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Looking for a quality DV camera


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#1 SZPT

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 02:34 AM

Most of what I deal with at work is high-end HD (1080i uncompressed, broadcast quality, blah blah blah). Plus I'm more creative than technical, so I'm at something of a loss in the pro-sumer category. I'm putting out feelers all around, including here.

What I need is a camera for church projects where the end product is projected on a screen and also accessible online.

I'm looking for something that will hold its own even a few years from now. I'm not sure about the future of Mini-DV - not sure about the future of SD in general - but I'm not against those cameras if they are still viable down the road.

I'll have to update on what the church budget is, but even before that I want to determine whether I should go with an old DVX type or push for an HVX (No offense too Canon or Sony users). Also, not necessarily looking for a camera on sell right now, but suggestions on which category to focus on.

Might help to know that I edit at home with the original Final Cut Studio via Firewire and I use FCS2 at work with a Blackmagic card. So I've got options in post.

So what do you use now? What would you want to use? What have you heard good/bad things about?

Thanks.

#2 MattP

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 11:11 AM

QUOTE(SZPT @ Aug 31 2007, 12:34 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Most of what I deal with at work is high-end HD (1080i uncompressed, broadcast quality, blah blah blah). Plus I'm more creative than technical, so I'm at something of a loss in the pro-sumer category. I'm putting out feelers all around, including here.

What I need is a camera for church projects where the end product is projected on a screen and also accessible online.

I'm looking for something that will hold its own even a few years from now. I'm not sure about the future of Mini-DV - not sure about the future of SD in general - but I'm not against those cameras if they are still viable down the road.

I'll have to update on what the church budget is, but even before that I want to determine whether I should go with an old DVX type or push for an HVX (No offense too Canon or Sony users). Also, not necessarily looking for a camera on sell right now, but suggestions on which category to focus on.

Might help to know that I edit at home with the original Final Cut Studio via Firewire and I use FCS2 at work with a Blackmagic card. So I've got options in post.

So what do you use now? What would you want to use? What have you heard good/bad things about?

Thanks.

You can't beat the price/quality mix of the HVX. I've not used the DVX, but I have a lot of experience on the XL1s, and have seen lots of stuff from the DVX. If you're projecting to a semi-large screen, and especially if you're wanting future compatibility, I'd definitely say go HVX as long as the budget can handle it. Not only do you get great resolution, it's a much easier post workflow than HDV solutions, gives you lots of flexibility for multiple framerates/resolutions, and if you want to still record standard def on mini-DV for something, you've still got that option.

About the only big question I can think of is whether or not you're going to be shooting long takes of stuff (ie. entire sermons/meetings). If so, the p2 card format could be a limitation (my 16gb card will record about 42 minutes in 720p24n and you could use 2 without having to swap, but they're expensive). Even then you still have the option of recording to a Firestore or via firewire staight to a laptop.


#3 NClarke

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 04:32 PM

Just to add a couple of thoughts...

Depending on use (short narrative or documentary?) I might look at the Canon XH A1. Depending on where you buy it, it can be half the price of the HVX and a third of the price of the XL H1. It's got the same sensors as the XL so it makes a good compliment to Canon's more expensive offerings. To be honest, I am just not entirely convinced at this point about the HVX workflow. The thing about it is not what happens through editing (for that it seems great) but what to do after editing is complete - namely archive. Unless you have a DVCPro HD deck, which I doubt the church does, you have to archive to disk or hard drive and I don't want a shelf of HD's sitting around. This just doesn't seem to make sense to me. Also, most side by side tests indicate that image quality between the Canon's and HVX (along with the Sony and JVC) are all comparable - even with the HVX DVCProHD. The main thing you get with the HVX is the different frame rates, and that is sweet, but I am not sure it is worth the extra 2.5K (or so) and the headache of archive solutions. True the HVX has a DVCpro tape solution but that is just not going to look anywhere near as good as the HDV coming out of the Canon.
Working with HDV sucks in a lot of ways, but with things like ProRes in FCP now, it's getting a lot easier.
If someone told me I was working on a shoot with an HVX I would be excited - especially if it was a narrative short. It seems like a great camera. But I am not sure it's a slam dunk in terms of image or workflow. Because I do almost all documentary work, I need a good archive solution so I have stuck with tapes. I have been very happy with the Canon cameras. I own an XH A1 and will often rent the XL. The 24 F frame rate looks great and with some custom presets (readily available at dvinfo.net) you can get a great image.

Here is a low res version of a piece I put together as a thank you for a group that let me follow them as part of another project. No color correction done, you can see what the Canon can do. Most of the begining was done with the HV20 and I have to make adjustments to it (thus the weird frame rate), but about half way through, during the older woman's interview and on, I think it gives a good sense of the detail and color that you can get for half the price. If it would be helpful to have a higher res version I can get that to you. Again - this was done quickly.

