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To HDV or not to HDV or just cough it up for the EX1

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John Berardi
To HDV or not to HDV or just cough it up for the EX1
on Aug 5, 2008 at 6:45:52 am

I am in the process of buying a camera. The EX 1 or 3 is a real tempting option. They seem to be the best under 8 thousand out there. The price however is heavy. I understand for what you are getting the price is actually probably worth it. However I am not quite that much of a professional yet, but I am much more of a professional than some 500 dollar Best Buy video compressor camera. There isn't that much middle ground for cameras, the best middle is something like the Sony V1U or Z1U HDV cameras.

My question is this. Is an HDV camera worth it? The Sony Z1U is only about 2000 less dollars than the EX1. Should I splurge another couple g's for true HD?
Is HDV a format that is going to just get squeezed out of the picture now that true HD, tapeless cameras, are small and affordable.
What am I missing shooting on an HDV camera anyway, other than just 1440 x1080 instead of full 1920x1080

The card unloading is an issue of mine too but I'll save that for another post.
I realize this is more of a random release of stress for me than a legitimate problem that someone else can solve, but if there are any opinions I'd like to hear them. Thank you.
johnB


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Don Greening
Re: To HDV or not to HDV or just cough it up for the EX1
on Aug 5, 2008 at 7:55:19 am

[John Berardi] "Should I splurge another couple g's for true HD?"

HDV is generally accepted as being true HD. 1440x1080 is an anamorphic format, meaning that when it's brought into your editing program the image will expand to fill the 1920x1080 frame. This is done because it takes less information to record a 1440x1080 anamorphic image than it does a 1920x1080 square pixel image. The EX image will have more detail because it's using more pixels, but most viewers probably wouldn't notice the difference unless the same picture was playing side by side.

Another issue with HDV is that the picture is recorded at a constant bit rate or CBR, so there are times when the codec won't be able to keep up with abrupt scene changes. This is called "breaking the codec." The EX codec records at a variable bit rate or VBR which means there will be more bits assigned to areas of abrupt scene changes or fast action. I haven't been able to break the EX codec yet.

Your choice of buying an HDV camera or the EX depends on what you want to shoot. If you're just doing talking head interviews or weddings etc. then HDV would probably be just fine. With the EX there's no tape transport to go out of adjustment or wear out. No more picture glitches or tape drop outs.

There's a substantial low light advantage with the EX and its 1/2" CMOS chips compared to any of the 1/3" HDV cameras. More shallow depth of field as well.

[John Berardi] "The card unloading is an issue of mine too but I'll save that for another post."

The workflow is dirt simple. It's just that you're archiving to a hard drive, XDCAM disc or dual layer DVD-R instead of tape.

[John Berardi] "Is HDV a format that is going to just get squeezed out of the picture now that true HD, tapeless cameras, are small and affordable."

I think HDV is here to stay for awhile. Consumers like having an HD palmcorder that shoots to tape just like their old standard def. Mini DV cameras.

- Don



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John Berardi
Re: To HDV or not to HDV or just cough it up for the EX1
on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:34:30 pm

Thank you for that wealth of knowledge it helped a lot. I still can't decide which to get, but at least now my decision will be an educated guess rather than guessing blind.

If you don't mind I have another question.
I don't know how much you know about HDV cameras, but within the sony world, what are the differences between say the A1U, V1U, and Z1U. Which would be the best for the cost.

Thanks
john



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Craig Seeman
Re: To HDV or not to HDV or just cough it up for the EX1
on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:49:28 pm

It really depends on your clients and the time efficiency.

For me, I've seen enough "broken" HDV codec to know I didn't every want to have to tell a client why a shot looks bad.
The 4x to 8x input time is a major plus.
Giving a client the BPAV folders on disc with free cross platform ClipBrowser rather than an HDV tape they may not be able to play is another.
1/2 Chips
Slow and Quick motion.
Time lapse (trying doing that to tape!).
Being able to keep shooting on one card while the other goes to the laptop rather than stopping for a tape change.

As a business the time saved and the convenience more than makes up the extra cost of the camera compared to HDV . . . in addition to the quality of chips and codec.

I saw NO advantage to HDV (and tape is NOT an advantage to me).



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Kasey Allen
Re: To HDV or not to HDV or just cough it up for the EX1
on Aug 6, 2008 at 2:15:02 am

I have used the V1U camera, but I now own the EX1. My perspective is this. The V1U had really nice footage. It was good enough to match the footage I shot with my XDCam shoulder-mounted 350, which is a darn nice camera. I considered buying the V1U, but then decided to stay with the XDCam line, and I'm glad I did. No more tapes to buy and capture. I just dump the footage to my computer, and then I can clean off the card and use it again. But here's the thing...

