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Which camera is best?

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Lynette Gilbert
Which camera is best?
on Nov 18, 2008 at 7:10:25 pm

I've been researching a bunch of cameras for a while now and have narrowed it down to a few. My supervisor (who knows nothing about multimedia) REALLY wants us to go the HD route, but I don't think that's a good solution for us at this point in time due to the fact that we send everything out on Beta. However, we will possibly be doing more projects for the web, so the HD would come in handy there. Unfortunately, examining each camera in my hands is not a luxury I've been afforded, so I have to rely on my Internet research and user reviews.

Here's some info about what I do/what I need with a camera:

- camera will be used for at least 5 years before we can budget a new one
- documentary-style shooting with quick turnaround (capturing and editing need to be completed in under an hour, something I currently do with our miniDV footage)
- shoot in everything from low-light to bright sunlight conditions
- all audio needs to be captured in-camera with either shotgun or lav (we don't do any studio VOs)
- need to be able to zoom in on close-ups (10x isn't enough)
- 4-5 min footage is sent on Beta to 6 local news stations each week
- occasional video shoots (using mics and lights) for web
- everything done in-house
- currently shoot on MiniDv, capture from MiniDV deck, and edit with FCP
- archiving is a MUST because we're a cultural institution
- use of lenses (i.e. UV) would be nice, but not a necessity

I am looking at these cameras:
Panasonic AG-DVX100B
Canon GL2
Panasonic AG-HVX200

Unfortunately, none of these seem to have everything I want. Ideally, I'd want the HVX. The problem with the HVX is that most of what we do won't be sent out on HD, and we have a tight budget, so we can't buy multiple cards. HD would be great for the web, but if I'm mostly shooting on the tapes, is it worth getting the HD capability. Seriously, is there THAT much of a difference between HD and SD when it gets compressed for web? Archiving also becomes a factor - we have archival footage on thousands of Beta and DV tapes, so we do shoot a lot of footage. I don't want to spend thousands of dollars extra if it won't make that much difference. I also worry about the HVX becoming obsolete as technology improves, whereas tape is longer lasting and more durable than hard drives and cards.

I really like the 24p capability of the DVX, but my supervisor doesn't like the "film look."

I'm not even really considering the Canon, but it seems to be the only affordable camera with 20x zoom, which is very important.

While I'd rather hold off on the HD aspect and wait until the technology becomes a little more standard to the point where I can send the stations HD footage instead of Beta, my supervisor is really pushing for HD. But, if the HVX would fulfill more of our requirements than the DVX, maybe it's worth it? Definitely a zoom of 20x or more would be ideal, something we can't do with the DVX, unless I'm mistaken.

One question about HVX - if we DID send the stations the footage in HD format, how exactly would we do that? Would that be a file? A card?

I'm so conflicted!

Any suggestions would be very welcome, as I have become completely overwhelmed.


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Steve Wargo
Re: Which camera is best?
on Nov 19, 2008 at 3:09:58 am

The HVX is the wisest choice because it does what you do now and it CAN do what you will probably need before too long.

You didn't tell us what you're producing so we can't advise you on any of that. I have a client that we do quite a bit of work for and we have a 13 year library of footage for them. They want what we shoot today to match what we did 13 years ago. Talk about pain. Yikes.

As for sending clips to stations, the networks want HDCAM or D5, both very expensive, or they can accept files from DG Fastchannel, which is a distribution company. You upload a file to them and they retransmit it to the stations. Are your stations local or national. You didn't specify.

Before long. almost all material will go by wire and not tape.

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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Lynette Gilbert
Re: Which camera is best?
on Nov 19, 2008 at 3:34:19 am

We send to both national and local news stations. Everyone currently requests b-roll on Beta, occasionally DVD. (This is b-roll of animals - we're a zoo. This footage airs on everything from local cable to Jumbotrons to commercials on cable. Occasionally networks like Discovery will request footage from us as well.)

My main concern is cost. I'm looking at a budget of $10,000, a budget that's already been cut to zero dollars and I had to beg for it back. Pretty much what I buy now is all I get budget-wise for the next 5 years. I don't want to commit to the HVX and end up having to go out and spend thousands more in a year or two, because I won't have that money and I'll be screwed.

As far as our archives, we have footage stretching back to the 1940's on everything from film to Umatic to Beta to Hi-8 to MiniDV, so NOTHING matches.

Since we have DV now, I don't want to have to revamp our entire system because again, I have no money.

I feel like I'm talking myself out of the HVX, which is what I ideally want, but I just feel like the cost is way too much at this. So can I get away with using the DVX for another five years?



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Noah Kadner
Re: Which camera is best?
on Nov 21, 2008 at 1:10:54 am

No camera is future proof. The HVX200 is the most versatile camera you're likely to find for anywhere near that budget for a long time. The upcoming Scarlet in theory has much more features and image quality for a similar price point. However, it's also brand new and with little workflow history, while the HVX200 has been around for a while with tons of support with after market accessories and 3rd party software. It's a great choice you won't regret- they've sold like hotcakes.

Noah

My FCP Blog. Unlock the secrets of the DVX100, HVX200 and Apple Color and Win a Free Letus Extreme.
Now featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, DVD Studio Pro and Sound for Film and TV.
http://www.callboxlive.com


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