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Digital video camera advice needed

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My friend and I are looking for a versatile digital video camera that not will not only do well in a documentary setting (wedding videos, etc.), but also can be used for narratives. We're used to film rather than video, but we want (relatively) cheap overhead so we're exploring our options.

So I need opinions, both on the individual camera and comparisons between them. And if you know of another brand that you prefer in the same price range please mention that too.

*Canon GL2

*Panasonic AG-DVC80

*Sony VX 2000/2100

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In that price range the dvc-80 is your best option. It's the only one that has xlr mic imputs with the best audio quality and it's image settings are very customizable. It also has a Leica lens.

The gl-2 has a longer zoom and is a fair bit smaller than the panasonic, not a great thing IMO.

The vx-2000/2100 is geared more towards the wealthy amateur. It's the consumer version of the pd-150/170. It might have slightly better low light picture quality but imo all low light footage looks pretty crappy.

The dvc-80 actually compares very favorably to the pd-150/170 for a lot less.

If you're willing to cough up a bit more I would check out the dvx100/100a. You could definitely get the dvx100 for less than 3000 at this point as the 100a just came out. The 100a is more expensive but offers some decent enhancements.

Since you said you were interested/more familiar with film then the 24p ability of those cameras becomes very attractive. You obviously don't have film resolution but you do have the same frame-rate cadence.

The winner of cinematography at this year's Sundance actually was shot with the dvx100.

One other thing you have is the ability to shoot 30 frame progressive. Not even the pd-170 does that. The attraction for that is you don't have all the nasty interlacing artifacts and the image looks incredibly smooth.

In this price range there's not much else worth mentioning. Panasonic came out with another gl-2 competitor called dvc-30? that you might take a look at.

I'd stay away from jvc. They do have the first hdv camera but it's essentially a consumer camera with a high definition image (i.e. poor audio/lowlight). It's essentially a vacation camcorder for rich people with hdtvs.

Hope this helps. If you have more questions I'll do my best to answer.

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I forgot to say thanks for all of the info...

Thanks.

Where do you get all this knowledge? Trial and error? That would get expensive. Trade mags? And if so, which ones? Schooling?

Thanks again.

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I went to school and then read lots of books. Most of my technical knowledge comes from user forums for cameras, shooting, directing etc. There are a lot of good books out there but nothing beats going out and doing it. Learning from mistakes is the best/toughest way to learn. I haven't read a lot of magazines but stuff like American Cinematographer would be useful, not necessarily for low budget stuff but for general theory. Other than that, figure out what your price range is for equipment and start reading the reviews and user responses. I repeat...just go out and do it. You'll figure out stuff not to do pretty quickly.

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What he said. I love the Dvx-100. Just got in three new bayonet mounted adapters for it today for the trip to Africa...a 1.6 teleconverter, a .6 wide angle and a fisheye.

We didn't want to get too close to the ravenous wildlife...especially in the layover in Birmingham, England...


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