrumors 6502

    Oct 30, 2007
    First off, what kind of video are you shooting? If you dont do alot of zooming and dont need killer sound quality, save some money and get a Canon Rebel T1i. Yes, the still camera. It shoots 1080p video that will blow away any video camera under $50k and they cost $600. Spend the other $400 on a nice lens for it.
  20. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    That's a bold claim! It's locked at 20fps in 1080, and there's nasty skew and aliasing, and manual controls are rather limited.
  21. mbell75 macrumors 6502

    Oct 30, 2007

    Doesnt matter much, especially when using imovie as it converts everything to 30p. I am a photographer/videographer, so this is what I do. The fact is the sensor size on even a 1/3 format video camera costing many thousands of dollars is only 4.80x3.60mm. Compare that to the 22.2x14.8 sensor in the Rebel and its a no brainer. The much larger sensor will allow for far better video quality, especially in lower light. Not to mention the ability to attach some quality Canon L glass for superior optics over most semi-pro video cameras.
  22. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    It does. How do you turn 20 raspberries into 30? How ever you do it it's going to get messy.

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