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Gear - Should I sell my HVX200 to go for the DSLR route?

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Beau Brotherton
Gear - Should I sell my HVX200 to go for the DSLR route?
on Sep 1, 2010 at 3:47:14 pm

Hello everyone,

I'm sure that I'm going to get a lot of feedback on this (mostly negative). But I was just curious on the state of camera equipment and upgrading/side-grading/down-grading from my current P2 workflow of the HVX200 and going to Canon DSLRs and lenses. Which I am well aware that this could be a huge mistake depending on the type of work produce.

We specialize in Faith Based media for Churches in our area. We also produce stand alone videos that Churches purchase on sites like iStock (but for Sermon Illustrations) where we produce the video, upload it, market on the sites, forget about it, and receive small checks. We only have a few on the site, but have seen positive sales that we are encouraged by.

The reason for us thinking about this is that these small production type videos are now looking much more "filmic" and with higher production value, and yes I know that that is the mere addition of DOF. I do like having the shallow DOF look, but I am by no means wanting to risk our production workflow entirely for DOF, if it means that we create another host of problems. However, we are having to spend much more time in post with Motion Graphics to make our spots look higher end...when perhaps we can get a more interesting image in the camera we could lighten our post work.

So my question would be, if we are seeing a need for this, should we purchase this new gear with the plan to sell my HVX200 gear in the near future? The camera right now on Ebay is running around $2225-$2500 (not much). As of now, purchasing the camera(s) are not in our 2010 budget, so we would be going over budget to purchase the new gear with out selling the old. Or is it much wiser to stick with the proven and reliable workflow for 2010, wait until 2011 and budget new gear in, and keep the HVX for 2011 and if we love this new workflow make the decision of selling the P2 gear in 2012 or so?

Thanks for any advise. :)

Beau Brotherton
HVX200 | FCP7 | CS4


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Micah McDowell
Re: Gear - Should I sell my HVX200 to go for the DSLR route?
on Sep 1, 2010 at 4:47:56 pm

In your situation, I'd hang on to your HVX for a while. If you're wanting to go all out with DSLR production, $2500 won't quite cut it.

If I were you, I'd keep using the HVX for general production, and pick up a Canon T2i to start experimenting with. They're only $800, so hopefully it wouldn't break your budget. Get a feel for the workflow, decide what accessories you're going to need in practice, pick up some great shots, and later you can go all out with some 5DmkII bodies and high-end lenses if you like working with the SLRs.

Another option would be to stick with the HVX and use depth of field converters with SLR lenses. This will keep your post workflow the same while giving you that narrow DOF look, but it may or may not be cost effective for you. There's a great article on the COW about them, so research if it's a good option for you.

Regardless of what you go with, I think you'll want to keep the HVX. There's some things that it will do better (run & gun footage, live events, stuff that requires a servo zoom, handheld video, getting a "video look" if you need it). I use my DSLR about 95% of the time now, but occasionally the old DVX100 still gets pulled out of the case. I also do church media so I'm on the same page with you.


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Micah McDowell
Re: Gear - Should I sell my HVX200 to go for the DSLR route?
on Sep 1, 2010 at 8:39:13 pm

Also, check out the Magic Lantern firmware for the T2i (http://magiclantern.wikia.com/wiki/550D). The newest alpha version gives the camera on-screen audio levels, headphone monitoring, and the ability to disable the camera's automatic gain control. I've been using it daily for the past couple weeks with excellent results. Goodbye, dual-system audio recording.


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Steve Crow
Re: Gear - Should I sell my HVX200 to go for the DSLR route?
on Sep 1, 2010 at 8:47:13 pm

That's cool to know about the Alpha and your experiences...does it autoload or do you have to initialize the software with every power cycle or change of memory card?


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Micah McDowell
Re: Gear - Should I sell my HVX200 to go for the DSLR route?
on Sep 1, 2010 at 9:07:51 pm

It was a bit tricky to set up; it's installed on my memory cards and automatically boots from there when the camera is powered on (takes about an extra second). If you insert a card without it installed, it doesn't load. I had to use some arcane Mac Terminal commands to make my 16gb cards bootable, but it works like a charm now. Only the newest build of the autoexec.bin file seems to disable the AGC; you may have to do some digging in the Magic Lantern developer group site to find it.

The audio quality is surprisingly good all things considered. I don't know how (or if) you can change the gain levels on the camera yet, so I monitor via headphones/onscreen VU meters and tweak the gain on my Sennheiser wireless pack or external mixer. It's been dead reliable too.

Despite all this, I wouldn't recommend trying it to anyone that isn't technically inclined. It totally transforms the camera's usefulness but I'm pretty sure it throws the Canon warranty out the window.


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Phil Balsdon
Re: Gear - Should I sell my HVX200 to go for the DSLR route?
on Sep 1, 2010 at 9:07:35 pm

Remember that if you need to do continuous records of longer than 12 mins you will not be able to do this with a DSLR. You will need a traditional video camera.

Cinematographer, Steadicam Operator, Final Cut Pro Post Production.
http://www.steadi-onfilms.com.au/


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Michael Sacci
Re: Gear - Should I sell my HVX200 to go for the DSLR route?
on Sep 1, 2010 at 10:02:02 pm

I would rent a dslr system a couple of times to put it through it's paces. The post workflow is almost identical with P2, just going to ProRes vs DVCProRes.

I wouldn't even think of selling until you are sure you don't need tradition video anymore. But you can rent either if you are in a fairly good size city.


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John Frey
Re: Gear - Should I sell my HVX200 to go for the DSLR route?
on Sep 2, 2010 at 2:30:13 am

f you have not already ordered the Canon, take a look at the Panasonic GH1. I recently purchased two of them. My company works on a wide variety of projects. These cameras are much more video friendly than the Canons, and accept a wide variety of lenses. The standard 'kit' lens with auto focus and image stabilizer is actually pretty acceptable at 14-140. The articulating LCD, electronic viewfinder and small size are a plus. In it's un-hacked form, this camera produces a very nice image at 1080 24p. The Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 Aspherical Pancake Lens is highly regarded by those who added it to their collection - nice and low-light for about $335.00. You will not have any short recording times to worry about if you are recording in AVCHD. There is now a very cool firmware 'hack' that is being implemented by many, many users with excellent results. This update enables you to vastly increase the data rate of the camera in 1080 24p, 720p 60fps, AVCHD, Motion JPEG, etc. The guru who has figured out the hack is working on getting both real-time video out of the HDM during record mode as well as manual control of the on-board audio. Google it and you will find the download page and instructions and a huge fan base on both DVX User and Vimeo on the web. Camera prices have recently dropped to $999.00, but word is that Panasonic is now only supplying sellers with a 'new' firmware release that is un-hackable. Again, Google this and look at Ebay for used 'hackable, units. Good Luck!

John D. Frey
25 Year owner/operator of two California-based production studios.

Digital West Video Productions of San Luis Obispo and Inland Images of Lake Elsinore


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