Which prosumer/pro camcorder do you use/recommend?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by wiseguy27, Jun 4, 2005.

  1. wiseguy27 macrumors 6502


    Apr 30, 2005
    I'd like to know which pro and prosumer camcorders you use and/or recommend and why.

    I'm looking at a prosumer/pro (or well above the home video kinds) camcorder and I could only narrow down on the Panasonic three chip camcorders (like GS250) or the Sony ones (not decided on the exact model). Very good low light performance is highly important for me; so is the quality of the video. I'm not at all concerned about still photography since I have a good still digital camera for that. :) My usage would be for home/hobby (but no, I don't prefer any low end ones). I also prefer 16:9 capability.

    It seems to me like there is a big gap in price/features between the pro models and the sub-$1000 models. I'm also leaning more towards a three chip camcorder (which may likely have smaller sensors than a single chip one in the same price/feature range).

    What about HD camcorders? I do have a thought that it might be better to go for a normal camcorder now and upgrade to HD after another 5-7 years (when it would be more common).

    I'm not overly concerned about the size of the camcorder - of course, if it's moderate, like the Panasonic GS250 or Sony HC40 kinds that'd be good too.
  2. jackieonasses macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2004
    the great OKLAHOMA....
    I will throw in my vote for the Canon XL-1s I like it a whole lot, Or one of those Panasonic 24p models..

    You should try them all out before purchacing.

  3. MontyZ macrumors 6502a

    Jan 7, 2005
    I'd go with the Panasonic because it has 3 CCDs, whereas the Sony appears to have only 1 CCD. You'll get better color and picture quality with the 3-CCD.
  4. Nuc macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2003
    Sony is my preference...

    Check out:
    Sony DCR-HC90
    Sony DCR-DVD403

    I'm think about getting one of these...

  5. JeDiBoYTJ macrumors 6502a


    Jun 22, 2004
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    For our movies, we use both a Sony DSR-PD150 3CCD camera. and a Panasonic DVX100A 24P camera. both are great cameras (though, there PD150 is a little outdated by a couple years, theres the PD-170 out now). I find the Sony delivers the best colors and is easiest to color correct. the DVX100 is also a great camera in that its true 24P, so it looks wonderful, though compared side by side, the colors on the sony are just slightly more crisp.
  6. Kingsnapped macrumors 6502a


    Oct 16, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    He said that low light is very important. None of the XL's (any of the Canons, for that matter) do well in low light.

    For price+low light, I suggest a Sony VX.
  7. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    What's your budget and what do you want to do w/the camera? Is it just personal stuff or do you plan for the camera to be a source of income?

  8. Espnetboy3 macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2003
    I bought the panasonic pv gs120 last summer and I simply love it. Very durable and it was basically one of the first pro/consumer camera that supplied 3ccd's and compared to my friends you can tell the difference. It also has a nice leica decomar lense. As far as hd as of now not enough of the population have hd sets and or editing systems and tv's. Plus it costs alot to convert hdv to hdcam for festival purposes trust me. We were trying to do that at the film studio i intern at for this summer. As for 16:9 again i guess it looks cool but really isnt worth it. Most shoot it anywas (the pv gs120 shoots it well) although what people dont realize is its totally uncessary as for 90 percent of the people with tv's in there households dont have a widescreen tv and its pointless to format that way. People think just becuase it has the black bars it looks more professional but if your a true film lover then you want to see movie on your screen not black bars and peoples heads cut off on the screen.
  9. MontyZ macrumors 6502a

    Jan 7, 2005
    That is a very good point. I actually just ordered the Panasonic PV-GS250 camcorder yesterday, and the one thing it didn't have that I thought I wanted was the 16:9 ratio. But, I decided it was probably more of a novelty feature if all you plan to do is play your recordings on a standard-size TV and not a huge widescreen TV.
  10. Sharewaredemon macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2004
    Cape Breton Island

    I second that, get either a VX2000 or 2100.

