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Camera Recommendation

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Steve Hawley
Camera Recommendation
on Oct 15, 2005 at 3:34:39 am

Okay, I've been working with GL2s, a G5 and FCP4.5 for the home business, but now need help for the full-time job:

I've been reading some HDV vs. SD threads over at LAFCPUG and need your thoughts.

Our city government is looking to get new field gear for our access cable channel. This stuff will have to last about 10 years and we're probably about 5 years from the system going fully digital. (We are also building a new City Hall and our Council Chambers will be SD - again, the equipment there will likely have to last 10 years).

Keeping in mind that we have relatively limited funds, I can probably go up to $11-12,000 per camera for the two field cameras. These will be used to shoot informational videos and the occasional special events.

I'm looking at the Sony DSR-400...and at the Sony HVR-Z1U. Should I stay in SD, or go HDV with the Z1? OR should I go to some other camera/format?

We're also going to get a G5 with FCP5 and output will likely be onto DVD (for archive and playback) or MPEG files for the (soon to come) video server.

Thanks in advance.

- Steve

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Re: Camera Recommendation
on Oct 18, 2005 at 4:01:53 pm

I work at a city based channel and I research/recommend most of our equipment purchsaes, so I know the boat that you're in.

We currently run a D-35 w/ a DSR-1 back. It's a beautiful camera, but I know this will be out of your league. We're just about to purchase a DSR-400. We originally wanted a 570 (or was it a 540) either way it was discontinued, so this was our alternative. Everything we've researched on it looks good.

However, list is about $10k. After we speced our out to the way we wanted it, our total was closer to $25k. We wanted a different lens (Fujinon 5.5mm wide, strongly recommended if you do a lot of interviews or close-up B-roll, but pricy), Anton bauer pro-pack battery set, vinten tripod, lights, wireless mics, carrying bags/cases, overhead viewfinder and rear controls.

As for SD vs HD, stick to SD, that is what you're currently running in the studio. I Don't see a point in having a mis-matched format. Figure in the next 10 years, the format standard will change a dozen or so more times. DVCAM seems to have stuck around for the time being, I figure you'll have several more years of it. HD is nice, but you'd have to sell that new city hall to pay for it.

If you want to contact me directly with any other questions, feel free to e-mail me at nightdesigns at yahoo dot com. I could probably recommend some other setups that will help you save money, but not skimp on the quality.

Look at the Leightronix TCD/IP system paired with a DoReMi with 1TB+ of storage. It is a 1 Channel record, 1 channel playback, fully digital. It holds about 120 hours of footage at 25 Mbps. We've been very happy with it, and use it to fully automate all of our routing (automatically does all needed routing for our council meetings, and then with the push of a single button, creates our council file, starts recording, inserts our LIVE bug, and rolls an open. Another push of the button, ends the recording, routes the channel back to our bulletin board system. It's a rather powerful system.

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Re: Camera Recommendation
on Oct 18, 2005 at 4:02:48 pm

I've never worked at a city/gov channel but one big issue I've seen from the outside is the ability of the people who end up being shooters. Often times these are not people who are specifically shooters but rather producers, editors, and even interns who are shooting. If this is the case then there is a considerable edge given to a set-up that is a little less complicated. As much as I hate the idea, you need to in these cases hand someone something that can be ( It hurts me to even type this ) "AUTO". If this is the case than any of the prosumer cameras fits the bill nicely. I couldn't see going with anything short of one of the new HDV cameras out there. Even if you only shoot DV with it to start. Why pay almost the same money for something that's only SD when the combo option is there?
If you are staffed with real full time shooters than anything closer to a broadcast style, full size camera is appreciated. Whether there is an actual practical ergononmic reason ( which I think there is ) or it's just mental, this is a better set-up for someone who can handle it.
In all alot of variables to consider. Good Luck!

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