When using the V1U, I actually had to come to the Cow to figure out how to capture the footage on the thing, and then once I figured it out, it was that long, boring, linear capture. (It was a press conference, so I had to capture it all). I was also using my XDCam 350 that day, and its disc-based file system captured much faster than the V1U. As for the EX1? It's file based system is the same as the XDCam 350, but the SxS cards unload on my computer more than twice as fast as transferring files from my XDCam 350. The XDCam 350 was twice as fast as linear tape capture, and the EX1 is twice as fast as my XDCam 350. That right there - plus - NO MORE TAPES or ARTIFACTS should be enough right there to convince you to spend the extra money, get the hottest camera on the market, and get started on the CineAlta line of cameras. By the way - the light level capability is awesome, it's full HD (it'll do both 1080 and 720) and it feels like a pro camera. The V1U, as nice as it was, felt and acted like a prosumer camera.

KC Allen
Allen Film & Video

"My name is actually spelled KC...really...it is..."


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John Berardi
Re: To HDV or not to HDV or just cough it up for the EX1
on Aug 6, 2008 at 3:16:53 am

I was thinking - I feel like the long term effect of these flash memory devices hasn't really been taken into account. Over time, and maybe its a long time but eventually the cards could corrupt, one day you put the card in - start to shoot, and it malfunctions, then what.
At least with tape, you buy a new tape and you know its good, once you digitize it your done. As far as archiving, some tapes go bad over time too, but who really archives on tapes any way, and if you do you have several copies of it.

But I guess like anything - problems could arise. The bottom line is tapeless media has pros that out weigh the cons - its probably a good thing, unless you are a post house that makes their money on dubs, eventually everything will be made, viewed and delivered digitally no more large tape decks.

Anyway - thanks for all your input I appreciate it.
john



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Steve Wargo
Re: To HDV or not to HDV or just cough it up for the EX1
on Aug 6, 2008 at 7:57:24 am

[John Berardi] " the cards could corrupt, one day you put the card in - start to shoot, and it malfunctions, then what. "

I've had tapes malfunction about 5 times over the years, including and HDCAM tape. We run the risk.

The card thing drives me wacky sometime. I grab the cards of the shelf, drive to the job and Bang, there's footage on the card. Was it downloaded or not?

There will be options in the near future. The 60Gb Sony drive is small but that can't last. We ALL told them at NAB that 60 Gigs is insufficient.

Compared to the Panasonic HVX200, the EX-1 is an entirely new animal. The workflow is almost too easy. Our other HD camera is an F-900 so we know the real deal and the EX-1 is a great little camera for almost no money.


Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Craig Seeman
Re: To HDV or not to HDV or just cough it up for the EX1
on Aug 6, 2008 at 3:12:46 pm

With nearly 30 years experience I trust the cards WAY MORE than I trust tape. Between drop outs and tape path issues and tape creases, I don't trust tape.

Cards corrupting? At least you'd get such a warning. At least the camera tells you to fix a corrupted clip. Cards do have a life span but it's a very long one.

As per Steve's comments, you really need a "religious" workflow. I have seen people grab tapes that weren't locked and recorded right over them. I know that that no matter how "sure" one is there's that moment of "twinge" when one hits delete. The hard drive and DL-DVD backup . . . what if they go bad.

But as someone who has been in archival, I've threaded 2" tapes and popped 3/4" into a deck and dripped sweat when I saw the picture . . . and these were unique historical recordings.

And I'll have an easier time finding something to read a 12 year old data CD then the D2 tapes I have.
I find HDV is the cruelest joke of a tape format. Tapes from one camera not being playable with another's deck due to recording format. I can't imagine what might happen with a tracking issue. Then there's the multi frame drop out risk as the tape ages and error correction comes into play.



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Steve Wargo
Re: To HDV or not to HDV or just cough it up for the EX1
on Aug 9, 2008 at 5:36:00 am

I've never had a card fail in the entire 9 months we've been using them. We have all sorts of flash memory in our lives: still cameras, audio recorders, thumb drives and whatever and I can't really say that we've ever lost anything. Tape? Drop a cassette and drop your lunch.

My problem with the card is where to keep the footage. We just bought an LG 50G BluRay burner and that's where we're going to try to store files. Haven't got it to work exactly right yet but we'll do that next week. The factv that they hold as much as 10 DVDs is exciting. Until we have halographic discs. Then what?

I can't imagine how much room it would take to store my 26 year library.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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