    The 1000 has horrible low light response.

    I'm not sure, but I think I heard the GL2 was good in low light (but had horrible sound)
  11. milatchi macrumors regular


    Aug 11, 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    I have a SONY DCR-TRV900
    Good camera, although it's been replaced with the TRV930 now.
  12. wiseguy27 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 30, 2005
    I've been meaning to post on this thread again but never got around to doing it. :)

    To answer your questions - my budget is, at the most, around $1700 (although I'd love to have something that's less than $1200 or so). I intend to use the camcorder for personal use - it would not be a source of income.

    I prefer prosumer/pro features since I wouldn't restrict myself to the "press a button and shoot" crowd. I often use the manual controls in my 5MP prosumer digital camera and I like having the flexibility and the best quality. That's one reason I've mentioned that low light is very important - I do not wish to compromise a lot on the quality of the video.

    With the recommendations I've seen so far and the reviews I've read, it seems like the best choices are the Sony VX2100 or the Panasonic AG-DVC30 on the higher end and Sony DCR-HC90/Panasonic GS250/GS150 on the lower end of the spectrum I'm looking at. I've not been able to see the VX2100 or the AG-DVC30 in stores in my place - so I don't have an idea about how easy to handle they'd be for personal use (although I know the dimensions). I'm leaning more towards the Panasonic models since the Sony's touch screen interface seems a little cumbersome to use.

    Not yet made up my mind... :)
  13. FF_productions macrumors 68030


    Apr 16, 2005
    Mt. Prospect, Illinois
    Sony's VX2100 doesn't have a touch screen, the newer models (I think) have touch screens. I have a sony (digital 8, lookin to upgrade as well), and touch screens are a pain, because the battery dies so quickly. I'm trying to get a VX2100, I've tried it out before, and its very comfortable, and does great in low light situations..Look around the internet for prices, it ranges from a 1000 to even 3000 on the sony website..One website to try is: www.compare123.com, type Sony VX2100, and it will give you all these prices on it from different websites...you can type in alll kinds of stuff on that website if you are interested..
  14. sigamy macrumors 65816

    Mar 7, 2003
    NJ USA
    Am I the only one confused by this thread? You are looking for a prosumer cam but you mention a consumer cam (GS250) and a budget of $1200-$1700. You also say that the cam is for home/hobby use. What will you be shooting? Will you make movies or just shoot the kids at soccer? I'm not sure if you want to lug around one of the real prosumer cams to kids soccer games and birthdays.

    The "real" prosumer cams include the Sony VX2100, Canon GL2, XL-1s, XL2, and Panasonic DVX100a. The Panny has 24p and a nice CinemaGamma for a real film like look. This is important if you are making movies and want to submit to film festivals. For $1700, you may be able to find a VX2100 but I doubt it. You could find a used one on craigslist or dvinfo.net or even eBay.

    If you are just a home/hobby user I would recommend you move down to the top of the consumer market cams. Best bets here are Sony and Panasonic. Canon generally does not have good low light performance. The new Sony's use touch screens for most controls so you may not like that. Sony has some 3CCD models and some 1CCD, the new Sony HDR-HC1 High Def cam has only 1 chip. Canon also uses 1 chip with an RGB filter on their consumer cams. Some people say these are just as good as the 3 chip consumer cams.

    The HD cams will give awesome video but it will always look like video. It will not be able to mimic a film-like look, which again, may be a concern if you are going into making short films.

    That being said, I recommend the Panasonic GS400. I wonder why it isn't on your list? Is it because they are hard to find and/or rumored to be updated soon? The GS250 is a nice cam, but I still think the GS400 is better. It has a true 16:9 mode which gives incredible results. The GS250 does a zoom, I believe. Even if you don't have a 16:9 set now, won't you have one in 20 years when you want to go back and view your video? The GS400 offers excelletn manual controls and pretty good low light. There were some issues with bad tape mechanisms but I think Panny has resolved those.

