Camera upgrade advice
I'm looking to upgrade from SD (Sony PD 170) to HD and I've been researching the:
Sony - FS 100 or EX1R
Panasonic HPX 250 and, HVX 370, 500
My work consist of commercial, interviews, wedding, and other live events.
I'm expanding into corporate video and music videos and documentary.
I have a total budget of $15K, your advice is greatly appreciated.
With that budget, I would go with the HPX-500.
Eisen Video Productions
Chicago Final Cut Pro Users Group
It's not just the budget; you are looking at an array of very different cameras and workflows. I strongly advise you to try before you buy. My personal choice was the EX1R and I'm delighted with it, but if you ask a dozen DP's, you'll probably get 20 answers.
Trade shows can be good opportunities. Sometimes you "know" just by picking up a camera. I have rejected so many inappropriate purchases at trade shows that I figure the trips have saved many times their cost. Then there's the whole issue of how your post-production workflow will change to accommodate tapeless media. Once you narrow it down, check out the special forums on the COW to ask your questions.
You may want to save a good portion of that budget for the accessories to make this camera "all it can be." Some of the cameras on your list need a lot of extras (shoulder mounts, to start) to make them useful for the types of shooting you mention.
Good luck and have fun! You're going to enjoy your new camera a ton - all of them on your list are great.
Thank you for your post I appreciate it. I'm reading every review and watching every footage test I can to help me make the best decision I can, unfortunately we only have one video expo to visit the Denver metro in Oct which is way down the road, so I'm thinking of renting each cam for a day to test them myself.
I would get a HPX 250- which would allow to do the run and gun corporate work- and a AF100 with Nikon lens- which would allow you to do some nice interview/doc work with shallow depth of field. You can match the color pretty darn close out of the camera since they have that Panasonic "look." Need to budget a little bit of cash for some P2 cards for 250 and SD cards for the 100.
Anyone who's bought one of those cameras will tell you why their decision was the best. Me too. :) I just went through the same decision making process, so here's a little about what I did and why.
I already have an EOS 5D Mark 2 (want to buy it?) I was in love with the image, but dual system audio is a pain and shooting a meeting or seminar is impossible, due to the 12 minute record time restriction. Also, lack of a servo zoom is tough - if you're shooting "video." If you're making movies or working with dollies & cranes, that is probably much less of an issue.
So, I wanted a video camera with servo zoom, built in balanced audio and a good picture. I was looking to spend in the 6-7K range for the camera alone. Media cards, batteries, and a new, good fluid head tripod add to the cost. (You don't want to put a good camera on a cheap tripod.)
Sony FS100 - no servo zoom. Great image, but if I can't zoom I can't shoot corporate video.
EX1/EX3 - 4 year old model. only 8 bit, 4:2:0 recording. Not really broadcast quality (I'll duck the slings and arrows from the Sony users out there) Honestly, I've rented the Ex3 a dozen times and love it, but why buy something that's approaching the end of its lifecycle? I've also pulled good green-screens from it, so the 4:2:0 isn't really that big of an issue, unless you have clients that are specifying "broadcast standard." But, it's more expensive than the Panny 250.
I ended up with the Panny 250. It's essentially the same camera as the 370, with a different form factor, the ability to use much cheaper batteries, and a lot easier to carry on an airplane without buying it a ticket. I've rented the 370 several times and it's a good camera, I just didn't see it as worth 4 or 5K more than the 250.
The 500 was out of my price range. It'd be great to have a camera with those larger chips, but since I don't shoot as frequently as a full time cameraman, I didn't think it was worth the investment. If you've got paying clients that are happy paying PD-170 prices, it's going to be a hard sell to get them to pay HPX500 prices, unless you're a heck of a salesman.
I've had the 250 for about a month and a half and have used it on 5 shoots and am very pleased. It's got a ton of features I never went shopping for that I use every day, like the waveform monitor and ability to back up to hard drive without a PC. It's got a 22x zoom lens, which is a long lens at that price point. Right now, there are some great prices on the camera and a $730 rebate if you buy a 64GB P2 card when you buy the camera, which is like getting the card for free. Buy the Panny250 and you'll have lots of left over money for a good HD monitor, a case, some extra batteries, etc....
Whatever your decision, good luck.
Ryan Video Productions Inc. Rockaway, NJ