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Is the HVX200 the right choice?

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Neil Myers
Is the HVX200 the right choice?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 1:00:31 am

I apologize if this has been asked and answered before -- I read all the posts back to October and didn't find it. What I did find after reading all those posts is that the members on this forum all seem like they have a lot of excellent real-world experience.

So, I would like to lay out my thought process and listen to the comments the experts here on the forum have.

As you can gather from the subject, I am selecting a camcorder. Some background on my use case: We are a mid-sized PR firm. We represent about 20 different technology companies. We shoot about 12-18 videos a year to go with product announcements, customer case studies or surveys.

Typical video is 5 minutes. Mostly locked down talking heads with b-roll. The talking heads are well lit, the b-roll is available light, but never that bad.

Target has changed dramatically over the past few years. Now the videos end-up almost exclusively on YouTube and the like. I typically edit in 1920 x 1080 and upload a H.264 file with a 3-4mbit rate.

Here is a example (most of the video was shot by a stringer, a little bit is stock, animation and After Effects were done in house):







Broadcast, this ain't! That said, I have always adhered to the practice of striving to start with the very highest quality footage I can since it only degrades from there.

So, what kind of camera makes the most sense? After doing a lot of research I am leaning towards the HVX200 (not the 200a) for the following reasons:

1. Good video quality
2. Tapeless workflow
3. Amazingly low price since this is a little "long-in-the-tooth" now (basically $3,200 new online)

I considered and decided against these options:

HPX170: I liked the improvements over the 200, but my price would be 40-50% more than the 200. I didn't see the value.

HVX200a: Seems like the major benefit is for low light shooting, but we light the important stuff. Again, didn't seem worth the extra money.

HPX300: Cool product, but for YouTube? It seems like extreme overkill.

So, what am I missing? What would you do in my shoes?

Neil Myers
Connect Public Relations
CS4 Master Suite, 3DS


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Steve Eisen
Re: Is the HVX200 the right choice?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 5:44:46 am

Any of those cameras will work for you. HVX-200 is discontinued.

You keep mentioning cheap. If cheap is what you want, think about the HMC-150.

Steve Eisen
Eisen Video Productions
Vice President
Chicago Final Cut Pro Users Group


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Neil Myers
Re: Is the HVX200 the right choice?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 6:20:15 am

Steve:

Thanks for your response. Although the HVX200 is discontinued, there are plenty of new units available online for roughly $3,200. That seems to be the same price as the HMC-150.

If you could buy either unit for the same price, which would you buy? I am assuming the HVX200, but I haven't seen any footage shot on the HMC-150, so I might be wrong.

Neil Myers
Connect Public Relations
CS4 Master Suite, 3DS


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Steve Eisen
Re: Is the HVX200 the right choice?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 2:18:06 pm

I would choose DVCProHD. But that is me. I come from a broadcast background and I want the highest bitrate possible. Cost isn't an issue with me. That is why I own the HPX-500 and HPX-170. I also invested in many P2 cards. 1 64GB, 1 32GB, and 7 16GB.

I will be the first one to tell you, you get what you pay for.

Steve Eisen
Eisen Video Productions
Vice President
Chicago Final Cut Pro Users Group


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Dan Brockett
Re: Is the HVX200 the right choice?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 2:51:37 pm

Neil:

Cheap is a relative term since you are not factoring in the cost of P2 cards.

1. How long at a time do you need to shoot?
2. Are you always shooting in situations where it is possible to dump P2 cards?

I owned the HVX200, one of the first ones. I sold it to buy the HPX170. The HPX170 is a better camera with a better looking picture and much better operational features but I can see your point if all the camera will generate will be web videos. With good lighting, the HVX200 can make fine pictures.

I also notice that you seem to want to shoot 1080. Shooting 1080 on the HVX200 requires 1GB per minute so if you are shooting long interviews or segments, you are going to burn through prodigious amounts of P2 storage at a time.

You can read about my direct comparison of the HVX200 and the HPX170 here http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/hpx_170_evolution_brockett.html

I agree with Steve, if you are worried about cost, go with the HMC150. Same camera physically as the 170 but shoots on cheap SD media but the codec is not as good as DVCPRO HD. But it can still look excellent if you know what you are doing.

Dan

Providing value added material to all of your favorite DVDs


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Neil Myers
Re: Is the HVX200 the right choice?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 5:00:17 pm

Dan:

Thanks for your response. In fairness, I actually didn't use the word "cheap" in my original post. I did mention price. As a business owner I am concerned about ROI.

To answer your question a typical shoot for us is four hours on site at a corporate location generating about 60 to 90 minutes of footage. I figure two 64GB P2 cards would make sense.

I would prefer not to dump P2 cards if I can help it. I would rather get in and get out. That said, we would have that possibility if we needed it.

I just read your HVX200 to HPX170 write-up. Wow! First of all, thanks for that. It answers every question I have and many I had not thought of. After reading your write-up I can now see why the HPX170 would be worth the extra money (roughly $1,500 more).

Thanks again for your advice.

Neil Myers
Connect Public Relations
CS4 Master Suite, 3DS


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Dan Brockett
Re: Is the HVX200 the right choice?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 7:54:59 pm

Good luck Neil. All three cams are good tools, it is just a matter of you deciding which camera will best suit your situation. I did a shoot last year with my 170 and two HVX200s and when you are cutting between the two, the extra half stop and lower noise make a difference.

Let us know what you end up buying and how you like it.

Dan

Providing value added material to all of your favorite DVDs


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