    I think the GS400 is still the king of the consumer cams. Just do some research to see if there is a newer model coming out. Check http://www.pana3ccduser.com for more info.
  15. akshea macrumors newbie

    May 21, 2005
    Sony Z1U is the greatest so far. I've used it and it was just great performance and handling are awesome. The downside... $$$$$$$$$ sigh... I wish I can get one myself.
  16. wiseguy27 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 30, 2005
    Thanks for the correction. I should've checked the words I used. I had intended to mean prosumer and the higher end consumer cams, but I missed it. I wanted to consider prosumer as well as high end consumer camcorders and decide (based on price as well as features).

    I did have a look at the GS400 too, but one difference I had noted was the minimum illumination - according to Panasonic's specs, the GS400 has 2 lux and the GS250 has 1 lux. I'm not an expert on video, but as indicated in my post, low light performance is important to me - I've seen some Canon cameras where lighting is always an issue. I wasn't very sure if the compromise with the other features was worth it for the GS400.

    I had missed noticing the true 16:9 mode on the GS400. Thanks for pointing it out. Having true 16:9 is also one of my priorities (although not the highest).

    I'll check it out. Currently, it looks like I might most likely move to the consumer end. I still have to put the information I've collected together and decide. :)
  17. wiseguy27 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 30, 2005
    That's way beyond my league at this moment! :eek: I just can't afford that much in the near future. :D
  18. aloofman macrumors 68020


    Dec 17, 2002
    I work in video production and have a few thoughts:

    - The price break is probably at the one-chip vs. three-chip barrier. Personally I don't think I could justify the three-chip price for home use. While the video quality is clearly better, what home movie needs that kind of quality? A dance recital? Graduation ceremony? For these kinds of home events, distance, lighting and acoustics will have a much bigger impact on your recording than the number of CCDs. Unless you really have that much money that you want to spend for a hobby camcorder, I strongly recommend a good consumer camcorder instead.

    - Be clear about which features you can't live without. Some of the better consumer camcorders do give you some better manual controls than the cheapies do. And the $1000 camcorders are far better than they were even five years ago. With some practice at it, you can get some very useable quality from them.

    - A warning about 16x9: many cameras use only part of the chip's pixels to achieve this effect. Without really researching it, I'd guess that all of the consumer-level cameras will use this method. Why is 16x9 so important to you? No consumer camera can approach HD quality, so if you're hoping to play it back on an HD TV set, all you're getting out of it is the aspect ratio. 16x9 is nice if you have a use for it, but if the price difference would get you another, say, extended battery, I would really consider getting the battery instead.

    - This is really important. Sample any camcorder in person at a store before buying it. Find out where the controls are and whether they fit your hands easily. Is the menu easy to use? Or at least to learn? Does the build quality seem pretty solid? Will it mount nicely on your tripod? (Also, if you're going to spend this much on a camera, get a good tripod too. It makes a huge difference in production quality. No matter how steady your hand is, the wobble is still noticeable.) Some of these things you can't determine without holding it in your hand and pointing it at things at the store. You can save money buying online, but make sure you test drive it first. A camera that technically meets your requirements may not feel right when you use it, like sitting in your dream car and finding out that your head hits the ceiling and you can't slide the seat back far enough.
  19. enclave macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2004

    you do realise that 16:9 gives a wider field of view right? And if filmed in 16:9 and framed correctly no ones head will be missing?
  20. wiseguy27 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 30, 2005
    decisions are not easy

    I just bumped into Panasonic AG-DVC7 (on the web, of course) - it looks like a prosumer camcorder that's available for around $1000+. Does anyone have any specific comments about it? I wasn't able to find many reviews about this model, and I'd like to know how it would compare with the consumer model Panasonic GS400 (which is also $1000+).

