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Filmmaking : Sony PD170 or Canon XH-A1 ?

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Ethan Lavy
Filmmaking : Sony PD170 or Canon XH-A1 ?
on May 4, 2009 at 7:35:07 am

I made a few independent movies over the years, mostly with friends camera and stuff, not too experienced with camera. I am more director than a cameraman.


Anyway, 99% of my use of the camera will be for film: cinema, tv...


I went to stores in my area, and I can't get the PD170 or the XH-A1 for the same price (brand new).


I know about the light issues, but I looked in some videos online, and from that short movies it seems to me like the XH A1 makes a better view after all.


What you think will be the best choice for me for FILM making?


P.S,
It will be PAL.

Thanks,
Ethan.


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Rick Wise
Re: Filmmaking : Sony PD170 or Canon XH-A1 ?
on May 4, 2009 at 5:19:05 pm

Ethan, you are kind of mixing apples and oranges. The PD 170 is one of the best SD mini-DV cameras made (I prefer the Panasonic DVX 100b) and the Canon XH-A1 is an HDV camera. If your store has the latter, you should know that this model is no longer made and has been replaced by the XH-A1s. The new model, with "Improvements over the previous model include higher quality zoom, focus and iris rings" sells for about $400 more. (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/589903-REG/Canon_1191B001_XH_A1_3CCD_...)

Many an SD-shot video has been turned into film in post, and some quite successfully. In the hands of the same filmmaker the Canon should produce better pictures.

As has been pointed out here and elsewhere many thousands of times, it is not the camera that makes the film, it's the filmmaker. You would most likely be starting from a better position with the Canon.

Rick Wise
director of photography
and custom lighting design
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.recessionvideo.net
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Rick Wise
Re: Filmmaking : Sony PD170 or Canon XH-A1 ?
on May 4, 2009 at 5:37:08 pm

I just ran across this post on another, camera forum:

Well, being the owner of a couple of Canon XH-A'1s I can say that the feature set is impressive on these new generation units but the build quality is not. I've already had to dump 500.00 into the transport of one of them cause their basically built so cheaply. I'm thinking of getting rid of them, period. My PD-170 is great. Only thing I would miss is the 16 x 9 anamorphic SD format, since I like the look of 16 x9.
The only real outlet for me right now using HDV is the web. If u shoot HD, then you can get a much bigger, sharper image when posting on the web. Not dealing at all with blu-ray discs. That is going nowhere.


and:

I don't know about all you other independents and freelancers, but I'm getting ready to start production on my latest documentary project, a look the shrinking middle class and the current financial bedlam for which I plan on submitting to the next Sundance Film Festival, and I feel sticking with my current SD camera (DVX100A) and work flow is most appropriate and very reflective of these very difficult times.


About 16:9. The PD 170 will not do 16:9 nor 24p or 30p. The Panasonic DVX100b, which costs less, can do all of that. If you want to stay SD, I'd ask your local retailer if he can get the DVX100b camera for you, and at what price. I would also recommend buying from bhphotovideo.com, which I have found to be extremely reliable and honest.

Remember to buy at least 1 large extra battery, whatever camera you end up buying.

Rick Wise
director of photography
and custom lighting design
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.recessionvideo.net
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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luis asencio
Re: Filmmaking : Sony PD170 or Canon XH-A1 ?
on May 18, 2009 at 3:19:04 pm

Im changing to HD now and i need others with experiences in this brand CANON HD. i have used all my life canon xl1.gl1,gl2. im looking for a very sharp image capture and need to know before changing to HD. i have seen lots of camcorders but i am very confused with sony, canon etc... if any one can help and let me see the difference between these options it would be great. remember I NEED THE BEST QUALITY IMAGE POSSIBLE WITH HD.

Thanks

Innova Video


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Todd Terry
Re: Filmmaking : Sony PD170 or Canon XH-A1 ?
on May 18, 2009 at 4:32:31 pm

Well, just my 2ยข worth....

We were a Sony house forever, but for the last two years we've been shooting almost exclusively with the Canon XLH1 (the big brother to the XH-A1).

In a nutshell, it is my favorite camera. Ever.

I've never bought, borrowed, or rented a camera that performed as well, was as full-featured, or delivered as beautiful a picture... especially for the money.

The camera body itself is great, robust, full featured, and with two-dozen different parameters that you can adjust to tweak and fine-tune the image. I'm not sure of any other cameras in this price range that allow you to paint the image so precisely.

The stock lens is pretty good, too. I can't give it much of a full review, because we never really use it (I almost always shoot with primes and a P+S Technik Mini35). But on the few occasions that I have used it, it performed very well, very sharp.

We hardly ever shoot 35mm anymore (and I used to shoot quite a bit of it) because the camera combined with prime lenses looks so darn good. Especially footage captured via its HD-SDI port looks great.

One thing that I really like about the Canon is that although there is an extensive on-screen menu for many things... there are still lots of real knobs, buttons, and switches on the body for adjusting the most often used things like color temp (which you can dial in exactly), frame rate, mode, shutter speed, audio levels, phantom power, presets, and a bunch of other things. It drives me crazy on some cameras that have countless features but you have to drill through lots of menu pages to access the controls and make adjustments. I almost never have to do that with the Canon.

The only downside that I have found with the Canons is the somewhat proprietary 24p method, which they call 24f (and 30f). In HDV mode, 24f footage can only be read/captured by a Canon camera that supports 24f, or by a Sony M35 deck (in standard-def mode, any deck will work even for 24f). In HDV mode 24f footage actually imports as true 23.976 footage, which I really love (in SD mode footage imports in a 60i wrapper).


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Andrew Evans
Re: Filmmaking : Sony PD170 or Canon XH-A1 ?
on May 5, 2009 at 4:06:19 pm

they did use the xh a1 to make the new crank movie, if that tells you anything.


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Richard Herd
Re: Filmmaking : Sony PD170 or Canon XH-A1 ?
on May 14, 2009 at 1:48:28 am

That's only half the story, shooting Crank2 on mpeg2.

The American Cinematographer Magazine reported the footage went through a Digital Intermediate process. Man, that's expensive.

Anyway, just want to make sure folks are aware there's a wide gulf in resolution between mpeg2 and what you see at the cinema.


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