by Cedric Pounds on Mar 30, 2006 at 5:24:02 pm
I was hoping to get some recommendations for Sony DV cameras in the $8 - $10k range. I am an event videographer working mostly in corporate with some wedding work. The time has come for an upgrade to a solid camera that will still allow my budget to obtain the necessary support accessories for it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Re: purchase recommendation by Jeff Carpenter on Mar 30, 2006 at 6:24:03 pm
You're about to enter the dreaded zone of "HD or not-HD."
I went through the same thing a few months ago and eventually decided to buy an SD camera. My reasons were:
* No easy way to deliver HD footage to clients, thus hard to charge extra for over SD.
* Current HD cameras in that price range have worse low-light ability and I shoot events.
* I couldn't work with HD footage without upgrading my monitors and I/O system on my computer.
* My current firewire hard drives would have to be replaced with something faster.
* The HD cameras are more expensive. MUCH cheaper than before...but still more than SD.
So for me, I decided that I'd have to spend a lot of extra money to work with HD and I wouldn't realyl get anythig out of it. I haven't had one bride yet ask me about HD video. It's just not important to them yet.
I understand that I can buy an HD camera now and use it in SD mode, but the way I figure it, by the time I'm ready to shoot in HD there will be something twice as good at half the price out there. So I decided to wait.
But that's just me. You might decide that HD is the way to go. It's up to you to make that call. Once you figure it out, however, here's your rundown:
If you want to stick with SD footage then Sony's PD-170 is the place to go. Easy.
If you are considering HD then you have two different paths to take. Either Sony's HVR-Z1U or the Pannasonic AG-HVX200. Deciding between THOSE 2 is a whole other can of worms that I'm not going to get into here. If you want to talk about that, let us know a bit more about what your current setup (shooting and editing) includes and what your workflow is. Do you work alone? Or do you ever share footage with other editors? Stuff like that. At your price range it's probably the Z1 that you'll look at, but you should at least compare the two.
Anyway, sticking with SD is going to be much cheaper for now and will allow you to buy more accessories. That's the other thing I thought about. I decided I'd rather have SD video shot on a great tripod with more lights and better mics than have HD video with cheaper accssories backing it up. That's another important factor and for that alone (based on your price range) I think you're better off with a PD-170.
Re: purchase recommendation by Tim on Mar 30, 2006 at 8:20:47 pm
I too am looking at an upgrade. Currently using the VX2100, the baby brother of the PD170. Not quite ready to make the leap to HD. When I am, I'll look real hard at the new XDCAM HD products.
If you're looking at a price point in the 8-10K range, take a look at some of the camera packages offered at B&H Photo Video. I'm seriously looking at the DSR-400 kit with camera, lens, and Anton Bauer batts, adapter/charger and camera light. Price comes in around $10,500.
There are also some cheaper kits with other brands of batteries, etc. One or two of the packages offer camera bags.
Good luck. Let us know what you get.
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Hi Cedric: Jeff makes some good points. I mostly do corporate shooting and some events, and I went through a similar decision process last year. Like Jeff, I decided to buy a SD cam, too (the Sony DSR-450WSL).
If a full-size, shoulder-mount, removeable-lens cam is appealing to you (or your clients), you can't go wrong with Sony's now discontinued but excellent DSR-390 1/2" 3-CCD DV cam if you can find one slightly used from a reputable dealer. If not, Sony's replacement model, the DSR-400 is a 2/3" 3-CCD DV cam with outstanding specs and available with a basic lens and other accessories in your price range from good dealers such as B&H and Armatos in NYC.
Although both the DSR-390 and DSR-400 are native 4:3 aspect ratio cams, you can crop their high quality video to 16:9 in post without much degradation. Likewise, both are interlaced-only cams, but converting high-quality interlaced DV to 24p can be handled with good results in post using software from Nattress and others.
Other full-size, but relatively low-cost DV cams worth looking into are the Ikegami HL-DV7AW (2/3" 16:9) and JVC GY-DV5100U (1/2" 4:3).
Meanwhile, for many projects the handheld Sony PD-170 and Panasonic DVX-100B 1/3" 3-CCD DV cams are hard to beat. The video they creates isn't quite as good as the 1/2" and 2/3" cams mentioned above, but can come very close in the hands of a good operator. And of course these 1/3" cams cost much less than 1/2" and 2/3" models.
If you have an immediate need for "low cost" HD, there are several models now available from Sony, JVC, Canon & Panasonic. These tend to cost more than SD-only 1/3" cams and less than the 1/2" & 2/3" SD-only cams. The 1/3" HD cams are typically less light sensitive than SD-only cams. As Jeff mentions, there are typically additional costs associated with HD compared to SD, such as lighting, lenses, monitors, post production hardware, and so forth. However, this first crop of 1/3" HD cams are proving useful for many shooters, so are well worth a look.
Note that the NAB trade show is in Las Vegas next month and there may be new product announcements which could affect your decision-making process.
Re: purchase recommendation by topher944 on Mar 31, 2006 at 8:41:03 pm
I recently made the jump (8 months) to the sony Z1U HDV/DVCAM/MiniDV camera. I have had some very good results with this camera shooting weddings, industrials and strangely enough some auto racing events. When we shoot HDV it's always down rezzed to DVCAM and those images are fantastic. In normal DVCAM mode, I am completely satisfied with the camera. In mini-dv mode it's flawless compared to my old vx1000, 2000 and 170. The Sony's to me always have better light gathering chips. The 2000 is the best but the Z1U has some new chips that allow pushing the gain db to +15 without any artifacting. I also push the shutter speed to 90-125 when shooting autoracing and the image lookds great. I work side by side with a friend with a panasonic dvx100a and he has to stop shooting much earlier as it gets darker and the Sony keeps right on chugging. It also shoots 25,30,50 and 60 frame rates. Some things to consider. The camera is around 5k. A decent wide angle is 700+ and you'll want a shotgun mic 1k+ and I would recommend a lens shade/filter kit (1k) and extra 970 batteries and 100 a pop. I've checked out the new panasonic 200 and it does shoot true HD but onto very expensive hard disks. For now a little pricey for the indie. If you're thinking about a deck, I wouldn't buy the m10u sony companion deck - I'd buy a baby brother hdv camera (hvr a1u? or the pro-sumer version of this) to use as the downconvert deck and then you also have a second hdv camera. (Don't ever use the backlight function - it can ruin you) This package will put you into the 8-10k range with all your goodies. Best Regards, Chris