    I know most of the technical spec differences, but any comments on picture/audio quality and overall features/usability would be helpful. :)
  21. Lacero macrumors 604


    Jan 20, 2005
    a) For low-light: Sony VX2000
    b) For cinematic/film-look: Canon XL-2
    c) For HD: Sony HDR-FX1

    Some will argue for the DXV100a with point b), however, lack of real 16:9 and interchangeable lenses makes this camera nearly obsolete.

    There are pro models for a) and c) which includes more manual controls and XLR connectors for audio, but you pay a premium for these pro features. Considering audio is 51% of what you see, I'd pay extra for the pro versions, ie. Sony PD150 & Sony HVR-Z1.
  22. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast

    If you haven't already bought the camcorder, I'd suggest you re-think the DCR-DVD403. I see from your sig that you have Macs. I assume that you'd probably want to use iMovie or FCP. You're going to be disappointed in the compatibility of the DVD camcorder with Macs. To edit the video, you'll need to rip the DVD and convert it to DV. Or you could wait for Sony to update their software to be Mac compatible.

    Either way, I think you'd be happier with the miniDV camcorder.

    Also, if you have a slot loading DVD drive, you mess it up by using the 3" DVDs in it. It'll jam up the drive.
  23. D*I*S_Frontman macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2002
    Lombard, IL
    It all depends on what you are using it for.

    If your goal is to achieve as close to a "film" look as is possible with a MiniDV camera, the Panasonic DVX100A is the way to go. True 24p(a) recording and their "Cine-Gamma" color response make them a fantastic buy. For widescreen this camera has an optional 16:9 adapter that looks great (if you know what you're doing). I have a DVX w/the "PanaAna" and when shots are well-lit and well conceived, the look is pretty much 16mm film--at least to DVD.

    If "film-like" is NOT your top priority, however, and very sharp and accurate video is, especially low light situations, the offerings from both Canon and Sony are good choices. You have to discern whether or not you'll be using additional lenses, as most prosumer units have integrated optics, so that definitely limits you.

    Another consideration is final viewing format. If eventual film-out is a consideration, almost all DV cameras will be found wanting. Better to rent high-def cams. But for absolutely straight-to-DVD independent film production, DV is an acceptable shooting format because the resolution is the same as DVD. For more control over color (chroma key, etc), DVCPRO50 cameras are better, but are much more expensive.

    For just shooting around the house, however, those straight-to-DVD cams are kinda fun. They process the images and compress them using mpeg-2 on the fly, so they don't eat up a lot of bandwidth, comparatively speaking, than DV does. But that comes at the expense of movement artifacts and big-time editing problems in post due to the interframe compression of mpeg-2.

    I do professional videography, but my sister who doesn't has one of those DVD cams. Very convenient--shoot, pop it in to the DVD player--walaah! 90% of consumers don't edit much anyway. DVD cams make great family archive videos.
  24. hotwire132002 macrumors 65816


    Jan 24, 2004
    Cadillac, MI
    I looked into the DVC7 a while back, as well. It's a tempting choice, but it's basically a consumer cam in a shoulder mount case. If you look at the specs, it's really not an awesome camera. (1 CCD is the key point here). Between the DVC7 and GS400, I would recommend the GS400.

    The cam I went with, however, is the Sony PDX10. $1600 or so after rebate from B&H, and an excellent camera. I've since upgraded to an FX1, but the PDX10 is an excellent camera, and the best deal I could find for the price. It has native 16:9, and includes an XLR shotgun mic and XLR adapter.
  25. Nuc macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2003

    I haven't bought a camcorder yet but hopefully sometime around christmas. I have been looking at the HDR-HC1 from sony, man if I could stretch my dollar I would get this, that way I wouldn't have to upgrade to HDV once it is standard.

    I'm not to familiar with the HDV process, such as writing it to a DVD, etc. I'm assuming you'll have to convert it to DV so that it can be played in a DVD player. Can you burn a HD video onto a DVD or does it have to be something like Blue-ray???


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