I would say that if the church has any desire to do things like record services or longer events and wants to integrate that into video that HD, the XH could be a great solution.

I have more thoughts, but I won't bore you with such things unless you are interested (things like a 20x zoom and compatability with the HV20)

#4 SZPT

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 10:49 PM

Well, I just found out the budget that they have for the camera. Looks like I'm searching for a DVX, and an older one at that.

Besides E-bay, any leads on where to find one?

#5 NClarke

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 11:20 PM

You might have some luck through a site like DVXuser.com
or maybe DVinfo.net

What is the budget you have?
If it's around 1k and you want new, I would look at the Canon HV20. A great 1CCD camera that does a great 24 frame rate and shoots in HDV. I have yet to read a negative review of it and I have personally bought 2 of them - one as a deck and one as a crash camera.

Edited by NClarke, 03 September 2007 - 11:21 PM.


#6 MattP

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 12:52 PM

QUOTE(NClarke @ Sep 3 2007, 02:32 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Just to add a couple of thoughts...

To be honest, I am just not entirely convinced at this point about the HVX workflow. The thing about it is not what happens through editing (for that it seems great) but what to do after editing is complete - namely archive. Unless you have a DVCPro HD deck, which I doubt the church does, you have to archive to disk or hard drive and I don't want a shelf of HD's sitting around. This just doesn't seem to make sense to me. things unless you are interested (things like a 20x zoom and compatability with the HV20)

Getting a little OT due to the budget issues, but a quick comment on the post-post archive issues. I'm with you on that, in that it's been something I've actively been trying to find an ideal solution for. However, I'm not sure if it's really a negative, or just a shift in paradigm needed. Compare backups on DV tape to HD backups. I hate the idea of not having a master tape sitting on a shelf, but then I wonder why. I've not had good luck trying to re-digitize off of tapes (from the XL1) that have sat on the shelf for a year or more (get lots of drops, etc.), so I'm not sure that a HD is any worse from a longevity standpoint.

If the thought of a bunch of harddrives sitting on a shelf is a negative, just put more than one project on each drive. A 500gb harddrive is pretty affordable these days, and if you consider that you get at max about an hour of footage per mini-DV tape, that's a lot of mini-DV tapes worth of shelf space that can go into one 500gb harddrive. Same issue cost-wise - how much $$ does it cost to buy all the DV tapes necessary to backup 500Gb worth of video? Is it really much different than the cost of a 500Gb external drive?

I'm definitely not completely sold on the HVX archive situation yet, but I'm having trouble putting my finger on a logical reason why not.


#7 NClarke

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 01:33 PM

So do you back up all your footage on hard drive? I would be interested in hearing your work flow (including acquisition)

#8 MattP

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 06:14 PM

QUOTE(NClarke @ Sep 4 2007, 11:33 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So do you back up all your footage on hard drive? I would be interested in hearing your work flow (including acquisition)
My workflow is a work in progress, but so far it seems to be working pretty well for me. Part of the deal is I *always* have a backup of everything so that one catastrophe can never make me lose a project.

I shoot on the P2 (and dump to macbook pro during the shoot if needed). For out of town stuff, I take a 2.5" bus powered 160gb drive with me for a backup in case something happens to the macbook.

When I get back to the edit suite to edit, the footage gets transfered onto two separate external drives that are on/under my edit suite desk permanently. (The 2.5" gets put back on the shelf until the next shoot.) I use two external drives because I edit from one of them - since I don't use a desktop to edit, I'm limited on internal storage. One of the drives is a 1TB RAID drive, the other is a 500GB firewire. (Both are G-Tech drives - so far I love them...). The RAID is super-fast, so it's my edit drive, the 500 is just a backup of all of the mxf files and a daily backup of the project files.

For post, after a project wraps, I back it up to 2 separate external drives. Depending on the project, if it's big enough I might use drives for nothing but that project, but for most stuff I just use cheap 500Gb drives (MyBook, etc.) to archive multiple projects. I figure it's not a big deal to get cheap externals (~ $125 for 500gb) because if one fails, I've got an exact copy of it.

I've considered just using 2.5" drives (like the WD Passport), because you could fit a dozen or more of them in one shoe-box sized box, but they're a little more expensive per gig for now than the 3.5", and I honestly don't do enough projects that I'm that worried about my archive storage needs getting too big.

With this workflow, I don't have to worry about spending a ton on really nice external drives because I just have the two nice ones that I re-use for every new project. (Off ebay, the two G-techs were a total of about $820). The archives are on the cheapest externals I can find at the time.

Let me know if there's anything more I can tell you. It seems to be working pretty well for me...